A continuation of the front...

It's finally Thursday of this week which has seemed endless. After tomorrow I won't be back to work until January 2nd...which at this point seems REALLY far away. I know that once it gets here, my Christmas vacation will have seemed super-short. I suppose I'll just have to be thankful for each of my 11 days off and realize I'm not at work each and every day.

This has been a really tough week (actually 2 weeks). I don't know what's been going on with me, but I am at the point where I literally don't know that I can continue subjecting myself to this type of work each and every day. To the average person who knows what I do, I'm sure it's easy to say "It can't be that bad," but it is...for me anyway. Having done it for the past 25 months of my life I'm at the end of my rope...seriously. I've got to get out of this environment with a quickness.

At this point it's a matter of finding something else and having the guts to leave no matter how random it may seem to my boss. I'm just exhausted by my work life (which has affected my health, which affects my time away from work) and that's not a good feeling. I want to return to being my old self who had no clue there were people out there working in this type of office talking to the general public who I have learned are all complete and total racist, ignorant, hateful, rude, mean, greedy, lying, spiteful, harassing "humans." It's sad to know what people are really like and really capable of. It makes me want to change them, but I know I can't and that's frustrating.

I want to do something in life that makes me happy by possibly helping others or at least making them happy for a moment. I want to create and bake beautiful breads, cakes and confections - something that NEVER makes anyone frown!! Something people are happy to be a part of and appreciate. Who doesn't appreciate and extra-good slice of cake, or a warm-from-the-oven oversized-cookie or loaf of homemade bread? If baking isn't in my future and I actually make use of the Paralegal certificate I'm working on, then I want to work in an area of law that makes people happy or at least an area in which my help can relieve them of some stress.

I just can't continue being one of 5 punching bags in this office. I am astounded each and every day by the NERVE of the general public. I don't know who raised these fools, but I can guarantee you that THEY are also calling us. It's amazing how many people start off by saying "I am a Christian and I go to church every week" and in their next breath they say "and I'm sick and tired of these 'illegal Mexicans' taking all our health care, food stamps, etc, etc, etc." WOW. Get your facts straight first, and then reconsider telling a stranger you're a Christian if you're only going to turn around and be as un-Christian-like as possible. It's crystal clear to me that people are using the immigration issue as an outlet for their extreme hatred and racism only to pretend they care about a political issue.

It's 8:46am - I just got to work 15 mins ago and these are the thoughts in my mind. Sad.


Little Tiny Poppy

We've had an eventful weekend to say the least. Poppy arrived on Friday and Seth and I had both taken the day off to pick her up and introduce her into our lives. I don't want to go on and on about her here since the end of the story is that we sent Poppy back to the breeder yesterday.

Poppy is a wonderful and beautiful little puppy, who I grew to love in the few short days we had her. I think Seth and I both realized, for reasons I don't care to try to explain, that at this time in our lives Poppy wasn't the best, most thought-through idea we've ever had. It's something I don't think we could've realized any other way but to have her here and experience life with 2 dogs. Unfortunately, that mostly ends up being tough on the dog, although I have to think she handled it better than I did.

Miss Poppy was sweet and adorable and seemed to be becoming a good buddy for Three, but we realized that our life was stable at the moment and we were happy and content being Seth, Kelley and Three. Three is the doggie love of my life and for more reasons than I can list, we felt it was best for us and Poppy to send her back to her mommy who could find her a home like we were able to give Three.

We took her to the airport yesterday after a hectic morning getting her checked at the vet and I couldn't even stay in the cargo room until she left. I kissed her, snuggled her and put her in the crate and had to excuse myself to the car. I cried like a baby and like I haven't done in years. I cried outloud from the extreme pain of my broken heart. I can't even describe it - this pain and grief was different than anything I'd ever experienced before. We had hoped to send her home earlier to avoid as much attachment to her, but she was probably with us a day too long.

Poppy arrived home late last night and the breeder called to assure us she was safe and glad to be out of her crate. The breeder has been absolutely wonderful, reassuring, comforting and understanding. She gave us Three so she must raise wonderful puppies! I hope she'll update us on little tiny Poppy so we'll know she's doing well in her new home. She even said she'll probably keep her name, "Poppy," since she liked it so much.

Here are the few pics we took during our weekend with Poppy.


All Done

I've officially survived one semester of the Paralegal program. Last night was the last class of the semester and I couldn't be happier. I still have one more paper to turn in before midnight on Friday, but I should be able to finish it up tonight easily. All 3 classes this week have been super-short since all I've done is shown up and either taken a test or turned one in. I don't think I was in class past 6:30 on any of the 3 nights which was really nice.

I know my "semester break" will FLY by, but for now, I'm just looking forward to having some time when I have no homework, no reading, no classes and I can ride to work with Seth everyday of the week! I thought the program would be one of those things that when I got to the end I'd look back and say, "Man, that flew by!" but it really has not felt like that. I've struggled through lots of days just to get to the "end" of something and each of those times it's felt like an eternity before I got to the actual end. Unfortunately, that only makes me dread starting the 2nd semester.

Next semester starts on January 8th and we'll be getting into our specialties. I've got to turn in my choice of specialty next week and I'm even struggling with that. My first instinct is real estate but part of me thinks I should do business organizations and try to get into IP Law. I don't know. Luckily, none of them locks you into being able to work in one specific field so no matter what I take I can still look at lots of different kinds of paralegal work.

I'm so torn about this career stuff. It's too bad I don't have the luxury to just stay home and do what I want, but then again, I'd probably pull my hair out from boredom! There's still a big part of me that wants to bake and make pretty things that are delicious. I want to wear a white chef's coat and make people smile. To be able to make something that's pretty and is ALSO yummy is just double the reward.

For now, let me just be satisfied that I made it through some of the toughest courses of the program and I'm still in one piece.


December 3, 2007

It's our 2nd wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary to us!

Happy Anniversary to Christy & Jesse also, who got married on the exact same December 3rd as us! Also to my co-worker, Mary, who was married on December 3 as well (just not in 2005)! Yay for December 3rd anniversaries!



Thanksgiving was much-anticipated this year (for me, anyway). The arrival of Thanksgiving Day meant that I was done with a pretty major Legal Research assignment. The assignment was due by midnight on Wednesday so I was really looking forward to Thursday when I could sit back and enjoy 4 days off.

This year, Thanksgiving was a bit more spread out and it was nice. For the past several years, Seth and I have spent Thanksgiving Day with BOTH our families eating 2 big meals. We had lunch with the Mc's and dinner with the West's/Lamberts. It was fun to be with family all day, but usually we weren't that hungry for dinner. This year, we had Thanksgiving Day with my family and we spent most of Friday with Seth's family. It really worked out well - and made the holiday feel a little more special.
My mom cooked WAY too much food, Seth's mom had the perfect amount - still a big meal, just not HUGE (which is good). At my parent's house, there was actually food on the kitchen island as well as all over the stove top. I didn't even have anything that was on the stove top. It was all delicious, though - at both houses on both nights.

We are not "Black Friday" shoppers, so the majority of the weekend was stress-free and relaxing. I was just glad to not have any school work hanging over me and for once, I got to feel like my old adult self - with no homework, tests, or projects. I hope that January revives me and I don't dread the 2nd semester. UGH. My last class is next Wednesday and between now and then I'll have one take home test, 2 in class finals, 1 paper, and 1 mini-project (which I've already completed) due. WEE!

I'm looking forward to the Apex Christmas Parade this weekend. Seth's 29th bday is Thursday but we're celebrating Saturday night after the parade. We're going to take Three so hopefully she behaves. I hope to have some pics to post. Saturday after that we're expecting Poppy's arrival! We're very excited to meet her!



Seth and I are getting excited to welcome Poppy, our new Westie puppy, into our home. The breeder sent us a photo of all 3 females Three's mom, Loretta, had in her most recent litter. We chose Poppy from there - she's the one on the far left with the red bow around her neck.

