Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 226- Toothpick


+                  =    


I adore movie theater popcorn soaked in butter.  When I am dragged to see a movie that I may not have picked for myself or when a movie turns out to be oh so bad, the popcorn is usually enough to save the day.  I have been bribed to see many movies this way.  The only downside is that I always end up with as much popcorn in my teeth as in my stomach.

We went to see a movie tonight for the first time in a while, and I was ecstatic to lick my greasy fingers and to enjoy my popcorn.  Even the pesky first piece that wedged itself between two of my molars was not enough to damper my excitement-- for a while, at least.  However, I spent the rest of the movie wiggling my tongue around between my teeth in order to set my little friend free.

Enter Mr. Toothpick.


The toothpick saved the day!  It released the kernel back into the wild and made my mouth feel all good again.  Mr. Toothpick's friend Ms. Toothbrush is itching to add in her two cents now.

Thank you, toothpick, you made my day.
 
   

Day 225- Certifications

Almost five years ago, I started substitute teaching.  I realized very quickly that I had found my calling, and I hoped every morning that I would get the call (literally) to go into one school or another to play.  I was thrilled when teachers left me real plans instead of videos or study hall days and gave me a chance to try my hand at actual instruction.  Early on, I had an opportunity to take a long term sub job working with seventh and eigth graders who were on the lower end of the skills and behavioral spectrum.  They were not so sure about me at first, but I started to build relationships with them after a few days, and they started to let me in.  Then, it was over.  The principal found a certified teacher to take the job, and I was simply done.  When the kids asked why I was moving on and subbing all over instead of staying with them, another teacher told them it was because I was not a "real" teacher.   

I'm not sure why she did that.  I went home feeling a bit heartbroken that day and was only consoled by some Ellen dancing and the reassurance of my parents.  Still, I felt like a fraud.  I had never lied to the kids, and I never told them that I was "real."  I hoped that they hadn't gotten the wrong idea.  Sure, I needed to take classes and pass tests and do all of the things to make me a bonafide hireable educator.  Yet, I couldn't help but feel as if I was already on the road toward being a real teacher.  I suppose it might sort of fall in step with the argument that many couples have that they don't need a piece of paper to be married.  The piece of paper holds all kinds of importance, and you need to have it for a number of different reasons, but you can surely be married in your heart before you ever get have that certificate.   

I was kicked, but I would not allow myself to fall down.  I took that afternoon to feel sorry for myself.  Then, I put on my big girl pants and vowed that I would make it back to school, and I would get that all important piece of paper.  I would have to wait a few years to get my life and my finances together, I would have to attend a number of classes, I would have to complete papers and projects and presentations until I was blue in the face, I would have to go back to school and work my buns off, and I would have to make sacrifices, but I would get that dang piece of paper.

Guess what?  I got it today.  I don't have it in hand just yet, but I received word that both of my certifications are processed and completed with the state of Missouri.  As of today, teaching and I are officially married.  I don't need this piece of paper to prove to myself what I already know in my heart, but I do need it to prove to everyone else that I have put in the time, work, and effort to be a REAL teacher.  I am fully qualified to fill young fifth through twelfth grade minds with the power of words.  I have the power of a certain teacher's words to thank for giving me the final kick in the butt that I needed to strengthen my will and resolve to get this done.  More than that, I am thankful for the kind words from the many teachers who have deeply touched and inspired me over all these years.  I also have myself to thank, someone I often neglect to recognize, but it feels wonderful to know that all of the work that I put in is finally paying off.  My reward is the 150 lumps of angsty adolescent clay that will be waiting for me on August 11.

It feels great to be able to talk about what I do without having to qualify anything.  I am not just a subsitute teacher or a student teacher.  I am not a guest in someone else's classroom.  I'm it.

Thank you, certifications, you made my day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 224- Orientation

summer vacation
officially ends
new job
new friends

room is
shaping up
must buy
lotsa stuff

teacher meetings
first day
think i'll
be okay

lunch today
principals great
big laughs
clean plates

guide books
school rules
so far
pretty cool :)


Thank you, orientation, you made my day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 223- Katie Thompson

Math time!

Katie Thompson + "Heaven is a Place on Earth" - Belinda Carlisle= an exquisite remake



What a moving and beautiful driving/dancing/whirling lullaby.  It is a bubble bath in a song.  I heard it first tonight on SYTYCD,  and I'm sure I'll hear it at least a couple hundred more times before I move on to my next Flavor of the Week.

Ahhhh.... there's something so wonderful and honest about a song stripped down to a woman, a piano, and a flood of emotion.

Thank you, Katie Thompson, you made my day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 222- Boyd

After a long morning and afternoon of planning and curriculum and state standards, Christy and I took a break for a quick lunch at McDonald's.  As we chatted over chicken nuggets and fries, I noticed that Christy was suddenly distracted, looking inquisitively over my shoulder.

"No, you don't really believe that, do you?"  I turned and saw an older gentleman grinning behind me.  I had no idea who he was or why he had suddenly joined our conversation.

"Oh yes, it's all true," I played along.

I don't remember exactly where he went from there, but Boyd somehow parlayed this into a ten minute conversation filled with jokes, multiple requests for us to keep smiling, and a discussion of how he has made his marriage work for 52 years and counting. 

"Isn't my wife a fox after all these years," he asked, pointing to a table of three lovely older ladies.  We agreed that yes, in fact, she was still quite a pretty lady.  We applauded his many years of marriage and giggled at his stories.  My favorite?  "You see, my wife there... well, she's got the Indian blood.  When I decided to marry her, I was told that I would never tame her.  Listen, I didn't want to tame her.  I just wanted to sit beside her and smoke her peace pipe."

When Boyd was winding down, he told us that he knew that we were probably wondering to ourselves when this old guy would leave us alone and let us get back to our lunches.  I assured him that this was not the case and smiled and laughed at more jokes.  I thought of my own grandpa the flirt and my grandma the babe and all felt all warm and fuzzy... at a McDonald's of all places!

"You girls keep smiling, dolls.  Don't ever let anyone take those smiles."
"Nice to meet you, Boyd.  Hope to see you again!"  I meant it.

Thank you, Boyd, you made my day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 221- Flat Tire

I must admit that I was less than thrilled to discover yesterday afternoon that I had a flat tire.  Tom took it off of my car and discovered that a nail was the culprit.  He put on the spare with plans to take in my tire today to be repaired.  This meant that I would spend today stranded at home with no transportation.

We've had visitors or been visiting somewhere for the past three weekends, and we've been all over the place for the past few months.  I've already been into school to get things together, and I'll be going in the next two days.  My summer officially ends on Thursday with my new teacher orientation.  After that, the school year starts, and life will be wonderfully hectic!

The flat tire allowed me to stay at home today and be lazy without feeling guilty about it.  I hopefully got enough rest to nurse myself back to health as I enter into the hustle and bustle of our new schedule.  I snuggled with my dog for a long time and caught up on my DVR.  I sipped tea... and water... and lemonade all day.

