Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Trip

We are back home after five long days of traveling and intense visiting. So glad that we were able to squeeze in all that we did.

We headed out Tuesday after work and were able to meet up with some of Daniel's family for dinner. It was actually his mom's birthday so we were glad that we were able to celebrate with her.


Then we drove on to Bellevue to crash at one of my friend's houses. It was so nice to be on the other side of Nashville and not to have to worry about driving in traffic Wednesday morning.
Thanks to Kristalynne for letting us crash... sorry we missed getting to visit with you.

Wednesday we got up and headed on to Searcy. We had rain and heavy winds the entire way - not exactly an enjoyable drive, but we made it home in time for lunch. Wednesday afternoon and evening we enjoyed visiting with family and playing games. Grandma and Keith came over that evening for dinner.


Christmas morning Mom made us pancakes before we exchanged our gifts. This year we decided to draw names and only buy for one person. We are all working at getting out of debt and have discovered that as we have gotten older we buy the things we need or want and the whole gift exchange seems somewhat unnecessary. Anyways, it was nice to draw names and exchange gifts without feeling obligated to spend so much money.


The one funny story about our gift exchange was that Angela drew Mark's name. Angela is the one in the family that LOVES to buy gifts for people and when she tried to ask Mark what he wanted, he said just to give him money. Angela was not very excited about this prospect so she wrapped up one dollar bills into several small packages. Mark kept unwrapping presents but it was all individuals bills... we had a good laugh about that.


Christmas dinner was what I was hoping for: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pecan and pumpkin pie.


Christmas afternoon Angela and Robert had to head back to Memphis so Angela could work the night shift... wish they didn't have to leave early but thankful for time together.


Friday Daniel and Dad went deer hunting - or should I say they went for a walk in the woods... They saw one deer, but didn't get to shoot anything. Mark, Mom and I hung out. Mark is officially getting his own apartment in Nashville so that afternoon he and Mom went through the house trying to find odds and ends like dishes and towels and apartment-type things he needed. Then we went to see a movie that night.


Saturday morning Mark left for Nashville (he had to work that night). That left Mom, Dad, Daniel and me to go to Bobby's for breakfast. Then over to Grandma's for one last quick visit.


We decided to drive to Memphis that afternoon to spend some more time with Angela and Robert (and to give us a 2-hour head start on our long drive back to Charlotte). Glad we got the extra time in Memphis. Angela is really showing and it seems a little surreal that she is expecting.


We are now home after a really long day of driving. I look forward to the day when we will all live closer together.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Things I Am Looking Forward To:

10) Listening to Bill Bryson book's on CD to pass the time on the LONG drive from Charlotte to Searcy.

9) Seeing my family in 2 days.


8) Getting to see Angela and hearing even more interesting stories about being pregnant.


7) Exchanging gifts on Christmas... can't wait to see what everyone got...
I hope I got a puppy (just kidding).

6) Sharing my special hot chocolate recipe.


5) Trying Mark's special egg nog recipe.


4) Eating bon bons.


3) Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Sweet potato casserole. Green bean casserole. Pecan pie. Pumpkin pie... the works.


2) Going to Bobby's - hopefully we will have time on this trip.


1) Visiting non-stop for 4 days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Teaching Experience

This year I have learned that I love to teach. I love sharing my knowledge with others and helping them to understand concepts that they did not know before. I also learned to have a greater appreciation for all of the teachers that taught me so much.

So it is with a little sadness that I say goodbye to teaching. After one year of teaching (on the college level) I have decided to take a break. While I love teaching, it has not really been meshing with my schedule, making my life more hectic than necessary. Also with my recent health problems, I think it is important that I focus on getting healthier.


I realized a couple of months ago that I was dreading going to teach. To me this means it was time for a change. The dread was from the hassle of having to go out after a hard day's work. It was becoming a pain to always get prepared and I have been feeling as though I have had no time left over for myself.


So maybe someday in the future I will go back to school and get my masters and someday, maybe, I will switch to teaching full time...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bon Bons

I don't really remember when my family started the tradition of making Bon Bons at Christmas. This is the only time of year that I make (or eat) these sugary concoctions. I think that my mom and sister may make them more often, but I know that Christmas is the time of year that we all make them. They are such a family favorite that both my sister and I served them at our wedding receptions.

I made half a recipe for a cookie exchange that Daniel and I went to tonight. They were a big hit so I thought I would share the recipe. It's an easy recipe but it takes a little bit of time to dip all of the balls in the melted chocolate. This can be fun for kid's to do - I remember how fun it was to roll out the individual balls in my hands and use spoons to drop and retrieve the balls from the chocolate.


My sister was a lifesaver for emailing me the recipe last night as well as telling me the ingredients over the phone while I wondered through the grocery store.


Happy making!


Voyles' Family Bon Bons

Melt
1 cup butter

Add

4 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ( 2 pkgs equals over 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
3 cups coconut
I find it easiest to mix the ingredients with your hands... good activity for kids.

Shape into 1" balls

Place on wax paper
Melt chocolate almond bark
Dip bon bons in the chocolate
Dry thoroughly on wax paper

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Six Years

Six years feels so short. Mentally I feel like it should have felt longer. Perceptually it has flown by. A blink of an eye really.

I have a friend who is a divorce lawyer. She says that, according to her statistics, if you can make it to seven years, you are golden. By this mark in time you have passed all of the hurdles - the ones about money and jobs and kids. The honeymoon stage is over and you have learned to deal. Daniel and I don't have kids and we are at six years not seven, but I know that we will last because we choose to last. Because not lasting is not an option.


In six years we have had a lot of fun. We have also experienced frustration and heartache. We have learned how to disagree and to be completely honest in ways I never dreamed. We have traveled. We have hiked. We have renovated. We have discovered new hobbies together. We have shared our personal hobbies with each other. We have paid off huge amounts of debt and dreamed and planned for the future. I feel so very blessed to have Daniel in my life.


Six years. A drop in the bucket. I am looking forward to the next six and the next six after that and on and on until the rest of our lives are completed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fish Out of Water

Tonight Daniel and I did our Christmas shopping, or at least part of it. This year for Christmas we are being very minimal with the gift giving... Daniel and I never exchange gifts and since we will be with my family this year, we have all agreed to draw names and only buy for one person with a limit on the spending.

However tonight we were not buying any such gifts. We were actually shopping for two single moms who we chose to buy presents for. Our small group from church decided to give in a way that would be more meaningful to families who might not be able to afford a Christmas of their own. So with that in mind, we headed out to buy gifts.


