Sunday, November 30, 2008


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


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


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 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 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


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, 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.


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.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bath Time

For weeks we have been saying that Coco needs a bath...badly. Yes, his breath stinks and it doesn't help that he licks himself in order to get clean and then smells like his foul breath, but his body odor went beyond that--not strong, just unpleasant when he got up in your face. For weeks, we kept putting it off. Until last night.

Let me backtrack first. The first time we ever gave Coco a bath, he sat down in the sink and quietly tolerated it. But this is the same cat that will jump into your warm bath water provided it's just water and not stinky bubbles and stuff. Coco is very docile. However, the last two times we bathed the kitties, we bathed Timmy first. Timmy does not like baths. Timmy howls and moans and tries to escape, and an unwitting passerby who heard him would think we were abusing him by the way he carries on. As a result, Coco was spooked and also put up a fight. So, we had to rethink this strategy.

Yesterday, after our guests left, both cats were asleep on the couch. And, as is typical in his old age, Timmy drooled all over the cushion. The wet spot was about the size of a quarter. When he realized this (I don't know if he woke up completely) he started licking the couch to clean it. We watched him, amused, because he seemed to be sleep-licking. Then we went back to watching TV, and when we looked back, Timmy was still licking the couch, and by now the wet spot was the size of a softball! Gross! He was just in a licking kind of mood. And eventually, he moved over to Coco and started licking the sleeping cat. It was at this point that we decided the baths were in store because while Coco has bad breath, Timmy's breath is horrid, and poor Coco would smell like Timmy's bad breath on top of his already unpleasant BO.

Coco did pretty well. I'll tell you that there is nothing quite as funny as a cat who is soaking wet. And their little rat tails (so fluffy when they're dry) hold so much water! I'm the designated holder while Eli is the designated washer/rinser. We both got equally wet trying to keep the cat in the sink. At one point he jumped up and clawed desperately at Eli's shirt. We were laughing so hard it was difficult to unhook his claws. There was this look of utter desperation in his eyes.

Then Timmy got his bath. Thankfully, Timmy is not as agile as Coco, and he also doesn't have front claws. He's much easier to keep in the sink, though he did try to make a run for it a couple of times. Mostly, he just howls and meows and extends his limbs as taut as he can, as if he were stiff-legged. We got even wetter.

I wish I had a camera, because they are so funny looking. But mostly, I wish I could keep that image of a freshly-bathed, fluffy kitty for a little longer. Later in the evening, Timmy, mostly dry, jumped up to sit with me on the couch, which is highly unusual since Eli is his favorite (and he doesn't try to hide it). I think he was snubbing Eli because Eli was the one who sprayed him. Haha. (Coco didn't care. He curled up on Eli's lap about 30 minutes after...such a forgiving heart). And I'm happy to report that Timmy is white again (for now), and Coco doesn't stink (as bad).

Sunday, November 9, 2008


So, yes, last night I spent several hours in the emergency room of the East Alabama Medical Center for the second time since we moved here in July (I last went July 30/31). It's a good thing that the staff at the hospital is pretty incredible, or I might be dead right now (asphyxiation). It also makes me feel that more confident about having my child in that hospital...the only "big" hospital for miles.

I told Eli I was going, and he said he'd come with. I told him that he didn't need to, but rather to stay home and entertain his parents who had stopped through on their way back to Mobile from Williamsburg, VA. When Mother-in-law heard that I was going to the ER, she insisted on coming. So, we had several hours of quality one-on-one time to talk and talk and talk (except when I was breathing on my magic peace pipe). The nurses are competent and friendly. My only (minor) complaint is that I did have to endure an IV hookup hanging out of my arm for several hours, and then they ended up not using it. And that's the end of my complaints. Pretty good, huh?

Now let me tell you the part that had my heart breaking in two.

As Mother-in-law dropped me off to go register, I could hear the sirens of ambulances pulling up at the back door. When I got inside, the triage check-in nurse was telling people that it would be a 5-hour wait because they had just gotten several ambulances and a helicopter. I knew it wouldn't be that long for me because if you can't breathe, they generally get you in pretty quickly. So, I went and sat and read, waiting for Mother-in-law to park and come in.

