Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've been promoted!

And my new title is... "Mommy"
No, the baby's not here yet (that would be bad cuz he'd be 3 months early), but I have been really getting into this whole Mommy thing lately. I have been going to the expecting/nursing mothers bible study group, researching toys that aren't made in China, joining the local Intown Mommies group, researching "Babywearing" and slings, and buying crazy art for the baby's room, like the "hunting trophy" in the picture:
His name is Mitchum and according to the back of the plaque, "he's called that because he enjoyed kissing his chocolate truffles before devouring them in one bite. He especially enjoyed anything with mint in it."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy 3rd Trimester Day!

Can you freaking believe it?As of today I am 24 weeks along, which means I am entering my 3rd trimester/6th month of this pregnancy. It is kind of weird for me because I guess on some level I didn't believe it was really going to happen; that I was really pregnant and really going to be able to carry a baby to term. But now, in addition to feeling like my body has been taken over by some alien force that wants me to waddle like a penguin and not be able to tie my shoes, I am also amazed daily whenever the little guy bumps around in there. 

In the meantime the USA finally got it's head screwed on right and elected Barack Obama to be president! In response, I received this email from my friend in Germany:
Greetings to you from Germany upon your succeful election. We are very happy that Obama made it! He truly is a charismatic and exceptional person. The results of this election mean a lot for America. It's like a rebirth, a renewal. What a wonderful signal, not just for America, Obama has shown us that you really can make a difference, even when it doesn't seem like it at first. I didn't believe it that he would overshoot Hillary.

I hope for him that he can improve things and make his promises come true. Unfortunately he won't have it easy. Right now America has a lot of problems (finance crisis, Iraq...I believe you know all about that). But he is most definitely the best man and other countries have these problems, too. I really hope that things will change for the better in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I hope all is well for you guys, especially your baby, who will be born in a new America!

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's a little BOY!

So I feel really bad that I'm just getting around to posting this fact now, although I figure more of you already know this via email or facebook. But you know now, and knowing is half the battle.

I am at the 20 week mark (5 months) and I have another 4 1/2 months to go until the little fella makes his first live appearance! That means we have only 4 1/2 months to:
1) Rearrange and paint the soon-to-be nursery
2) Move the washer and dryer from behind the kitchen to the little room behind our chimney
3) Baby-proof the house
4) Re-roof the house (has to get done anyway)
5) Buy a real bed frame for us
6) and of course, buy a ton of baby-related furniture, clothes and other cute and tiny yet expensive accouterments

Alright already, here are the cute pictures:

Side View, that's his head on the right

He's waving hello!

Me, at 4.25 months, doing an adorable high school senior photo pose because I am a dork

Poof! you're gone!

I woke up this morning feeling distressed but wasn't sure why at first. 

I looked around and after my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing, I realized that it's just all this ugly news everywhere lately that's getting to me (dirty politics, stock market crashing, people actually loving Sarah Palin, etc).

And it's so typical, isn't it? Outta nowhere, these people just barge in and start poking around with their self-serving, folksy sweet-talk.  Like I give a damn. It's pathetic and annoying - like a little yappy dog begging for attention. 

Whatever, people. Move along.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Senator McCain, you are NOT my friend!

Seriously, we're not friends, so stop saying that. Oh, and drop the maverick thing already - it's getting really freaking old and annoying. Tom Cruise is Maverick - not you. Although, if you were, does that make Palin "Goose?" (me personally, I would call her Iceman, but that's just me)

Also, you're really not giving me any reason to trust that you won't drop dead any moment - it was only half-way through the debate and you were already out of breath. Maybe a treadmill or a guest spot on Celebrity Fit Club would help? Just a thought.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This weekend I went to my alma mater, which had been Randolph-Macon Woman's College up until the 2007/-08 school year when it was hastily made coed and re-named, Randolph College. The school's administration claimed that we were in such dire financial straits that if we did not go coed, the school would face imminent closing. This information was a sudden blow to most of the students and alumnae. Looking back, I realize that there had been some warning flags pointing to the financial distress, such as the dilapidated and outdated sports building (P.E.R.) and library, but somehow I guess I just accepted them as a part of the school, just the same way I had accepted it's unfortunate location in Lynchburg, VA.

Regardless of the situation, I think many (most?) of the students and alumnae felt the problem was handled poorly with utmost disrespect towards anyone who was not in a power-position. As for myself, what I felt was severe disenfranchisement from an institution that was not behaving in the way it had taught me to think and act, namely with deliberate and thoughtful actions that would ultimately serve the greater good. What I saw taking place instead was rash, one-sided and inconsiderate to practically everyone involved.

