Thursday, December 29, 2005

ahh, vacation

so fun little tidbits about the past couple of days...

i love working in a school and having two weeks off. however, there is this whole summer thing coming up in a few months that makes me think i'll enjoy the first few weeks of it and go crazy by the middle of july. the idea of getting a job has occurred to me, but then i like the flexibility of being able to just pick up and go to the beach for the day when the whim hits me. however, just me and the cats hanging out at the apartment is not going to cut it. hmmm...

met up with jennifer last night to catch up and to do christmas. we went to o'charley's, where we met a month ago and had the same waiter we had last time. funny story--jennifer ordered a shrimp dish that was no longer on the menu, but they still made it for her and the couple in the table across from us was eyeing the dish when it came out. the man (who, by the looks of the glasses on the table, had had a few) tells her that the dinner looks good asks her as the server is putting the plate on the table IF HE COULD HAVE ONE OF HER SHRIMP. we don't know this guy, we hadn't had a conversation with them, and he asks for a shrimp. the waiter remembered us after jennifer mentioned the story and he said he's still telling people about that very odd encounter. haha, we're an o' charley's story!

i was sitting around this morning, working on a new knitting project and my phone rang with an unrecognizable greenville number. the woman identified herself as jewel from viquest and asked if i was ready to come down and get started on my new year's resolution. i then remembered that i had filled out some info to enter a contest to win a viquest t-shirt and the opportunity to join viquest with a waived registration fee. she asked if i could come down right then, which i could cause i wasn't doing anything else, and so i drove over and took a tour and yes, got signed up. i had been toying with the idea of joining a health club and this is by far the closest and most convenient for me with where i work and live. it's about a mile down the road and is easy to get to from work, too. and it's a huge, hospital-run place like healthplex back in fayetteville, where it's quiet, everyone has their headphones on, everyone is there to work out and you don't feel like you have to dress up or worry about being picked up. and the whole waived registration fee is worth $99 and my first payment isn't until february. so now that i've got a pretty good feel for my budget, i'm excited about this. i need a reason to stay with something, and this just may be it :)

about to go visit leigh and baby seth. yay for that! i feel like i haven't seen church people in forever (though i did run into jennifer at target yesterday). i spent the better part of the day cleaning up and putting stuff up around here so it actually feels organized. oh, and milo's new bad habit is trying to eat the couch. yes, there are little teeth marks all along the cushions. frustrating does not begin to describe this.

i pulled out my clarinet and played for about half an hour yesterday. thinking of joining the tar river community band. i need some weaker reeds (long gone are the days where i could play vandoren 4's with no problem) and the cats ran under the bed at the sound of the first note. oh well...

alright, off to visit. later!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

sticking around...

so due to unforeseen weather circumstances and difficulties with vacation time, we've decided to put off the trip to WV until sometime in january. i did come on back to greenville and am enjoying spending time with justin and his family. yesterday, we went ice skating with his mom, sister, her bf, and then his grandma took us out to dinner. lots of fun :)

christmas in fayetteville was fun, as always. i got my new digital camera and i absolutely love love love it. it takes wonderful pictures and has so many options that i'm still getting the hang of. i love the way it works with natural light and i'm also having a good time messing with shutter speeds and aperture and stuff like that. i'll tack on a couple at the end. my cousins were amusing, of course, and it was nice to see all of the family. and in a couple of days, we'll see the mason side of the family at my baby cousin's christening.

as for now, i'm just enjoying my time off. later...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

and so i'm offering this simple phrase...

it's christmas eve in fayetteville, and everything is pretty much as it should be. we've taken the presents over to my grandma's, have packed up overnight bags to stay there this evening, and my aunt and cousins are coming down in the morning.

as usual, we're going to the christmas eve service at hay street, though this is the 2nd or 3rd year (i can't remember which) that they haven't done the 11 pm candlelight service. it kinda makes me sad, because i always remember playing handbells to "silent night" and then putting them down, walking to the edge of the balcony and looking down on the congregation as they sang a capella, the tiny candles lighting up everyone's faces. it's one of those great moments that gives you chill bumps, that lets you know that christmas is really here. and sadly, with the new preacher there who has three young children, he has gone to only doing a 5:30 service (which we had before and held specifically for those families with young children). lots of changes, and unfortunately, that's one of those things that i really miss.

