Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thinking Back. Looking Ahead.

I just love a new year. It's a great opportunity to reflect upon the previous year and look forward to what is in store for the next one. Inevitably there are always things that happen in a period of 12 months that I could have never in my (limited) imagination thought possible. For instance...
-Britney Spears is not only still alive but she's back. And some would say she's better than ever.
-I own a dog. In an apartment.
-I completed 2 half-marathons in one year.
-Athens is beginning to feel like home.
-Grey's Anatomy is no longer a show that I refuse to miss.
-I no longer have to promise my first-born child to the oil companies each time I fill up my car.

With each new year, I am usually very hopeful about what is in store for my life. It can be unnerving at times because like so many others, I just want to know how things are going to turn out. My friend Allison reads the end of the book first. Haven't we all wished that we could do that in our lives at some point in time? But then think about all that we would miss leading up to those events that we so desire. I've decided that life is kind of like Algebra in some regards. It's sequential and if you jump ahead without having a strong understanding of one part, then it's only so long before you're in over your head. Trust me on this one - I took Algebra I twice because I didn't really get it the first time around in middle school.

Each year I can look back on blessings that I never even thought possible. Or that I never even thought about praying for. This only reaffirms to me that God truly does have our best interest in mind. He knows our needs so much better than we do. So I wish you all a very Happy New Year.'s gonna' be fine! (Perhaps I should resolve to quit making dumb rhymes.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Great 08 Clean-Out

Today I'm going to allow you all to take a glimpse into a part of my life that I don't typically share with the free world...
I think that you can tell a lot about a girl by her closet. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. I beg to differ. The good news is I'm no longer quite as compulsive about the organization of my closet as I once was. I like to think this translates into a more mellow me. It's a nice thought. Prior to going home for Christmas I was hanging some things up when I noticed that the shelf on the left side was starting to break away from the wall. So I mentally prepared myself to arrive back to my humble abode only to find half of my closet contents dumped into the floor in complete disarray. It was nothing short of a Christmas miracle that this tragedy of epic proportions did not happen. Monday afternoon I decided that I could not press my luck any further so I began the arduous (is that word appropriate here?) task of cleaning out my closet. Little did I know at the time that I would need the extra space for the new skinny jeans that I would purchase only a couple of hours later. [Sign #25 of the Apocalypse: HP has skinny jeans hanging in her closet.] Anytime I clean out my closet I use the rule of "If it hasn't been worn in a year, I'll never miss it" to determine what goes and what stays. This is the result after about 15 minutes...And here are all the discarded clothes before being shipped off to Goodwill...

I know...I have a ridiculous amount of clothes and I understand that I'm very fortunate to have the "problem" of full closet shelves. I also have a problem with discarding this shirt...When I was in high school I vowed to myself that I would never become one of those adults who got stuck in the rut of dressing the same way that they dressed in college for the rest of their lives. Turns out that I've had this shirt since college. And for whatever reason I love it. I still wear it 8 years later despite the fact that it has always fit me crookedly because of the way it is sown. (It's obvious how crooked it is just by looking at it!) Something tells me that I can't really rock it with my new skinny jeans and tall boots, but when I pulled it off the hanger to throw into the discard pile I just couldn't let go. So much for "out with the old, in with the new".

Have I ever mentioned that Cash's 2nd most favorite thing in the world to chew is a hanger?Needless to say this was more exciting for him than all the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yardscape of the Year

In the event that you have any extra pastel colored toilets and sinks circa 1960s lying around, might I offer up this as a suggestion for something to do with them...Who knew that Cherokee County had such artistic flair?!?
Personally, I'm just glad that the photographer wasn't shot at during this photo shoot.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lucky Me

Remember how when we were kids there was nothing worse than the day after Christmas let down? Or am I the only one who ever experienced this? When I was a child, for weeks leading up to Christmas I would study the JC Penney and Sears Wishbooks like they contained the answers to life's most difficult questions. Then finally the much anticipated day arrived only to result in a major let down on the 26th because the excitement over getting all the stuff was gone now that I had it. Hmm...mark of an only child? Perhaps.