Take that, lemons!

Thank you, flat tire, you made my day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 220- St. Louis City Museum

St. Louis City Museum: noun


1. a museum, consisting largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in the former International Shoe building in the Washington Avenue Loft District of St. Louis, Missouri
2. a whimsical, wonderful, magical place full of treasures of many kinds
3. a museum with "something for everyone"
4. stop two on the Thomas birthday tour
5. birth control

Related Words:

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (noun)
Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (noun)

Sample Sentence:

We had a wicked good time today at the St. Louis City Museum.


Thank you, St. Louis City Museum, you made my day.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Tom Ferri!  Love you... you're my favorite.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 219- Run-ins

I can't wear inappropriately shabby clothing in public anymore.
I have to be more careful about getting accidentally tipsy at Friday night dinners.
I try to go to tween movies (yes, it happens sometimes) after tween curfews have passed.

No, this is not two truths and a lie.  I am happy to say that all of these things are true.  Why?  These are all signs that this strange place that we moved to a few years ago is really starting to feel like home. 

I remember my dad always teasing my mom when I was growing up that we could not go anywhere without her running into someone that she knew.  It was actually miraculous if she only ran into one person that she knew.  It was usually more like five.

Now that we have lived here for a while, and now that I have spent some time teaching, we run into people that we know all over the place.  I ran into one of my coworkers, a social studies teacher, this afternoon at the Daniel Boone historical town of all places.  We stopped there on our way home from winery hopping with the Ferris, and I was surprised to see this guy behind the counter at the gift shop.  It turns out that he's working there over the summer as part of his master's coursework.  So random.  Then, at dinner in the old downtown area, I ran into one of my former students, the one who reminds me of Jonah Hill and used to wear Michigan t-shirts to class.  In the past few months, we've run into people all over the place- restaurants, grocery stores, HD, fireworks stands, etc.  It's fun to see people we know out and about, and it's even better because I feel a real sense of community now.  After growing up in the same little everyone-knows-everyone place my whole life, I wasn't sure if it would be possible to find that kind of situation anywhere else.  I'm pleased to say that we are building our own community here... even if it means I have to be more careful about my alcohol consumption at Red Lobster on Friday nights.

Thank you, run-ins, you made my day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 218- Sudafed


Dear Sudafed,

This may be a bit premature, seeing as I just took you moments ago.  However, you talk a good game.  You promise to not only make me feel better but also to give me a good night's sleep.  You have no idea how much it will mean to me if you follow through on these things.  I don't know how I can ever repay you.

Thanks for everything (I hope)!  Heart,

Jessi

Thank you, Sudafed, you made my day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 217- Christy B.

Wahoo!  I tackled my classroom for the first time today.  I moved mass quantities of furniture around and out of the room.  I rearranged desks.  I tore down old, faded posters.  I rearranged large file cabinets.  I moved tables.  I rearranged bookcases.  Christy was there in the trenches with me the whole time, my furniture lifting and idea bouncer offer partner. 

Christy is my cohort on the other eighth grade team, and she has already been such a wonderful resource.  As I begin to plan for this next year, I continuously find myself wondering who in the world is going to tell me things and how I will figure out the things that no one thinks to share.  I have found, in many cases already, that the answer is Christy.  We have already done a lot of collaboration and planning.  We've spent time chatting about all things teaching related and the intricacies of our school.  Christy has even agree to help me plan my first ever float trip next summer to fulfill a future goal (side note: float trips are THE thing to do in MO, and I MUST go on one in order to really be a cool kid in these parts).  Today, she helped me move all kinds of heavy stuff, worked with me to get a bunch of our planning done, and took me to a fabulous teacher store.   

It is so nice to know that I have someone who is looking out for me and helping me along the way.  I know that this is not always the case in all teams and all schools, and I will not take it for granted.  I have a feeling that Christy will enjoy a lot of baked goods in her future, and there will be new teachers and student teachers in the future who will have Christy to thank when I pay her kindness forward.

Thank you, Christy B., you made my day. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 216- Who Dat?

From Wikipedia:

Who dat? is a chant of team support, used especially by fans of the New Orleans Saints, an American football team. The entire chant is: "Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?" "Who dat" may also be used as a noun, describing a Saints fan.

I think I'd like to jump on the Saints bandwagon.  No, it's not just because they won the SuperBowl this year.  No, it's not just because they beat the Colts in order to do so, although that helps.  I really want to be a part of the Who Dat Nation, and I really want to do the Who Dat chant.

I was watching the Real World (another reality television guilty pleasure), and the cast is in New Orleans this season.  Those lucky dogs got to hang out on Bourbon Street during the Super Bowl, and they participated in many a Who Dat? chant.  This took me back to one of my fondest memories of college.

It was the summer of 2004, and my roommate Lisa and I were Pistons superfans.  I put on my inherited 89-90-91 Bad Boys t-shirt every day when I got home from work, and we watched the Pistons religiously... at Damon's, on huge projections on a building on Packard St., at our apartment... anywhere and everywhere.  We decided to name our future children Chauncey, Rasheed, Tayshaun, and Rip.  When the Pistons beat the Lakers in Game 3 of the playoffs, we toilet papered my diehard Laker-loving friend Abiman's apartment.  We lived and breathed Pistons.

Imagine our excitement when David beat Goliath, and our boys brought home the championship in the first ever five-game sweep.  We won't talk about that one game in the 4-1 series that the Lakers "won" because clearly that was fixed, and everyone knows that victory should have gone to the Pistons too.  I digress.

After screaming and crying and jumping all over the apartment, Lisa and I decided to venture outside in the hopes that we would find other fans to celebrate with in Ann Arbor.  We walked a block to Campus Corner, chanting "DEEEEEEEEEETROIT!  BASSSSSSSSSSSSKETBALLLLL!" all the way.  We picked up a few friends.  Then, we turned around and walked a few blocks in the other direction, still chanting.  We picked up more friends.  After a few more blocks, we realized we were leading a parade.  We led our parade down South University until we met a few other parades.  I swear we were on a movie set.   

The rest of the night was a euphoric blur that I can't possibly explain.  I imagine that anyone running around on Bourbon Street this winter chanting "Who Dat?" would know exactly what it was like.  That's why I feel as if it's only natural that I submit my application to the Who Dat Nation. 

When the Lions make it to the Super Bowl, I will jump back (?) onto their bandwagon as soon as I tire of riding around on my flying pig.  Until then...

Thank you, Who Dat?, you made my day. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 215- Granite Countertops

The Evolution of Our Kitchen

Step 1- Move in condition


Step 2- Holiday by holiday, we replaced each appliance with shiny new stainless steel.  We also added in pretty new light fixtures and curtains.  We bought a temporary island cart that eventually required minor surgery (the leg is stapled together) and collected dust and dog hair quickly.


