Friday, June 17, 2011

Just Another Madrid Monday

So I'm starting a new "series" that I'll call Just Another Madrid Monday because....Luke and I are moving to Madrid, Spain! For my first Madrid Monday, I'll go back to the beginning and how this all came to be.

I think it all started some time in mid to late February. I was working from home that day due to icy conditions, but Luke was braving the roads into work because he had a few important things to wrap up and was supposed to have lunch with Scott, the partner on his main client. Just randomly before he left, I told Luke to tell Scott that he was quitting in August unless he could do the Global Exchange Progam (GEP) and go work abroad for a year. At the lunch, Scott did ask Luke about his plans for the future, and Luke mentioned the GEP to him (although he probably didn't exactly say, "I'm quitting unless...."). Scott was really open to the idea, told Luke that he had just seen an email about the application process and that he would look into it as soon as they got back to the office.

Back at the office, they found the email and realized that the first application was due that Friday. I think it was Wednesday at this point. Luckily, there wasn't too much involved (on Luke's part) in the first stage of the application process. Basically, before you are even allowed to submit an application for the GEP, you have to have the support of your own home office and the National office in NY and be selected to continue in the application process. With Scott's help, the appropriate people knew that Luke was interested in the GEP right away, and they included his name in the list of the potential candidates that was due to the National office on that Friday. A few weeks passed before we found out that Luke had been accepted in the first round and could submit an application.

So begins the second stage of the application process. In this stage, Luke had to provide all his personal information, submit a resume and answer a few questions such as "Why are you applying to the GEP?" and "How will your home office benefit from your participation in the GEP?". He also had to plan out what destination he wanted to go to and what clients he would work on while there. This part took a lot of talking/planning between Luke and Scott, and Scott also helped out a lot by making connections with people in Spain, which was Luke's targeted destination. After submitting the application, there was a lot of waiting. We submitted it at the very beginning of March. It wasn't until April 1 that we found out that the US office had accepted his application, but that was only half of it. He also had to have an interview with the Spanish office and be separately accepted by that office. So after April 1, we just continued to wait. We knew that Luke would have an interview but we had no idea when.

Finally, on May 19, Luke was contacted by the Spain office and an interview was set for Monday, May 23. On May 23, Luke had his interview in SPANISH over the phone. He left feeling okay about the interview. Before this point in the application process, though, we didn't realize that there would potentially be people from all the world interviewing and trying to go to Spain. So, while Luke thought his interview went well, he thought it probably didn't go as well as say an interview with somebody from Latin America who speaks Spanish as their first language. We dropped the probability of being chosen down to less than 50% and continued to wait two more weeks, which was when they told him he would hear back from the Spain office.

Two weeks passed. And then three weeks passed. Then three weeks and three days in, we finally heard that Luke had been accepted, and we would be going to Spain. And before I go any further, let me take a minute to brag on my amazing husband. Luke was 1 of only 18 people from all of North America that was accepted into the GEP. And Ernst & Young is no joke. They hire the best, and they demand a TON. So for him to be accepted is a major accomplishment. And they made the right decision. Luke is such a hard worker, full of integrity and taking ownership in all he does. It doesn't matter if it's the smallest task or something he is dreading having to do, he does it all the way. It's nice to know that the people who work with Luke recognize this as well and have been behind him 100% throughout the whole process. And now back to Spain. :)

Right now, we still have a ton of questions. We know that Luke will be expected to start work in Spain on October 1 (though this is subject to change if the immigration process takes longer than expected), and we know that the term of his contract is 18 months, which will put us back in the good ole US of A in April 2013. But that's literally all we know right now. We're heading to NYC tomorrow morning for GEP orientation, where we hope to get answers to some of our questions.

We are so excited for this next stage in our lives. I expect that there will be many highs and lows, triumphs and challenges, smiles and tears. Leaving our family will be extremely difficult, but we're already making plans for trips back to the states and trips to Spain (as long as Mom can find enough happy pills to last the full 9 hours of flight time :)). I imagine 18 months will fly by, as time seems to do these days. So though some times will be more difficult than others, I can't imagine that we will ever look back on this time with regret.

Look forward to more Madrid Mondays, and eventually Madrid every day, as I definitely plan to use this blog to keep up with family while we're away and to document our experience from the big move to our European travels to how we settle into our new normal in Madrid.