Well, I've decided that the coping mechanism of choice to combat this in adulthood is going shopping on the day after Christmas. Why not go out and get some more stuff at mega-sale prices? Because if you're anything like me, you really need some more stuff. If for no other reason but to add to your concern that if you hang one more piece of clothing on the left side of your closet it will finally be the breaking point that results in the whole shelf falling off the wall because it just can't take anymore weight on it. What can I say? I like adventure.

This afternoon, mom, the boys, and I headed out to the mall in search of deals. Actually I think Ethan was in search of girls because he had plans to meet up with some of his buddies and the last time I checked the Haley and Jordan his crew runs around with is not Haley Joel Osment and Jordan Knight. Micah was oh so thrilled because what 10 year old boy wouldn't want to go the mall on the day after Christmas when he has a brand new Wii to play with at home?

In my never ending quest to find the perfect pair of jeans, I stumbled across a pair of Lucky Brand jeans in Macy's that I loved. Of course they weren't on sale so I hid them for later just in case I decided to use a major chunk of my Christmas change. I forgot about the Lucky Brand store at North Point though and much to my surprise when we walked by I saw that they were having their twice yearly sale. Everything was 50% off. It was my lucky day, indeed! Is it a problem that I get this excited about getting jeans at such a good deal? Probably. Which is why I won't mention the $110 dollars I saved at Macy's on the unmentionables that I got there.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Story

Did you all know that A Christmas Story plays for 24 hours straight on TBS beginning Christmas Eve night? I understand that not everyone can be as fortunate as I am to share in the experience of watching at least 12 hours of said movie. Oh the joy of having little brothers. However I'm not here to talk about Red Rider BB guns or little boys sticking their tongues to flagpoles. I'm here to talk about my family's Christmas story which in my opinion is just as entertaining. Or not.
On Christmas Eve, we (my mom's side of the family) all gather at Mu and Pop's home for food, fun, and fellowship. Or something like that. Also in attendance is the small posse of Santas...They literally are always watching, and to be frank, they creep me out just a little. It appears that I'm not the only one...Even Mu who was responsible for putting them there seemed a little distraught...Or maybe she was just bothered that one of her grandsons was attempting to throw gang signs under her roof. But not nearly as bothered as she would be if she had any idea that this picture of her is now floating around the blogosphere.
For as long as I can remember, it has been a tradition that before we can open presents my aunt, Janie, reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Talk about torture on the highest level...sitting still and listening to a story with the temptation of presents under the tree just waiting to be opened. Obviously the listening skills of the great grandkids are no better than those we had years ago...
This year was also Micah's debut as a guitar player. He has been taking lessons since the summer so he and Justin played a duet of Amazing Grace...
I sure hope that Justin remembers his favorite older cousin who let him into college when he's rich and famous. Finally it was time for presents so the kids were tasked with giving out gifts...
Apparently the fact that I am 3 months shy of 30 is a moot point. In my family, you are classified as a "kid" until you have kiddos of your own. [Oh how I hope that the resolution of my parents' monitor is the reason why I look like this in these pictures. Otherwise I need to make some resolutions about spending more time at the gym.] Here is a rare shot of Mu and Pop sitting near each other opening presents...
Maybe the key to 59 years of marriage is to not sit near each other at family gatherings. Or maybe they realized after mom was born that sitting near each other only resulted in more daughters which they could not afford so they stopped. Here they are opening pictures that were taken the Saturday after Thanksgiving...
This is Mu and Pop's brood of 7 grandchildren plus spouses and great-grandkids. What an adventure it was to get these pictures. Just moments before this actual photo was taken, the shoot came to a screeching halt when Ethan passed out. Thank heavens his older sister was close by to catch him when he fell! Too bad she didn't believe him in the moments leading up to the big blackout when he was telling her that he needed to sit down. Instead she just kept telling him to get his hand out of his pocket and smile because it would be over soon enough. She probably won't be getting any Sister of the Year awards anytime soon. So after spending far too long in a cramped studio it makes perfect since to photograph the little ones last...
But at the end of this very special day, it is not about the gifts or the food (I whined to my mom on Wednesday night that it just wasn't Christmas without Mu's red-velvet cake), but it's about a baby who was born to a virgin over two-thousand years ago...
A son who came to save the world. And his name is Jesus.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Yes, I realize that back in the day Peaches and Herb was not crooning about the reunion of 3 college friends over dinner one night at a Chili's after a 2 1/2 year separation, but this specific line is fitting for such nonetheless. You see, my friend Christie who hails from the land of pasta and Prada (at least for 3 years of her life anyway) is in town with her husband for Christmas so my friend, Donna worked to coordinate a little dinner gathering. And oh what a fun time it was! Who knew that 4 hours in Chili's could be so enjoyable? Who knew that we would spend a large fraction of that time looking at the menu trying to decide what we would have? While I managed to scarf down my mini-burgers without a second thought, the meal was not the part that I enjoyed the most. It was the comfort of time spent with old friends. Even though so much has changed for all three of us since we last spent time together, one thing that has not changed is the ease in which we could talk and laugh with each other. I believe that the ability to do this is the mark of true friendship. Friends like these two are a rarity. I don't see them everyday. I don't talk or even email with either one on a regular basis. But it doesn't mean that I don't think of them or pray for them and I know that they do the same for me as well. Although times like our dinner last night cannot be wrapped up and put under a tree, they are some of the best gifts that I will receive this season. Thanks for the fun, friends. I'm already looking forward to next time!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Princess Paper After All