Seth took Three to work with him today and she met and was able to play with 2 ten-week-old Westies, Kadie and Cody (see post below). We wanted to see how she was going to do with young puppies and this seemed like a good test (esp. with 2) before Poppy gets here. Three did great! We think she didn't understand why the puppies didn't always want to play with her, but for the most part she wasn't rough with them.

The boy Westie is very vocal and would bark back at Three is she barked at him. The girl Westie is very quiet and doesn't bark but did at one point when Three was trying to play with her toy. They were all really cute together and it made me feel a little more sure about bringing a 2nd dog into the mix.

UPDATE: Here are a couple more pics of Poppy at approximately 1 month old.


Halloween Scrooges

Halloween is a weird "holiday" for me. Every year, it always sounds like a fun idea to dress up the outside of our house in Halloween stuff (pumpkins, mums, etc.) but when the day actually arrives I feel more annoyed by it and ready for it to be over.

When I think back to when I can actually remember wanting to participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween I guess I was in elementary school. I also remember what a huge pain it was to figure out what I was going to dress up as. After all, you can't go out looking too stupid as a pre-teen or the other kids might make fun of you and tease you. I was never one of those kids who planned in advance and had a really great costume. I was the kid crying at the 11th hour trying to put together SOMETHING that I already had to pass off for a costume. It was awful. I'd leave the house upset and feeling like I looked like an idiot only to be met with "What ARE you?" by my friends - which confirmed my costume as silly and made me feel worse. I remember one year, I wore an NC State sweatshirt and jeans b/c I couldn't think of anything else (at the last minute) and tried to claim I was a State Fan - I did carry a pom pom but still, no one bought it.

Halloween became fun again in college when you were past the point of worrying whether your classmates were going to make fun of you and on to the time where the more far-reaching, the funnier. My freshman year, I went to Chapel Hill with pretty much all the girls on my hall. I went as "night" and wore all black and had stuck tons of glow-in-the-dark ceiling star stickers all over me. My friend was supposed to be "day" but she chickened out and went for "cowgirl" at the last second. :) Chapel Hill is nuts on Halloween. I did it twice and that was too many times. If you don't have friends there or a room to go hang out in, the charm of "the street" wears off pretty quickly. The costumes were amusing to say the least, though.

This year, I was supposed to be in class but didn't feel well and left early. Seth, also being a halloween scrooge, turned our exterior light off, pulled the pumpkins (we have fake ones) inside, and pulled the curtains so it'd look dark and like we weren't at home. He played Halo and I wallowed in my sinus headache and watched. Not one person rang our doorbell so I guess what Seth did worked! The past couple of years we've had lots of kids come to our door. We weren't sure what to do with Three - it would've been annoying to have her barking every 5 minutes when the doorbell rang, so we decided it was easier to play "not at home."

We are horrible.


Happy Notes

I haven't posted in quite a while :( Things have been really busy but here's a few positive things that have happened.

1. THREE TURNED ONE! She had a HAPPY BIRTHDAY on September 27 complete with a few bites of delicious Edible Art cake left over from my dad's birthday party. She LOVED it! Three's birthday gift was a red NCSU football jersey with the number "3" on it (duh). It doesn't really fit her well so I'm either going to attempt to alter it or order her the next size up. She hates clothes b/c we never make her wear them, but just like her collar, she'll get used to it!

2. Poppy was born! Three's mom had her litter on October 10, 2007 and she had 3 girls. We've reserved one and she'll be coming to join us the first week of December.

3. The owner of the puppy in the post below has 2 new Westie puppies! One boy (Cody) and one girl (Kadie). They are precious and just 6 weeks old. Yay Westies!

4. I completed my last wedding stationary project that I've had on my plate since January. I wish I felt more relieved about being done with the committments I had made back in January, but it hasn't sunk in yet. We'll be attending the actual wedding that goes with this final project so maybe after it's all said and done I'll feel better. On the right is a sample of the wedding programs. They turned out beautifully even though we had to change the game plan at the last minute. *UPDATE: I got sick and had to miss the wedding but heard that the paper was well-received! YAY!

5. Today I'm working until 12:30 and then my mom and I will be going to "A Shopping Spree" at the RBC Center. This is my most favorite fall ritual and my mom and I go every year. It's the best and I'm very excited to be taking a half day off work to go versus going on Saturday morning. The NC State Fair is here, too, so hopefully parking isn't TOO much of a nightmare. The "Spree" is put on by the Junior League of Raleigh and is basically tons and tons of booths of really cute home accessories, jewelery, fun snacks, gifts, and just fun boutique-type stuff. I LOVE it!

6. Hypoglycemia. While this doesn't sound like a happy note, I hope it turns into one. I went to the doctor yesterday to discuss my symptoms since they seem to fit into the hypoglycemia category. Basically, I'm going to start eating differently to get more protein and match it to complex carbs. Clearly I was eating way too many carbs and not getting enough protein and that's sort of how you have to deal with hypoglycemia. She mentioned using the South Beach Diet as a guide and it dawned on me - maybe I'll lose some weight in this process. I sure need to anyway (ick) but if the food starts to help I hope to find inspiration to use my Rex Wellness membership. ha.

7. I applied for 2 state jobs last week. I feel like my chances to get both are pretty high although they've not started the interview process yet. I still struggle with which direction to go with the paralegal certificate, and actually one of the jobs I applied for isn't even close to paralegal work! However, it'd put me near working with Historic Preservation which I'm quite interested in. We'll see what happens. This is happy because that means I have hope for escaping the phones which have changed me in a bad way.


Sad note

One of Seth's co-workers, Sondra, is a Westie-lover as Seth and I are. Over the summer, she had to make the difficult decision to put down her 15 year old Westie, Maggie. Maggie had lived a long and good life and was ready to go. A month or so later, Sondra bought a new Westie puppy, Daisy, who was only 6 weeks old at the time she picked her up. Here's a pic of Daisy just hours after Sondra picked her up from the breeder.

Last night, Seth told me that Daisy died. I couldn't believe it. He said that Daisy got into their coy pond and couldn't get out and drowned. Sondra was the one who found Daisy. My heart broke immediately and I cried for Daisy and for Sondra. I just couldn't believe it. Sondra doesn't have kids and really seems to treat her dogs like her own kids - they are her world. Daisy was just a few months old and just starting life. Part of what breaks my heart is to think of Daisy and how she must have struggled, been afraid, and just had to give up. I know I shouldn't humanize a dog, but we truly don't know how they feel, but certainly they know fear and know when they are in trouble.

I feel as if I've lost my own pet, but was thankful to have Three beside me when I heard the news. She always seems to know and understand when mommy is upset. I picked her up and looked into her eyes and told her that her Westie sister, Daisy, had gone to doggie-heaven. She licked my face.

It's going to sound funny, but I really thank God for my Three because she's brought a new kind of love to my heart. It allows me to sympathize with people who lose their pets in a way I know I could not have before we got Three. It's a special kind of love and connection that I can only assume happens to all true dog-lovers. I sometimes wonder how much more of that I'll feel if Seth and I have kids down the road. I know little Daisy is in doggie-heaven and while she lived a short, short life, I know she'll be OK.


Baker's Dozen

It seems like I've gone through at least a dozen great ideas for potential careers for myself. Hopefully one day it'll be clear what I'm here to do, but even in the midst of the Paralegal program, I'm still not convinced it's been revealed to me yet. Mom says a lot of "smart" people are restless in life and constantly looking for something new to learn or at least something challenging to try. Maybe that's me, but I've never felt smart so why would I think that way about myself.

Anyway, I've always liked to cook and started out baking. I'd make cookies, cakes, or any other dessert that sounded good when I was at home on the weekends during high school or just bored. Pretty much since my own wedding and since becoming addicted to the Food Network, I've thought it would be so much fun and so rewarding to bake and decorate cakes. I'm not talking necessarily "Ace of Cakes" style cakes, but I see myself making your traditional wedding cake or birthday cake, but just making it really cute and/or elegant. I don't have a desire to create a cake replica of the State Capitol, but I do have a desire to create gorgeous wedding cakes. It sounds so fun yet challenging and creative!