At some point, this horrendous wailing and screaming started. It was awful. It went on and on, and I finally figured out that it wasn't a patient in pain, because the pain in this lament was more painful than anything you would be sent to the ER for. I tried to ignore it, but my eyes welled up with tears and I was crying all over my book. When the verbal mourning subsided, a group of people who had just come from the back huddled near the exit door with somber looks on their faces. I remember that a woman they knew came in from outside right then, and one of the men said something too low for me to hear, but the woman stopped in her tracks, looked at them, and started saying, "No. He's not." And she started crying and walked outside, walking away from the ER. I remember thinking, Why isn't someone going after her to comfort her? But they just stood there stoically. The remaining woman in the group starting crying, but not audibly, and I saw her open her phone, dial a number, and start talking to someone. She stepped outside to finish the conversation. The wailing started again.

It would be at this point that the triage nurse would call me back to take my vitals. My eyes were wet when I went into the little room, and he asked what I was reading. I showed him my copy of Little Women, and he said he understood the tears. I shook my head, to indicate the the book wasn't what was sad, and he nodded slightly. Then, these two women came to the door (I only heard them since my back was to the door) and asked if they could go back and be with the woman who had just lost her husband, and I started crying again. The nurse told them that he needed to check how many people were already back there since there was a big group already. Anyway, the women were denied by another nurse (the one who counted the visitors) and made a little scene, and then they were able to go back. As he was finishing taking my stats, the nurse mumbled something under his breath about them making Tuberville's wife mad. (Tommy Tuberville is Auburn's head football coach.)

I was shortly called back to a little triage station, and before I turned left down the hall after the nurse, I looked right, and there, lined up on the wall, were men wearing khaki pants and white polo shirts with the Auburn logo and the Under Armor logo. As far as I could tell, it was the football coaching staff. And then I was whisked away.

[**UPDATE** The story was just posted.
Auburn mourns Virgil Starks]

I will never forget the woman's cries as she found out that her husband was dead. And honestly, it reminded me of a funeral I attended for a teacher at my school who had been shot in the head during a bar brawl two years ago. Everyone asked me if I had ever been to a "black" funeral before, which I hadn't. I cried all through that funeral as the family paraded by the closed casket, and women screamed and wailed and cried out to Jesus, children stood silently by, crying and weeping. The mother threw herself across the casket crying and not wanting to let go, and had to be escorted back to her seat. Women fainting, men catching them. A collective wail of mourning. The funeral lasted for hours.

The person with whom I attended the funeral didn't shed a tear, saying that most of it was a show. That all "black" funeral were like this. I didn't know what to think.

After last night, I know that grief was real, both at the funeral and at the ER. It just was too piercing to my soul to be someone "putting on a show".

I came home finally (after about 4.5 hours in the ER), kissed my husband goodnight, and told him that I love him, and that I don't want to live without him. He was asleep, but he mumbled, "Okay." :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Breathing Room

During the past three weeks, my asthma has gotten worse and worse. Yesterday at school I started having a mild asthma attack but of course I had left my inhaler at home. So I mooched a Diet Mountain Dew from one of the seventh grade teachers to hold me over until I could get some albuterol.

Well, I got home, used both my inhalers, and my breathing did not get better. In the middle of the night, I used my rescue inhaler a couple of times, and one time Eli covered his head with his pillow and asked me to go use my inhaler because I was making so much noise trying to breathe (though I had already used it!).

Today, we took his cousins, S and A, to campus and then to the football game. I have never been as winded and unable to breathe as I was today. Short jogs chasing the cat who got out of the apartment made me breathe heavily. Short climbs uphill walking around campus killed me. Climbing the stairs to my seats about did me in. This is the worst its ever been.

Now we're home, and I'm trying to calm down and get my breathing to regulate, but I'm just able to take shallow breaths. My chest is starting to ache. I just told Eli that I'm thinking about going to the emergency room, and he told me to come into the back room, away from cat dander and dust and see if it gets better. Well, it's not getting better.

And, of course, I don't have an asthma doctor here yet. I only have one choice. I'm going to wait a little longer to see. At the rate I'm going, I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight.

**UPDATE** I went to the ER and I can breathe better now, but it's not perfect. The nice docs did not want to give me steroids since I'm pregnant. It's so good to breathe.

Friday, November 7, 2008

From Zorro to Google

You know how I mentioned that I listen to books on tape while driving to work? Well, on Tuesday I decided that I would listen to Zorro by Isabel Allende. Eli got it at some point from the discount bin at Books-A-Million and I hadn't listened to it yet. So far in the story, Diego (soon to be Zorro) is fifteen, and his father has shipped him from the Spanish colonies in California to Spain to be educated in the traditional Spanish manner (where, if I am to understand it, he takes lessons with the world's greatest fencing master). Anyway, he's not to Spain just yet. The ship had to stop in the Azores to take on fresh water and fresh food. And then my mind wandered...

