Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Look Back at 2009

Cheree Voyles Moore...

January
  • is scrubbing concrete... getting it ready to stain.
  • is home renovating... did you expect anything different?
  • my coffee cup sleeve says: YOUR NEXT "ACTION ITEM": DO AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE... if only...
  • keys got locked in the car this morning... not a good start to the day.
  • went to Spirit Square to watch the inauguration... froze my butt off waiting for the light rail.
  • "I want to break free." - Queen
  • ... weird how sad endings for some are happy endings for others... such is life.
February
  • would rather be laying in my hammock in the sunshine.
  • is tiling.
  • The nude biker in Searcy made it into the Charlotte paper.
  • we are not big celebrators... so I am curious about Daniel booking a reservation for tonight at a local (undisclosed) restaurant.
  • is wondering if we will ever finish tiling...
  • is wondering why bus stops do not have benches...
  • has a weekend and week of (finishing) tiling and grouting a bathroom, sealing a floor and lots and lots of painting ahead of me...
March
  • we have snow.
  • still no cavities at 28.
  • the inevitable happened... Daniel was laid off this morning.
  • it was kind of weird driving to work alone this morning.
  • could use some serious yoga time... need to relax my mind and body.
  • likes that the blossoms falling outside my window make it look like snow.
  • is thankful for afternoon orange breaks.
  • is excited that my bff from high school got engaged today.
  • I have this intense desire to become nomadic… sell all of my possessions, get a dog, an Airstream camper and a truck and head out to experience America. The problem is this is not a very practical thing. But it's what I feel like doing.
  • “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community.” - African proverb quoted by Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea
April
  • "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." - Thoreau
  • canigohomeyet?
  • quote of the day "See if he's kum-ba-ya with him" meaning see if they are friends....
  • job loss update: tuesday one of Daniel's friends lost his job and then today one of my friends from work was laid off. this is not a fun time.
  • leg ultra-sound went well. It looks like the clot is gone.
  • is fighting a headache and the headache is winning.
  • 5 years from now, you will be the same person, except for the books that you read and the people you meet.
May
  • five fire trucks, and many flooded streets later, I am finally home. Creek at the back of our property has flooded the lower section of our back yard... the water is almost over the fence!
  • finds it very disconcerting when people talk on cell phones in bathrooms.
  • Quote of the Day from Daniel: "I want to be a dog cheree. Sleep, get up go to greenway, run, come back, eat, sleep, get up play in yard, sleep, eat dinner, go walk, sleep all night, get up the next morning and do it again. Wait.... that's almost my day exactly.
  • Best way to end a day: Laying in a hammock with Daniel and Sophie, watching fireflies dance in the trees.
June
  • waiting for my niece, Isabella, to make her entrance.
  • Daniel just gave Sophie a bath (which she was extremely calm for) and now she is running through the house in post-bath frenzy which is evidently common to beagles. At any rate it has been cracking us up.
  • Just got the call from my mom... Isabella was born! More details to come.
  • loves technology... my brother is sending me multimedia messages with pics of my new precious neice. wish i was in memphis today.
  • Txt from brother: How do you make pico? Call from brother: Where is the DMV in Nashville? My brother thinks I am his personal onstar.
  • we celebrated Daniel passing the PE by going to eat at Bonefish Grill... now if only he could find a job.
July
  • trying not to be anxious about Daniel's lack of a job.
  • words you do not want to hear from your husband: "I just go rear-ended." Daniel is ok and says that the bike rack on our car prevented a lot of damage.
  • either the subtitles are too small or we need a bigger TV in order to watch Slum Dog Millionaire... sad.
August
  • "Wheels keep on spinning round spinning round spinning round." - CAKE
  • "Desire is the root cause of sorrow but desire is also the root cause of action. How do we counter the paralysis of action when there is no desire to motivate us?" - The Geography of Bliss
  • "Waiting is the hardest part." - Tom Petty
  • "If she was running away, and not running – arms wide – toward the world, she was running away from responsibility and pressure and obligation. And she wondered why others didn't have the sense to do the same thing. Surely, she was the sane one." - Things I Want My Daughters to Know
September
  • "He was tired of hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock of life." - The Sex Lives of Cannibals.
  • Fall where are you? I am ready for crisp days for sweaters and no more mosquitos.
  • a woman in line in front of me at wal*mart told me I had a very "pretty" and well-organized cart... does this mean I am OCD?
  • i feel like fall is teasing me.
October
  • my dog literally likes to stop and smell the flowers.
  • i think chaco season may be over... my feet are sad.
  • didn't get enough sleep... sophie woke us up. twice. turns out she was protecting us from a mouse.
November
  • our shower is finally finished! i used it this morning and it was amazing. i will post pics tonight.
  • wondering if I can get away with not cooking for the entire weekend of my birthday.
  • HATES microsoft.
  • breakfast of champions: Nutella on a graham cracker.
  • hall bathroom has been gutted and Daniel is in the process of removing the ceiling that we are replacing today.
  • is looking forward to some homemade pumpkin pie.
  • got in at 12:25 AM. coffee is my friend. enjoying time with family. getting ready to make a double chocolate pecan pie.
December
  • is going thru Izzy withdrawal and Sophie is going thru attention-from-tons-of-people 24-7 and getting-fed-scraps-from-the-table withdrawal.
  • why do people answer the phone and ask if they can put you on hold? what if i said no?
  • is making my special hot chocolate and we are putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.
  • soup out of a can has got nothing on homemade soup.
  • has been married to Daniel for 7 wonderful years.
  • got a 9-ft Christmas tree last night for half off... problem: the city of Charlotte seems to be SOLD OUT of tree stands.
  • the grass might be greener on the other side, but the other side might have a bigger bull.

Looking forward to all that 2010 holds.

Top 10 from 2009



Top 10 Reasons To Be THANKFUL In 2009
 

10. No trips to the ER this year. 

9. We FINALLY finished our master bathroom renovation

8. Baby Girl (Isabella Stewart) joined our family. 

7. Sophie – who knew we would love a dog so much? 

6. Cheree’s job, when Daniel was laid off in March, this allowed us to get through the year. 

5. We paid off all unnecessary debt

4. Seven wonderful years of marriage. 

3. Daniel was laid off but then had time to study and pass his professional engineering (PE) exam. 

2. A December job offer for the new year. 

1. Family, friends and knowing that we are loved.

If you are interested, here are our Top 10 List from Years Past
2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | We skipped 2007 | 2008 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daniel just beat me at my own game...