Step 3- Granite countertops!  Today we finally replaced the old turquoiseish laminate counters.  This also means a new faucet, a new undermount sink (yay! it was free), and a new garbage disposal that makes a lot less noise (we're hooking up the plumbing tomorrow because we had to wait 24 hrs. for everything to seal).  We also now have a permanent island that will be wired with an outlet for cooking ease :). 




Steps 4-5 will involve us tiling in a backsplash and replacing the sliding glass doors out to the patio area.  We're so excited about how everything is coming together, and this will making cooking/cleaning up that much easier and more fun.  Never in a million years did I think that I could get so excited over stainless steel appliances and fancy countertops, but I am thrilled.  Yessssssssssss.

Thank you, granite countertops, you made my day.

Day 214- Taco Night

I fancy myself a blossoming cook.
I cook from books with stuff from Schnuck's.

I make other things without recipes.
I improvise and aim to please.

I plan each week's menu carefully.
I love to eat and cook with glee.

I try to add variety and indulge food wishes.
I love to prepare, as long as you do the dishes.

I eat out sometimes but then start itchin'.
I have to get back in the kitchen.

I pretend I'm on a cooking show.
I make reductions and simmer on low.

But... of all the things that I do make,
you'd never guess- for heaven's sake!-
that all it really ever takes
to ice my husband's metaphorical cake

is taco night.

Thank you, taco night, you made my day.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 213- Immanuel Lutheran Church Van Kids

I was driving home on 70 after a fabulous weekend in Kansas City with Miss Rebecca Morello, a great hostess and an even better friend.  Because of the fabulousness of the weekend, I was quite tired, and the fatigue of a long drive was setting in.  The monotony was broken by an Immanuel Lutheran church van cutting me off in order to swing around and pass a semi.  Luckily, I don't road rage at all.  If anything, I was thankful to have a jolt to my system to wake me up. 

As I stared at the long road ahead, the miles ticking away on the GPS, and the surprisingly pretty Missouri scenery, I suddenly noticed something else.  It was a sign.  No, not a sign from God.  A sign from God's children.  In the van window.  Written in marker.

Lint Licker, it said.

I chuckled.  We carried on for another mile.  Then, a new sign.

Frisk me!

I was laughing out loud now.  I couldn't see the kids, just their hands and their silly signs.  After a few miles, the van switched back over to the right hand lane.  As I booked by in the left lane, I looked over to try to catch a glimpse of the little comedians who had entertained me for the last five miles, and I saw one last sign.

Honk for Jesus.  Honk honk.  It was the least I could do.

Thank you, Immanuel Lutheran Church van kids, you made my day.

Day 212- Deer Creek Pool

It turns out that Kansas City is every bit as hot and muggy as the rest of Missouri.  Thankfully, Rebecca has friends and those friends live at apartment complexes with pools.  We spent the afternoon lounging around in a pool with a beach walk-in and a waterfall, margaritas in hand.  The tan I got while in Michigan last month was almost all gone, but the pool rescued my tan today too.  It was very considerate, that pool.

I'd like to say more, but our lovely day at the pool, along with a number of other activities, means that I have to choose sleeping over blogging at this time.  Zzzzzzzzzz.

Thank you, Deer Creek Pool, you made my day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 211- Kansas City

Deductive Reasoning

I like Kansas City because it is in the same state as me.
I like Kansas City because it had a job that enticed my friend Rebecca to move from MI to MO.
I like Kansas City because now Rebecca lives in the same state as me again.


I also like Kansas City because Scout the Dog lives here too.
I like Kansas City because it is not Blue Springs, and it does not have hail and thunderstorms that make me pull over while driving to... Kansas City.
I like Kansas City because I'm sure it has many more adventures in store for us tomorrow.

Thank you, Kansas City, you made my day. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 210- Bottomless Cup

TOP SECRET MISSION!
I was on a top secret mission this afternoon.  I wanted to pull off one birthday gift that is not on Tom's list.  Furthermore, I wanted this gift to be something that he would not return.  This was a tall order.  Once I had completed my mission, I decided to take a leisurely stroll around old downtown to look at the cute shops.  Perhaps this was not the smartest idea I have ever had, as the heat index today was over 100 degrees, and I was wearing clothes for my trip to the frozen section at the grocery store. 

I WAS PARCHED! 
Parched, I was.  And sweaty.  I crawled-- ok ok, I'm being dramatic-- I walked into a darling deli that might hold the answers to all of my problems, or at least the pesky parched one.  The man behind the counter took one look at me and ended his phone call.  I'm not being dramatic with that one.  It actually happened.  I asked him for a lemonade.  He gave me a cup that was so big that I had to use two hands to really hold it, and I was on my way.

IT WAS SO GOOD!
It was really good.

UH OH!
I got into my car, ready to continue with my errands.  There was just one issue.  The cup was too large for the cupholders.  I tried squeezing a little bit, but I didn't want to send a liter of lemonade gushing out into the car, so I didn't push too hard.  I ended up putting the cup between my knees, but I was terrified that I was going to end up with crushed styrofoam and an "I just peed my pants" look.  I thought about ditching the lemonade altogether, but that just wouldn't do.  It was just so delightfully refreshing.  Plus, I had filled it with ice in the hopes that it would continue to melt and nourish all afternoon.  I was not ready to give up yet.

THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY!
I got back into my car after another errand.  I thought hard as I sipped from my bottomless burden of a cup.  Then, light bulb.

LIGHT BULB!


THE END.

Thank you, bottomless cup, you made my day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 209- Whispers and Lies

I was couchbound in the dark for the day with a terrible headache.  I started to get bored, but I felt as if I had whacked my head on a balance beam (yes, I know that feeling all too well) every time I tried to get up to do anything.  I finally decided to turn on the tv and risk the extra pain behind my eyes in order to cure my restlessness.  That's when I found it.

Whispers and lies may seem like a silly thing to enjoy, but you have to understand that this was Whispers and Lies, the Lifetime movie.  It was so awesomely bad that it was kind of awesome.  Usually my favorite Lifetime movies involve beauty queens or cheerleaders or Texas or babysitting (or sometimes a combinations of all of the above).  While none of these things were present, Whispers and Lies had all the makings of a classic LMN movie. 

First, the star of the movie was once-popular-t.v.-actress-turned-only-relevant-now-in-People-magazine-weight-loss-articles Melissa Joan Hart.  The lifetime.com synopsis begins, "Fantasy Island? More like Nightmare Island! When Jill and her cousin Patti go to visit what looks at first to be a quaint, picturesque isle, it turns out to be an eerie, demented community."  I mean, how awesome does that sound?  The plot was predictable, and the movie ended with suddenly with a neat little cheesy moral bow tied around it about living the rest of your life to the fullest.  The movie also had an insignficant sidekick and a romance with a slightly attractive unknown actor.  Classic.  I also greatly appreciated that since it was a "thriller," the lighting was often dark and easy on my eyes.  I couldn't ask for much more.   