You know how people will Google their own names from time to time, just to see what shows up? Well, for a few years I've been searching the Internet to try to find my friend Jennifer Paterson (yes, with one "t"). I'm hoping that someday Jennifer will Google herself and find this post and let me know how life has been in the last, oh, 15 years.

As Air Force brats, when we were in 7th and 8th grades, our dads were stationed in Altus, OK. Jennifer and I played basketball together at Altus Junior High (though she was arguably a better player than me). She also swam on the swim team at WOSC with several of the other officer kiddos. Sometime during eighth grade (and this is why my mind wandered) her dad, Bruce, was stationed in the Azores, and they moved away. We kept in touch for a couple of months, sending videos and letters back and forth, and she even once called me from the Azores via a ham operator, but eventually we lost touch. She got busy with life, becoming a cheerleader and excelling at basketball on her little island. I often mention Jennifer in passing (though not by name) to my students because Jennifer was the first person I ever met who had a step-mother. And due to all my reading, I was under the impression that all stepmothers were wicked (thanks a lot, Cinderella). It boggled my mind that Jennifer and her step-mother, Loyce, got along.

Fast forward to the age of the Internet, and I, myself tried to Google Jennifer at some point, and all I was able to find was that she was a Miss Arizona contestant in 2001, Miss La Paz County. There's not trace of her after that.

So, Jennifer, if you ever Google yourself and come across this e-mail, it's me, the girl formerly known as Erin Greenawalt!

And to everyone else, thanks for humoring me while I walk down memory lane.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sweet Pineapple Goodness

We were at Wal-Mart on Sunday and bought a pineapple. Eli was reluctant at first, but when I promised that I would be the one who would cut it up, he agreed. Now, I've never cut up a pineapple before. Eli told me he didn't want to do it because it was a pain. I figure that first of all, it can't be that bad. And second of all, wouldn't it be worth the taste of that fresh pineapple?

This morning (Thursday) Eli asked when I was planning to cut it up, so I came home today and tamed the spiky monster. I was going to look it up on the Internet to find the best way to slice and dice, but I'm still dealing with that pesky virus and didn't feel like taking the time to look it up (however, I did feel like taking the time to blog about it--go figure). The pineapple had a tag on it with some pictures of a pineapple in the various stages of undress, but no words that clarified. So, I took a stab at it (ha!) and diced that pretty pineapple up.

There is nothing to compare with fresh pineapple, and I wonder why it took me to 29 years to cut one up myself. Now, I can't stop thinking about pineapple kolaches from the Czech bakeries in West, Texas. I don't think this is a pregnancy craving so much as it is a reminiscent longing for pastries of old. Yum. When I'm home for Christmas, I don't really care how much gasoline it takes, but I plan to drive to West and get some of the sweet goodness. And I might stop by Baylor and get a new t-shirt (and maybe a onesie for Baby Beaver?). But mostly, I'm going for the kolaches. Stacey, you in?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Subaru Owner & Grilled Cheese

As of yesterday, we are the actual owners of Eli's car. We bought the car a couple days after our one-year wedding anniversary. Hind sight really is 20/20 because if I could do it all over again, I would not have bought the car. Eli insists that it takes premium gasoline and that gets expensive quickly. I don't think I will ever buy a new car again; at least, I won't buy one until I can pay for it in full.

We were able to pay off the Subaru, even though we would have been done paying on it in May 2009, because I got a double paycheck this month. I got my first check from Chambers County, and I got my last check from Opelika City. And, since Eli's student loans go into repayment this month, we needed the breathing room of one less bill. We'll be paying on Eli's loans for a looooong time, though once Eli has a real job (say, a job that pays more than half of what I make), we'll get aggressive about paying them off. We could buy three Subarus with the amount of his loans--you do the math!

In my student loan department, I'm down to under 10k. That's for four years of undergrad at a private university, and a master's degree at that same university. Not too shabby since I've been out of grad school for 4 years. (Man, I'm getting old).

On a completely separate note, Eli wanted to heat up some soup for dinner tonight. I was okay with that until I realized that he was heating up tomato soup, yet he wasn't buttering bread for grilled cheese sandwiches. Really? How can you eat tomato soup and not have grilled cheese? But most of all, how can you be married to me for almost six years and think that I would eat tomato soup without grilled cheese? It's ridiculous. So, bending to my will, he made grilled cheese.