I'm considering trying to find out if I could work part time in a bakery to learn the process. At this point, I'm not going to put all my career eggs in one basket. I figure I'll just try stuff out and see what takes off. I've still got my stationary business in the background and may have a huge new client thanks to my sis-in-law, Shelly! We'll see! My wedding photographer always tells me I should be a wedding planner each time I see her - maybe she tells that to all her brides - but I like to pretend she really means it when she says it to me and that makes me feel good. It's nice to hear things like that from someone you admire and look up to as a professional. Here are a few cakes I like from some local (and not-so-local) bakery sites:

Sweet Memories Bakery, Apex

Ketchie Creek Bakery, Mocksville

My life should be called "As the Career Turns." I feel nuts about how wishy-washy I feel about things. I would just like to be happy, content, and creative in my work. There's no need for the torture of being verbally abused by strangers anymore.


Time Flies....or not

I randomly thought of this yesterday even though I've thought it a million times before. It's so odd to me how time seems to fly for everyone else but not so much for oneself. Anytime something exciting is coming up that you're really looking forward to, it just seems to take an eternity to arrive at the occasion, but for others (from my perspective) it arrives at normal speed or perhaps even super-fast.

Examples include weddings, babies, graduations, home purchases, etc. Seth and I spent 13 months planning our wedding and it just seemed to take forever to get here. Once it was over, all that time we waited didn't seem as long as it did in the process of waiting. This is how I'm feeling about the paralegal program. I know it's only 2 tiny semesters and only a little more that 7 months total of school but it just seems to me that May 2008 will NEVER get here. I just keep reminding myself that it'll be May before I know it and I'll probably be telling someone "I can't believe how fast that went!" I'm just not there yet so each day feels like a million.

It's also felt this way with my friends and their babies. Four of my college friends have 2 babies each and 2 of those friends even have 3rds on the way. Since I don't get to see them and I'm not living their lives it seems the babies are made and born within a couple of months. This is clearly not the case, but it's just so funny to me how everyone elses' time seems to fly but my own seems to crawl along at a snails' pace.

Not that I'm wishing my life away, just sometimes it would be nice to feel like the good stuff comes along quicker than the bad/boring stuff.



Just thought I'd post with a few tidbits of my life from the past 2 weeks. I'm in my second week of the Paralegal program and it's kicking my butt. Not the information or the work, but the schedule. It's been difficult to adjust to going to work from 8:30-5:30 then to class from 6-9 3 days a week. It's silly, but I mostly get stressed over when and what I'll eat for dinner, will I be starving come end of class, etc, etc. I'm sure I'll get into a groove at some point. It'd just be nice to go ahead and get there. I turned in my first homework assignment last night and we went over it in class so we could all know how we did. I did great - only making 2 super-minor errors. Claps for me.

I finished up my 2nd wedding order this week. Emily Leonard, who is the sister of one of my college suitemates, is getting married on Saturday and I (well, Seth) delivered her 300 programs on Tuesday night. He's so helpful. I hope she loves them.

We've discovered 3 scabby bumps on Three in a variety of places. She has continued to seem itchy and one her favorite things to do is rub the side of her face into the carpet and walk forward. Guess that's how the puppy itches her face. We are taking her to the vet (once again) for a allergy-type follow-up to see what they might suggest we try next. Poor thing - we've been giving her half a Benedryl off and on and I guess that seems to help. She went to Doggie Daycare today (her fave!) since Seth and I won't really be home tonight. She'll pass out when she gets home and will probably sleep until one of us returns. She's also getting groomed on Wednesday! YAY!

This Saturday night Seth is throwing Patrick's bachelor party in the great metropolis of Moncure. I hope those boys behave. I think it's in order considering Patrick's dad and preacher are going to be there. I will be lonely but will have things to keep me occupied. I need to finish up Courtney and Patrick's wedding program layout so I can get them printed and put together. It's crazy that their wedding is in 2 weeks!

BEST OF ALL, Elliott Yamin has added some dates to his fall tour schedule one of them being Asheville, November 3rd which is a Saturday. He's playing at The Orange Peel and I'm determined to go. Asheville will be nice in November, plus, it's on a Saturday and that works with our schedule. I MUST see Mr. Yamin - he's my fave! I'm quite excited to say the LEAST.

That's all I can think of that's half interesting or fun in my life!


Bob Woodruff is my hero

Last week while we were at Topsail Beach, I was able to finish one book I've been reading this summer called, "In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing" by Bob and Lee Woodruff. I started reading the book slowly back in Apex, but since I don't usually have tons of time to devote to reading, I wasn't able to really get far until we were at the beach with nothing to do (thankfully). I was so touched by this book and was able to connect with Bob and Lee in a scary too-close-to-home type of way. Here are my thoughts on why I can't stop thinking about this couple.

As many of you (all 3 of you reading this blog) know, my dad suffered an irreversible anoxic brain injury in 2002 following open-heart surgery at the infamous life-shattering-never-take-your-family-members-there Duke University Medical Center. In my dad's case, the damage was to all parts of his brain and he lost a lot of his motor functions, speech, executive functions, you name it...he's not really got it anymore. He requires someone to be with him 24-7 which has put a huge and permanent strain on our family, but mostly my poor mom. Not really knowing what exactly had happened to Bob Woodruff, but curious nonetheless, I randomly decided to buy their book a few months ago. I had no idea how similar their story would be to that of my family's.

Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after an IED exploded near the tank he was riding in and happened to be standing up in at the time of the explosion. He was critically injured and eventually had part of his skull removed to allow the brain to swell. This removal saved his life. Of course, the majority of the story about his ordeal was told from Lee's perspective and so much of her struggles, thoughts, emotions, etc. reminded me of my mom to a T. It was crazy. Even descriptions of Bob's behavior (pulling at a feeding tube, trache tube, lashing out a doctors and nurses, having a far away look in his eyes, being in a coma, and the list goes on) were identical to what we watched my dad go through. The only comfort this list of things brings is the knowledge that the people do not remember a bit of it! What a blessing!

I cried many times while reading this book and each time I'd close it for a break I'd say, "I want my mom to read this book." Even though at a point, Bob's recovery and responses are far and away from what my dad has experienced, it was still oddly comforting to read their story and remember what happened to my dad and be able to connect through such an awful ordeal. I have this insane drive to talk to the Woodruffs, meet them, have my mom talk to them, and just compare notes. I don't know why I feel so driven to do these things, but if I had to guess, it's because on some level I think I see Bob as my dad had he recovered. Bob talks, walks, sounds like his old self, but that's because he was hit on the left side of his head and not the right. The right would've shown more physical effects, whereas the left side will show in speech and language.

Bob's recovery is amazing and I've seen many videos of interviews, just after he woke up, and from the "To Iraq and Back" segment he was a part of. It's just nuts, but I feel like he's my dad in a way and it's like a way I can have my old dad back even if he looks and sounds different. I think I'm probably pretending in my heart somewhere that Bob is what my dad could've been had this all not happened.

God bless the Woodruffs! I highly recommend their book! Here's a link to The Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury. There are great video clips on this site as well.


A little vacay never hurt no one...

Seth and I just got back from a 4-day beach vacation. We headed to Topsail Beach right after work on Wednesday, (me) not even heading home before leaving. Sadly, we had to leave our precious Three with the McFarlands as she wasn't allowed in the house we stayed in. That was disappointing considering Topsail is a dog-friendly beach during the summer! Boo! We'll take her this fall to make up for it.

We stayed in a nice place that belonged to some college friends of my mom's. They have recently purchased a new beach house directly across the street so while they were in their new house, they let us stay in their old house since the buyers haven't closed yet. It was so nice to get away and I truly let my mind focus only on our vacation. I am surprised at how well it worked, too. Coming to work this morning felt like the first day of school after a long summer vacation.