In the past if I had a strong feeling about a paint color that I desired to put on the wall, I would {sweetly} tell my husband that we should paint it the way I wanted and let it stay on the walls for X period of time and if he absolutely HATED said color, he could repaint the walls.

This always works in my favor. 1) The color generally grows on him (ie the RED kitchen walls) or 2) He is too lazy to paint over it (ie a bright BLUE bathroom we had in our first apartment). I am sure he would tell you of other examples, but those are the ones that come to mind.

Well today Daniel played this little trick on me. For some time we have been considering getting a second vehicle. We have made it for {almost} two years now as a one-car family, but we are feeling the need to go back to two vehicles. I was under the impression that we were in agreement about our second car. It would be an SUV. Preferably a FourRunner, Pathfinder or Exterra. But it turns out I was wrong.

Unbeknownst to me, my overly analytical husband has had an eye on gas prices and mileage of vehicles. After exhaustive research, he has come to the conclusion that a Subaru Forester would be the best vehicle for us. It has all-wheel drive, is bigger than a car and has ridiculously good gas mileage and it is well priced. My problem is: I just think it is UGLY.

From past discussions, Daniel thought that my only needs for a vehicle were that it had power windows and air conditioning. And then NO WHITE vehicles was added to the list. As well as no previously-smoked in cars. And then the truth came out. I am a bit of an aesthetic snob when it comes to what I like about vehicles. I won't bore you with which vehicles I prefer and why...

Back to how Daniel beat me at my own game... today over lunch at Al Mike's (he must have been buttering me up by taking me out for lunch first), he informed me that he really thought we should buy a Forrester (I've never even driven one) and that in 9-ish months we will trade in the Altima for a diesel Jetta or Passat (I am on board with this, we have discussed this as our next car). THEN if I still REALLY HATE the Forrester, we can trade it in for something that is reasonably priced.

So there you have it. Beat at my own game.

I Love You Moore than a Second Car

Daniel just beat me at my own game...

In the past if I had a strong feeling about a paint color that I desired to put on the wall, I would {sweetly} tell my husband that we should paint it the way I wanted and let it stay on the walls for X period of time and if he absolutely HATED said color, he could repaint the walls.

This always works in my favor. 1) The color generally grows on him (ie the RED kitchen walls) or 2) He is too lazy to paint over it (ie a bright BLUE bathroom we had in our first apartment). I am sure he would tell you of other examples, but those are the ones that come to mind.

Well today Daniel played this little trick on me. For some time we have been considering getting a second vehicle. We have made it for {almost} two years now as a one-car family, but we are feeling the need to go back to two vehicles. I was under the impression that we were in agreement about our second car. It would be an SUV. Preferably a FourRunner, Pathfinder or Exterra. But it turns out I was wrong.


Photo courtesy of www.automotive.com.

Unbeknownst to me, my overly analytical husband has had an eye on gas prices and mileage of vehicles. After exhaustive research, he has come to the conclusion that a Subaru Forrester would be the best vehicle for us. It has all-wheel drive, is bigger than a car and has ridiculously good gas mileage. My problem is: I just think it is UGLY.

From past discussions, Daniel thought that my only needs for a vehicle were that it had power windows and air conditioning. And then NO WHITE vehicles was added to the list. As well as no previously-smoked in cars. And then the truth came out. I am a bit of an aesthetic snob when it comes to what I like about vehicles. I won't bore you with which vehicles I prefer and why...

Back to how Daniel beat me at my own game... today over lunch at Al Mike's (he must have been buttering me up by taking me out for lunch first), he informed me that he really thought we should buy a Forrester (I've never even driven one) and that in 9-ish months we will trade in the Altima for a diesel Jetta or Passat (I am on board with this, we have discussed this as our next car). THEN if I still REALLY HATE the Forrester, we can trade it in for something that is reasonably priced.

So there you have it. Beat at my own game.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Club

It may be time for me start or join a book club. Either in real life or online. I have come to this conclusion for the following reason: In recent weeks, I was given books to read by two different people. They both loved their books dearly and had the expectations that I too would love the book they lent me.

Unfortunately, in both cases, I did not resonate with the book shared. However I did make the effort to plow through and finish the reading. In the past couple of days I had the chance to talk with both readers about why I disliked the books in question. Upon talking to them and having open dialogue, they shared with me their perspectives about the book. This made me appreciate the books (even though I still don't love them).

But perspective is important and I believe that a book club that provided dialogue with different reader's perspectives would be invaluable as I continue to form my thoughts and beliefs about the world. Any takers - in real life or online???

Computer Woes

How can it be that both of our home computers crapped out almost simultaneously? Actually this is not completely true as the PC has been on its way out for some time. We (meaning Daniel) just hasn't had (taken) the time to fix it. A small little virus slowly took over the PC until we found ourselves with a kaput hard drive. Then a week ago Sunday, Daniel tried to load a printer driver on the MAC and when he rebooted, it seemed the hard drive took the opportunity to die.

Having our computers die is one of the worst things that could happen. How do you expect a couple to communicate? Seriously, we chat often throughout the day and this is rather difficult when one spouse has no computer!!!

On Thursday Daniel bought a new hard drive for the PC and as soon as we have time to try to salvage anything off of the MAC, we will buy a new hard drive for it as well. This would all be much more manageable if it happened at a time that was NOT the CHRISTMAS season. Thankfully my brother was here for a few days and had his laptop with him, so we were not completely sans technology while Daniel fixed the PC.

I can live without a phone. I can live without television. I don't think I can live without my computer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tradition

When I think about the word tradition I think of my parents singing along to Fiddler on the Roof. I also think of the traditions growing up: Opening one present on Christmas Eve. Opening one present at a time to make the present unwrapping last as long as possible. Always eating certain foods on holidays. Making bon bons. My brother forcing all of us to participate in decorating.

As I have grown into adulthood, I have begun to establish my own traditions with Daniel. For most of the seven years that Daniel and I have been married, we have been collecting ornaments for our tree whenever we travel. I love unpacking our ornaments as we decorate our tree and reminiscing about the places we have been together. I normally string popcorn and cranberries to add to our little (fake) tree. Whenever Daniel and I set up our tree, we always making home made hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music. I generally start listening to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving (except when Daniel is around and puts his foot down because he is tired of listening to it).

This year I decided we needed to have two trees. So we put up our little fake tree in the basement with all of our special ornaments. And then while my brother visited, we went and picked up a 9-ft tree from Lowes. We got it for half price since it is so close to Christmas.

