Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Li'l Baby Turtle!!

Look what we found crawling across our back patio tonight!
A little baby turtle!!
Look how CUTE he is!
Since Milo didn't want a sibling, we took home over by the creek and dropped him off.
Just another fun night in the Sykes house!

Cancun 2011: Day Five

We slept the latest we had slept the entire trip – 8:15! We started packing as soon as we got out of bed and while we waited for our breakfast to be brought to the room. We took showers and made sure everything was put in the suitcases, then we went down to check out. Our transfer was to pick us up at 11:45, so we hung out in the lounge from 11-11:45. We played some ping-pong and Jenga and took a few final pictures.

We arrived at the airport just before 1PM, so we checked in, got our boarding passes and checked our luggage. After going through security, we found ourselves in a mall-like area where you could buy things duty free. I bought 3 8.5oz. bottles of vanilla to bring home for my mom, aunt and myself. I put them in my carry on knowing I’d have to transfer them to my check bag once we arrived in Charlotte. We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets in the terminal for $27 (that’s $324 pesos)!!!! It was a good thing we ate a huge lunch though because we didn’t eat the rest of the day.

We were so excited because we actually boarded the plane and took off early! We just knew we’d have time to sit down and maybe even grab dinner once we arrived in Charlotte. When we got to Charlotte, we were informed that all connecting flight passengers must go through customs, get their checked bag off the baggage claim, recheck it and go through security again. Y’all. It took us 50 minutes to get through customs, which left us with 20 minutes to get our check bag, recheck it, get through security and on the plane. 20 minutes! Being us, we worked as a team and separated. I took the carry on bags and he handled the check bag. We met back up at security and started going through when John was stopped for having the vanilla in his book bag! Darn it – we FORGOT to transfer it to the check bag! We wouldn’t have had time to do that anyway, so we lost the vanilla to TSA. While John was being screened, I sprinted to the gate to tell them he was right behind me and to PLEASE hold the plane. It was 10 minutes after we both sat down on the plane that they shut the door and headed toward the runway. I have never been more afraid of missing a flight as I was Tuesday night. It was horrible. We were both almost in tears.

My sweet Dad was waiting for us at baggage claim at RDU to take us home. He and Mom had gone to our house earlier that night to drop Milo off so he’d be there when we got home. They also left us a treat – breakfast and dinner for the next day! This was such a blessing, as Wednesday after work was filled with unpacking and four loads of laundry. Not having to worry about dinner was such a relief – thanks Mom and Dad!

Overall, we had the most wonderful and luxurious vacation of our lives. It is exactly what we expected and hoped it would be. Everything about the resort was perfect. If you’ve never done it, all-inclusive is the way to go! It was so wonderful to not have to pay another dime once we arrived at the resort. Everything (except the massage) was included, even taxes and tips! If you’re interested in more information about our trip, let me know – I’m happy to tell whatever you’d like to know.

Cancun 2011: Day Four

Our fourth day was an exciting one – we had an 80 minute couples massage on the beach at 10AM! We slept in, had room service, took showers and we at the spa by 9:30. We relaxed in the sauna and hot tubs until our massage started. It was, by far, the most wonderful massage I have ever had.

The gazebo where we had our massage.

After our massage, we had lunch and just relaxed in a cabana by the pool for the afternoon. We were there for just over four hours, and I’m pretty sure we both took catnaps during that time. We had dinner at Chef’s Plate – a seven course meal at the nicest restaurant at the resort. It was SO good! Since it was our last night, we hopped in the jacuzzi one last time before going to bed.

Cancun 2011: Day Three

Our third day was FABULOUS! We woke up at 6AM to watch the sun rise over the ocean and spend a little time worshiping God on that Easter Sunday. What better way to celebrate his resurrection than by watching the beauty he created.

After having room service bring a big breakfast of French toast, waffles, sausage and fruit, we spent almost four hours in our cabana on the beach. I read and John played on his Ipod. We took lots of pictures and might have even kissed once or twice!