It is a different feeling to be shopping for people that you don't know. I think there is more of a true feeling of Christmas when you are shopping for a stranger who has less than you do.


The reason for the title of this post has to do with how we felt shopping in the baby section. If you know us, you know that we tend to be somewhat awkward around little ones - this extends itself to shopping for babies. As Daniel said,
he felt like he was shopping for tampons... Anyways we got over our awkwardness and found some cute outfits, sleepers and toys to pass along to these single mothers who we may never meet.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grandparents

The day after Thanksgiving I found myself in Daniel's Grandmother's bathroom and it dawned on me that there are so many things that make me think of each of the different grandparents in my life. I think this thought process started while I was in the bathroom and noticing (for the millionth time) all of the little bottles that Grandmother had daintily set out (just so) on her counter.

This got me to thinking about all of the things that remind me of my grandparents and of all the good memories that I will forever associate with grandparents. This thought process on a Friday morning feels somewhat of a foreshadowing as Saturday afternoon we learned that Daniel's Grandma was in the hospital and things were not looking so good. Thankfully we will were able to visit her twice in the hospital. Lord willing we will visit her again, but if not, I am thankful that we were able to see her.


I hope that in the future I will remember Daniel's Grandma for her spiritedness and not for the frail woman in the hospital bed with an oxygen mask covering her face. I hope that I will instead always think of her when I go to the ocean and remember the time we took her to
The Outer Banks and saw her experience putting her feet in the ocean for the first time (at 80+ years of age). I will forever remember her delight at the waves and magnitude of the water.

As for my other grandparents... I have had 2 of my great grandparents, 2 grandpa's and Daniel's Nana die in my lifetime.


I think that even though I met them, the things I will remember about Great Grandma and Grandpa Hotchkiss will be the stories that were passed down to me from my mother.


I will remember my Grandpa Moore working in his garden and shucking corn with him on the back patio.


I will remember Joe Davis for the way he had so many life stories to share and for how wonderfully happy he made my Grandma.


I will remember Daniel's Nana from the summer that we both lived at Grandmother's house and our time spent around the kitchen table sharing breakfast together.


For those still living, I hold precious memories and I hope that there will be more to come.


I will forever be grateful for my Grandma and that she shared with me how to sew. I will always enjoy hearing her stories from the Great Depression and the lessons those stories have taught me. I will always hold dear the memories of making ice cream on her back patio (with the ice cream maker that you had to physically crank for 2 hours).


I will always be thankful for my Nana and all of the special time that we have shared over the years - over hot chocolate when I was young and over coffee now that I am grown.


I love my Grandpa's wit and his jokes. I love when he gets out his guitar and plays songs for us. I am thankful that he is such a strong leader in our family.


I never had the opportunity to meet any of Daniel's grandfathers, but I have been told many stories about them and wish I had had the opportunity to meet them.


I am thankful for Daniel's Grandmother and the opportunity that I had to live with her the summer before we were married. I am thankful for our many talks that happen whenever Daniel and I stay at her house.


I am so thankful to have so many grandparents that are still alive and a part of my life. I am thankful that I am able to see all of them at least once a year (when I am lucky, more than that). For this Thanksgiving, my special prayer of thanks is for these wonderful people who are in my life and who have shaped and continue to shape who I am.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crazy Busy Thanksgiving

So it is officially two days after Turkey day and Daniel and I are still making the rounds. Thursday was a pretty insane day - we were in 5 different cities visiting a throng of different people. Wish we had more time for longer visits, but so thankful we are seeing so many. Hate that we can't see everybody.

Wednesday we left Charlotte around 3:30 PM to head to Chattanooga. Traffic from Charlotte to Greenville was horrendous. We almost had a wreck due to the insane drivers that don't know how to drive. Surprisingly Atlanta wasn't too bad and we made it to Chattanooga after only 8 hours in the car (it should have been less than 6).


Anyways, we spent the night at the Reynolds on Signal Mountain - don't think we could have found their house (that close to midnight) without our trusty GPS.


Thursday morning started with visiting with the Reynolds. Andrew told us the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving during breakfast, then after breakfast Andrew gave me a tour of the house and Sadie entertained us. We were on the road again by 9:30. Getting off the mountain we got a little lost and then ran into a wreck which made our trip to LaVergne take a little longer.


We rolled into LaVergne a little after 11 am and celebrated Thanksgiving at Daniel's grandmother's house with their traditional Thanksgiving breakfast. After breakfast we headed to Smyrna to see Emily and Josh's house and for more visiting. After that we headed to Murfreesboro to see Daniel's dad. After a quick visit with him we headed to Springfield to meet up with Mark and the Allgoods at the Gores (sound confusing yet?). We ate leftover turkey there and visited for about 2 hours before heading to Bellvue to see Kristalynne (and meet her boyfriend Nick). After visiting until after midnight, we headed back to LaVergne to spend the night at Grandmothers. Whew... saw lots of people and dropped into bed around 2.


So that was our Thanksgiving day. Yesterday was more mellow. We hung out at Grandmothers for a majority of the day - even helped Daniels' grandmother and mom set up the Christmas tree and decorate it. Then we headed to Madison to meet my brother for dinner and a movie. This led to another late night of getting home after midnight.


Today is lunch in Murfreesboro with Daniel's dad and extended family and then back to LaVergne to celebrate early Christmas and Emily's birthday with Daniel's mom and extended family.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today is ... almost ... over ...

Teaching days are always so long for me. Today was worse than usual because I was trying to get the January issue of Inventors Digest wrapped up and uploaded to the printer.

Per the norm, Murphy's Law was hard at work. My computer was slow... every time I tried to upload my internet and server connection would randomly disconnect. Therefore what should have taken a few hours, ended up taking the entire day.
And when I say entire day, I mean from 7:45 this morning to 5:15 this afternoon (with no breaks and lunch at my desk).

It was so bad that I was having to create one page PDFs (from a 48-page document) and upload the individual pages one at a time. Thank goodness Juan is in Chile and I could multi-task by making PDFs on my computer and uploading on Juan's.


Now I am sitting at school, waiting for my students to finish up their projects and scoot out of here so that I can drive the 45 minutes home.


Thank goodness there are only 2.5 (ish) working days left in this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday Season

I love this time of year... starting with my birthday and going through the new year. It seems like these weekends are filled with time spent with friends and family and celebrations and I absolutely love it.

So far we have celebrated my birthday, enjoyed a visit with the Reynolds family (last weekend) and then this weekend enjoyed a visit with Julie and Luke. This coming week will take us to Nashville for Thanksgiving with Daniel's family, but we will also get to see friends. Between now and Christmas, we are also looking forward to a long weekend at the beach to celebrate our 6th anniversary.


