Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Family - New Traditions!

3 ½ months after getting married, Mrs. I and I got to go on our first trip out of town with her family – the destination? Michigan International Speedway for a weekend of NASCAR racing.

Having never been to a single NASCAR event, let alone a weekend full of it, I was definitely excited to be a part of a yearly tradition that Mrs. I and her family have had for over a decade. So after work on Friday, it was time to head to Cleveland, pick up Mrs. I and head to “that city up north” (Ann Arbor for the non-OSU people out there) where we’d be staying for the weekend.

Between the qualifying, practice sessions, Nationwide Series race (CARFAX 250) and the Sprint Cup race (CARFAX 400), I’m pretty sure my ears are still buzzing with the roar of the engines and upon opening my suitcase and unpacking, I definitely could still smell the exhaust-heavy scent that lingered on the hot drive home in the car trunk. Some may think this is a drawback, I think it’s a great take-away from the experience.

I learned a lot about the sport of auto racing in just a weekend. Soft-sided coolers can be used to bring in your own snacks and drinks (can’t do that in any other professional sport!) and just about any type of food can be found “on a stick”. Fans still will yell and wave at their favorite (or not-so-favorite) drivers, just as fans will do with athletes in other sports, except it’s practically guaranteed that said driver can’t hear what you’re yelling at him over 43 roaring engines – yes, this includes you Mr. Random NASCAR Fan that felt it to be necessary to yell and wave for your driver to consistently pass the car in front of him despite the 185 mph speeds from the massive and loud racing engines – at least it’s an enthusiastic effort!

The best thing I learned about the NASCAR experience is how much fun it is. On TV it may look like hundreds of left hand turns all afternoon, but when you actually get to the track and see it in person (and we didn’t even see “the big one” as far as accidents go), it’s an exciting sport to watch. Watching how easy the drivers make it look to glide in and out of traffic on banked turns makes me wish that even ½ the people who drive on Mentor Ave. would drive just as intelligently.

You’re probably wondering if I picked the winner of the race – unfortunately Team Red Bull, specifically Scott Speed in the #82 didn’t have the best race, but a 25th place finish certainly had no effect on the overall excitement I experienced in my first trip to a weekend of NASCAR. After all, being a Cleveland sports fan, I’m overly familiar with the concept of “there’s always next year”. And when next year does come, you can bet I’ll definitely be ready for another weekend at the track, whether it be a NASCAR sanctioned event at Lake County Speedway or another one of NASCAR’s big, Sprint Cup events or something in between.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The first 100 days

Since the FDR’s presidency in the 1930s, a standard has been developed in which each president is judged by the actions and accomplishments that have occurred during the first 100 days in the oval office. You can read more about this tradition here. So, as our new marriage approached the milestone, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and reflect upon some of the things we’ve learned, accomplished and goals guiding us to where we want to go from here.

From Mrs. I's perspective:
  • While spending almost every minute of everyday together is typically bliss, having a little “me time” goes a long way from time to time, especially when I pop in my kettle bell workout DVD and follow along in the living room during which I look less then appealing. (More on the value of individual time to come in an upcoming post)
  • I don’t know if it’s a guy thing, but Mr. I’s attention span is simply shorter than mine. He tries to be patient with me, letting me read “one more chapter” or get “five more minutes” in of my nap, but when he gets fidgety, it’s easier to put down the Kindle or hit record on the DVR and shake things up a bit.
  • Sometimes all you need after a long day at work is a person to hug you at the door. Mr. I’s hugs are some of the best.
  • When we split up the guest list, carved out 30 minutes a night and worked as a stamp/envelope licking team, we achieved our goal to get all our thank you notes out within the month of May. We were pretty darn proud of our hard work.
  • In a little apartment, with limited cabinet space, you have to get creative with storage. This often includes on shelves way above my reach, in night stands and other not-so-typical locations. The biggest challenge is finding it all when you need it.
From Mr. I's perspective:
  • If we’re not in bed by 10:15 or so each evening, Mrs. I gets a “second wind” and all of a sudden has no desire to go to bed.
  • I've learned that it’s best for me to just stick to cooking dinner and let Mrs. I make yummy waffles and pancakes on the weekend – I can make a mean pulled pork, but pancakes and waffles just don’t end well when I try to make them.
  • I tend to be asleep upon hitting the bed while Mrs. I could stay up reading for hours – but when it comes to road trips in the car, the tables are turned and Mrs. I can be asleep upon getting on the freeway.
  • “5 more minutes” has become a common phrase around the apartment in the morning. It’s never time to get up now, it’s always time in “5 more minutes."
  • There really other channels on the remote other than ESPN, ESPN NEWS, ESPN U. Read about how I had to "re-learn the remote" here.
  • Marriage has put us more in sync with each other, helping to make us great travelling duo. Trips to Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have been just a few of the many great weekend trips we’ve taken – Columbus, Baltimore and a NASCAR race in Michigan in the coming weeks are just a few of the upcoming trips we have to look forward to!
Common goals:
  • It’s easy to get busy with family and friends, cleaning the apartment, making dinners, doing work and so much more, but we are newlyweds. Sometimes it’s nice to go out on the town like when we were dating, and other nights it is even better to stop blogging, turn off the laptops, open a bottle of wine and finally watch that DVD we’ve been meaning to rent. Scheduling more date nights is definitely important.
  • At times, I may have criticized Momma P that our meals could be “predictable” at times (sorry Mom…) I swore when I was married I would challenge myself unique meals on a weekly basis. Well, 100 days down and other than a quesadilla casserole, I haven’t quite mastered this one. Time to start planning ahead and get a little more creative.
  • The wedding is over, the summer is winding down and the apartment is decorated. In is about time we get around to doing all the things we said we were going to do “when we’re married.” The first thing on this list, sign up for some wine education classes. Yeah, we’re classy like that.