"Night of the living dud" you say, anonymous IMDb user?  I think not.

Thank you, Whispers and Lies, you made my day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 208- Kenda

If you can make a 1 1/2 hour long talk about insurance even the slightest bit interesting, and if you can keep me awake during this talk, you just might be special.

I spent four hours at the administration office today doing all of my official paperwork and learning about all the benefit options.  Kenda was my tour guide through the insurance, benefits, and retirement portion of the day, and let me tell you, this lady has spunk!  She was a tall, thin blond who introduced herself by letting us know that if we tried to e-mail "Kendra" instead of "Kenda," it just wouldn't work.  That's not her name.  She filled the navigation through dental plans and healthcare with wacky examples about her gardening injuries and bone density.  I was thoroughly entertained.  She asked if anyone had any questions and then continued chattering away without actually taking questions.  I was amused.  Then, she answered all kinds of silly questions that she had already answered five times.  She did this with grace and patience.  I was impressed.  She even gave me a toothbrush as a parting gift.  What a lady!

Thank you, Kenda, you made my day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 207- UMSL Tenure Committee

I was blessed to have a truly outstanding professor for my student teaching, Dr. Nancy Singer.  My first contact with her was in an advising appointment before my first semester at UMSL.  She was perfectly pleasant and helpful, and she really put many of my returning-to-school nerves at ease.

I was excited, then, to discover that she would lead my student teaching seminar and be a resource during my student teaching experience.  What a great resource she was!  She gave great advice, responded quickly to e-mail, created a schedule for our class that involved minimal trips to campus, and exercised great compassion and flexibility when I needed it after the passing of my grandpa.  She also forced me to complete pieces of my massive portfolio project throughout the semester by counting sets of standards as class grades.  She also read and edited all of the standards I didn't have to turn in for class, which I know was a lot of extra work for her.  I was so proud and relieved to get the portfolio done early, rather than procrastinating and staying up for 48 hours straight before it was due (my old trick).  She also brought in an expert to help us create strong teaching resumes and cover letters, helped us create case studies and reports that would serve as great artifacts for the portfolios, provided us with a social network to share ideas/thoughts/vents/successes, and gave us opportunity for reflection that would prove handy in interviews.  She made the seminar count, and I think that's all you can really ask for from a professor.

She went above and beyond this too.  When I received my job offer, I was thrilled to e-mail her with the good news.  Not only was she happy for me, she also connected me with a former student of hers that is also in the English department at my new school.  This is just one example of how Nancy shows in everything that she does that she genuinely cares for her students and likes her job.

When I found out that Nancy would be going through the tenure process at UMSL this year, I asked her if there was someone I could send a letter to on her behalf.  Unfortunately, the way the process works, this was not something I could do.  Instead, the committee in charge of tenure review randomly selects students and asks for their opinions.  I was bummed that there wasn't really much I could do beyond a simple thank you to show my appreciation.

It turns out that I'll get that chance after all.  I got an e-mail today from the tenure committee asking for my thoughts and opinions about the quality of Dr. Singer's teaching and advising.  I am honored that I get to write a letter on her behalf and to give something back.  I truly believe that good things come back to those who put good out into the world.  This means that Nancy will have a long, successful career developing future educators, and that bodes well for public education in this area.  I am happy that in my own little way I will get to be a part of it. 

Thank you, UMSL Tenure Committee, you made my day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 206- Meatfest

I admire vegetarians.  I really do.  I love and appreciate animals, and I appreciate all efforts made to give them long and happy lives.

That being said, I also love meat.  I just can't allow myself to make the connection between the animals running around and my dinner plate.

We had the ultimate meatfest tonight.  We made another trip to Bacana, a Brazilian style steakhouse.  At this fine establishment, there are men circling the restaurant with skewers of all different kinds of meat-- sirloin, garlic steak, pork, brisket, bacon wrapped chicken, sausage, and more.  There's also a fully loaded salad and side dish bar, and there are grilled bananas and pineapple.  Each table has a little card with "yes" in green on one side and "no" in red on the other.  As the men circle with their skewers, you turn the card to yes if you're looking to score some meat and no if you're full and/or taking a rest.  Our card was on yes for quite some time.

Needless to say, I left looking happy and three-four months pregnant.  In reality, I was just that happy part. 

Thank you, meatfest, you made my day. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 205- Montelle Winery

I don't usually even like wine very much, unless it is from a box.  I do not have the most sophisticated adult beverage tastes.  However, how could I resist this?


We took a winding, scenic drive out to Augusta today to the Montelle Winery.  We started with a tasting, and it turns out that there are actually quite a few wines that I like after all.  I usually go for the sweet and fruity stuff, and that's a lot harder to find in restaurant type situations.  However, today... jackpot!  I had a little something peachy, a little raspberry, a good dose of sweetness, and even a wine that tasted like Christmas.  Seriously, it had a Santa Claus on it, was named St. Wenceslaus, and tasted like the smell of Christmas.  This was confirmed by the gentleman pouring my drinks, and he said that people heat it in a crockpot around the holidays to drink and add fragrance to their houses.  Christmas in July!


After the tasting, we bought an entire case of wine between the five of us (Mom, Dad, Grandma Katie, Tom, and I) and took two of the bottles onto the patio with us for lunch.  I forgot to bring the camera, but someone else kindly posted this image on Google of the amazing views from the patio out back.

 

As we drank our new favorite wines and feasted on fine pizzas and cheeses, we also had a great view of multiple drunken bachelorette parties.  Fabulous.  The people watching in general was plentiful and satisfying.  To top it all off, there was a live band, an interesting mixture of awkward and kind of good, depending on the song (Los Lonely Boys... good.  Jethro Tull... not so great).  One of the men even pulled out a flute.  Jazz flute, anyone?

We finished lunch with brownies and chocolate, which paired quite nicely with our raspberry wine.  Between the cool breeze, the beautiful scenery, and the delectable lunch spread, I forgot where I was-- surely this place couldn't be less than 30 minutes from our house.  I can't imagine a better way to spend this Saturday afternoon.

Thank you, Montelle Winery, you made my day.   

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 204- Visitors

THEN:  When we were living in Seattle, our tiny 600some square foot apartment, 11 month long rainy season, and red-eye flight necessitating distance from friends and loved ones did not exactly reel in the visitors.  The beauty of the city and the fresh seafood just weren't enough of a draw. 

NOW: We live just a short flight or a long/semi-long drive away from most of our favorite people.  We live in the same time zone as a lot of family, and we're close enough to the others that they don't have to "get used to it" during a visit.  We have guest rooms and fun midwestern excursions and close proximity to a city that people seem to end up in for one business or pleasure reason or another.