i did get to see the fabulous elizabeth young for brunch the other morning. hard to believe that she's turning down offers to play at carnegie hall so she can come back to fayetteville for the holidays. but she is and it's always wonderful to see her, whether it be in north carolina or new york (where i saw her last march). with all of my "fayetteville friends" that i see when i'm home, it's so nice to be able to pick up with them right where we left off. it's like very little has changed during the three or four months since i've seen them, and though i update them on how much has actually gone on, the intimacy and closeness of friendship is still there. like megan helping herself to a bite of my sandwich, laughing in the car with maggie, or elizabeth sharing stories with me about her new boyfriend--these girls are wonderful and after our visit is over, i feel as close to them as i did when we walked the halls of terry sanford. crazy, huh?

the next couple of days will fly by and i apologize ahead of time if i'm not online or don't return e-mails. after christmas day, i'll drive to greenville monday morning where i'll change a few key pieces of clothing (take out light long-sleeve shirts, replace with heavy wool sweaters and ski clothes) and then continue on with justin, heather and wylie to west virginia. potential 11 hours on the road total between my driving in the morning and the rest of the trip. with snow. whoopee. no, in all seriousness, it will be a fun trip and i'm looking forward to spending 5 days straight with justin and getting to try out my skiing skills for the first time in a while (atleast 2 or 3 years). however, i'm fully aware that this trip will most likely convince me that i am an eastern carolina girl through and through and that my blood is too thin for that much cold at that altitude. call my cell phone about wednesday or thursday if you want a good laugh ;)

alright, to everyone--stay safe, have fun, be cheerful, show love to everyone, and of course...

merry christmas to you :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

oh there's no place like home for the holidays...

so i've been home for a few days and have gotten into all of the friends and family holiday celebration things.

have lunch with megan (and her justin) and catch up on old times? check

go shopping with mom and brave the crowds at the mall? check

evening of fun with maggie and further corrupting her? check

dinner and movie with dad and alan and some "fun with dick and jane"? check

finding my ski clothes and getting ready to brave wild and wonderful WV? check

still on my list--
a couple more presents, some more family dinners, and all that christmas eve/christmas day stuff.... and before you know it, i'll be heading for my "mountain mama" with my very own mountain man. and then new year's eve, new year's day with the mason clan and then i'll be back at work--hey, where'd my break go?

so if you happen to be in fayetteville and want to get together, drop me a line. we'll catch up and i can put you on my list (and check you off). later!

Monday, December 19, 2005

first day of break

so i've gotten into my real "vacation" time--when most of the rest of the world is still working and, as a benefit of being a 10 month employee in a school, i get some time off. i took advantage of it by scheduling an appointment with women's clinic here to get set up as a regular patient. it was fairly painless (except for the finger-pricking part--i HATE that) and i got recommendation for regular doctors in the area as well. i really liked this doctor--redheaded, irish heritage, an ecu grad, pretty young and just very nice. afterwards, i ran a variety of errands including some last minute christmas shopping and getting the apartment and cats ready for the vacation. justin'll be watching them for the first half of the time that i'm gone, and matt and patrice are checking in on them for the second half. so for the first time in a while, i don't have to make them travel anywhere and they can keep each other company. so i ended up with a huge bag of cat food, lots of litter and that fun sort of stuff.

my neighbor (i think on the interior of the building) smokes in their apartment, and for some reason, it has begun filtering into my apartment. it's gotten to the point where i really felt i needed to do something about it, because i can smell it on my clothes when i'm out of the apartment and though it typically comes from my bathroom, it has started coming out into the living room and bedroom as well. so after doing some research online, i've decided to bypass the whole legal action thing (which is the most recommended thing on the internet, but i've caused enough trouble for this year in my apartment complex) and make use of some well-placed filters. a couple in the ceiling vents, and a large one taped to a box fan that acts as circulating filter. we'll see if it makes any significant differences.

i purchased a pair of sperry's today as a sort of christmas present to myself (plus i got a good deal on them). sperry's are very much a boating shoe and the kind that you wear until they mold to your feet, making each pair uniquely and completely your own. it's known that i will wear my rainbows until my toes freeze, and i've been searching the past couple of years for a pair of "winter rainbows." so they may be a bit of an investment, but they certainly are comfortable. i love the quote on the box, "top to bottom, ours is a brand that talks to sailors, kayakers, windsurfers, powerboaters and fishermen. to all men and women who are proficient at marine sports and activities. but it also serves those who delight in just strolling a dock or relaxing on a dock at sunset, watching the waves break. in short, we're for everyone who loves the water or wants to be close to it." true that.

tonight--housewarming party/bunco for one of the women at work and my last time socializing with school people for a while. then, it's off to fayetteville tomorrow until the 26th, and then leaving on the 26th from greenville for west virginia until the 30th (where we have the possibility of skiing and, as always, getting snowed in). i'll have my computer with me at home, though, so feel free to drop me a line or two :)

later, y'all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

and it's the holidays...