Earlier this year I had decided that I would not buy new wrapping paper until I had used all the Christmas wrapping paper that I have accumulated over the years. It's the practical thing to do considering this is just paper that gets torn to shreds in a matter of seconds anyway. Besides I thought it would be absolutely hilarious to wrap the boys' gifts in Disney Princess paper. But then I had second thoughts and decided that I would not be responsible for future decisions or future therapy bills that might result from an innocent little Christmas joke. I was in Target last night picking up a couple of last minute things when I walked past the Christmas stuff and decided to just look at the wrapping paper. And then it became my mission to coordinate gift wrap with my trendy little tree at home... In other news, I was on my way to pick up my dry cleaning this afternoon when I had a Santa sighting. I let him into traffic as he was pulling out of the liquor store parking lot. I suspect that his reason for hitting the bottle has nothing to do with the 8 tiny reindeer and the elves in the workshop or the countless requests for Wii's or xBox 360's from children all over the world. He probably just has a puppy at his house to contend with too...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You Let Me Down Casting Crowns

Each Christmas season I usually purchase one new Christmas CD to accompany HP's Holiday Hits (Volumes I and II) to liven up the season. While there will never be another Christmas compilation as good as A Cabbage Patch Christmas, I am optimistic that other artists will one day live up to the expectations set forth by Sybil Sadie and Otis Lee. Quite possibly my favorite Christmas CD in recent years is Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong because who doesn't love a peppy and upbeat tune like River to get one through the holidays? A close second to Sarah is Jewel's Joy - A Holiday Collection minus her rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It is almost enough to inspire me to run to the nearest Kmart, purchase a hunting license, learn how to shoot a rifle and embark upon a little night hunting on Christmas Eve if you know what I mean. And please whatever you do, learn from my mistake and do not waste your money on this CD no matter how tempting the bonus track of Kelly Clarkson singing "O Holy Night" sounds. It's just not worth the pesos.

Now perhaps you are wondering how I select the yearly CD. If you are, then might I recommend you get a hobby or take a nap or something, but for those of you still reading along, I will tell you. It's a highly systematic process that involves me looking at the back of a CD usually while standing in line at Target. If I happen to see my current favorite song of the season listed as a track, then into my cart the CD goes. Impulse shopper? Not me. This is exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon. While standing in line, the CD display at the end of the register lane caught my eye and I picked up Peace on Earth by Casting Crowns. Then I saw it: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and I was so excited because I really love this song this year for some reason. It's just beautiful. So after paying for my loot, I headed to my car and paid no attention to the car waiting for my parking space...I had a new CD to listen to immediately. Oh, the joy of living in a world of instant gratification. I skipped past all of the other songs until I got to the sole reason I spent an additional 9.99 in the first place. As I listened I thought to myself - this is a pretty intro but it seems a little long... So I opened up the little CD booklet thingy (I only speak in technical terms, obviously) and what I had suspected was confirmed: INSTRUMENTAL. Don't get me wrong - I love instrumentals but not when I purchase a vocal group's CD. I would probably react the same way if I popped in a Kenny G CD only to hear his singing voice. It's a very pretty instrumental version of the song and it is growing on me so maybe I'm being too harsh on Casting Crowns. Besides, I only listen to these CDs for a month out of the year anyway. Apparently there are more instrumental versions of this song than I realized though because when I went to add it to my Christmas blog play list, really the only non-instrumental choices were Phillips, Craig and Dean or Clay Aiken. And I've never been much of a Clay-mate.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice - Custard - Happiness

