Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hitting the Highlights

I’ve been wanting to catch up with a few highlights from my life as of late.

Last week, Chris and I stopped by Starbucks to pick up a caramel apple cider for me and then took our telescope out on the Natchez Trace for a gaze at the night sky. I really should have bundled up as it was rather chilly, but that seems to be the best condition for stargazing. It was a clear night, and we journeyed about an hour down the trace to one of our favorite spots. On the way there we saw plenty of deer and even a few bucks with large racks. When we finally arrived at our destination, we found that we were not alone in our endeavor; another man, Chip, was there with a much larger, more powerful telescope. He had been there over an hour before we arrived and planned to stay long after we had gone. On our own, we would not have been able to pick out so many of the wonders of the sky, but Chip showed us quite a few cool things. After about an hour, I was sufficiently chilled, and it was time to get on the road back home.

It’s been quite busy here lately.

On Monday, after tutoring, I went straight to my parents’ house. After lunching with Chris’s parents on Sunday, his mom cut my hair for me. It’s now just below the top of my shoulders. Monday afternoon, my mom colored my hair for me. The name on the box was Cinnamon Stick or medium mahogany brown. It’s a medium brown with red highlights. It turned out to be a bit redder than I had anticipated, but I really like it. Chris thinks it brings out my brown eyes. (I’ll try to get a good picture taken to post here later so that you can check out my new ‘do.) Anyway, after we colored my hair, I found that Chris was still working, so I stayed to have a little dinner and finally left to go home to take care of Bella. I fell asleep on the couch and barely woke up only when Chris came in at 9:30. He made me go get in the bed. Around 12:30, I awoke once more to find that he was not there; this, for some strange reason always gives me a momentary panic. I wandered into the living room and found him playing video games. I merely utterered, “Oh,” and went back to bed, falling asleep immediately.

Yesterday, after school, I tutored for an hour, ran home to change, and then went with Chris to move from his old office to his new one. Both his dad and brother were meeting us there to help out, and I was concerned that I might get in the way. However, I ended up being able to help quite a bit, and after the actual moving was over Chris and I stayed to organize the furniture, supplies, and other odds and ends. It was around 8 when we finally finished, exhausted and famished. I don’t generally like to eat after 8, but we’d been working pretty hard and would not be able to sleep well as hungry as we were. I remembered the Ruby Tuesday’s across the street, so we stopped by there for soup and salad for me and a bacon cheeseburger for Chris.

Then today, Chris came to pick me up from work so that we could go to meet with the mortgage broker. We were actually pre-approved for a loan and can get really serious about house hunting. We are so excited about this and can’t wait to finally find a new home. After our meeting, we had an early dinner at one of Chris’s favorite places, Jason’s Deli. Finally, we headed back home, changed into sporty clothes, and took Bella out for a walk. We were about ¼ of our way into our walk when we realized that we had Community Group tonight. So we rushed back home, changed again, and made it to group just a few minutes late. Tonight, as always, provided great conversation and good fellowship.

After school tomorrow I have another appointment and have to leave work early once again. I had planned on mailing my brother’s Christmas present to Iraq this week, but I have not been able to make it to the post office. I’m going to try to remember to bring it with me to work tomorrow and take care of that little task during my planning period.

OK, I guess that’s enough of an update for now. So, how are you?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wide Eyed Enthusiasm

Two of my favorite things about Thanksgiving yesterday were listening to my nephew Jack talking about his what he wants for his birthday and then watching Mom play Don’t Wake Daddy with Jack, Rhett, and Chris. Simple fun.

I am a holiday girl. I love participating in the festivity of it all, but sometimes Thanksgiving starts to feel a bit hectic. Christmas gets stretched along a couple weeks, but Thanksgiving is packed into one day. Chris and I celebrate it twice, lunch with his family and dinner with mine.

