Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Cards

Fact: I love Christmas cards. The truth is that I actually love all types of cards. I love sending them [even though I don't do it nearly as often as I should], and I love receiving them. For years, one of my favorite parts of Christmas has always been picking out Christmas cards and then sending them to all of my favorite people. And then I started this little venture known as graduate school. As a result for the past three years, I have not sent out Christmas cards. Look, I know that I don't really have an excuse because somehow mothers who have small children and jobs and husbands to feed have no problems sending out their Christmas cards in a timely manner. It's just that by the time that end of the semester finally gets here in early December, my brain is kind of spongy and tired. However I am happy to report that next year I will not have the excuse of school standing in my way so I'll be back and better than ever on the Christmas card circuit. Just wait and see.

I'm not here to report on my shortcomings though. There will be plenty of time and bandwidth for that another day. Today I want to talk about how much fun it is to go to the mailbox each afternoon beginning shortly after Thanksgiving because inevitably there will be a Christmas card or two amidst the junk mail and carpet cleaning coupons. I love the pictures. I love the updates. I love them all. To me, it seems that the daily trip to the mailbox is the perfect prelude leading up to Christmas. There's a little bit of anticipation each time you go to the mailbox [the good kind of anticipation...not the kind that comes when you fear the IRS is about to audit you or something].

That's the fun of this season: the anticipation. ...Of the unknown. ...Of what is yet to come. ...Of something good and cheerful and bright on the inside of a beautifully wrapped package. ...Of something that has been picked out especially for us by someone who cares about us. As I was thinking about this whole matter of Christmas cards and Christmas day and the build-up and excitement that starts gradually and only intensifies the closer that we get to the 25th, I couldn't help but think of how Christmas morning is the perfect prelude to what is coming next for those of us who have the joy down in our hearts. This is the time in which we surround ourselves by the ones we love. We want to be close to home. Sure, we don't know what Heaven is going to be like, but we naturally long for it because we know it's our permanent home. It's unknown...it's yet to come...it's good and cheerful and bright...it was created and designed for us by someone who loves us more than we can ever imagine. It's like Christmas. Except it's every morning. And every night. The best part? We won't have to wait a whole 365 days for it to come around again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drinking Coffee: A Bittersweet Tale of Conversion.

My daddy was the biggest coffee drinker that I have ever known. As a child I always hated going out to dinner on Friday nights because we would inevitably sit at the restaurant for an eternity while he drank a cup (or two or three...depending upon whether or not we were with friends) of coffee after our meal. And when you're 9 years old and life revolves around things like Full House and The Babysitter's Club books these additional moments spent at a restaurant are sheer agony. In fact I find it surprising that Child Protection Services never stepped in to serve as my advocate. On the rare occasion we dined at a place that daddy wasn't a very big fan of the coffee then we would always drive to another place whether it be Waffle House, Dunkin Donuts, a designated convenient store (not just any one would do)...somewhere so he could get his after-dinner-coffee fix on the go. Obviously I much preferred this plan unless we ate in Roswell and he decided he wanted coffee from a place in Canton. And no, I'm not kidding. Heaven forbid he actually use the coffee maker sitting in the kitchen at home to actually make coffee himself.

Now, mama does not like coffee. Not. One. Little. Bit. She always says "I love the smell, but I just can't get past that bitter taste." So anyone who knew me prior to college knows that if my mama didn't drink coffee, then never would I ever consider drinking the stuff because I took most of my cues from her on what is good or bad or right or wrong. I'm not saying that this is a terribly wrong way for 12 year old to make decisions, but we did differ on matters such as lima beans and black-eyed peas even then. She's a fan of the former, I the latter. Naturally, because of her aversion to java, I didn't try to drink it once I was old enough to do so. [Is there really a minimum drinking age for coffee? I'm not sure, but it just seems a little unnatural for a 7 year old to be drinking it during snack time.] Besides, who needs coffee when there is hot chocolate? No one, as far as I was concerned.

So I spent the majority of my college years scoffing at coffee (except during that "experimental stage" when I tried it on a couple of occasions but I could never get the mixture of creamer and sugar correct and drinking it straight black was just too bitter so I stopped trying) Instead I chose caffeine substitutes like Diet Mountain Dew until that time right before Rush of my senior year when I was literally all jacked up on Mountain Dew and had to cut out caffeine cold turkey. Basically I have been content to spend the cold winter months keeping warm by drinking hot chocolate or caramel apple cider (otherwise known as "Heaven in a paper cup").

Over the years daddy's drinking habit (ha!) subsided a little and he even cut back significantly at one point, but he did always enjoy a good cup of coffee. So imagine the irony when in spring of 2009,
this guy enters the picture, and I quickly learn that he is a big fan of after-dinner-coffee. Initially I stuck to my guns and continued to turn my nose up at the idea of coffee. Ok, let's be honest, I politely declined - I was still trying to make a good impression. However, Ryan introduced a new player in the after-dinner-coffee equation: dessert. Um, hello...now you have my attention. He explained that the bitterness of the coffee perfectly compliments the sweetness of the dessert to create a state of euphoria known primarily by those who are big Jerry Garcia fans. Alright, I made up that part about Jerry Garcia just to see if anybody is still paying attention. And let me tell you something...he's right. [And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm trying to make a good impression.] Together, the sweetness of the dessert does absolutely reduce the bitterness of the coffee.

Now I was learning all about and testing the whole "coffee + dessert = awesomeness" theory around the time that daddy got sick and passed away. [Sidenote: Wouldn't it be great if we were allowed maybe one edit to the story of our lives? If we were, then I think that I would choose for daddy and Ryan to enjoy a nice cup of after-dinner-coffee together.] But today I'm not going to dwell on the things that cannot be changed. Instead I am going to focus on the fact that I myself have developed a taste for coffee. In fact, I even drink it on random Wednesday mornings sans dessert because I really enjoy the taste of it. I understand that some will argue that my fondness of it is all because I fell under the spell of a charming blonde with blue eyes. While those blue eyes certainly helped, I'm also always reminded of daddy each time I drink coffee. They are little moments that I have every once in awhile to remember him. Granted, if he were here today to see me drinking coffee, I can only imagine that teasing that would ensue. I'm sure he would also take the opportunity to remind me of how I lived in a town for 10 years that I refused to move to when I was a little girl because it was "too podunk". Relentless teasing. It's what he did. But only because he loved me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Floods and Droughts

Hello, blogosphere. I'm back. I know it's been quite awhile since my last post so I felt compelled to post something...anything...just in case my 3 readers still stop by every now and again.

