Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beginning of the end

I spent the day trying to not clean up the apartment, and was mostly successful. But, I did give in and vacuum and spot clean the floor (cat vomit...as predicted?).

So, in a matter of minutes (under 100) we're going to ring in a new year. 2009. This is the year I turn 30. This is the year I become a mother to a birthed baby (see, I recognize that having a fetus inside technically makes me a mother, and for this reason I'm going to give Eli the heads up that he needs to properly honor this for Mother's Day--May 10).

I also have goals for this year:

1. Finish Little Women. Seriously. 365 days to finish 40 pages. No problem. I'm pretty sure I've been trying to finish this book since October...

2. Read more for fun. Recently, I've spent a lot of time reading non-fiction with the intent of learning new things (which, I admit, is fun), specifically about pregnancy and child-rearing. What I want to do is get some brain mush from reading fiction. I suppose audio books count.

3. Have a baby. Not really a goal, right? Sure it is.

4. Spend more time in the crafty arts. I got all these stamp sets for Christmas and am itching to use them. And I'm having a baby, so there's plenty of baby crafts that I would like to try before I get too busy taking care of an actual baby.

5. Take a class to learn something new. Childbirth classes may or may not count. I'll make that decision next December 31.

6. Watch less television. In fact, I would be okay if we ditched cable altogether. Or if we got rid of the TV. I'm pretty much all caught up on past seasons of NCIS, and there's nothing on now that makes me want to follow it as closely as I followed Alias.

Tonight, we had some friends over to play board games. We played Settlers of Catan. This is a game that I first experienced when we lived in Waco--played it with the McCarvers--but hadn't played again until last week. I got it for Christmas and introduced the fam to it. Tonight, we played and used an expansion pack! It was pretty entertaining. In fact, we were supposed to wrap thing up around 9, but played until after 10. Good times.

Eli's going hunting in the morning and he better come back with meat! Time is running out! And then I won't see him until Saturday after he gets back from New Orleans (Sugar Bowl). I will have the entire apartment to myself to ring in the new mess...and the new year.

Have a blessed new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Same ol' same ol'...floors.

So, Eli comes home from work today and tells me that now, when people greet him, the first question they ask is, "How's Erin doing?" He said that he tells them that aside from the expanding waist measurement, I'm doing the same as always.

And that's how I feel. The same as always. It's weird. I have a little shortness of breath when I try to stoop over and pick things up (or bend over and load/unload the dryer). But physiologically, I'm just fine. Mom asked me if the hormones were getting to me yet. Nope. I've always cried at Hallmark movies. I guess I do get a little more emotional when I hear about terrible things that happen to babies/children, but I think that may just be the result of this new hyper-awareness.

Now, I did wake up in the middle of the night last night with the reality that once I have this baby, I'm going to have to keep my floors much cleaner. (I had a dream about the baby crawling on the wide open floor directly to a pile of cat vomit that just appeared out of nowhere before I could clean it up...ugh.) I'll have to vacuum more often and sweep and mop more often. This is something I am not really looking forward to.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blue Screen of Death

I've been doing some research on craft projects, since that's how I plan to spend the rest of the week, and the laptop gave me the blue screen of death...twice.

I'm taking my chances by logging on again to post. It really needs a new battery.

Tomorrow, I plan on taking care of my craft mess. Office Depot has drawer carts, 2 for $40. And Hobby Lobby has their scrapbook storage for 30% off. 50% if you get Paper Studio products, but I'm not interested in that.

Okay, my luck is going to run out (I just know it), so I'm going to say adieu. If I miss posting every day this month by 2 days, you'll know it's because of the dadgum computer. :)

Cheers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Long Day

I'm back home, and I think the traveling is done for the duration.

Eli, however, will be headed to New Orleans this week for the Sugar Bowl. Yet another long car trip for him. I'm happy that he got a ticket for Christmas, because I sure couldn't afford one. While I like to spend time with my husband, I am not jealous of this opportunity. More time for me to be at home making a mess doing the things I like to do when my husband is not around...crafty type things. Haha.

Eli goes back to work tomorrow, so I really do have the week to myself. Daphne and I decided (via chat) that we are going to do our best this week to sleep in and stay in our pajamas all day.

I think I'll try my best to do that, while also doing a little searching and cleaning here and there. I'm looking for something specific that I thought I put in a safe place, but can't remember what that safe place is. Pregnancy brain strikes again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Waiting for Godot...er, Eli

At the Beavers in Mobile. Eli left after lunch to go across the bay to get a consult on his JAG application from a church friend who works as a (civilian) lawyer for the Army Corps of Engineers here in town. Currently he's MIA. Supposedly, he was supposed to stop and have a quick dinner with his best friend, but still no sign of him. Everyone is getting antsy because we got here too late this morning to open presents before the rest of the family arrived. In fact, as the tradition of this year stands, we were the last ones here--but only by 10 minutes! For Thanksgiving, it was more like an hour and a half--but hey, who's counting?

He's on his way, I'm sure. But my game, Settlers of Catan, is in the backseat, and I really could have used it about 3 hours ago...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Around the House

Crisis averted. The computer wasn't turning on earlier -- it's been having battery problems -- so I was afraid I wouldn't get to post today. But, we're good. We're good.

Here are some pictures from around the house. Eli ran out of soap, so he is using this bar of lavender soap that I received as a gift last year. Look how HUGE it is. I laugh every time I get in the shower. As a size reference, the bar of soap next to it is a new bar of Dove soap. Eli also smells really good now, too.



When I got back from Texas, I had a nice surprise. Our friends, the Burds, had a baby in August (Baby Burd) and they sent us this cute little onesie. Isn't it adorable?



And finally, for Christmas, Eli got me my first Barbie. I had told him previously that I honestly don't remember ever getting a new one. All my Barbies were hand-me-downs with hair that had already been trimmed. He said he looked long and hard for a brunette, and this is the only one he found: Ballerina Barbie. This is symbolic that he is in the process of grasping the fact that we're having a little girl.



Cheers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Getting Tired

First of all, Merry Christmas to all.

Second, I'm getting tired of this posting every day thing. :) Too...much...pressure. So, I'll complete the month as best I can, and then I will lighten up a little bit come 2009.

We stayed home most of the day, and then went out to get a newspaper this afternoon and went around looking at Christmas lights. Now we're back home.

We've been watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon on the Sci-Fi channel. Yes, I realize that we own all 7 seasons on DVD, but there's something to be said about watching it with commercial interruption. Haha.

Time for bed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

100th Post

This is my 100th post! Crazy! It's come up so quickly.

I'm off the road and in the home and glad to be here. I enjoyed the time I spent with my family in Texas, but I missed my husband and my cats.

Today, on the plane, there were service men headed home for the holidays. The flight attendant acknowledged them as we landed in B'ham. I couldn't help it. I cried. Think of all the men and women who won't be home for the holidays--so that I can be.

I'm thankful for our military.

Merry Christmas, Captain Millsap! And Merry Christmas to all our service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you for all you do!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas.

What a good day! I woke up early after going to bed really early last night and read a little bit. The power went out for a while, and during that time I went to the Hulen Mall and had lunch with Crissy and her children.

Now, I'm not one to usually fuss over children, and I generally don't think babies are as special as their mommies, but--Crissy's little girl, at 6 months old, is the cutest, prettiest, happiest baby I have ever met. Even when she was unhappy she still was beautiful. And their little boy has such a mechanical mind. He had a little bedhead that Crissy apologized for, but I had to laugh, because so did I. I just covered my bedhead/cowlick (mostly) by pulling my hair back into a pathetic little pony tail. Anyway, props to Crissy and Kevin on such an adorable duo.

Crissy was also so sweet and brought us some firsts: our first outfit for Baby Beaver, our first baby-themed picture frame, and our first Christmas card from Texas this year. I always look forward to their Christmas letter every year because they never fail to make me laugh.

And tonight was family Christmas on Christmas Eve eve. This is the first time we've ever done Christmas so early, but my departure tomorrow made it necessary since David has to work in the morning.

I love my family, but I must admit that I'm ready to get back to my husband and my home...and I guess, the cats too.

I'm thankful for my family and my friends and the time I've had in Texas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baylor Bare

Well, the trip to Waco was a bust. Stacey and the kids and I went after lunch and scoped out polo shirts for Eli. He wears a medium.

We first went to the Baylor Bookstore (which is HUGE now) and the only sizes they had for the only polo shirt I liked were small and large. Eli told me that sizes vary from maker to maker, so I tried on the large just to see if they ran small, but it was big on me, even with my baby bump. Definitely too big for Eli. The other polo shirts they had were "golf" shirts in weird colors. I was looking for something more...classic Baylor? Spring green does not readily scream BAYLOR! to me, though it does scream GOLF COURSE!

So, we went to Pics N' Gifts. It was much smaller than I remembered, but the same woman is still working there. They only had polo shirts in the small and large sizes. Absolutely no medium sizes--not even in ugly polo shirts!

And then we stopped at the Spirit Shop. No polo shirts. Zero. But we were directed to their other store on Bagby. Huh? I realized that it must be where Big Daddy's used to be. And sure enough, they were there, but with a paltry selection of HIDEOUS polo shirts. Think of a gawdy Baylor t-shirt with a polo-style collar. Think, old lady with a sun visor and a little doggie in a Baylor sweater. Um, no.