I am so very thankful for friends and family. I love this time to reconnect. I love sharing stories over cups of coffee or reminiscing in front of fireplaces. I love gathering around dinner tables to share meals and lives together. Or even just remembering what it was like to be roommates. I will not be able to see all of those that I love, but look forward to those future times when we will meet again. I am thankful for the reconnections that have taken place and I am looking forward to the ones in the coming weeks. Like I said, I LOVE this time of year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

High Cholesterol

Last year I found out that I have high cholesterol. This is probably genetic, but it is pretty high so I have been trying to adjust over the last year by eating/exercising better. Over the past several months it is has gotten harder to eat well and exercise consistently. Upon a new test, my cholesterol is still really high. Hopefully I can get this under control so that I won't have to take meds...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Special Request - chainsaw accident

This note is for a friend that wanted to know more about Daniel's redneck accident. I was going to just link to the original post about Daniel's chainsaw accident, but I just searched for it and it basically just gives an update that we were at the hospital and asked for prayers.

So here is the whole story (for those of you who have yet to hear it or read about it)... let's just say that accidents and trips to the hospital occur more than we would like them to.


On March 4, 2007, Daniel and I were working on one of our many house renovation projects. This particular project had us outside building a fence. After several hours of digging holes for fence posts, we were ready to cut down the split rails to the right length.


Daniel was using a chainsaw for this process since the posts were large, cumbersome and old. I held the posts in place (a human clamp of sorts) while Daniel trimmed the posts. They had to be cut to taper at the ends to fit in the holes of the vertical posts.


We were on the last post and Daniel was having to force the saw because the wood was really old and hard. Also the blade was probably starting to dull after an afternoon of cutting posts. At the last moment, Daniel was putting a lot of pressure on the saw and the wood broke and the saw jerked out of the wood and into Daniel's leg.


We both looked down and saw shredded blue jeans and blood. I was pretty freaked out while Daniel remained calm and collected. Daniel immediately dropped the saw and clamped his hands around his leg. I ran inside to grab wallets, insurance cards, towels, cell phones and was soon back outside helping Daniel into our car. I sped us to the ER - we figured that was the fastest (and cheapest) thing to do.


We got to the ER and soon Daniel was being wheeled into in an ER room for examination. Initially they thought the would be able to stitch up the gash in the ER and let us go home. But after xrays and several different opinions, the doctor's found that the saw had gone down to the bone and they decided surgery to close the wound would be the most prudent thing to do. There was fear of infection in the bone.


The most interesting thing about this particular ER visit were all the people working in the ER that dropped by our room to see the "chainsaw" victim.


Daniel got 21 stitches in his leg to form an upside down V shape on the inside of his calf. He was very lucky that the chainsaw did not hit any muscles, tendons or bone. He was in the hospital for the weekend and on crutches for 2 weeks while he recovered.


Now we say that Daniel is a real redneck because he has a chainsaw story to tell...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Insurance Woes...

The bills from my week of ER visits and the hospital stay are finally trickling in. The whole process is seems like it is going to be a pain and I have full insurance. The insurance company wants to say that the hospital I visited is outside of my coverage so that the deductible will be higher. On further investigation, this really just means that we have to prove that my visits to the ER were legitimate and not for something dumb.

On top of that, it seems that we have to prove that my problems were not pre-existing AND we have to keep on their case to make sure that they are paying what they are supposed to be paying.


I am thankful that I have a wonderful husband who is dealing with all of the phone conversations... he is less likely to buckle than I am.


Anyways, we are hoping that all will go well and we will only have to pay the ER co-pays, the lower deductible and the 10% of everything else (which is what my benefits say they cover)... whether or not that actually happens is another story.


It is also frustrating that I have to get my protime checked weekly because my INR levels are low ... this means a weekly $20 co-pay :(

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fail

I just graded my last round of tests and two of my students failed and several of them made Cs. This makes me a little sick. My little class of 8 has managed to maintain a basically A/B status and this section was terrible.

I suppose I could blame it on the fact that I was in the hospital and missed 3 class periods and just handed out notes instead of actually lecturing ... it should have been much easier for them had they just studied the notes.


Maybe it has to do with the economy - 2 of my students have recently been laid off ... but one made an A while the other made a C.


One of my Fs was from someone whose daughter was in a car accident the night of the test, so I let her make it up the next class period... I suppose she could have still been traumatized by the ordeal.


I don't know, but as a teacher, it makes me feel terrible to have to hand back their test grades, even if it is their own faults for not studying...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Renaissance Festival

Daniel and I standing in front of the entrance to the festival.
 
Daniel and I spent part of today at the Renaissance Festival in Concord. It was an interesting an experience with lots of interesting people dressed up like characters from medieval times. We watched a (somewhat vulgar) show that depicted a skewed version of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. We saw knights joust. We wandered through the medieval "town" where you could buy anything from turkey legs to eat to rent Renaissance outfits to wear. We saw elephants and camels that you could ride and we meandered through a petting zoo - made Daniel feel right at home. Overall it was interesting, but not necessarily something we would do again (especially at $17 a ticket).
 
Kristin, Benjy and Daniel watching Little Red Riding Hood.
 
Jousting
 
Daniel petting sheep.
 
More sheep
 
This was a petting zoo with a sign that said "Do not pet the geese - they bite."
 
Yak (?)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reminiscing

Daniel and I have been (finally) going through the unpacked boxes in our basement ... it has been three years. Anyways, I came across all of these old journals of mine and they have been cracking me up. I know that I have always kept journals, I just didn't realize that I have been doing this since I could write (or at least it seems that way). I think I will start sharing excerpts of this stuff in future notes (my mom and nana will appreciate it, for the rest of you, you can read and laugh at me or just skip).

First funny excerpt from when I was in high school:

We were playing Taboo at a girl's night out and Angela got the word "virgin." She couldn't say sex or intercourse so she said "intersession" - which was hysterical.

Mom has just informed me that I have to clean my room tonight or I can't go to basketball practice tomorrow. I can just see her writing Coach Carpenter a note saying: Please excuse Cheree from practice, she didn't clean her room so I am making her sleep in and skip practice!


Another random, funny thing to share from when I was in college. This was right after Daniel and I met and our friends where really pressuring us to hook up. I came back to my dorm one day and found that Amanda, Jenn and maybe Lisa and Julie had come up with this goofy poem that they printed out and hung on the curtains above my bed. I will try to scan the actual documents and post them later. Anyways, I guess you could say that this was pivotal in getting me to date Daniel. For some reason he had never seen these infamous notes before tonight...