Work Out Wrap-Up

Luke and I are currently in the 3rd week of P90X although it's taken us more like 3.5 weeks to get to this point due to our trip to Nashville and other random excuses. I still can't do as many pull ups as I could this time last year, but I feel myself getting stronger and improving. We've primarily been getting up in the morning to get the workout over with, and it's nice to have each other as motivation to get going so early. This morning, however, we failed. We should have gotten up to do Shoulders and Arms, but we just weren't feeling it and decided to put it off until tomorrow since we have plans with the fam tonight. I told myself that I would go to the gym at lunch to make up for not getting the workout in this morning, and all morning I was dreading it. Finally, at 12:30 I made up my mind that I was going to force myself to go, like it or not. I headed over to to arm myself with one of her interval workouts. On a lazy, lacking motivation day, I figured it'd be better to go in with a plan to make sure I didn't just waste my time. As soon as I saw the lazy girl workout, I knew it was the one for me today! I printed out the plan and headed to the gym to complete a workout that looked like this:

I altered it just a little from the lazy girl workout, and tacked on 2 extra minutes at the end because it bothers me to get off the treadmill at a random distance. The 2 extra minutes got me to an even 4 miles. At first, I thought it was going to be a little bit too easy, but once I got to minute 25, it really picked up and got my blood a pumpin. I left the treadmill with a raised heart rate, sweaty clothes and glad that I forced myself to do it even when I didn't want to. After that lazy girl work out, my week looked like this:

All in all, it was a pretty good week, especially considering how much we had going on in the evenings. Tuesday night we went to spin and dinner with Chandler; Wednesday was Ben Folds with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Thursday I met up with Luke and some of his work buddies for a happy hour (times 5). Saturday, we're going to get back on track with P90X Arms & Shoulders, and I might try to talk Luke into another spin class as well but we'll see how that goes. Sunday, we'll either run, rest, swim or P90x. Next week, we're traveling to NYC so I'm going to arm myself with many more treadmill workouts from so that I won't draw a blank once I drag myself into the hotel fitness center in the wee hours of the morning. I can't wait for NYC, and I'll surely have some good food to write about after that trip! Ready for the weekend!

PS: This little wrap-up was fun, so I think I'll strive to make it a weekly occurence. :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ATTN: Sales - Stolen Sylvie Wedding Band and Engagement Ring

Thursday afternoon, I went to LA Fitness, like I frequently do, on my lunch break. When I came out of the gym about an hour later, I was shocked to see my front passenger side window shattered and my purse gone. Seriously! I was parked in the front row within eye sight of the entrance, and it was the middle of the freaking day!!! I mean, who does that?

After I called Luke and calmed down a bit, I went back into the club to tell the manager. He was already aware of the break in because somebody had told him, but apparently, no one saw it happen. I told him it wasn't that big of a deal (though it was a huge hassle) because I had my phone with me and could just cancel my cards, and he gave me the non-emergency number to report it to the police.

While I was on the phone with the lady at the police department, it hit me. Both of my wedding rings were in my purse. I literally lost it on the phone with the lady and could barely finish giving her my information. I immediately called Luke and he, of couse, was not mad at me, but so sad as well. After waiting and talking to the police and crying my eyes out, it was late, and I was too upset and tear stained to go back to work. I went to get Luke a little early, and we found a place with Wifi where we looked up numbers for pawn shops in the area (just in case). While calling around to the pawn shops, we found out that there's something called the National Pawn Shop registry. Basically, pawn shops are supposed to report merchandise they buy to this system, and then police departments are able to search it for stolen items. So we got the name of the lady in charge of the Pawn Shop detail at the Irving Police Department and made sure that she had the best possible description of my rings. Unfortunately, I would say there's slim to no chance of the rings being recovered, especially as time passes.

To have something stolen from you is such a devastating feeling, and really, there is absolutely nothing I can do to make it better. I've walked through a pawn shop or two with no luck. (My ring would have stuck out like a sore thumb from what I saw.) We've called and faxed descriptions of the rings to the local Gold & Silver exchange buyers just in case. And now we just wait. And hope for the best. And hope that as time goes by, the sadness and thoughts of "what if" go away.

I've gone over and over that day in my head, and if I'd done one of a billion things differently, this might not have happened.

First, it's not a normal thing for me to put my rings in my purse. I have a rash on my finger, though, and the rings have been irritating it. The day before this happened, I left my rings at home because I'd been messing with them too much and was afraid I would accidentally lose them. This morning, for some reason, I decided to wear them again. By the time I got to work, they were already bothering me, so I put them in my purse so that I wouldn't accidentally leave them on my desk at work overnight. What if I hadn't done that? What if I'd left them at home? What if my car had been broken into the day before when I also went to the gym at lunch?