Yesterday, Suz and Caroline came to Athens for an early Christmas celebration. And oh what fun we had! Just look...I think I called her Beaker one too many times. Please forgive me, sweet baby, but your hair is just too cute. After a great lunch at Aqua Linda we loaded Caroline back up in the truck. Side note: the fact that Suzanna is driving a big truck right now really makes me giggle. Kind of like the time I giggled all the way to Savannah with her when she drove her parents' Expedition. I was not giggling when I was the one responsible for navigating that baby out of the parking deck right off of River Street though. After getting Caroline settled we remembered that right next door to the restaurant was this...And seriously, is there a better way to clear one's palate from chips and salsa than with frozen custard? I hardly think so. So we proceeded to unload Caroline (actually I just observed) and took off in hot pursuit of more calories. Now, here is where I'll be candid and honest - until yesterday I had never had frozen custard. And just the word "custard" kind of kicks my gag reflex into overdrive due to my ridiculous food aversion that I will not discuss with you all here in the blogosphere. So I wasn't convinced that I was going to experience the ice custard happiness that Rita so boldly declared, but I was up for the adventure. Besides it was about 83 degrees outside (or really 63...too warm for December, regardless) so I needed a nice cool treat to beat the heat. I loved the green apple Italian ice-like-stuff and not just because it matched my shirt tasted great. However I can totally do without the frozen custard. In the future I'll stick with frozen confections of the milk and cream and sugar variety sans eggs just as God intended.
I'm pretty convinced that Suz and I are going to have our own Saturday Night Live skit one day because she's one of the funniest people I know, and I crack myself up on a semi-regular basis so personally I think it's a winning combination. Even if we never make it in the big city though, I'm so glad to know that we will be celebrating holidays and the regular days for many years to come, and I'm sure that we'll be laughing all the way. And that's happiness.

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Christmas Tree

When it comes to Christmas trees, I'm very much a traditionalist. I prefer real trees of the frazier fir descent donned with clear lights and coordinated ornaments. (not that I'm Type A or anything). However, I have not had a Christmas tree at my apartment since I've lived by myself. In Dahlonega there was no room whatsoever in my little studio apartment for cats, me, and a tree. Last year, I was Ebenezer Scrooge incarnate and did not take out the first Christmas decoration. I later regretted that decision so I determined that I would definitely decorate this year. That decision was made pre-puppy. The past few weeks have been really busy so honestly I had not really thought too much about getting a tree and with Thanksgiving coming a week later than usual this year, time has definitely gotten away from me. I really need that missing week back for things like Christmas cards and decorating. Yesterday after church I went into Michael's to look for frames and I decided to do a drive by the Christmas stuff because I really wanted to put something out at my apartment. What to my wandering eyes did appear but quite possibly the ugliest, cheapest Christmas tree ever. I knew immediately that I had to make it my own. And one trip down the ornament aisle at Target later, this is what the finished product looks like... And actually I really like it. It's different and a little funky but I'm the girl who rocked a zebra print formal in college so I can totally rock a $14.00 lime green tinsel Christmas tree, right? I was a little nervous about how Cash would handle the temporary addition, but so far he's been nothing short of an angel...
Right. At first, he tried to convince me that he didn't even know it was there by appearing beside it as a statue...
But then the temptation became too much and it's been downhill since...

So far he's managed to get 4 glass ornaments off of the tree before I could stop him, but fortunately he's a Lab and supposedly Labs are known to carry things very gently in their mouths. Must be true because none have been broken. Yet.