it's been a whirlwind of activity over the past few days. the chinese gift exchange was popular, as always, and we got some great group photos that i hope to get my hands on eventually (my digital camera has finally died--the thumbtack that is currently the shutter button has decided to stop working--so i'm waiting until christmas day for my new one). the gift i brought was the simpsons version of "operation" and everyone was amused as they watched me play and scare myself (yes, i'm that jumpy) and then patrice put on her referee's jersey that she ended up with and decided to be the line referee for the operation game and yelled at me while i was playing and there was much laughing and fast-paced heart beating that followed.

friday was pure chaos at work. parties in all of the rooms, the 9th graders had video games set up on a big projection screen and after all the students left, the teachers had a catered lunch. i'll still get to see my coworkers on monday night, but it will be different to go 2 weeks without seeing my students. that afternoon, justin and i headed to fayetteville where we celebrated my grandma's 75th birthday with the rest of the family. lunch with everyone on saturday, where we had thrilling conversations with my cousins about why buffalo wings are made of chicken, not buffalo, and why if justin had an elephant, he'd name it cletus (never a dull moment with this group). we had some dessert back at my grandma's, and then justin and i headed off to celebrate our anniversary with my present-- a trip to new bern and the candlelight christmas celebration at tryon palace.

sometime last spring, we came up with a list of places we wanted to visit this year. the list included busch gardens, cedar point, the biltmore house, and tryon palace. we had hit almost all of those places during the year, except for tryon, and when i did some research and found out about their candlelight tours at christmas time, i decided it would make the perfect anniversary excursion for us.
we got to new bern and headed straight to the palace, which is only a few blocks away from the historic downtown area where we're gone before when visiting new bern. bought our tickets, walked through the wrought iron gates and entered 1770 where governor tryon was hosting a party for the king's birthday and the grand opening of the palace. the whole experience included various performances by choirs, brass and wind quartets, a juggler and lots of townspeople who walked around in period dress and played different characters. we got in the line to see the palace about 6:45 (right before a big tour bus unloaded) and waited for about 30-45 minutes in a cold, drizzling rain before we got in. the tour itself was entertaining, though not exactly informative, and it did seem smaller when the last historical home i saw was the biltmore estate. we finished up right before 8 and decided to drive downtown to find some dinner before the fireworks at 9. we found this great greek restaurant where i had eaten during my internship back in the spring and enjoyed plates of gyro and souvlaki. back to the palace where at 9, we were treated with a "grand display of illuminations" and then headed back to greenville.

before the night was over, justin gave me his anniversary present--a book that he had made and had published by apple using lots of photoshop pictures, ticket stubs, logos, maps and even a little iPod on each page with a song we listened to a lot during that time. the detail that went into documenting our past year together was amazing, and he managed to capture lots of individual memories, quotes, conversations, and trips through this visual display. he has an incredible memory and can recall the smallest details, and it definitely showed up in this gift. one of his big things with giving presents is that he would always rather find the perfect, personalized gift than to give something generic or a gift certificate. like my birthday earlier this year (with the photo poster, and only 2 months dating each other!) he found the most amazing way to surprise me and show me exactly how he feels.

and today, a year ago from when we first met at starbucks and sat outside talking for two hours, not even going inside to get a drink--he bought me that long-due cup of coffee. happy anniversary, sweetheart. here's to many, many more :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

it's so close...

i've gotten through the craziness, and without too much stress.
monday night--young adults with another hilarious game of the "flipbook" game with the drawing and words and passing the pile. so much fun!
tuesday night--concert at school with 4th, 5th and band/string classes.
wednesday night--first of our monthly book club meeting. seven women at olive garden, talking about a chick lit book, laughing loudly and enjoying a fun evening with the girls. just plain awesome. :) oh, and we had dip day at work where we do a potluck meal about once a month for lunch. i brought corn casserole.
and tonight--young adults holiday party and chinese gift exchange. i can't tell what i'm bringing, but it's gonna be a popular one.
and tomorrow--party at work and then fayetteville trip to help my grandma celebrate her 75th birthday. this weekend--anniversary events with justin. hard to believe it's almost been a year since that day at the starbucks. maybe this year, he'll buy me a cup of coffee ;)
right now, i'm quite proud of him for his launching of this new business with his brother, scott. pretty amazing, and it's great to see the results already!

that's all for now! later...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

one more week..