Under the advisement of the workers at this last store, we went in search of Baylor apparel at Kohl's. But they only had t-shirts and hoodies. Eli needs neither, really.

So, because of this defunct market for Baylor men's classic polo shirts in the medium size in Waco, the one place where I would expect to be able to find such an item, I couldn't bring myself to spend money on a new Baylor t-shirt for me or a onesie for the new baby. Maybe I'll put those on my Christmas list for next year.

One good thing did come out of all this: I finally got that pineapple kolache. Mwahahahah. I am very thankful for Czech pastries.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Deer

No, dear, there were no deer harmed this weekend. At least, not by any of my relatives-by-marriage.

And this means that there are only five more weeks of hunting season in which my hunter has the opportunity to go out and get some meat to last us until next winter.

I have thoroughly enjoyed myself the last two days watching movies that Eli would never rent but that I knew Julie would buy. So, I watched Step Up 2: The Streets, which I really liked--even better than the original; Another Cinderella Story, which was pretty good; and Mamma Mia! which I thought would have been better on stage and which deserved a PG-13 rating. I was kinda glad that the niece and nephew weren't here to watch it because a lot of the humor was inappropriate for children, and a lot of it was inappropriate for mixed audiences (let alone sitting here watching it with my dad).

Today was a lazy day where I sat around working on homework (don't ask) and reading a book that I got Mom for Christmas last year but had never read.

Tomorrow? Perhaps I will head to Waco, look around campus, stop in the bookstore. I was hoping Daphne would be free for lunch, but she's otherwise occupied at her mother's house in Austin. Oh, well. And I thought Kat might want to hang out, but she's in a state of radio silence for who knows what reasons. No phone, no e-mail, no facebook. Whatever. I'll have to see if the Seabourns are headed to this side of the Metroplex in the next couple of days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Question of Brains

I work with preteens and new teens pretty much every working day. I will never cease to be amazed at how callous they are, how illogical they are, how unempathetic they are, how unreasoning they are.

I say, stop throwing that. They say, the other person threw it first. I say, so? I don't care who threw it first, just stop. A "yes, ma'am" will do. And besides, when you threw it back you just gave them more ammunition to throw at you. How does that make it better? Don't answer that. It was rhetorical. Just stop.

But their sense of equality, revenge, justice is skewed!

They hit someone else [an uninvolved party] in the throwing of said object. They won't apologize event though they admit it was an accident. They say, I was trying to hit so-and-so because he threw it at me. I say, did you see them throw it? They say, no, but this other so-and-so told me they threw it. I say, did it ever occur to you that someone is trying to start trouble and that you were aiming at an innocent party to begin with? They just look at me. Then they say, well, who threw it? I say, it doesn't matter. You need to apologize to the innocent bystander.

Finally, an apology.

And the minute I turn my back, something else is flying through the air. Every time.

This happens with he-was-talkin-about-my-mother situations. And she-said-that-other-girl's-name-when-that-other-girl-had-nothing-to-do-with-anything situations.

As a general rule, teens/preteens don't respect each other, teachers, parents, adults, elderly, handicapped (mentally or physically).

And what frustrates me (possibly to the point of anger) beyond all belief is that they don't see what's wrong when they tell someone who is an adult and who is suffering from a disease of the brain, that said adult can't do something because she doesn't have the brains to make that decision for herself.

I know I haven't been around, and for that I am guilty of having a skewed view of the goings on. But that still doesn't make it right. And yes, it is an issue of black and white--no gray area here. You don't talk to people like that. ANYONE at all. I don't go around insulting my students when they are being stubborn and making poor choices. While I may have made fun of some other aspects of her personality, I sure as heck never made fun of my sister when she wasn't developing at the same rate as her peers. When I volunteered with the Special Olympics in Austin, you never heard anyone insulting the athletes, telling them they didn't have the brains enough to go bowling, or play volleyball.

And the truth is, not everyone is nice, but there are Biblical principles to help us out, something in addition to the Golden Rule (which, in my opinion, is losing ground right along with nursery rhymes and fairy tales). They may not be easy to follow, but they are a starting point:

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matt. 5:44

"We take thought beforehand and aim to be honest and absolutely above suspicion, not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men." 2 Cor 8:21

"No matter what happens, always be thankful." 1 Thess 5:18

And my favorite of late:

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Romans 12:2

Now, before you think I'm getting all hoity-toity up on a pedestal proclaiming that I am in some way perfect in this respect, let me tell you that I am the first to admit the truth of my sinful nature.

I said that I never said anything like that to anyone. I never claimed to have not said things like that about anyone. The difference is that I knew at the time that what I was doing was wrong, but I did it anyway. And I felt guilty about it without anyone else packing my bags and sending me on a guilt trip.

I think that with many children, there's a disconnect. They, in some way, feel justified to treat people any way they want to. Again, the Golden Rule is lost. They start treating others the way they've been treated because "it's only fair" and they have some misplaced sense of justice.

Humanity seems like a dreary place in a middle school.

"The character of even a child can be known by the way he acts - whether what he does is pure and right." Proverbs 20:11

I'm thankful that I have a Father who forgives me, even when I open my big mouth and say something stupid; and I'm thankful that He's given me the patience needed to work with this age group.

"Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard." James 1:12

Friday, December 19, 2008

I have arrived.

There are days when I am reassured that this really is my family. Mom, Stacey, and the kids picked me up from the airport today. Stacey wanted to know if I was hungry (Yes!) and said that we would stop and get something to eat. I thought to myself, Mmmm, Chick-Fil-A would be good. And minutes later Stacey asked, "What about Chick-Fil-A?" Yes. This is my family. I belong.

The house has changed quite a bit since I was here last (Thanksgiving 2007). After the tornado in April, lots had to change. There's the chain-link fence and gazebo instead of a privacy fence and a shade tree. The back garage is white instead of brown. The bushes in front of the house have been removed. The front room is inhabited by two cockatiels. Julie has put down hardwood inspired laminate in her bedroom (goodbye rubber cement spot) and it looks like an adult's bedroom for the first time. The bathroom is all ripped up--and the door to the toilet nook is off the hinges and in the hallway. The bathroom is receiving a face lift, being turned into a blue bathroom instead of a pink one. They're laying down new tile and have painted the walls. It's going to look nice. Anyway, I did feel like a stranger to the house. But then I used the restroom and there was high-quality toilet paper, possibly 4-ply (coming over the top, of course). This is my family. I belong.

And then tonight I went out to look at Christmas lights with Grandma and her friends. We went out for ice cream afterward at Brahm's. I had a good time, though I was kept up after my desired bedtime. Eli sent me a text message to let me know that he got to the hunting camp. I hope he comes back with meat in tow.

I'm thankful for my family. Every single quirky one of them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Foggy Day

Lots of fog today. That's probably because the temperatures are in the high 60s and it has been raining...

I am safely at the bro-and-sis-in-law's, about to go to bed, only to wake up early and go to Texas. Since I'm on a borrowed computer, I'm going to keep this short and will update when I get where I'm going.

I am thankful for safe travel, especially driving up Hwy 280 at rush hour, and driving in the dark with B'ham lunatics drivers around.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scrooge

I don't even particularly like Dickens' Christmas Carol, but this is the second night in a row that Eli and I are watching some version on TV. Last night was an old BBC version (I think) and tonight is the Patrick Stewart version. Eli commented on how the dialogue is remarkably similar. You think? :)

I sort of feel like a Scrooge this year. We're not putting up a Christmas tree, and we haven't decorated at all. I thought about it, but it just seems like a lot of effort for a little bit of appreciation--I'm going to be gone until Christmas Eve, and we're leaving late the day after Christmas to go to family Christmas in Mobile. Now, Eli may decide he wants to put up a tree after all when he goes hunting this weekend (he chopped ours down last year from a field where he hunts), but I'll be gone, so...less work for me. Haha.

On a completely different topic, I should be packing for my trip to Texas. I'm leaving straight from school tomorrow to go to B'ham and stay the night with Eli's brother, waking up early Friday to fly to Texas. As I said, I should be packing. However, I came home from school and fell asleep. Then Eli came home with free tickets to the Auburn basketball game tonight, so we had a quick dinner and went. We stayed through halftime, and then came home because the opposing team only scored 11 points in the first half. I just can't stand it when there's not an actual game being played. I love basketball, but this one-sided stuff is not fun to watch--from either side. I don't care if we're winning or losing; I came to watch basketball, not a slaughterhouse.

And mostly I haven't done anything. Wait, wait, wait. That's not true. I cleaned out my car. Hah! Not an entirely wasted evening. But I think I still have to wake up early to pack. Luckily, I have already made my packing list so I don't forget anything uber important.

To bed I go. I'm thankful we came home from the game early so that I could catch some Zs tonight. (Last night I woke up crying because I had a bizarre dream that Eli said something mean to me and made me cry. I also had a dream that I stepped in a mud pit, which was our bed, and I couldn't understand how our bed became full of mud. It was boggling.) Here's to a better night's sleep!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Education Proration

Say that ten times fast.