WHAT THIS MEANS:  Visitors!  Tonight our second visitors of the summer arrived (the first being Miss Ashley on her way down to TX).  My parents and Grandma Katie are here to play for the weekend.  We get to play host/hostess and use some of the extra rooms that we don't have much use for otherwise.  We get to see my family.  We get to show my grandma around our house and our town... something I wasn't sure I'd ever get to do.  We get to do some touristy things that we never do since we live here (although we're done with the Arch... been there done that... but we would do the beer tour again... five more times...)

ACTIVITIES PLANNED: Wine tasting, fireworks at home, Brazilian steakhouse, Main Street and old downtown, games, lounging, cocktail hour, school driveby, etc. etc.

FEELINGS: Joy. Excitement.

Thank you, visitors, you made my day. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 203- Rain

Dear Rain,

I have been looking forward to your visit for quite some time now.  I patiently waited for days as the weatherman promised your return with no results.  I watched my lawn brown and tamed my frizzy hair in the 90 (yes-- literally) percent humidity.   

At long last, we met again today.  First thing this morning, I was delighted to find you soaked into the back steps when I let General out.  You were kind enough to let up so the lawn could be mowed and some errands could be run.  When we could no longer stand the humidity, you came back to greet us on the way out of the grocery store.  I wasn't even mad.

It was good to see you again.  My lawn and I would like to thank you for your assistance and for the enchanting times we spent with one another today.  We hope see you again sometime next week!

XOXO.

Jessi

Thank you, rain, you made my day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 202- Marriage

Tom and I don’t have a song. We have a lot of songs. Our whole relationship has been full of important songs. How do I love thee, Thomas? Let me count the ways in a two-disc-twenty-song soundtrack.


Volume One: The Wonder Years
1. “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers

I’m not going to lie… it was not love at first sight. In fact, I think my sight may have been a bit too impaired for any kind of love (yours too, buddy). We met at Scorekeeper’s, a popular Michigan bar after being introduced by my dear friend Rebecca. We danced, we exchanged a few slurred words, and I went home thinking nothing of it. I’m still not sure if you chased me or if I chased you (although I’m pretty sure you were chasing me), but we both knew where to find each other that spring. Each Saturday night ended with “The Gambler” at Rick’s All American Cafe surrounded by our best friends in the happiest of moods.

2. “Anything but Mine” Kenny Chesney

Finally, after overcoming a few obstacles, we started dating. You told me that you had a job lined up in Seattle at the end of the summer, and I breathed a sigh of relief. We’d have a lovely summer together and then painlessly go our separate ways, right?

We spent many lazy afternoons together that first spring and summer with a Hot ‘N’ Ready pizza, a viewing of Napoleon Dynamite, and our favorite country music videos on GAC. We both loved “Anything but Mine,” and it was kind of our story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl share a wonderful summer. Boy leaves and both have fond memories as they move on with their lives. Right?

3. “Show Me the Way” by Styx

I started to realize that things were becoming a bit more serious than I intended when you invited me to go on vacation with your family. I debated back and forth and finally decided that I wouldn’t mind a week off from my two jobs and some North Carolina beach fun. I was definitely a bit apprehensive, since I had only met your family once or twice. Now I was signing up for a week with them and hours in the car.

Luckily, I was falling in love with them too. I suppose it’s easy to fall in love when you’re surrounded by the sun and sand and fresh seafood and game nights, but I think this would have happened anywhere. We’d wake up, eat breakfast, and head down to the beach for a day of swimming, tanning, and reading. Oh, how I love that trio! Your mom would pump country and classic rock music from the stereo in the beach house, and we would sing (shout?) Styx at the top of our lungs. Nights were spent grilling, playing Bingo and cards, and telling stories. I knew at that point that I was in trouble. I wasn’t supposed to like them so much. I wasn’t supposed to like you so much either.

4. “Bless the Broken Road” Rascal Flatts

As the summer came to a close, we actually started to talk about the future. I started to allow myself to realize that you would be in my future. We had lots more trip to Skeeps and Rick’s, lots more lazy afternoons, lots more Bell’s jalapeno poppers, and lots more GAC. I can’t remember who said it first, but we decided that “Bless the Broken Road” was our song. We also decided that we loved each other. Before you left, we went to our first concert together (Rascal Flatts, of course). As we listened to our song together on that warm summer night at the Jackson County Fair (boy, did we know how to pick romantic places), I decided that I hated Seattle. "And I thought I loved you then…"

5. Hail to the Victors

Oh… c’mon… this one should be self explanatory.

What I will say is that this song can be symbolic of a very important date in our relationship. November 19, 2005, was our first Michigan-Ohio State football game together. That and subsequent football seasons have taught us some important lessons that can be applied to marriage. We’ll have our ups and our downs, but we will always (eventually) come out on top. Also, Ohio is the worst state ever.

Your love for Michigan is just one of the many reasons that my family loves you too. Did I say MANY? Sometimes I’m pretty sure that if anything ever happened between us, they’d get you in the divorce. It’s a good thing we’ll be married forever! I was nervous for you to meet them because the stakes were much higher than with any other boy I had ever brought home. It actually really mattered to me what they thought of you. When I called them after we got back to Ann Arbor, and I dropped you off that first time, my parents eased all my fears. I asked them what they thought of you. Their answer? “What’s not to like?” You have no idea how major that compliment is.  They had literally not found a single thing that they did not like about you.  Wow. After the second time they met you, and you helped clean up all kinds of storm damage in the front yard in boots that were two sizes too small, my dad decided that you were “the one,” whether I liked it or not.

6. "All I Want for Christmas is You" Mariah Carey

Those first few months that you were in Seattle were hard on both of us, but we were so lucky to have them. It took being more than 2,000 miles away from you to make me realize that I wanted to be with you for good. Now, the only problem was that… well, you were 2,000 miles away.

The good news was that when we did see each other once a month, you sprung for amazing dates that were a far cry from the ramen noodle dinners and t.v. movies of yore (although we still did have our fair share of chicken fingers and hot pockets with the DVR mixed in on those visits). Memories of our dinner on top of the Space Needle in the revolving restaurant and those chilly moments on the observation deck will always keep me warm on the coldest of days.

The hardest time was that month between the Ohio State game and Christmas Eve. I missed you constantly, and I didn’t know how I would make it that long without seeing you. All I wanted for Christmas was you (CHEESE), and I told you just to fly home early to see me in lieu of a present. You couldn’t do it. One night when I was crying on the phone and telling you that I was going to book a flight to see you the next day, you confessed to me that you had planned a surprise visit. That has become a theme, hasn’t it? You are always too excited to keep surprises a secret, and I always know ahead of time. Gotta love you. What’s important is that you put the thought in “it’s the thought that counts.”

