Four-day weekend: Because all federal offices (including the Navy) are closed by executive order to honor President Gerald Ford on Tuesday (and Monday is a planned holiday for New Year's Day), I have a four-day weekend. Maybe I'll finally paint my kitchen and/or bathroom. Or maybe, I'll just work on church stuff.
* The word cloud mug I gave Nick, based on his blog - this was the most exciting to watch someone open.
* The 20 questions game I bought for my cousin Michael - my friend Bernadette bought one and we play it all the time at work. We keep trying to trick it (and don't succeed as much as you would think).
* The J Crew magic wallet Kelli gave me - I've wanted one for a while, but couldn't justify the price tag.
As I've been thinking about these things, it occurs to me that it is much easier to be generous during December. I want to go overboard on gifts, I think of all kinds of things that people in my life would love, I want to donate money to all kinds of different causes. Why is it more difficult to be generous the rest of the year? Actually, the better question is, why does it seem there are less opportunities to be generous the rest of the year?
I think looking for opportunities to be generous might just be one of them.
1. The key to hosting a party at your house, when you're leaving for vacation the the next day from work, is planning ahead. I only wished I had started packing Wednesday night, but otherwise, things went really, really smoothly. And I'll come home to a clean house.
2. More snack and appetizer foods, less desserts. The spinach and nachos dips disappeared quickly, and the veggie pizza was gone except for one piece, but there are still plenty of both kinds of brownies left for my housesitter.
3. Never host a party that includes white elephant gift exchanges at your house, especially when you have friends like mine. After everyone left I looked around to gather all the stuff, and as I only found two of the chicken wall hooks that came in a set of four, I'm pretty sure I haven't got it all. Also, be prepared for them to start redecorating, too.
Sunday: I was thinking over my schedule for the next few months (prompted by wondering when I'm going to be able to give a couple Christmas gifts) and realized that with our first Sunday service on January 7, I'm not taking any weekends away for a while. Guess that means everyone I know will have to come visit me. :-)
Ornaments: I think these are my favorite ornaments, ever. I bought some this year, but Pier 1 is one place I'm definitely checking out for post-Christmas sales.
I couldn't even pick a favorite song. The entire CD is powerful and moving, especially as a whole, and even its funny in parts (check out the song "Matthew Begats"). You can listen to the entire CD online here (click "Open Player"), if you're interested.
It seems like there's a lot of stuff going on in my family lately, a lot of which hit that weekend, hence the whole mixed emotions thing. In a way, I was ready to come home and get back a little to my everyday life.
Christmas: Christmas is seriously my favorite time of the year. I love it - I love the decorating and the entertaining and the gift-giving - the whole thing. I was going to go out to dinner and a parade at the beach with friends, but I was having too much fun decorating a new house for the first time. My tree is up and so full of ornaments, I don't know where I could put more. And I've got a whole list of other stuff to buy, too.
I've been listening to Christmas CDs (I have tons, and buy more each year). My favorite, so far, as weird as it sounds, is a Victoria Secret 2-Cd set I bought last year. Hate the cover, but love the CDs.
Since Katie had to be at work at 3:30 this morning, I'm babysitting Jacob. We picked up some Starbucks, then visited Katie (after noon, when things had calmed down considerably). Tonight I'm making dinner, and probably watching Jacob again Saturday morning/afternoon. Then, in the evening my parents and I are going to the Container Store. Then, back home on Sunday night!
Find your spot: Ever tried this site? FindYourSpot.com is this neat little online quiz where you answer all these questions, and it recommends the best places for you to live given your answers. It's pretty comprehensive, as you answer questions about everything from the climate to the size of a city, to whether you like large hospitals nearby. I completed it several years ago, before I ever thought about moving to southeastern Virginia, but I looked up my results recently:
1 - Norfolk
9 - Chesapeake/VA Beach
13 - Hampton
Guess I've found my spot! (insert cheesy grin here)
Political Ads: I am so sick of political ads, that I really don't want to vote for any of the candidates. Right now, I'm watching the second commercial break with at least three ads. I can't wait for November 7 to be over.
One thing I will say - I knew this type of thing would involve a ton of little details, and I wonder sometimes if others know just how many it includes. But I've really enjoyed the process - I could see myself doing event planning someday, as a side business. Though it might need to be something that I was personally invested in, in order to be interesting.
Another thing - thank goodness Nick has the amount of available time during the week that he does. He's busy, I know that, but trying to remember to make the phone calls that I need to while I'm in the middle of the workday is just a general pain.
Cooking: I've been on this cooking kick lately, which means that most people in my life are guinea pigs. I've even been trying new stuff on my own, which is not a common thing. No real flops yet, though there are couple things that I haven't enjoyed so much myself. I think its more of an issue of personal taste than anything else.
I made these Lasagna Rolls tonight, and they were so good! I think I would use it more for entertaining than just for me, because it's a lot of hands-on prep time and a lot of dishes just for me. I'd love to make it for Mom and my sisters sometime, if there's ever an opportunity for that when Dad isn't eating with us (he wouldn't eat it, because he doesn't like spinach).
Festival: Our first annual Bridge Community Festival is less than a week away, and I think we're probably moving through the things to do pretty well. I need to spend some time this week brainstorming and making sure that we've got all of the small details covered. The biggest thing we need at this point is help - there's enough to do that we'll be going nuts if we're all doing it ourselves.
I'm excited about it, but also a little nervous. It's a huge undertaking.
Work: Work has been absolutely ridiculous, not because it's been busy - just the opposite. Because of contract and security issues, I've been virtually unable to work for the past two weeks. I could read and send email, and I could access most websites - except the one I needed to do all of my work. We finally got things straightened out at the end of the day Friday, so Monday should be much better.
I've had several pretty busy weekends over the last month - friends and family visiting two weekends in a row, and then back in Frederick last weekend. Don't get me wrong, it's been great, but as I tend to use weekends to unwind a bit, it's been a little crazy.
Last weekend in Frederick was pretty insane - Jacob's 3rd birthday party was Saturday morning, and then Brenda's funeral in the afternoon. I ended up staying way too late on Sunday, but I got to chill a little and go shopping with Mom, so it was worth it.