The governor of Alabama has issued a statement to the effect of, "Let the proration begin!" Though state officials were projecting figures around 7%, education budgets for the next school year will be cut 12%! That's almost double the predicted figure. So, what this means for me as a non-tenured teacher in Alabama is that if I leave my current job to find one closer to home, I will probably be out of luck (and a job). This gives us something to think and pray about as we look to the coming year and all the life changes.

Baby Beaver is due in mid-May.
Our lease is up end of June.
Eli's appointment expires at the end of July.

We will not be staying in our current locale, even if we stay in the Auburn area. So, if you plan on coming to visit the baby in the six weeks after she's born, plan on bringing some packing tape and a permanent marker. There will be a trade off -- 10 minutes of baby time for every box packed. (You only think I'm kidding.)

Eli has just informed me that he's going to commandeer the computer tonight to work on JAG applications. This is our last shot, our last go-round as far as military service is concerned. If Eli doesn't get in then he will pursue another line of employment which will undoubtedly derail any dreams of Italy.

Really, I just want him to get a good job so that I don't have to work full-time (though I'll probably want to work part-time to keep my sanity). But, really, I just want to follow God's will for our lives, whatever that may be. I know that whatever happens, He will work all things for His glory. The Beavers will be a part of that. I am thankful that God cares for us even when we make our own botched plans.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And Adolph was his Name-O

Eli and I have been talking about baby names. I guess I just figured that if we had a boy, he would take the lead in choosing the name, and if we had a girl, I would get to name her. I was wrong (though it's probably just the first time that's happened). There's nothing terrible about the situation, just that compromise is hard. The poor child is stuck with the name for life! This is a huge decision.

Speaking of being stuck with a name for life, a funny blog I follow called Cakewrecks (see the link at the right) reported today on an article in a Pennsylvania newspaper about a grocery store bakery that refused to decorate a 3-year-old's birthday cake. Why? Principle. The boy's name was Adolph Hitler [last name withheld]. To add insult to injury, the parents named the sister Aryan Nation [last name withheld].

Really?

I like to think I'm saner than that. Now that I have the family genealogy on the Greenawalt/Ventura side of our new little family (thanks Stacey!), there are several more names on the table, including Gertrude (see, Mom? you were just kidding, but it's a family name!). Some others that are quite lovely: Beulah, Ida Belle, Carmella, Elva, Clara, Estell, Jane, Caroline, Rhoda, Eliza, Alice, Anna, Lorena, Melinda, Cora, Emily, Roxanna, Florence, and Ethel. Lots of Marys. Lots of Sarahs. Now, we had to omit all color names due the first/last combination, but we have great family names like Violet, Rose, and Olive. For the same reason, the family name Fanny is out. Alas, they will never be used.

On Eli's side, his grandmothers are named Myrtle and Elsie. He doesn't remember anyone else so we're waiting for genealogy information from his aunt.

In the meantime, there are a lot of names that I really like, some of which are listed above. Many of them start with the letter E, which brings forth a dilemma. Do we break the "E barrier"? Name one child a name starting with E and we are obliged to name the others the same, lest one of our children feel left out, unloved. And then we'll have to pay for therapy one day. I just know that's how the world works.

Anyway, once we do choose the name, it is highly likely that we will keep it to ourselves until the baby is born, just in case we change our minds (Lilia Elisabeth became Micah Elisabeth at the last minute, and I felt like I was the last to know). With persuasion, we may be willing to share initials...

But for that to happen, we have to work through this compromise thing. :) 'Twill be fun.

And I'm thankful I'm not in therapy...yet.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Secret Agent

So, this is going to be really short because we're going to church and then leaving for Mobile and we won't be back until well after my bedtime. Eli's doing most of the driving and I'm thankful for that.

I just woke up though. I was entrenched in a dream about kidnapped children and adults that involved NCIS and the FBI, and FBI imposters. I'm having some crazy vivid dreams lately. They're usually crazy, but they're not usually this vivid. I even dreamed about my friend from college, Tammy Todd. She'd been kidnapped, and all we could find were her shoes. Her father kept calling me to get updates since was working directly with Agents Gibbs, Dinozzo, and David. Weird.

Okay. Off to church and then on the road.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

.5

Happy half birthday to me! Today, I'm officially halfway to my next birthday. I told Eli today that this means there's no turning back.

In celebration of this lovely day, I woke up, bummed around on the Internet for a little while, and then went back to sleep until noon. It was lovely. When I woke up, I showered, and then Eli and I went shopping for ingredients to make pizzelles. So, today we had a surprise free food trip that I hadn't counted on yesterday, when we went to Sam's Club--completely forgetting that Saturday is free sample day. Yum.

I came home and made some pizzelles. They turned out well. I burned a whole lot of them, but I ended up with about 5 dozen that were presentable. I forgot to take a picture of my cookies arranged all pretty on the platter that I took to church (and consequently brought home empty), but I did take a picture of the cookies that we'll be eating at home and taking to the in-laws in Mobile tomorrow. Yes, I'm willing to take them the mistake cookies. They'll still love me. :)



We went to the Victorian Front Porch Tour tonight. While my life is not changed for the better as a result of my attending, I am glad that we got out of the house and drank in some of the Christmas spirit. We're not decorating this year, so it was nice to experience others' decoration and holly-jolly attitudes. We walked around with the Bowens, and then went back to the church for some cookies and cider.

Now, I'm home, and I'm ready for bed. And I'll go just as soon as I show you this. I came across this picture as I was uploading the pizzelle picture; it's from two weeks ago on a lazy Saturday afternoon--the one where we stayed in our PJs all day. For those of you who have never met our old man Timmy, this is him. He hates it when people touch his belly, and he can't stand to be on his back for any length of time...except for this magical day (Eli is the real magic--he would never do this for me). He stayed like this for 20 plus minutes:



Today, I'm thankful for lazy Saturdays and [free] reasons to get out of the house.

Cheers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Par-tay

Finally! It's Friday! I thought this week would never end. I'm so thankful that I only have two days of whole classes next week, and two days of non-exempt students. It's going to be wonderful! After I make up the semester exam, of course.

This weekend should be full of good stuff. Tonight is the Lee County Bar Association Christmas party, to which Eli and I have been invited. Eli's going to go hobnob with some area lawyers, and I'm going to go eat free food and drink the free drink, though I'll have to pass on the frozen margaritas for another couple months. After the LCBA party, we have a young couples dinner for church, and we're responsible for bringing the tea. This means that the food is...yes, you guessed it...free. And so is the good company. I'll actually know people there, and I'm sure it's going to be an enjoyable evening. One of the young married girls (under a year) already told me that she's living this pregnancy vicariously and she hopes I don't mind if she asks a lot of questions. For education purposes, well...we'll see. I am an educator, after all.

Speaking of being an educator, I received an excellent honor today. If you hate language and grammar, you won't think this is an honor, but here it is: Mr. C, a bigwig in the central office (though I'm unsure of his exact title...superintendent of something or other), sent me an e-mail today and asked me to proofread this very important document which will be submitted to the state department in February, and to comment on its organization and completeness in answering the questions posed. It was in dire need of my expertise. I sent him back the document with the comments I made, and his response was something akin to, "That's exactly what I was asking for." He did send it to two other people, Masters of the English Language as he called us, so it wasn't just me, but I'm actually surprised that he thought of me at all. There are four English teachers at my school, which is one of the smallest schools, and no one else received this request. It was pretty cool to be me today, when my principal asked me if I wasn't busy, could I go down to the gym to help supervise 8th graders? I told him I was doing something for Mr. C. He said, Oh, well, finish that. Mwahaha.

Back to the weekend. I think tomorrow I'm going to sleep in and then wake up and make pizzelles, those yummy waffle cookies that my family makes for special occasions (though I wouldn't complain if I saw them more often). It will be my first time flying solo on this, so we'll see! I'm thinking about giving a few to everyone I work with directly...8 or 10 people. I will have to put the cats away to keep these cookies Timmy- and Coco-free. Tomorrow night is the Victorian Front Porch Tour in Opelika. I'm not exactly sure what it will be, but we're planning to go--mannequins and paper mache dolls set up on the front porches of the historical houses? Again, I'm mostly going because of the hot chocolate and cookies. And possible caroling. But, as the trend goes, it's mostly for the free food. :)

And Sunday, we go to church for Advent Breakfast (which has taken the place of Sunday school for this Advent season) and have our...yes, free...breakfast and Bible study. And then we have to skip the service and head to Mobile to go to This Is Christmas! at Eli's parents' church, where they will be singing. Lots of driving, and unfortunately, this trip won't include victuals. Well, not the gratis kind, anyway.

You might think food is on my mind just because I'm eating for two, but I have to admit that I've always been like this. I'm just more open about it now. I mean, Eli did initially meet me when I was hovering over the refreshment table at an RA info meeting. Our eyes first met over free food. May there be much free food to come in our lives (clarify: free, but not government subsidized).

Today, I'm thankful for weekends (and let's not forget--free food).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You saw it here first!

I thought I would at least reward my faithful blog readers with the gratification of knowing Baby Beaver's sex. Here are the sonograms from 12/9/08.

The "money shot"...it's a girl!



Need a close-up? So did I. Notice the 3 white lines near the arrow. That's the indication of a female baby.



On her belly with her arm curled up (this where she started the scan)...



Baby Beaver's first full-body photograph (this was the last position...after much flipping and turning).