Note 1 on hot pink paper:

So... what do you think about Daniel?...

Note 2 on bright yellow paper:

He's adventurous
He plays outside a whole lot
He caves
He rapels
He talks about more than the Simpsons
He's spontaneous
He's athletic
He's sweet, but not too clingy
He's a smart boy
You can have an intellectual conversation
You can keep your individuality
You can be yourself ... think ... FREE CHEREE (inside joke)
.....
You will finally get your non ATE boy
You can take him home to your parents
You can find out exactly what you think this weekend when we go skating...
Just think YOU ~ DANIEL ~ the couples skate...

Need we say more???


Third note on bright blue paper:

He's a Hottie!!!!
And a cutie.
HE'S sexy,
And he's sweet!
Come on Cheree,
and get that MEAT!!!

Middle Tennessee Sunsets



One of Daniel's friends (Edward Jones) had this photo posted from a hiking trip to the Sparta/Cookeville, TN area. I had completely forgotten about these spectacular sunsets that occur in the Cookeville area. Charlotte has decent sunsets, but nothing like this...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This makes me happy...

I just completed a redesign of Inventors Digest and I am really excited about the January issue. This is the most excited (about work) that I have been in a long time. Unfortunately you can't buy this magazine in bookstores, but you can get a subscription from the web site (you know, if you like me that much). Regardless, I am very proud of the work I did on this upcoming issue...

Preview from Editor's Note in January Issue of Inventors Digest...


Winter’s chill is here, but things are hot at Inventors Digest. Check out our sizzling redesign, the work of our design guru Cheree Moore, under the direction of newly hired creative director Ted Pate.

From the garage fonts to the sketchbook backgrounds to the playful and more explosive use of graphics and text presentation, you’re in for a whole new and vastly improved Inventors Digest experience. And you thought we couldn’t get any better.

“The word we use to describe the new look is ‘organic,’” says Pate.

I’ll say. The redesign reflects the lab experiment, work-in-progress aspect of inventing.

Whew...

Yesterday was go, go, go for me... Started with a 7:45AM doctor's appointment followed by work craziness. Ten-minute lunch around 3PM. Cranked out a last minute project with a 5 o'clock deadline. Didn't have any time to prepare for class. Stayed at work to type up all of my notes/PPT. Daniel brought pizza at 7:15PM. Ate quickly, then headed to Rock Hill to teach. Barely made it in time. Taught the full hour and 15 minutes. Afterwards, one of my students (who was recently laid off) talked to me for 20 minutes about realistic expectations for the field. Didn't get home until 10:30. Took a bath to relax for the first time all day. Went to bed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Student-Teacher Evaluations

Tonight I received my student-teacher evaluations from the Spring semester. Overall I did pretty good. I definitely have room for improvement in some areas. But considering I had never taught before and didn't really know what I was doing, I feel like I did a pretty good job. If I continue to teach after this semester, I hope I continue to grow in my abilities of effectively communicating the materials.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Coupon Clippers and the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

First of all, I am going to take a moment to vent about coupon clippers. These are the people that spend time finding coupons to save money and then make the wait in line incredibly longer than it would normally be. I know, I know, I have friends who live by their coupons and I grew up in a household where my mom notoriously kept up with the papers - especially since WalMart will match anything. Anyways, I ALWAYS seem to get stuck in a line where someone has not one, but tons of coupons. It is very aggravating - especially today when the checker didn't quite know how to do it correctly. I think that in addition to Express Lanes, grocery stores should have COUPON Lanes for those who use multiple coupons. This way people who do not use coupons do not have to get stuck in a line behind a coupon clipper. I know people save a great deal of money using coupons... personally I am able to consistently spend about $75 for a week's worth of food and I am good with that.

On to the perfect grilled cheese - I normally make grilled cheese sandwiches on Sundays. This allows us to work on our house for most of the day without having to stop to eat a big meal or go somewhere. Today Daniel told me that my grilled cheese making has reached perfection. I start with two pieces of whole grain bread, partially melt the butter so it spreads evenly. I heat my pan until it is really hot, spray it with cooking spray and then turn it down to medium. I place the buttered bread with 2 slices of cheese on it and five minutes later, we have delicious grilled cheese sandwiches...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Baby Showers

I know it is the natural order of life, but it sometimes feels odd that current get-togethers seem to revolve around babies. High school parties were replaced by college shin digs which were replaced by wedding showers which was followed by work gatherings and now we are to the baby shower phase of life. Not that I mind too much as I will take any excuse to get together with old friends.

I just got back from a shower of one of my friends from my last job. I hadn't seen some of the girls who were there in over a year. I think that only 2 of us were baby-less... where did the time go? I wish that I saw these girls more often, but I love that we can get together and it still feels natural.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Double Date

We have a standing double-date once a month with another couple. It has been really nice to get together to catch up and hang out. Anyways, tonight was our night to pick, so I suggested that we go to MexiCafe.

After everyone got there, Kristin leaned over and said, "I don't mean to sound elitist, but this reminds of me of a hole-in-the-wall type of place in an arts district. Kind of like some places I went to in San Francisco." We just laughed and Daniel pointed out that it was me (the one with the art degree) that had chosen where to eat.


Oh well, for some reason we have had to pick the last few times, so if they don't like my choice, I suppose they can start making suggestions. Daniel and I enjoyed the food and the atmosphere (the company is always nice, even if they think they are a bit elitist, we're still friends).

Mexi-Cafe on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Job Losses

It is getting harder and harder not to be concerned about the economy and job losses. It continues to get closer and closer to home. We have close friends who have been laid off recently. And in the last week, two of my students have let me know that they have been laid off from their jobs. This breaks my heart and I don't know what to do besides pray.

Daniel just called to say that rumor has it that there will be another round of layoffs at LandDesign either next week or sometime before Thanksgiving. All of this is definitely adding to our stress levels. I hope for the sake of everyone that the economy starts to get better soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What Did You Do For Your Birthday?

I got up at 6 a.m. to go vote. Thankfully it only took an hour and there were chairs to sit in. I find it hard to believe that NC does not require you to provide any type of ID in order vote - does anyone else find this strange?

I am reading The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, so I took it with me to keep myself entertained during the voting process. When I finally reached the actual voting booth, the woman instructing me on the voting procedure, asked what book I was reading. When I showed her the book, she proceeded to ask me if it was a murder mystery... While I enjoy murder mysteries, this particular book is FAR from that. I guess she missed the second part of the title From Edison to Google.