Ho Ho Hum

I've come to the conclusion that I am at my blogging best when I have no less than 453 other things that I should be doing instead. Blogging serves as a great distraction when there are papers to be written, floors to be mopped, and laundry to be folded. Since I'm momentarily loosed from the bondage of paper writing, I had the opportunity this weekend to do fun and exciting things like mopping my floors and dusting the shelves and washing 11 loads of laundry. Seriously...11 loads. Let's not even talk about my dry cleaning bill unless it's for the sole purpose of asking for my address to make a contribution to HP's Clean Clothes Fund.

But all of the aforementioned things really aren't worthy of blogging about. It's not that I've been sitting around like a knot on a log or anything...I could blog about the amount of tears I shed while finishing up Marley and Me this weekend, but that's just depressing. Or my fun impromptu dinner with Bethie and her family on Saturday night. Or how I finally got around to framing some pictures. Or how I've been watching ridiculously cheesy Christmas movies on fa la la la Lifetime non-stop. But who really wants to read about the hum drum of my everyday life? Insomniacs, perhaps.

I suppose that I could talk about my trip to the grocery store Sunday afternoon. Back in the day, my very first job was as a Kroger girl (I know, the PC term is "cashier" but that's boring) so I love using self-checkouts anytime I go to the grocery store.'s a great opportunity for me to actually use all of those random produce codes that I committed to memory nearly 15 years ago (ex: bananas - 4011). However my motivation for using the self-checkout yesterday was out of sheer pride. I did not want the cashier to laugh at me and the contents of my cart. Yet, it seems that even the self-checkout register got a giggle. I don't know why the automatically generated coupon that it gave me when I finished ringing up all the goods was for Maalox...
Let's just say that I'm working on #5 of my to-do list.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

At the top of my Christmas list...

sits this:
All it needs is a roll bar with some KC lights, and I'll be set. Seriously, would I not be so cute driving around Athens in this?!? Oh, rural I love thee.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Winter Vacation To-Do List

For the next 30 days or so I have zero educational obligations so as a means of celebration, I will reveal the to-do list that I have been mentally composing since the end of August...

1. Learn absolutely nothing about Human Resources or Organizational Development. In fact, I might actually forget the few things that I do know.
2. Engage in ridiculous amounts of recreational reading. On deck: Marley and Me.
3. Watch mindless television beginning this evening with the series finale of Boston Legal.
4. Dust on a regular basis. I am actually looking forward to grandmother would be so proud.
5. Bake. Bake. Bake. 'Tis the season, after all.
6. Paint my nails.
7. Resume my routine of going to the gym at least 5 days per week.
8. Clean out my closest. Nothing like the end of year trip to Goodwill.
9. Christmas shop...that should take all of 5 minutes since half of my gift list is getting x-rays of my dog's insides.
10. Become bored out of my gourd.
11. Catch up with dear friends that I haven't seen in years. (Angel...I'm coming to visit whether I'm invited or not!)
12. Drink my weight in Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks.
13. Repeat 1-12.

Gotta' go. So much to little time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

When God Goes Dark

That was the title of today's message at church. And you can listen to it for yourself here.

I really don't know where to even begin this post, but I do know that I am amazed yet again at God's perfect timing. The truth is, I am weary. It's hard for me to admit this. Need evidence? I couldn't even raise my hand in church today when it was requested that the weary raise their hands so others could pray for them. Instead I chose to let the tears roll down my cheeks and hoped that no one would notice. (I'll address my pride another day) I don't know why I have such a hard time admitting it. Perhaps, it's because I fear that it makes me appear weak. Or unfaithful. Or that my life isn't perfect. Perhaps it's because I can look around me and see others in dire circumstances and I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I'm ok. Which is true, but nonetheless, I've been weary for a couple of months now.