We had room service bring lunch again – two cheeseburgers and a hotdog all with French fries!! Delicious! After a short siesta, we spent a couple of hours in the sun by the pool before going in to take showers before dinner. We had dinner at Asiana, which is exactly like Kanki. The cutest little Japanese couple on their honeymoon sat at our table – they couldn’t have been much older than 18. At the end of the meal, one of the waiters asked if he wanted a shot of tequila. He said no, he didn’t drink, but the waiter brought him one anyway. In the Japanese culture, if someone offers you something, you have to take it. So, he downed the shot and not even five minutes later, he puked it all up on the floor under his chair. I felt so bad for him!

After dinner, we went back to our room to hop in the jacuzzi again and watch some TV. I’m pretty sure we were in bed by 9:30 this night.

Cancun 2011: Day Two

We woke up pretty early on Saturday, so we took showers and went down to the pool to reserve our chairs. This is a common practice at the resort that I lot of people do not like. Breakfast was, well, not what I expected, so we just went to the pool and laid out for a bit. We went in after about three hours and ate lunch because neither of us wanted to burn. After lunch, we went down to our cabana for some shade, relaxation and photo ops. This is when things took a tiny turn for the worse.

You see, I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks from time to time. It’s usually when I travel far from home that it happens, which is a good and bad thing. It’s good that they don’t happen regularly, but they happen when I’m on vacation trying to have a good time. I never know when they’re going to happen or what causes them. So…I kind of “lost it” on the beach while taking pictures. I don’t know what triggered it, but we immediately had to go back to the room so I could calm down. It took about two hours, a dark, cold room, cold water, a little medicinal courage and a G-chat session with my parents for it to pass. Once it did, I felt so much better.

Let me just add this little side note while I’m on the subject of G-chat with my parents. I caught a LOT of grief for staying in touch via Gmail, Facebook and blog while we were away. For us, being able to stay in touch in a foreign country makes us feel safe, secure and connected. It is a source of comfort for us. Not only did we stay in touch via internet, we were also able to call our parents a couple of times using an app on John’s Ipod. We were able to relax and have a good as well as stay in touch. Everyone’s idea of what vacation should be like is different, and this is what worked for us.

John went back to the pool that afternoon to play some volleyball, and I walked around to take some more pictures. We had dinner at Maria Marie’s, and it was great! John had a rib-eye steak and I had shrimp. The desserts we got were out of this world!

Each night, housekeeping came and did a turn down service. They turned the bed back, pulled the shade, dimmed the lights and lit the candles by the two person Jacuzzi. We ended up in it every night just talking, watching TV or listening to the waves. It was relaxation at it’s finest! We were in bed pretty early each night because I don’t think our bodies really adjusted to the time change.

Cancun 2011: Day One

John was up at 4:30AM because he was clearly way too excited to sleep. I, on the other hand, slept until 5:30AM. My Dad picked us up at 6:30AM to head to the airport. Checking in was a breeze, as we had checked in online the day before. Once at the gate, everything was going smoothly until we finally boarded the plane and sat on the tarmac for an hour. The pilot kept telling us that Charlotte was delaying our flight because their airport was so busy. We touched down in Charlotte with about thirty minutes to get to our next flight, so we very quickly walked through the airport just in time to board the plane to Cancun. Once in Cancun, we walked right up to the Customs counter where the very happy Mexican man greeted us, asked us where we were staying and then asked us the following:

Customs: “You guys married?”

Us: “Yes!”

Customs: “To each other?”