I remember being completely jaded when I realized that there are people who really weren't raised with this tomato-soup-with-grilled-cheese eating habit. My bro-in-law, for example, associates tomato soup with the little Goldfish crackers. But he also puts whipped cream (instead of marshmallows) on his hot chocolate, so I don't think he's a credible source for what other people do. Haha. Just kidding, David.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bum Voter

Okay, so I'm a bum. A bum that voted today.

I haven't done any housework in, well...a long time. I'm lazy. I skipped Jazzercise tonight because when I came home the computer had a virus and I had to download the Charter free security software (with subscription). It's been running for the past two hours. I have some stupid parasite called VirusResponse Lab 2009. I don't know where it came from and I don't know how to get rid of it. I'm hoping when the scan is done it will magically disappear, but that's not very likely. Ugh.

Why do people even make computer viruses? What's the point? The only thing I can figure if that they are created with pure malice by people who want to annoy/inconvenience/frustrate mankind because they have nothing better to do. Seriously.

Did I also mention that I have two weeks of vocabulary tests to grade? And I'm sitting on my bum watching the special "presidential" episode of Dirty Jobs with my husband and writing in my blog. I'm not exaggerating. I'm a bum.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Even Cows Know

Yes, it stinks getting up early and having to drive 30 minutes to get to work, but there are some perks.

1. I get to listen to books on tape and can finish about a book every two weeks (or sooner!). I just finished Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. It was fantastic.

2. I get some think time in the car. Unfortunately this means that sometimes I don't remember portions of my drive on that windy rural road. Did I already cross the railroad tracks? I don't remember that. But I know that this house is definitely after the tracks, but I really don't remember crossing the tracks.

3. The sun comes up while I'm driving. It's low in the sky and has that warm morning glow that makes you just want to stand still and drink it in. It's also so low that sometimes I can't see the road because of the glare off my windshield, but that's neither here nor there.

4. Cows. Lots of cows. Big cows, little cows. Black cows, white cows. And a few cows that stand still facing the rising sun, drinking in its warmth. Most days, I am jealous. I always smile as I pass those cows. They're easy to spot because all the other cows are grazing, heads down, but a couple of them are standing erect, facing the sun. It makes me happy that even the cows know how incredible it is.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Goodbye Daylight Savings

It would have been nice to have an extra hour of sleep this morning had I slept the extra hour. However, I woke up at 6:50 a.m., which was really 5:50 a.m. I couldn't go back to sleep since I fell asleep early last night, and unfortunately missed the miraculous end to the Texas v. Texas Tech game, the game that will probably push Alabama into the #1 spot in the rankings.

Speaking of Alabama, when we were at church today, pastor Scott told us that there was a picture of Eli and me published in the church newsletter that was causing quite a stir. I suppose it couldn't have been more scandalous in these parts. We were both wearing our Bama shirts at the Fall Festival last weekend (marital solidarity) in a sea of Auburn fans. And of all the families they could have put in the newsletter, they put us. (The online version of the newsletter is different from the print version. In the online version, they also put our picture and a little blurb about us being new members.)

I'm not photogenic, and usually neither is Eli, so you have to forgive our cheese. And my rear looks huge from this angle. I was sitting on Eli's lap so I wouldn't have to sit on the hay bales (to which I'm allergic).

Okay, I really have to clean house now or Eli is going to kill me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaBloPoMo & NaNoWriMo

Is it even English?!?

Turns out November is special.

It's NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a month dedicated to dedicated blogging. The challenge is to write in your blog something every single day. I may try this challenge now that we have Internet at home. October was the most blogolicious month I've had since I started this endeavor. Can I outdo myself this month?

Also, it's NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. After I heard this, I had to do some research. Evidently, people who have had the dream of writing a novel but not the inclination to sit down and do it are challenged to write a 175-page (50,000 word) novel this month. That's it.

I learned these things at the Fall Harvest Table sponsored by the Sun Belt Writing Project at Auburn University. Because I am a previous participant in the Longleaf Writing Project in Tuscaloosa, they have adopted me now that we live here.

I had an excellent time and was inspired with some ideas to help Longleaf. I really haven't taken the time to write much since June, except for a blog every now and then, and a paper journal I'm trying to faithfully keep. I wrote a silly little poem (I don't really like poetry, but hey, I love words) and a reflective piece. It was a good day.

Also, happy All Saints' Day to you.