Today, I'm thankful for visual proof that there is not, in fact, an alien inside. Just a sweet little girl. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Competition!

It's days like these that I'm thankful I live in a capitalist society.

I knew on my way to work this morning that I would more than likely need to get gas on the way home. I didn't get gas before school because, bizarrely, none of the gas stations around my apartment open until 7 and I leave for work at quarter 'till. So after school, when the gas light came on, I was not surprised. There are two gas stations between work and home. I stopped at the first one, because I knew that I wouldn't make it to the second one, and the price for regular unleaded was $1.67. I knew I could find it cheaper closer to home, so I only put in two bucks worth. The next gas station had gas for $1.59 (only 9 miles down the road) but I still didn't stop because I felt that I had seen it cheaper off the beaten path.

Yes, part of me did suspect that maybe I hadn't been paying attention to gas prices and that they were on the rise, but I was willing to take that chance.

I bypassed the turn-off for our apartment and went to the one place I knew would be cheap if any place would be cheap...the RaceWay station on Opelika Road. And do you know how much I paid???

$1.43 a gallon! A couple of months ago, I never would have thought I would find gas this cheap ever again. I filled up my car for $16 (including the $2 I put in at the higher price).

This helps relieve some of the tightness in the budget as a result of the upcoming holidays and the upcoming baby.

Yea, cheap gas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh, Baby!

I'm thankful for healthy babies.

Went to the OB today for an ultrasound. Heartbeat 141. Everything looks good. Of course, they don't guarantee 100% that there are no problems (obviously--who could give a guarantee like that?)... History of heart formation problems in my family and spina bifida in Eli's family, but she said that there weren't any apparent major or minor indicators. It was neat to see all four chambers of the heart.

Little Baby Beaver kept moving while the tech tried to measure everything that needed to be measured. Finally, we saw the baby with one hand curled up next to the chest, and one arm bent over the forehead, woe-is-me style. I said, "Hey, sometimes I sleep like that."

So, we have confirmation that there is a baby in there--a baby with arms and legs and fingers and toes and kidneys and a bladder and a four-chamber heart and a chin and a gorgeous spine. I would scan pictures except that for some reason our scanner is not working.

We spent the evening on the Internet looking at baby names having to throw many out because the combination of the first name with the Beaver surname was not...appropriate? There's so many good names that are utterly unusable.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Afghans

Today, I'm thankful for afghans. Or maybe, more specifically, my family's practical creativity.

In my house right now, I have three afghans. The first is a twin-sized bright yellow afghan that I've had for as long as I can remember. It's older than Doc, my aged polar bear, but younger than me...but just barely. Grandma Ventura made one for each of her grandchildren. Stacey's was pink, Julie's was sea foam green, Matt's was blue and mine was yellow. I feel certain that Pam, Catlin, and Allison each have one, but I have not seen theirs to know the colors. Each afghan is made up of colored squares, stitched together with white yarn. This afghan is 6 squares across by 10 squares--I just counted. On a few occasions, when I was little, the white yard came unraveled, and left a slit between squares. I would stick my head through the hole and wear the blanket like a poncho. Mom would offer to crochet it back up (she's got skills, too--and afghans to show for it) but I would refuse, because only Grandma could fix my affectionately-called "Grandma blanket." That meant, on occasion, that I would have to wait for a year or two until Grandma came to visit us in Germany, or we went to visit her in Ohio.

The second afghan is also a Grandma blanket. When Julie got married my sophomore year of college, Grandma made her a queen-sized version of her sea foam green afghan. I made, offhand, some sort of comment that that's not fair! I may never get married, and if I didn't have a larger afghan I would never sleep in a larger bed! (Or something like that.) This was all relayed second-hand, mind you, probably from Mom to Grandma. I never said anything directly to Grandma. For Christmas that year, I opened up a new Grandma blanket--this one was larger...but only by one row of squares on the bottom, and one row of squares on the side. To be sure, it is an extra-long twin sized afghan. ::sigh:: It's also not yellow. Grandma used a corrugated yarn that was mauve-ish-pink and tealish-green. She said the colors reminded her of me. I thought, it's no wonder; I work at Winn-Dixie, and these are the Winn-Dixie colors... Grandma's comment was something like, "Here. Since you complained." I was grateful, though. It sounds like I was complaining, but at the ripe age of 20, I really didn't think I would ever get married. It seemed like an impossibility. I'm glad God had other plans, though.

These two afghans currently are on our bed. The yellow one (still my favorite) is covering my half of the bed, and the mauve/tealish one is covering Eli's half of the bed. This is in lieu of a comforter, since we didn't get one to match our current sheet set.

The third afghan is a zig-zag afghan, made from corrugated hunter green yarn. This one stays out in the general areas and is our "throw" afghan. My oldest sister, Stacey, made this for us a couple of years ago. I love it because it's so soft, and just the right weight to keep me warm watching TV without making me sweat. In the winter time, you'd be hard-pressed to find me sitting on the couch without it. Plus, Coco loves to climb under it and snuggle, so why wouldn't I use it?

I came home from tutoring tonight and just wanted to curl up on the couch with my Stacey blanket and veg in front of the TV, but lo and behold, Eli had already claimed my afghan--and my kitty! I felt naked...and betrayed. Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But he took my warmth and my cat! After I had eaten dinner, he gave me the afghan. Didn't I tell you he's sweet?

Well, don't get too gushy. He still took my cat.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two for Tebow

We went to church and took the in-laws with us this morning. It was a good day. Lots of food, and you know I love free food.

Our SEC Championship party last night was great. People from church, work, and some neighbors came over and stayed for a little while, mostly everyone was not cheering for Bama (but not really for Florida either). Haha. Our apartment was packed to the gills during the first half. The Bowens brought the boys, and little J just LOVED the cats. J was so excited. He was jumping up and down and clapping his hands. Poor Timmy. It's funny that J wanted to befriend the mean cat. I guess Timmy's just big and fluffy--I can see how that would be appealing if I didn't otherwise know his temperament. He kept running under the bed, and J would ask, "Where'd he go?" and "Can he come out now?" He's two. It was difficult to explain to him that he was scaring the the poor creature. Coco was available for petting, but J just wasn't interested. That's okay, because the other women present were happy to pet him and his soft "ripply" fur.

Anyway, the game was good. I was extremely impressed by Tim Tebow. I've heard all this praise for him but had never seen him in action. Wow! If I had it my way, he would win the Heisman back-to-back. He's that good. I don't usually care, but you have to admire exceptional skillz. Even Jon R. from church commented that we were good Bama fans. I think he really meant that we're good sports. And that, we are, proudly.

Thanks today for our new friends in Auburn/Opelika. This is probably the fastest we have made friends and gotten involved in the community since we've been married. That makes me happy. ::sniff:: We're growing up.

Oh, and happy (?) Pearl Harbor Day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Interminably Connected

You like that? "Interminable" was one of the vocabulary words for my 11th graders when I taught at West. My kids swore people never used the word...

Believe it or not, when I went off to college in the fall of 1997, only one person I knew had an e-mail address (through AOL) and that was because his father taught at a university in Fort Worth and the whole family was up to date on technology trends. I had never even been on the Internet. Really. So, when I got to college, there was this novelty awaiting. And, it turns out, I was a natural. I could search and find most everyone I looked for. I could find information I needed. I would sit in the computer lab on the 2nd floor of Russell Hall working on a Mac (another novelty) and people would start asking me questions about how to do things on the computer, never suspecting that I was a newbie, as they were. Because it came so easily, I went to free workshops about how to set up web pages on the college server, and I even ended up teaching some of my friends how to do it. I had found my gift...technology.

The e-mail thing turned out to be not as great as I thought it would be. First, it wasn't as personal as a hand-written letter, and you couldn't tell a person's tone as well as you could if you were face-to-face. Second, educated people's grammar started deteriorating in front of my eyes and there wasn't a dang thing I could do about it. Third, I couldn't make a fresh start. I was, as I coined the phrase then, "interminably connected." I went to a college where I didn't know anyone, and yes, it was lonely, but I wanted to take that adventure head on. Instead, I got sucked into leftover high school drama via e-mail. Ugh.

Mom and Dad subscribed to AOL that Thanksgiving (their first time with Internet too, I suspect), and I'm pretty sure I spent most of the break chatting in chat rooms...for the first time (and almost last time) in my life. At first I understood the draw, the anonymity, the being able to talk to people you didn't know about anything you wanted to. And then I started to feel empty. I didn't know these people. I didn't really want to know these people. I wanted to know real people and see their expressions, hear their vocal inflection, learn about their sense of humor by watching their body language. Once I had that figured out, I no longer chatted with strangers.

So, I had been turned off to both e-mail and chat rooms. E-mail made a comeback when I moved nearly 2 hours away from my boyfriend (now husband). I didn't have a cell phone (that's another story altogether) and e-mail was the cheapest/quickest way to communicate. We still sent each other sweet nothings via what was now being call "snail mail." I'll tell you that I still have every thing Eli ever sent me through the post office--the fact that he took the time to mail it made it worth keeping. I do not, however, have every e-mail he ever sent me. In fact, most of them are gone, deleted with my hotmail account when I forgot to log in for 30 days after I got married and started grad school and Eli was right there with me so I didn't need to e-mail him. Oh, well.