Hahaha…so funny! We got our bags and made our way to the Best Day Travel transfer vans. We loaded up and took off to our hotel. Once there, y’all – Royal Treatment all the way! We had checked in two days before, so when we got out of the van, we had a bell boy take all our bags and show us to the check in area. We were given cold, damp towels to wipe our hands and face with as well as an ice cold glass of champagne. We began the check in process and were told there had been a miscommunication and our room was no longer available. Not to be disappointed, the guest services man offered us a sweet room upgrade at an 80% discount. Obviously, we took it, so we ended up in a Corner Suite that came with a private reserved cabana each day and reservations at the nicest restaurant at the resort, Chef’s Plate. We were able to make dinner reservations at three restaurants before being escorted to our room. Upon entering the room, we went straight to the balcony where we saw this:


After getting the low down on everything in the room, we changed clothes and headed for the buffet restaurant, as we hadn’t eaten anything since 6:30AM Raleigh time (it was now 3:30PM Cancun time). After we ate, we put on our bathing suits, checked out our cabana and headed to the pool.

We had dinner that night at Pelicanos by the beach, but we were so exhausted that we were in bed by 8:00PM.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Too Cute Not to Post

Milo was so glad to have us home that he decided to "help" with the laundry!
Yes, the socks are clean.

Oh, and more pictures have been added to the Shutterfly page.
If we're friends on Facebook, you've already seen them.

Vacation Recap

I have been swamped at work today and will post about our vacation as soon as I can!

We also have a lot of DVR to catch up on at home, so just bear with me!

We had a GREAT trip but are so glad to be home.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vacation Photos

Bless John's heart - he is in bed with an awful headache. No, we haven't had too much to drink today. He hasn't had enough sleep over the past few days from all the excitement about our trip, and I think it's finally caught up with him. To pass the time, I decided to try and upload some of our best vacation pictures to my Shutterfly page, and it worked! The photos uploaded really fast, so check them out. The link is on the right side of this blog.

For the record, we have both enjoyed our time away AND stayed in touch. For us, being able to stay connected helps make us feel safe and secure. So don't worry - the Facebook and blog updates haven't hindered us from having a fabulous time!

Happy Easter from Cancun

Happy Easter, everyone! Remember that today is the day we remember Christ's resurrection. It's not about Easter eggs or the Easter Bunny or even tropical vacations. Today is a day for thanking Jesus for his sacrifice.
We are also praising Him for the beauty He created on this Earth and our ability to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Toad ya so..."

Last night at 9:30, I opened the back patio door to let Milo out for his evening potty. Before I knew what was happening, he bolted over to a spot on the concrete and stared. I walked over to see a cute little toad just hanging out on the warm stone. Milo sniffed him real good, and once he decided the toad was alright, he went on to do his business.

By that point, I had of course made John crawl off the couch and come outside to inspect this amphibian that he had already seen a hundred times in his 25 years of life. For whatever reason, I instantly loved the little frog. Milo came back to look at the toad again, and John thought it would be funny to poke the frog to make him jump and see how Milo would react.

He poked. Frog jumped. So did Milo.

Milo then decided he and the frog were friends and it was time to play! It really was the cutest thing watching him paw at the frog and not understand why the frog kept hopping around the porch. The frog eventually found protection beneath some overturned terra cotta pots, so we all went back inside. Milo sat by the door until we convinced him that it was time for bed.

Wish I had my camera for it, but they were all packed up for our trip TOMORROW!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This is the look John gets when he completely catches me off guard and surprises me with a 200 mm lens two days before our vacation! He's so good to me and I don't deserve it.
Of course I had to put that lens to good use right away and spy on my Mama Bluebird spying on me!
And take pictures of my favorite canine patiently waiting for someone to throw his ball.
This kid's got to have some Pointer in him - he always "points" while he's waiting! Or, as John says - he's in his three point stance waiting for a hike. What a nerd.

Less than 48 hours, y'all.

Overkill? I think not.

You can't have too many vacation posts, especially when it's the only super awesome thing going on in life at the time. We booked our suite this morning - Suite 539 - the room at the tip of the arrow! The resort offers 48 hour advanced check in where you can select your suite, have a 180 virtual tour off the balcony and a 360 virtual tour of the room. Pretty cool, eh?