Unfortunately we couldn't find a tree stand ANYWHERE in the city of Charlotte so we were unable to set the tree up before my brother left. In lieu of decorating the tree, Mark helped me string popcorn and we baked gingerbread cookies and drank egg nog while listening to Christmas music.

Mark left this morning and Daniel built a tree stand out of wood. Not the prettiest thing, but it is STURDY and I just wrapped a blanket around the base. For this real tree, I wanted it to be completely natural. Danie's dad is in town and helped us to decorate. We hung white lights and then my strings of popcorn and the gingerbread ornaments.

The smell of Frasier fir, ginger bread and popcorn is amazing. I love having two trees. I love that I can sit in my living room with music playing and have my big tree. OR I can go downstairs in the basement to watch TV and have the soft glow of my little tree. It is the best of both worlds. I hope to continue having two trees in the future. I really like having a real tree.

Sophie has been cool with the tree. We are waiting to see if she tries to eat any of the popcorn or cookies off of the tree.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Nie Nie Dialogues

This post has nothing to do with 7 years of marriage... I will write one about that a little later when my life isn't quite so hectic.

Last week I was making a wreath. Using my hot glue gun. Not paying attention to how much hot glue I was getting on my fingers. And then I realized a huge glob had landed on the back of a finger and it REALLY hurt. I instinctively ripped off the glue glob. Unfortunately the skin came off with it. It was an area smaller than the size of a dime and it HURT. One of the worst pains I have had. And it wouldn't stop. I sat on the couch and cried. And Sophie climbed up with me and gently nuzzled her head in my lap. Then Daniel came and sat with us until the pain meds started to kick in and we went to bed.

While I sat there, waiting for pain relief, I thought about the NieNie Dialogues. My little, piddly burn was nothing compared to what Stephanie and Christian Nielson experienced and continue to endure during their recover from a fiery plane crash from over a year ago.

Recently Jaimee Rose wrote a 2-part article sharing this story.

I won't lie, it will make you cry. It will make you ache. It will also make you hope. For Stephanie. For Christian. For their family. You will root for the struggles they have overcome and for the life that is still to come. It will make you feel ridiculous for crying over a little burn on your finger. It will make your life troubles seem small in comparison.

I have been following the Stephanie Nielson story for the past year on her blog. Watching her struggle, overcoming so much. You can read from Stephanie's ongoing story on the Nie Nie Dialogues.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Love You Moore than Hollywood


Alabama that is. 

Today is exactly 9 months since Daniel was laid off. Hard to believe it has been that long (as my sister pointed out, we could have had a baby by now). 

I digress... this morning Daniel got the call we have been waiting for. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was on the phone with a job offer and a possible start date of mid January or the first of February.

All of a sudden things are in fast forward instead of on pause. Daniel officially has one week to think about and accept the offer. Since he was already scheduled to go to Jackson on Monday for an interview at a frozen food plant, he is going to proceed as planned. He will just be up front with them that he has another offer on the table. We are planning on accepting the TVA offer, but you never know. We will leave it up to God.

For some time I have prayed that God would make it abundantly clear to us where we should be. So we will continue to pray in that vein and if for some reason Jackson feels like the better fit, we will weigh our options and make the decision at the end of next week.

It is such a relief to have this burden lifted. Now we have to figure out things like 1) how fast can we finish our house/get it on the market; 2) how will I break the news to my employer - I am hoping to negotiate with them to keep me on and let me work from home; 3) where will we live/how soon should we move? Lots to think about in the coming weeks. For now we will take it one day at a time and be thankful for our blessings. 

Interesting side note... We have been wanting to purchase furniture for our basement for some time. But once Daniel was laid off, we really didn't feel like it was prudent to spend the money and that we should focus on saving it instead. 

Over the past 9 months, we have managed to save up quite a bit. After Daniel's very first interview (back in August), we agreed that once he got a job offer we would go ahead and purchase our furniture.

Well time passed and nothing seemed to be working out on the job front and we had all of this money saved up. So we decided to rethink our plan. Last week we discussed the situation and agreed that we had enough in our savings that it would be OK to go ahead and buy furniture. Then Daniel decided our life would be easier if we had a trailer to haul said furniture with. So he started looking on craigslist for a trailer. 


Nothing seemed to be working out, though we did manage to find and purchase an armoire through craigslist (which we proceeded to haul home in two trips on the roof rack of our Altima, but that is a story for another day.) See photo above.

In the end, we didn't end up getting a trailer and therefore did not get the furniture we have been wanting.

Then on Monday, Daniel found a great deal on a small trailer that would be perfect for us and he went about purchasing it with the intention that we would go THIS weekend to buy our furniture.

Then today he got his offer from TVA. He called to inform me that we could really buy our furniture and not feel bad about breaking our agreement because he had been offered a job! Praise God and pass the ammunition. OK, don't pass the ammunition, but definitely praise God for working this all out in his own time.

Oh. And for those of you who don't know where Hollywood, Alabama is, it is a small town (that is a loose word for where this nuclear facility is located) that is about an hour south of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Love You Moore than Recruiters


Daniel has been getting hammered by calls from recruiters recently. It's like a floodgate just opened. We are still waiting for an offer, but it is encouraging to feel like he is wanted. 

Today Daniel got confirmation of what will be a whirlwind trip to Jackson next Monday. He will fly to Memphis, pick up his rental and drive to Jackson for a plant tour and the initial part of the interview. The following morning he will do more interviewing with some big wigs that are being flown in from other company locations for the interview process, then he will be back in Charlotte by Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Love You Moore than Jackson, TN

A frozen food plant in Jackson you say? A phone interview on a Sunday you say? That is perposterous you say. We agree, but that is the update. This is the second interview by phone with a request to come in for an on site interview next week. Meanwhile we are still waiting.

I don't know that we would choose Jackson as our dream place to live, but times being what they are, beggars can't be choosers. The biggest thing that Jackson has going for it, is that it is almost halfway between Searcy and Nashville, with Memphis a short 1-hour drive away. Being able to visit family without driving 8-12 hours (each way) definitely has a lot of charm to it. While Alaska would be adventurous, it is soooo far away (not to mention we haven't heard anything back from them).

We are still hoping for Chattanooga to come through or something in Nashville, but if Jackson is what we get offered, we will take it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

DIY Holiday Projects

I am on a kick of working on various holiday and decorating projects. It all started last week when I had my Nana give me a refresher course on knitting. I started on a scarf that will be finished soon. I have decided to use this scarf as a table runner. I will post pics as soon as I wrap it up.