Yesterday I got up and fixed breakfast for the two of us, just some cinnamon rolls. After that, I made a poppy seed dip and a sunflower shaped spice cake with a light glaze to take over to Chris’s parents house. Chris kept himself busy cleaning the bathroom, making a last minute trip the market for me, and taking care of other little odds and ends around the house. Around 10:30, we left for the Reeds. People started arriving there around 11:30, and when all was said and done about 35 people in all showed up. We stayed for about four hours and then went home to take care of Bella and load up the car for our next destination. Finally, we arrived at my parents house around 4. Though most elements of the meal were either already prepared or well under way, I was able to help Mom a bit. Around six, we sat down for dinner. And a couple hours later, we were on the road once again home in order to take care of Bella. The day ended with a little walk with Bella and zoning out in front of the TV.

Tomorrow we’re going to decorate our home for Christmas. Last Sunday afternoon Chris and I spent several hours trying run a major cleaning operation on our apartment. The effort was successful for the most part, but I do have a bit of work left. After the place is laden with Christmas decorations, it’s difficult to do much more than a general cleaning, and I wanted to have our home in order for at least the beginning of the holidays.

Today is just for me and Chris. Pancakes for breakfast, lounging around, hanging out… and we might even leave the house!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Modern Conveniences

(I had hoped to post this yesterday, but that just didn’t work out for me. So, I tried to post at 5:30 this morning. I just happened to be awake. Well, that didn't work either, so here I am once again. This time I think it will be successful.)

We turn a knob or flip a switch and assume that something productive will happen. However, for the first half of this week, I was not able to wash dishes or do laundry or take a shower at home. I depend on modern conveniences, and I’ve come to see that I really like it that way. I like my routine. After showering away from home for three days, we finally were able to have the hot water heater replaced on Wednesday afternoon. The company classified our situation as an emergency, and yet no one showed up until Wednesday. Does that make sense? The whole thing was quite an ordeal, and it really made me thankful for the ability to shower at home. I was finally able to run the dishwasher yesterday, and this weekend I will attack the mounds of laundry that have built up. It’s one thing to set off into the wilderness to “rough it,” but I don’t like the feeling of camping at home.

In addition to heaps of housework that are waiting for me, I also have tests and essays and projects that I need to grade. I keep reminding myself, “Just breathe.” It will all get done. Stressing about it will do no good, but if I continually work it will get done.

This weekend I also have Saturday school duty. I have to be there a bit before eight and supervise about 35 children until noon while they pay for their crimes. They will be cleaning inside the building and doing various chores on the school grounds, including raking leaves, pulling weeds, and picking up trash. I also plan to stay afterwards to catch up on some work and grading in my room. Then I’ll go to the 2:00 showing of the middle school fine arts show for which Chris plans to join me. Maybe I can talk Chris into staying a little after the show in order to help me put up my Christmas tree in my classroom. Finally, I’ll be able to come back home and resume my laundry work and cleaning the bathroom where the hot water heater is. Of course it was left filthy after the repairman left. I would really like to do a major cleaning of the entire apartment before I set everything up for Christmas which I plan to do the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I don’t know if my sister is spending much time on the computer lately, however, Thursday was her 23rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Petunia Baby! I love you! We need some sister time soon.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Troubled Water

10:30: a typical Sunday night. I was winding down my evening, folding a few loads of laundry, watching a little Friends, and preparing to make Christmas lists to send to Mom and Chris’s mom. I heard a quick knock on the door, very strange for that late in the evening. Chris answered it and found our neighbor, a short hairy man looking much like an aged Beatle with the 50’s haircut or perhaps Bilbo Baggins, standing outside. He asked if we had a leak; water was coming in through the light fixture in his bathroom below us. Sure enough, after checking the linen closet in the guest bathroom, we discovered that the hot water heater was leaking. Water had already filled the pan spilling onto and completely soaking the surrounding carpet. Various other items stored in the closet were also soaked.

