Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer means Vacations

I hadn't thought I would be taking a summer vacation this year.  I generally don't as the hotel business tends to be quite busy in the summer.  Besides, having no kids of my own to juggle schedules with I can generally take a vacation whenever works best for you.  It goes without saying this is changing for me and a summer vacation ended up happening this past June.  I am a bit late in writing about it, the price I usually pay for time off is a bunch of work waiting for me when I return and this trip was no different in that aspect.  I also found I did not take many pictures on this vacation so I apologize for the limited visuals. 

The vacation plan was for me to fly to Oregon where Bethany and I (kids as well of course) would begin the thrilling task of driving to Denver (yes, Bethany wanted me to meet her parents *gulp*).  We broke the long road trip up into several days, stopping in Idaho, Utah, and then Denver along the way before returning to Utah (where I flew back to Chicago as the flights were much more affordable out of SLC).  Long story short we survived all the travels, enjoyed our time with each other's family (I not only met her parents but also two of her brothers) and got to know each other a little better.  This long distance dating thing is not easy on either of us.  Here are a few pictures from the trip, they are mostly taken from Bethany's parents home in the Denver area.  The horses belong to Bethany's mom and the kids really enjoyed them (especially Bethany's daughter who seemed quite at home in the saddle). 

Here are some of the pictures and I apologize for the disjointed / weak degree of my writing this evening.  I feel like I am forcing this post but really didn't want to let it wait any longer without getting something about the vacation posted.  Especially since, even though it began roughly (head cold to start, sleep challenges, and lots of driving) it was still a very good vacation spent in the company of some very special people. 

What are hotel beds made for?

You guessed it.... Jumping on!

And more jumping!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Date Number 3 - additional info

So Bethany pointed out I failed to share one of the key moments from our trip up to Seattle.  I have talked about it with several people already but I have not shared it with everyone in my family who looks at this site so I guess now is better than never.  Be forewarned... neither Bethany nor myself understands why he said what he said (how's that for a teaser?). 

After arriving in Seattle and before the Red Sox game we found ourselves with a little extra time to fill.  There wasn't enough time to go downtown and do the "tourist" thing so instead we found a restaurant close to the hotel named Red Robin.  Yes, the chain, nothing fancy but I have always enjoyed the food and generally have had good service experiences to go along with the food.

Everything began normal enough.  We were take to our table and received our drinks efficiently enough and after a few moments were ready to place our order.  The waiter showed up and began jotting down what each of us wanted.  Upon taking my order (a burger) he asked how I wanted it cooked to which I replied medium.  He then asked if I wanted it a little pink in the middle, or a lot pink because apparently medium means different things to different people.  This is when I had one of my rare moments of romanticism brilliance (is that a phrase?) and I stated it wouldn't matter how it came back to me because I would be eating it across from a beautiful woman and would enjoy it no matter what.  Bethany began to grin that special grin she has when she is both very pleased and slightly embarrassed at the same time and I was about to feel rather proud of myself when the waiter muttered the following statement: "oh, well I am not going to judge you" and he walked away. 

I think my jaw hit the floor, Bethany blinked several times in surprise and the first words out of my mouth was "OUCH!".  We then spent the next several minutes laughing at the absurdity of the comment and I used the phrase far too often over the remainder of the trip (don't judge me... no really.. don't judge me... just please don't judge me).

I did end up tipping the waiter (his service wasn't terrible aside from the comment) and we enjoyed our food but now, whenever I go to Red Robin, I will remember that experience.

So my question for those of you who are hearing about this experience for the first time is this:  what was he trying to say and should I have not tipped him at all?

Thank you once again Bethany for a great 3 day weekend trip.  I enjoyed laughing at the absurd events, cheering on the Red Sox to victory, and snuggling with you (even if your daughter took pleasure jumping in between us each time).  And your cookies were delicious!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A "Third" Date

It has been awhile since my last post.  Bethany has been reminding me of this fact but unfortunately I have been both super busy at work and lacking in desire to post recently so it obviously hasn't happened.  Work in particular has been hectic.  For those that may not know my hotel has undergone a complete change in staffing on the front desk.  After going through the turnover and getting the new staff trained we had all of them (well most of them, one did stick around) quit within a 2 week time frame landing us right back into a state of no staffing.  Needless to say I have worked far more desk shifts than I care to work and I have been putting in super long hours on top of it all.