Tonight I started working on making these Christmas stockings* for me, Daniel and Sophie. We have not had Christmas stockings the entire seven years we have been married! Oh well. I am thankful that we actually have a fireplace mantle to hang the stockings on. Will post pics when I finish.
 


 

Other projects on my radar are these two wreaths: this paper* and this acorn* one. The acorn wreath hinges on me being able to scavenge acorns as I am too frugal to buy them in a store.
 


 

These are just a sampling of some of projects I am wanting to do this holiday season. We'll see how they all turn out. What projects are you working on this year?


*Click on the links to see the tutorials for each DIY project.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Still Waiting, Still Love You More

Waiting really is the hardest part (thank you Tom Petty). Daniel is still sans job. Thank goodness for busy holidays to keep us distracted from the waiting.

Thanksgiving brought some new potential leads. The Gores (my aunt Becky's in-laws) were among the 35 celebrating Thanksgiving with us. This gave Daniel a chance to sit down and talk to Jonathan (his old roommate/Becky & Malvin's nephew). Jonathan got an offer with TVA (we are still waiting to hear about the position Daniel interviewed for), but he let us know that the position he is leaving will need to be filled and he would put in a good word for Daniel. It is contract work, so it would be temporary (up to a year of work), but it is something. This would be in Florence, Alabama.

Another friend from college talked to Daniel over the break and offered to pass his resume along to a Nashville recruiter.

And finally, Daniel talked with a recruiter yesterday about a position in Nashville. Since it is through a recruiter, we have no idea what company it is, but we are pretty sure it is Barge Waggoner (who Daniel interviewed with back in August).

Anyways, we are still waiting to hear. At this point, it would just be nice to get an answer (even if the answers were NO). At least then we wouldn't be sitting here. Waiting. Wondering. Hoping.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Mayhem

6:30 AM Up and at 'em.

6:50 AM Left my brother's to drive to Daniel's Grandmother's

7:05 AM We were late for Thanksgiving breakfast... this was OK because we weren't the last ones to arrive and we didn't start eating until...

7:30 AM We enjoyed ham, bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy an oatmeal bar and COFFEE. Sophie especially liked people sneaking her food.

10:00 AM Left for my Aunt's house in Joelton.

10:45 AM Arrived in Joelton. Daniel and Sophie hung out with Jesse to watch the fried turkey get cooked. I visited inside - games and visiting.

1:00 PM Headed outside to play Ultimate Frisbee - where Sophie attempted to tackle me every time I started running. She was an honorary member of the other team.

2:00-ish PM Other family started to arrive and we circle together to pray for Thanksgiving dinner. We proceeded to enjoy my favorite holiday dishes: turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes with mom's gravy, stuffing, 5-cup salad and 7 different pies.

3:00-ish PM More visiting and playing with my niece Isabella.

3:30 PM Played the game of Things.

4:30 PM Headed outside to play basketball (I still win at speed) and a good game of 4-on-4 until it was too dark to see.

6:00 PM Played a game of pinnocle with Grandpa, Mom and Becky. (Izzy got in on the action too - we are teaching them early these days.)

7:00-ish PM I looked up to see Angela, Sophie and Dad all asleep in the living room. Sophie got some serious playing in today. Running with Shadow. Chasing Daniel. Chasing me. Trying to chase us while we tried to play basketball.

8:00-ish PM Heated up leftovers for dinner.

8:30 PM Daniel left to give Sophie a break - she was worn out from lots of endless playing and eating lots of turkey that everyone kept sneaking to her.

9:00 PM Another game of Things.

10:30 PM Mark and I headed back to his apartment.

11:15 Arrived home to find Sophie zonked out on her bed. She wouldn't even lift her head to see who was coming or going. She had a blast, but was completely worn out.

Midnight-ish Dropped into bed exhausted, but thankful for time spent with family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Love You Moore than Dishes

The other day Daniel asked me if I could go back in time to when we were still engaged, would I still want to register for china. (No idea where this train of thought came from).

Hmmm... looking back there are plenty of things I would change about what we registered for, but I think I would still keep the nice dishes. It feels good to have the option for "fine dining" at my own table. In the past 7 years, my tastes have changed quite a bit. Maybe they have just become more honed. 

As for our everyday dishes, I am glad we kept the white Corelle ones that I my Grandma gave me (from her own set) while I was still in college. White is timeless and it is easy to add newer serving dishes to the collection. Though we could use some more cereal bowls (4 is not enough and we have had trouble finding our style of bowl). 

This bowl is the closest I have found, but it's not quite the same.
 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Love You More than Sophie Loves Me



This was a declaration of love written to me from Daniel. I found it in a card left for me while he traveled to one of the interviews he secured.

If you knew Sophie and of her great love for Daniel, you might start to grasp just how much this means that Daniel loves me.

Sophie is attached to Daniel at the hip. She thinks they are bosom friends. Wherever he goes, she goes. And if she doesn’t get to go, she mopes pitifully or cries, hoping he will come back for her.

Don’t get me wrong, she loves me too but she has spent almost all of her time with us hanging out with my currently unemployed husband and she thinks they are soul mates.

It is sweet. I don’t know how she will feel about Daniel going back to work one of these days. I guess we will have to cross that bridge when we get there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love You Moore than Alaska

Daniel's interview with Alaska Rim Engineering went well, though we won't hear anything for a few weeks. While the idea of moving to Alaska is alluring, in an adventurous sort of way, we are trying to be realistic about the whole thing.

Upon doing some research, moving the 4000+ miles to Palmer, Alaska is quite daunting. The expense and planning involved would be equivalent to moving to another country. All of this will factor in, if Daniel were to get an offer.

For now, we will continue to wait and try not to think too much about what it would mean to accept a job so far away.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Love You Moore than Unemployment


The unemployment saga is continuing in the Moore household. Although we do have some good news to share after 8+ months of unemployment...

Daniel was contacted last week by the small company he interviewed with in Knoxville, TN. Unfortunately, they have been playing phone tag and we do not have concrete news.

Daniel called TVA (based in Chattanooga, TN) and they have been busy trying to secure permits for Bellefante, and have not made a decision yet. They hope to decide something in the "near future." Daniel thinks this is government speak for "We'll let you know when we are good and ready."

Daniel had a phone interview today with a company in Jackson, TN.

And the biggest new news is that a company from Alaska called today to set up a phone interview for tomorrow.