so as another weekend winds down, i gear up for the busiest week yet this holiday season. i have an event every night, i'm having to find substitutes and turn down plans and after this coming week, it will be surprisingly relaxed on up to christmas. but i have to get through the next five to seven days first :)

friday afternoon, i was able to help paint the aquarium that will go in our 3rd building. dr. lang, our art teacher for elementary kids, has been planning on painting the base of this aquarium for some time, and we're enlisting the help of several middle schoolers to do an "underwater scene." well, while she and another kid worked on sketches of the fish that will be included, one of my 7th grade girls and i got to paint the watery background, blending all of these fabulous blues, greens, purples and pinks into one wavy ocean of color. SO much fun. i love releasing my creative energy into painting projects like that.

friday night was the first time i had seen justin since last sunday, and it had been a tough week for both of us. just being able to give him a hug and talk to him in person made my entire weekend and it made me realize how much we had missed each other this past week. hopefully that won't happen many more times, but when it does happen, it certainly makes us appreciate our time together even more. i went out friday night to celebrate patrice's birthday, and like last year, we chose to go to tiebreakers (a smoke-free billiards hall/sports bar) for some good ol' karaoke. most of us sang a couple of songs ("first cut is the deepest" and "suds in the bucket" for me) and nathan stole the show again with his rendition of "i believe in a thing called love." the guy even made a comment about how all the good singers seemed to keep coming from the corner back where our table was, if maybe we had all come over from the "singing school." we didn't tell him that no, it was just a singing church :)

saturday was sleeping in--yay!--and then lots and lots of christmas shopping. the biggest challenge was finding a parking spot at the mall, but with both me and justin getting the majority of our christmas shopping done, hopefully there won't need to be too many more trips. and saturday evening was spent at joann's house as she and her husband hosted the economics department at ecu and hallie and i stood in as her 'surrogate daughters' since her actual daughters were away at school and she needed the extra help. i cannot say enough about these two women and what they have done to make me feel welcome at oakwood. they are AMAZING and continually remind me how happy i am to be here.

church this morning, lunch with the crew, a few chores around the house and then dinner and tree-trimming at justin's mom and stepdad's house. lots of fun, and now i'm back here doing some more laundry and getting ready for work tomorrow...

and in one week, justin and i will celebrate a year since we first met. what a year it has been--and what a week it is going to be until then!

that's all for now--later :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

is it the 16th yet?

so as expected, the holidays are getting very very busy. stuff at work is crazy. too much drama going on. i would be rich if i could invent a pill that stopped the horomones until they were about 25 years old or so.

busy-ness in the evenings as well. holiday concerts, plays, dinners and gatherings. and i'll have gone an entire week without seeing my boyfriend tomorrow. that usually doesn't happens unless there are more than 2 hours of traveling between us, but with overtime and lots of meetings, his schedule has been booked. i'm definitely looking forward to the weekend...

knitting is my new favorite past time. and my colorguard is adorable. coordinated? we're getting there.

by the way, the hamster was found. alive, too. he's fatter and has an attitude. must be from living on the street for a couple of weeks.

alright, that's all for now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

rainy days and mondays...

there's a difference between snow and wet, rainy cold weather....

about 4 or 5 degrees!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

so it's been a little while

but it's also been a busy week. this weekend was the first of many holiday-event filled weekends. it's gone well, and it's hard to believe that it's almost monday again. where does the time go?

i have a full colorguard of 8 girls. we have learned drop spins, speed spins, flutters, push spins and attempted push spin/speed spin tosses. i will come up with a routine over winter break (i'm thinking to some aretha franklin "respect") and will teach it in january. SO exciting. i love doing this!

fun times on friday night at our faculty holiday party. we did a white elephant gift exchange, where justin and i brought a pack of wicker paper plate holders and an old bottle of cologne and returned with a ratcheting corkscrew and three bottles of old lady perfume. maybe we broke even. i'm thinking the three bottles of perfume sticks around just to go back next year. popular gift of the night--a stuffed chicken that sings the chicken dance when you squeeze his wing. go figure :)

yesterday, dad came up for lunch--some B's barbeque and Carolina basketball. it was nice to have him visit and see my apartment and meet the cats. also great to let him and justin sit around and talk during the game while i knitted--you get these two going on music and they can talk for hours. then, justin and i headed to fayetteville for dinner at huske hardware and singing christmas tree at snyder. as always, a wonderful show and now i really feel like it's the Christmas season!

and this afternoon--the holiday banquet at church. should be a great time...i'll let you know how it goes later. though i think it will be tough to top nathan and rob's young adults version of "hey ya." that was SO awesome.

did you know that the third and fourth verses of many Christmas carols are really meaningful?

(away in a manger)
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
and take us to heaven, to live with you there.

(Oh Little Town of Bethlehem)
Oh holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us, our lord Emanuel.

(in the bleak midwinter)
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas....