Thursday, November 27, 2008

i am thankful for...

i've been taking full advantage of our wireless internet up here, and i HAD to get online to make this post while it was still "technically" thanksgiving day.

i've always been a big fan of looking at the positives. "glass half full" kinda girl. so an opportunity to identify those "blessings" in my life is very fitting.

that being said... i am thankful for:

my wonderful husband and our animal "kids"--they fill my life with joy on a daily basis, and allow me to enjoy coming home each night.

my job--that i have a job, and that i enjoy it and that it is worthwhile and fulfilling. this year was a big test for us in the job market. i had to put my faith in my gut instincts and allowing God to guide me where i was supposed to go, not just going for the first thing that fell into my lap. there were some very rough days, but in the end, it all worked out. and in this job market and economy, i'm so grateful to be able to get up and work every day, even when i have a difficult day.

my church family--actually, families. i fully believe that God continues to connect us even if we're not currently worshiping with a congregation. i know i am blessed to have ties to several different congregations, in fayetteville and greenville, and to still keep up with so many friends that i've known through church. these groups have encouraged me, strengthened me, helped lead me in my faith, and we all share some incredibly strong bonds. i'm loving my work with the youth group, the choir and drama ministry, and i feel like i'm getting use some of my gifts in ways that glorify God.

my "family" family--a holiday like thanksgiving helps us realize how many family members we have that we keep up with, and though it can make things crazy sometimes, we know we are blessed to have so many people that love us. i think this year has also been big in showing how our extended family can pull together during tough times. we've had several major health situations with our families, and it is amazing how everyone will pitch in and help out when they're needed.

my friends--though many of us are spread out now or don't see each other as often as possible, these are wonderful people who have profoundly influenced my life. and i love that i have such a wide range of friends, from different groups or stages in my life. i always know who to turn to when i need advice or just someone to listen.

and i'm just thankful to be comfortable. i have some amazing friends who have been on mission trips recently that come back with revelations of how we have so much compared to people in these third-world countries. we have a good life--an absolutely, amazingly awesome life, actually. and i think sometimes we don't realize how much we have that we could do without, and how much we spend on things that we don't need.

so...what are you thankful for?

*side note--some pics from WV are up on flickr. check 'em out!*

Monday, November 24, 2008

quick post

--saturday was an awesome day. woke up, brewed fresh market "holiday rum cake" coffee and made cinnamon french toast. got ready, and picked up a friend for free (gift-certificate paid) pedicures at merle norman spa. hung out with the oakwood ladies, then went out to dinner with justin and ran some errands to target and the like. just an awesome day.

--sunday was busy busy. we're practicing for the Christmas program at church, and i'm singing with the choir. i love this and it has fulfilled the missing musical part of my life. i'm also helping out by playing parts on the piano when need be, and occasionally playing the pieces (if i can sight-read them fast enough.) the program is all about "caroling," so luckily we don't need accompaniment. we changed the key for one of the songs, though, and then i got to transpose parts in my head for the rest of that part. it was tough, but it used a part of my brain that i hadn't use in a long time and i LOVED it. it's so obvious that those parts of my brain used to be so developed, and it comes back so quickly when i need it. it's amazing how the brain works!

--we're getting everything ready for our trip up to west virginia. we'll be leaving early early wednesday morning and will be coming back on sunday. pepper will be coming with us, and she's all set for the trip. she got groomed today for the first time, and besides smelling much better, her coat is finally trimmed up. she doesn't look quite so ragamuffin and scruffy. i'll post pics soon.

--i've about given up on keeping track of tv shows. it seems like every time i start getting into a show, it gets canceled. sure enough, two of my regular shows "jumped the shark" in the past couple of weeks. both "lipstick jungle" and "dirty sexy money" have said that they're not coming back after this season. honestly, it's fine cause i'm having issues keeping up with my DVRed shows right now anyways. i am LOVING "the big bang theory"--any geeky, tech-oriented person would appreciate this sitcom. justin will watch it with me and points out the jokes or references that go right over my head. we've picked this one up with a regular fave, "how i met your mother," and i'm also thrilled that top chef is back on.

--with an eight hour (or more) car ride ahead of me, i was thinking i needed a book to get into. i'm also known for doing "research" to keep up with my adolescent counterparts (which gives me valid reasons to go see "high school musical 3" or read the latest "sisterhood of the traveling pants.") well, one of my coworkers has offered to loan me the first two books of the "twilight" series, and i'm really interested in seeing what all the fuss is about. not that i will necessarily feel compelled to go see the movie, but i'll at least be up to date. i've usually had a school library at my disposal, as well as a number of teachers' personal collections. i'm finding that i have to work a little bit harder to keep up with my teenage literature recommendations, but i'm still making an effort :)

--so excited to see holiday lights up. pepper and i went for a walk this evening, and i specifically chose our route based on the streets with the most decorations up. though it is a little odd to see all the twinkle lights up on one house, with the scarecrow and pumpkins still out at the next house. and you know the scarecrow and pumpkins are more appropriate, but you just can't help but notice the twinkle lights. after thursday, it will be the full-fledged holiday season, and hopefully our tree will be up by the middle of next week. i can't wait!

that's all for now. later, y'all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

to tweet or not to tweet

i will admit, i have become much more blogging proficient. a great deal of this has to do with my husband. a large part has to do with patrice linking to mckmama's blog, where i fell into one story after another of amazing women out there, writing about their lives and creating a community of "bloggers."

then came google reader. awesome for keeping up with blog feeds, checking out "recommendations" and getting the most up-to-date posts.

and now...twitter. justin has been twittering for a while, and i've noticed more and more bloggers hopping on the twitter bandwagon (which means it's no longer just for the tech world, but also for the blogging amateurs out there :) )

it's like a running facebook status bar. and i love that. admittedly, that's my favorite part of facebook. the new feature where you can comment on people's statuses (stati?) is just awesome. so this is like that, but wider scope.

and--you can type in a keyword and bring up all the "tweets" written about that keyword in the few minutes. election night, it was crazy to watch the posts scroll by as people around world were putting their two cents out there. (also terribly amusing to see what some people had to say.)

so i'm on twitter. anyone else wanna join me? send me a tweet and we'll get this one going :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

random observations

*what is it with TLC finding these ginormous families? i'm a huge "jon and kate" fan, and i will admit that i've watched the duggar family specials for several years now. so they have their own series now, and they've added a "twins, twins and sextuplets" family as well (with several adorable redheads and a child with CP). at any rate, i just can't help it. i end up recording them and watching them because i find those huge families so fascinating.

*justin and i are five years apart. this means that from the late nineties on, we have very similar memories. but from the mid-nineties back, there are some major discrepancies. example: we typically record a syndicated sitcom to watch at our leisure. we've gone through "everybody loves raymond," "king of queens" and are now on "two and a half men." one episode had the main character becoming a famous children's singer, and he was watching a video of raffi singing, "we brush our teeth--chchchchchch." i immediately was able to jump in. justin looked at me like i was crazy. he asked, "you know who that is?" i immediately responded, "yes, it's raffi. 'baby beluga'? 'i like to eat eat eat apples and bananas'?" i could still sing the whole first verse of "baby beluga"--with hand motions. justin had no idea who he was.

i didn't even try "sharon, lois and bram."

(we have similar moments when we hear a pop song from the mid-nineties, and he talks about listening to it while driving around at senior spring break. i reminisce about dancing to it at my middle school dances.)

*i'm working on christmas shopping, and i'm so excited about the holidays coming up. i could seriously put up my christmas tree tonight. it will definitely go up as soon as we get back from thanksgiving.

*we saw snowflakes today! it is chilly chilly chilly outside, and will be for the next several days. we had chili last night, and i've got the makings for chicken and pastry later on this week. ultimate comfort food for this early shot of winter weather!

i think that's it for now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

back from down east

so we had a little surprise in store this weekend. for the past few months, my dad and his fiancee joy have been planning a small wedding. we had to keep it a secret, though, so as not to stress out my grandma. they were able to hold it at the assisted living facility down near my grandparents, a gorgeous place called snug harbor. my great-aunt esther, who will be 100 this year, has lived there for the past few years.

of course, it wouldn't be a mason wedding without carl coming to officiate. he and mary ellen came down, and with a crowd of about fifteen, we had our wedding.

a few pictures from the afternoon...

hanging out beforehand.

rachel, mary ellen and me. we called ourselves "the bridesmaids" since we all showed up in teal.
alan during the ceremony. he looks very pensive.
grandma and grandaddy afterwards.

during the ceremony--i was the photographer, and justin the videographer!and of course, it wouldn't be a wedding without cake!

we were able to spend some time with my grandparents and the rest of the family afterwards back at their house. before it got too late, though, and the weather too stormy, we headed back towards the beach. justin and i took advantage of our last wedding of the year (this was number 8 for me, folks, number 8 since may) and splurged on a night at the sheraton at atlantic beach. it was wonderfully relaxing and we fully enjoyed the indoor pool and the pier-side restaurant.

on our way back, though, i had to stop a few times to take some pictures. justin remarked recently after his last trip to WV about how he misses seeing mountains on the horizon. me...i miss this. there's just something about the "down east" area that calls to me, and it is uniquely beautiful like no other area of north carolina.
and the sunset! oh the sunset...
sunday, we got up and enjoyed at delicious breakfast at the four corners diner, where we ran into dad and joy (who were also spending the night at the beach) and were able to eat with them. after getting back home, it was laundry, grocery shopping, choir practice, some quick cooking and then thanksgiving dinner at church. there's nothing quite like sharing a meal with 200 other church members and getting to hear what everyone's thankful for.

we picked up pepper, who again stayed at dianne's house and loved every minute of it. her coat continues to get longer and shaggier, so i think we're going to check out some grooming services sometime soon. i had thought about taking her to the beach this weekend, but with the wedding and not knowing how long it would take and where we might eat, etc., we decided it was easier to leave her at home.

this'll be a busy week as we're preparing for the thanksgiving holidays and getting ready to head back up to west virginia next wednesday. enjoy the rest of the pictures from this weekend on flickr!

Monday, November 10, 2008

dog park etiquette

so this is a story that i absolutely had to share as i finished up my lunch break.

pepper and i thoroughly enjoy the dog park (as i've posted before) and with another gorgeous 70 degree day yesterday, we headed over that way after lunch.

if there are small dogs there, we stick to the small dog side and let pepper romp and play with some friends her own size. we had a couple of malteses this time and a corgi that she liked running beside. about 20 minutes after we'd been there, a little pug came in with his owner.

immediately, the pug (named buford) began paying a LOT of attention to pepper. like unwanted advances towards my poor, recently spayed pup. the other owner and i tried to get them to run around, and we encouraged pepper to fight back so hopefully the amorous little guy got the message. she nipped and jumped and gave him a good run (she's so fast!) but evidently he just was not getting the picture.

they stopped for water and he was STILL trying to jump on her while she was getting a drink. i finally picked her up and held her so she could catch her breath. the tenacious pug stood right underneath me, putting his paws up on my leg and still trying to get at her. just about when i thought he had given up and was moving on, he lifted his hind leg and "marked" my leg.

(thankfully, i was wearing gross, old jeans that promptly went in the wash when i got home.)

the owner somewhat apologized (while laughing) and said, "he didn't get you too bad, did he?" and then they remained for another 20 or 30 minutes as i held pepper for a while and then kept her to one corner where the other dogs weren't playing.

now here's the question. your dog is obviously pestering my poor girl, seems oblivious to the fact that #1) she's spayed and obviously not in heat and #2) she's just plain not interested regardless and #3) i'm having to spend the majority of my time refereeing and keeping your dog off of mine AND he just peed on me.

what exactly is the dog park etiquette in this situation? i think that at the first sign that your dog is going to be annoying and aggravating and can't keep himself off of another dog, you should take him home or over to the other side to the large dog park. especially after "the incident." if he wants to be a big dog, let him play with the big dogs.

(by the way, though this event frustrated me, i do see the humor in it and got a good laugh out of it, particularly telling it to other friends. i think i was shocked more than anything, and upset that i played the "victim" role and didn't step up to say anything.)

so, this will not necessarily going to deter us from going to the park in the future. but if you see a pug named buford...beware!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

there's nothing quite like it...

as many of you know, bagwell field at dowdy ficklen stadium is not an unfamiliar spot for me. being in the marching pirates for three years allowed me to perform in probably close to 20 games, and it was always a thrill to go down for halftime. there's nothing quite like being a part of the halftime action...or so i thought.

having spent three and a half hours on the field yesterday as part of the game time action has proved me wrong. maybe i'm just a bit removed from it, with my five year hiatus from any field time at dowdy ficklen. maybe it was being a part of a different group, the photographers and videographers who are capturing the moments of the game. maybe it was my super cool press pass and "sideline" arm band that allowed me to come and go as i pleased. but overall, it was just being so close to the action that you had make sure you didn't get tackled :)

it's kinda early, so i don't see my photos up on yet. i'll post a link as soon as they're up, and there should be plenty. i had barely narrowed it down to 120, and then i kept cutting as i was uploading. (by the way, totally kicking myself for not getting the names of the homecoming court. didn't they publicize this in the past? i searched the entire east carolinian site and ECU site and couldn't find them. grrr.....)