Immediately, I started grabbing storage bags full of sheets and comforters, I grabbed several beach towels and tried to sop up as much of the water as possible, but it became evidently clear that the volume of water far exceeded the absorbency of the towels. Even after Chris turned off the water, the water continued to spill out of the top of the tank. No amount of effort seemed to help, and the bailing of the water in the pan commenced. We tried emptying the tank, but water just kept on coming. Calls to the landlord, Brad, and emergency repair men were fruitless, and Chris ended up bailing water until around 3 A.M. Finally, Brad and Chris found a way to duct tape a hose to the spigot on the tank and ran the hose through the house to the balcony as a temporary solution and so Chris could finally get some sleep. You may wonder why we didn’t just run the hose to the bathtub; that’s where I threw everything that was previously stored in the linen closet. It was packed, and at three in the morning, you take the easiest route possible. I had gone to bed long before that, but I was not able to go to sleep. It wasn’t until Chris came to bed that I finally feel into a sweet, deep sleep.

Of course, with the malfunctioning water heater, there was no way to bathe at home, so I left for my parents’ house at 5:15 and prepared for work there. Mom was wonderful. She sweetly greeted me that the door; I had called her last night to let her know that I might be coming. After I concluded my shower, I was delighted to discover the smell of bacon wafting through the house; she made me a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and raisin toast. What a woman!

Chris stayed home for most of the day waiting for the repair guys. When he finally received a call around one saying that they would not be hear until four, he passed the baton off to me. I rushed home after my after school tutoring session and have been waiting with no word for the last two hours. A message on my voicemail assured me that they would be here today, and yet here I am still waiting. I really don’t want to have to go somewhere else to shower again tomorrow morning.

Of course all of this is nothing compared to what one of my friends went through on Friday night. She had just left our high school’s football game, which happened to be about an hour away, with her husband, daughter, and two of her daughter’s friends. They decided to stop at Wendy’s for a bite to eat, and a pit bull actually pulled the window down in his car, jumped out, and attacked one of the girls! My friends’ husband jumped in the middle of the fray and pulled the bulldog off of the little girl. She sustained two bite marks but will be OK. However, my friend and her family did not get home until around 3 A.M.; they had to talk to the police and even go down the police station. Pit bulls have a bad reputation, but I have known very good ones. The owner determines the behavior and demeanor of any dog, especially pit bulls. My sister and her husband as well as some very dear friends of mine have very sweet and well- behaved pit bulls.

And on to more waiting….

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tanks and Tractors and Deer! Oh my!

My drive to school/work is often interesting. As I have oft mentioned here, I generally talk to Mom on the way to work, and that’s entertainment enough. However, I drive through a park on my way in and generally see some sort of wildlife: deer, wild turkeys, beavers, coyotes, bunnies, skunks, etc. I only get nervous when the deer or wild turkeys get too close to the road or start to cross or just happen to be standing in the middle of the road with no apparent plan to move on. Lately, I’ve been seeing a few more deer “napping” next to the road; I suppose they’ve been getting a little too bold.

This morning was a little more interesting that normal. As I was sitting at a red light, I was jolted out of my morning calm by the appearance of a small tank turning onto my street and then zooming down the road. What’s up with that? It had regular wheels but had the same design and army green color and was about half the size of a normal tank. It was strolling along with the rest of traffic as if it was a normal everyday occurrence. Then, as I continued on my way, pondering what I had just seen, a large tractor coming from the opposite direction made a sharp turn, without any warming, right in front of me and went storming across a field.

The holiday season is upon us. I really think it all starts with Halloween. Now I just keep thinking about how soon I can get my Christmas decorations out; of course that won’t be until the weekend after Thanksgiving. For now, I still have my jack-o-lantern and pumpkin lights on our balcony, and my dining room table is adorned with various sized pumpkins, figurines of Pilgrims sitting on oversized turkeys, decorative placemats with colorful leaves, and multicolored fall votive candle holders. Tonight as Chris and I went for a walk around the neighborhood with Bella, I reveled in the fallen leaves and longed to romp through the brightly colored piles of them in others’ yards. Some day I’ll have a yard of my own, and I can do that.

