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.

Among Trees

Last weekend was a long weekend (Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving) and I was determined that our family should do something together ou...