When you came home for the “surprise” that weekend, I played along for the sake of everyone else you had brought in on the “surpise” with you. However, you had told me not to expect a proposal because you didn’t want me to be disappointed when it hadn’t happened by the end of the visit, and you wanted the weekend together to be enough. It turns out that the failed first surprise helped to set up my first real surprise. That Saturday night, after baking Christmas cookies and singing Mariah Carey and other carols all day, you took me to the English Inn. We had an amazing dinner (I order Chicken a’la Oscar… I never order chicken… but it was delightful), took a picture on the staircase, and headed out. You asked me to take a walk out back with you, and I refused. There was ice on the ground, I was wearing heels, and I knew the beautiful flowers we had seen out back that summer were not still there. You kept insisting, so—annoyed!—I finally followed you. You liked it, you put a ring on it, and I will never be the same.

7. “Midnight Train to Georgia” Gladys Knight and the Pips

I have listened to this song on repeat my whole life. They lyrics took on a new meaning for me when I finally decided to move to Seattle to be close to you. “I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine.” I never forgave Seattle for stealing you away from me, but we ended up making lifelong friends there. It is also where we had our first apartment, the beginning of our life together, and our first real grown up jobs.

When I left after my very first visit, I sobbed all the way through security. In a cruel twist of fate, I had been selected for a random search. The poor TSA lady took one look at me and asked, “Did you leave someone special behind?” At that moment, I fully realized that I had. “Why yes, yes I did.” Seattle will always be a special place for us to visit, but I have thanked God every day since that move that I’ll never have to leave there without you again.

8. “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” RENT

This is the first show we ever saw together, and it’s definitely my favorite. This song is in my top five favorites of all time, and I wanted to use it for the first dance at our wedding. You liked it, but you thought it would be weird. I still think it would have been awesome.

9. “She’s Everything” Brad Paisley

If you hadn’t married me, you probably would have married Brad.  Your silly man crushes make me laugh. This is the song that you wanted to dance to for our first dance. I thought it would make me seem self-centered since it’s all about the lady. I wanted something more about us. You pouted a little bit. I pouted a little bit…

10. “Cross My Heart” George Strait

… then we compromised. We danced the first dance of the rest of our lives to good old fashioned country. We danced a lot more dances that night, the best night of my life, and we’ve dance many since. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent as a dancing fool with you as a dancing fool at my side.

Volume Two: Love and Marriage

1. “Canned Heat” Jamiroquai

While our wedding was the best day of my life, our honeymoon added quite a few days to the list for consideration. We were back to days on the beach, cocktails, afternoon tea and cookies, swimming in the ocean, afternoon Yahtzee tournaments (which I dominated), tasty and romantic dinners, naming other honeymooning couples (ahem... child bride... ahem) and yes, dancing. I thoroughly enjoyed our dancing workouts each afternoon to the “Greatest Hits” cd that our dj made from the wedding, especially all that “Canned Heat.”

2. Shipoopi (the Family Guy version)

It is no secret that you love Family Guy, and I have come to enjoy it over the years too. While the show is great, the best part of it all is watching you giggle, sometimes until tears roll down your cheeks. One episode that is particularly near and dear to my heart is the one where Peter Griffin is drafted to the New England Patriots and does a full-on musical touchdown celebration. His rendition of “Shipoopi” from the Music Man was wonderful enough to warrant multiple viewings, and our first and only nickname for each other was born. I love you, Shipoopi!

3. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” The Darkness

I will never be able to hear this song without thinking of you listening to it over and over. And over. And over. And over. And over… and over. You listened to it on the way to football Saturdays at Rocksport in West Seattle. You listened to it for hours on the drive back to Michigan. You pull it up on YouTube. You sing it with your friends. No soundtrack of your life would possibly be complete without including this. You’re lucky that you’re so dang cute when you sing along.  I too believe in a thing called love.

4. “We’ve Only Just Begun” The Carpenters

Buying our first house together has been such an adventure. I will never forget how you told me we could paint every square inch of the house and get it done that first weekend. I trusted you, and I believed you.  Whoops. I’ll never forget the hours and hours and days and days we spent painting after that. My dad told me that he pictured us frolicking around the house to “We’ve Only Just Begun” as we D’d our DIY. We had a good laugh about that, downloaded the song to my iPod, and frolicked away.

I am so thankful to have someone that I can share these experiences with. Even though we have put a ton of sweat equity into this house, and even though I have ruined some of my favorite comfy lounge pants with paint/yard stuffs/bleach, and even though sometimes I get to the point where I wish we would just save up and hire someone, I take a great deal of pride in what we have built together and accomplished. We have worked hard to make this house our home and also to get our dream jobs, to raise our first amazing child (holler, General!), to further our educations, and to keep our marriage strong. If this is what the first three years are like, I'd like to order sixty more!

5. “Take a Chance on Me”  ABBA

No Saturday/Sunday morning breakfast would be complete without a rousing Ferri sing-a-long, and no Ferri sing-a-long would be complete without ABBA.  I sure do enjoy our sing-a-longs. Thank you for indulging me in my ABBA obsession on a weekly basis. I think you may actually be developing a little fascination yourself. I am so proud.

6. “In the Ayer/Low” by Flo Rida

These songs remind me of many fantastic times spent together with our little boy. Does that make me a bad mother? What I do know is that you are an amazing “father,” and I can’t wait to see you with children of your own. Yes, I said your own, since you always talk about “your” children in the future. I’m hoping that over the next year or two I will finally convince you once and for all that I get to be the mother of these kids. We’ll see. Anyway… I love watching you with him. I know he’s just a dog. I get that. But still… I love the way you take care of him without being asked. I love the way you are gentle and lovey dovey with him when you think I’m not looking. I love the way that he makes you a gleeful little boy. I love when the three of us dance together in the kitchen to Flo Rida, especially when General jumps up in the air during the “ayer ayer” part. Our little family fulfills me more than you could ever know, and I know that it will only get better once we start adding to it.

7. “Don’t Stop Believing” Journey

Where do I even begin? I think all I really have to say is that this is just needed to complete this list. I’m sure you can think of a million reasons why, so we’ll leave it at that.

8. “Your Love is My Drug/California Gurls/Bulletproof”

These are the songs of the moment, and I know that there will be many more songs, and many more moments. Every time a catchy new song comes out, we rush home to listen to it together. On repeat. And then there’s the dancing… I like these silly moments, and as long as there is terrible/terribly catchy pop music, I know that they will last. Someday we will be the embarrassing parents/grandparents/great grandparents shaking their groove things on a dance floor to current music somewhere, and I’m totally okay with that. In fact, I’m thrilled.

9. “You are the Best Thing” Ray LaMontagne

I love this song, and I love you, and I love this song because of you. The lyrics ring so true to me because they are about you. It talks about coming home after a long day to the one you love, and all of a sudden everything is better. It talks about an easy, natural love. “The way you move me it’s crazy/ It’s like you see right through me/ And you make it easier/ You please me and you don’t even have to try.” When you come home from work, General sprints to the door. He jumps up and down because he is so very excited to see you, and his tail wags so furiously that his entire body moves. I feel the same way.

10. “Save Me From Myself” Christina Aguilera

Christina says it better than I ever could. Thank you for loving me for who I am, as I am, and thank you for loving me in spite of myself.