One example of this horribly constructed process is the fact that a plan was not established as to what to do with the Randolph-Macon alumnae association and the eventual need for a Randolph College alum association. So this year the administration* basically tried to yank us around again and shove another rash decision down our throats by telling us that there was no other option other than to combine the two alum associations. The language that was used in what I would have thought were supposed to be unbiased, informational letters to the alumnae about the ideas and possibilities on what to do about this issue, was in fact astoundingly coercive and basically amounted to emotional blackmail. An example of this language can be seen here: 

If you are not a R-MWC alum, you might not appreciate the power behind using abrasive words like "walled off" as pulling from one the school's icons, the red brick wall that frames the front of our campus and is lovingly referred to in our school song. And this is just one example of many. On top of all this, the greatest injustice was that while apparently other solutions were proposed and researched, this was the only resolution that was presented to the body of the alumnae association.

I recently signed up to be class secretary for the class of 2000 and while I was vaguely aware of all these goings-on, I had largely ignored it because it was so emotionally overwhelming. But, I think I kind of lucked out that the class secretary orientation takes place at the Annual Meeting, which also is where the "Open Meeting" and subsequent vote about the alum associations were scheduled to take place. I don't know if I could have brought myself to go there, if I hadn't had another reason to be there.

The weekend started Friday evening with a talk by the new president, John Klein. I have not made up my mind about how I feel about him. I do have to give him kudos for braving such a rocky and uncertain terrain, not just financially speaking, but also the tumultuous adaption from single-sex to coed. *It is here that I want to explain my previous asterisk: one of the biggest things that has and is continuing to bother me about this whole thing is that I really, truly do not know WHO is in charge of much this decision-making process. Even after visiting the school and doing as much investigating as I could, I could not make out who or what group was pushing all this. 

After President Klein's speech (which I missed most of and so will not comment on), they brought out a panel of current students, 4 ladies and one young man. I recognized the guy, Caleb, from recent mailings from the school - he is the epitome of "poster boy" - energetic, charming and talkative, he exudes "school spirit." I am sure he is a fine young person and I know he is not only academically prosperous, but also extremely well plugged-in to many other school activities. However, I was disappointed that he was the only male on the panel because, well, he views had to affected by the fact that he is gay. If you know me, you know that I have absolutely NOTHING against homosexuals and while I am not suggesting that he should have been replaced by a straight male on the panel, I would have appreciated the view from a straight male in addition. 

Because if we're being honest, different people do have different experiences and views. (in this same light, I will also point out that all of the panel members were caucasian, which is obviously one-sided) I spoke to the panel organizer, Dean Sarah Swager, about this (in lightly veiled language) and she expressed that she would have loved to have had another male on the panel. Now, of course, these kids were hand-picked (by Dean Sawger, I assume) and so yet again I was left feeling a bit like I was at one of those resorts where you can stay for a free weekend if you sit and listen to their sales pitch about an "amazing investment opportunity" but nobody tells you in plain language that that's what is going on.

The next morning (very early for me at 8:30 am!) was the so-called "Open Session." I don't know who came up with that name for this event, but clearly it was someone with an extremely cynical sense of humor. The name led me to believe that it would an open, honest discussion between the alumnae and the Alumnae Association Board. I don't think I was alone in this misconception, as many of us were outraged to find that these were the rules:

Especially the part where it says that none of the board members would be speaking - that also meant that they were NOT answering any of our questions - of which many were posed. So basically we were left with the "opportunity" to voice our thoughts and ask what became, in effect, rhetorical questions. There were those who addressed the board with their frustrations at the way this whole debacle has been handled (myself included) which I will call the "Opposers" and then there were those who were for the resolution - we'll call them "Proponents" and were actually, in effect, addressing the Opposers most of the time.

The gist was this: the Opposers expressed their deep concerns for how we felt blind-sided (again) by how quickly and harshly this was all coming about. Many of the Opposers just wanted some simple questions answered, like how did this "resolution" that had been voted down before become not only re-instated but also as the only option? The Proponents on the other hand seemed to have a main platform of "let's just get this over with." Some of the Opposers let their emotions get a little carried away, which I must say was a bit annoying because it wasn't achieving anything to get up and grandstand. Some of the Proponents were accusing Opposers of being mean and trying to screw the RC students out of a decent alum association, which I felt was not fair especially considering that most of the Opposers kept saying "we're not even necessarily against the resolution itself but we are against the way this process has been handled."

Passionate feelings ran across all demographic groups; there were outspoken women from all general age ranges and positions. However, one thing I noticed was that it seemed that most of the Opposers were from more recent graduating classes and most of the Proponents were from the older classes, although it was not the case strictly across the board. Based on the arguments I heard, it would be my guess that the younger folks (I would say from classes from the mid-60s on to '08) probably felt a closer bond to the college as it is now (er, before going coed), whereas the women from '51 to the early-70s had already felt a sense of loss because the college had already changed so much since then (I spoke with women who had been there when they dropped greek life, still ate sit-down served dinners on college china while wearing dresses and gloves and no one was openly gay). 

Many of the older ladies kept insisting that with age/time these thing wouldn't be so important to me and that everything changes anyway, so might as well suck it up and move on. Now, of course here is where we also run into simply different eras and experiences between the age groups. These older ladies came from a time where women still had a certain place in society, and one of them was at a safe, small, quaint women's college. I was actually a bit shocked to note this difference in our college experiences. I guess I had always assumed that R-MWC had always been a place where we were encouraged to push the envelope, ask questions and make ourselves heard. But these women, I think, were equally appalled to see that we were so vocal and so open with our emotions. They have turn-of-the-century stoicism in their blood and we have bra-burning anger in ours.

This trend continued into the actual Annual Meeting and vote itself.

Some interesting points that were brought up and other observations: 
*Apparently the Alumnae Association was an independent organization for many years, so in theory it is do-able as long as the alumnae keep sending money to it.
*The Alumnae Association holds the belief that ultimately the Association is here to benefit the college and not, as many others would believe, the alumnae.
*As I understand it, you cannot currently send money to the Alumnae Association directly earmarked for only their use. All the money goes to the college and then the college doles out the funds as they see fit.
*There are some people who liked the resolution because they want to make sure our association doesn't "die out" 
*There are some people who liked the resolution because they felt it was their duty to provide an established association to the RC students
*Current RC students were not allowed to voice their opinion or vote on the resolution, despite quite a bit of debate on the matter and even a passed vote from last year's Annual Meeting that said they would be allowed in the meeting (based on the existing college rules that state any student who has completed at least one successful semester is counted as an alum). This vote/decision was overturned, as best as I can tell, by veto by the Alumnae Association President, Emily Gill Mills '79. She claimed 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,
We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce in the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To date, she is against sex education, birth control, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful person on the planet.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we invite you to reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation. Send to:

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience. The greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action.



Quinn Latimer and Lyra Kilston
New York, NY

**PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY! If you send this to 20 women in the next hour, you could be blessed with a country that takes your concerns seriously. Stranger things have happened.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No, it's really (somehow, mindblowingly) even worse than we thought

I would love to take the time to express all of the ways in which the McCain/Palin ticket is a joke, but I don't need to because Frank Rich already laid it out quite well in the New York Times. Here's the LINK

Oh, and by the way, you will get a "change of address" card from us, from another country, if they actually get elected because I have said for many years now "I love my country but fear my government" but would have to change it to "I fear this country and it's government!"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

In Repair

I am in repair
I'm not together
But I'm getting there
~John Mayer

I was wondering when I might be able to be someone other/beyond the girl who is fixing herself. I have just recently stepped out of the role of "sick girl" and into "pregnant lady" and soon to become "Mom." But where am I in all that? Who am I beyond these over-simplified titles? It's maddening that I don't know, or at least not very well. Hell, I'm even tired of playing the oh-so-over-tired role of "in search of myself" chick. It'd be so nice to know.

Am I making this too complicated? Does anyone know who they are? Am I hoping for something that is, well, just plain silly? Ah, futility. I think that word should be counted as an onomatopoeia. Anyway, it's just this same rut, different day. It's getting really old and I really wish I knew what it would take to get me out of it so I could have a good, long run on an open stretch or road, have some new views and maybe even get somewhere.

I hope I'm getting there

It's a BABY!

I am pregnant! Actually, I have been for nearly 4 months and next Thursday we're supposed to find out if it's a by or a girl. SO exciting!

It's been a very interesting and somewhat overwhelming experience so far... my body changing (my belly button is flat!) and my moods swinging wildly all over the place (I wanna kiss you/I wanna punch you) and all of the worries that come along with every potential slip (I celebrated finding out by eating lasagna only to find out I am not supposed to eat ricotta cheese. darn!)

I feel like I have a lot more to write about this, but I am suddenly very tired. I hope to get back to post again soon!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Quick Note

Today I had the pleasure of going over to the house of neighbor and new friend, Julia. She owns an awesome "greeting card" (she hates that term) design company, which she runs out of said house, called Red Bird Ink. We had met when the most recent oak tree fell in our neighborhood (not at my house, you silly, giant trees!) and then I discovered that the fella whose backyard is behind our backyard is her father-in-law, so I got her contact info and hunted her down.

She was extremely nice and allowed me to come over and see her workspace and ask a lot of what were probably dumb questions about how she goes about making her cards. She was so cool and welcoming, we even had tea and little cookies in the dining room! In the meantime, I coaxed her into saying that she would point clients who want their cards addressed in (with?) calligraphy to me (in addition to another woman who has been doing calligraphy for over 10 years, so my strategy will be to offer my services for CHEAP. haha!).

Anyway, it was really nice to get to know her and she's just around my age (okay, closer to Jon's age but whatev), so we might just have new friends!!

Here's my most recent (and rather good, if I do say so myself) calligraphy examples:

(Note: Suzanna Price does not, nor does that address exist)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay, so I suck (but not really)

...because I never finished my post about our Germany trip. I really hope and intend to finish it, but I honestly have been fairly busy, and a bit down. It's the year anniversary since last June when I lived at Grady's burn unit from June 3rd to July 6th. At this very time in my life, I was completely knocked out in a medically induced coma and on full life support. The meds that cause the coma also cause amnesia, which means that I also have absolutely no first-hand recollection of what was happening - TO ME. It's very strange. I have to rely on the accounts of other people that were there at the time, such as my husband, who is always somewhat hesitant (understandably) to tell me the whole, nitty-gritty truth.

But I want to hear it. Somehow it at least takes away the strangeness of not remembering on my own, even if it does upset me to hear the truly gory details. It also helps me to be in a place of gratitude for the fact I miraculously survived and how far I've come since then. Here's where it gets really messed up though: I REALLY just want a really good cry to get this out. I have this positive relationship with "good cries" and I usually feel a lot better after ward. Problem is, because my eyes don't produce enough tears, I can't cry. Yes, my nose gets runny and my mouth does that blubbering thing, but no tears come out. At best I produce as many tears as your eyes usually should, in their normal, every day way.

Somehow the lack of tears stops my "crying" pretty quickly. I don't know if it's because my brains gets the wrong message of "Oh, wait, there's no tears running down her cheek. I guess we're not really crying here..." OR if it's because my lack of tears always me have an added "Oh, what the F@*# people!" kick in the face and so I stop crying just because then I'm just pissed off. It's probably a combination of both. As much as it's a pain to deal with my eyes' daily dryness, somehow not getting to feel the release that comes from tears running down my face just seems especially crappy, which probably explains my slight twinge of cynicism with the following Psalm.

I have been self-teaching myself calligraphy and this week my practice text has been Psalm 116, which my Mom introduced to me several months ago when she called me up just to say, "Psalm 116!! That's YOUR Psalm!!" I chose to study it this week as a way of focusing of the grace I've been given and as a small token of thanks and praise to God (this is an incomplete version):

I love the Lord, for her heard my voice:
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, save me!"

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,*
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
I believed; therefore I said,
"I am greatly afflicted,"
And in my dismay I said,
"All men are liars."

How can I repay the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

*yeah, so maybe that part was taken a bit too literally. I know, beggars can't be choosers, but still...

Anyway, for more show-and-tell of my practice calligraphy, CLICK HERE

Monday, May 19, 2008

Friends, Family and Beer

Jon and I just got back from a 9-day trip to Germany. It was my first time back in 8 years and Jon's first trip out of the U.S., so it was very exciting for both of us. There was a lot to do and many people we wanted to see, so it was a very full week (as you are about to see - this is a VERY LONG post).

The breakdown of the trip over all: We flew into Hamburg at 7:30 am Saturday, May 10th, took the train to Luebeck on Monday, May 12th, took the train back to Hamburg Tuesday night so we could catch the ICE speed train to Stuttgart early Wednesday morning. On Thursday, May 15th, we rented an Audi TT and "flew" to the little Black Forest town of Triberg where we stayed overnight. We returned to Stuttgart just in time to change our clothes and go out for a nice dinner and great conversation with some old friends of mine from school. Saturday was spent with some family friends for lunch, a tour through the new Mercedes Benz museum (born and bred in Stuttgart!) and then at a few minutes before 8:00 pm, got back on the ICE train to Hamburg. My friend Isolde's boyfriend picked us up from the train station at 1:30 am Sunday the 18th, took us out for a last beer and schnitzel and then dropped us off at the Hamburger airport at 4:00 am where we waited for until our flight left at 9:00 am. We arrived later that same day at Newark airport at 11:45 am US time, switched planes and finally arrived at ATL at 5:00 pm.

When Chelsea picked us up from the airport, we were still wearing the same clothes we had put on Saturday morning in Stuttgart and worn the whole time we traveled via car, train and plane through Hamburg, Newark and Atlanta.

Here's the more detailed account:

Day 1 (Friday, May 9th):
Left Atlanta for Newark. We were put on an earlier plane because they were afraid delays would make us miss our connection. Switched planes and exchanged money in Newark - we were on our way to our European Vacation. We're both too excited to really sleep in the plane, watch "P.S. I love you" and part of "Mad Money." Jon prefers when they show the screen that shows where we currently are on a map and give times and distances. It's dark outside, so we can't see anything. Celebrate by having a little drink on the plane.

Day 2 (Saturday, May 10th):
Land in Hamburg at 7:30 am German time. We find out that our luggage has gone MIA, but at first it seems like no big deal because we had packed one day's clothes for just such an event. Jon is a bit rattled at the idea of having to stay up until at least 9:00 pm in order to forced yourself to adjust to the time change. Luckily, we are busy with friends and sight-seeing all day and we manage to happily stay awake until 11:00 pm.

My friend, Isolde, and her boyfriend, Achim, pick us up from the airport and get to talking and catching up right away. Even though Isolde knows English very well (she is an English teacher there) and most every one else's is quite good, I am personally driven to speak German and I begin my constant switch between English and German. It's a bit of a challenge, but I am so excited that it doesn't really bother me.

Jon is distracted anyhow with all of the old buildings, new and different cars (Fiat, Citroen, Opel, Lancia and even classes of Mercedes that we don't have here) and impressed that even the police drive Mercedes' and BMWs (Achim points out that they need those cars or else the bad guys would get away). They drop us off at our hotel, Steigenberger, and luckily our room is already available. We check in about our missing luggage with no success but every one is very nice and promises to get our luggage to us asap. We clean up while Iso and Achim go back to Achim's place where Iso's sister and my friend, Dodo (short for Dorothee) and her family are staying for the weekend.

This just so happens to be a very special weekend in Hamburg as it is their "Hafengeburtstag" (Harbor Birthday) that they celebrate every year with a festival, similar to Munich's "Oktoberfest." This year was the 819th birthday of Hamburg's harbor - over 3 times as old as the United States of America (the country, not the land)- can you freaking believe it?!? Jon and I wander out of our hotel for a minute and roam the neighborhood. As in all German cities, everything is in close proximity and squished in because there's simply only so much room for everyone. Right away we see a Starbucks and Jon wants to try one out. Of course, it tastes pretty much the same except that, as with all the coffee and tea drinks, it seems to have a richer and finer flavor than over here. We think it must be their water and better roasting & brewing techniques.

Down the road a bit we find a typical city grocery store and bakery. We buy a couple typical German sandwiches with salami and ham on wonderfully fresh & crusty rolls and a pretzel. I show him around the aisles and point out what's the same and what's completely different to what we have. And we really lucked out because German "White Asparagus" - something that you can't really find in America and even Germans go crazy for it when it's in season. You'll find restaurants will have completely separate special menus for their White Asparagus dishes and everyone we went to dinner with always asked, "Oh! Have you tried the White Asparagus yet??"

At Noon, we met back up with Iso, Achim, Dodo, her husband, Paule, and their daughters, Mia (10) and Anna (almost 4. when you ask her when she will turn 4, she replies "On my birthday."). We begin what becomes a week full of walking almost everywhere. Europe truly is a pedestrian-oriented land and those who aren't on foot are on bicycles. Almost all sidewalks in Hamburg are divided between the pedestrian side and the bi-pedaled side. And while you will most certainly hear it from the bikers if you get in their way on their side, they pretty much own the sidewalk and will wheel right around you, even on your side.

There's a certain flow to traffic in Germany that we simply don't have here. Everyone, the motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians all fall into a fairly neat pattern of organization. Everyone seems to have a keen sense of who/what is around them and because everyone knows what they should be doing, the others around them can anticipate their actions and act accordingly. This is especially notable at intersection where you have cars turning, pedestrians crossing and bikes wheeling all around and it all works like a little orchestra. We only saw a few incidents where someone was swiped by a handlebar or a overzealous bike had to quickly swerve around a stopped car. And although it can be a bit much sometimes - there is almost always someone you have to get around or they are trying to get around you - still, there's that flow and pattern that we sorely lack in America.

So we trodded along Hamburg's huge harbor through throngs of (German) people, street vendors selling "Hamburg" t-shirts, wursts on big swinging grills, fried fish sandwiches and of course, BEER. Every city has at least a few different breweries and "Jever" is Hamburg's biggest brand and is the sponsor of the event. We had a glass of Jever, walked down to the car tunnels that cross under Hamburg's port and wound up on a big ferris wheel overlooking the city.

Jon was constantly amazed by different some things were from America and yet how many other things were really quite similar. But the main thing we never got over was how old everything was. Churches that had been built in the 1500's and somehow survived (barely, sometimes) two world wars and streets that once carried royal families in carriages - for people with a country that's barely over 200 years old - it's just pretty astounding. Especially when these historic buildings are side by side with very modern sleek buildings - it's quite a contrast!

After a while we headed back to the hotel to rest and freshen up before we went out to dinner with Iso and Dodo at a great restaurant called "Eisenstein." Jon enjoyed the German white asparagus and I finally had Pizza Tonno (Tuna), which I had been drooling for since I had last been in Germany 8 years before. I don't know why American pizzerias don't make it - ti's just tuna, onions and capers or celery and it's wonderful.

We also found ourselves talking American politics pretty quickly. Europeans can't wait for our elections and are excited to see if we actually get a black man or a woman as president. Either way, they'll be happy Bush is gone. For a while after the 2004 elections many Germans were angry and amazed that we "re-elected" Bush but then I think that in the meantime they realized and remembered what it's like to have a government that is not really in line with the will or desires of it's citizens and so have become mostly sympathetic towards Americans. The interest in who wins is very strong - every time we sat down and chatted with people, even strangers, it only took 5 minutes before they were asking about Obama and Hillary. Jon and I were glad to talk with them and share our thoughts and equal excitement for this great opportunity for change.

Day 3 (Sunday, May 11th):
The first day you arrive they always say that you have to stay up until at least 9:00 pm to force your body to adjust to the time change and we managed to eat, drink and talk our way to 11:00 before we finally crashed in bed. The next morning I woke up pretty early and was immediately hungry for a great breakfast spread. I think my favorite German meal is breakfast and the hotel where we stayed offered a top notch example. There were baskets of fresh and hearty rolls and breads, a variety of sliced meats and cheeses as well as jellies, jams and fresh-squeezed juices such as mango, blood orange, banana, carrot and coconut. I am pretty sure I had three servings of everything.

Then the gang came bay to pick us up and the boys (Jon, Achim & Paule) set off to go see a St. Pauli soccer game. This is Hamburg's B-team, but it's still a huge deal and the stadium was packed. The girls (me, Iso, Dodo, Mia & Anna) headed towards the park where the Anna played, Mia read the american "High School Musical" magazine I brought her and Iso, Dodo and myself really got to chatting. Okay, so it was me talking most of the time, but they reassured me that it was okay because I had "a lot to tell."

We could hear the cries of the soccer fans in the distance and enjoyed coffee and cake, like good Germans would. It was very nice to reconnect with my old friends to hear everything that has been going on in their lives since I moved away 16 years before. For some topics, it really felt as though hardly any time had passed. And there was also a lot of reminiscing to our younger days when we would tell our parents that we were staying at each other's houses but stayed out the whole night in the city instead (we were only like 15 years old - what were we thinking?!?). Now we looked to Dodo's 10 year old daughter and shudder to think if she ever got such stupid ideas in her head.

That night we went to Hamburg's "Sternschanze" quarter and met up with some of my Aunts and Uncles for dinner. It was Uncle Klaus, his new wife (as of last weekend!), Beate, my Aunt Sandra and her husband, Bjoern (also newlyweds as of a month ago!). It was a great Italian place where we got pasta carbonara and pizza with parma ham. Yummy! The conversation was also great - turns out Beate has been practicing calligraphy for over 10 years

~~ More to come!~~

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This is why you should know what you download...

...because you are really no better than the people who did this:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Craftyness Station!

About a year ago I asked Jon if we could make a place in the guest bedroom where I would make crafty things. I really wanted a light table (a work table that is lighted from the inside). But up until now, Jon has been so busy with other things, he wasn't able to work on it. But this year around my birthday got started with it and after working on it on the weekends and some week nights, we finished it this past week!

The glass top and casters came from IKEA and the rest from a home improvement store. The legs are fence posts and Jon added the decorative trim. It's exactly what I wanted and I love it!

We also cleaned up and painted an old wardrobe that I had found at a children's clothing store that was closing. It had been sloppily painted white several times, but with shelves already built in it, it was a steal at $125. I had tried last year to sand it to refinish it, but the white paint was too stubborn, so I opted to paint it bright pink instead. Jon calls it the "Pink Elephant in the Room."

You can see all the photos at MY FLICKR PAGE

Monday, March 10, 2008

Toy Cameras

When Jon and I were driving thru Kentucky a few weeks ago, we stopped off at a little antiques store and I found a cool little kodak brownie starmeter camera. Later that week Jon found two more, and much older, kodak brownies, a Duaflex and a six-20 at an estate sale down the street from our house.

The six-20 had been sent to his father when he served in Italy during the 2nd World War, so this little guy made it all the way to Europe and back.

I just wish we had some of the photos that he took while he was there. Jon and I were eager to try the cameras out and went the the Camera Doctor (formerly Jack's Camera) on N. Decatur Road to find out about what kind of film they take and get them loaded up. My starmeter camera requires a special film that I had to order and I haven't filled up the roll yet, but here are the results from the six-20 and Duaflex.

We went to the historic Decatur Cemetery based on a suggestion from the camera store guy to shoot images that are timeless. But we also took a few "modern" shots for the sake of juxtaposition.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Life of the Un-Dead

SO, well, here I am, sick again. Luckily it's not anything lethal - or at least not yet at this point. After a few weeks of disgusting off-and-on-again lung-cookie-making (aka hacking up gunk from the depths of my lungs) I finally went to the pulmonologist and was diagnosed yesterday with bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia and ordered to a week of bed-rest. It's not as fun as it sounds.

I think it came from a perfect storm of my pre-existing upper-respiratory left-over crap from SJS, pre-existing fatigue, exhaustion from starting a new job (just like anyone would have) and the onslaught of the allergy season (yep. here in GA we've already had pollen counts of 278 (This is the amount of pollen particles measured within the last 24 hours in a cubic meter of air) = really freaking high = congestion out the ears.