The good and bad thing about e-mail is that if you don't know someone's e-mail address, you can't really look it up unless they're affiliated with a university or company that and are listed in the public directory. And hence, we lose touch. I change from @hotmail.com to @gmail.com, and don't ever get around to telling everyone my new e-mail address. Perhaps by accident, perhaps by intentional neglect. Who knows?

Anyway, two summers ago I was in the summer musical at Theater Tuscaloosa with a whole bunch of college kids, and I kept hearing them talk about Facebook. "Now we're officially friends, since we're FB friends." I had heard of Facebook and social networking, but when I had looked into it, it was restricted to e-mail addresses that ended in .edu and my graduate e-mail address had just been deactivated. I was out of luck. But after hearing the college kids talk, I came to understand that Facebook had opened its doors to the general public. I didn't join the bandwagon just then (my school's filter wouldn't allow access to Facebook and I didn't have time to go to the public library). It wasn't until the end of July when I flew back to Texas to help my mom when she broke her wrist that I joined the phenomenon. They had just set up a wireless Internet router at the house, so when everyone was at work or wherever, I sat on the couch and surfed.

I'll say that in the past 16 months I have reconnected with many, many people, and stayed in touch more dynamically with people I talk to monthly if not more often, but most of them were just a one-time "Hey, how's it going?" deal. Some of the people I couldn't even remember until I accepted their request and then surfed their profile, wiping away cobwebs and fighting the amnesia. And then my students started finding me...(but that's another story altogether, too). Sometimes I'll accept a friend request just to appease someone's curiosity, but seeing that they have over 300 friends, a few weeks down the line, I will quietly delete them from my friends because we use that term "friend" too loosely. They'll probably never notice, anyhow. (If you are reading this, there's a 99.9% chance that you have not been deleted. Otherwise, how'd you get here? Haha.)

And all this brings me to some good news: This week I have reconnected with three of my FAVORITE PEOPLE from my adult life.

1. First, Cooper found me. I always talk about him when I talk about my favorite librarians ever. I've actually been in contact with him a little bit over the couple of years, but FB lets me be apprised of the everyday mundane stuff we women like to keep up with.

2. Second, I found Jinohn. The girl, who was my Co-RA on the third floor of Collins my senior year of college, has a zest for life like no one else I know. She's always smiling, she's unapologetically goofy, and she's graciously ambitious in ways I've never seen before.

3. Third, Michelle found me. I worked with Michelle for two years in Austin, and she is, to this day, hands down, one of the most talented teachers I have ever come into contact with. The last I saw her was at her wedding, which was one of the two best weddings I have ever attended (I love to dance--I can't help it!). That was just over three years ago. I had an old address for her and sent a letter that was returned. I looked for her in online white pages, and I probably looked for her on Facebook, but I couldn't find her. I'm so glad she thought of me after she joined. :)

So, I'm thankful for this interminable connection, though it can be both good and bad. But then, isn't that just the nature of technology? I'm going to think about this a little more...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cheerzilla

Turns out I spoke too soon. I had a parent pick up her daughter from cheerleading practice today 55 minutes late, which meant I had to drive home in the dark. And it also meant I had less time to tidy up around the apartment before the in-laws came. Luckily, they took us out to dinner at Johnny Brusco's and it was deliciious.

Now that I'm back, I'm thankful for Prilosec OTC. This is going to be a heartburn disaster.

And I'm tired. So I'm going to bed. But not without first saying,

Colleen, you must read my blog at work because when you comment, it's about the same time every day...near the end of 2nd period. :) Thanks for reading.

And thank you, too, dear reader.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Five to Drive

Tonight was the second set of basketball games for the season, and again, the gym was very warm...too warm. I was all pink-cheeked just from sitting still and keeping the clock (I did get excited about some of it, but mostly it was just warm). Tonight I brought water for the refs (different set of officials), and even put it in the faculty refrigerator today so it would be cold. I didn't even get a thank you. Can't win them all, I'm afraid.

The only bad thing about basketball season is that it takes place into the darkness. Tuesday was the first time I had to drive home in the dark on those weaving back roads. Tonight was the second. And I'm not sure what happened, but by the time I got off of the winding back roads and onto the main roads that would take me home, I started to feel queasy...motion sick. I made it home without getting physically sick in the car, and now I'm sitting in bed typing this with one eye closed to minimize the motion.

So, here's what I'm thankful for today: between now and the end of January, there are only five more sets of basketball games. That means that I only have five more times when I have to drive home from LaFayette in the dark. It really is a scary drive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Internally Satisfied

Perhaps this month I'm destined to appreciate the underappreciated.

Last week I went to the pulmonologist and he put me on some heartburn medication to help control my asthma (weird, I know, but it worked). He told me to come back in a week and I asked him how late he was available. He asked, "When can you get here?" I told him, and he wrote it down on my check-out slip. The appointments receptionist started to give me a hard time about it, telling me that he's not here that late, and I said, "That's what he wrote down."

Today, I returned. I got caught in after-school traffic in Opelika (and I will definitely not go that way next week when I have an ultrasound at the same time at the next office down the strip) so I called and told the nurse that I was almost there, and she said that she wouldn't let him leave until he saw me. How's that for great customer service?

When I got there, they got me in right away, though I was about 7 minutes late for my appointment. The nurse told me that it was important to her that he know I was on my way because she remembered that he made an exception and stayed late for me.

He was with a patient in the room next to mine when I got there, and I heard him come out and say goodbye to the patient. Then one of his nurses said, "Will you talk to the nurse on the phone. She won't listen to me." And he sighed, and picked up the phone and started talking to a hospital nurse about a patient he had seen who disregarded his diagnosis and went to the emergency room instead. He was obviously flustered. Then I heard him say under his breath, "I'm just trying to get home."

I heard him say my name as he picked up my file, and mumble as he reacquainted himself with my chart. Then he knocked on my door and entered, cheery and happy to see me, never suspecting that I heard the interchange outside. He apologized for being so slow, that he had kidney stones this week and is till recovering, and then he acted like I was the only patient he ever had.

I made sure to thank him profusely, probably too much, for staying late for me and for taking the time to see me. He probably thought I was weird. But I really do appreciate it. I can't take off work right now to go to the doctor, and I was very forthright in telling them, and they were willing to make accommodations. Thank you Internal Medicine Associates!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy

You know what Eli asked me? "You're not a very happy pregnant woman, are you?" Just because I don't want to talk about babies all the time with every person who wants to talk about it does not make me an unhappy pregnant woman. Haha.

I told him that maybe that will change. It's just that I still don't feel pregnant. I still don't even really believe that there's a baby in there. Yes, whatever, I've heard the heartbeat...of what? I think things will become much more real to me next week when we have an ultrasound and I have visual proof of my "condition."

And the truth is I'm a pretty modest person, so I don't usually ever want to talk about anything relating to my body and its functions...ever. Especially not if I didn't initiate the conversation, which I almost never will. Just because it's something that you don't mind (or even like) talking about does not mean that I will too. I prefer to read books and articles about it. And then if I have questions, I will ask someone, but probably not you, because I know how much you love to talk about this kind of stuff and talking to you will make me feel uncomfortable. It is what it is. Sorry.

So, today, I'm thankful for people who are kind and generous, even in the face of adversity. I'm thinking specifically of the two female referees at the middle school basketball games tonight. It's tough to be a ref. I don't envy them their position (though they do it by choice). I was keeping the clock for the girls' game, and they were very patient with me. And then I ran into them during halftime of the boys' game. They were hanging out near the police officers to avoid the rabid crowd. Did you know that everybody's an expert? No, I'm not talking about college or professional ball--I'm talking about middle school. Middle school. Sheesh. These women were rock solid and continued to smile and be gracious even when the players/fans/parents/coaches were not too kind.

Makes me renew my faith in humanity. The refereeing side of humanity, anyway.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Elijah mine

I thank God for my husband.

It still blows my mind to think how many people there are in the world, and how there is absolutely no one else who could be this perfectly suited to me. How did we end up at the same college, crossing paths in the spring of my junior year? What if I had never interviewed for an RA position? What if I never hovered over the refreshment table where he first encountered me stuffing my face? My life would be very different.

I'm amazed.

I admit that sometimes it feels like being married to my mother (hi Mom!) but Eli takes care of me and looks out for my well-being. In all things, I know he means well. He "makes" me eat my vegetables. He stops me from rubbing my eyes when they itch like crazy and nags me about putting lotion on to keep my dry skin at bay. He usually encourages me to get out of bed to go to Sunday school when some Sundays I would much rather sleep in until the "big" church service.

There are other little things he does that don't get the recognition they deserve:
1. He gets up early when he doesn't have to (when I get up) and makes lunch for me because he knows that if it's left up to me, I'll either not eat or eat junk.
2. He pulls the shower curtain back across the rod because a long time ago I asked him to do that to prevent mildew and he likes to make me happy.
3. He squeezes the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube sometimes, but often enough that I notice and am grateful for the effort.
4. He replaces the TP when the roll is empty and he makes sure the end comes over the top. He may just do this as a personal preference, but I certainly appreciate it.
5. He takes out the garbage when the kitchen bag gets full.
6. He makes tea when the pitcher is empty.
7. He makes dinner when I don't feel like it, which is most of the time.
8. He lets me pick which vegetables I'm willing to eat when we go grocery shopping together.
9. He comes home from the grocery store with a half-gallon of ice cream, even when I'm not with him.
10. He buys Kleenex in multipacks.
11. He watches Dancing With the Stars with me and actually likes it. (Alas, the season is over.)