Seth and I spent a good few hours on the beach just laying out and listening to tunes for the first couple of days. We ate late dinners and hung out on the dock with my parent's friends - their new house overlooks Banks Channel. The weather was great every night - perfect breezes and beautiful sunsets. We ate really late dinners each night (10pm! Not kidding!) but it was fun!

I finally got a chance to knock off some of the white on me and got a pretty good tan w/o getting burned. YAY! I finished "In An Instant" by Lee & Bob Woodruff. It was amazing how much the story of Bob in the hospital during recovery reminded me of when my dad was in the hospital and my mom held vigil at his side. I want her to read it. I cried a few times - it's too bad our story didn't end like his. I felt oddly close to the Woodruffs even though I don't know them a bit. Great book.

Seth and I spent Saturday cruising up and down Topsail Island which my mom says is 26 miles long. We (I) was on a quest to go in the typical junky beach shops to see if I could find anything cute or fun. I ended up getting a jingle bell Christmas collar for Three and some new brown Reef flops. Nice.

Once we got home last night, reality set in hard. I've got to finish 3 weddings (programs) between now and October, I start Paralegal classes on Wednesday, I'm still working full-time, looking for paralegal jobs, will have homework, visits to the law library, etc, etc, etc. It was just a bit overwhelming, but I guess if I just take it day by day everything will fall into place.

Vacation was nice - wish it could've been permanent!


Summer Reading

No, no, no...not like the icky "required" reading from high school and college. I'm talking the enjoyable, read what you wish type summer reading. Lately, I've been on an emotional roller coaster for some reason. I've been second-guessing most of the decisions I've made in life and I really can't figure out why. My brain knows there's no point in wondering "what if I had done this instead?" since I can't go back in time and do it differently to see if I'd be happier than I am now. The problem is that my perfectionist streak feels it's necessary to continue to wonder "what if." So, to try and combat this problem I've picked up 2 books I've owned for a bit and have decided to actually read them versus just looking at how pretty they look on the bookshelf. My mom says that when my mind isn't sufficiently occupied, it tends to wander away and obsessively analyze something that's not important in the grand scheme of things.

I'm actually going to try to read these 2 books at one time. The first one I started reading on Monday is "In An Instant" by Lee and Bob Woodruff. This book tells the story of when ABC's World News Tonight co-anchor, Bob Woodruff, was in Iraq and whose convoy was blasted by an IED. The book comes from both Bob and Lee's perspective. The other book I've had for over a year, Alice Sebold's "Lucky" which is her telling the story of her own brutal rape that occured on the last night of her freshman year in college. Both books start right in the center of the action. "Lucky" began with a graphic and scary retelling of the rape itself and "IAI" began with Lee finding out about the attack on Bob's convoy and Bob describing the first few moments after the attack (what he remembers).

It's interesting that the 2 books I chose to read are both non-fiction. I bought "Lucky" a year or so ago after I read Sebold's first book, "The Lovely Bones." I can't say that I realized I was buying a book that was a non-fiction story of an event in the author's life. While fiction is enjoyable, it's always interesting to read something and know that it really happened to someone somewhere. So far, I'd recommend either of these books to someone else. I'm excited to finish them to see what I can take away from each one. Hopefully, something encouraging or at least I hope to become aware of something I'd not considered before.


Virginia is for Haters

Ok, maybe not everyone who lives in Virginia is a hater, but at the moment it feels good to generalize so just roll with it. I find it incredibly hard to convey the overwhelming stress and anxiety that my job inflicts on me to others when they ask "how's the job?" Plus, usually when that question is asked the person is hoping for and expecting a one word answer to their small-talk question - "Fine."

For me, work is never fine, but the only person that gets to hear my never-ending stories about the various stupid, mean, abusive, and insane phone calls this office gets is my patient husband, Seth. Today, I took a call that reached an all-time low (or high, depending on how you look at it). I thought it might be a fun exercise to share the transcript of this call as it will hopefully help me deal with it, plus, it's a good way to demonstrate my daily work life.

As you may or may not know, recently, a judge found the National Park Service to be out of compliance with legal requirements to authorize and manage off-road vehicle (ORV) use at the Seashore. This has stirred up talks of closing certain seashores and may affect the Outer Banks. Now...on to the call I just took. Please read the "caller" lines with as much attitude as you can possibly muster to get the full effect.

ME: Governor Easley's Office.
Caller: Yes, I just spoke with someone who was very short with me and rude and who hung up on me. YOU need to know that.
Caller: I am calling about the closure of the Outer Banks and was just told that it was a federal issue and the Governor's Office doesn't care. I am calling from Virginia and I own a house on the Outer Banks and you people need to care because closing the beaches is going to cost tourism dollars!!!
ME: uh huh (my normal neutral "I'm listening" response)
Caller: blah blah blah blah. And I can tell by the tone in YOUR voice that YOU don't care either.
ME: Ma'am, it's not your place to tell me what I do and don't care about.
Caller: Yes it is! I can tell that all you want to do is get me off the phone just like the other lady I spoke to!!!!
ME: Well ma'am you're not being very kind....
Caller: YOU B@%$H!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point, I hang up on her since we do not tolerate callers who use profanity or are verbally abusive. I have had some MEAN people call before, but never has anyone called me a b@%$h at the top of her lungs before. In a rare move (meaning I've never done this before and we're not supposed to do this), I call her back. Her phone number had popped up on caller ID and I've gotten into the habit of immediately writing down the number no matter what they want because you never know what kind of turn a call is going to take. I call her back immediately:

Caller: HELLO?? (you could tell she was p-o'ed from just speaking to me.)
ME: Ma'am, don't you ever call here again and call me a b@%$h.

And I SLAMMED down the phone. I couldn't help but to call her back! There is NO excuse for ANY human being to EVER speak to a perfect stranger who has done NOTHING to him/her the way she spoke to not only me but 2 other staff in our office. My heart was beating out of my chest and my hands were shaking so bad, I dialed her number wrong the first time I tried and I couldn't type. The adrenaline rush was overwhelming to the point that it scared me. This has happened before and it's so scary it usually zaps me for the rest of the day. Every muscle in my body was quivering.

Now, I tell these stories and they just aren't the same as the actual experience, but there are some incredibly rude people in the world, it's just been my experience that some of the WORST are callers from Virginia. Go figure. Keep your nose in your own state's business and if you call NC to whine and cry about how you won't make $9 billion this summer by renting your posh Outer Banks beach house then I don't feel sorry for you. Plus, if you're too stupid to know the difference between the FEDERAL government and STATE government then you deserve to lose money on your summer rental. Maybe you should invest some of that money in an education for yourself instead of weekly manis and pedis with "the girls" after lunch at the country club.

Sorry, that was fun.


It's a Girl!

Now, before anyone goes and gets too excited, let me stop you short and say I'm referring to our dog, Three. For some reason when people see dogs they automatically refer them them as "he" as if all dogs on earth are males. I much prefer a female dog since there's not "stuff" to contend with when you want to flip them over for a good ole tummy rub. We have been getting tired of the "How old is HE?" and the "What's HIS name?" questions so we got Three a new *pink* collar this weekend and she's as cute as a button! She had the same pink collar only smaller a while back (pic), but she's since grown out of it and was wearing an NCSU collar (which is admittedly boyish). Her name tag was a pink heart, but that didn't stop the boy comments from coming. She's adorable now, and very happy in her pink collar. I was on the hunt for the cutest collar I could find, but it seems most of those are 1" collars which is just a big big for our 14 pound puppy. Hopefully now the pink collar will squash the urge for folks to call her "him." I'm still on the hunt for something cute and girly, but now I'm not in a rush!



My friend Anna tagged me! While I don't have too many friends that blog (that I know about), I'll give this a shot anyway.

Here are the rules: Tagees should write a blog post of eight random facts about themselves. At the end of the post, more bloggers are tagged. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they're tagged.

1. At age 29, I still sleep with a stuffed animal...and I'm proud of it! I've had my faux Snoopy since I was 2 1/2 and it was given to me by my uncle as a Christmas present. He's gone through several names, the latest of which is Diggle, which is really one of his old school names that resurfaced sometime after Seth and I started dating. Diggle was my first child and he's really a member of the family.

2. I've been to Australia. I went for 3 weeks during January of my Sophomore year in college. It was a Jan Term trip and about 25 students went. We travelled all over the country. It was my first international trip not to mention my first time flying. I chose the trip over getting a car and I'd say it was well-worth the wait! I highly recommend the trip if you can stand the super-long flights.

3. I'm scared of people. Meeting new folks is not one of my favorite things to do. In fact, I can't think of anything more awkward to do in life. It's always excruciating to meet new people and then be forced to hang out with them or spend the day with them (say at a new job or at a bridal or baby shower where you only know the honoree). I know, that's weird, but it's true.

4. I'm extremely motion-sensitive. This is an annoying fact about myself and it seems to have developed more as I get older. I find that riding in backseats of cars is challenging, and the strangest things can throw my motion sensors off which cause me to feel sick and ruin my day. haha.

5. I love to cook. I don't do it as much as I'd want to simply due to the fact that it would probably mean a trip to the grocery store and I can be lazy. I love watching the Food Network and usually find a desire to try cooking several of the dishes after watching it for hours. I get great satisfaction out of cooking something that people really find delicious.

6. My "Maid of Honor" was a man. Some people may have found this strange, but Seth and I thought it was neato. After Seth and I started dating, his friend George would randomly send me IMs that I never responded to because they were one-liners that made no sense. Later, we started chatting in real speak and discovered we had many similarites. Seth tells me I'm the female version of George minus some of the rage. haha. It was cool for us to have Patrick and George as our honor attendants because it was important that we be surrounded by people we knew we'd keep in touch with for the rest of our lives. Unless, of course, George decides to live in a cave...which probably isn't out of the question.

7. I am obsessed with California. I have no idea why, but I think it started when I was in 4th grade and my favorite show was The Facts of Life. I wrote my first fan mail to that show and wanted to visit California and meet the cast. Ever since then I've on and off wanted to move there or visit there and be a "California Girl." We honeymooned in San Francisco, but had originally wanted to go to LA, Beverly Hills, Newport and Laguna Beach. I'd still move there if given the chance - even if for a couple of years.

8. I have an iPhone. It rocks. Nuff said.

Who I'll tag:

(I don't know that many folks who blog).

Independence Day

I was careful to name this blog entry "Independence Day" rather than "July 4th" in honor of my dear hubby. He doesn't feel July 4th is an appropriate name for the holiday as we don't refer to Christmas as "December 25th."

We had a fairly nice day off - unfortunately it was smack in the middle of the week and that has turned out to be annoying. But...I'll take one day off over no days off any day. We didn't do much in the morning, took our big grocery store trip around 11:30 after eating an early lunch, then continued being lazy around the house until 3:30 or so when we headed to my mom and dad's.

Independence Day dinner was busy and numerous this year so that made it a little more fun and interesting. We had mom, dad, me, Seth, John, Shelly, the McFarlands (Keith, Brenda, and Skye) and Shelly's mom at dinner and of course my mom over prepared so there was plenty to eat. After dinner, Seth and I and Seth's family headed to the fairgrounds to watch fireworks. My family found a nice (still fairly secret) spot several years ago, so we tried that out with the McFarlands (who usually go to Regency Park) and we ended up having pretty much a perfect view of the fireworks. With not a ton of people around we had room to spread out without feeling like strangers were in our laps. We took Three and she seemed to have a good time. I thought she might bark at the booms, but she didn't seem phased. She sat in mine and Seth's laps the whole time and seemed to enjoy herself. The weather was perfect - I can't remember having a non-humid Independence Day in many moons (if ever!) It was a nice day off.

The rest of this week has been strange. I've been really tired the past 2 days - I think having that day off mid-week threw me off. There's only 3 of us in my section at work so I've been answering phones for 3 hours straight vs. my regular 1h 45m. Next week we've only got one person out so phones will improve a little bit. I'm still dreaming of that Independence Day when Seth and I are able to have our family over to our house for a cook-out after having spent all day lounging around the nice in-ground pool in our large and spacious backyard. I'd love to have a backyard that makes you question why you'd need to go anywhere else to enjoy the great outdoors.



As of Monday, it's 99.9% official that I've been accepted into the Paralegal Program at Meredith. I had an "interview" with the director on Monday and about midway through she blurted out "you're going to be accepted into the program..." So this is good news. **UPDATE: When we got home on Monday, I had received my official acceptance letter in the mail!

The program is only 2 semesters so that's also good - not a terribly long committment and I'll have a "career" at the end of it. I've needed to do something that would allow me to have an answer when people ask "So, what do you do?" It's a silly thing really - but it seems complicated when I have to answer a "what" with more of a "where." Classes will be held M-W from 6-9pm so I'll be in a work, class, sleep routine until May 2008. I know it'll be worth it though and I'm hoping to find work before I complete the program. From what I've heard, it seems to be quite helpful to be working in the environments you're learning about at the same time. We'll see - I can't take too much change and stress all at once.

I still don't know what makes people choose to be Paralegals vs. Attorneys, but I'm sure I'll figure that out as I get into the program. I think I'll be doing everything but having to understand laws and interpreting them. If I find that I'm interested in that then Law School here I come! (haha, Seth loves that I'm headed towards being a lifetime student I'm sure)

Anyway, after my interview and then meeting with the paralegal at my parent's attorney's office yesterday, I'm looking forward to starting the program and seeing what it's all about. Law firms are foreign to me but it seems interesting and non-static (as my current job seems to be). I think it'll be nice to get involved in cases and see them from start to finish vs. just turning over the same kind of work all the time.

Wish me luck!



This is probably the most pathetic post ever, but it comes and goes in my thoughts and I just felt like writing it down (er, typing). SO. Seth and I got married in 2005 and according to all of our guests it was beautiful and very nice. While I mostly agree, I'm still critical of the event to this day. I know it's a silly thing to even care that much about - since after all it is the marriage that's most important, but the "designer" in me can't let it go and still see it as somewhat of a failure (well, that's a harsh word, but I don't know of a better one).

My college friends started getting married as early as 2001 (we graduated in 2000) and their wedding planning began as early as September 2000 so I had been in and out of dreaming about planning my own wedding someday (even when I had no significant other). It really seemed like something I'd never reach and something I'd never get to experience, but once it was my turn it was like, "Woah, this is real and I have to make real plans." We opted for a longer engagement and took 13 months to plan our wedding. Today, I wish I had taken 2 years! haha. Some of the details that were so important to me BEFORE I was engaged and during the early months of planning just got lost or dropped towards the end. Here's a brief list (it's long actually) of things I wish I'd done or done differently:

1. Outdoor wedding (maybe at the beach or The Highgrove Estate in Fuquay) in early spring during the DAY!
2. Dress that was more fitted (more like mermaid shape) and cathedral-length veil
3. Gotten a tan
4. Had bride/groom photos taken BEFORE the ceremony (since my wedding planners ruined our session after the wedding!!!!)
5. Used a smaller, older, prettier church/ceremony site and filled it up with flowers
6. Carried a bridal bouquet with COLOR!
7. Taken the time to make my own invitations (like I had planned to!)
8. Lost more weight
9. Had bridal portraits done at a better location
10. Not paid so much for a video or the reception or the DJ (I probably should say photos, but Dara was my dream so I don't regret her - just the pics we didn't get)...heck, the whole wedding!
11. Asked for my dream cake
12. Looked around for my dress longer than I did (I chose my dress in one day, talking to one designer, choosing from her small collection of dresses - what was I thinking??)
13. Worn flowers in my hair
14. Taken off my veil for the reception (no one got to see my great hairstyle)
15. Gone to a tropical destination for our honeymoon and taken 2 weeks off!