It's not so easy loving me
It gets so complicated
All the things you've gotta be
Everything's changing
But you're the truth
I'm amazed by all your patience
Everything I put you through

When I'm about to fall
Somehow you're always waiting
with your open arms to catch me
You're gonna save me from myself
from myself, yes
You're gonna save me from myself

My love is tainted by your touch
Some guys have shown me aces
But you've got that royal flush
I know it's crazy everyday
Well tomorrow may be shaky

But you never turn away

Don't ask me why I'm cryin
'Cause when I start to crumble
You know how to keep me smilin
You always save me from myself
from myself, myself
You're gonna save me from myself

I know it's hard, it's hard
But you've broken all my walls
You've been my strength, so strong
And don't ask me why I love you
It's obvious your tenderness
Is what I need to make me
a better woman to myself
to myself, myself
You're gonna save me from myself

I have had the time of my life creating this soundtrack with you. I can’t wait to see what the future volumes have in store. I have always wanted to be one half of a perfect couple. However, we are far from perfect. The important thing is that we are perfect for each other. Sometimes when I catch myself acting like a fool, I wonder why in the world someone would choose me. But you did. And you’re every bit the silly little fool that I am. And you love me.  And I love you. That’s my perfect.

Happy third anniversary, Shipoopi!  "I love you more today than yesterday... but not as much as tomorrow."

Thank you, marriage, you made my day.

Day 201- Yellow Bedding

We moved into this, our very first house, about two and a half years ago.  We had lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment in Seattle for a few years and then a hotel here while we were house shopping.  Most of what we owned fit into a few big suitcases.  When we walked in on our first day of home ownership... well, we found a leaky toilet and a flooded bathroom, freaked out, and wondered what in the world we had gotten ourselves into.  After that, we realized that we only had enough stuff to fill about one room in the house.

I was excited to have multiple bedrooms because I have always wanted to have a cute guest room of my own.  I think part of this comes from wanting to have my own place that is big enough to actually have a guest room.  Another part of it has to do with wanting guests and visitors to cook for and entertain.  I love playing hostess.  I think the last part probably has to do with my obsession with Pottery Barn catalogs/Pier 1 sales/Target wanders.

When we started to furnish this house, we made a list of all kinds of different things that we'd need to buy and projects we'd like to do.  I then turned this list into a notebook organized by priorities, categories, and color-coded post-it notes.  It is a work of art.  The notebook was also translated into an excel spreadsheet.  This is also quite beautiful.  Between the notebook and the spreadsheet, we gathered that we would need to find lots of sales and cut a few corners to really make our house our pride and joy.

One extra bedroom was turned into Tom's man cave, and the other became my special project.  It was thrilling to find some lovely looking bedding at Target for my guest room of dreams... especially because of the red tags that let me know it would come in well under my budget.  However, when I got home and made the bed up in the prettiest possible way with what I had, I realized that I had been wearing sale goggles (you know, like beer goggles).  It turns out that the price was a lot more attractive than the purchase itself.  I'm a sucker for a good sale.  It's not that what I got was ugly.  It was ok.  It would do.  I checked it off the spreadsheet, wrote down the details in the notebook, and moved on down the list.  Yet, every time I would get a new home catalog, I would sigh as I pictured the darling guest room I still hoped to have. 

Two and a half years later, I finally replaced

 



                     with  






It's prettier than it looks, I promise.  There are sheets with polka dot details and a coverlet with pretty embroidery, and I'm hoping to find some nice looking accent pillows tomorrow.  I'm delighted to have such bright and cheery new things, and my flower-filled Oberweis vase will look just wonderful on the table next to the bed.  I must admit that I may tire of this in a few months and replace it in a few more years.  It's not that I'm fickle... I just love to decorate!  For now, though, I am happy :).

Thank you, yellow bedding, you made my day.

 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 200- Oberweis Lemonade

Oh, bad poetry, it's been a while...

Lemonade, My Day Was Made

It was time to get my fix
of that lemon, sugar, water mix.
As I strolled around the juicy section,
I felt a sudden love connection.

It would have been easier to rhyme
had I chosen Country Time,
but the one that looked so nice
was a big glass jar of Oberweis.

And love it was right from the start
it was just right-both sweet and tart.
Man, this stuff did quench my thirst.
I drank so much I almost burst!

Don't worry, though, I won't be sad
once all the lemonade's been had.
I'll keep on my happy face
when I turn that big ol' jar into a vase!


Thank you, Oberweis lemonade, you made my day.

Day 199- Independence Day

In the world of commercialism and in the country of the United States, we're pretty good about forgetting the true meaning of holidays.  They become about gifts or overpaid athletes or meals or tv specials (don't get me wrong, I enjoy all of these very much, but still...).  However, the beauty of the Fourth of July is that people still seem to grasp what it is about, and they celebrate accordingly.

Today in church we sang "America the Beautiful."  That was nice.
Tom and I had ribs tonight, and we have been BBQing all weekend.  That was nice too.
We heard and saw fireworks alllllll over the place.  Also nice.
We get to spend an extra day together tomorrow while Tom gets paid.  Obviously nice.
We exercise our freedoms and rights daily and are more than thankful to live in a country where we can do all of these things and realize our dreams to the fullest extent.  "Nice" just isn't enough for this one.

One 4th I remember with fondness was when Manda and I were in elementary school (I think), and we decided to put on a show for my parents on our front porch.  We pulled out all of the songs we had ever learned in music class that had anything to do with America.  The classics.  I'm sure you're familiar.  I think my big moment was "Proud to be an American."  I really belted it with pride for country.  It must have been such a pleasure to listen to.  Manda stole the show, though.   I forget what song she sang for the big finale, but what I do know is that it ended with some kind of lyrics involving red, white, and blue and her simultaneously wearing red, white, and blue underwear.  How we never got our two woman patriotic show on Broadway is beyond me.  Perhaps we are just ahead of our time.

On a more serious note, I'd like to take a moment to sincerely thank all of the men and women who serve and have served this great nation-- military people and police people and fire people and medical people and lawyer people and teacher people and engineer people and farmer people and country music singer people and Americorps people... the list goes on and on... and yes, sometimes (SOMETIMES) politician people.  Americans know how to protect and serve and build and learn and change and lead.  I'm proud to be an American today and those other 364 days of the year.

Thank you, Independence Day, you made my day.        

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 198- S'mores

Even a cheap old grill can learn new tricks.



See Tom roast marshmallow. 



See Tom set marshmallow on fire.  Burn, marshmallow, burn!


See Jessi.  See Jessi enjoy s'more.  See Jessi's signature "Mmm, this is good.  Oh, do I have chocolate on my mouth?" move.  Messy, messy Jessi.



See General in the window.  General's eyes are green with envy.  Silly puppy.  S'mores are not for puppies.