*edit--photos are now up*

i'm sharing a few of my favorites here, and there are more up on flickr as well if you want to check them out.

the new pee dee! digging the outfit, but the skin color and smile is kinda creepy...
love love love love this.
this one, too. (though the light isn't as good here, it was overexposed and i tried to fix it by doing it in b&w.)

was also thrilled that it would be a sunset game so i could get some shots like this.
touchdown! we won, by the way. 19-16 in overtime.
my marching pirates :)
couldn't resist. might keep it in full color, though. undecided. what do you think?

alright, it'll be a busy day today with lots to get done. regular sunday chores and activities. better get started :) later, y'all.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

coming home...

i guess for a resident of greenville, homecoming isn't that big of deal. we're always "home." but it is one of my favorite football weekends, and this one is looking like it will be awesome. i just wish the traffic wasn't as bad!

so i called up my social work alum friend jennifer to see if she was going to the parade. she, of course, wouldn't miss it, and since she now lives in my neighborhood, she just swung by to pick me up this morning. we checked to see if the college of human ecology/school of social work was having a breakfast (couldn't find it) and then found some friends by the entrance to campus with a great spot to watch the parade.

by the way, i would have a ton more pictures if it hadn't started raining just as the parade began. can't mess up the camera today, and i'm just praying the rain is out of here in time for kick-off!

so, me and jennifer before the parade started.

and my ECU marching pirates! yay!
the famous ECU drumline. now here's a question--which one of these is not like the other?

i'll give you some space to find it. c'mon, look closely. especially all of you marching band people. zoom in if you need to.

okay, how about this one? it narrows the range down a bit....

yes, the center snare is wearing brown leather boots, not black drillmasters! and it only took a second to figure out that it was will goodyear, the drum line instructor who has come back this year to work with the band. he was there my freshman.. and maybe sophomore?... year, and is just plain awesome. apparently had the need to fill in for center snare today. i'd like to hear the story behind that one...

and this afternoon (assuming the rain clears out) i will be able to take advantage of THIS

the much-anticipated, exciting sideline press pass! back on the field, baby. (and kudos to justin for taking the pic. i practiced the settings on him and then gave him the camera, and he got it on his first try!)

off to get some lunch and head over to the stadium. amazing (hopefully!) pics to follow!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

go vote!

i, for one, am thrilled it's election day. not only because of the prospect of a new president, but also because i am SICK of tv ads and fliers and radio ads.

so yay for those being over!

and just for fun, you can check out this pdf file that my hometown newspaper created to keep the election night fun. it's election day BINGO, but realistically, we'd have to flip around to all the different major networks and cable news channels in order to make it happen. personally, we prefer NBC over at our house, so we'll be ringing in the election evening with brian williams.

so, if you haven't voted yet, go vote! make your voice heard!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

boys, boys, boys

i had the pleasure of spending my weekend with several boys, including welcoming my husband home after his five-day trip to west virginia. you don't realize how much you need someone around until they leave for five days :)

it was a great weekend to be in fayetteville. pepper and i helped hand out candy to trick-or-treaters on friday, and she LOVED the big backyard at grandma's house. since my crotchety 18-year old cat is still at home, we decided not to try and introduce them. grandma dog-sat for the weekend, and i think they got along quite well (when pepper wasn't completely hyper, of course.) mom and i enjoyed shopping on saturday and found some great deals!

on sunday, my second cousin j.j. was baptized at hay street church. j.j.'s dad, jay, is my mom's cousin, and j.j. is actually a "IV" since his dad is a III and his grandad is a jr. i hadn't seen j.j. in a while and i couldn't help but snap a few pics after the service. he is absolutely adorable!

right afterwards, i headed back home to do a shoot with another work family. kim and rob have three boys, ages 4, 2, and not quite a year old. wow! i took lots of shots, hoping that the quanity would help me keep up with these busy boys! i think we got several good ones, and i can't wait to share them with the family tomorrow.

converse for all the boys...
i got some great ones here--but i'm going to photoshop some of my favorite ones together.there are very few where EVERYONE is looking at the camera. but we had fun!

and this is one is just funny. there were several where i laughed out loud just looking at the various facial expressions.
finally, as promised, a video documenting some of the nightly interactions between pepper and milo.

that's all for now. later, y'all.