I think that the title of this post best sums up many aspects of my life these days...There have been floods and there have been droughts.

For instance, I have been in a bit of a blogging drought. I have been flooded with school work and work work. Up until about a month ago, I was in a spiritual drought. In a sense, I feel like daddy's death took a lot out of me. Sure, I didn't realize it at the time because I was constantly in "go mode" and I busied myself with other things. Since I have a degree in psychology, I know to chalk those behaviors up to my coping mechanisms. But then one night I was home alone (Cash was at mama's house) and it was quiet. And I allowed myself to be still. It should come as no surprise that my eyes were flooded with tears. Those tears were cleansing. Not only was I flooded with tears and emotions, I was flooded with God's grace and love. Sure, I am each and everyday because I am one of his imperfect little kiddos, but an image that comes to mind is the difference in my plants after I water them after about a week without any watering. It's like the life comes back into them. I was reminded yet again that our Heavenly Father is our ultimate sustainer [is that a real word?] and provider along this journey that we are on known as life.

Many of my days have been spent being flooded with fun times and great trips with a fun guy. If you want to see what I've been up to for the past month look here and here. Warning: there is potential that you could be flooded with envy so prepare your heart accordingly before looking.

Floods and droughts are cyclical in our environment. Ok, maybe they aren't really but it sounds good right? We just had a pretty severe flood in Georgia after a couple of summers of drought so I'm going to pretend to be an amateur meteorologist and make this declaration. Floods and droughts are cyclical in our lives, too.

Through them all, my cup runneth over.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

He's down with D-Qwon's sweet dance grooves.

I love this kid. I don't know who he is, but I love him. Let's not talk about how appropriate (or inappropriate) some of his "moves" are, but I'm definitely planning to use some of them the next time I hit the dance floor. Specifically the one that Johnny Castle also uses in Dirty Dancing and Jillian used on The Biggest Loser last night.

And now for a fun bonus question: Who is D-Qwon? If you know and are the first one to give me the correct answer in the comments, then I'll send you a flippin' sweet $10 iTunes card. Seriously. [I knew the day would come when I would start bribing people with prizes to leave comments on my blog. I just didn't know it would be today.]

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09.09.09

Hello, blogosphere. It's been awhile since I have blogged for the sake of blogging. So in honor of today's date, I'm back and I am sharing 9 things. It's not that I just have 9 things to write about, it's just that if I shared any more or any less, it wouldn't really go with the date and we all know how much I appreciate continuity. Without further ado...

I'm pretty sure that the "Swine Flu Epidemic" is a tactic implemented by the government to stimulate the economy. I came to this conclusion in the airport on Thursday after paying $3.20 for a 1 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer. I'm sure all of those people I observed in the airport coughing and sneezing all over the place (which was the source of inspiration for said purchase) are paid actors.

Speaking of the airport, I opened up my purse this evening in class only to discover that the aforementioned $3.20 bottle of liquid gold managed to pass through airport security along with my liquid concealer outside of the confines of a quart sized plastic bag. Now I no longer feel safe flying the friendly skies because if I managed to unknowingly smuggle liquids through under the radar, then I can't even imagine what the bad guys will do with their travel sized shampoo bottles.

I think that my classes this semester are two thorns in my side. I'm just saying.

I am excited about getting my puppy dog back in a couple of days. I haven't seen him in almost 2 weeks and I miss him tremendously.

Speaking of missing, I have gained a whole new perspective on what it's like to miss people. It's a perspective that I could have gone for oh, pretty much forever without gaining, however as a result I've learned to not take opportunities for granted and if there's something that I need to say or do then I had better do it.

I think that everyone who doubts the existence of God should just get in his or her car and just drive across a part of the United States. Start with California. I'm pretty sure that geographical design is no accident. We won't discuss the accidents in the state brought about by us humans.

Speaking of driving across a part of the United States, I traveled almost 5,000 miles in 6 days...1,300 or so by car. I think that I cannot wait until the next time I get to do that.

In said 6 days, I drank 3 Coke Icee's. Until then, the last time I had a Coke Icee was probably in the mid-90's.

I think that I should be in the bed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My palate and purse have never been so pampered.

This time last week I was in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada...And as luck would have it, I'll be back there in less than a week but that's another post for another Saturday night. Until last Friday, I had only seen the famous Vegas sign in passing, but I'm sure glad that Ryan had the idea of stopping for a quick photo op on our way to dinner. You see, we were on our way to one of those fancy all-you-can-eat buffets down on the strip which is why Ryan was suited up and I was wearing a dress that is never allowed to be thrown into a washing machine. Ever. Or else all of the George Jefferson's of the world will have to file for bankruptcy and move on down to the West side.

Now, those of you reading this who know me at all will immediately know that I would not be caught dead going to a buffet dressed in something that has a belt with it. In reality, Ryan had made dinner reservations at the nicest restaurant that I have ever been to. EVER. And no, I'm not using sarcasm or facetiousness here. It was that nice. Let me tell you, that Alex over at Wynn certainly knows how to make a meal. In fact, he's so good that he has his very own restaurant. Admittedly, I was slightly nervous to eat in such a nice restaurant because well, being a Brownie Girl Scout in elementary school and a member of a sorority in college can provide a girl with only so much social know-how. Fortunately, Ryan recommended that I go with the tasting menu which meant that the only thing I had to do was pick out what bread I wanted when the bread boy [that's his official job title I'm sure] came to our table and tell the waiter how I wanted my Wagyu prepared....which apparently I enjoyed the steak tartare so much that I went a little crazy and said medium rare, but the waiter advised me to go with medium. So I went with the expert's advice.

The truth is, I have referenced this meal at least once in conversation every day since last Friday night. But it's absolutely worth referencing so I'm going to continue to do so until I'm at least 75. Let's see, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe the little chair that was beside our table specifically for my purse. I was sold the minute Ryan pointed that out because I know that any place that will treat my purse well will certainly be good to me too.

Now for the food. It was amazing. I tried to narrow it down and just pick out a few favorites but I couldn't. So for you foodies out there, enjoy...