Also - somebody decided to vandalize my parents' neighborhood and others early Saturday morning, and shot a BB gun through the window of Kelli's car. See? Crazy stuff.
I'm creative. I used to think that creativity equaled artistry. I'm not artistic, but I am creative.
I'm analytical. I can analyze anything to death. This is not always a good thing, but sometimes it is.
I don't follow through. I actually really stink at following through. Come to my house and I'll tell you all about my plans for it. But if it involves anything more than buying the supplies and hiring someone else to do it, it takes me forever to get around to finishing.
That's it for now.
New design: Oh, and the new design? I made it. I took a basic design from Blogger and changed the colors and some of the other details, and I added the photos and the rotating quotes in the header (refresh your browser to see different quote). Yep, I'm creative. I figured, I do this kind of thing often enough in my job, I ought to do it for me every now and then.
Brenda was a member of the church I grew up in for as long as I can remember. She was a youth leader my senior year, and I was in youth group with her son and daughter for years. She was an incredible woman - I loved talking to her. She loved Christ, and she was one of the most genuine people I knew.
While I'm saddened that she is gone, and my heart breaks for her family, I'm grateful that she is no longer hurting, and that she is in the presence of God.
I was working on a project in downtown Chicago when the attacks occurred, and was driving to the train station when I heard the news on the radio. I still remember the song that was playing - Eve 6's "Here's To The Night." I heard about the New York attacks in the car, and the Pentagon attacks while I was on the train. By the time I got to work, I ended up turning around right away. I think there's something about wanting to be at home, with friends and family, during a time like this, but there was also the real uncertainty about whether Chicago was also going to be target. The train schedule was completely abandoned, as they pulled a train into the station, loaded everyone on it that could fit, and pulled out, just to pull another train in. I spent the commute standing up, trying to get in touch with my parents on my cell phone. I finally got through near the end of the trip, and Dad assured me that as far as he knew, our family in New York and around DC were all safe. I spent the rest of that day and the next in front of the TV watching the news, occaisionally doing something else, but with the news always as a background.
I remember thinking that day that the world as I knew it had changed, that the idea of war and battle would be a part of our lives and not just the words of history. And, for a while, that was true.
The problem is, I forget that we're at war. I always had this impression of the World War II era, that everyone had a good friend or family member fighting, that they scoured newspaper reports of those who had died, praying they didn't recognize any names on the list. That might be an overly-dramatized impression, but nonetheless, that's what I expected. But here I am, working for the Navy on the largest naval base in the world, and I can actually forget we're at war.
I know a few people who have had tours in Iraq, more if I count less-than-direct connections (a friend from home, the son of someone at my parents' church, my friend's cousin, another friend's fiance). Still it doesn't feel real, and it doesn't feel like my life is different because we're at war. Shouldn't it, though?
Visitors: Friends are coming for a visit this weekend, and my sisters and nephew are coming next weekend. The weekend after that, I'll be in Frederick for Jake's birthday party, then two weeks later my parents and grandmother are coming for the weekend. It sounds a little overwhelming to read it like that, and with the big push I'm under to get the house back in order, it is, a little. But I love it. Hopefully I'll still say that after another month.
Motivation: I always seem to need external motivation to get things done, which is why I'm actually getting a lot done this week, trying to put my house back in order after the floors were refinished and I finished painting the living and dining rooms and hallway. It's an insane way to get things done, because it's so stressful, but I have to fight for motivation any other way.
Ernesto: Welcome to my first hurricane season living near the coast. Not too big a deal all in all - it took forever to get to work, only to turn around almost right away because the base was closed to non-essential personnel (this is when it feels very good to be non-essential). That was weird - I'm used to unexpected holidays from work in the winter (because of snow), not the summer. Norfolk floods like crazy, especially the main road I travel on my way to work, so that was an interesting adventure. I've seen enough cars stranded in standing water that I'm not taking any chances.
There are several houses a few blocks from mine with docks on the Elizabeth River, and many of those were either underwater, or hovering just above it. Oh, and I lost power for several hours (along with many others) - I can't say exactly how long because I wasn't home when it went off or came back on, but it was several hours. I painted while I had enough daylight, then played around on the computer until the battery died, then called friends and invited myself over for a couple hours.
Eggs: To keep myself company while I've been painting, I've had the same radio station on pretty much constantly, and I'm now at the point where I'm hearing the exact same commercials over and over again. There's one in particular I've heard a gazillion times - an ad for a place for women to donate their eggs (and be compensated for the time and effort, of course). The first few times I heard about it, I thought about my philosophical and ethical viewpoint on donating eggs (not liking it), but here's what I keep hearing now - they only want women ages 21-32. Why 32? What happens after 32? Maybe I need a four-year plan...
House update: I'm finally in the home stretch with the house stuff, which is a good thing, both because friends are coming to visit the second weekend in September, and because I'm tired of living in chaos. The kitchen just needs a few finishing touches - paint, the dishwasher and refrigerator's water line to be hooked up, new light fixtures, the rest of the cabinet hardware, and a good cleaning. Today I (with my friend Heather's help) primed the walls in the living and dining room (goodbye, green and yellow) and I'll work on painting them and the hallway over the next couple days. I'd like to go ahead and paint the trim, as well, if I have the motivation to keep going once I finally finish the walls. The floors have been refinished (and look incredible), and furniture can be moved back into the guest room/office (the last room to do) anytime this week. My hope is that I can finish painting the living room, dining room, and hallways by Tuesday, and spend the rest of the week putting things back together. Then the weekend can be reserved for the few things left to do in the kitchen.
Back to school party: Our church hosted a back to school party Saturday for Nick & Heather's neighborhood. This is the first church preview event - an event where we preview to the community the things that we value. We value community, and we value children, hence this event. It went well, but boy was it hot! I've never enjoyed a cold shower so much.
OC: I'm headed to Ocean City on Friday for a long weekend at a condo on the beach with the family. I can't wait (especially to see Jake). My floors are being refinished while I'm gone.
Jon's card: If you know my brother, or know me well enough to have heard me talk about him, or have a younger brother of your own, you'll appreciate this - this is the card I'm giving Jon for his birthday (when I see him this weekend):
Door hangers: Tomorrow morning the Bridge Church is using the kids here for the Beach Bash hosted by Portsmouth Alliance to place 5000 door hangers on doors around north Suffolk. Tonight, they stuffed the door hanger envelopes, which was a huge help, believe me, because Thursday night I and 7 others spent a little over an hour stuffing 1500 of them, and I was glad there were others to help with the work.
Airport security: I've heard and read a lot of opinions about the recent changes in airport security, particularly in light of the recently thwarted plan to blow up planes over the Atlantic. So, I figured I would throw mine in the mix. If I have to be a bit inconvenienced or lose some money in the form of items thrown away at the security checkpoint, it's a small price to pay. And if the TSA officials seem a bit grumpy, who can blame them? They have to deal with quite a lot of annoying people.
I think I set myself up for failure.
I've spent a lot of money so far, but I haven't done a ton of work myself - until this weekend. Dad and Uncle Bob are coming tomorrow to start ripping out the kitchen and installing the new cabinets. I started ripping off the cabinet doors and emptying the cupboards - partly because it needed to be done, and partly because I wanted to surprise Dad with it.
Also, on Saturday, Bernadette came over and helped me prime and paint one coat of the new color for the guest room/office. I didn't really like the color on the wall, even after leaving it for a day, so Sunday I bought a new gallon of paint and painted two more coats. I pulled the tape off and set the room back up this evening.
Saturday night, I hung out at a local bluegrass festival in a city park with some friends. It was a good time - talking with Heather & Jenni while the guys threw a football, Nathan running around like a crazy kid. The music was a nice backdrop, though I think we would have had just as much fun with a radio playing just about anything.
Heather came over last night, and we rearranged the furniture in the living room. I was mostly humoring her, because I just couldn't see what she was suggesting, but once we got it into place, I really liked it (and still do). The room looks more cozy, there's more space for side tables, on both sides of the sectional, and the back of the entertainment center and associated cables are now hidden behind the wall.
I'd really like to get started on painting this weekend, and because of the boxes of kitchen cabinets all over my living and dining rooms, I'm thinking that the office is my best bet. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be moved out of there first, though - so we'll see.
I gave Mom the tour, and she said my house was a "gem in the rough" and that I had my father's visiion. Which I'm taking as a compliment. I can't wait to have them down again when the kitchen, floors, and painting is done - this place will look so different.
I found two in the garage today, and I definitely screamed. It took me a while to get up the nerve just to go back in garage, and then only armed with salt. I couldn't find one of them, but I grabbed my laundry, dropped a healthy amount of salt on the one, and ran inside.
I checked a while later - completely gone, a just a little pile of salt left (I might have overdone that a bit). Now, I just have to figure out where the other one went...
Most of it was little things, including these adorable dog collar charms from Old Navy (so new they're not even available on their website). I bought one with her initial for Dakota (her old one broke a few months ago), and since they were so cute, bought one for Teddy and Barkley, too.
My new furniture arrived today - an entertainment center (the coffee-colored one) and a leather ottoman/coffee table (kind of like this, but more leather, no shelf, lighter brown leather and brown instead of black legs). My living room is mostly set up now, with a few things here and there to be put away.
Mom and Dad are coming for a visit this weekend, and I'd really like to have the dining room and office/guest bedroom mostly set up, as well. It would be especially amazing if the dining room was capable of actually having people sit down and eat there.
Four radiators down, three to go! The AC/heating upgrade began today, and my friend Robbie started pulling out the bushes in the backyard. My job for the next few days will be to get the microwave set up (sitting on the counter temporarily until cabinet and appliance installation), and continue to pare down the decorative stuff that's all over my office bookcase and dining table. Some of these things I know I don't want, some I know I do, and many I'm not yet sure of.
Dad hung my new chandelier, which looks great. I'm glad there's already a dimmer on the switch, though - because it sure is bright (5 100-watt bulbs came with the chandelier). He tried to hang the new vanity light for the bathroom, but shocked himself, so we decided to wait on that one until he has all the right tools. He also hung the medicine cabinet, but it's a bit shorter than the old one, so the drywall needs to be fixed before I can paint.
A funny thing about the medicine cabinet - apparently, old medicine cabinets had a small slot for razor blades, so when Dad pulled out the old cabinet, there were tons of old rusted razors in the wall openings. I took a couple pictures, and I'll post them as soon as Dad sends them to me.
Update: Here are the photos from removing the medicine cabinet.
I bought a chandelier for the dining room (to replace the nice but brass one), a pendant light and ceiling light for the kitchen, and a vanity light and ceiling light for the bathroom and hallway. I also bought the garbage disposal, faucets, and cabinet hardware for the kitchen and a medicine cabinet for the bathroom. And that's not even including the furniture - a tall skinny bookcase for a corner between the living room and dining room (a great deal, as it was marked down from over $100 to $28 because of a missing mirror that I wouldn't have wanted anyway), a daybed (Dad and Mom are letting me borrow two twin mattresses and a pop-up trundle bed for the guest bedroom/office), and a TV cabinet and leather cocktail ottoman to use as a coffee table.
On the way to Home Depot, I saw a woman riding on the back of a motorcycle with a sling on one arm and a lit cigarette in the other hand. I called Kelli to tell her that was the kind of balance that she needed to strive for. Then, while driving to the beach so Dad could compare it to Ocean City and Rehoboth, we saw a convertible pick-up truck - a lowered truck with all of the cab except the windshield ripped off and two grinning idiots sitting in the seat. Weird people.
Dad is coming for a visit either this week or next weekend, probably with Jon and maybe one of his friends. He’s eager to see the house (and I’m eager to show it off) and I think eager to help with some of the work I’m doing. Unfortunately, we’re just not at a place where I’m doing much actual labor – most of that is with unpacking. Still, it will be good to have them hear for a visit.
I’m actually doing really well on the packing – more so than I expected. I’ve gone through all of the boxes that were stacked in the living and dining rooms (there’s one box of pantry stuff still to be unpacked in the kitchen) and have started pulling boxes out of the spare bedroom. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff in there is either Christmas decorations (needs to be moved to the attic and I can’t do that myself), office supplies (can’t put those away until I get the office cleaned out enough to have the furniture set up at least a little), and decorative stuff (which I need to decide to keep or toss, and then where it should be stored). I can see the potential for getting bogged down in that stuff, so I’m trying to move through it as quickly as I can and not stress about finding its permanent home for right now.
I also need to move the last remnants of stuff out my car. Since it goes into the shop Monday night for a couple days, that’s a good deadline.
I ordered the kitchen cabinets, countertops, and sink tonight. I worked with a great kitchen designer at Home Depot who kept her eye open for sales for me, and so I got 10% off the countertops, my sink base free, and then another 10% up to $500 off the whole order (I got the full $500 max). So – I used my savings to get a couple upgrades – a pull-out trash bin cabinet with two bins (one for trash, and the other I’ll use for food for Dakota), and a total of six roll-out drawers in the base cabinets. I bought a Silestone countertop (quartz composite – a little more durable than Corian solid surface, more of the colors I liked, and pretty comparable in price). I also bought a solid surface under-mounted sink. That takes care of most of the big purchases for the kitchen – just some smaller items left (the faucet, the garbage disposal, cabinet hardware, floor, paint, and decorative touches).
Overall, I’m really enjoying this process, though I do feel a bit like I’m trying to keep a lot of balls in the air. It probably helps that I’m still new to the area and don’t have tons of stuff going on all the time. Sometimes, though, I just want to stop making decisions of any kind.
There are a few other things I want to do the house, including repainting almost every room and doing some simple, mostly cosmetic updates. I’d also like to refinish the floors. I knew they needed it when I looked at the house, but seeing the floor without furniture, I think they need it even more. I’m just waiting for the radiators to come out before doing either (refinishing the floors or painting).
Here’s the big dilemma with the refrigerator. The current one, though a shallower model, still sticks out pass the door frame. I considered a cabinet depth refrigerator, but would need to be careful even then to check dimensions. Also, cabinet depth models are significantly more expensive, even the cheapest brands. Heather asked about the possibility of switching the refrigerator and stove, since there’s more room where the stove currently is (the doors to the garage and dining room aren’t quite opposite each other), and Dad said this would require an electrician, but wouldn’t be too complicated. But, even with the switch, a standard refrigerator would still stick pass the door frame, and I think with the money and effort I’m putting into this remodel, that would drive me crazy. So, Dad suggested creating a recessed area for the refrigerator, and because there’s currently a shall cabinet in the wall there that would otherwise be walled off, there’s room for that. I’m relieved not to have to worry about that anymore.
Otherwise, the front of the yard is in good shape – just needs some landscaping right along the house. The backyard needs some attention, but other than removing the shrubs and adding the fence, that will probably wait for another time. There’s too much I want to do inside first.
I picked Dakota up from the kennel Saturday morning. She handled the drive pretty well, even with the delays, and seems to be adjusting well. The backyard isn’t fenced in yet, but I’ll be glad when it is and I can just let her out to run around as much as she wants. Until then, I’m walking her out front.
This is the door style (except the wall cabinets will be square, not cathedral) and basic wood color (though the mocha glaze adds a different twist): Ashland Maple Spice Cathedral
This is a different door style, but since the wood and glaze are the same, you can better see the color: Richmond Maple Mocha Glaze
Now I'm waiting for a phone call to set up an appointment to measure my kitchen, then we'll finalize the design and order the cabinets.
I'm also still trying to decide about the countertops - I'm considering both Corian and Silestone. Silestone is more durable, and they're comparable in price, but the integrated sink is only an option with Corian. So, I'm still deciding about that. Really, it may come down to a color choice.
Apparently, Hampton Boulevard gets severely flooded in places when there's a lot of rain (thanks to Alberto, downgraded to a tropical depression today). It took me twenty minutes to drive what normally takes about two, since almost everyone had moved from three lanes to one (the only lane without standing water measuring a couple feet in some places). And I passed three cars that hadn't been smart enough avoid those lanes, and were stuck. I actually called Dad for a quick refresher on how to drive through standing water.
After shopping for a while (I picked out my cabinets), Heather and I drove by the first house I visited while house hunting - nearly every yard was severely flooded, and several streets. Apparently, Norfolk (where I work) and Portsmouth (where I will live, starting this weekend) are the first areas to flood. Even though my house isn't in a flood zone, I still felt a strong desire to just drive by and check it out, to make sure. No problems at all - guess I picked the right house!
Then, today, I closed on my house, which makes me a homeowner again. The sellers are renting it back for a few days, but I can't wait until its completely mine. And I'm even more excited for when I can move my stuff in (this weekend).
I got an estimate for installing central AC and converting to either gas or electric heat. Both were about what I was expecting, so no big surprises there.
Me: "Hey, Bill, I talked to Jim yesterday..."
Bill (cuts me off): "I just can't talk about that, there are things higher on my priority list."
Me (a little surprised): "Well, can I just tell you what he said?"
Bill: "You can, but I won't be listening."
At this point, he was actually walking away from me and around the corner, and he kept talking to himself.
I guess there's one interesting coworker in every office, right?
I saw The Break-Up tonight - big waste of money. I suppose its too much to hope that a movie with that title would end up with the two main characters get back together. Heather said it best - when the credits started to roll, she said, "What the crap?"
I guess I'll get really good at typing with my left hand.
Nathan, however, did not enjoy the beach so much. Though this might be because early in our afternoon, a wave knocked him flat on his back and water flowed over his face.
We had fun, though. :-)
Nick and Heather were on vacation this past week, so I had the house to myself for a few days. On Wednesday, Heather's parents came to take care of Nathan, which was a little odd, since I don't know them too well, but not too bad.
Wednesday I met with a kitchen designer at Lowe's and designed my kitchen, and got a cabinet and countertop estimate for what I want to do. I'm going to see if Home Depot has something similar, just so I have something to compare. I also started looking at appliances - it's a bit overwhelming. I'm hoping to find open-box items to drive the cost down a bit, if I can.