48 Hours

until five days in Paradise.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Tornadoes

Screen shot from WRAL's website.

If you don't live in the Triangle area, you may have heard about the tornadoes that we experienced on Saturday, April 16. The map shown above was taken from our local TV station, WRAL's website and it's a scary representation of just how close one of the tornadoes came to our home and one of my brother's home.

Let me break it down for you a bit. It may be difficult to see on this map, but Raleigh has two circular highways around it - the smaller one being I-440; the larger one being I-540. The purple line that runs through the word "Raleigh" on this map shows the path of one tornado. John and I live near the intersection of the outer loop, I-540 and I-264 - the red line running due east of the "h" in Raleigh. On this map, we live just above the "g" in Raleigh. You can see just how close the tornado came to us - I would say within about 5-6 miles. My middle brother, on the other hand, lives further north along I-540 and had the tornado come within .5 miles of his house. They lost a tree, Reagan's swing set, their garden and power for about a day.

We are praising God for His protective hand being on us during this scary time.

To be honest, what's most scary to me about this whole situation is that our home was so close to this disaster, yet, if I hadn't been watching the news, I would've had no clue anything was happening. We had a little rain and some thunder, but nothing at our house indicated that a tornado was passing so close by.

I pray that you and your family are safe and sound today.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cold, Treats and a Bug

I have a cold. It started yesterday and really hasn't let up. I've been on the couch trying to get better ever since. You know I can't be sick next Friday!
John and I had to run to Wal-Mart Friday night to pick up a few things, and look what we found:
Milo's Kitchen dog treats! How cool is that!? We didn't buy them because they're a teensy bit expensive...
While John went to Rocky Mount on Saturday to celebrate his dad's birthday, Milo and I stayed home to get well and brave the storms. Milo stayed snug as a bug in a rug in his blanket on the couch with me! Hope you all survived the storms with no damage. Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

1st 3 Days

Forecast in Cancun during our first three days. One more week kids. Just one more week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Love you, Mommy!"

I love seeing them love each other so much. What would I do without my boys?

Backyard Salad

We had the most delicious, fresh, organic [almost] free salad with our spaghetti dinner tonight!
Mom brought me three lettuce seedlings back in February, so we planted them in this pot and let nature do the rest. I don't know what type of lettuce it is. It helps to keep plant labels!
I cut two heads and brought them in to be washed.
After a good bath and drying, the lettuce was ready for the salad bowl!
They.were.delicious!! I LOVE having fresh veggies in our backyard!

Step, Bump. Step, Bump, Bump.

Thank you, Katie, for this Wednesday afternoon entertainment. Don't drink and drive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brain Food Poisoning

Sometimes, I have a lot of my mind. Today, there's a lot flowing through it, so I'm puking it all up:
  • Yesterday, I wanted children. Today, I don't. It's a very bipolar desire I have and it confuses me. It kind of concerns me. At less than four months from 28, I feel like I'm running out of time to decide, which brings me to my next point.
  • I was a late bloomer in all areas of life. Physically, I was tee-tiny until...ok, I still am but you get it. Emotionally, mentally, I'm JUST now getting the hang of things most people understand and practice at 24. Spiritually, I am still growing. (Aren't we all?) I got married later than most - it was totally worth the wait. But what happens if I'm not "ready for kids" until I'm 32+ and it's too late?
  • Work right now is going great. I'm generally very busy, but not overwhelmed. I feel appreciated and like my presence here is important. I am thankful to have survived the economic down-turn.
  • Although we're 10 days away from our trip and I can hardly contain my excitement, I have a list a mile long of things I need to do. I've spread everything out over the next few days so we're not overloaded with "stuff" and stress. "To-Do" post to come.
  • Not to get political, but as we approach another campaign season, I've found myself asking, "Exactly what HAS the president done in his tenure?" I just don't know. I'm having a hard time coming up with anything - good OR bad...
  • When did McDonald's french fries with ranch dressing become my favorite food? No really - I could eat that and never tire of it.
  • My former neighbor's six year old boxer was given two months to live about a month ago. He's battling an uncurable form of canine lymphoma. She's been very open via Facebook about it, and it honestly breaks my heart. My soul aches to watch her and her husband go through this season of watching their best friend die. Nothing, not one thing could be worse than seeing a creature with such unconditional love lose his life to cancer that is from the devil.
  • To end on a lighter note, I asked John the other day:
"Do you think other newlyweds are as happy as us?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Review