As if our staffing situation wasn't stressful enough I also had the "privilege" of having a visit from my boss, my boss' boss, the owner rep for my hotel, and the Q.A. inspector.  All within the last month.  The long story short: owner visit was far easier than I thought it would be, my bosses visit was a breeze, my boss' boss visit was disheartening (it always is), and we passed the QA (even if I worried non-stop about it).  We also now have staffing levels returning to almost "normal" levels and the hotel has been very busy through it all. 

In spite of the insanity at work I still managed to find some time to fly across the country for my 3rd date with Bethany.  Yes, I am calling it my 3rd date.  I am counting each actual trip to meet her as one date regardless of how many days I spend with her during the trip.  They are long dates, but count as only one using my highly questioned counting system.  Three has been the challenging number for me.  I have not made it past 3 dates with anyone since my AZ days (over a decade ago).  I have used the term "curse" jokingly but really I just wasn't finding the right person. 

This particular date had an important purpose for me.  For those that may not have heard, Bethany is a Red Sox fan who has NEVER been to an actual Red Sox game!  That simple would not do.  So I bought some tickets to the game, bought some plane tickets, booked some hotel rooms (separate rooms in case anyone was worried) and off I went to pamper my girlfriend a bit.  I even took a few pictures.  Not as many as I thought I was going to take (I am not as good at taking the pictures as my mom is) but a few that I will share after my commentary is done. 

The trip was too short, the game was great,we even got to see half of it from our seats ( 2 and 4 yr olds don't like to sit still for 3 hours of baseball), the company was even better than the game.  And Bethany even made some chocolate chip cookies for me.  Which I ate.  And ate.  And ate and ate and ate and ate some more.  She said they weren't her best but I enjoyed them all the same.  There were lots of other things that happened on the trip (like meeting up with one of Bethany's friends the day after the game) but I have already shared them so many times I don't feel like typing them out again.  Suffice it to say I had a good time and when the day came to fly back to Chicago I didn't want to go. 

I said I took some pictures and here they are.  Some were taken by me, some by Bethany's daughter. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Day Dedicated to Love

As a 40 year old single guy I have never really cared for this holiday.  For obvious reasons.  It isn't a holiday with many worthwhile memories for me and I find the holiday to be particularly frustrating and quite lonely.  It is, perhaps, my least favorite holiday of them all.  That being said I recognize my views on the holiday aren't the norm and lots of people really enjoy this holiday.  While dining out this afternoon I noticed several couples at the restaurant enjoying the holiday.  A few had flowers, some had children with them.  It made me think a bit on the good that comes from the holiday, expressing feelings of love towards the special people in your life is never a bad thing.  Even if the card companies profit hugely off of it and flower shops double the cost of roses. 

So, in honor of this special day I had an idea pop into my head! Yes, every now and then I do have ideas pop into my head.  I usually keep those ideas to myself but this one I decided to share and see what comes of it.  It dawned on me today I don't fully remember how many (almost any) of my brothers' and sister proposals occurred or any of my cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc and this would be a great way for people to share their proposal stories!

So, I am issuing a challenge to the few, but important people, who stop by my blog.  Please let me know how you proposed (or were proposed to) to your spouse by commenting on this post about your experience be it funny or romantic or unforgettable.   I hope to hear from all of you, there must be some great stories and even if your story isn't spectacular it is yours and therefore important.

Please note, this is not an attempt by me to get ideas for anything.  When the time comes for that I will ask you in person.  :)


Sunday, February 1, 2015

January In Chicago Means.... SNOW

When I moved to Chicago I tried to prepare myself mentally for the cold and snow again.  It has been over 10 years since I have had to spend a full winter in a truly cold climate and Chicago definitely qualifies as a cold climate!  We have had one stretch of really cold weather this year but no real snow fall.  That is until today.  It actually began last night around 8 PM and hasn't stopped since.  And it wont stop until Monday morning according to the current forecast.  Here are a few pictures I took from my car as I was heading back into work (the native Chicagoans don't know how to drive in the snow apparently so I get to work all day and all night).

Lots and lots and lots of white stuff.  It was even good for packing this afternoon, if I had a kid or two I would have been outside building snowmen with them and maybe instigating a snowball fight or two.  As is I settled for just driving in it and helping a couple people push their car out, well attempt to push it out.  Tires are crucial in snow. 
Before all of the white stuff began to fall I was invited to dinner with Suzie, Charles, and Christy!  We ate at Medici, a place with really good burgers and pizzas and shakes close to the University of Chicago.  The food was good, the company was better.  Well worth the 45 minute drive it took me just to get there!  Here we all are at the restaurant.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How We Met

TWO POSTS in the SAME month!  AMAZING!!!!