Last night I saw X-Men 3, which was pretty good (and of course, left open the opportunity for a sequel). I think the first one was probably my favorite, though.
Settlement for my house in Frederick was Friday, and everything went well (Melissa said - I wasn't there). And, all the contigencies for the new settlement have been taken care of, so we should be good to go on the 15th.
Mom called me yesterday while she was outside with Jake, and Jake and I talked on the phone for a little while. It's a lot easier to talk to him on speaker phone, because I don't have to rely on him keeping the phone in the right position. At one point, I was waiting for him to answer my question, which I guess he didn't realize, and I could hear him say to Mom, "she's not in there."
My house inspection is tomorrow, and I'll take a ton of measurements, inside and out, and I have an appointment Wednesday evening with a kitchen designer at Lowe's. After that, I should have some more specific numbers to work with in terms of an estimate, especially for counters, floors, and cabinets (the big unknowns right now because I need actual measurements), so I can start making some more concrete decisions.
I've also decided that though I will most likely want to join the launch team for the church Nick & Heather are planting, I need another place to get plugged in to in the meantime. BJ and I visited a church in Chesapeake this morning, and I'm going to keep looking over the next few weeks.
(In case anyone from Mountain View's praise team is reading this, I actually saw the pastor jumping during one of the songs, and thought of you guys. Acoustics are going to be so much better in the new building.)
UPS has one of the automated phone systems where you say what you want, based on their menu options, and they redirect and answer you accordingly. After spending time trying to figure out a way to talk to a person, when that isn't one of the menu options, the automated voice said, "What would you like to do?" And I said, quite sarcastically, actually, "How about, talk to a real live person?" Auto-voice said, "One moment, please, I'll connect you." And after waiting on a hold, I did get to talk to an actual person.
How funny is that?
I spent most of today on administrative stuff - filling out paperwork, figuring out how to submit my timesheet, being re-introduced to many of the people that I met two weeks ago. Tomorrow will be more of the same, as I have to complete a pretty length security form to kick off a security investigation (not even for a secret clearance, that comes later). Then, I can get the accounts and cards I need to actually get started with the work.
Tomorrow night I'll experience Life Group for the first time (the weekly meeting for Nick & Heather's church - The Bridge Church of Suffolk). I've actually met most of the people who come each week, so it won't be totally foreign. I'm excited, though, to start experiencing more of the work they're doing here.
I think the person I miss most is Jacob, although there's a part of me that misses Dakota, too. Is that weird? I talked to Jake on the phone tonight for a little while - he held a block up to the phone, and Dad had to tell me what color it was. I asked him to color a picture for me so Mom & Dad could send it to me. Leaving him might be the hardest part of moving.
Okay, strictly speaking, it's not done. I haven't unloaded my car or even started unpacking stuff here, not to mention the tons of stuff sitting in storage in Maryland waiting for a house. But I'm exhausted, and for a moment, I need to delude myself into thinking I'm done, ok?
Seriously, though, for a while at least, the insanity that has been the last few weeks is over. And I'm glad about that. Actually, glad isn't the right word. Relieved, grateful, more than a little exhausted - that's more accurate.
Oh, and today is my 28th birthday. I kept forgetting that, in the midst of everything else I was doing. Maybe it's not that big a deal, or maybe it will just hit me later. Occasionally, though, I just kept thinking, two years from today, I'll be 30.
Hmm, that might evolve into a longer, more introspective post later.
When I first moved to Frederick, I opened a bank account with Chessie Federal Credit Union, because it was easy and because I didn't need direct deposit or a minimum balance (good since I was basically unemployed and poor). There are a couple of people who work in their Frederick branch who seem okay, although many of its employees are slow and quite obviously find absolutely no joy in their jobs. That's okay, though, I can deal with that - I use ATMs and online banking and rarely have to deal with someone face to face.
However, when I needed to refinance my car loan, I decided to go through them. Big mistake. First, they lost my title. Even though I turned it in to them as soon as it was sent to me (and they had record of this), they kept sending me letters, strongly worded ones, telling me I needed to send them the title. I would call, they would say that they knew I didn't have it but had no control over the content of the letter, and that it was lost somewhere in transit to the MVA. This went on for several months, until finally, the car loan was paid off.
At that point, I got another letter from them, asking again if I had the title, accompanied by a letter releasing the lien on my car. I called to explain that, no, I didn't have the title, and that I had been through this repeatedly with them, at which point they told me that I needed to go to the MVA and request another copy of the title, and at the point use the letter they sent to have the lien information removed from the title.
First question - I know they charged me $20 to get the new title with their name on it as lien holder. Since they didn't manage to accomplish this, and I have to pay the money again, shouldn't I get this money back?
So, here I am today at the MVA, trying to take care of this (yes, at the last moment, I realize this), and whenI get there, I find that not only is there one recorded lien on my car, but two. So not only did they manage to lose the title, but they managed to get their name added without removing the other company!
I called the other company, GMAC, this afternoon to ask them to send me a letter indicating that they had no security interest in my car and that then lien had been satisfied. The problem is, they need to send it to Chessie, since they're the ones who paid it off technically, not me. In my mind, this is not a good solution, because if Chessie can lose the title, they can certainly lose a letter. The guy from GMAC was understanding and tried to be helpful, and suggested calling Chessie and asking them to call GMAC and request the letter be sent directly to me. So, that's what I'll be doing tomorrow.
And hopefully, when all this is done, I can take the Maryland title with the GMAC lien on it, and the GMAC lien release letter, to the Virginia DMV, and use that to get my car titled in Virginia free and clear and in my name only. Otherwise, I'll be granting my dad power of attorney and sending everything to him (including the $20 fee), so he can fix the title in Maryland, before titling in Virginia.
What a mess. There's another reason to pay cash for cars - no need to deal with liens.
Can you tell I'm frustrated? Inefficiency is annoying, but incompetence really ticks me off.
Hopefully, we'll get the contract ratified on Monday, and then I'll post photos. I'm excited!
Tonight, I was at a bathroom in the mall, and noticed that the toilet paper wasn't the standard width - it was more narrow. This strikes me as weird, because there is certainly room for a full size roll. And having to buy speciality narrow toilet paper has to be more expensive. So why do it?