*Heirloom Tomato and Octopus Carpaccio with Parsley Puree, Brioche Croutons and Osetra Caviar Delamotte, Brut, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne, France MV...[Remind me to tell you three readers a little story one day about how I almost choked on my octopus during this course.]
*Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Sweet Corn Custard, Chanterelle Mushrooms and Coral Butter Tensley, Blanc ,Camp Four Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, California 2006
*Olive Oil Poached Kanpachi with Wax Beans, Roasted Purple Artichokes and Black Olive Oil Henri Boillot, Les Charmes Premier Cru, Meursault, Burgundy, France 2005
*Veal Sweetbread Vol-au-Vent with Red Chard, Sherry Soaked Bing Cherries and Toasted Almonds Louis Jadot, Corton Pougets, Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 2005
*Japanese Wagyu Strip Loin with Black Truffle Pommes Dauphine, Roasted Porcini Mushrooms and Sauce Bordelaise Elderton, Shiraz, Command, Barossa Valley, Australia 2003
*Coconut Tapioca with Tropical Fruit, Toasted Vanilla Custard with Maple Poached Peaches and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream
Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, Constantia, South Africa 2004


This doesn't even include the bread. My favorite was the buckwheat cherry roll. Nor does it include some little treats that we had in the beginning that were compliments of the chef. I'm telling you all...Alex will treat you right. Nor does it include the little sweet treats that we got at the end of our meal. Nor does it include the cappuccino. And then just when you think there couldn't possibly be anything else, there was. As we were rushing out the door to the show, I was handed a little pack of macaroons for the road. Yum.

Speaking of the show, Ryan got tickets to La Reve which is also at Wynn. Holy cow. It was amazing. I'm pretty confident that I just sat through the entire show wide-eyed with my jaw dropped because that's what happens when country girls are taken into town to see a show. If you ever find yourself in Vegas, I highly recommend that you get yourself to this show especially if you like acrobatics and dancing and music and water. And if you don't like any of those things before the show, I promise you will afterward if you just give it a shot. It was definitely a night out that I will not forget, and I know that I am quite a fortunate [and very appreciative] girl to get to experience such fun. The rest of the weekend was great as well. On Saturday, Ryan made omelets and we made perhaps a slight dent in the ever-growing list of movies that I've never seen but must see by watching Glory, Tropic Thunder, and Miracle...along with a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Perhaps the common theme that runs straight through this entire blog post is our appreciation and respect that we have for quality entertainment.


Sunday we went to church, had lunch with a family that Ryan knows, went to see The Time Traveler's Wife [insert my two cents here: read the book, rent the movie], had dinner, and then it was time to head to the airport and say goodbye. But who really likes goodbyes, anyway? As luck would have it [or something like that], my plane was broken which meant that my stay was lengthened for a few more hours. No complaints here. And the cherry on top of all of the other cherries on top? Delta dollars for my "trouble".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One Friend. Two Friends. Old Friends. New Friends.

This past weekend, Ryan flew into Atlanta and we headed north to Tennessee. Our destination was Dale Hollow Lake where we spent the weekend camping, practicing proper West Nile prevention measures, getting most of our daily allowance of calories from Patrón and baked goods, and lounging around in the water.

Unfortunately, before Ryan left Vegas his iPhone went a little haywire so we had to rely on GoogleMaps from the computer as our navigational guide. Apparently I indicated that we wanted to take the long, scenic route with multiple yard sales because this is pretty much what we saw for the better part of 133 miles...
In case you're upset that you missed this glorious event, no worries: it happens annually so go ahead and mark your calendar for next year or just bookmark this website. Personally the only thing that I can think of that is worse than traveling to multiple yard sales along a curvy mountain road is visiting 5 TJ Maxx and Marshall's stores each on the day after Thanksgiving. Needless to say we did not stop even though Ryan felt that he would certainly find some great treasures for his new home. We finally made it to Byrdstown sometime after the sun went down. Our timing really couldn't have been better though because our camping pals arrived just minutes before we did. Fortunately we did not have to immediately set up camp on Thursday night since we stayed over at the Sportsman's Lodge. And let me tell you, they are quite serious about sports there. In fact, I was introduced to cornhole. Too bad all of those years of pitching as a slow-pitch softball player weren't enough to carry our team through to a victory.

On Friday morning, we were up bright and early to head out to the lake. Holly's parents had a fantastic breakfast waiting for us at the boats because they had the foresight to know that Patrón alone isn't the breakfast of champions. After breakfast, we headed out to get a good spot on the water. Dale Hollow Lake is absolutely beautiful. It's surrounded by all sorts of undisturbed green space. It's quiet. It's clear. And for a girl who has logged most of her lake hours on Lanier or Hartwell, it was a nice change.Needless to say, I was super excited about lounging around in the water on a nice summer day. The fact that I was keeping such good company only added value to the experience.After spending most of Friday morning sitting out on the boat and then cooling off in the water, Ryan and I took the Sea-Doo out after lunch for a ride. And then we got lost. Ok, "lost" is a bit dramatic. I like to think of it as our bearings were a little out of sorts so it was a bit of an adventure. I wasn't really worried because we were obviously safe. There was plenty of gas in the tank. It was broad daylight. Besides, Ryan's in the Army so surely that means he's got some sort of internal GPS that can be activated in a worst case scenario situation, right? Luckily we didn't have to find out the answer to that question!
On Saturday, we left camp pretty early to head back out to the lake. And in case you're wondering, "camp" was not the houseboats in the above picture. I just included this picture to remind myself that there are some people in this world whose "once in awhile weekend home" is a bazillion times nicer than my "everyday home". It gives me incentive to continue making the big bucks by working for the state of Georgia.

Skiing was high on the agenda on Saturday. Here, Ryan celebrates after a successful run...
Victory was his! Now I don't really like to brag, but I think that Scott would benefit greatly...if he just observed me for a little while to pick up a few moves.
...I'm just saying. Skiing was the morning activity, so after a strenuous afternoon of floating and sunning and staying well hydrated, we got all prettied up for dinner. [I use the term "prettied up" very loosely here when referring to myself because let me tell you all, I was a vision. This girl can only go for so many days without her hair products!]Cruising to dinner on the pontoon was a whole lot of fun though and we were able to enjoy quite an amazing sunset once we got there.The truth is, the lake was great, the food was great, the drinks were great, camping was great [even though my back still hurts, but we won't discuss the signs of aging that are presenting themselves in my body today]...everything was great. But what made all of those things great was the people. This weekend was the first time I had met any of these folks, besides Ryan of course, yet everyone was so nice and welcoming. It really just adds more evidence to my theory that the Midwest is very much like the South except for the fact that "y'all" isn't used on a regular basis. Or ever. As the lone Georgian, perhaps I'll work on the incorporation of slang into the vocabulary of everyone else next year. Or not.
And in case any of you, my three readers, have chosen to live vicariously through me [and might I recommend that you take up needlepoint for some added excitement to your life if you have] and wish to see more pictures from last weekend's fun, you may do so by clicking here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Where I'm From

Has anyone out there heard that country song Where I'm From? I heard it one day when I was scanning the stations on my way home from work and at first I wasn't too impressed. Then I heard the chorus and suddenly, I was all nostalgic and started thinking about home.