I am going back to bed now and plan to enjoy my day off...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tough Love

 
I recently finished reading the book Eat, Pray, Love. It was an OK book - I enjoyed reading about the different cultures the author lived in during the course of a year. My world and faith views are very different from the authors, but I can appreciate the culture in the book.

Spoiler Alert:

The reason for this post is there was a part in the book that really got me to thinking... While the author was in Bali she befriends a woman and her daughter. The woman is a healer, but is divorced which leads to her being very poor. She has to move every couple of months, which makes it difficult for her business and her young daughter.

The author gets this great idea to raise money for this woman so that she can buy a home for herself and her daughter. The author emails all of her friends, all over the world and asks them to donate to this cause in lieu of a birthday present for the author. She ends up raising $18,000 USD. This is an astounding amount to a person in a poor country such as Bali.


When the author tells the Balinese woman the good news, the woman is shocked. They work out everything, the money is wired to this poor woman's account and she begins to look for land to build a home.


After the course of several weeks, the woman seems to be dragging her feet about purchasing land - there always seems to be a reason not to buy. The author is getting nervous as she is getting ready to leave the country.


Finally, towards the end, the woman comes to the author and tells her she has found the right property, but that (for various reasons) she needs more money to buy more land so that she can not only build a house, but also a hotel...


The author is furious and goes home and consults with another expat. Her expat friend tells her that this is the way of the Balinese - if you give them something, while they are grateful, they are also so poor that they will try to get more from you. They don't realize that they are using you, they just see you as a beneficiary who can get them more. The only way around this is through tough love.


The next day, the author went back to the woman and told her (a lie) that if she did not purchase land in the next few days, that the author's friends who donated the money would be very angry and she would have to take the money back.
This is not actually possible since the money is in the Balinese woman's account already, but this woman does not understand this.

That very day, the Balinese woman goes out and purchases a property and starts building a house and the relationship between the two women stays intact.


The reason I find this story intriguing is that as often as we want to help people, it is not any good to just give money or things. We have to teach along the way. We have to lend support and encouragement. It is like the old adage:
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"Whose Been Sleeping In My Bed?"

Actually a more accurate title for this post would be "Whose Been Sleeping On Our Patio Furnture?"

There is no way to confirm this, but today Daniel pointed out that two of our patio chairs had been pushed together as if someone had been sitting there with their legs propped up. He also discovered a red plastic cup, an empty energy drink bottle and one cigarette in the bottom of our trash can... seems like someone has been hanging out on our deck and it hasn't been us.


There is a chance the trash was thrown into a trash can last week when it was still on the curb, after trash pick up. And it is possible, that sometime (before my hospital stay) I pushed the two chairs together, but its hard to say.


We pushed all of the chairs up to the table in such a way that we will be able to tell if someone moves them... I am not crazy about strangers hanging out on our back deck, but it is preferable to someone breaking into our home.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The partners at Daniel's company generally meet quarterly to discuss "business." Unfortunately, due to the slow in building and development, there have been more meetings more often. The last two meetings have been followed by layoffs. We are nervousness because the partners met today and it is not a quarterly meeting. We are not sure what this will mean for next week. We are praying that he will still have a job, but only time will tell...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ER De Ja Vu

So I am sitting in the ER (again) waiting on a final explanation as to what is wrong with me. I fear that there is no definitive answer to that question.

Sometime around 10, I started to experience severe pain in my chest whenever I breathed in. Fearing that my pulmonary embolism had gotten worse (since being discharged from the hospital yesterday) Daniel and I headed back to the ER.


Thankfully I got right in. My blood pressure upon arrival was 144/80. They quickly gave me oxygen, did an EKG on me followed by inserting an IV. Before I knew it, I was on my way for a CT scan (the second in a week). After the CT scan came a chest xray. Then the doctor told me that the scan cleared me of any clots in my lungs - which is good news, but still does not explain the pain I am experiencing (he suggested pleurisy, but this seems to be a catch-all explanation).


He gave me some meds for the pain and then got me in for an ultra sound on my leg. And now I am waiting for those results and to go home. My current BP is 112/60. This just shows that my pain when I came in was real, but it has subsided for the moment.


Mostly I am just tired. I need sleep and I want to be in my own bed. Daniel is pretty exhausted himself. I will be so glad when this ordeal is over...


Sleep please... and no more pain...


Just got update from doc - I am outta here as soon as the nurse comes to unhook me from everything and my ultra sound showed that the blood clots in the leg are also getting smaller.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

1 in 2000.

This is the statistical likelihood of women using birth control to be hospitalized from getting a blood clot. So if you know me, you now know one person who has been hospitalized for this very reason.

Scary stuff. I am under 30. I don't smoke. I am not obese. I am fairly healthy. And here I have been in the hospital for 5 days with a blood clot in my leg that managed to also become a pulmonary embolism.

I guess I just want to warn all of the women I know that it is possible to get blood clots from the pill. Based on those of you who have told me that you know someone else that has experienced this same problem, it seems that this is more common that the stats say.

I am so grateful that there are people in my life that told, no forced me, to do something about the pain in my leg. They wouldn't let me blow it off. They told me to get help and thankfully, I listened. If you are currently on birth control, please listen to your body. You never know when something could be terribly wrong.

According to this site, one way to remember the warning signs is ACHES which stands for:

Abdominal pain
Chest pain
Headache
Eye problems
Severe localized leg pain.

Notify your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.

I personally had abdominal pain, headache and severe localized leg pain.

http://www.nbc6.net/health/5421876/detail.html

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hospital

It would seem that Daniel and I were due for one of our yearly visits to the ER. It has, afterall, been almost a year since Daniel's last fiasco involving a table saw...

Here is a recap of this week for me...

Sunday
night around 10 pm I had severe abdominal pain, but went to bed hoping to sleep it off. Around 1:30 I woke up in even worse pain. After doing some internet research, I took a bath which temporarily relieve said pain. Soon after I was sitting in the hallway crying. After a call to Daniel's dad, we were on our way to the ER. The ER didn't really have a definitive answer for why I was in pain. They sent me home with a pain killer prescription and orders to rest.

Monday
was a day of rest for me and I felt fine.

Tuesday
I went to work feeling fine. Sometime after lunch I began to experience pain in my right foot and calf muscle. It really felt like a leg cramp, so I ignored it. Tuesday night brought more pain. I tried calling my sister for advice. When she didn't answer, I sent her an email listing all of the reasons I felt that I was "falling apart."