Tomorrow night after work, I drive down to Norfolk. I'll be there until Saturday, and spend a couple of those days looking for a house. I'm excited about that - I can't wait. Tonight, though, I need to finish laundry and pack for the trip tomorrow, and then continue packing up boxes as I can.
So, today my brother's youth pastor came over with a couple of my brother's friends and, in exchange for a donation to help with the cost of a summer trip, they helped me moved most of my furniture out of my house. The only large things left here are my bed, fresser, half my sectional, and dining chairs (because there wasn't room for the chairs in the second load). We also took quite a few boxes over - books, DVDs and videos, games, decorative stuff, and all of my Christmas boxes.
I'll continue packing up boxes (especially the kitchen - there's a lot to do there yet) and take things over during the next few weeks. I can even borrow Dad's truck for a larger run, if I want.
Tonight, though, I'm torn between shopping (which I'd like to do) and straightening for whoever is coming to look at the house tomorrow (not sure if it's another potential buyer, or an appraiser, or what). Moving has a way of throwing your house into chaos.
I should also start working on packing the kitchen, too, as tomorrow is the last (mostly) full day I have to do these things. I'll be in Virginia Beach Tuesday night through Saturday, then Sunday is church in the morning, our church's annual picnic, then my going-away party (my parents are throwing this for me). The next Saturday (my birthday, May 13), we move the rest of the stuff to storage, I pack my car, and I move into Nick and Heather's house.
A family from my church is going to care for Dakota when I first move. Their kids have been asking for a dog for a while now, and caring for her will give them a chance to see what it will really be like to have one.
Also, I accepted an offer on my house tonight (officially). This means a couple things - first, that I actually need to pack up and move everything out of my house in the next two and a half weeks, and that I can look at houses next week and feel comfortable making an offer.
Here's the listing, from Realtor.com (though I have no idea how long it will be active): http://www.realtor.com/Prop/1058607774
"No, I'm Kristy. That's Kelli."
"Jacob is Katie's son."
"No, I'm the oldest."
"No, I'm not married yet." (Side note - the most ridiculous question you can ask a single person is, why aren't you married yet? Simply because, there is no really good way to answer that one.)
But the funniest thing was, Jacob kept running around and pointing out Katie to everyone. Half the time he said, "this is my mommy," but half the time, he said, "this is my son." I guess he was just echoing what he's heard her say?
I know, in my head, that these types of moves happen all the time. I know that people sell one house and buy another and somehow manage to time all of that so that they're not living out of their cars. At the moment, though, it escapes me how all of those plans come together.
I'm moving to the Virginia Beach area. I've accepted a position with a Navy contractor in Norfolk (still figuring out how to say that the right way) and I will be moving down there in three weeks. This, of course, leaves me with lots to do in three weeks. including listing my house, beginning to look for a house in Virginia, wrapping up things here, and saying goodbye to dear friends and family. My head is still spinning, and those of you who know me well will not be surprised that I have lots of lists. I'm not stressed out, I just can't turn my brain off. I'm also getting a glimpse of what it must feel like to have ADD, as even some of my lists are fragmented (here's a particularly interesting item: "Email Melissa about")
My current plans are to live with my friends Nick and Heather for a (short) while, until I can buy a house of my own. This leaves with the issue of what to do with Dakota. The best option, I think, is to find someone to "board" her (either in Virginia or in Maryland) until I have my own house. I'm also thinking about finding someone to live in my house in Maryland, including caring for Dakota, because I won't be moving all of my furniture and stuff out of it until I either have a house in Virginia to put it in, or sell it. Of course, this option may get tricky, depending on the timing of house settlements and so forth.
Anyway, I'll be sending out an email to local friends and family about this in the next couple days. In case of any of you are reading this though, and you have any ideas along these lines, let me know.
So here's what I find more amazing than anything - that it is just so unnatural. Grace (and forgiveness, because the two concepts are irrevocably intertwined) goes against every natural law of our hearts that cries for justice and balance and fairness. And yet, at the same time, it's the only solution. Without grace and forgiveness, especially on a national/societal level, there can never be peace. We will continue to seek justice and revenge for the wrongs committed against us, and when we think we've achieved it, our victims will rise up to demand justice and revenge against us. It's the story of every conflict in human history, and the only end to it is for someone, one country, one people, to extend grace and forgiveness and accept that the scales of justice will remain unbalanced.
And while all of this is true on a global level, I think it also applies to us individually as well. Grace feels just as unnatural whether its extended to the perpetrators of the Holocaust or to a friend who has hurt my feelings with selfish words. And yet, without it, there's no peace, no resolution.
In a couple weeks, I'll be singing "Reaching" by Carolyn Arends for special music. I posted the lyrics to the song over here.
Vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream heaped atop a giant chocolate chip cookie freshly baked in a deep dish pan.
I had hoped to get some good pictures of Jacob with the Easter Bunny, but things were a bit chaotic, and Jacob wasn't cheesing as much for the camera as he usually does. I did get one really good shot, though, before he attacked me with an Easter egg (this might account for that grin on his face).
I did the latter this evening, moving my desk back into my office after the carpet in that room was replaced. I'd have loved to have moved all the furniture, but while I might be able to handle the file cabinet (with a lot of grunting), there's no way the bookcase is going anywhere without another body.
Hmm, Mom is coming to pick up Jacob tomorrow after I babysit - I wonder if it's too heavy for both of us? Probably. Maybe I can convince Jon to stop by briefly on Sunday afternoon?
I like driving with the windows down and the sunroom open. I like leaving my house without wearing a jacket. I like wearing capris and sandals, and the brighter colors that are a part of my spring wardrobe. And I get incredibly excited about walk-up, ice-cream-type places, like Rita's (Jillian and I went there mid-afternoon today to get out the office a little).
So, our church is launching a stewardship campaign, and this Sunday will be our Celebration Event service. It's supposed to be one of the biggest services in the history of the church, and we spent tonight rehearsing for it at praise team practice. I got to be involved in some of the planning of it, and I'm excited, because I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
So, my sister's dog decided to pee on her down comforter. (My other sister's dog decided to pee on my brother's down comforter, but that's a different story). So, she takes it to the dry cleaner to have it cleaned. The dry cleaner tells her, "This is dry clean only."