I love the fact that I grew up in what was once a small little community by the name of Hickory Flat in what was once a rural little county. I remember when the main intersection was a four-way stop with a blinking red light. Seriously, it's true for you "transplants" out there reading this who thought that there was always a Publix shopping center and restaurants that served beer. If we needed groceries or had an insatiable urge for something to eat at a restaurant other than fried chicken and greasy vegetables then it was a 20-25 minute drive. My mom and I went to the same elementary school, and no we weren't students there at the same time. It's not that rural. Not only did we attend the same elementary school, Mr. Browning was the principal when we were both there. It's true, and no she wasn't a teen mother. I loved the afternoons when daddy would pick me up from school and take me by Hickory Flat Store so I could get a fountain drink and an after school snack. I don't know why but for some reason those fountain drinks were the best. I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandparents. My kindergarten friends were my high school friends. Their families were like an extension of my own family. My "home church" is where I learned that I needed a Savior and it was there that I found him. Throughout my entire childhood I was deemed as the one who would never leave home. I even thought that until my sophomore year of college which I mentioned here briefly a few months ago. Perhaps it's a bit ironic that the one who everyone swore would never leave is probably never going to go back for more than a visit.

Time has certainly changed many things. I think that is only inevitable in this living life thing that we do every single day. A couple of weekends ago whenever I was at home, mom and I were talking about home and kind of what it means to me. I told her again [she's been know to forget things] that I have known since college that I would not end up living in Cherokee County. This doesn't mean I know where I'll finally land, but I do honestly believe that God was preparing my heart for my future when I was still in college. Perhaps He had to start so early because I was such a homebody throughout my entire childhood. Sure, I did stuff with my friends, but I absolutely loved being at home with my family. I was always the little girl who went home from slumber parties in the middle of the night because I missed my mama and daddy. In our conversation, it became evident that one of mama's main concerns was that I didn't plan to come back home because of some sort of negative association that I might have with my childhood or something. Well that certainly couldn't be farther from the truth.

In fact, I love that I had the childhood experiences in the kind of environment that I did because those things have shaped who I am at my core. There is such comfort and a sense of security that comes from be a part of a community. My family certainly benefited from this when daddy died. When I go back to Hickory Flat now, just by appearance it is a much different place than the home I grew up knowing. In a way it makes me a little bit sad, but then I stop in at Bruster's for an ice cream and decide that maybe growth isn't so bad after all. And I'm not referring to the kind of growth that results from too many trips to Bruster's. Besides, it isn't the stores or lack thereof that I think of first when I consider where I'm from. It's the people. It's the experiences. It's the memories.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm such a girl.

Alright, I'll admit it...I just watched part of The Bachelorette finale. Each season I roll my eyes at the absolute ridiculousness of it all, but each season I watch the first and last episodes. [Who is the ridiculous one now?] I really could care less about all of the drama that happens in between, and you should all be thankful that I don't watch each episode or else I might feel compelled to blog after each one which would lead me to commit a cardinal sin of blogging: relentless rants with no purpose.

So the show was 2 hours long and I tuned in when there was about 40 minutes left. I didn't know the guys who were left and I'll admit that I was absolutely confused when she was crushing the hopes and dreams of one young Romeo with 35 minutes of show time remaining. Of course she gave him the same schpill that every Bachelor and Bachelorette throughout the course of history has given the first loser [Because like Ricky Bobby says, "if you're not first, you're last."] He's great, he's wonderful, she never imagined that it would turn out this way, but she loves another man. He's heartbroken. Here's my question - Did he honestly think that she was in love with him? Could he not pick up on the fact that maybe she just wasn't that into him? Or was she giving him the "I Love You" vibe right up until the last minute? If so, I believe some people would refer to that as she was having her cake and eating it too. And we all know what gluttony can do to a girl.

So Kitzyn or whatever his name is was off crying in the limo while some other dude appears from nowhere wearing weird shoes and a sloppy looking suit. Is that his style or was he trying to look "harried and frantic" for the camera even though all of us at home know that this show has been perfectly scripted and staged. And if you don't already know that, then I'm sorry to burst your bubble. Please don't ask me about the existence of the tooth fairy unless you really want to know the truth. It's times like these when I wish that maybe I had watched a little more closely throughout the season [or at least followed it online] because I might understand a little better as to why this guy is taking up air time. He confesses his undying love to Jillian. She's emotional. She's confused. She doesn't understand why this is happening when she was prepared to tell another Ken doll that she wanted to spend happily ever after with him. She needs time to think. Here's my question: If she was so certain 3 minutes before when she dropped whats-his-face like a bad habit, then why is she so doubtful now? Does she really love Prince Charming if confusion enters in so easily? Sure I don't know the history between her and weird shoe boy, but seriously. I understand that perhaps I'm the wrong person to be asking this question because I've never been proposed to thrice in one night. After a brief counseling session with Love Doctor Extraordinaire, Chris Harrison, she makes up her mind and sends sloppy suit and shoe boy packing.

And then finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: Ed appears on the scene. For the third time in one night a love struck male professes his undying love for Jillian. Here's my question: Do these guys feel a sense of obligation and pressure to propose to her because she has essentially picked them all along the way? But before Ed goes any further, he's got to know if she loves him back. Good move Ed...way to play it a little cautious because heart breaker Jillian was definitely on a roll and things do happen in threes. Of course she loves him with all of her heart because well, she's obviously out of options for finding a husband since this is her last proposal and it's doubtful that she'll be invited back for a third season of this silly show. So she says that magic word "YES!" and all is right in the world.

