happiness

Is this Real Life?

Let’s just take it back to Friday when I had to drive to Chicago for an interview.

I was extremely excited about this position: PR for a start-up in Greek Town that produces premium, 100% natural, human-grade dog treats called Lincoln Bark.  The thought of doing PR for a start-up is a dream to me, especially a company like this with so much potential with a product I believe in!

I immediately fell in love with the owner, and we sat and chatted for two hours. She offered me the job on the spot, but it was only for two days a week.  I didn’t think 1. that would be nearly enough time for me to accomplish what the company needs and 2. that wouldn’t be enough money for me to live on.  This was a great opportunity though!  She told me to think about it and talk it over with Paul.

Saturday morning I sat down to write her a thank you  note when my email dinged.  It was an email from her offering me the position again but for full-time! After a super quick chat with Paul, I accepted!  

We then got ready to head out to our “Preakness Stakes” themed going away party, hosted by our dear friends.  All (well most) of our closest friends were gathering for one last soiree to give us a send-off. It was perfect!

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You can’t have a party without cheese…

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My handsome man!

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You also can’t have a party without puppies

About an hour and a half into the party, the hostess called everyone into the living room to give a toast.  It was so great looking around at all of our closest friends and having them there with us… weird that they ALL had cameras, so I was feeling a little awkward. Then Paul said a few words telling our friends that they were our family and our home. Paul then said I had exciting news to share, so I told everyone about my job, I toasted to full-time employment and thought we were done when suddenly Paul said, “and there is one more thing”, and proceeded to drop to one knee and pull out a ring.

This is probably the part where you want to hear the sweet words he said and how I started to cry… but no, that would be too easy for us.  Paul was immediately bombarded by the 3 golden retriever puppies that were in attendance, one which was trying to eat the ring. I blacked out and didn’t hear anything he said, but proceeded to flap my hands like a mad woman and call him an asshole because he had tricked me and said he wasn’t going to propose anytime soon.

Thank God I stopped my hands long enough and shut my mouth to hear him say, “will you spend the rest of your life with me?”, and I slid my puppy drool lubed ring on my finger and held on to a tiny shred of romance by hugging and kissing my fiance. 

How amazing to have all of our “people” there. It was a dream of mine to have our engagement happen like that and it was perfect.  People really only remember the dog and the asshole comment, but it was perfectly us, and we got to spend the rest of the day with everyone celebrating.

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Dinner post going away/engagement party

There are better pictures that I can post later, but all I can say, in the most cliche way ever, is that I am the luckiest girl in the world!

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P.S. Holy shit, I’m a bride….

Adventures in Detroit!

Detroit gets a pretty bad rap from most of the nation, and most of Michigan; me included sometimes. 

Having grown up in a suburb of Detroit, I was fortunate enough to go to the Detroit Symphony, Tiger’s games, hockey games to cheer on the Red Wings, the Fox Theater and other little Detroit treasures.  As an adult, though, short of the occasional Tiger’s game, I never go to Detroit, and I never really want to… Until I met my new co-worker Dana who lives in, and LOVES, Detroit.

She planned a Detroit day for Paul and me so that we could see Detroit through the eyes of a natives.

We started with coffee at her amazing loft which is right across the express way from Comerica Park and Ford Field and then made our way over to Eastern Market.

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Detroit skyline

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They had the most amazing flowers!

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I thought this couple selling bread was just too cute to not take a picture of.

We then headed across the street to grab brunch at this great little place: 

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They had so many great options and most everything is made from local goods, plus it is cafeteria style seating, so you can make some new friends. How many people would have guessed that there were places in Detroit to get a vegan waffle? 

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So good!

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Then we headed to Dana’s boyfriend’s building.  It is a former Model-T dealership in Cork Town that he is renovating.  The place just reeks of history and has the most amazing details! A tin ceiling, tiled floor, and two roof spaces for amazing views of Detroit.

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Ambassador Bridge from the roof top

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Michigan Central Station. It is abandoned now, but is still a gorgeous piece of architecture.

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The site of the old Tiger’s Stadium, now used as a park.

The second floor of his building is his living space, and is the coolest loft style space I have ever seen. So much potential!