Really, why does the guy think she brought it to him in the first place?
It's a good thing I'm not one of those people who takes lots of pills on a regular basis - I think I would get confused.
Actually, I'm worried that I've got more than just a cold now. I slept in pretty late today, so my doctor's office was closed by the time I really got moving around, but I'm going to try to get an appointment for Monday. I'm worried I might have bronchitis, or at least be moving into something that requires an antibiotic.
This is what he thinks of anyone who doesn't have cable (my mom's friends don't even have a TV). Should I point out that not only does he have DirectTV and Tivo, but cable as a back-up, in case a storm takes out DirectTV?
Then last night, just before bed, I took my regular headache medicine (which kind of knocks me out) and Tylenol sinus nighttime (the only nighttime cold-like stuff in my house, which really knocks me out, usually). Still, didn't sleep well - because every time I managed to fall asleep, Dakota would shift or start walking around or something. I think she does this usually, and it doesn't normally wake me up, but I wasn't really sleeping deeply. Plus, I kept having totally weird dreams about all this stuff I had to do, which I really don't have to do, or about my house being a mess, which it isn't. I normally don't even remember my dreams, but I actually dreamed that I was drying baking sheets on the floor in my bathroom. I mean, how weird is that?
Anyway, so despite all the medication it wasn't a good night. Still, incredibly hard to get up this morning. Good thing my presentation for Thursday was postponed a week, so I didn't have to stress about getting ready for that.
Oh, and did I mention that my voice has been coming and going all day? And even when I have it, it's all scratchy? I'm definitely not going to make it to praise team practice tomorrow night, and might not even be able to sing on Sunday.
So, since Mom and Dad had plans, I rented a couple movies and worked on our church's website. I watched Stealth, which was okay but not incredible (though normally I really like Josh Lucas) and Walk the Line, which was really, really good. Even more amazing when you consider that Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon sang all of their own stuff for the movie. I'd seriously consider purchasing the soundtrack.
And, speaking of movies - the Chronicles of Narnia will be released on DVD on April 4, just in time to get it in my Easter basket. I've already hinted. :-)
I really dislike being sick, and I think I can blame it on Jacob. I woke up in the middle of night last night because my throat hurt so bad, and I never wake up in the middle of the night. Now my nose is runny and I hate that yucky feeling, especially when you're not incapacitated enough to not go to work, but you'd still rather just sit at home, watch TV, and have someone make you chicken noodle soup and ginger ale. At least, that's what I'd rather do.
I heard a new song on the radio yesterday that I really liked, and I just downloaded it from iTunes. I started to post the lyrics here, in another post, but decided to create another blog for quotes and song lyrics. The song I'm talking about is called "Only Grace" by Matthew West.
Tonight I hosted a Pampered Chef party, which went really well. I made lots of fun food, and didn't have too many leftovers (thanks to Michelle and her family, which she likened to a garbage disposal). There were tons of people here, but somehow everyone fit. So, now I'm watching my next movie (Princess Diaries) and picking out what I want to order with all my free money from Pampered Chef.
There are a ton of things to do at home, and honestly, even up until a few minutes before we left, a part of me wanted to just stay home and check things off my to-do list. Not because I didn't want to see Kate, but it's just felt like a crazy week with a lot of things going on that are taking up all this mental energy, and the idea of a full day tomorrow to get rid of some of that stuff sounds really good.
But - here's what I'm thinking instead, after a two-hour drive with Bethany that was so full of good conversation that it felt about fifteen minutes long. Good friends, no matter how they come into your life, aren't something to take lightly. It doesn't matter if you've known them forever, or if it's been less than three years since you met. And it doesn't matter if they live next door and you see them all the time just during the normal course of life, or they live in tiny obscure little states and spending time with them requires you to be intentional. People who know you, really know you, aren't easy to come by, and they're one of life's most precious gifts.
So, yeah, I'm glad I'm sitting in a living room in Delaware.
It reminds me of when my sister Katie used to complain about people who talked about "little bunny rabbits." She said, if bunnies are really little rabbits, then when you say "little bunny rabbit," aren't you really saying, "little little rabbit rabbit?"
So here's the difficult thing about grace - it's tough to explain, in words that make sense. I'm finding that the best way to understand grace, is in examples. Grace isn't really all of that common, but the opportunities for it are, and that's teaching me a lot.
Funniest example so far: BJ gives Heather a piece of pizza, and she says, "But I have nothing to offer you." (See Heather, I do write about you.)
It was set in the 1930's, and I was an ex-Rockette, on my way to Hollywood. Between Mom's fake fur coat and the great hat we found for $3 at Party City, I think the outfit looked great. (I've got a great photo - I'll post it when I get around to downloading it from my camera).
Or like you're the hamster in the wheel - running as fast as you can but not really going anywhere?
That's what today feels like.
(No, I'm not saying this is a reflection on my life. Just on my current to-do list, both at work and at home. There's more there than I think I can ever hope to get done. Which I guess means I need to do something about the list itself, but I'm not really sure what, other than ride it out.)
Kate: Hi, Kristy.
Me: Kate, I think I'm completely screwed up.
Kate, laughing: I'm pretty sure we're all screwed up. What's going on?
Take today, for example. Last night and today (following a great conversation with my friend Kate) I've been thinking a lot about hope. Specifically, I've been thinking about how scary it can be when you begin to hope for something that you had previously shoved back to the realm of impossibility, because it's terrifying to consider that sometimes we hope for things that never come to pass. This morning, as I was driving to work, I thought about writing about these things, though really they're so elemental in my head right now, that I don't know what I would say. (They also resolve around a very specific circumstance, which I definitely am not ready to share.)
In addition to this, I've been thinking about how I really want to go over to the vending machine next door and buy a Coke, but I know I shouldn't, because nothing will bust the lose-weight thing faster for me. (Side note - I worked out yesterday. Yea!)
So, I started this post, and actually couldn't decide what to write about - hope or the Coke. How messed up is that?