I know these things seem silly or trivial, but in our busy, busy lives, they make a huge difference.

I love you, Eli. Thank you for all you do.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

30/30



Well, I've done it. 30 blog postings in 30 days. I almost doubled my total blog postings since I started this blog over a year ago. I feel pretty good about myself, and that's great, but I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. I'm going to try to blog in December, also, but probably not as faithfully. The NaBloPoMo theme is "Thanks." I think I can scare up a few good posts on that.

Yesterday Eli and I stayed in our PJs and watched football. We talked about going out for a walk, but it was raining all day, so we just stayed inside. Bama blanked Auburn in the Iron bowl, which was a good thing for Beaver family happiness. While all that was going on, I started a paper quilling project (paper scrolling) but didn't get very far because when the cats see thin strips of paper they want to play! Where Timmy will just chew on it indefinitely until it falls apart, Coco will actually eat the paper. So, I had to put that aside for now, until a time where they are both comatose again.

I haven't decided if I'm going to try to make our Christmas cards or buy them. It seems that the longer I'm alive, the more people I want to receive cards from me. By the time I'm 90, I will be spending a fortune on Christmas card postage alone (with inflation and all that). I'd do those super cheap photo cards, but the cats won't sit still for a family photo, and neither of us is photogenic. Good luck getting a good picture of both Eli and me at the same time!

I don't want to go back to school this week. I'm ready for winter break, but I have to hold out for 3 weeks of torture. And, yes, I still have tests to grade. I hate papers!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mad Gab

I have to share this because this made me laugh. Back at the Beavers the other night, Mother-in-law and I were in the kitchen, and I don't remember what brought this up, but she mentioned when she had gone with me to the emergency room earlier in the month. Paraphrase:

"I don't know if you realize this, and I don't know if you had just used your inhaler too much or what, but that night you were woohooo [making a crazy gesture] just talk talk talking."

I laughed. Eli and I have been together for over 8 years, married for 5.5 of them. After 8 years, she doesn't even really know me. And so as to not hurt her feelings from thinking I was laughing at her, I had to explain what was funny:

1. She's never spent that much time with me uninterrupted before.
2. I talk all the time, especially when I have a captive audience (emergency room, pillow talk, plane rides, classroom).
3. Comments on my report card were always to the effect of "Erin talks too much."
4. Growing up, my family was lucky if they could get a word in edgewise at the dinner table (another captive audience).
5. I was the worst at slumber parties about keeping everyone awake by talking, even in college.

I had to bring Eli over to vouch for me. He thought it was funny that his mother thought this and was able to reassure her that my behavior was normal, not some version of me hyped up on asthma drugs. He shared that he often has to tell me to hush so that he can go to sleep at night, that I tend to wait to talk to him then when his attention is not divided between me and the TV or computer. It drives him crazy, but I'm sure he loves that about me, too...right?

The truth is that as I've matured, I have improved my ability to shut my trap at the appropriate times. I still get caught in situations where someone asks me a question and as I'm giving my lengthy, albeit (I think) interesting, explanation they tune out or get engaged in another conversation nearby. And then I have to re-evaluate my delivery. What do people really want to know? I have to try and trim the excess. I'm not expert, but I'm getting better.

Around the Beavers, I think my waning verbosity is due to a couple of factors:

One, they (the men), know everything about everything, have a tendency to be very opinionated and are never wrong. If I'm right, it's because I got lucky, that's all. Even if that happens, they still weren't wrong. So I was just lucky when you wanted to talk college basketball in 2001 and you shut me down when I said I thought Duke would go all the way, and they ended up winning the National Championship?

Two, I'm sometimes astounded by the things that come out of their mouths that I'm speechless, especially when it comes to politics (again, mostly just the men). Did you really just say that Obama is the antichrist? Did you really just tell me that the reason people voted for Obama is because they're stupid?

Three, they talk about people and experiences I can't relate to. School life at ASMS. Growing up with the Beavers. Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, people I've never met. Family vacations to places I've never been. Quoting songs/lines from comedy albums I've never heard.

Don't get me wrong. I love them. They are great in most every respect. But I just do a lot more listening and holding my tongue when I'm with them. As a result, they think I'm shy. Really, I just pick my battles (generally ones that aren't futile).

Thankfully, I now have a sister-in-law who commiserates, and we make faces at each other from across the room when the family is together. She's openly Pro-Bama and would have died to hear some of the things said this weekend.

Anyway, I'm growing and maturing, but rest assured, I still talk as much as I used to...just now I do it in spurts.

"Men usually speak about 10,000 to 20,000 words per day while women speak 30,000 to 50,000 words per day with gusts up to 125,000." -- Dave Ramsey

Amen.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Baby Talk and Talk and Talk and...

Yesterday's Thanksgiving celebration at Bev's was wonderful. I just love being around the whole Beaver clan. Baby Charlie was so cute, and I didn't have to hold him. Two good things. Eli did hold him--all eyes were on him, and I think the verdict was that he's going to be a good daddy. I have no doubt. (They may be doubting my potential since I declined holding him on a couple occasions. I just don't hold other peoples' babies.)

Bev said she was glad that we made a playmate for Charlie so he won't be all by himself at family gatherings (he's five years younger than their next youngest, who is the youngest "legitimate" cousin). It's weird that Baby Beaver and Charlie will only be 9 months apart. And they won't know how they're related, so they'll just call each other cousins, because, hey, why not?

I think I'm going to run into this more and more though--whenever a group of women get together around me, they're going to start reminiscing about pregnancy, delivery, and their babies (who are now mostly grown). I couldn't start a conversation about anything else yesterday without it gradually changing into a discussion about babies. I kept trying to talk to the girls about the good books they've read (they're teenagers and they're readers--they recommend the Twilight series beyond the first book), but the mothers and aunts kept coming in and getting excited about baby talk. Ugh.

And I think I'm going to start telling fibs about whether or not I had morning sickness because I don't like to get violent. If I get another dirty look when I say that I wasn't sick at all, it's going to be a throw down, mano a mano.

Oh, and did I hear Eli telling people yesterday that he was terrified when they asked if he was excited? Geez. This is the first I'm hearing of this! Haha. I asked him if he was being funny or serious. He said both. I can live with that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Travel Time

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're up early because we're driving to Mississippi--which, as it turns out is a 5 hour drive from here. And then, after we eat and are sleepy and full, we're driving back to Mobile (we'll go through there on the way) which is another 2 hours. So, in total, we are going to be in the car for at least 7 hours today. I say "at least" because my bladder is not what it used to be. I used to be "the camel." Now, I'm "the peanut."

My brownies are currently in the oven. I boiled my cans of sweetened condensed milk last night and have yet to find out how they turned out, but we'll see. I'm hoping there are leftover brownies today. If not, I will make caramel pie when I come home so that I have something sweet to eat this weekend.

Eli is currently boiling cranberries to make...relish? He put sugar in it, so I don't think it will be anything like pickle relish.

And we bought all new Gladware to take with us to bring leftovers home. How's that for planning? Haha.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Out of the Loop

Communication is the key.

Turns out I have no idea what our travel plans for Thanksgiving are. I thought I knew. I thought I would go to my doctor's appointment this afternoon and then we would leave for Mobile tonight, stay the night with the in-laws, and then drive to Pass Christian, MS, for Thanksgiving dinner with the Beaver family. But I was wrong.

Turns out that we're leaving early, early in the morning and driving straight through to Mississippi, and then driving back to Mobile tomorrow night, staying the night with either Alex or the in-laws, and then driving back to Auburn around lunchtime on Friday.

In a way, this is good because I can get some laundry done. And make some pseudo-turtle brownies (without the pecans). We went to the store today to get caramels among other things, and it turns out that they are a "seasonal" item. What?!? The clerk at Winn-Dixie said that they had them around Halloween, but won't have them again this year. Really? Not even for Christmas baking? I suggested to Eli that I buy a bag of Rolos and suck all the chocolate off of them.

Instead, we decided to buy a can of sweetened condensed milk, and I'm going to boil the can for four hours and hope that it becomes caramel like I've heard.

Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Technicolor

You know how I posted earlier this month about throwing up? I had no idea what I was talking about.

I have a new "last time I puked up my guts" date--last night as I was getting ready for bed. My poor husband.

To sum it up in the most non-grotesque way that I can, my asthma medicine makes me physically sick. I may never eat Subway again. Or pickles and olives. Or ham. And I'm going to make sure I chew more thoroughly.

Sorry if that's TMI.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rain, rain, go away.

Ever since I got back from Texas my allergies have been killing me! I have gone between stuffy nose and runny nose, and last night, finally, drainage. Ick. So, today, my first day back to school after my fabulous 3 days off, I had a hoarse voice and a sore throat. By the end of the day I had almost lost all my voice.

Mostly, today, I was looking forward to my doctor's appointment after school, hoping that they would do an ultrasound, but I knew when I pulled up and it was raining that there would be no ultrasound today. Not making the logical connection? Well...