As I reflect on this past weekend, I am just now realizing how busy we were!

We had dinner with some friends at Chili's on Friday night. We love Chili's 2 for $20 deal!

On Saturday, I went to the Southern Women's Show Flea Market with my Mom. It was fun just to spend some time together. When I got home, John had worked in the yard (see post below) and was hungry, so we went to El Tapatio where we enjoyed a margarita, fresh guacamole and salsa. John got an entree while I just munched on chips and yummy goodness. We were home early and John, bless his heart, was asleep on the couch by 9!

We both served at church on Sunday morning, ate lunch at Bojangle's and shopped for groceries. I saved $47 this week!! John had to go back to serve at Sunday night service, so in the meantime, I cooked, he watched the original Star Wars on TV and we laid out in the sun for a bit. While John was back at church, I cooked dinner, packed lunches, cut up fruit, baked brownies and did two loads of laundry!

It's late Monday afternoon now, and I'm ready to go home and relax! Hope you had a good weekend!

11 days.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Husband of the Year Award

John won the Husband of the Year Award today! He's always an amazing husband, but today he really worked his butt off in the yard! While I spent the day with my mom, he was at home cutting and bagging the grass, weed eating and edging the grass, then blowing off the sidewalks, driveway and patio. I came home and was SO excited to see what he had done!

Mom bought me a beautiful blue bird house at the flea market, so we put it up before finishing everything outside. Isn't it lovely?
We also put up this older blue bird house I bought from SECU a year ago.
But just look at the yard! It looks so amazing!
All we have left to do until August is put out fertilizer and keep the grass cut. He did such a great job, and I am so thankful to have him!

Friday, April 8, 2011

For Realz!

For real you guys - it has been the most crazy, non-stop work week for me! Here's the run down.

Monday started off with a meeting with my Volunteer Council to put the finishing touches on a project we were doing Thursday. I had my evaluation on Tuesday (it went great, thanks for asking!) and I spent most of Wednesday plugging away in the library.

Yesterday was I did six 30-minute phone interviews and hosted a party for 10 elementary school children in our Board Room in the afternoon. All that among my other regular duties!

Today has been much better. I had a meeting this morning and two phone interviews. I've called candidates back and set up in-person interviews for next week. I dropped Milo off at the groomer, picked him up and saw THIS:

(GASP! Pardon me, but did you not see my dog's penis while you were grooming him? He is a BOY!!!)

I do not know what they were thinking because they haven't put BOWS in his hair since the very first time I took him and they didn't know any better. On another note, they informed me at pick up that a cyst on his right hind leg had ruptured. Yay-rah. He wasn't in any pain, wasn't bothering it, wasn't bleeding, etc. I called the vet as a precaution and whaddyaknow - they want to go ahead and remove it. Our vet had been keeping an eye on it for the two years he's had it, but he said once these things rupture, they're more likely to rupture again and only get worse. Poor Milo. He's on the surgery schedule for May 12.