I know, I know....these things aren't important in the grand scheme of life and I should get over it. Our wedding was like the biggest design project in the world for me so I am/was very protective of some of my ideas that I felt were original. I get defensive if I feel like my ideas are borrowed. One day I'll move on and/or get my second chance when we renew our vows (I know of no other way I'll be satisfied) or I'll just become a wedding planner and live vicariously through others.

For now, it's stupid, but it's even hard for me to watch all those wedding shows on TV. They all seem to enjoy the process more, take their time to pay attention to the details or just created a prettier day than ours was. I'm stupid, but I can't help how I feel about things that are important to me so just get over it


Revisiting Yamin

This is worth a near-repost. Elliott Yamin. I've been listening to his new album non-stop this week. He really is an awesome singer and I still can't figure out why Taylor Hicks won and not Elliott. America got it wrong. You should check out his debut self-titled CD. It's awesome and I found this on elliottyamin.org "'In fact, famously prickly judge Simon Cowell once said that Yamin was "potentially the best male vocalist in the history of 'American Idol.'" Here's his video for "Wait for You." I'm spreading it across the nation. Word. PS. I'm 99% sure that's his real girlfriend in the video. What a nice guy.


Dream Sequence

I've had weird and vivid dreams each night this week. When I wake up I remember them clearly and it's hard to shake them off as dreams and remember they are not reality. Sunday night, I dreamed I had a long chit-chatty phone conversation with George. I have no idea what we talked about, but it was like I was talking to my mom or something. Weird.

Monday night I dreamed that I was high-school-aged again and living at home with my parents. I went into the kitchen to see that 2 of our cars in the driveway had been smooshed with large boulders. All that was left of the cars was from the top of the door down. We found out who did it and it was some punk kid with anger issues. The next thing I remember from that dream was that someone made me hang out with this kid and told me I'd fall in love with him. I was like "no way, he smooshed our cars and broke into our house, I hate him." While I never fell in love with this fool, in my dream I felt bad for becoming his friend and I thought my boyfriend, BLAKE LEWIS
from American Idol (huh???) would be mad at me for being his friend. For some reason at this point in the dream I was living in a hotel which belonged to whatever school we all went to, and Blake lived down the hall. He was really really nice in my dream for what it's worth. Weird.

And in the process of typing my other dreams, I've now forgotten what I dreamed last night but if I remember I'll repost.


One down

Last night I handed off the last items due to my first wedding stationary client, Holly. She is getting married on Saturday and it was great to be completely done with one client. She's the first! Holly was basically a dream client - seemingly elated with everything I produced for her. It's nice to give a bride these things I work so hard on and their excitement is obvious. She gave me a sweet card which made me feel really good. I was glad she was so pleased!

Funny that the night went so well because I had just been thinking recently that this little plan for a side business wasn't going to work out. I still have 3 clients to go and I think if I don't procrastinate so much that I'll enjoy it more. If I get in to the paralegal program, it's going to be hard - luckily, the last wedding is in October so I should be OK until the program is over next spring. BUT, I have to get in first - and that's another subject. So it just started to look like I would probably drop this idea, but now I don't know. It is fun to do it, and I know I've just completed one project, but I still feel so amateur and am trying to figure out the secrets to making the job a little bit easier. The one person I know that does this for a living I can't ask - she doesn't want to give up her hard-earned secrets and I understand. It's tough to know what to do or what to give up. I'm sure that if I get in the paralegal program and then get a job in the field then it'll be easier to do the stationary on the side again, but not so much while IN the program.

I'm already starting on my 2 September wedding projects. One of them is quite large so this will be a fun challenge. This client, Emily, is the sister of one of my college friends. Emily was a freshman when we were seniors and would come hang out with us from time to time. She's a different client than Holly and very involved which is a good challenge for me. Don't want all identical clients or I'll never learn anything! The other, Courtney, is Patrick's fiance and I'm excited to help them out.

Guess I'll just keep going and figure out what I'm supposed to do later. I don't want to give up on anything just yet (the idea anyway) if there is room for it in my future.


Elliott Yamin

*** NOTE: I'm a dorky fan and tend to say dorky things about the people of whom I'm a fan.

Elliott Yamin revisted the American Idol stage last night and sang "Wait for You," his first single (I think it's his first). Last season, Elliott was voted off AI from his 3rd position spot and didn't get to go on to the finale. I was an Elliott fan for most of the show and I think he surprised a lot of people with how far he got. Clearly, America got it wrong by putting Taylor Hicks through and then got it triple wrong by voting him the winner, but I guess America just gets it wrong sometimes (i.e. Ruben Studdard). Anyway, I digress...

I love Elliott Yamin. His voice is just good. Simple as that. That boy can sing and it's a deep soulful voice and I just love it. He's got strength in his vocals and just like most of the good ones, I though he always sang consistently well minus a few "bad song choices." It was great to see him back on the show and even better to see a performance - esp. since I had just purchased his album on iTunes Monday night!

He was adorable! Long, curly hair, had fixed his poor teeth and hooked himself up with some snazzy new veneers! I read in US Weekly a while back that he said when he got some money he's love to have veneers so I was happy to see he got them - although he looks so different with all those teeth! He seemed so happy and gave a great performance - he's very passionate and that came through in his song.

I'm fan and can't put a finger on why. Aside from his fantastic voice I think I always thought he was so humble (like Melinda) and just came from humble beginnings in life and appreciated every moment he was able to stay on AI. I think he's earned success without being showy and I hope he continues to do well and gain attention. I've been listing to his album all afternoon at work and it's great. Just good soulful music in all sorts of moods.

** I will post video when I figure out why blogger won't take my youtube embedded code. grrrr.


The Spinoff

In watching a delicious 2 hour episode of Grey's Anatomy last night, I'm excited about this new spinoff starring Addison. I really liked it and I think it'll be a fun spinoff that seems a bit lighter in mood than Grey's. It's strange - it seemed like you suddenly learned a lot about Addison and saw her "real" character. She never really developed much past her lovers on Grey's. I hope it works - I'm already interested.

As for Grey's, I was super-happy to see that Derek and Meredith's spat from last week wasn't a permanent thing. However, not sure what next week will be like seeing as how the show ended. I just couldn't believe her dad - what a poop head!!! I'm sure he wasn't thinking straight, but STILL!!!!

Izzie and George.....*siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh* Why did he need to go off and marry Callie in a rush? Now he loves Izzie and she loves him and they can't be together!!! (*yet). I'm sure they'll find a way - maybe Callie catches them or she figures it out and lets George go. I was impressed by his "I don't believe in divorce" line (and Dr. Burke's agreement). You don't usually hear that on TV shows so that was refreshing. HOWEVER, he still cheated on his wife so I guess it all evens out unfortunately.

We'll see how it all pans out in the next episodes (only 2 left for the season). I don't know how we never started watching this show until the "Code Black" episode. I love it so much that sometimes in the middle of it I consider the fact that there are people out there who have never seen an episode and I actually feel bad for them and then I feel special for being a part of the Grey's club. haha...i'm a dork.


Yahd Werk

Spoken like a true southerner - yes, we did yahd werk this weekend and lots of it! I'm not a yard work expert by any means, and for that matter, novice would probably be the most accurate description. I'm interested to learn because I want to make our house look a bit more put-together from the outside, plus, when we move to a "real" house, I want to have some skillz so we can get to work on the outside as soon as possible.

We started at my parent's house helping my mom spruce up a few things in her yard. Their yard is just a complicated mess, but we help with what we can. I need to get her on one of those landscaping shows on HGTV for a makeover or maybe Oprah could send Nate Berkus (does he do landscaping? anyway, I digress...) - too bad most of those make you pay out of pocket or else you end up with plywood sculptures all over your yard (no thanks). Anyway, we started there bright and early and when we were done my mom and I went to Logan's in downtown Raleigh to search for plants and flowers for our yard. We were there for quite some time - plants are overwhelming! I felt like we were buying a ton, but when we got to our house and planted stuff it really didn't look like much. Then again, the plants we got are ones that will multiply so maybe next year it'll look more filled out.