Rain is symbolic. In Hemingway's novels, rain represents death. When it rains, someone or something dies. So... I knew when it was raining that my hope for an ultrasound would die. I, of course, said something to the doctor about it, but the rain won. I go back in two weeks for my first ultrasound. The appointment was anticlimactic. Dr. Smith did say that things were progressing nicely, and I got to hear the heartbeat for the third time. It was in the 140s. There was some disturbance, and Dr. S interpreted that as the baby kicking and moving around. Evidently I should be able to feel that soon. His long-term interpretation of the disturbance was, "You're going to have your hands full." I'm starting to regret that Coke I drank the other day. Did I just doom my child to ADHD in one Sonic treat?

And before you go preaching about caffeine, everything I've read said that you shouldn't have more than 4-6 cups of coffee a day, and I interpreted that as a lot of caffeine! Geez! I've cut out most everything except chocolcate (no way, no how). But when I was driving home from the airport on Saturday I needed something to keep me alert for the 2-hour drive even though I just wanted to crawl into bed and take a nap, so I stopped at Sonic in Chelsea.

What have I done? (Haha.) Only time will tell.

Now, the first official picture of me. I'll call it 16 weeks. I'm two days shy of 16 weeks, but who's counting (not me, as a general rule--I just go to the doctor when they tell me to...)



I'm still not entirely convinced that that's not mostly fatness unrelated to the baby (something about family genes), and that's why I couldn't wait for the ultrasound. But, alas, I will have to wait.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Other Side

I stayed up last night reading until after Eli came home from the hunting camp and then woke up this morning and read some more. Went to church, ate Thanksgiving dinner with the church family, and then came home to nap. When I woke up, I finished Twilight, and here I am. It was a pretty quick turnaround. A quick read. Nothing too mind-numbingly gratuitous, but still not very challenging. I'm not going to run out and get the sequel, but I will pick it up eventually. The story was compelling around page 375 as the characters became more interesting. Yes, that was 3/4 of the way through the book. But knowing that there were sequels, I was not overly concerned for the characters. Anyway, I would recommend it to read if you had nothing else to do.

I emerged from the bedroom moments ago, and after Eli found out I had finished the book asked me, "Have you finished Little Women?" No. No, I haven't. This may surprise you, but that book is not very well written. The character development is very good, but the story-telling is lacking. I feel as insulted as a reader reading Louisa May Alcott's writing as I did reading Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz. I know the latter was written for children. Was Little Women? That would explain a lot.

Anyway, back to school for two days tomorrow. I wish I had this whole week off for Thanksgiving like every other teacher I know. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jog

Now I am vegetating on my couch at home, glad to be done traveling. In fact, this is actually fortuitous that I'm home because I turned on the TV and the finale episode of NCIS season 2 where Kate is killed was on. I've never seen the episode since we lived in Tuscaloosa for 3 years without CBS. And now the Season 3 premiere is on and I'm going to be sad because Ducky is sad, and everyone else. But it's more sad when an old British guy is sad.

Somewhere on the 1.5-hour flight from Houston Hobby to Birmingham I realized that I hadn't seen my keys since Thursday morning and started to panic. Had I left them in the hotel room? Were they in my suitcase? I didn't know. But I went ahead and made mental plans for survival. Of course, my suitcase was the last one to be loaded onto the baggage claim belt, so in its absence I started making plans for survival without my luggage. But luckily everything worked out: my suitcase made it to B'ham, and my keys were in the very bottom of the front pocket that was otherwise stuffed with books and papers. Crisis averted.

Hunting season opened this weekend, so I came home to an empty house. Eli is out at the hunting camp, though I don't know if he drove last night or this morning. And since I don't know when he departed, I can't estimate when he hunted, and can't even begin to guess when he'll be home. So, it's me and my boys.

And, lastly, Diane bought Twilight at the B'ham airport on the way out and finished it last night, so she gave me her copy when we got to the airport this morning. So, I'm going to finally get on the bandwagon and read it. I'm only afraid that the sequels will be checked out of the local library, and I don't have the money to buy them! What am I going to do??? Despite these concerns, I started it on the plane and got 75 pages into it.

And now I'm going to read until I can't read anymore. Catch you on the other side.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Like a Real Professional

As opposed to a fake professional, which I kind of felt like when I came.

Today, it finally hit me that people came from all over the country and the world to attend this conference. There was a woman in our session from New Zealand, and a few women from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I came to the same conference! What does that make me? That makes me a professional, someone who has the inclination and the right to fly all over the country attending conferences and bettering myself in my profession. Lots of teachers NEVER go to conferences.

The breakout sessions I attended today were the best of the conference. This might be because yesterday I was more of an observer, not sure if I was up to the same caliber as the rest of these teachers, ones who have been involved with the National Writing Project for years. I can't really explain how much it means to me to have intellectual conversation with like-minded individuals. I know this is sad, but that doesn't really happen for me at school. So today, I participated, and you know what? I at least sounded like I knew what I was talking about. I was able to stimulate debates and lively conversations with my ideas.

We went to English Teacher Mecca today: the NCTE vendor booths. Not as many office supplies as I would have liked (pout), but plenty of free books and lots of information on all the amazing resources available. While we were at the expo, Brenda, a member of our group, ran into the Zaner-Bloser handwriting guy and they got to talking; she mentioned that her student won their national handwriting contest last year. And voila! They took our whole group out to a decadent dinner where they ordered one of every appetizer, everyone was able to order whatever entree and drinks they wanted, and then they ordered one of every dessert. (Don't tell Eli, but I ordered the tres leches cake for my entree, and then, yes, proceeded to eat dessert. Haha.) I don't usually drink, (and rest assured I didn't this time) but I have never been more tempted. The waiters kept walking by with frozen margaritas and I desperately wanted one. None of the ladies had anything to drink, which was a little surprising, because had this been with my former TMS colleagues, we would have had some tipsy teachers at night's end. Again, it was nice to be with like-minded people, however sheltered and boring we may seem.

I also have a clearer idea of what I would like to study/pursue in graduate school if I get the chance to go back for my Ph.D. I thought of this during my second breakout session about implementing technology professional development in the writing project program and beyond. That was the best session of the conference, and I have much food for thought.

Finally, I realized today that when I'm eating, I subconsciously bring my arm to rest on my belly. Perhaps that's because I'm at that weird in-between phase of pregnancy where I could either be fat or pregnant, and I want people to know it's the latter by subconsciously rubbing my belly in a loving manner. Or something. Frankly, I just feel fat.

Tomorrow, we leave this wonderful place. We won't get to go back to Mecca, though I would have loved to spend more time there. I got several free books, but not so many that I can't still pack my suitcase (like the other women I'm with--crazy librarian and elementary teachers!). All in all it has been a satisfying trip that will continue to challenge me as a teacher (and as Tex-Mex lover...why, oh why can't Alabama Mexicans make good Tex Mex?).

Nine more days of regular posting. Until tomorrow evening...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yay Conference!

I was on the elevator, and it opened on my floor, and I was about to get out when I thought, Oh, no! I haven't posted to my blog today. Sheesh. That was a close one. And you'll never know how close since you have no idea how much I have to pee right now. But I knew that once I got up to my room, it would be all over. So, I came back down to the business center.

Quick airport story yesterday: Diane, the project coordinator, got stopped going through security at BHM because she had a paring knife in her purse that she had forgotten about. She had to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork and was utterly mortified. She is now on a List (with a capital homeland security L).

In my state of pregnancy brain, I tried to go through security with my cell phone in my pocket. They did not like that, but at least I didn't get registered with homeland security. Haha.

We got into San Antonio after bedtime last night, and to our hotel about 10:30 (the cabbie was on only his second day of driving--which is my luck...). I am at the Drury Plaza Hotel...you know the one. The sign is visible from all over San Antonio and the river walk. I'm sharing a room with Carey, a 1st grade teacher from Talladega County who went through the writing project in 2007. We had so much in common we stayed up until after midnight last night just gabbing away about everything and anything.

Today was a good day. Free hot hotel breakfast. Lots of food during the breaks at the conference. Lunch on the river walk. Good afternoon session. Dinner on the river walk with Michelle (Rain Forest Cafe'). Michelle (former student) drove down from Austin and we got to hang out for a couple of hours, catching up on the last 3.5 years since I moved away from Texas. I really missed her, and I'm still mad at Eli for not letting me kidnap her and bring her to Alabama with us. Coincidentally, it was weird when, during dinner, Michelle's mom called and wanted to know what she was up to, and I had to sit there and listen to her. "I'm in San Antonio having dinner with Mrs. Beaver. Mrs. Beaver. You know, my old high school teacher." Sigh. It wasn't my imagination. She did say old. (But really, I'm only 8 years older! I'm not that old! Right?)

Tomorrow should be good. I'm hoping to get over the NCTE conference just to visit the vendor booths. Free office supplies!!!

Now, my bladder is winning the war, and I have to go...in both senses. It's a pressing issue (pun intended). Until tomorrow, my faithful readers (haha).

And Colleen, I'm happy that SOMEBODY'S reading this thing practically every day. Otherwise the effort would seem wasted. You're awesome. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

San Antonio, here I come!

Today's the day!

I totally skipped school today so that I can do laundry and pack and get things ready for my husband to be a bachelor for a couple of days. So far, so good.