I was just beginning to get into the swing of things at my swingin' new job. I am super-duper happy that my bosses, Mary & Adam are being so unbelievably understanding of this. Especially considering I've only been working for 3 weeks and I've already taken 4 sick days (not including the rest of this week). I am so totally getting the employee of the year award.

But what really bums me out is that this is my birthday week. I turned 31 on Tuesday and was gonna go blow my first paycheck on new jeans that night. But by the time I got home, I felt like a ton of bricks hit me and all I managed to do was enjoy the awesome bouquet of 40 gladiolas that Jon put together for me (although I did "remind" him that I am not 40 YET thankyouverymuch.) And I had awesome plans with my friends to have dinner and go catch a show at Dad's Garage on friday and then on Saturday go down to Savannah to party it up with R's people because it's her bday on the 7th. I don't like this "No fun for you on your birthday" game.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OMG! I got a JOB!

Okay, well, I'm not really sure how it happened either. I must have some seriously good brownie points saved up somewhere. My college pal, Mary, emailed me a couple months ago totally out of the blue and basically plopped a job at her awesome company in my lap. The company is SolDesign and I am their brand new Account Manager.

I'm a bit nervous about how my energy level will hold up or how my doctor's appointments schedule may interfere with what they need, but I have been open and honest with Mary and her co-owner, Adam, about my limitations and they still seem to want me anyway. Even though I haven't worked in a looooong time, I have worked as an Account Manager before, which is giving me the extra boost of confidence to give it a shot anyway. And we're doing a trial period to make sure it's a good fit for everyone. So, I'm pretty darn excited!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On the 2nd day of Lent my true love gave to me...

(I don't really have anything clever to finish that "12 days of Christmas" reference)

ANYway, I am not sure but I think I am breaking the rules of my "Time for Lent" thing already because while I write this post I am, in fact, still paying attention to my email inbox, running the laundry and I haven't even really taken time to specifically think about/learn about/talk to God today. Except that as I was trying to straighten up the space next to my side of the bed, that included folding up my awesome prayer shawl and I was like, "hey, I should use this prayer shawl thingy!"

It was knit for me by a group of ladies in Massachusetts who kind of knit prayers into these shawls that they then give to you. It's all kinds of awesome because 1)it's my favorite color in the softest yarn ever 2)you know that someone took the time to hand-make it just for you, so it makes you feel special and loved 3)there's like, loving faith mojo attached to it 4)and you can use it to warm and comfort yourself when you're feeling low, alone and generally chilly. I also have a new shawl, thanks to my awesome friends from Germany (hallo Iso u. Dodo!), that's wonderfully soft with great silver stripes and will be perfect when the weather's warmer.

I actually have been intending to use it in part of a personal "me" time and prayer ritual - to make a pointed effort to step aside from crazy life stuff and have a few quiet moments with myself and with God. Like how some people light a candle or incense or have a favorite spot at the local Cafe where they reboot their spirit. For years it was my bed, pillow, diary and a decent pen that was MY place. And sometimes it still is, although it's not quite as "mine" since I share the bed with Jon (kind of oart of that whole 'married' thing). That's nothing against him, it just means that I need to adjust my "special place" a little and I am blessed to have a whole house to do it in.

At the very least I could use the shawl as my "invisible cape" (I think Harry Potter had one?) where Jon knows that when I have the shawl on me, I am having my own little time and would prefer to be left alone - thus making me "invisible." And hopefully have that head/physical/quiet space that I think most of us are desperately lacking in our lives to reconnect and really feel the ground beneath our feet.

Ah, well, now I'm getting kind of preachy or something annoying like that, so I'll just try my best to do all this stuff I'm talking about and I'll let you know how it goes. We leave for Jon's home-town tomorrow for his Grandpa's funeral this weekend, but I hope I'll still be able to stick to my Lent-y-ness and keep posting here or on flickr.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My first day of Lent

I've been wanting to do an "In My Life" or a "365" for a while but knew I didn't have it in me to really do it. So, instead, I'm going to try to do the 40 days of Lent FOR Lent. (and, no, it's not just for Catholics)

Basically what I am giving up for Lent is time. I am going to take time that I would/could normally waste on t.v.. email and other crap and use it instead on actively taking time to either pray, read the bible or some other similarly spiritual activity that might hopefully deepen my relationship with God.

I started my journey tonight at our church, All Souls Fellowship, which hosted a special Ash Wednesday service. It's a church that I found online last year after I got out of the hospital and wanted to find a non-catholic church that offered contemplative prayer. Since then, we wound up having our pre-marital counseling with this same church's associate Pastor, Dan, and feeling quite at home in the sunday services.

Tonight, Pastor Shayne's homily centered on Psalm 51:1-17, which begins with, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love: according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions."