Ok, so here's why I'm such a girl...As much as I roll my eyes and scoff at the reality of couples on these shows ever actually making a trip down the aisle together, I still got chills and a little bit teary-eyed and caught up in the happiness of it all. Even if it was scripted happiness and that new Martina McBride song that I like so well was cued at just the right time, I along with the rest of the saps in America had the opportunity to witness happiness and joy in the making. It sure beats watching Larry King Live.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oil and Water

Any guesses as to what this is?...Personally, I cannot look at this picture for very long because it gives me kind of the same feeling that a diagram of the skin does. And in case you're wondering, it's not a good feeling. So let's take the zoom out a little bit and see what we have. Prepare yourself because it's quite a pitiful sight.Seriously...look at those eyes. It's those eyes that have kept me from selling him to the lowest bidder on more than a couple occasions during his puppyhood. However I know of one particular feline who would be more than thrilled if I were to actually make good on that threat of selling him.Until I do though I suppose that Slate will just continue to take matters into his own paws.

[Edited to add: Many people have inquired as to what exactly those things coming out of my puppy's nose are. Simple: cat claws.]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cue Peaches and Herb

[Warning: If you've come here for thought-provoking and inspiring reading material, on this particular day you've come to the wrong place.]

Confession: I was once a fan of reality television. You know...back in the good old days when reality television was quality viewing material and wholesome entertainment for all. What? You can't think of a time when this ever was the case? Well, obviously you hadn't yet discovered the wonder of satellite or cable television then because in my opinion, the peak of reality TV was when the all-too-short marriage of Nick and Jessica was chronicled on MTV's Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. I'll be the first to admit that even though I never missed a single episode, back in the day I was a little skeptical (read: far too jaded and cynical for such a young age) that the two would actually make it to a time when their grand kids would be impersonating James Brown on a staircase in honor of their golden anniversary. Nonetheless I really wanted their marriage to work because well, it was a marriage and typically I'm a fan of them lasting. Call me old-fashioned for having such silly notions.

Well for those of you who are attuned to all of the major current events in the world [read: pop culture], it is old news that Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo took the exit for splitsville a couple of weeks ago. I don't really know much about their relationship since it wasn't broadcast for the free world to see on TV, however I do know that typically when two people dive right into a serious relationship very shortly after ending other serious relationships the chances of divvying up the good silver are pretty great. [I'm glad that I'm putting my psychology degree to use here because I was beginning to feel that I was never going to actually use it.]

And then yesterday I read that Jessica Simpson got dropped like a bad habit by her Cowboy, Tony Romo. The day before her birthday, no less. Poor girl...first the news media drags her through the mud because she "blew up" to what was probably a whopping size 6 [and then made a poor fashion decision in wearing those jeans] and now this.

As unfortunate as it is that both of these relationships have seemingly come to an end, I'm a little optimistic here because who wouldn't love a Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica Reunion? It's really a opportunity for second chances all around...a second chance for Nick and Jessica to mend fences and live happily ever after as well as a second chance for reality television and myself to do the same thing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The only thing missing was "y'all".

Hello, blogosphere...long time, no write. It really has been quite awhile since I've posted anything on my little piece of Internet domain, but as I've stated before, I do my best blogging when I have at least 3 papers due for school. Since I'm not taking classes this summer, the ink well is essentially dry. Except there is no ink, nor have I ever used a fountain pen a day in my life. Before I bore my three readers out there to absolute tears with my nonsensical rambling, I'll get on with the purpose of this post: a recap of my trip to America's Heartland, otherwise known as the Midwest.
Thanks to Orville and Wilbur Wright [who are incidentally from the Midwest] and their efforts way back in the day to make air travel a reality, Ryan and I met up in Chicago last Thursday to kick-off the 4th of July weekend. This was my first visit to The Windy City so I was without a doubt quite excited. On Friday, we headed over to Wrigleyville for a Cubs game.
What a great game - the Cubbies beat the Brewers in 10! And don't even get me started on Wrigley Field...
It really is a beautiful ballpark. Maybe it's because we had absolutely amazing seats, but there really is no need for a jumbotron either. A good old-fashioned scoreboard will suffice.
I was such a good fan that after the game, I got a cap of my very own...
Needless to say, I was very enthused about this because even though Ryan was kind enough to bring me one of his caps that I could wear during the game, apparently my head is larger than the average man's so it was a bit small. I'm just chalking it up to the big hair that I've been blessed (read: cursed) with instead of developing a complex about it.

The Cubs fan indoctrination process was halted briefly on Saturday in order for us to head east via train to Indiana to visit Ryan's hometown. This was the part of the trip that I was most excited about in spite of a slight case of nerves since a hometown visit also meant meeting the family. Of course in the grand scheme of things I felt that I really had nothing to be nervous about because 1. there was no way on earth that it could have been more uncomfortable and nerve-racking than the circumstances under which Ryan met essentially my entire family and the majority of my best friends: at my father's funeral. What can I say?...Just another episode in the bad sitcom that will one day chronicle my life. [I should add that Ryan was quite a rock star throughout it all though.], and 2. Johnny Appleseed, David Letterman, Michael Jackson, John Cougar Mellencamp, Axl Rose, and Crystal Gayle are all from Indiana and really can one be more wholesome and down to earth [the Midwestern culture as defined by Wikipedia] than Axl Rose or Michael Jackson? Don't answer that question.

It can go without saying that I felt very welcomed by everyone which certainly put me at ease. [and no, I'm not just writing that because it's the polite thing to do] The town where he is from is very small and for the most part, it seemed very much like a small town in the South. Except "y'all" isn't found in their Slang Handbook. Come to think of it, I don't think that there is a Slang Handbook...bless their hearts.