In short, the message was about how as Christians we go through times of weariness because we are faithful and obedient but there is no "payback" from God. [Can I get an amen from the amen corner, please?] There are times when we cannot see that he is doing anything in our lives. In essence, He has "gone dark". Through various seasons of my life, I have often wondered what the point of doing everything "right" is if I'm not going to see any change in my circumstances. A couple of years ago, after my heart was thrown under a Bradley and ran over a couple of times, I decided to take matters into my own hands and not let such matters like faith and religion really take priority in who I dated. But then after a couple months of dating someone who knows Jesus about as well as I know how to find a derivative (if you even find them...I wouldn't know because I failed Calculus), I realized that the path of major fundamental differences wasn't the one for me.

Honestly, the older I get, the more challenging it is to remain faithful that I will have my own family one day. It makes me sad sometimes that I do not get to do all the fun things that my closest friends who are married and have children around the same age get to do together. And I think that it is ok to be a little sad over those kinds of things as long as I do not allow myself to constantly wallow in the pit of despair. (please note The Princess Bride reference) There really is no point in doing so because it's not going to change anything. Why make myself and those around me miserable? I give full credit to my mother who doesn't really put up with whining for instilling this kind of attitude in me.
The truth is, we all grow weary at times. While the reasons of our weariness are different, as Christians, the source of our strength is the same. And while our strength only comes from God, I believe that it is good to lift others who are weary up in prayer. So I'm asking for your prayers. I don't really ask for prayers very much (see 2nd paragraph for reasons why I don't), but I would appreciate them now.

If you are currently experiencing a season of weariness yourself, I would encourage you to read Isaiah 40 along with me for the next week. Or if you love all things music like I do, take a listen to this song...

God is faithful, even when I am not. I can attest to this over and over again in the things that he has done in my life all along. So why do I worry that he is not going to be faithful in this particular area of my life when he knows that it is my heart's desire? Because I'm a silly little human who does not have the foresight that He does. Because I think that things have to happen according to my agenda. Because I'm a sinner. But I'm a sinner filled with grace who has a hope in the harvest that is to come.

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." - Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

PS...Even though it's not all that fun for me to openly share this part of my life with others, I have often said that all of the events that make up my story will be worth it if I can be a source of encouragement to others who may feel the same way or have similar experiences. You're not alone. I promise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Wisdom of Mick and Keith

Disclaimer: I realize that I'm taking a major risk here in declaring someone who fell out of a palm tree as wise. But it's my blog, I'll declare if I want to.

Earlier this evening, I went to the gym for my first post-half-marathon workout. Yes, I needed a week + 1 day to "recover". When I got back into my car to go home, I cranked it up and heard the following from the radio...
"You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you just might get what you need." (insert choir of "ahhh, ahhh, ahhh, ahh's" here)

And then I started thinking. It happens sometimes...I can't help it. Thanks to my musically hip parents, I've grown up listening to this song my entire life, but the truth in these lines really struck a chord with me today.

I won't speak for the rest of the 7 billion people on the planet, but I am a person who wants. For example, after getting home from the gym I wanted a venti Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks in a bad way. (I would go so far as to say that it bordered on a need) So I loaded up the Lab and headed to Starbucks to treat myself. I placed my order and drove to the window only to hear the words "I'm sorry, but we're out of apple juice." I wanted to cry. An hour later, I still wanted this drink (hello, it's only around for a limited time each year and December 25th gets closer every day) so I went to the other Starbucks near my home. Only to hear the same thing there. Sigh. Perhaps I needed that $3.37 more than I wanted a warm cup of sugary goodness. But caramel apple cider isn't the only thing I want out of life. I want to be finished with my paper that is due on Monday but I've yet to start writing. I want to travel. I want to be the girl that someone falls absolutely head over heels for. I want a job with more money and less hours. I want to buy everyone the best gifts this Christmas. Want. Want. Want. The list could go on and on if I wanted to really work on developing carpel tunnel.

Remember how I mentioned in my last post that I don't always hear the words of songs correctly? Well, tonight when I googled the lyrics of this song, I discovered that I was totally off yet again. I thought the line: "I went down to the Chelsea drugstore, to get your prescription filled" was "I went down to the jealousy drugstore, to get your prescription filled." Ok, to my credit it kind of fits because people get jealous when others have the very things that they want.