We spent the rest of the day (until about 5:30 or 6) planting plants and putting in our faux bricks along the sidewalk. It looks really nice although I'm wanting a bit more color on our porch and maybe one of those cool outdoor rugs to go under our chairs on the porch. I'll post a pic after I take some :) Luckily, our front porch only gets the morning sun, so we can sit out there in the afternoon and not sweat to death. Last summer, we installed a small ceiling fan on our porch ceiling (they wired it for such details when it was being built) and that makes a lot of difference, both asthetically and in cooling you off. I'm definitely pleased with how everything is coming along - and hopefully these improvements will pay off when we put our house on the market (hopefully next year).


Giving Back

I've not posted in a while - couldn't figure out anything that was half-interesting to write about. Today is Friday, there are only 3 of us in my section at work and it's poured rain twice, one of those times included thunder. One of my co-worker's father had a mild stroke yesterday afternoon so we're all feeling a little gloomy today.
I ran to the Fresh Market to get a few ingredients to make a quick lunch for myself in the office (this way I can leave early!). While I was there I picked up a dozen delicious sugar cookies to share with the other 2 ladies in my section. I thought it could help lift our spirits since we're doing double-duty on the phones and it's raining. It's nice when your co-workers think of the group and bring back a little snack or a "thanks for your hard work" treat, so I like to do it myself from time to time.
My microscopic "charitable donation" to my co-workers reminded me of a couple of events from this past week and I was inspired to post. This may sound cheesy, but it's not if you keep reading. This week's episodes of American Idol were special episodes for the show. I guess it was sort of the "prime-time debuting" of their campaign for "Idol Gives Back" and it featured lots of footage from Africa, poor US communities, and the work being done across the world to combat poverty and hunger.
As we watched American Idol this week (the Wednesday night show provided a number you could call to donate money), I think Seth and I both were moved to donate. I think it's really hard to connect to others' living conditions and situations when you literally can not imagine what it would be like to live somewhere other than America. What was great, was that the show made a point to remind the viewer, that extreme poverty exists in America just footsteps from some of the nations richest areas (Atlanta, Hollywood, etc).
Each feature story brought tears to my eyes. There was one story of a brother and sister living in Africa - both their parents had died (I think from AIDS) and the 2 of them were living in a tiny, one room "house" and fending for themselves. The brother was older and he just started crying and put his head down when he started talking about his parents. It was so sad. They showed a woman with AIDS in a room so hot no one could barely standing to be in the room. She was seriously ill, laying on a bed in an intollerably hot room, someone came to take her to the hospital, but she died 2 days later. It's just hard to believe there are people living this way on our planet.
Seth asked me if we should donate $50. I said yes, but I always feel that I need to donate much more than that. Not so much "should" or "need" but really I think I want to, but can't necessarily afford to send $500 in one big lump. I think it's important to remember that you can donate small increments over time and that can do a lot of good. They made a point to let you know how much things cost and what it could provide for a certain number of kids or families. It was good to see a show that mostly just provides America with entertainment really SHOW you what your donations could help relieve!

Some of my favorite groups are partners and have contributed greatly:

I don't think about giving to charity enough. Seth and I both want to "give back" I think - we're just not sure what's best. I've always wanted to work with Habitat for Humanity and had hoped our church had a group, but from what we can tell there's not one. We could join the county I suppose. We also should give money to our church. As much as it's fun to hold onto your money and think of the things we could buy if we save it, when I really stop to think about giving money to charity or church and the things that we could do for others it really makes your heart feel good. Not that donating to charity should be about making ME feel better, but it is rewarding and provides a high like nothing else can. It only makes you want to do it more and eventually I think the reason will turn to bettering the lives of others versus patting yourself on the back for donating.



Three got her first "big-girl" haircut this morning! The preliminary pics we took aren't that great - we'll take more when we can get her outside and we're not in a hurry!

She looks SO different now, but I like it. She's a lot shorter than Seth and I expected, but we didn't know what to tell the groomer to do the first time around. She had a "puppy cut" when she was 3 months old (see pic), but they basically just evened out her coat and cleaned up her face - nothing major.

She looks a lot smaller now with all that shaggy hair off her back! I didn't realize how soft her undercoat is - she's very dusty from all that hair being shaved off. I hope she likes her new 'do.

It'll be interesting to see how fast her hair grows. I was just happy for her to get her little head hairs trimmed - they were in her eyes and she tangled so easily! Yay for dog grooming - it's fun to have a dog that needs cuts....she doesn't look the same all the time :)


Making My Debut

Just a quick note. Seth has put up a super-duper temporary place holder of a web site for my "business." This makes me feel slightly more real and hopefully once I get several weddings done I'll have lots of materials for a "product shoot" with Miss Dara. Check me out at http://www.kelleymcfarlandpaper.com Right now, it's just an image of my business cards, but I want to add a bit more information about what I offer. If anything it means I can hand out business cards with the web site on them and people will be able to see that more is "coming soon......" YAY!


There's Beauty in the Breakdown

It's possible I'm nuts, but hopefully, there are others out there (possibly only women) that go through their adult lives and occasionally get to a point where they just need to throw an adult-sized temper tantrum. I've been known to do this on a rare occasion and one of those occasions was this past Saturday. As I've thought about it I feel like I wasted a perfectly good Saturday during a long weekend away from work, but now I think it wasn't a waste but a good thing (although Seth might disagree).

Not to get into the dirty details, but it all started Saturday morning not more than 30 minutes after I had gotten up (still in PJs) and was eating my bowl of cereal. Three was on one side of my lap and Seth on the other and one thing led to another and Three jumped across my lap (under my cereal bowl) towards Seth. She bumped her head on the bottom of my cereal bowl which threw cold milk and slimy flakes all over me - face, torso, lap and couch which meant I was sitting in cold milk. For whatever reason that event was like popping the cork on the champagne bottle for me and after an ugly scene I went upstairs, rinsed off and spent the next 4 hours in bed being angry, hurt, and bitter.

I spent part of that 4 hours asleep and the rest thinking about why I had gotten so mad and trying to decide if I was right or wrong or if was Seth right or wrong. He really hadn't done anything except not keeping Three occupied while I was eating and of course Three didn't do it on purpose. Anyway, I'll skip the resolution as that is private emotional detail that should remain between husband and wife, but we talked it out and eventually I was reduced to a big ball of tears that I couldn't seem to stop. Eventually, Seth fell asleep and I left him to nap as I'm sure my emotional outburst had worn him out. I felt horrible for taking up so much time but I must've just been storing anger or frustrations and they all came out around 10am Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, I was much better and what amazed me was that I felt connected to my hubby again. I cooked us a yummy dinner and we even popped in "Cast Away" (it was on TV and we were inspired to watch from the beginning) which is the first movie we ever connected over during our infamous 4 hour phone conversations in the wee-stages of our relationship. That movie always makes me cry in 2 spots - 1. when Wilson floats away and Tom Hanks bawls over his loss while laying on his raft, 2. When Chuck and Kelly realize they can't be together but Kelly tells him he's the love of her life. How frustrating! Anyway, it was nice to snuggle on the sofa and watch the movie we fell in love over.

Lesson learned: There IS beauty in the breakdown and that breakdown was mine on Saturday. I must subconsciously store up anger, hurt and frustration, but I'm not sure where it all comes from. I honestly think the majority comes from my work environment. I do actually like to come to work and be productive with the mindless chores I'm responsible for, but it's the phone calls that kill me and I believe have killed a part of "me." Who knows, it's tough, but it's made me tougher I'm sure but that fact certainly doesn't make it any easier. I think in a crazy way, when I come to these points of extreme emotional outburst, it really is nice to have Seth on my team. He's a good comforter whether he thinks so or not. With Diggle and Seth I can't go wrong.