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This doesn’t do it justice

We met a woman who rents a small retail space in the building and grew up in Cork Town.  It was amazing to sit and listen to them talk about the history of Cork Town like when the Tigers won the World Series in ’84 and when people were bused into downtown Detroit when mental hospitals were closed around the state.  You get a whole new appreciation for a city when you get to spend time with people who love it and are investing in it.  

Our last stop in Detroit was Slow’s BBQ (for a vegetarian, I end up at a lot of BBQ places).  It has a great reputation, and speaking only on behalf of the beer, service and mac n’ cheese, it was amazing.

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And one last look at Michigan Central Station:

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Detroit may get a bad rap, but there is tons to do in this city and lots of life thriving in it.  It’s not out of the woods yet, but Detroit will have better days again.

(sorry for the terrible photos, I forgot my good camera at home)

Sangrias and Ball Gowns

Saturday was an official “spring day” here in Michigan, so Paul and I headed to Grand Rapids to meet up with some fabulous friends of ours, Doug and Samay, to enjoy the city’s best sangrias at San Chez:

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What an eclectic place! Amazing food (I had vanilla, maple steel-cut oats), free-spirited atmosphere, and the sangrias were to die for!

After breakfast, the boys headed out to visit all of the local breweries while Samay and I chatted and finished off 2 pitchers of sangrias. We have officially launched the tradition of Sangria Saturday.

What else are 2 girls to do on a glorious spring day in down town Grand Rapids after inhaling that much sangria? Shop of course! 

An hour of meandering the shops and streets, Samay wanted to go look at a jewelry store which so happened to be located right next to a bridal salon. Samay dragged me in… I didn’t want to be the “yet to be engaged woman looking at dresses”.  But I was welcomed with open arms, strong arms, that before I knew it had me in a dressing room. 

“Ok, one dress” I said to myself. 

The first dress was an A-line Lazaro that looked gorgeous on the mannequin, but quickly turned into a taffeta monster once I started to dive into it. I swear to God, I thought it was going to eat me alive. It was ginormous, uncomfortable, and I felt like a massive cupcake. 

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This is dress 1. Not me in dress 1 of course. I almost wish I had allowed pictures so you could all laugh along with me.

You know what isn’t fun? **TMI ALERT***Trying on wedding dresses when you are 40lbs over weight, hung-over, haven’t washed your hair in days, on the 2nd day of your period and pretty sure  you need to change your tampon, and needing to poop.  Oh yeah, how is that for the bridal glow.

When I got the first itchy monstrosity off of me, they had 3 more in the dressing room waiting for me. So picture me in the dressing room in a Target bra which didn’t match my polka dot bikini briefs and green and white striped Michigan State calf socks…. unshaven for many moons.  SEXY.

My second dress was a hideous beaded corset top with another A-line skirt. Just no.

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These dresses don’t look like this on normal people with a top knot and no makeup.

As I sauntered gracelessly back into the dressing room, trying not to trip on or rip my third massive gown, the sales woman says to me, “You don’t wear dresses often do you?”.

I raise an  eyebrow at her, because this is the most absurd question I had been asked all day. “What do I look like, a Disney princess? No, I don’t frequently wear ballgowns”.

The fourth dress was actually a surprise to me.  It was a trumpet silhouette and was the most flattering of them all. Not hating it aside, I denied their request for more dresses and raced to the dressing room to escape, passing another incoming bride who was ecstatic to try on dresses.  From the looks of her, not only did she have the bride gene, but she wasn’t hung over, had washed her hair and had probably shaved her legs in the last 2 weeks. I was more than happy to tap her into the “master bridal suite”.

Note to self: prepare for a trip to a bridal salon by shaving, wearing cute underwear, doing your hair and makeup, but never forget to always: 

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And really, at the end of the day, I’ll have fun getting married even if I’m in sweatpants and a hoodie (which I assure you I won’t be). 

A case of the DIYs

It is no secret that Paul and I are moving in less than 2 months (yay!), and I have been in full on type-A mode prepping for our new apartment. I feel that it is time to do away with all of my used and loved college furniture and get a fresher look for our home.

Enter new couch, new rug, new comforters, and new desk… oh wait, I’m poor; so that was the end of our new stuff. Time to get creative.