After we got to Culver on Saturday afternoon, we had an amazing lunch out on the lake which was followed up by an incredible dinner complete with homemade peach pie. Ryan's mom is quite a cook!
Perhaps the above picture best captures my delight over such great meals. You see, my own mom kind of stopped cooking in an act of rebellion after daddy compared her mashed potatoes to his mother's not very long after they got married. As with many disputes between married people, the kids are always the ones who suffer the most. :) Unfortunately it was a rainy 4th in northern Indiana so the fireworks show was postponed until Sunday. This actually worked out really well though because the show just took place after the parade.
Now, I know what you all are thinking and before we go any further, please allow me to clarify: there were no Shriners in little red cars nor were there local teens hurling candy to the crowds from the back of pickup trucks in this parade. By parade I mean, a parade of summer campers marching in a standard military parade formation.
As we sat and watched, I was reminded of my college days and the many times I sat on the drill field and watched the parades at North Georgia except here there was a lake in the background. And while I always loved watching them at North Georgia, 9 year olds are much cuter and more fun to watch. Not to mention the fact that these little guys were a little better than the GEB of my time...
On our way back out of town on Monday morning, we made one last stop with Ryan's dad and sister at the local coffee shop. Of course I still haven't learned to drink coffee, so I just stuck with my standard substitute: hot chocolate. When we got back to Chicago, we took an architectural boat tour of the city. It was fantastic and provided numerous photo opportunities.
What? You were expecting pictures of buildings? Alright... This was one of my favorite buildings on the tour even though it isn't one of the famous skyscrapers. If this one whetted your appetite for more, just click here. After the tour, we took the subway back to Wrigleyville one more time. After visiting with Ryan's friend Meghan (whom I got to meet along with his friend Amy and both of their families in Culver on Sunday), we headed back to Wrigley once again. This time the home team was playing my hometown team: the Braves. In spite of my attire, I did catch myself doing the Tomahawk Chop. [What can I say...old habits die hard] But no amount of tomahawk chopping was going to stop the Cubs. We got to see them win once again...Go Cubbies!
Tuesday morning began with massages at the hotel spa. Have I mentioned that this guy treats me like a queen?
I'm quite a lucky and very thankful girl! Before leaving the hotel, we were able to watch some of the Michael Jackson memorial service just as all good citizens of the world were doing on Tuesday afternoon. Finally, our last stop before heading to the airport was a riverside restaurant...
Speaking of airports, yesterday I took Ryan to Hartsfield because he was headed to Portland for the weekend to visit one his best friends. I was fortunate enough to get a gate pass and we got to visit with Mike, Suzanna, and Caroline for a few minutes before they headed out to Canada. Caroline was a big fan of Ryan's at their first meeting and it appears that she still is. Now, whether or not she's a fan of me is questionable. Little does she know that she doesn't have a choice in the matter though...she's stuck with me!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm still in the doghouse.

Have I mentioned that my dog was thoroughly insulted when he was removed from his normal routine and environment for a couple of weeks? He obviously holds a grudge.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons Learned

It's amazing to think about how time either flies or crawls... or presents itself in some weird combination of both. I feel like I have lived a couple of lifetimes since Daddy was taken to the hospital on June 2, but then it seems like just yesterday when I first got Mama's voice message on my cell phone saying that he was being taken to the hospital. But I'm not going to write about time, I'm going to write about what I have learned during this time. Of course I won't be able to include every single thing because I am still learning and suspect that I will be for some time, but it's at least a start.


I have learned...

...that the hospital is more happening in terms of social activity than the local bar. Well, for the 65+ demographic, that is.

...that my dog has [update: had, we've had a bit of a lapse as of late] a bladder of titanium. One day/night he spent 15 hours straight in his crate [I know, it's terrible...I have guilt] and I came home to let him out afraid of what I would find. I found a dry crate!! He's the greatest dog in the world.

...that visits from friends in hospital waiting rooms at all hours of the day or night provide a level of comfort that cannot be quantified.

...that a hot topic is AARP Magazine is how to handle a Facebook addiction. I wish that I was making this up, but not even I am that creative. How do I know the contents of AARP magazine? Please refer to the first lesson learned.

...that the human heart has the ability to break with sorrow and burst with joy simultaneously.

...that it's ok for a heart to burst with joy even in times of sadness.

...that if we cannot laugh in the midst of a storm, then we cannot do much of anything.

...that there is a genuine goodness in people that comes out in unexpected ways when they see others are suffering.

...that I need to be more giving of my time, resources, and love to others who are experiencing grief and adversity.

...that God is good. Always. [Ok, maybe I already knew this, but I still believe it even after losing a parent.]

...that when a loved one dies, those of us left behind have to adapt to a new normal.

...that I thought I knew what it was like to really miss someone. Now I'm gaining a whole new perspective on this matter.

...that we have two options when in the midst of a storm: stand still and drown or keep walking through it. I choose to walk.

...that I am not really walking at all. I am being carried. [Please refer to the Footprints poem that potentially hung in a prominent place in your home during the 80's if you don't understand what I'm talking about....or maybe that was just my home that had a framed copy hanging beside my baby pictures]

...that I am still learning as I go.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rest

I'm really going to miss my Daddy. He fought very hard for 12 long days and nights, but he was tired, so tired. I'm happy to report that he isn't tired anymore. But sadly for all of us, this means that he is gone from this world. Very early this morning, he passed away peacefully surrounded by the people he loved and was loved by as we told our favorite "Mike Stories".

It's a hard thing...watching someone you love with all of your heart die. Especially when that person once stood 6'4" and was the strongest person in your world. Even though it's the natural progression of life for a parent to pass away before a child does, it's also natural for a child to expect that his or her parents are always going to be there because they are mama and daddy and when nothing else in the world is constant, your parents are.

Selfishly, I'm thinking about all of the things that I still need my daddy for. Who's going to ask me if I have checked the oil in my car lately?...Or call me in the middle of a TV program just because he knows that I'm really into the show and he likes teasing me?...Who's going to ask me about my "little 65 pound lap dog" that is just perfect for a one bedroom apartment?...Or show me his latest YouTube discovery?...Who's going to give me away on my wedding day?

My daddy loved little people. [Not vertically challenged people, but kids.] He was never happier than to just sit and watch kids play or pick at them in his good-natured manner. I cannot tell you the number of little girls he has thoroughly confused by asking them what their name was before they got married. He would have been an incredible grandfather. I'm just sorry that my children will never get to know their Grandpa Page.

While on the one hand I feel absolutly cheated and robbed of so many memories that I never got the opportunity to make with my daddy, on the other, I feel so fortunate to have had him for the years that I did. The Friday night "dance parties" that he, mom, and I had when I was a teeny little girl. He played DJ while Mama and I would dance up a storm. My daddy never got the chance to see the Laser Show at Stone Mountain. It's not that we never went, it's that once we got there, I would freak out over the fact that there was going to be fireworks at the end so Daddy always carried me back out to the car because I was so scared. He was my softball coach for years and he treated all of the players as if they were his own girls. Softball was what we did. It's how we bonded. I never been more thankful for those times than I am right now. As I sit here and think back through the years, it's like a flood gate of memories has been opened and now they are all spilling out at a rate so quickly that I am afraid I will forget them.

In these 30 years, I learned so much from him. He always said when I was growing up that one day I was going to realize just how smart my dear ol' dad was. You know what? He's right. He was a smart man. Even though I never came right out and told him that, I hope he knew that I thought so.

My daddy was a funny man. My humor is what it is today because of him. Mama always said that Daddy only teased me because he loves me. So often he showed his love through humor.