House Hunters

Besides being one of my favorite shows on HGTV, I like to consider myself a part-time hobby house hunter. While I do check out homes for sale in the triangle area most days, there are times when I have the bug worse than others. I look at houses online when I need a mental break at work (If you know where I work and what I do, you understand). It takes me to another world and helps me get lost in my dreams for the future. The question is...when is the future going to get here?!?

Maybe when you get married you're just supposed to catch the "I want to buy a house and live in suburbia with my adorable husband forever" bug, just as women get the "I'm married, now what? Oh yes, I want a baby now" bug. BTW - I've not caught that one yet and don't know that I will, guess for me it'll be a practical decision and not so much an "I'm dying for one" decision. We'll see. I digress. Wanting a house for me is like most folks wanting to drop 20 pounds overnight - it ain't happenin' now and it ain't happenin fast!

I'm very much an instant gratification girl and it's been hard for me to keep my patience and not just dive in to this house buying thing. We have no choice really. It's definitely easier to buy your first house versus your second house. With the first you generally have no strings attached and can just buy at will, your second house...well, you've gotta sell the first and the timing seems to be tricky.

What's the passion about anyway? I think I'm just ready to feel like I'm home. I want a big yard with a fenced-in backyard for Three, I want a front porch with rocking chairs or at least a big deck or screened-in porch. I want a bright, sunny, modern yet comfortable kitchen that's sleek and has the WOW factor. I want a two-car garage and maybe yard space for an in-ground pool....basically, I'd love to have a place where we can feel completely content and occupied by our surroundings and not have the feeling of "I'm bored, let's go out." I want my neighbor to be at least 30 yards away and I want grass and a flat driveway. Ah, the list goes on. Mostly, I'm just ready to know where Seth and I can look forward to spending some of the most important years of our lives where we can really enjoy each other, our dog and hopefully some kids (one day).

I just love houses. I'm sure I could find another one I love every month, but my goal is to find something we can love and improve from year to year. I want to be away from people - no cookie-cutter ranch homes with 3 floorplan options for us! We want something that's all ours and somewhat unique. I just look forward to our home. Sethie's townhouse is great, but that was his purchase, and I can't wait until we make OUR purchase.


I love paper

It's strange to take a look back at my life and take inventory of things I have come back to over and over and realize these are some of my true loves...as random as they may seem to others.

One of these things is paper. Yes, that's right, paper. While I can't quite put a finger on it, I have realized since my wedding planning days that I really enjoy paper and making beautiful things from it. When Seth and I got engaged it was my goal to make our wedding invitations, but after a trip to a couple of paper/scrapbooking stores I realized it was going to be easier on everyone if I just ordered them. However, I stood my ground on my desire to make something for the wedding and was able to make our wedding programs, which to this day I am still very proud of. (photo by Dara Blakeley)

In January, I decided to try offering custom wedding stationary to anyone I came across that was recently engaged. I was inspired when the sister of one of my college friends randomly found me on Facebook and I saw that she was engaged in her profile. I sent her a message offering my services and she accepted. A week later, I noticed one of my former Resident Assistant's at Meredith was engaged and offered her my services as well - she, too, accepted and also had a friend that was interested! A few weeks later, Seth's long-time friend, Patrick, got engaged and they, too, accepted my offer! WOW. 4 clients in less than a month. Maybe this wouldn't be too hard.

I'm nearing completion of wedding #1 which is June 1, 2007. The bride has been pleased so far, but it's my own quest for absolute perfection which is difficult to work with. I love designing and laying out invitations but I've been let down on the things which I have no control over (i.e. printers & software). Luckily, I have the smartest & most patient husband in the universe and he's helped me though it all - each time coming up with a solution that makes me happy with my products. It's frustrating when your brain knows something is possible, but the machinery you rely on lets you down. It's clear that to do this type of business to the level of perfection which I seek, I'd need a massive budget and top of the line machinery which is just not going to happen. In any case, I'm making do with what I've got and my little home office is coming together nicely.

Once I get my work pattern established, I think the other weddings I'm working on will go much smoother. This first wedding has been a lot of trial and error, but I've made sure that didn't reflect in my product. I think this bride will be pleased - as I am - and hopefully I'll have produced something for her that she wouldn't have imagined otherwise.

It's important to me to produce the quality that's in my head (which is perfection) and I like to think I do as much as I can to match what's up there. I admire people who employ themselves and are so confident and comfortable with what they do that they make their work seem effortless yet the product seems like flawless perfection to the customer. Not to say that these artists aren't also as over-critical of themselves as I am, but ultimatley what's important is that the customer is happy and not necessarily the artist. Our wedding photographer, Dara Blakeley, is someone whose work I admire. When I found her website back in 2001, I saved her in my bookmarks and dreamed that one day she could shoot my wedding (thinking it wouldn't happen for budget or booking reasons). I feel lucky that Miss Dara did shoot our wedding and am proud to be part of her portfolio. I hope that if my little paper business ever goes anywhere - ultimately, I'd love to run a stationary store - that someone may feel that way about me and my product one day. A girl can dream, right?....

PS! I also did all the paper goods for my brother's wedding - but I needed to expand my business outside of the family! (photo by Dara Blakeley)


Three's Company

I've tried this blogging thing before and the most entries I ever posted was 3. Big whoop. I find reading others' blogs so enjoyable that I'd like to return the favor to whoever out there finds what I have to say entertaining to whatever degree. It's tough to figure out what your first blog entry will be about, but when I stopped to think about what I've thought of most this week, I realized my first blog should be about Three.

Three is mine and Seth's first puppy dog. She's the most adorable, picture-perfect West Highland White Terrier on earth. We bought her as our gift to each other for our first wedding anniversary. We named her Three since we were married on December 3, 2005 - we wanted her name to remind of us our marriage and wedding day, not to mention she's the 3rd official member of our family. She arrived from a breeder in Missouri over Thanksgiving weekend 2006 and was only 8 weeks old! She's a brave girl - she was put in a puppy crate and flew 2 flights to arrive at RDU where we picked up her up. I was the first one to pull her out of her crate and at 4.5 pounds it was love at first site!

Having never had or been responsible for a doggie that young, the first couple of weeks were a challenge and I found myself longing for the weekends we could sleep in and not get up early to let a dog outside. It was tiring, but as the weeks wore on Seth and I both began to realize, "Hey! We LOVE this dog!" Three is really the best and I really had no idea how much I could love a dog until I got my own and was responsible for caring for her, feeding her, and teaching her. We definitely lucked out with Three. She's super smart and we taught her to sit, lay down, go to her crate, and shake hands very quickly. She picked up on each skill in less than an hour and still LOVES to shake hands.

Three is very social and has yet to meet a person or dog she doesn't like. I think it helps to socialize dogs from the get-go and it didn't hurt that her first 8 weeks of life were at a breeder's home where plenty of other dogs lived. The first time we brought her out of her crate in Raleigh we were at George and Leigh's and we introduced her to their pug, Rotunda. Three just wanted to lick her. From there, we took her to meet my parents and their poodle, Chrissy (RIP) - again, she wanted to lick! Now that the McFarland's have added a new basset puppy, Wyatt, to their family, he is Three's main playmate and they've spent a few nights and weekends together when Seth and I needed a doggie-sitter. It's great not having a dog that's scared or aggressive. We give ourselves pats on the back for raising a sweet and happy puppy.

Our latest challenge with Three is caring for her post-spay. She was spayed on Monday, March 26th and has many stitches on her cute little puppy belly. She has to wear an "E" collar for 14 days. So far she's doing great although it's clear she's getting boreder by the day and is frustrated when she can't scratch an itch! I cried the first day we brought her home because she wouldn't walk and was confused by the collar. I cried because I wished I could communicate to her what was going on and why she was sporting a new accessory. Oh well...what will I do when we have human babies?!?!

In any case, we love our Three - or as I like to call her Fwree-Fwree, my little puppy girl, blueberry muffin, etc, etc. Like I told Seth, Three is the best thing we've bought since we've been married. It really is rewarding to watch her grow and learn and know we can give ourselves some credit for that. We hope this is a good sign for raising our future kids :)