Perhaps it’s part of the teacher in me, but I love dressing the house according to the seasons and holiday. Christmas is the best because it’s the time when there seems to be more license to put a little extra flavor in all corners of the house. I also have a beautiful, full-sized tree I put in my classroom and decorate with a purple, silver, and white theme, and I line my whiteboards with lights. The students love it. Yes, I am one of those people that actually enjoys hearing Christmas carols and seeing all the grand d├ęcor in the grocery stores and shopping malls at this time of the year. I’ll save all my other thoughts on Christmas for another time.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I’m Not Dead.

Depending on what dictionary you use, electrocuted can either mean dying from an electric shock or simply being injured by an electric shock. I opted for the latter meaning. I realize that some people would take opposition with my use of the word, however, I could not think of a word that meant more than just being shocked. That sounds to me like nothing more than someone scooting across a carpet and touching you causing a tiny spark of electricity; this experience was much more than that. I don’t know if the two are related, but the day after the jolt I’ve felt pretty great, lots of energy.

Today, when I arrived at work, I found a brand new lamp on my desk with a note that said, “Dear Mrs. Reed: We bought U a lamp, hope U like it! P.S. if you don’t like it, we have receipt. (We bought it w/ our own money!)” It was signed by three of my sweet seventh grade girls. Later, when I saw two of them in the hallway, they told me that they preferred that they not be given any recognition for the deed. So, I must keep their identities a secret: superheroes of the 7th grade.

Yesterday we had a service project day, and I went with about eight students to the Baptist Children’s Home here in Nashville. My little team spent time moping, cleaning bathrooms, clearing out old furniture and trash, and removing piles of wet, packed down leaves from a drainage ditch that was causing the driveway to flood. I was so proud of how hard the students worked and how willing they were to do whatever was asked of them. They even thanked the director for letting us help.

I don’t know if it’s the changing seasons or the fact that it’s darker so much earlier or what, but I’ve been getting so sleepy early in the evening. Last night I crashed on the couch at 8:30, and I think I’m going to make it an early night tonight, not nearly as early as last night but early just that same. I hope you have a good night.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shocking!

Who could have known that my day would take such a strange turn? The morning started out rather normal. I arose at 5 and walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and then I proceeded to get ready for work. Before I left I woke Chris up, and, as he does most mornings, he walked me to the door to see me off. On my way to work, I made my usual call to Mom. Just before school started my advisory students were milling around in my room while I was making some last minute copies in the teacher workroom, and somehow the lamp on my desk was knocked off and broken. When I returned and saw my lovely little broken lamp, I reached for it in order to inspect it for any possibility of repair. If each day is a journey, this is where the path took a hairpin turn. As soon as I touched the lamp I felt a surge of electricity rush up my arm and through my entire body. Even as I was holding the exposed metal, I was confused about why I couldn’t jerk my hand away, but I was simply unable to do so. This morning, around 7:50, I was electrocuted!

During the morning hours, my right arm felt warm, somewhat lifeless, tingly, and slightly numb, and there was a strange hot spot on my shoulder. Oh, and of course, as always happens when I get flustered or nervous or overly emotional, my chest and neck became red and splotchy. For the rest of the day, I just didn’t feel quite right. My body was a paradoxical mix of weakness and tiny flashes of energy. Also, as if I needed another reason to get headaches, that jolt seemed to cause one.

I toyed with the possibility of going home. However, after spending about an hour on my boss’s couch, I felt a bit better and decided to stick it out. I don’t know if anyone thought, or currently thinks, that I was being a baby about the whole thing, but it really was quite a shock to my system

However, the day did have a couple bright spots. Being in my boss’s office ended up getting me a tutoring job a couple days a week. That will help with a little extra Christmas money! Later Mom came to visit me at work and to help me grade, and we were able to run a couple errands together after the workday. Getting a visit from Mom is like having fresh flowers in the room or walking outside on a cold winter’s day and suddenly finding that spring arrived early. Oh, and I do feel perfectly fine now.