Sometime early
Wednesday morning I woke up in severe pain in my leg. I wrapped my heating pad around it and tried my best to sleep. I woke up for work around 7:30 and found that I could not stand up. The pain in my right leg was excruciating. Daniel helped me into the shower and the pain subsided. Daniel made me call his dad who told me that he thought I had a blood clot and to see a doctor immediately.

I called my friend, LaCinda, who referred me to her sister Kathy. Kathy told me to walk in to her clinic. She agreed that she thought that I had a blood clot in my leg and referred me to an imagining center for an ultrasound of my leg.


After the ultrasound, they told me to go immediately to the ER. The ER checked me in and soon had me taking a CT Scan where they discovered the clot in my leg had broken and small parts of it were now in my lung. Then they left me to hang out for 3 hours while they found me a room to check into. By 11 pm I was finally checked into the hospital and in my own room.


Last night I felt very much in the dark with little communication, but today my nurse has been much more informative. They finally let me know that any danger seems to have passed. They are keeping me for observation while they transition me from injections to a pill. The pill has to build up in my system so I am hanging out at Presbyterian Hospital while they transition me from one medication to the other.


The pain in my leg has subsided substantially. I can get up and move around and I no longer have to be inverted in bed. The biggest thing I may suffer from is boredom. I am enjoying the extra time to read and cable television is a nice (albeit expensive) benefit.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Life Is Good

Today has been an example of what I think Sundays post-house renovation will be like. Yesterday Daniel hurt his back so today we put a stop on the bathroom project. This meant that we have actually been able to do something relaxing (still wish we were getting things done, but it is better to embrace a relaxing day than to be annoyed).

So here is what we have in store for us whenever the house gets finished:

We got up and went to early service followed by breakfast at the Pancake House. Afterwards we went to Joseph Beths to read magazines to our hearts content. Following this we went to Crate & Barrel to get ideas for furnishing the rest of our house (after renovation stops). Now we are back home enjoying a lazy afternoon. The only thing that would make this day more perfect would be if we could go mountain biking (which is off limits due to Daniel's back, but a girl can dream).

Too bad I still have to do laundry, grocery shop and plan my lessons for the week...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Debt

This is a topic that probably concerns everyone - both individually and also on a national and even world level right now. It is amazing how much debt we have all accrued.

For some time, Daniel and I have tried to slowly pay off debt that we have accumulated over the years. Our greatest amount of debt fall into the categories of our mortgages, student loans (I put myself through college at a private school, with help from scholarships), and credit card debt - most of which remains is what we have put towards home renovations. We own old vehicles (that we have purchased outright) so no debt there.


In the past 10 months, since I started working full time again, we have really upped the amounts we are paying towards debt. We have worked hard to be frugal in many parts of our lives. On a combined five-figure income, we have managed to pay off significant amounts of debt this year.


Recently Daniel sat down and figured out that if we continue down our current path (with absolutely no changes) we could pay off ALL of our debt in six years (including our mortgage). This is pretty astounding to think about. I am not saying that this will happen, but it is definitely within the realm of possibility.
This does not take into account having a family or any change in jobs.

I have no idea what our financial future holds, but with all the financial crisis' that are happening, it makes me feel better to know that on a personal level, it is possible to be completely debt free by the time we are 34.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Received this survey twice recently and feel like procrasting...

1. What is your occupation right now?
Designer and Teacher

2. What color are your socks right now?

No socks for me

3. What are you listening to right now?

Pandora - specifically Pearl Jam at the moment

4. What was the last thing that you ate?

Just got back from lunch at Big Daddy's - chicken sandwich and onion straws

5. Can you drive a stick shift?

Currently this is all I drive (or my bike)

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone?

Probably by brother

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you?

Yep

8. How old are you today?

27

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?

Do the Olympics count?

10. What is your favorite drink?

Pumpkin Spice Latte

11. Have you ever dyed your hair?

Of course

12. Favorite food?

Breakfast at a diner

13. What is the last movie you watched?

Does 24 on DVD count? Otherwise, I think we saw Indiana Jones recently...

14. Favorite day of the year?

Any day that I can spend outside

15. How do you vent anger?

Exercise

16. What was your favorite toy as a child?

We didn't have toys growing up... just kidding. Don't know that I had a fave.

17. What is your favorite season?

Fall

18. Cherries or Blueberries?

Both, but I love blueberries for breakfast when they are in season (and affordable)

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?
20. Who is the most likely to respond?
21. Who is least likely to respond?

22. Living arrangements?

A partially remodeled house

23. When was the last time you cried?

I don't cry too often. Probably last weekend when I was frustrated about a house project

24. What is on the floor of your closet?

shoes - maybe I need a shoeskirt...

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to?

26. What did you do last night

Watch Ugly Betty, then the last disc of season 6 of 24

27. What are you most afraid of?

being alone

28. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburger?

cheese with all the fixin's

29. Favorite dog breed?

Labs or Goldens

30. Favorite day of the week?

Saturday

31. How many states have you lived in?

3 states, 1 province, 3 countries

32. Diamonds or pearls?

not big on jewelry

33. What is your favorite flower?

Gerber Daises

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Night Riding

Tonight Daniel and I rode the 4 miles to the Benson's for life group. The greenway connects very nicely between our home and theirs. The ride there was perfect, especially with the cool fall weather.

The ride home was nice in a different kind of way. Riding your bike in the dark makes all of your senses work harder. While on the greenway we actually turned our lights off and rode by the light of the moon. It is amazing how bright the moon can be and how quickly your eyes adapt to the surroundings. We did have to use our lights for the connecting trail through the woods to the neighborhood. We also kept our lights on while we navigated the streets in our neighborhood - not so we could see, but so that cars would be able to see us. I love riding at night. The last time we did that was last December on the beach at Hilton Head.


Tonight when we got home, we took the time to lay in the hammock underneath the cloudy sky and the full moon. It amazes me that the moon was so bright that I couldn't actually look straight at it for more than a few seconds.

Laughing

Why do some jokes never get old? Some even seem to get funnier with time. Ever since I started working with the creative group at Enventys back in January, I have tried to explain to Daniel what it is like to work with the group of people that I work with. Some days the jokes and laughs border on mania and we always seem to spend at least part of our days laughing.

Last night Daniel and I went to a surprise 50th birthday party for my former boss. For the first time, Daniel was able to experience the antics of the people I work with - now he has a little glimpse of what my days can be like.


Now that two people have left our little group, hopefully the laughs won't stop. Obviously they will change since a lot of the jokes seem to have revolved around Ron and Jason. But there will be new jokes to be made... they are already starting with the possibility of a M. Pate (pat-tay)... we shall see how things go.