The point that I'm trying to make is that all too often I get so caught up in all that I want for my life. When I do this, I don't take the time to consider that not only have all of my needs been met, but they have been exceedingly met. (I'm pretty certain that this isn't grammatically correct, but hopefully Allison & Amber, my English major friends, won't read too closely.) I serve a God who loves me and provides me with all that I will ever need. And what I needed today was to be reminded of this. So I was. And I am thankful.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ox and Lamb Kept Time?

Last night after class I had to run over to the pet store to get Cash's dog food that had finally been received. Yes, I special order his dog food. Yes, I've become the type of person that I've always made fun of. Whatever. (Sidenote: The best part of that story is that I got TWO - 33 lb bags of his "holistic pet food incorporating all 5 food groups" for absolutely nothing. Merry Christmas to me.)

In the spirit of the season, I was tuned in to one of the bazillion continuous Christmas music stations and The Little Drummer Boy was playing. In all my years of listening to that song, never before have I paid attention to the line "the ox and lamb kept time". Apparently, I've always been too busy pa rum pa pum pum-ing to really notice that there are other lyrics involved in the song. At first I thought that I my ears had surely heard wrong. Afterall, I am the girl who thought that Grass Roots was singing about Monday night confession for years. And you know, the more I think about it...Werewolves of London makes so much more sense than Werewolves of Thunder. Plus, I am good friends with a girl who shall remain nameless that wondered why JT was singing about a sexy cat. Let's just say that should I ever find myself on some sort of televised game show/competition, it will not be "Don't Forget the Lyrics".

But thanks to a quick lyrics search via the information super highway, it turns out my ears did not deceive me this time. The ox and lamb did indeed keep time. How they did so is beyond me. The whole idea of an ox and lamb keeping time makes me laugh. Out loud. I had no idea that they are animals with a great sense of rhythm, but I've never really participated in that many barnyard hoe-downs either so I really shouldn't make assumptions that they would not be able to cut a rug. And finally, people, we have reached the moral of this nonsensical story - don't jump to conclusions about something without first researching the matter or about someone until you get to know them.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mag

Even though she isn't officially three decades old until the 2nd, on Sunday evening a few fun folks gathered over at the Muschara home to celebrate Maggie and her birthday. I hear that an aerated cake has fewer calories and is healthier for you...
Jason led us all in singing Happy Birthday...
Ok, in reality he was the only one singing for some reason. I can't say what the others were doing, but I was too busy concentrating on taking pictures and watching to see how this scene was going to unfold to think about singing...
Please note the blurriness of the above picture. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that small children holding balloons makes me beyond nervous. Have I mentioned that I very much dislike the sound of popping balloons? So the only thing worse than a small child with balloons is a small child with balloons in proximity to a moving ceiling fan...
I'm going to have to toughen up if I ever have kiddos because I'm pretty sure depriving your children of balloons isn't a good idea. I'm happy to report that no balloons lost their helium during the party.
What? It's his mommy's party. He can cry if he wants to.
No was nothing that couldn't be made better quickly by mommy and some cake. (seriously...isn't this baby boy too cute?) The party was also a great chance for me to catch up with some super fun people like these two...
I can't even remember the last time I saw Jeffrey. So when I see him again eons from now and we wonder how long it's been since we've seen each other, we can simply refer to this blog posting. Or not. It so happens that Katie and I were born on the same day nearly three decades ago...
So we made plans for how we are going to celebrate our next one together in a few months. Let's just say it does not involve a night at Loco's with our closest NGCSU friends and it does involve Music City and a long stroll. Maybe I'll encounter a sun lamp while I'm there and add some color to my ghostly white hue. Enough chatter about my fair skin.
At what point do college friends become lifelong, old friends? Is it when we are 30 and rarely go 3 days without talking to each other? If that's the case, then Maggie and I have definitely reached lifelong friends status. (as if she had a choice of losing me) We've grown and changed so much in the past 11 years. But I'm glad that we have grown closer as friends instead of farther apart like it is so easy to do when you no longer live on the same hall in the same dorm and see each other at least a dozen times a day.
Just as no two people are the same, no two friendships are the same either. Mag is my night owl friend who I never hesitate to call late if I need to. Or early in the morning...she doesn't really require much sleep either. I give her credit for helping me develop my eclectic music taste in college. She understands me. I understand her. It's a comfortable friendship. We seldom disagree, but when we ask each other for an honest opinion, we share it without reservation. She pronounces "oil", "foil", and "boil" the same exact way I do. We laugh. We cry. We rejoice. We pray. We encourage when the other is discouraged. We talk (a lot, if one was to ask her husband). And I have a sneaky suspicion that we're never going to run out of anything to talk about with each other. So Happy Birthday, my friend. I'll talk to you soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