OK, time to attend to a few chores around the house.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just Babbling

We only had two days of classes this last week. On Monday we had parent conferences; I’m so glad those are over. I’m not sure I could ever be an administrator; talking with parents often makes me very nervous. I’m better with the kids; they were there with us on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday the entire middle school staff went to the Opryland Hotel for the National Middle School Association conference. Schools from all over the country sent about five thousand teachers, counselors, and administrators. I really do not enjoy being in large crowds. Each day as I got back in the car to come home, I realized just how tense and stressed I had been wandering around the maze of hallways surrounded hundreds of people just as lost as I was. Before the conference started, I had thought that I would go on Saturday as well as they other two days. However, after enduring two days of crowded, hot conference rooms, fighting through throngs of people while being constantly knocked around, showing up at most of my sessions just as they placed the “Session Full” sign on the door, and enduring other sessions which were boring at best, I decided to stay home and try get my house in order. I did manage to make it to a couple good sessions. Though I was able to walk away with some good information and a few new techniques, I did not feel like it would be worth another day of stress. Good thing. I ended up spending a good part of the day in bed trying to recover from a three day headache.

Speaking of stress, I am so tired of all the mudslinging, opponent bashing, issue avoiding, loud talking nonsense that is going on with the political commercials. Who believes what? I don’t know about other places, but the campaigns here in Tennessee have been particularly nasty. They’ve been getting national recognition for how vicious the candidates have been. I’m sure that there are really good men and women who are politicians, but I guess this could be one of those cases where you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Currently I’m watching the CMA awards. Kimberly Williams Paisley is so cute; I wonder how far along she is in her pregnancy. One of that great things about this particular awards show is that they actually have quite a few performances; it’s not just a bunch of boring presentations and mindless banter. How strange it is that I would actually enjoy watching anything country. Just a few years ago I abhorred country music and desperately wanted people to know that many people in Nashville didn’t like like that type of music. However, I was converted, and now I listen to country music as much as if not more than any other type of music. So strange. I can place a good portion of the blame on my husband, but Mom, my sister Eva, and my former roommate Christina all share a bit in that as well.

Couch lounging time. Have a good night!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Crazy Parents!

How crazy are your parents? I have to be careful here because I know that my mom reads my blog. Last night I went over to my parents’ house to visit with them while they handed out Halloween candy. When Chris and I arrived, my Aunt Betty Jo and Uncle Andrew were there having a ball with my parents. Mom had prepared over 130 treat bags, and Dad was busy handing them out, even to the point that he was calling people over and chasing them down. Truly, he was thrilled with the act of giving. Amazingly enough, he told me that before we had arrived he had even given away a turkey my mom was saving for the upcoming holidays! I know that might sound bizarre, but that’s just the way they are.

We were only there for about a half an hour, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I didn’t bring any candy home, and I didn’t get to wear a fun costume. (I love being in a costume.) However, I enjoyed laughter that was free and easy, and I went away feeling much better than I had all day. Even as I left they were on the front porch awaiting late trick-or-treaters and waving gleefully at us as we pulled away.

I don’t always get along with my parents. Isn’t that true of any relationship? However, I appreciate them so very much, and I do like spending time with them. I really look forward to my weekly visits from Dad at work and the scriptures he leaves on the board in my classroom after church on Sundays which I find on Monday mornings. I talk to my Mom every day; I don’t know what it is about her voice, but it just makes me feel calm. She really is my best friend; she’s the person I call when I have news or just want to run my ideas past someone. I am very good at keeping others secrets. However, when I have one of my own, there are two people from whom I cannot conceal the information: Mom and Chris. I am certainly one who wears her heart/emotions on her sleeve, but even when I can mask my feelings from others, I can’t hide from them.

Halloween is the mark of the beginning of the holiday season. Now that November is here I long to begin preparing to deck the halls and break out my Christmas CD’s and movies. Tonight Chris and I watched The Santa Clause on the Disney Channel, and my shower songs have become Christmas carols. I love this time of year!

Ah, well. So tired again…. I need to take care of a couple things before I start my bedtime routine.