As for the party, it was a lot of fun and Ron was completely surprised (border-line shocked) to get home to a house full of people. It was probably the best "surprise" party I have been a part of...
well our good-bye party for Ron was a pretty good surprise too - so that may be a toss up...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So this past week, we did not do so great with the no car experiment. It seemed to be rainy and cold (at least in the mornings) all week. Really, I guess we can chalk it up to laziness. I did have a dentist appointment on Tuesday morning and lunch with a friend on Friday - both necessitated the use of a car. We have been trying to be better at combining trips out. For example last night we did a massive return to Lowe's and then we did our grocery shopping afterwards. This takes more planning and we were out until 11, but it does save on our gas usage.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

9 Day "No Car" Experiment

Here is a breakdown of how we managed with our "No Car" Experiment.

Thursday, Sept 25:

Morning:
Daniel rode motorcycle to work. Cheree drove car 1.5 miles to bus stop, rode bus downtown, walked 0.75 miles to work.
Afternoon:
Daniel rode motorcycle home. Co-worker drove Cheree to bus stop, rode bus back to car. Drove 1.5 miles home.
Miles driven in car:
3

Friday, Sept 26:

Morning:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle to work - cold and raining lightly.
Afternoon:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle home - raining hard, did not see any gas stations open on ride home.
Miles driven in car:
0

Saturday, Sept 27:

Daniel rode motorcycle looking for gas around town - no luck (car is on fumes at this point). Daniel and Cheree rode bicycles to Cotswald for lunch at Chipotle and to pick up milk for breakfast.
Miles driven in car:
0
Miles biked (C&D):
7

Sunday, Sept 28:

Daniel rode motorcycle looking for gas around town - found some in SouthPark. Called Cheree to drive to get in gas line. We had to wait 20 minutes to fill up (this was early in morning). Rode motorcycle to church. Biked to Walmart to buy groceries for week. Rode motorcycle to life group.
Miles driven in car:
10
Miles biked (C&D):
8

Monday, Sept 29:

Morning:
Daniel rode motorcycle to work. Cheree biked 1.5 miles to bus stop. Could not get on the Express Bus due to it having too many bikes on it. Waited for the regular bus. Dropped off at transit station downtown, bike 1.5 miles to work (late for meeting - oops).
Afternoon:
Daniel rode motorcycle home. Cheree biked 0.75 miles to bus stop. Rode bus most of the way home. Biked 1.5 miles from bus stop to home. Cheree drove to Rock Hill, SC to teach class at York Tech.
Miles driven in car:
40
Miles biked (C):
5.25

Tuesday, Sept 30:

Morning:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle to work (wanted to get home at a reasonable time because my brother was coming to visit).
Afternoon:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle home.
Miles driven in car:
0

Wednesday, Oct 1:

Morning:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle to work.
Afternoon:
Daniel and Cheree rode motorcycle home. Cheree drove to Rock Hill, SC to teach class at York Tech.
Miles driven in car:
40

Thursday, Oct 2:

Morning:
Daniel rode motorcycle to work. Cheree drove car - had to drive car because I needed to go somewhere during lunch.
Afternoon:
Daniel went and worked at service project from 4-9, then rode motorcycle home. Cheree drove home. After dinner, Cheree drove to pick up movie and get coffee with visiting guests.
Miles driven in car:
17

Friday, Oct 3:

Morning:
Daniel and Cheree carpooled to work - had to drive car because we were meeting friends for dinner.
Afternoon:
Daniel went home at noon to take a nap and to pick up our trailer. He came to pick me up at 5:15. We drove to Concord Mills to meet friends and to do some shopping. Had to have car with trailer to pick up our tile saw that we had lent to friends.
Miles driven in car:
50

Nine Day Recap

Total Miles By Car:
160
80 of those miles were for teaching and not to be held against us. So if we do not count those, we only drove the car 80 miles unnecessarily in the past 9 days. This means we only used about 3.5 gallons of gas unnecessarily.

I did not include miles ridden on motorcycle. This comes to a total of around 180 miles and 3 gallons of gas used.


Total Miles Biked:
20.25 for Cheree and 15 for Daniel.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Great Recipe For Life (from a friend)

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. --- It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life.


3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today. I am thankful for______________'


4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.


5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli , almonds & walnuts.


6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.


7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, or on issues of the past, negative thoughts, or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.


8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.


9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.


10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.


11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.


12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.


13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.


14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.


15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.


16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'


17. Forgive everyone for everything.


18. What other people think of you is none of your business.


19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.


20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.


21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. ----- Stay in touch!!!


22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.


23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.


24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.


25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thoughts on the Bailout...

The other day I was listening to NPR and they were discussing the fact that Japan went through a similar financial crisis (to our current one) back in the 1990's. The country ended up going from around 30 national banks to the 4 they have today (my facts may be slightly off, but this is the gist).

Anyways, I was relaying this information to a friend who said something about that being a scary thought - only 4 banks in a country. Well my thought is that with a bailout of this magnitude, aren't we basically creating one bank - run by the government? I may be wrong here, but that just seems ridiculous. I am not a financial analyst and there are many things I have no clue about, but I have a hard time knowing that if this bailout passes, we, as taxpayers, will be footing the money for the high risks these banks took.


Below are some interesting links I have read recently. One is an alternative plan that Dave Ramsey is proposing. I really like Dave Ramsey and his view on money management and I think he may be on to something.


http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/fed_bailout/index.html


The other is a commentary by Jeffrey A. Miron, senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University. I whole heartedly agree with his commentary - if any other company was in this type of situation, they would declare bankruptcy (think the airlines in recent years). Our economy needs help, but I can't help but feel that more government, at the cost of the tax payers, is not the best solution.


http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/29/miron.bailout/index.html?iref=mpstoryview


Addendum: These are my thoughts as a taxpayer. In terms of the positive effects that the bailout will hopefully have on the company I work for and companies across this nation, I know that it is important for something to happen soon - many jobs are dependent on it...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Biking For Groceries

Well the good news is that we finally were able to fill up the car with gas this morning. Daniel got up at 6 a.m. and rode his motorcycle around town until he found a gas station with gas. He then got in line and called me to come join the frenzy so that we could have full tanks in both of our vehicles (the car has been empty since last Wednesday). I had to wait 20 minutes to fill up, it would have been a longer wait but Daniel called to let me know that I could bypass the line I was in to get in a shorter line.

Being the wonderful guy that Daniel is, he also took the time to push the car of a woman, whose battery was dead, out of the craziness. After both Daniel and I had filled up our tanks, we were able to jump start this woman's car for her.