For years I have had an orange couch, a burgundy recliner, and an overall “fall theme” in my living room.  it is time to lighten things up.  Not being able to afford a new recliner, and truly loving the one I have, I decided to take it into my own hands, along with a staple gun and some fabric, to create a new look:

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I started out with this bad boy.  Paul just left me to my own devices in the 3-season room and said “don’t staple yourself”.  An hour and a half later:

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Voila! 

It wasn’t without its struggles, oh no, but from the front it is extremely presentable.

Advice to others:

1. If you read a blog and they say “I just got 5 yards of fabric to redo my chair”, get 6.  Just trust me, get 6…. and don’t look at the back of my chair which is currently still burgundy.

2. I know buying a staple gun is exciting, but make sure that you buy the right size staples.  I knew there were different lengths, but surprise! There are also different widths.

3. Read the instructions before attempting to load the staple gun.

My next project was redoing the top half of a desk that has been in my family for 20 years.  I have decided to keep the top half to use as a book shelf in the new apartment.  I figured “how hard could it be to paint over wood?”.  Paul, the voice of reason and experience, my own personal Yoda, suggested that I sand it down first so the paint sticks. I figured paint would just stick to wood anyway, but ok. 

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After finding extra paint in the basement, I realized that I didn’t have a paint brush.  This was divine intervention because I figured while I was out, I should get some fabric to cover inside and make it really cool!

I went out, got my brush, got my fabric, and settled down in the living room to get to work. “Did you get primer?”

The F&$K?!?!

Why does Paul insist on interrupting my “shoot and holler shit” methodology of life with practicality and legitimate questions?

“Um….” glancing quickly at my bucket of paint, modern invention is on my side.”PAINT AND PRIMER IN ONE!!!” I yell at him, as if saying “Boom! I already thought of that”. Nope, I just got lucky.

2 coats of paint later, I was ready to put on some fabric.  Not to sound like a kindergarten drop-out, but I am AWFUL at cutting straight lines. It was not pretty, but after a number of attempts, my master piece was finished:

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Now I kind of want to keep the  bottom half of the desk and just repaint that too.  

I have never been much of a DIY person, but I am having some fun 🙂 

t-minus 57 days until the move!

 

Running the Chicago Marathon in Pink!

My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2011 and it made me realize 2 things.

1. I was even more in love with the city of Chicago than I had previously thought; and

2. I couldn’t wait to run another marathon.

Two and a half years later I have finally signed up for my second marathon, and I will be returning to the streets of Chicago (soon to be my new hometown) to run for one of my favorite non-profits, Bright Pink

For those readers who don’t know, I lost my mom to breast cancer almost 16 years ago and know far too many amazing women who have been affected by this disease.  This fall, I will run for them!  

Bright Pink is an amazing organization that offers education, support and is leading the charge for early detection and prevention for not only breast cancer, but ovarian cancer as well.  They really have an empowering message, and I couldn’t be more excited to run on their fund raising team.

I have 6 months to raise $1000, so please feel free to stop by my fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/stephanieericson 

Have you been touched by breast cancer somehow? Share your story with me and I would love to add you or your loved one’s name to my list of reasons I am running.  

We are almost to spring, and I hope everyone is surviving the weather wherever you are!

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My mom, brother and me from back in the day (Dad got cropped for icon usage purposes… sorry, Dad ❤ !)

Dabbling in DIY and Redecorating

I love decorating.  It is probably my favorite part about moving or reorganizing… redecorating!

I am in super decoration mode for our impending move, which is ridiculous seeing as we don’t even have our apartment guaranteed yet. This does not detour my Type A personality…I have that place 90% decorated in my head (the power of positive thinking goes a long way).

Today, we have a new couch being delivered (moving or not, we needed a new couch), I have ordered new rugs, bed spreads, and have started collecting decorative things that will fit with my new design palette, which I can see in my head, but have yet to define very well. (All of this is thanks to my tax return… and sales).

Paul bought me our first new piece for our guest bedroom/office this weekend. An early birthday present in the form of a new writing desk/makeup station that we found at an antique store.

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I am madly in love with it already, and plan on loving it more in our new place surrounded by these, and other choice items: 

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I have also been in a search for an old ladder that I could use to hang blankets on in our living room.  I think I found the idea on http://www.livecreatingyourself.com/ , a blog that I absolutely love. I feel as if we have extremely similar taste (and she loves her dogs), but I would be ecstatic to live in her apartment.  