Thank you, s'mores, you made my day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 197- Fireworks

We haven't even set off any of our fireworks yet, but they are already bringing me joy.  We stopped on our way home from dinner to pick up a few things, and the first bit of amusement was that we were buying our fireworks from the same lot where we bought our Christmas tree.  Gotta love Missouri.

It was also comical to watch Tom run around the tent all excited and googly-eyed about fireworks we could only dream of in Michigan.  He was especially excited to buy some of the things that are illegal in our home mitten state, and he gleefully wandered in circles around the tent like a kid in... well... a fireworks store.

The final bit of funny came on the car ride home.  I told Tom that I was really excited that we got a bunch of those snapper things that make a popping noise when you throw them on cement.  Those are my favorite.  I also expressed disappoint, however, that they didn't seem to have another one of my childhood favorites.

"Remember those things that came in strips?  And you would put them on the ground or something and smash them with a hammer?  And then they made that snapping noise?"

"Um, no."  He looked at me, confused.

"You know, they were in the strips.  And then the hammer... snaps or something"

"Those were caps.  You put them in a cap gun.  Didn't you have a cap gun?"  He was laughing now.

"A cap gun?"

"Yeah, you're supposed to put those little strips in a cap gun.  Then, you fire it, and they make the noise."

"Oh... we never had the gun.  So you never used a hammer?  Really?"

"No."

"But, I mean... other people use their hammers.  That's another way to do it."

"No."

"So we were pretty country, huh?"

"Yes."



I never knew that we were too poor to afford the cap gun and that my dad had created a whole new game out of the stacks of strips he brought home.  I just knew how much I enjoyed beating the crap out of those caps with a hammer on the cement out back.  Gotta love my parents!

Thank you, fireworks, you made my day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 196- Summery Dinner

Tonight's menu was a good one!  Our weather here has been so nice this week.  We've only been in the mid 80's, and it has actually been cooling down at night.  We have been taking advantage of this by doing some major grilling and enjoying lots of summer foods. 

Today's Specials

Chipotle Lime Chicken
Southwestern Cornbread Salad
grilled bananas
grilled pineapple

We covered all of the food groups in the most delicious and summery of ways (plus, it was pretty healthy too).  If you have never tried grilled bananas, you really should.  They're so good that it's bananas! 

Grilled Bananas Recipe

1. Cut off the ends (leaving peel intact).
2. Grill the bananas until the peels turn a darkish brown color and the insides are soft.
3. Gently slice the peel and scoop out the warm gooey goodness.
4. Eat.
5. Sigh with satisfaction.
6. Repeat steps 4-5 many, many times.

It's just as easy as that.  The salad was a whole lot more involved, but it was totally worth it.  Also, it included some bacon.  Need I say more?  Yum.

Thank you, summery dinner, you made my day.

Day 195- Store 3022

Today sort of felt like the last day of high school.  I cleaned out my locker.  I discussed my future plans and the next step in my life with all kinds of people.  I said so long for now to a lot of friends who have been important to me over the past few years.  We promised to stay in touch, and I sincerely hope that some of them really mean it.  Inevitably, I will lose touch with many friends, but I will look back on this time and these people with great fondness.

No, clearly this was not my last day of high school, but it was the end of an era.  I had my last shift ever at the Home Depot.  This was just supposed to be a silly little job while I was back in school.  Yet, on my first day, I was anxious because everyone at the store seemed to have known each other forever.  I was worried that I would never fit in and be a part of it all.  However, after a few lunch break conversations and some friendly (most the time) in house Big Ten rivalries, I was folded into the family.  I proved myself by working my buns off (literally, at times), always wearing a smile, demonstrating my knowledge of college football, and coming to work prepared with jokes.

I also participated in "extracurriculars."  Working in the garden department was really like a sport.  Last summer, Tom decided that he walked a ton at work and bought a pedometer to track his mileage.  Of course this became a contest between us (whether he knew it or not), and I made him get me one too.  It turns out that I was walking over five miles a day and actually building some muscles.  For those of you keeping score, I was also winning our little contest.  The job became a great way in the summer to lose my winter hibernation cushion.  I lifted all kids of things- boxes, bags of mulch, soil, retaining wall blocks, Christmas trees, climbed up and down ladders, walked briskly all over the store, and much more.  I was also lucky enough to get to go out into the community with Team Depot to work on a service project.  I was impressed over and over again by the generosity and kindness of my coworkers in the community and in our own little community.

This job also gave me many opportunities to test myself and to prove myself.  There were a number of occasions where customers assumed that I couldn't possibly know anything about lawn care or landscaping or power tools, and this only encouraged me to learn more and more in order to prove them wrong.  Every time I got a "Oh, no, sweetheart... I have a question about mowers.  Is there a mower guy around," I would put my head down, learn whatever I did not know, and do the work.  I learned not to let anyone sweetheart me out of anything.  Just because I know everything there is to know about bras does not mean that I don't also know everything there is to know about fertilizer or mower spark plugs.  Beyond that, I thoroughly enjoyed surprising people with how much I could lift, how hard I could work, how much I could endure, and how I could be pleasant and upbeat while doing it all.  I really did enjoy going into work.

The customers made it enjoyable for me too.  I especially enjoyed helping other women feel empowered to take on their home improvement the way I was trying to tackle mine.  If I could help a widow or a single woman or a divorcee get into her DIY groove, it was a good day.  I loved the old men who would come in just to wander and stop for a good chat.  I adored the middle- aged guy who came in every Friday when he got off of work to window shop, and I was so pleased for him when he finally bought that zero turn tractor he had saved for and wanted for so long.  I don't make commission, so it had nothing to do with the sale.  Rather, I saw him realizing his dream, and I got to be a tiny part of it.  I had a customer offer to make me a mixed tape and another offer to help me find Jesus (which I have already done, but thanks).  I sold a bunch of grills and was subsequently (fake) invited to barbecues all over town.  I shook hands and kissed babies and turned down offers to replace my husband.  If nothing else, I always came home with a good story.

There was no yearbook for everyone to sign today, but Home Depot does have a nice goodbye tradition.  In lieu of a card, all of the employees sign an apron with messages for their departing comrade as a keepsake.  I was hoping that I had been around long enough to warrant one of these myself, and I was not let down.  Although I have not received my apron yet (due to a remodeling of the break room and some disorganization- classic), there is an apron full of messages floating around the store somewhere that I will get as soon as they find it.  I know this because over the past few days, I have been approached by coworkers who were excited to share their messages and best wishes with me in person.  I am so touched by their genuine excitement for me, their hugs, and their kind words.  I am such an imperfect person, but their love and respect help me to believe that I must be doing something right.

I didn't shed any tears as I drove away today.  This was probably partly due to the fact that I was just too tired, as I had been at the store since 5 am.  More than that, this signifies the beginning of a new era where I will finally get to do exactly what I have been working so hard for all these years.  I am reminded one more time of high school as I think of one of my favorite cheesy Dr. Seuss quotes. 

"Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."

Thank you, store 3022, you made my day.