So that is where we are at. Ultimately, we are still waiting, but it is encouraging for things to feel like they are happening. Who knows, he might end up actually  having options.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Spontaneously deciding to take Friday off of work to head up to the mountains.
  2. Hiking Max Patch bald with amazing 360 degree views of the Smokey Mountains.
  3. Perfect weather with a Carolina blue sky and lots of sunshine.
  4. Letting Sophie run off leash on the bald - she was in doggy heaven.
  5. Our little tripod (with strap) that we can use to take photos of us when there are no people around.
  6. Getting a camp site beside a river.
  7. Spending part of an evening soaking outdoors in hot mineral water springs after an afternoon of hiking. (Daniel thinks it was just heated tap water pumped into the tubs, regardless, it was a nice way to spend an evening).
  8. Laying under a majestic starry sky - you don't get views of stars like this in the city.
  9. Getting an electric site so that we could use an air mattress and our electric blanket. This was luxury camping for us. Normally we go for a primitive site, but we decided since Sophie had never been cold-weather camping before that we better make sure she would be warm enough. Good thing we did this, she slept under the blanket with us, only getting out a couple times. Then we would wake up and find her shivering and get her to get back under the blanket.
  10. Sleeping in because the air temperature is so cold and you don't want to get out from under your blankets.
  11. Enjoying a cup of hot coffee mixed with cocoa while you sit on the bank of the river.
  12. Eating a country breakfast at the local Smokey Mountain Diner - almost rivaled Bobby's in Searcy. A cup of coffee, two eggs sunny-side up, country ham and toast for me.
  13. Hiking the Lover's Leap trail. The views from the top of the French Broad River, the town of Hot Springs and the mountains beyond were beautiful.
  14. Getting to sleep on the drive home because you volunteered to drive there.
  15. Taking a hot shower at home then going to bed early in your own comfortable bed. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Night of the Barking Dog(s)

I would have written about this yesterday, but due to lack of sleep and a busy week at work, decided to take a brief hiatus from the internet.

Thursday night we went to bed, same as usual. Around 12:30 AM Sophie started barking. These barks were "don't you dare come a step further, or I will eat you" kind of barks. Not something we were expecting to wake up to.

Unsure of what she was barking at, Daniel went to investigate. He checked all of the rooms and made sure everything was locked up. Sophie has never acted like this before, so we were a bit shaken up, but decided everything was OK and went back to bed.

I slept off and on until 5:30 AM when Sophie started with the barking again. We both sat up in bed immediately and Daniel went to see if he could find what she was barking at. When he came back, he said he had heard something small scurrying in the basement.

I tried to go back to sleep, but then our neighbor's dog started barking and wouldn't let up. An hour later it was time for me to get up to get ready for work. Before leaving, I decided to eat a quick bowl of cereal. When I opened the pantry, I noticed that one of the boxes of cereal had a hole that had been chewed in the top of it.

Case solved: It would appear that Sophie had been protecting us from a mouse that was having a midnight snack in our pantry.

Follow up: Last night Daniel set a trap in the pantry and baited it with some of the cereal. We went to bed and within 30 minutes heard some noises. Daniel got up to check it out and we had caught a mouse. Hopefully we will have no more issues with Sophie barking at mice in the night.

Even though I didn't get enough sleep, I am glad Sophie responded so aggressively to an abnormal situation. I hope that if we ever have a real intruder, she will respond in kind.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant


Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant is a compilation of essays that offer a glimpse into the eccentric tendencies of individuals when left to prepare a meal for themselves. To be eaten alone. I read this book a couple of months ago and truly enjoyed it. Though I have never had great success with cooking eggplants I do love the brilliant color. The taste just doesn't do it for me.

Tonight I am alone. Normally this would mean a quick stop at Chik-fil-a on the way home from work. For me, the thought of cooking a meal for one makes the experience seem more lonely. However, inspired by the book, I decided to make the effort to cook something that I enjoy, something that I know Daniel doesn't particularly care for. For tonight's meal, I decided on Sunny-Side-Up Eggs cooked in Baked Tomatoes and Red Peppers.

With this plan in mind, I came home to an extremely-excited dog. It seems that she was more interested in 1) being fed and 2) going outside, than letting me start my own dinner. So I frantically sliced up a red pepper and threw it, along with two cloves of crushed garlic, into a skillet of heated olive oil.

Sophie finished eating and starting dancing around, whining to go out, so I dashed downstairs, opened the door, ran out on to the deck with her, then tried to sneak back upstairs to finish my cooking.

No dice. She followed me up the stairs and continued to whine, even though the door was still open for her. We really need to work on her learning to be outside (ALONE).

By this time, my peppers were starting to get soft, so I added a can of diced tomatoes to the pan, turned the burner on low and covered with a lid. I left this concoction to simmer for 30 minutes while I went back outside to throw the ball with Sophie. I must admit that I get great joy out of watching Sophie chase a tennis ball - she seems so content, ears flapping in the wind, happy to just run and fetch and repeat.

Though she eventually got bored and we came back inside and I still had 8 minutes of simmering left, so I cut myself a slice of leftover pumpkin spice cake (remember I am eating alone, so eating dessert first is completely appropriate).

With a few minutes to go, I loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher, then I uncovered the food and cracked two fresh eggs on top of the mixture. I added some cracked pepper and sea salt, then covered again to let the eggs cook until the whites were set and the yolk was still runny (this is the main reason this dish is best for me to eat alone, Daniel wants his eggs, chicken, fish, steak, whatever, DONE).

Once the eggs had cooked. I poured the food into a bowl, sprinkled on some feta cheese, then downed it all with a glass of milk. As usual, I ate too fast and have a slightly burned tongue to show for it. Other than that, it was delicious.

During dinner, Sophie continued to whine. Not sure if she is missing Daniel or if she just wanted to go for a walk. I gave in and we took a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood.

If I hadn't been in such a rush to meet Sophie's needs, I probably would have taken the time to put on some jazz music and really enjoy the moment of cooking. Life doesn't always let us have those moments. Sometimes life is crazy and you have to run around and meet other needs and responsibilities. Even with the craziness, I still enjoyed my meal and am thankful I took the time to make myself something tasty and healthy, instead of relying on fast food as my eat-alone staple.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On Canoeing and Stupid Rednecks with Guns...


For Daniel's 29th birthday, we decided to go up to Cary, NC to stay with college friends (Heather and Jonathan) and spend Saturday canoeing. This idea came about when watching a PBS program about The Benjamin Vineyards & Winery who teamed up with the Haw River Canoe & Kayak Company to offer canoe trips on the Haw River that included paddling to the vineyard for wine and dessert. However, after some research, we opted just to go up and paddle (since we are currently on a shoestring budget).