Anywho, I get so sick of our blankets just hanging off of our couch (or on the floor where Max likes them), so I was giddy when I finally found an antique ladder last weekend.

It started out kind of gross (and smelled like horses, Paul thought), but when you are antiquing or DIY-ing, you have to look at potential, not what you are presented with.  Bless Paul’s heart because I was just going to take it home and put some old sand paper to it, but he escorted me to the hardware store to buy me 3 kinds of sand paper, a mask, and blocks to wrap the sand paper around (who knew?!?).

An hour later, I had results that were beyond my expectation:

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A little grungy… definitely loved by someone

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Voila!!! I love the color!

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Now we just need to get some classier blankets…

I suppose my need to decorate a new apartment that we aren’t even in yet stems from the fact that things are still so up in the air about our move.  We will hopefully find our exact move date this weekend, school starts in September, but it is still to early to find jobs and have other things fall into place.

One thing I can control is our home, so that is where all my energy is going.  Call it the anxiety-control freak side of me.

Damn is it fun!

Is there something in your house that you particularly love or did yourself?

Some nights you just need a glass (bottle) of wine

As the snow has weighed down most of the nation, I feel like the stress of work has weighed me down.  Our generous vacation of nearly 3 weeks was wonderful to recharge and reset for the New Year, but 3 days in and I am starting to feel it already!

I love my job.  I love that I am working on 100 different projects at one time, 4 or 5 “departments” that need me at once, new ideas coming to the surface, not to mention day-to-day tasks and the unknown always popping up in my inbox and flying across my desk. But sometimes at the end of the day, you just need a glass of wine to recharge for the next day.

It has been a fabulous 2014 thus far, and I am excited to say that it will be an amazing year.  I was accepted to grad school and will be moving to Chicago to pursue my Masters this summer!

2014 is going to be the year to cross things off of my bucket list. I already have 3 ready to go. 1. Move out of Michigan 2. Move to a large city (my favorite none the less) 3. Pursue my Masters.

I love the New Year.  I love the thought of a fresh start and a clean slate.  Any day can be a clean slate, but for me, nothing gives hope like starting off the year on the right foot.

What are you all hoping to do or accomplish in the New Year?

Here are a few pics from my holiday and 2014 adventures thus far!

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A shot after the ice storm in downtown East Lansing

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Our New Year was spent celebrating the birthday of the 2 goldens in the back. It was such a great time with some of my dearest friends. (Look at the handsome ones in the middle)

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

Winnetka

Winnetka

My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

Happy New Year to all!

And the Winter Fun Continues

I was woken up from a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning by a massive snapping and crashing noise.  

I shot straight up out of bed, smacking Paul in the chest yelling, “what was that?!”.

I scramble out of bed and go flying down the stairs like a bat out of hell, as fast as I can without falling in the dark, and dart from window to window to see what the culprit of this noise was. 

When I get to the fourth window, and still see nothing, I am starting to question whether or not I was dreaming.  I don’t hear Paul getting out of bed yet either, so I start to think, “oh God, it must have been part of my dream.  I look like a complete fucking lunatic right now!”. 

Determined to prove my sanity, I race to the back door. Imagine my relief to find this waiting for me: *pictures were taken in the light of day*

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the poor patio chair never had a chance…

Paul finally lumbered down, took a look, and said, “huh…thankfully it didn’t hit a car or come through the roof.  I’m going back to bed,” and with his signature kiss to the top of my head, made his way back up stairs. 

This morning, I was able to investigate more.  We had been his by a huge ice storm, coating our whole world in ice. While walking around the house taking pictures, I could hear limbs and trees crashing all over our neighborhood. For as awful as the fallen trees and damage is, there is a beauty to everything being covered in ice.

Hope everyone getting strange weather is safe!

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Back/side of our house

 

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P.S. Our snowman was murdered 😦 He lived a mere 24 hours. 

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

It has been a snowy few weeks here in Mid-Michigan, and the temps have been sub-zero for a number of days. So imagine the joy and surprise of the people when it hit a balmy 40 degrees yesterday.