The laundry is going. I'm about to load the dishwasher, and before I leave I will take out the trash. Maybe.

I'm meeting Eli for lunch today, and then leaving from there to go to the Birmingham airport, where I'm flying Southwest Airlines. This will be a dry-run for my Christmas travel.

I think that this trip will also wipe out the rest of my Zorro book. That's both happy, in that I love finishing books, and sad, in that I really like this story. But, thankfully, there are other books to be read. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sub Plans

In my eight years of teaching I have taken very few days off work. Mostly, I don't get sick, so there's no reason to take sick days. I think I've averaged 2 days per year (either personal or sick), which is not many on a 187-day contract.

The truth is, I hate having substitutes because it's just so much more work than if I stayed at school. I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants teacher. I plan, but not rigidly, and not in great detail. I prefer to see how activities unfold in the classroom and then decide where to go. For subs, you have to be very detailed because they'll never come back if you don't keep the students busy! It just goes against my character and philosophy of teaching.

But, every once in a while, I think it's worth it to have a sub. Last year, I took two personal days for my marathon. Definitely worth it. This week, I'm leaving for San Antonio and I have 3 professional development days that have been granted me. I'm so excited about this, and excited about being away from my students for 3 days! Woohoo!

And then, at the end of this year, I'm taking maternity leave. I don't think I could ever do it if this baby were due in the middle of the year. It would be TOO MUCH WORK! But, the end of the year is sooooo easy. And with maternity leave, I really could just leave without plans if I weren't feeling the tugs of professional responsibility.

Anyway, I have a lot to do before I head off to San Antonio. However, going back to work is not one of them. Mwahahahahaha.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Queen of Trig

So, I've been tutoring MW in statistics and trigonometry, but we're treating it more like a study session since I'm having to relearn the math along with MW. Today was awesome. We accomplished a lot, and we got the right answers, and I felt really good when I left. (And, coincidentally, so did she.)

I still think I would like to teach math someday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday

We made it back from B'ham and have been vegging the afternoon away. I seriously need to grade tests. As always.

I may be in the wrong profession.

Which is why I'm thinking about going back to graduate school (Ph.D) if I can get it paid for.

Food for thought.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The End is Near

Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Have I ever mentioned how much I don't care about football? Yeah. I just don't really care. Perhaps it comes from going to a losing high school and then to a losing college. Some people might think that I don't like it because I don't understand the game. Well, I do understand the game (thanks to Kevin Dazey standing next to me in the clarinet section freshman year in college patiently explaining every little thing that happened on the field), but I still can't really get worked up over it. I'll watch, but only because of peer (family) pressure. Given the opportunity to go in person, I'll bring a book to read (embarrassing to my husband) or talk the whole game (annoying to other spectators). I don't really pay attention to the game and when Eli comes back from the concession stand or restroom, it drives him crazy that I can't tell him what happened when he was gone, what the cheering was for, or how the other team put points on the board. Seriously. I don't care.

I do, however, like the game day atmosphere. Something about all those rabid Bama fans running around pinning their hopes on a national championship bid. All this to say that today we are headed to Tuscaloosa via Birmingham (to visit Matt & Steph) to watch Alabama play Mississippi State. Eli and I went to the game last year in Starkville, MS (the things I do for love) when State pulled a surprise upset of the Tide. I'm afraid that it's going to happen again. Yes, I said I'm afraid. So, that makes me a fair weather fan. I know. But I'm also already a fan by marriage. I guess I care by association if I don't really care myself. If Bama loses, the family atmosphere will be very...tense. So, in rooting for the Crimson Tide, I'm rooting for familial peace and happiness.

Can you blame me?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cheap Pizza and Ginger Ale

It turns out that even more than Pizza Hut, I love cheap place-directly-on-the-oven-rack pizzas. I know they're not nutritious, per se, but they're quick, they're easy, and they're tasty.

I think I had my first place-directly-on-the-oven-rack pizza when I was early in my sophomore of college. John S. loved the Totinos 99-cent pizzas. I thought they were a good deal and got some for myself. I then remember buying some for JS when he dislocated his shoulder playing "touch" football and couldn't drive. And the seed was planted. Who knew it could grow into a preference over Pizza Hut??

We had to go pick up my thyroid drugs from the pharmacy this evening, and while we were there, we got a cheap pizza and a 2-liter of Canada Dry. Mmm. Dinner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Control Freak

Bible Study this evening was really good. It was a wrap-up session. I came into the study four weeks ago, on chapter 11 of 12 chapters, so I haven't been long, but I really feel like I belong here.

I'm actually so happy and pleased with the way our church involvement is evolving that I honestly am thinking that staying here wouldn't be so bad. I know that the Lord has a plan, but I just want Him to know that I'm open to this one. (Haha.)

Which brings me to the topic of my post. As we women were talking this evening, several mentioned that they are struggling with the need to please others, that they seek earthly approval for their actions. I silently thanked God that this is not my vice. I've been mostly free of this for 12 years.

Instead, I'm a control freak. I need to be in control and I have known this for a long time. I remember telling that to the Scooby-Doo stalker in college during a conversation and realizing how true it was. Here I am a decade later and I'm no more enlightened. I don't drink or party, because I refuse to tempt myself to be out of control (which really is not a pleasant prospect anyway), not to mention that I'm too old for that kind of reckless behavior. I don't understand people my age who can still hang out at bars as a social center and drink to the point of drunkenness. Haven't they found anything better to do? (I'm really trying not to judge--I just don't understand because it's not in my control freak personality.)

So this is my battle. When I lost my job in May, people asked, "What are you going to do?" They wanted to know if I was nervous that Eli and I were jobless and that we had no idea what the future held. But in truth I know that God has a plan, and that's what I would say. It's all going to work out for God's greater good. And I believed it. Mostly. Then, being the sinner that I am, I started making my own plans. Just ask Eli about my Navy JAG plan to move to Italy or Spain and teach for DoDDS while having a native nanny raise my bilingual children, and having my niece and nephew and Eli's cousins come visit during the summer to be a mother's helper. I just take seeds of ideas and I run with them...making my own grand plans. I'm out of control when I'm "planning."

Are God's plans not good enough? Does he really need a backseat driver? This whole free will thing is daunting, especially since I know that no matter what, in the end, God's will will be done, with or without me. I'm either with Him, or I'm against Him. But, to be with Him, I have to concede that ever-frightening loss of control. It's not my life to live. I keep forgetting that (again and again after all these years...) and have to constantly be retaught and relearn the Truth.

I'm only human. And that is very humbling.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spew, hurl, vomit...you get the picture

Before I get into the meat of the post, I just want to say how proud I am of myself for keeping up with blogging every day so far this month (knock on wood). Next week I go to San Antonio for the National Writing Project Annual Meeting, and I'm afraid that I'm going to mess this up! What a month to try this!

On to my topic. I am the kind of person who does not like to be sick (and by sick, I'm talking about vomiting). In fact, I will do everything I can to not get sick. And this is why it was such a blessing that I did not suffer from morning sickness at all. It happens so infrequently that I can remember the last time it happened...usually. Until this past March, I had been married for 5 years and in that time Eli had never had to witness my illness in this manner. (He, however, was sick during the first couple months of marriage, and that was the last time.)

In March, I ran the Azalea Trail Run in Mobile. It's a 10k, and I decided to run the entire thing instead of taking walk breaks. Well, they only had water on the course (instead of maybe just ONE Power-Ade stop??? Really, is that asking too much?) and I drank a little at every stop. At the finish, I pushed myself across the finish line with a final burst of speed. And when I stopped dead because the course ran out, all the water came up on the pavement right in the middle of everyone while I was still in the finishers' chute. It was pretty gross, but I was glad Eli wasn't around (he finished before me) to witness. Everyone else saw, yes, but they were strangers who I will never see again.

**APPETITE SPOILER** DO NOT READ BELOW IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH.

Well, this morning I inhaled my asthma medicine (from the inhaler) and then I coughed and accidentally swallowed some of the medicine, and then I emptied the contents of my stomach for the first time since March . Thankfully(?), I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. I just had all the drainage from my sinuses. Yes, too much information, but brutally honest. It was gross. And I hope it doesn't happen again any time soon. Yuck.

I suppose this all comes up (no pun intended) because Coco has also been sick, and Eli sorta has him paper-trained as to where he loses his lunch (on the newspapers by the door). The poor cat is so melancholy and pathetic. Eli told me that I must have what Coco has, but I don't think so since this so far is a one-time occurrence on my part.

Poor Coco.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Every year since I was in college, I call my father on Veteran's Day and thank him for his 20 years of military service. Thanks, Dad! (This is not a cop-out--I already called him. Haha.)

I grew up as an Air Force brat, and I wouldn't trade that upbringing for anything. I can't really imagine life any differently. What would it have been like if I had been born to a family that lived in the same town my entire life, with parents who worked the same jobs for all those years? I will never know. Nor do I care to know.

As a result of my father's military service, I got to live in many interesting places, I learned to make friends quickly, and I'm a great problem solver who is resilient when things go awry. What a life!

I have the military blood -- I hesitate to put down roots, I look forward to moving every so often, I am independent of my family (though I love them very much), I seek new adventure wherever I can get it, I want to experience new things and take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This is who I am. And I wouldn't have it any other way.