We headed up to Cary on Friday night, then got up early Saturday to head up to Saxapahaw, NC to paddle. Unfortunately for us, the river was down due to a recent lack of rain. It was a very lazy day on a lazy river. We had to get out to portage around a dam (see photo album), but even with that the day was pretty laid back.


After our portaging experience, we had about 5 miles to paddle until our pull out. As we continued paddling, we all heard gun shots in the distance. We didn't really think too much about it initially - we are after all in a rural area and maybe there was a shooting range in the vicinity.


As we continued paddling, a couple of kayakers passed us and let us know that there were people up river that were actually shooting directly ACROSS the river at targets. They were getting ready to head back and encouraged us to follow them and to hug the left side of the river.


As we got closer to the wide open area where the shooting appeared to be occurring, we suddenly saw something skip in the water about 30 feet to our right and heard a loud "zing" sound. Some irresponsible moron (and that's putting it nicely :-) ) had shot a round up the river towards us. I don't think they were intentionally firing towards us, as we were still a long way away. (If they were, I'm quite thankful they had very poor aim).


Daniel yelled for the firing to cease (which it did). When we got closer, we saw a group of people hanging out on the right side of the river, with their targets on the bank on the left side of the river. I suppose the one shot was a stray. In all seriousness, we were pretty lucky that we didn't get hit by the stray bullet and that they quit firing when Daniel yelled.


There is a time and place for shooting targets, but if you are going to do it, you should be ABSOLUTELY SURE of what your target is, what's in line with it, and what's behind if if you miss or the bullet ricochets.


We are so thankful that our idyllic day did not turn into a nightmare.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Five Months, 11 Days and Counting...

Last night the news said that unemployment in the Charlotte area had dropped from 12% to 11.8%. Sadly, Daniel is not a part of contributing to the 0.2% drop. Maybe I am jaded but I don't know that such a tiny drop is cause for celebration.

I haven't written much about our unemployment in a recession experience. It is hard to know what to say. I have heard that if you are among the employed, you experience recession. If you are among the unemployed, it is depression. I suppose we are somewhere in the middle since I remain employed while Daniel is in his 5th month of unemployment (repression/decession maybe?).

Early on, we had a friend tell Daniel to expect to not expect more than a 5% response rate during his job hunt. At this point, we would be thankful for 5% worth of response. Daniel has only had 1 interview after applying to more than 100 places. It's hard not to get your hopes up when opportunities are so few. It's tough when things don't work out. I just remind myself that there are plenty of others that need the job just as badly.

Daniel recently read somewhere that Civil Engineering is dead in the south east US. I don't know if that is true or not, but based on the last 5 months, we can attest that things aren't looking so hot.

So how do I feel about unemployment? Mostly I am thankful that I have a job. We have buckled down and tightened our finances even more. Ironically we paid off all of our credit debt (home improvements) right away and managed to save quite a bit since then. It's hard not to want to go out and spend that hard-earned safety net - a 2nd vehicle, furniture for our empty (yet finished) basement and a new non-bubble-screened TV are all pretty tempting...

The government programs in place to "help" the economy are of little consolation to us. We already bought our first home. Our "clunker" does not meet the requirements of cash for clunkers (the gas mileage is too good for a trade). Not that we would buy a new car anyway. And the government offer of cheap Cobra insurance for unemployed is only useful IF you don't have the option to sign on (expensively) under your spouse... So since Daniel can get his med insurance through my company for the "bargain" of ~$400/month, he doesn't get the option of having 65% of his Cobra premium payed by Uncle Sam like some of his friends have.

I am not writing this for pity, just to give some perspective through the eyes of someone living with unemployment in tough economic times. However, if you happen to know of any civil engineering jobs, feel free to give Daniel a shout.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On Being Content


It seems that in recent weeks/months, Daniel and I have really struggled with being content. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly keeps us from being truly happy. Is it wrapped up in our jobs (or lack thereof)? Is it the desire of wanting more things? It is related to the fact that we are so far from so many that we love? Do expectations of what life should be like play a role?

It is hard to say. Based on talking to some of our friends and reading various blogs, it appears that we are not alone in our search.
 

I recently started reading the book, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. The author travels the world trying to understand if where you live plays a role in your level of happiness. While the premise that geography has an effect on happiness is an interesting one, I personally believe that, regardless of where one resides, it is up to the individual to choose to be happy in their shoes (to borrow a phrase from a friend).

Hopefully the future will bring us closer to family (geographically speaking), but for now, I will try to be happy in my shoes. For me this means being thankful for the things I am blessed with. I have a job. We have a house. I have a wonderful husband and great family. I have a sweet dog - that I don't have to train. I will work more on appreciating and doing the things I love and and spend less time dwelling on the things that I want or think I need.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rear Ended Again...

We attempted to go to a swap meet today - this ended up being a bust. Not much there by the time we arrived. We found an antique shop to peruse and Daniel ogled some long guns, but nothing worth buying.

On the way home, we were sitting at a stop light (on Independence) when all of a sudden the car shuddered and I looked at Daniel thinking he had stalled the car while at a dead stop. He looked at me and said "I can't believe it - we just got rear ended!" Seriously?!?!?

We turned around to see a man in his conversion van giving us an apologetic look. Daniel got out to check the damage. The guys got out and said something like, "Sorry, I was taking my shoe off and my van just rolled forward."

This is the second time in three days that Daniel has been rear ended while sitting at a stop light. Both times by people not paying attention. Thankfully our steel bike rack took the hit instead of our bumper (both times).

When driving, if you have the need to 1) reach down into your floorboard to pick up a dropped item or 2) take off your shoes or 3) anything else that requires you to not pay attention while sitting stopped at a stop light, PLEASE take the time to put your vehicle in PARK.

One Pound

Last night was our eat out night. Normally when we go to a restaurant we will split a dish and we rarely get appetizers. Desserts for us are only on special occasions (generally we will just go out for dessert and split with no other food purchase).

That being said, we had seen a commercial advertising a special at Chili's that was called 3 for $20. Twenty bucks seemed like too good of a bargain to pass up, so we headed to Chili's.

For $20 you can choose one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert. We went with the Skillet Queso, both of us chose Quessadillas (which we didn't finish) and then we split the Chocolate Chip Molten Cake. We both drank water.

The food tasted great. Afterwards, we walked out with a doggie bag, feeling full (probably too full). We went to watch a movie and then home where I looked up all of the calorie info for our massive $20 meal.

Counting the fact that we did not finish the quessadillas, my total calorie count for the day came to 3,308 (for reference I generally eat close to 1,500 cals per day and prior to dinner I had only had about 750 calories).