Annually, whenever the temperature dips below 50 degrees for the first time in “winter”, I sternly declare, “Michigan is too cold! I will never survive another winter!”… yet any Michigander will tell you that in the depths of winter, if the temp rises anywhere near 35 degrees or higher, you mine as well declare it a heat wave.

Enter this gentleman:

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I get it, it’s 37 degrees out and feels like spring break, but sir, this is just inappropriate.

Luckily for my Christmas loving significant other, the balmy weather did not melt all of our snow.  There was still plenty left over for us to make a snow man, an activity I have not partaken in for years!

Making a snow man is harder than it looks!  Snow is heavy, and molding a perfect or even presentable “ball” of snow is damn near impossible.  Alas, after a few failed lifts to give him a mid-section, a number of facial reconstructive surgeries to take him from looking like a bunny to the predator then ET, we finally sort of made a lawn ornament we can be proud of:

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Spartan pride and Detroit represented

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It is kind of hard to tell, but he is smiling

And the puppy helped of course:

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He’s so handsome!

Then, we retreated to our living room to sit by the Christmas tree and drink home-made Baileys, compliments of our dear friends. (We didn’t actually just sit by the tree, mind you. You just burned through our DVR then ended up watching Wheel of Fortune.  I know what you are thinking; we are one hot couple).

At this point in the story I need to tell you about what has been haunting me this Christmas.  A little, professionally wrapped box that was placed in my stocking.  Any girl will probably know what I am referring to when I say “a little box”. Oh yeah, that kind of box:

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Paul put this in my stocking about 2 weeks ago, and I am convinced it has been just to mess with my head.  He is NOT a Christmas engagement person; it is just not his style, but a girl (especially me) just has to wonder.

I have been bugging him since the first present went under our tree to start opening them.  I am a child, I just don’t wait well.  Finally, last night, whilst watching Wheel of Fortune, Paul says that I can open one gift.  I completely froze.  He had this ethereal, loving, can’t-live-without-you, could-never-love-anyone-more, how-are-you-mine? look on his face.  

Was this it? Was he thinking that it had been such a great night that it would be the perfect moment to propose? 

My heart started racing. Beads of sweat started to form on my nose. It was as if my parents had just caught me drinking and I was trying to hide the fact that I was drunk… Play it cool, just play it cool.

“Which one?” I ask… totally normal and level-toned I’m sure.

“The little one in your stocking.”

I sort of turned down the TV thinking, “I don’t want to be a brat about it, but are Pat Sajak and Vanna White going to be the witnesses to my engagement?”  Don’t get me wrong, I would say yes to him any where, but part of me just felt like the situation was off… or maybe it was just the heaviness of the situation.  I have never dealt with this kind of thing before.  Was this the moment that I was going to be telling people about for the rest of my life? The moment I would call all of my friends about and have to repeat over and over in the coming months? Was I about to throw up? Did I look at all calm and unsuspecting?

“Steph, it is not an engagement ring, this is not Paul’s style”… I kept reassuring myself as I took the 6 foot walk from the couch to my stocking where the little box was resting.

“I’m in pajamas… I really wanted to be in a cute outfit…. Christ that could not matter less” I can argue a lot in my head in 6 feet.

I finally pull it out and make my way back to the couch when Paul says, “I really wanted to get this for you last year, so I am so happy I can give it to you this year.”

Female over-analyze activated: What the f**k does that mean?… Just open the present you weirdo. But my hands are sort of trembling (sort of = a lot), and I still can’t really breath.  Would it be wrong to hit my inhaler real quick? As if that wouldn’t be a give away that I wasn’t completely emotionally collected.

Slowly tearing through the gold paper, I unveil a beautiful little white box with a very reassuring and fabulous little word embossed in the top of it: Pandora. All levels returned to normal, breathing again was possible. 

All was clear, all was safe; it was a beautiful Michigan State Pandora bead for me to put on my ever naked yet daily worn Pandora bracelet.

I couldn’t love it more.  Sorry, Pat and Vanna, you will not be witness to my engagement 🙂

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It’s so perfect!!!!! He wanted me to have extra Spartan pride before the Rose Bowl game.

 

P.S Congrats, Paul, you officially made me squirm and I know you loved it.