My daddy was a family man. He loved us. How he loved us. And this I think is the hardest part...because when you really love someone, these are the people that you take for granted. You say things that maybe you shouldn't say. Or don't say things that you should say. How I wish that I could have just one more conversation with him. I remember the very last thing I said to him on the Sunday afternoon as I was leaving to go back to Athens before he was put into the hospital on Tuesday. And it breaks my heart to know that what I told him I needed for him to do can never happen here on this earth. My heart also breaks to look at my baby brothers tell their daddy goodbye and say to him again that they love him. It's is terrible to watch my mama grieve the loss of her teammate...her soulmate...the love of her life.

My daddy was a tired man. He has been sick for a very long time and a physically weak body can only last for so long. I know it pained him beyond measure to not be able to do the things that used to do. I know that he has not really felt like himself for a number of years now. I know that he probably had so much regret because he got sick really as a result of a decision that he made when he was a teenager. [Public Service Announcement: If you smoke, please stop. Now. For the sake of your family. And your lungs.] Yes, my daddy was a very tired man in the end. He had been fighting hard for days and he was always such a hard worker in general when he was still physically able. But my daddy is not tired anymore. He is at rest on this earth, but alive and well and enjoying quite a welcome home party in his new forever home. I don't know if overalls fit the dresscode in Heaven, but I like to think that he had a brand new pair waiting for him once he got there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Year of the Dog

One year ago today, I took on a new role: Master. Perhaps I should say that in theory I took on a new role, but this little pup had me wrapped around his paw from the beginning.
I actually started this blog post last night, but earlier today when I was finishing it up, I hit some random computer key and for whatever reason, all of the content disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the blogosphere. I love it when things like that happen. All that to say, this is kind of the Cliff's Notes version of my original post. Honestly when I got Cash a year ago, I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. Sure I had read a book on Labrador Retrievers, but I quickly learned that there is a pretty significant difference between theory and application.
Over the past 12 months I have lost shoes. I have lost sleep. I have lost pillows. Some days I felt as if I had nearly lost my mind. Were it not for a little place called Pawtropolis, I probably would have. Of course it's perfectly natural for you out there reading this to scoff at the concept that is Doggie Daycare. I will admit that I absolutely rolled my eyes at the thought of it before getting Cash. Suddenly though when I found myself with a 30 pound (and getting bigger by the millisecond) Lab puppy in a one bedroom apartment rainy day after rainy day, it seemed like the greatest idea known to man. I'm not so sure that Cash and I shared the same sentiments initially.
Cue Sarah McLachlan music please because doesn't he look like an ASPCA poster puppy in that picture? Fortunately after a few trips to Mike Vick's training camp, he began to force friendship upon the other dogs.
Just as I swore that I would never send my dog to doggie daycare prior to actually getting one, I also swore that Cash would never sleep in my bed. What can I say? It got really cold in December and he made a great foot warmer. Whenever I got Cash, I really wanted him to be a highly socialized dog that played nicely with his canine compadres as well as with people. I think that he's done pretty well thus far.
While he certainly loves other dogs and people, one of his very best friends from the very beginning is yellow and round.

His love for tennis balls is quite abnormal. In fact it's quite embarrassing at the dog park when all of the other dogs run up to him wanting to play and he stays intently focused on the tennis ball. I just call him Rain Puppy when it happens. He is quite talented though in that now he fetches them two at a time. Stupid Pet Tricks, here we come! The [first] year of the dog has been quite an interesting one. While I have lost a few things, this stuff pales in comparison to all that I have gained. I have gained more patience. I have gained an understanding of the importance and necessity of consistency. I have gained a forever friend.

[Note: I had a really hard time picking out the pictures for this posting so if you want to see even more pictures of quite possibly the greatest Chocolate Labrador Retriever, in the whole wide world, click here.]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Trifecta of Tragedy

You know, I've had some time to think about it and I've come to the conclusion that words are so subjective depending upon the circumstances. For example...tragedy.

Let's see how our friend, Webster, defines it. Tragedy: (noun) a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster

On Monday morning, I suffered a tragedy: My toenail fell off. Look, I understand that this is absolutely gross information that everyone would be perfectly fine not knowing, but it's my blog...I'll discuss my physical ailments if I want to. I immediately thought about [and discussed with my co-workers...sorry y'all] how in the world I would ever make it through summer sandal season with a nail-less toe. [Vanity - quite the stronghold, indeed.] I won't bore you all with the gory details of why I was considering the possibility of having a Lee Press-On nail glued to my second toe, but let's just say that I knew what I was talking about when I said that Music City and Zumba don't jive. Tragedy.

Early Tuesday morning, tragedy struck yet again: My dog ate a ball of aluminum foil that PeeWee Herman would be envious of. [Time-out: If you were a child born in the very late 70's or early 80's and do not remember the foil ball from PeeWee's Playhouse, I regret to inform you that you led a sheltered life. Or your parents just had the sense enough to not allow you to watch that ridiculous show.] Back to the tragedy. I was going through my usual morning routine and I thought that Cash was still piled up like the lazy dog that he is in my bed. Wrong. He had somehow gotten into the trash bag [that lives in the laudry room off the kitchen] and dug through until he found a bright and shiny object. I'm sure the fact that said aluminum foil was the wrapping for my baked sweet potato from dinner the night before only made this find more valuable. By the time I figured out that he was not in my bed, but was instead laying in the dining area with shards of foil around him while licking his chops, I knew that the damage had already been done. So I called Mom to get her perspective regarding how much damage some tin foil could do to a dog's insides. Because moms know everything, right? Tragedy.

Then after I got to work on Tuesday morning, tragedy struck yet again. I got a voice message from mom on my work line that went something to the effect of this: "I just wanted to let you know that Daddy is breathing, but we are on our way to the Emergency Room." Because that's what every daughter loves to hear from their moms who know everything, right? As I type this at 3:15 AM from the waiting room of the hospital in my hometown while my youngest baby brother is sleeping in two chairs that have been pushed together and my oldest baby brother is laying in the floor curled up like a little boy next to my mom, my dad is undergoing dialysis and is in a fight for his life. He was admitted into the hospital because he is suffering from a very severe case of pneumonia. Oh and while it's not some random strain of Swine Pneumonia or anything, he has COPD which makes it much more difficult for his body to fight it off than it would be for those of us with healthy lungs. His pulmonologist Dr. Graves [seriously, that's her name, it's unfortunate], who we know and love very much from his last little bout with pneumonia and respiratory failure a couple of years ago, came and spoke to my family tonight. All the time I was thinking "wait, I'm not supposed to be one of those family members that the doctors and nurses look at you with a forlorn expression as they say the words that you never want to hear." We are taking this hour by hour and to be honest, his doctor has not given us much hope. She said that it will be amazing if he makes it through the night. Tragedy.