I informed Daniel of the amount of calories I had eaten and he said "Did you know that 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of body fat?"

Yikes! This morning I weighed and I did in fact weigh one pound more...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

15 Books

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. (I don't tag people, but feel free to play).

In no particular order...

1. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
2. Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson)
3. A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson)
4. The Places in Between (Rory Stewart)
5. Juicing the Orange (Pat Fallon)
6. Blink (Malcolm Gladwel)
7. The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
8. TLOTR trilogy (J.R.R. Tolkien)
9. The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
10. Night (Elie Wiesel)
For the record, I read this when I was a teenager, way before it was a part of the Oprah Book Club.
11. Freakonomics (Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt)
12. Anne of Green Gables (LM Montgomery)
13. Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Shelverstein)
14. The World is Flat (Thomas L. Friedman)
15. Sense & Sensibility (Jane Austen)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random Thoughts...

So I am continuing with another six weeks of the Workout 180 Challenge. Daniel is going to give it a go for this six weeks as well. We are participating in two different segments of the challenge - I am continuing with the afternoon, weight-loss segment and he will be doing the morning, lean muscle segment.

The purpose of this post is my observation on the meal plan(s) that the trainer sent to me. Last week I received the female meal plan that is created to provide approximately 1500 calories a day. Yesterday Anna sent me the male plan since Daniel was considering joining the workout.

The biggest difference (besides 2000 calories instead of 1500) is that the men get the option to drink coffee EVERY morning and a beer with EVERY dinner. Neither of us particularly like beer, but somehow this doesn't seem fair... where are the empty calories for the women?

As a side note, I am mostly following the women's meal plan and I have no intention of giving up my morning coffee.

Another random thought... now that I have a dog, I totally understand where the yoga term "downward facing dog" came from. I wish I could do the downward dog with the same agility, flexibility and strength as Sophie. She makes it look so easy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Six Week Challenge: Results

So did 6 weeks of working out using the Workout 180 benefit me? Well Friday we measured and weighed in to see what physical results we had achieved...

According to the official weigh-in scale, I only lost 0.6 pounds. Since we weighed in the afternoon, with clothes on, I am taking this weigh-in with a grain of salt. According to my home scale, my morning weigh-in had me at 5 pounds lower than when we started this challenge.

As for the measuring, I have lost inches from the following places:
Abdomen: -1"
Arm: -1.25"
Buttocks/Hips: 0"
Calf: 0"
Forearm: -0.75"
Hips/Thighs: -0.5"
Mid-Thigh: -0.25"
Waist: -1.5"

Another way that I can tell that my body has changed is the way my pants fit. I don't think I am ready to go down a size, but my jeans are definitely roomier. I have also been able to tighten my belt a notch.

In terms of energy and how I feel, I really feel amazing. My energy is high. I don't hit that afternoon wall. And I feel strong during our actual workouts.

I am excited to continue the program for another 6 weeks. I am hoping for even better results at the end of the 12 weeks.

The Workout 180 is a great product. It is versatile and I have enjoyed using it. Personally I will probably never be good at being motivated to workout by myself, regardless of the products available to me. However having a great program to attend (at work no less and for free), I will gladly be the first to step up and say it is a great product. The trainer has been great and the group has been fun. I will miss it when we are finished.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Six Week Challenge: Day 36 & 37

Tuesday Workout(s):
Due to a last minute project, I missed the workout. Unfortunately I didn't get home until almost 9PM which meant a no go for Daniel and I to see a movie. Daniel wanted to know if this was Phase 2 of a diet for him (Phase 1 being the time I forgot to buy his cereal and didn't buy lunch meat for him for the week. Phase 2 being, not getting home at reasonable hours and him starving while he waited for me... he did eventually find a snack while he waited).

Meals For Tuesday:
Breakfast: Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt with Granola and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla CoffeeMate
Snack: Missed my morning snack due to last-minute projects needing to get out the door by noon.
Lunch: Two slices of Turkey, one slice of Cheese, two slices of Tomato on two slices of Whole Wheat Toast and a Peach on the side
2:30 Snack: Ate part of my morning snack, a Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin
3:30 Snack: Grapes
4:30 Snack: Two low-fat Graham Crackers with 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
Dinner: Since I didn't leave work until 8:30, Daniel and I agreed that pizza and a movie from Blockbuster would be a good end to a long day. Beef Thin Crust Pizza and 10 oz of Sprite
Total Water: 96 oz
Total Calories According to Calorie Count: 2052

Wednesday Workout(s):

5:30: Tonight's 60-minute workout was a repeat of Week 2 - probably my least favorite week because of the pyramids. I can tell a huge difference, but just because I am in better shape did not make me like pyramids any more.

Meals For Wednesday:
Breakfast: Strawberry-Banana Smoothie and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla CoffeeMate
Snack: Oatmeal-Blueberry Muffin and Grapes
Lunch: Healthy Request Chicken Gumbo with 7 Multigrain Crackers
Snack: Two tbsp of Peanut Butter on two Low-Fat Honey Grahams and an Orange
Dinner: Salmon and Veggies
Total Water: 96 oz
Total Calories According to Calorie Count: 1508

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Six Week Challenge: Day 38

Workout(s):
5:30 PM: 60-minute workout was the last of our six-week challenge. We did circuits. It is amazing how strong I feel. My energy is high. It is truly amazing. Tomorrow we weigh in and remeasure to see where we are at. We are actually continuing with an additional six weeks, but we will only meet 4 days a week. I will post off and on and share results at the end of the 12 weeks.

Meals:
Breakfast: Strawberry-Banana Smoothie and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla CoffeeMate
Snack: Oatmeal-Blueberry Muffin
Lunch: Tuna on two slices of Whole Wheat Bread, String Cheese and and Grapes
Snack: Two tbsp of Peanut Butter on two Low-Fat Honey Grahams and Blueberries
Post Workout Snack: Chocolate Milk
Dinner: Lean Meatballs with on two slices of Whole Wheat Toast
Total Water: 96 oz
Total Calories According to Calorie Count: 1661

Monday, July 06, 2009

Six Week Challenge: Day 34 & 35

Sunday Workout(s):
Day of Rest. I dutifully took a nap on the couch and tried to avoid the steamy humidity outside. I did go grocery shopping... does that count as "working out?"