On that same note, our groomer has been fabulous for the past four years. We have loved them SO much. But...for the past four months or so, the owner has been doing more with less, and I just don't think the quality is what it has been in the past. A few complaints:
  • No more receptionist in lobby at all times.
  • A small door with a window separates lobby from holding kennels, and with no one manning the lobby, anyone could sneak in and take one of the dogs. Not my Milo. No siree.
  • Milo saw "Groomer A" FOREVER. "A" left, and he was put with "Groomer B". Without my knowledge. "Groomer B" eventually left, and he was put with "Groomer C". A dude. Again, without my knowledge. I started to become increasingly unhappy with his cut, so I asked about it and had him moved to "Groomer D" after taking him back one day to have his face re-done. A, B, C, D - lots of change in this tiny little business - puts up a red flag for moi!
  • I used to stand in line to drop him off and pick him up. The past three times he's been groomed, I've driven up and no other customers have been there. At all.
  • The whole cyst rupture thing has gotten to me. Now, I know that this could have happened at any time - with me, with John, with my parents, at the vet or at the groomer, where it occurred. I'm just a teensy bit sensitive about thinking my child was in pain at a place he's supposed to feel safe.
  • Maybe I'm just being sensitive again, but BOWS in my MALE dog's hair? Seriously? I told them four years ago it was unnecessary - I saw her write it on his card. Why the bows now? John thinks they were trying to offset the cyst thing. Ugh.
  • We pay almost $50 every six weeks to get our buddy's hair cut. I kind of expect more out of my groomer than this.
So, we're looking at other grooming options for our bud. I will not take him to Petsmart, so I did a Facebook poll and have gotten some good suggestions. We'll see what happens.

Not much going on this weekend. John's cutting and bagging the dead winter grass in our yard tomorrow, as the fresh, green grass is starting to peek through from underneath. Next weekend or so, I think we'll put down the fertilizer so our yard will be beautiful! As for me, I'm heading to the Southern Women's Show with my mom for a little while tomorrow. We haven't been in years, so I'm excited! We're both serving at church on Sunday, and then it's back to work next week!

Since I haven't mentioned it lately..

We'll be making out (sorry, Dad) on the beach in Cancun in 2 weeks. YES!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Work's kickin' my bootay right now, y'all. I'll blog later. Have a great week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Before and After

After looking through the previous posts, I decided to just do one "official" before and after photo, so here ya go!

All Done!

These are the "after" photos. We are so happy with the way it turned out!

Kitchen Remodel/Renovation

We spent this weekend doing a couple of kitchen updates. The tile guy is here right now grouting everything, so "after" pictures will come later this afternoon. Check back for updates!

The pictures are pretty self explanatory:

With Lowe's coupons in hand, we decided to pick up a new light fixture for the kitchen on Friday night. John installed it, and it looks great! All we have to do is patch the holes in the ceiling from the previous fixture.

Check back later today or tomorrow for the after photos!

(Note: We used Bruce with Tiles Done Right in Benson, per my Mom's suggestion. She had his do a lot of tile work in their house a few years ago. He did an excellent job - on time, clean, professional - if you need a good tile guy for a GREAT price, let me know. I'm happy to pass along his number to you.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

That'll Preach

(Carrie Bradshaw via thefunnythings)

A House Divided is A House United

I believe that a house that divides up the responsibilities is a house united! It's important for everyone to share the load. Even in our house of two humans, we split the to-do list. Here's how we make it work:

  • Wash dishes
  • Take out trash/recycling
  • Bookkeeping (pay bills, balance accounts, budget)
  • Cut grass
  • Vacuum
  • Put gas in cars
  • Wash cars
  • Other random boy things like lifting heavy things, opening tight jars, getting things down from up high and killing bugs


  • Cook dinner
  • Pack lunches
  • Dust
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Buy groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies
  • Scheduling (appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, parties, etc.)
  • Outside maintenance (flower beds, garden, lawn care minus mowing)
  • Sort mail - leave bills out for John to manage

There are also shared responsibilities that we both take care of like laundry and taking care of Milo. Sometimes, John's jobs will overlap mine and vice versa, just depending on what we've got going on. Chores are typically done on Saturday mornings, as we're usually up by 8:30 and can get it all done in a couple of hours. This works really well for us. What works for you?


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