Please do not think this means I will be posting like this all of the time.  However, as Ann pointed out, there are several members of my family who have not heard the story and while I am not opposed to talking to each and every one of them I figured this would be a more efficient way of sharing.  So, allow me to introduce a wonderful woman.  This is Bethany:

Please note her aversion at having her picture taken.  I tried several times to get her to look up for my phone camera, the closest I got was this one:

A little on the blurry side, but I think you can see her well enough. 

Now that I have introduced you to her (and possibly gotten into a bit of trouble for posting these pictures of her, sorry Bethany, well... sort of sorry), I will give you the backstory. 

Several months ago now, while attending the Priesthood Session of General Conference, I heard a talk by Elder Quentin L. Cook entitled "Choose Wisely".  For many years I have not been content with being single.  It has been, and remains, my desire to find my eternal companion and as the years have piled up without me getting any closer to marriage I had found myself less and less satisfied with my situation.  I had also become comfortable in my situation.  I have a decent job, I get to travel a fair amount and sleep in and see the movies I want to see.  I am not content, but I am comfortable.  I hadn't given it much thought until Elder Cook said  the following:

"You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become.  But the more uncomfortable you ought to become!  Please get "anxiously engaged" in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage."

His words, accompanied by a sharp poke from the Holy Ghost, spoke to me directly.  I was too comfortable in being single and it was far past time for me to become more engaged.  I went home and decided to rejoin a singles website I had used in the past.  I committed to myself I would date anyone within a 100 mile radius of where I live that showed any real interest in me.  I even let my coworker pick profiles she liked and sent messages to them.  I had a few nibbles here and there, but by and large there was no real response to my efforts and I was beginning to wonder what else I needed to do (heaven forbid I might actually have to go to a Single Adult activity...).  It was about that time I received a message from a woman in Oregon.  Now, Oregon is definitely outside of my 100 mile radius and I was prepared to send her a polite, but definite Thanks but No Thanks type of message, that is until I read her message to me. 

It turns out Bethany is a Red Sox fan, and what's more her favorite player from her youth was my same favorite player!  We both liked Mike Greenwell growing up!  I couldn't just say no to a fellow Red Sox fan, even if she did live on the other side of the continent from me.  So we began exchanging messages on the singles website.  I found myself looking forward to her message each day.  She is intelligent, witty, and seemed to get my unique sense of humor.  After a couple weeks we began chatting online.  We shared life experiences and I began to find out just how much she has been through.  Out of respect to her I will simply say there are a couple guys who made huge mistakes when they failed to treat this woman properly.  She has two beautiful children from her 2nd marriage as shown in one of the pictures above and several in my last post.  We began talking on the phone to each other before Thanksgiving and I flew out to see her in January. 

I wont predict what the future will bring for either of us, we are still rather early in our relationship and there are many challenges to overcome still (distance and money for example), but I find myself wanting to talk to her every day and wishing I lived a lot closer to her than I currently do.  I find myself thinking of ways to find time to see her again and still enjoy getting a daily email from her.  I guess you could say we have passed the point of just being friends and entered a true courtship stage.  For the more romantic out there... I like her.

A lot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Catching Up

So 2015 is already 2 weeks old and I haven't posted anything since Thanksgiving.  I would claim a busy schedule as the reason but I am single... no kids... and while I do have 2 callings in my ward they don't consume near enough time for me to truly blame them.  Sadly enough I haven't posted simply because my life is not that exciting.  No kids means minimal surprises and far fewer photos to take.  Regardless of the "simple" life I live I will catch the select few who read my blog up with my life over the past few months.  And just in case you are tempted to not read on, or are starting to get sleepy eyed from this introduction... I do have pictures at the end. 