I find that the central themes in my faith are Grace, Forgiveness* and Mercy. And being the nearly completely screwed up person that I am, I am SO grateful for that!
(okay, so I accidentally originally typed "forgivemess", which is really more accurate)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

We've been BLOGGED!

Our awesome photographers from OUR LABOR OF LOVE, Jesse & Whitney, also keep a blog of their work. And now we're in it! CH-CH-CHECK IT OUT

Sunday, January 20, 2008

We're married!

Wow - I don't mean to brag, but I would say that was one awesome wedding Saturday night - and I just feel happy and blessed that it happened to be ours! It's funny, you work on something for over a year and yet it still didn't feel real or like it was going to actually happen or ever move beyond the planning stage. And then, all of the sudden, there it is, all of these things you've been dreaming and scheming about for so long are taking place right in front of you. It was amazing and surreal and wonderful.

You can see some of the photos at these links: SMILEBOOTH.COM and FLICKR - I am trying my very best to be patient while the photographers go through and edit the pictures they shot themselves (which will take a couple weeks because they take so many and they really like to cherry pick the best ones to show). In the mean-time you can see some of their work at OUR LABOR OF LOVE and at their BLOG. The only real bummer is that Dean, our unofficial 'paparazzi' at the rehearsal party, had their camera and ALL of their photos stolen out of their car he next day :( Not only does it suck not to have those pictures for us, but I feel so bad for them because the memory cards were full of their family vacation photos!

Here's what I can tell you without pictures: The ceremony was amazing. I hope I didn't walk too fast - I was afraid my knees were going to give out as I walked down the aisle, And Jon told me that when he looked up the aisle and his eyes focused on me, he just about lost it right there and then. Instead, we both kind of flirted, cried and looked terrified throughout the service.

Then we were introduced to our guests at the reception with the Marching Abominable Band! They played "When the Saints Go Marching In" and a couple other toe-tapping tunes while Jon and I danced around. That was our first dance! After folks got a chance to catch their breath from seeing a grown & bearded man wearing a wedding dress and shaking pom pons and got a bite to eat, we were entertained by an amazing belly dancer who really wowed the old men and the little girls (weird mix, I know, but it's true!).

The rest of party went by in a flash with dancing, cake eating and smiling for a million photos - it was great and we were so happy to see everyone there. I'm just sad I couldn't chat longer with more people, but then that's the thing with being a bride and groom - you're in high demand!

We're going to leave Tuesday or early Wednesday for wherever it's warmest in Florida! I'll post a postcard ~ K.S.W.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This time next week, we'll be married!

A night out

Jon said he wanted take me on a date on Friday and that was the same day I finally found a pair of shoes for my wedding dress. So, the silver shoes I had bought that didn't actually match and that I was afraid I was going to have to paint gold were spared and I found a great silver t-shirt at Target the same day, so put all of that together and you get this:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Everybody had fun tonight

Jon's gone to go do his Bachelor party thing - I hope he has lots of fun! This is a taste of the fun I had at my little bachelortette brunch:

They had just presented me with with a giant plastic "diamond" ring asked if would be their "Bachelorette." I think you can tell that I LOVED IT!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Scleral Lens Video

For those of you are curious about my special eyeball lenses, here's a link to a video montage all about the Boston Sight Scleral Lens: CLICK THIS LINK

There's SJS-specific stuff half-way through...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!

Um, so it's like only 12 days until we tie the knot and although pretty much everything is in place and in order, it feels like there's still so much to be done. Luckily my Mom is coming in from the cape next Tuesday, so at least I know all of the ironing for the entire year will be done. We have a couple little surprises for our wedding guests and I really hope we can pull them off!

I had an AWESOME Bachelorette Brunch party this past Sunday - mostly stuff I can't talk about in public (well, kinda) - it was really fun, the food was great and we laughed A LOT.

J and I had a great time on the cape for Christmas. We got to spend some quality time with my family (brother, sister & her kids, cousin, etc.) It was a really nice time to kind of reconnect since it's always such a long time between visits. But I can't complain too much because they'll all be here soon - I'll be so spoiled getting to seem them twice in a month's time. My little nephew and niece are growing up so quickly and my "little" brother, Johannes, is already 16 years old and over 6 feet tall!

My recovery process is still coming along, although it was hindered a bit lately by a bout with the flu and then all of the holiday plans and now with the wedding plans - i am really looking forward to what I hope will be a restful honeymoon (destination still unknown!). And then I plan to really start my life all over again with a job, getting the house updated and maybe having kids sometime in the not to distant future. But all of that is going to take quite a bit of work and persistence. I am trying to be really good about going to Yoga with the eventual goal of getting into Pilates to get my bad-jointed body into baby-makin' shape ;)

Well, my last apointment of the day awaits, but I'll try to post again before the wedding!