I could go into the whys of it, but frankly, I'm just not comfortable going into that much detail about my personal neuroses when there are people I know that will actually read this. Suffice it to say that I'm doing some thinking, and I'm fed up of the status quo. This moment is a moment of commitment. This is where things change.
Starting tomorrow, I'll begin again to track everything I eat, and will attempt once more (really) to start a new workout routine. (Here's a side note - why in the world do I decide to start these things during probably the busiest week I've had in months?)
So, Jillian, if you're reading this - still interested in a work-out partner at the fitness center on base? And sorry, I'll be cutting back my participation in the Starbucks runs. I'll take out my frustrations with certain major-software-vendors-that-are-to-remain-nameless on the recumbent bike instead.
Sometimes I think there's just enormous benefit in getting away from home, even if it's not that far away. To be with friends, and have no real agenda to speak of, is a wonderful thing. I'm trying to think about what I would be doing this weekend if I was at home, and I think, really, I'd be spending much of it the same way - shopping, hanging out with the people I care about, laughing. The difference is that all the things I should be doing would be weighing on me.
So, I'm thinking that maybe the really wonderful thing about vacations is giving yourself permission to be distracted from the things you should do. And if that's the case, it should be possible to accomplish that at home. I think.
One thing, however, was so silly as to warrant mention.
(For those who don't know, I work on an army base. This means, among other things, that I stop at the gate for fort police to check my id each time I drive back on base.)
On our way back from grabbing lunch at Panera today, the cop checking our ids (mine and Jillian's) actually told us to have a happy Detrick day.
I think Jillian's response as we drove away pretty much summed it up: "Well. That was a new one."
Valentine's Day is a weird day. I actually don't have a really high opinion of it, but find it difficult to explain my feelings. I worry that I might give the opinion that the only reason that I don't like it is because I don't have a significant other with whom to celebrate it.
I just don't like the idea that we're told when to express our love for others. I don't like the expectation of a grandiose gesture.
And I don’t like our waitress at Olive Garden the other night, who divided our eight-person table into two checks (“the lovebirds” and “the singles”) and spent most of the night hitting on Josh (including asking him about his cologne before asking him for his drink order.Not that the guy at Ruby Tuesday's was much better - ever heard of personal space?
Here's the problem - I was never given a chance to provide an explanation. Instead, the judge asked me my name, if I was pleading guilty, about my driving record, then prounced me guilty and gave me fine.
The amount of the original ticket was $80, the new fine was $74.50, plus $25.50 in court costs. So, $20 extra dollars and total waste of my time to go to the courthouse.
Now, what, I ask you, is the point of "guilty with explanation" if you don't get a chance to give an explanation?
I don't really feel uncomfortable about saying that, because I've said similar things to him personally before, and because I doubt he's reading this anyway.
So, sorry for any confusion.
Then, I continued to use it as a sort of personal journal. Sometimes you just have something you need to say, you know? And really, typing has always been more of my thing than writing. But when people you know are actually reading what you write, it means you need to be wise in what you say.
Here's why I'm saying all of this. In a traditional journal right now, I would be venting frustration at a certain person in my life. Here, I'm still going to do that - I'm just going to veil my comments a bit.
If you're going to ask someone a question, you need to give them your attention for as long as it takes for them to answer, even if it takes longer than you expected. And looking at your computer and clicking your mouse while they're talking to you, even if you say you're listening and can repeat back what they're saying, does not count as giving someone your attention.
The funny thing is, most of you who know me will probably know who I'm talking about anyway.
Going gray early runs in my family. My mother takes great delight in telling us that while her mother's hair was completely gray before her children were born, and therefore not because of her, Mom's hair didn't turn gray until after she had children.
Several weeks ago, my dad told my sister and I that if he was us, and we had gray hair early, he wouldn't hesitate to dye it. We very sarcastically thanked him for his permission.
But for now, for anyone following this saga - I just heard from the doctor, and the CT scans came back normal. I scheduled an appointment for tomorrow to talk about the current medication, but at least one worry has been eliminated.
I had my CT scans today. The technician said it would be two days before the doctor received the results, so I don't expect to hear anything until closer to the end of the week.
I'm finding that my headaches have distinguished themselves into two categories - the ones that are mostly an annoyance, and those that are really painful. The latter ones happen about 4-5 times a week. I've been taking the latest medication for over a week now, with no real change. In addition, each night just after I take it, my heart races, so that concerns me a little. Once my doctor gets my CT results, we'll schedule appointment, and I'll talk about all of these things with him. When I know more, I'll post it.
I did see the doctor again on Friday, and he prescribed another medication to take just before bed every night. Unfortunately, it takes several days to really start working, so he gave me samples of something else in the meantime. The samples just don't work, so I've been taking Aleve for the really bad headaches (this weekend was particularly bad). The medicine I've been taking nightly really wipes me out - yesterday was kind of fuzzy, though today is a bit better. I still feel a bit like I'm walking around in a fog, but I don't know if it's because of the medication or the headache pain.
The doctor also ordered head and sinus CTs, and those are scheduled for Monday. He doesn't expect to find anything on them - the goal is really to rule out other causes, some of which are scary and some aren't. So, I guess we'll see.
In the meantime, I'm just grateful for those days when the only pain is a dull ache, rather than the sharp kind. That's what yesterday was like. Today is okay so far, but it's too early to tell for sure.
The biggest frustration, I think, is that I hate the way this messes up my plans. I usually look forward to weekends, especially long ones where I don't have a lot planned, because I can get some things done around the house. But that didn't happen this weekend.
I'm just tired of these, and because they've been happening for so long, I'm starting to second-guess myself. What I would really like is for the doctor to find something clinical, something he can see, that would explain things. I guess I'd just like the validation. Bethany says I shouldn't want that, because if the doctor does see something, it's probably a tumor.
I would seriously consider doing this in my dining room (though it's already decorated, so really I don't need to), but I don't have that many cookbooks that are worth displaying. I keep thinking, though, of all of those inexpensive cookbooks I usually see in the front bins at A.C. Moore.
Regardless, it's an idea to file away for later. This page from the catalog is definitely going in my decorating idea files.