Now on to grocery shopping with a bicycle. After having to survive from Wednesday night to Sunday morning sans a car, Daniel and I decided to try an experiment to see how well we can function not driving a car at all.


Even though we have gasoline now, we want to test our limits as to how much of our lives can be lived without a car. This experiment will not include me driving to Rock Hill, SC for class - unless I get comfortable on the motorcycle again by myself. This means that for now, the two nights a week I teach will be the only time we will use the car.


For our first major test, we realized that we needed a week's worth of groceries. So Daniel and I got our bike's out. Daniel put his trunk with panniers on his bike rack while I added a pannier to mine as well as carried my 40 liter, internal frame pack on my back.


We got to WalMart and Daniel sat outside with our bikes and packs so that we would not have to waste time locking everything up while I went inside and did our weekly shopping. I also purchased a bottle of water and a candy bar for us to split before we rode home. $70 worth of groceries later, I was back outside helping Daniel transfer all of our groceries to our various packs. Then we were on our way again.


We definitely received some strange looks, but we are not wasting gas and we are getting our exercise at the same time. I did have one guy hit on me - probably b/c of the spandex biking capris I was wearing. The entire ride, round trip, was 8 miles and took a total of 2 hours. With a car, grocery shopping on a Sunday can take me 1.5-2 hours.


Me carrying my internal frame pack and pannier full of groceries.
All of the packs, full of groceries, once we got back home.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gas Situation

One of our current alternative forms of transportation while we are out of gas. 
We biked to Cotswald for lunch today.
This past Wednesday the reality of the Charlotte gas shortage hit home. I usually fill up in Rock Hill, SC when I teach because gas is 20 cents cheaper per gallon than in Charlotte. This past week I expected things to be fairly normal and drove to SC for class with my tank close to empty.

Once I was in Rock Hill, I quickly realized that there were very few gas stations that had gas and the ones that did have gas were back up considerably. Not wanting to be late to give a test to my students, I went on to the school. I asked my students for suggestions on where to get gas in the area and then adjusted my route home to see if I could find anywhere to fill up.

Unfortunately every station I passed was a repeat scenario of earlier in the day. Not wanting to get stranded at night in a different city, I went home, praying that E would last me to the house.

Thursday morning Daniel rode his motorcycle to work and I rode the bus downtown. I would have ridden with him, but one the pegs to rest my foot on was busted so I resorted to the bus. The bus dropped me off at Starbucks in Gateway Village, so I treated myself to a Vanilla Latte and then walked the rest of the way to work.

Thursday night Daniel fixed the peg on his motorcycle and then we rode in together - it was misting, but thankfully not a full blown rain. After work Friday was a harder rain, but thankfully not too cold. We rode past several gas stations to see what our options were and continued to see no gas or long lines.

This morning, Daniel ran out on his motorcycle to see if he could find gas, but to no avail. For lunch, tired of being cooped up in the house, we opted to ride our bicycles 7 miles (round trip) to Cotswald for some Chipotle. We also picked up some milk for breakfast while we were out.

For now, we are getting by. They keep saying there will be more relief and we keep wondering when. I am guessing part of the problem is everyone who feels the need to top off their partially full tanks.

We can continue to get by using our bicycles. Trying to get groceries may prove to be more of a challenge, but something we can do if we need to. Hopefully this gas crisis will sort itself out soon. Until then, we will be riding our motorcycle, bicycles or the bus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What to say...

Have you ever had a day that was somehow both amazing and horrible all wrapped into one?

Today was like that for me.


It was a great day because we spent the day celebrating a great boss. It was awful because it was his last day as our boss.


We surprised him by showing up at his house, bright and early and making chocolate chip pancakes. We showered him with going away gifts of the nature that only employees that truly love their boss can give. We went to a go cart track where we raced to our heart's content (for 8 minutes). We ate, played Wii and shared jokes for the last time as a cohesive team.


Hopefully Ron will always be in our lives, but probably never in the same way again. I feel so blessed to have worked so closely with such a talented group of people, being led by such a great leader. I know we will all miss him terribly. Monday will be a hard day.


"But the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." - Arthur C. Clark

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Worry

This is not normal to my nature, but definitely how I have been feeling all week...
 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Unexpected Change

Change is not always fun, but unexpected change is always much worse. This morning, after our staff meeting, our creative director announced that Friday would be his last day. This CD has been the best boss that I have ever had and I will be sad to see him go. I was definitely shocked at the announcement - the bagels he brought in were of little consolation (even if they did taste good). So now we are looking at a significant change to our team.

After the meeting, I checked my email and had a message from Daniel asking me to call him. I gave him a call to find out that his company just had another round of layoffs. Thankfully he was spared, but this is the second such round of layoffs in the last couple of months.


This was definitely not how I expected my Monday to go. I am somewhat overwhelmed by all of these sudden changes...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Camping

  
This weekend we headed to the North Carolina mountains to camp with some of our friends. As we headed out of town we had a brief moment of wondering if we were nuts to be heading out of town when gas supply still seems to be sketchy - my brother called on Friday from Nashville to say they were out of gas. Our concern lasted all of two minutes... we went any ways.

  
As we get older, most of our friends have kids, so camping has begun to take on a new meaning for us. We will always love our backpacking trips, but we are adapting to the kid-friendly camping experience.

 
 
It was nice to be able to relax in the woods and catch up with friends. I can never turn down a campfire, hot chocolate and smores.

 
  
The highlight for me was getting to be a part of Andrew Reynold's first smores experience. Daniel helped him roast his marshmallow and then we all enjoyed watching him bit into that first goodness of eating a smore.


 
  
Kid-camping involves a lot more catering to kids - we did a lot of reading to kids and watching the kids play, but it was a nice weekend. Thankfully there were no full-blown melt downs. I think the kids all did great.


 
  
It was the first weekend of perfect camping weather. Cool, but not too cold. No bugs. Just perfection.

 
 
We stayed at Turkey Creek which was a really great campground. Daniel and I generally try to avoid campgrounds, because we find them loud, but this was quiet and relaxing.

 
  
After breaking camp down, we headed to the Panther Creek Trail to do a little hiking... it was a lot of creek crossings, but fun. Afterwards we headed to eat lunch at NOC at the River's End Restaurant - it is always a treat to get to watch the kayakers and rafters float by while you eat.

 

I am looking forward to more camping trips in the future (as soon as the house is finished).

 

RiverRocks 2017: Family Fun Day at Greenway Farms

River Rocks is a multi-day event that brings world-class and amateur athletes to Chattanooga each October to compete, celebrate C...