I was busy working that morning and didn't go to lunch until around 1. What if I'd gone just a little bit earlier?

When I left for lunch, I was going back and forth between going to the gym or going to browse around Target. I'd already worked out with Luke that morning, and if I went to the gym, I was only going to walk just so I could get a little break from sitting at my desk. If I went to Target, though, I'd be tempted to buy things I didn't need, and I didn't need to spend the money. The gym won. What if I'd just gone to Target?

All week, I'd still been carrying the small, tan cross-body purse that I took on our trip to Nashville. Right before I left the house that morning, I decided to switch purses back to my huge, gray purse. It's seriously large - probably more of a tote than a purse. What if I hadn't done that? The tan of the first purse would have blended in with the tan of my seats, and the small size would have made it less visible.

What if I had put my purse in the trunk? What if I had remembered that my rings were in my purse and put them back on before going into the gym? What if I had stuck my wallet into my gym bag? What if I had done something, anything, differently?

Luke has been so sweet and perfect and understanding through all of this. He says you can't do what if's because what if? What if I'd gone to Target and gotten into a horrible wreck on the way? What if I'd left the gym as soon as I was finished instead of being delayed by the break in drama? You never know.

And maybe some good will come out of this. My sweet six year old niece, Shelby, overheard my mom talking about what happened after I called her. She asked Poppy, my dad, why God would make somebody that would do that. He told her that God gives us the ability to choose, and sometimes people make the wrong decisions. So maybe she learned a big life lesson and will always choose to make the right decisions so that other people don't get hurt or sad.

And maybe the thug that stole my rings has an impatient girlfriend that's really been putting on the pressure and has been begging him to propose. Maybe this was the push he needed to finally pop the question, and they can start a beautiful life together. (Just Kidding. I do NOT hope that at ALL!)

Although I loved my rings and what they symbolized and am still very sad about what has happened, I'm so glad that nothing worse happened. We don't have the rings, but we still have each other. And maybe someday in a very long time, I'll get to upgrade. (Just kidding again. Mine were PERFECT.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nashville - Days 2 & 3

We slept Friday night while visions of antiques danced in our heads. So we woke up fairly early Saturday morning, grabbed a coffee to go and headed out to the Nashville flea market. I drooled at this sign.

Despite my excitement, though, we didn't buy much. We found an old blue lantern that just happened to match the living room of Ben & Em's house, so we grabbed it for them as a small thank you gift. Hopefully, they like it. We also picked up 5 small, brown bottles. Right now, they're just sitting on the fireplace, but I hope to clean them up and come up with a better idea for them soon!

After walking around the flea market until we were sure we'd seen it all, we headed out to Franklin, a little city just outside of Nashville. Here we browsed around a few stores and got a bite to eat. While we were eating the most fabulous grilled grouper sandwich ever, we got a text from my Aunt Jana that there was live music in Centennial Park that afternoon. So we finished the sandwich, got Luke a Ben&Jerry's cone to go, and headed back to Nashville. One thing about Nashville is that it's easy to find good music. We really enjoyed the outdoor concert and visiting with Jana and Bruce.

After dinner with the Roberts, Luke and I checked out Broadway for a bit. First, we made a stop by the famous Tootsies.

It's famous because it is so close to the Ryman Auditorium that musicians used to hang out at Tootsies until the very last minute that they had to leave to be on stage. Other than that, it's tiny and crowded. After "Excuse me" and "I'm sorry"-ing our way through the packed bar, we got lucky enough to find a seat at the back.

After Tootsies, we made another quick stop for a little karaokee where we saw not 1 or 2 but 4 bachelorette parties, and then called it a night.

Day 3.

Sunday started out pretty similar to Saturday. Rise early and grab a coffee to go at the nearby Bongo Coffee shop.

This time, though, we headed out to the Harpeth River for a 9.5 mile canoe trip. We got going on the river around 10:30 and due to our expert canoing skills, we were finshed by about 1. We probably should have taken our time a little more, but we still really enjoyed our time on the river. And by the time we were finished, the river and all nearby parking lots for canoers were PACKED, so maybe it's a good thing we finished early. It was a beautiful day!

The sun and the canoing drained us, so we grabbed a bite to eat and then decided to rest for a bit. Later that evening, we had a forgettable dinner and then went back to 5 Points to take advantage of the 2 for 1 at Beyond the Edge.

Monday morning we got an early start to our 10 hr drive and were on the road by 6 am and home around 4 pm. We certainly enjoyed our time away, but it is always soooo good to be home. Now if I can just get the motivation to unpack!