Meals For Sunday:
Breakfast: Scrambled Egg Whites with Bell Pepper and Tomatoes on two slices of Whole Wheat Toast and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla CoffeeMate
Lunch: Three slices of Turkey Bacon, one slice of Turkey, one slice of Cheese, one slice of Tomato, one tsp of Miracle Whip on two slices of Whole Wheat Toast
Dinner: Rice, Chicken and Fajita Veggies from Chipotle
Total Water: 16 oz... I am soooo terrible about getting enough water on weekends.
Total Calories According to Calorie Count: 1596

Monday Workout(s):

5:30: Today marks the start of our last week of the program. We are actually going to continue for another six weeks, but I will not be posting as religiously... just occasional updates. Every day this week, we will we one work out from each of the previous five weeks. So tonight was a repeat of Week 1. It was amazing how big of a difference I felt doing tonight's workout. Even though it was hot, I was really able to push hard through the whole work out. I feel great and I really enjoyed it. Working out like this has been a great way to relieve work-related stress from the day.

Meals For Monday:
Breakfast: Strawberry-Banana Smoothie and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla CoffeeMate
Snack: Oatmeal-Blueberry Muffin
Lunch: Two slices of Turkey, one slice of Cheese and one slice of Tomato on two slices of Whole Wheat Toast with a Peach on the side
Snack: Two tbsp of Peanut Butter on two Low-Fat Honey Grahams, Blueberries
Dinner: Pork Chop marinated in Mustard and Maple Syrup and a Salad of Lettuce and Bell Pepper
Snack: Low-Fat, Sugar-Free Ice Cream Sandwich
Total Water: 104 oz
Total Calories According to Calorie Count: 1511

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Return to Backpacking

  
To celebrate the long weekend, Daniel and I decided it was time for us to embark on an overnight backpacking trip, with Sophie in tow.


 
It has been about two years since we have managed to carve out time for such a trip. Over the past two years (since Daniel's chainsaw incident) we have actually tried to go on several different occasions, but something always prevented a trip.

 

After some last minute planning, we were able to get up to Carver's Gap for an overnight trip. We were not without our setbacks though...

 
  
On the front end everything seemed to go smoothly. We set up our tent in the living room, hoping that Sophie would not be afraid of such a thing. We have discovered that whatever we do or wherever we go, Soph is on board with trying. So she gladly hopped in the tent with us.

 

After packing all of our gear and checking our lists twice, we set out for an area north of Asheville. The route we took was longer than planned as we needed to stop and get a map, but eventually we made it to our trailhead.

Set Back #1:

For some reason our GPS took us a back way to Carver's Gap. As we drove down a winding country road, Daniel noticed a sign that said "Road Closed at Railroad Tracks." We were within 15 miles of our turn, so we prayed that the road closure would happen AFTER our turn.
  
We were literally counting down the miles (via the GPS) to said turn and anxiously waiting to the road closure. Sure enough, two more "Road Closed Signs" later the road closed 0.2 miles BEFORE our turn.

 
  
We briefly discussed how to proceed. Being so close to our turn and being on a country road through the mountains meant that to turn around probably meant a 1+ hour EXTRA drive. So we agreed to go forward past the road block in hopes that we could somehow get around it.

 
  
As we crossed the "closed" bridge, we noticed workers who were indeed working. Daniel rolled down the window to ask if there was a detour or if we could proceed. The worker looked at us and said "I won't tell anybody that I saw you." So we proceeded through the closed road.

Set Back #2:

We finally made it to Carver's Gap. It was 7:00 PM (later than we had intended) and 50 degrees with a strong wind. We discussed if we had warm enough clothes for the hike as we weren't expecting it to be so cold in July. We decided we would be fine, especially since we had our 0 degree sleeping bags.
 
  
As we pulled our backpacks out of the trunk, Daniel realized that he didn't have the lid to his pack. Uh-oh. We tried to remember what was in his lid: his hat, a headlamp and powerbars and maybe some other small items. We decided that we could make due with one headlamp and threw in some extra snacks into my pack. This also meant that my lid got the extra small items like the GPS and cell phone. I had a bandanna that I told Daniel he could use in lieu of his hat... this meant he got to sport a blue bandanna with white flowers instead of his beloved camouflaged hat.

 
   
We headed up Round Bald with a strong wind. I was thankful for a jacket. Sophie loved the open ridges that she could roam on. We hiked for about 2 hours, over Jane's Bald and on to Grassy Ridge where we decided to camp for the night.

 

Camping on a bald means you are exposed to the wind, but we managed to find a rhododendron bush to back our tent up to. Thankfully we still had light at 9 PM. We set up camp and then did a late night "dinner." We actually ate in Asheville but I was thankful to have hot beef stew after our cold two-hour climb over hills.
 

Sophie did great in the tent. She even slept all night with no barking. Sometime in the middle of the night, the wind stopped and it warmed up a bit. Soph woke up around 6:30 but let us sleep in til 7:30 at which point hikers with dogs came by and she went kind of crazy. We figured this was our "get up and break down camp" call.
 
  
We hit the trail by 9 and hiked down through the woods to the Stan Murray Shelter. Sophie did really well on the trail, unless with came across other hikers with dogs. I think this will just take time for her to adjust to.
 
After another half mile on the trail, we decided to head back because 1) hiking in the woods is not near as fun as hiking on the open balds (plus it is easier to control Sophie where we have more room to get off the trail) and 2) Daniel's feet were starting to bother him.
 

So we hiked out. Our mileage for our first return to backpacking trip was a little under 8 miles. The walk back across the ridges was beautiful. It was a good introduction for Sophie. hopefully we will have more trips to come.

 

I will admit that coming home a little early and getting to eat a yummy eat out meal and sleep in my own bed is nice.

Six Week Challenge: Day 32

Workout:

2 miles of backpacking, carrying a 40 lb pack over two balds, elevation gain 500 ft

Meals:

Breakfast: Frosted Mini-Wheats with 1% Milk and Coffee with Fat-Free Vanilla Coffeemate
Lunch: #1 from Chick-fil-a with a Dr. Pepper
Dinner: Joey Junior with water from Moes SouthWest Grill
Late Dinner: Mountain House Freeze Dried Beef Stew
Calories: 1,844

Six Week Challenge: Day 33

Workout:

6 miles of backpacking, carrying a 40 lb pack down through the woods, back up again and back over the previous two balds, elevation gain 1000 ft

Meals:

Breakfast: Power Bar
Snack: Trail Mix
Lunch: Tuna and Multigrain Crackers and half a serving of Trail Mix
Dinner: One half serving of Monterey Ranch Chicken Fajitas, half a bowl of Chips & Salsa and Dr. Pepper from On the Border
Calories: 1,690

Among Trees

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