Suddenly my toenail doesn't look so bad after all. When I went to my parents' house to let Cash out about 2 hours ago, he was wagging his tail and jumping up and down because he was so happy to see me. Apparently aluminum foil is easily digestible. It's amazing how one's perspective can change in a moment. When I woke up this morning [ok, technically now it's Wednesday morning but I'm still referring to Tuesday morning because I haven't been to bed yet], I did not have "possibly losing my father" on my to-do list. Instead I was going to get my oil changed and have my breaks checked, vacuum out my car, and clean my apartment. Those are much more appropriate for a to-do list if you ask me. It turns out that those things are going to have to wait because I'm in a bit of a tragedy right now. But do you know what? Somewhere in this crazy world someone else is experiencing an even bigger tragedy.

And this is what I'm learning about tragedy. It is accompanied by victory. Like for example, I'm not going to have to have a Lee Press-On nail put on my toe because the new nail had already begun to grow in before the old one even fell all the way off. Victory. There was nothing shiny, metallic, and slimy all over [again, gross, I know, but it's the reality of owning a dog] in Cash's crate when I went home to let him out earlier. Victory. It's 3:44 AM and my daddy is still hanging in there. His heart rate is stable. His blood-oxygen level is high. His blood pressure remained stable when he underwent dialysis. Other things started to improve even before the dialysis. Victory. Small, Hour-by-hour victories, but victories nonetheless.

Another thing that I'm learning about tragedy is that when it strikes, people respond. I am once again humbled beyond belief at the outpouring of love, support, and prayers that has been bestowed upon my family. There are people praying near and far. I'm amazed and comforted because I feel absolutely surrounded by care and support. And I know that I am. It's a good feeling. There is nothing that I can do physically to make daddy better. Micah is willing him to live with more determination than I've ever seen come out of his little 11 year-old body. Mom's faith is absolutely amazing. God is in control of this seemingly out-of-control situation. Victory.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday's Child is full of Grace.

Sixteen years ago today my world was forever changed...I became a sister. I remember the day just like it was yesterday. It was my last week of 8th grade. I had just turned in my Algebra 1 final exam when someone in the front office interrupted Mrs. Haley's class and called my name over the intercom. I was expecting it to happen at some point during the day because Mama had gone to the doctor that morning and the kid was already 6 days late. I, being the semi-nerdy kid with red [yes, red, not brown] frizzy hair and tortoise shell glasses that I was, was just relieved that I had finished with my test before Daddy got there to pick me up.
Honestly I can't remember how I felt on the car ride to the hospital, but I do remember how I felt in the first weeks after I learned that my only child world was about to be rocked. I cried. A lot. To my defense, I was in the 8th grade (with frizzy hair and tortoise shell glasses) and that's not the greatest time during one's adolescence anyway. My parents should just be relieved that this new addition did not result in heavy therapy costs for their first born. I should probably clarify something now so I don't come across sounding like a total only child - when I was a little girl, I would beg for a baby brother or sister. I can remember begging my mom for one and she always told me that I had to ask Jesus for one. So then I would pray for a baby brother or sister so that I would have someone to play with me. You know, for when my parents were doing those boring adult things like discussing their day with each other after dinner or napping on Sunday afternoons. But eventually as the years went by and I grew older, I adjusted quite nicely and decided that being an only wasn't so bad after all. Of course I was always a little envious of my friends who had siblings just because it was apparent that there was some sort of bond there that I would never really know, but Mom, Dad, and I spent a lot of time camping and hiking on the weekends, and they were both always at all of my games or banquets or recitals whereas families that have multiple children often have to divide and conquer which results in missing out on something. [Obviously we did not spend much time on my ability to write smaller sentences that are not run-on's.] Whatever anxiety or uncertainty that I had about adding a new member to my family prior to Ethan's birth pretty much vanished as soon as he was born. I loved him the first time I held him. Then when he came home from the hospital a couple of days later, it was like he had always been there, and I couldn't really remember what our home was like without him in it. Our family dynamics had definitely changed but it was for the better. I didn't really mind that it took literally a sweet forever to get ready to leave the house to go anywhere and more often than not, we would be finally on the way out the door and he would yarf all over himself or one of us. Ethan has always been a charmer with his big blue eyes and smile that will melt even the hardest of hearts so I could never stay too upset with him for very long...even if he did ruin my favorite sweater. Unfortunately I did nothing to prepare my parents for raising their second born. He is a risk-taker. He will question authority. He chooses to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. Some might argue that he's just a daring boy, which is true. Regardless of our differences in personality, he's a good kid who has made good decisions thus far in life. I just pray that he keeps making them as he enters this oh so tumultuous time of teenager-dom. Mom and I were talking this weekend at his ballgame about how he's changing so much and she put it perfectly when she said that there is a man inside a little boy's body trying to fight his way out. So of course I told her for the umpteenth time that she just needs to read Wild at Heart and it will make her life so much easier, but according to her she never has any time to read. Excuses, excuses...I can't help it she chose to have another child 5 years after Ethan was born. I've been asked more than a couple of times about why my parents waited so long to have more children. The truth is that having three children in a 19 year period was nowhere in their plan. Ideally they would have had another child when I was about three or so. Looking back I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for them to go all those years with me begging for a sibling when they wanted another child more than anything too. However the timing of Ethan's birth is a true testament of how God's time is always the right time. The best time. On time. Only God had the foresight back in the early 80's to know the challenges that our family would endure over about a 7 year period with dad's business. I don't know that they could have afforded another child. [I know they couldn't have considering my love for shoes and purses developed at a very young age.] Sure, it made absolutely no sense at the time. Yet in the overall grand scheme of things, we don't have the ability to see more than about 5 minutes into the future. [Thank goodness.] But now, 16 years later it makes perfect sense that my parents would have their first two children 14 years apart. I think we all question God's timing at least once or twice [or 452 times] along the way. Or maybe I'm the only one with this inquiring mind. Sometimes it's hard to see past the present when I am seemingly stuck in a holding pattern, but that little boy who I now have to look up to in order to see his big blue eyes [and perfectly tanned skin and straight hair...not that I'm jealous or anything] is a great reminder that the wait is always worth it.

Happy Birthday, buddy. Your big sister [who according to you always tries to act like your mom] loves you very much.