So after returning to the Chicago area after Thanksgiving I pretty much fell into my normal routine of go to work, go home, go to work, go home.  Mix in an occasional scout meeting and teaching primary on Sunday and the month flew by very quickly.  I was invited to an ice skating competition in Michigan with Seth and his family.  His daughter is on a synchronized ice skating competition team and really enjoying it.  I went along and thought I was playing the cool Cousin by securing rooms at a great rate.  Unfortunately the rooms only had one bed in them.  So two rooms, two beds total, 3 adults and 3 kids.  For those who like math that left us about 2 beds short.  Because the hotel was filled with Ice Skating teams there were no rollaway beds available either.  So Seth and his son slept on the floor, the girls all shared a bed, and I had a bed to myself (I did try to talk Seth into taking it with his son but he insisted on the floor).  Next time I play the cool cousin I will have to double check the room types offered!  The competition was enjoyable to watch, albeit short, but more enjoyable than the competition was the company.  Being alone on the weekends can be, well, lonely.  I am definitely grateful for a Cousin who is close by and willing to involve me in his family fun. 

Christmas came and went, I worked the day shift then spent the evening with Seth.  Thanks to everyone who sent me cards and gifts and happy thoughts on that special day.  And before you get to feeling bad for me having to work on Christmas, I did choose to do so.  I am the boss after all, so I can't blame anyone else.  My staff all have kids and were appreciative of my covering so they could celebrate with their families the holiday.  The guests on Christmas day are all nice and it is really not a bad day to work, if you have to work.

After Christmas came New Years.  Again I worked.  No biggie, I stopped staying awake till midnight when I discovered I enjoy sleeping.  There was a ton of work to do to close out 2014 and get 2015 up and running.  As quiet a month as December was for me, January has been the complete opposite.  For only being two weeks old I have gone through all of the following: new primary class with struggles for me adapting to a different age group and a different co-teacher whose techniques frustrated me.  An attack of the dreaded Flu virus going around (102+ fever, vomiting, joints aching, etc etc etc), GM Conference in Chicago (I know, long distance to travel, but I had to stay at the hotel in downtown Chicago so it kind of felt like a trip), and a real trip a day after the conference to Oregon.  To see a Woman and her kids. 

For those who may not have heard, or simply didn't believe it was possible for me to meet someone who could put up with my personality, her name is Bethany.  She is wonderful woman who has been through far too many trials.  She has two beautiful children and two awful and ugly Ex husbands. I say that, but I haven't met them so they may not be ugly, at least on the outside, inside I have no doubt their "spiritual beauty" is seriously lacking.  I am, admittedly, biased.  Bethany plays the harp, she is a Red Sox fan, and she seems to think I am funny!  All wonderful traits, I know, but more importantly she has a strong testimony of the Church in spite of (or perhaps because of) what she has been through and she truly cares for her children.  I flew into Portland on Friday and was able to spend the next few days with her and her kids getting to know them all better.  Bethany and I went to see Into the Woods (just as good the second time for me as it was the first), we all went to the Beach and a lighthouse (well, 2 lighthouses but one was under renovation and covered up), went to a bounce on it (might have the wrong name, but if you have kids you know what I am talking about), went swimming, went to Church, and otherwise just hung out at her house.  There were several of her friends who had to see me.  I think they were making sure I wasn't a jerk and, according to Bethany, I passed their inspections. The trip was very enjoyable for me and Bethany had a wonderful time as well.  The following pictures were taken on Sunday.  I was a bit silly and forgot my camera when we went to the beach and lighthouses.  Bethany, I apologize for posting a couple of the pictures you didn't want me to post, but I can't help it.  I want to show you off. ;)

Melanie on the left, Bethany on the right (Melanie is one of her friends who had to meet me)

Bethany's son. 

When Bethany went to play her harp for me her son decided he wanted to play as well. 

Bethany's daughter. 

It took a little longer than usual for her to warm up to me, but by the end of my visit we were good friends.
Bethany took this picture on Saturday night.  When she asked her daughter what her favorite part of the day was, she said it was the time we spent drawing together.  The beach, lighthouse, swimming all lost out to a little bit of special time together.  One on One time with children is far more important than taking them to fun places or buying them lots of gifts. 

Thank you Bethany for sharing your weekend and family with me!  It was too short, but definitely worthwhile.  For anyone of the very select few who read my blog that want to know the names of the children, please give me a call and I will share them.  For very legitimate reasons I will not be posting their names on my blog.

And now I am all caught up.  Later this month I go to Savannah, GA for another business meeting, but the next two weeks should be semi normal for me.  Which basically means I will be going to work and going home and going to work and going home.  And, if history is any indicator, I will probably come down with a head cold this week.  In fact, it already seems to be starting.  Lucky me.