13.1 in Numbers (and Pictures)...(and Words)

13.1 = miles in a half-marathon
3 = hours of sleep that I got prior to getting up this morning to run 13.1 miles
47 = minutes we waited around outside in the cold before beginning the race
600 = milligrams of ibuprofen I took this morning prior to the run (quite possibly my best decision of the day)
37 = songs that played on my iPod during the race
11 = mile in which both quads and my calves cramped up all at the same time
2 = half-marathons that I ran in 2008
6.5 = minutes LESS that I ran today than I ran at the ING in March

I'll be honest. Last night at 1:01 when I looked at the clock one last time before falling asleep I questioned not only my sanity but my ability to begin a half-marathon in less than 6 hours. At 4:14 when I dragged out of bed this morning, I was a bundle of nerves. I was frustrated with myself for not preparing better. I remembered how cold my hands were last time and the pain that my feet were in for days after the ING. So I did what anyone with such positive thoughts would do; I got in the car and headed over to Val's with my Carnation instant breakfast, bagel and banana in tow. Her parents were kind enough to drive us down to the ATL, but before leaving we had a mini photo shoot...
You can see from this picture that I wasn't kidding about getting three hours of sleep. I was not bright-eyed. I'm so glad that I have a friend like Valerie. She is always around to help me with the difficult things in life...
After a quick and traffic free ride into the city, we found ourselves standing in a dark parking lot surrounded by porta-potties with a few thousand of our closest running friends...
Valerie is kind of a rockstar when it comes to running half-marathons. She definitely finished before I did.
It was probably my headband that slowed me down...
Highly unlikely. That headband and my mittens made my little stroll so much more enjoyable though, I wouldn't care if they did slow me down. When running, I refuse to look at my watch until I get to a mile-marker, but I got really nervous shortly after starting. Generally I can pace myself pretty well so I have kind of idea of how far I've run in a period of time, but I had yet to see a mile marker so I thought "geez, if we haven't even run a mile yet, I'm never going to finish this thing." The Columbo boys from North Georgia had passed me pretty quickly with their rucksacks on their backs so I was not feeling too confident. But then I determined that they are Hooah and I'm not so much so they should be able to run with rucksacks on their backs. A few seconds later though I saw Mile Marker 2...hallelujah! And then 3...and then 4...and then I made it to the Wachovia building at Mile 5. Before too long I was at Phipps and Lenox (even though I missed the great tree!) and then the most fun thing happened...I saw Maggie's husband, Wes, and her sister, Ashley, just up ahead so I caught up to say hello. We were quickly approaching the infamous hill in the Peachtree known as Cardiac Hill which I was not excited about in the least. It was at this point that I had to slow to a slight crawl, but I was still on track to beat my previous half-marathon time. Honestly I was shocked. But I still had 6 miles to go so I tried not to get too optimistic. By Mile 10 though I knew that barring any major snafu, I would beat my first time. Major snafu being something like me falling in a pothole or getting hit by oncoming traffic or something else such as my quads and calves all cramping up at the same time with just under 2 miles to go. But that would never happen so I was golden. And then exactly that happened. And I wanted to cry. But I didn't because there's no crying in half-marathon running. Besides the tears would be cold on my face. So I forged along and prayed and was thankful for the Jesus music that happened to shuffle into play on my iPod.
Even though I missed pretty obvious and blatant landmarks such as these that I ran past because I was so "in the zone"...
I was never more happy to see this...
because I knew that the end was definitely near. This fact could only mean one thing: that I was just moments from getting this...We Made It! Maybe I'm good for 2 half-marathons per year, after all.

Note: Special thanks to Valerie's mom, Brenda, for many of the great pictures you see here in this post!