Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Project 52: Date Nights - Good News

I don't know if we had a quantifiable "date" this weekend. It was mostly low-key, in the sense that we basically chilled at home. Watching movies on both Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday we were surprised by a showing request for our house, so we took our dog to the greenway for a 2-mile walk. We had experienced almost two months of zero showings, so this one took us by surprise.

We were even more surprised when they called Sunday morning to see if they could come back at 10:30. I enthusiastically said YES and instead of going to church, we readied our house for showing #2 and then took Sophie to the greenway AGAIN.

We left a note addressing a couple of questions the buyer had after the Saturday showing. We were delighted to come home and see that they had written us a note back. The note said they would be in touch that afternoon. We didn't want to get our hopes up too much, but they did write that they would contact us. We suppressed our excitement and went to the Original Pancake House for our traditional goodbye meal.

All through our meal of a shared omelet and pancakes, we danced around the subject, prefacing sentences with, "If we were to get an offer..." It was hard not to be a little excited. But it was also 3:30 and still no news. We kissed in the parking lot and Daniel left. I drove to Harris Teeter to pick up a movie because I didn't feel like doing anything else.

I pulled into a parking spot and my phone rang. It was our realtor. We had an offer. It was all I could do to keep from crying. She gave me all of the info and I immediately called Daniel and told him to come back. We met at the house to review the offer. We called our realtor and agreed on a counter offer. Daniel left at 5PM. We were both in serious shock. I don't think either of us really slept Sunday night...

We went from no prospects to having to make big decisions ASAP {the buyer had requested that we decide by 9PM that nigh}t! So our date weekend was low key with a very unexpected twist. We are ecstatic and making plans for the next phase of life.

Step 1:
Do what it takes to close on our house by July 26
Step 2:
Take a trip to Canada next week to visit family
Step 3: Move into an RV on July 30
Step 4: Go from there
Step 5: Keep squeezing in our date nights :) 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Life Update: We Have an Offer!

A lot has happened in the past year-and-a-half. Not all of it pleasant. But things are finally looking up.

Back in March of 2009, Daniel was laid off. For those of you who have been down this road, you know how difficult it is. It took a full year for Daniel to find work again. In March 2010, he began working at TVA. His job is at the Bellefante plant - he gets to be a part of bringing this old nuclear relic online.

The only problem is, it is located in Hollywood, Alabama. Which is 500 miles from Charlotte. So in March, Daniel packed up his bags and moved in with friends in Chattanooga, TN. We had no idea what to expect. Or how long it would take for me to be able to join him.

In April, we put our home on the market. If you have followed us over the last 4+ years, you would know we have put our blood, sweat and tears into this home. But ultimately, it is just a dwelling. We can make a home anywhere.

So on to the market it went. April was a true feast. We experienced an average of 5 showings a week. Our egos were stroked. And then the date for the home buyer's credit passed. And with it our hopes. We entered a famine of almost 2 months with zero showings. We really took an emotional beating.

We managed to see each other every weekend for the past 4 months. It was tough, but we made it work. We endured lonely meals, long drives and many dropped calls.

We made plans to get back together. Ultimately we decided that we would live full-time in an RV (read more here). Our focus shifted away from selling the house and we hatched our RV plans. While our focus was elsewhere, showings picked up, culminating with back-to-back Sat/Sun showings that resulted in a offer on the house {Sunday afternoon}.

To say we are in shock is an understatement. Minds reeling. Anxiety high, we are moving forward with the offer. This has brought on an entire new amount of planning. We still plan to live in the RV {at least for now}, but we can rest easy knowing that we won't have to be anxiously waiting to sell our house in the current economy.

We have had to wait. But we feel truly blessed. We know that God has had a hand in this. It hasn't been easy. But we are willing to embrace the challenges that life gives us. We are so happy that we will be together again {permanently} at the end of the month.

This is bitter-sweet on many levels, but it is time for us to move into our next phase of life. Together.

Relief

After months of waiting, we finally have an offer. In the meantime, we have definitely learned a lot about patience and waiting for answered prayer.

Waiting doesn't come naturally. It is so much easier to have what we want right now. But waiting shapes us for what is to come... 

In April, we put our house on the market. We hoped we would sneak in before the First-Time Home Buyer's Credit expired. We welcomed the showings. We averaged five per week. It felt good.

And then April 30th passed. Our only offer, dead on arrival. So we waited. Days creeped by. No showings. It was awful. We had passed through a month of plenty and found ourselves in one month... two months... of nothingness. Not a single showing in almost two months! Desperation became a heavy burden. Separation became torture.

We began to hatch a plan. We would live in an RV. It was doable. Right? We could do it for an unknown amount of time. It would mean we would be together. We visited campgrounds. We learned that Daniel's aunt would be willing to rent her RV to us. We plotted and schemed. We looked into how living in an RV and owning a home would effect our Home Owner's insurance. We found a campground that had all the ammenities we would need (most notably internet). We discovered the earliest we could commit to full time life in an RV was July 30 and we booked our spot at Raccoon Mountain. We started making lists of things we would need to live full time in an RV. Our friends and family told us that if anyone could live in an RV, it was us. We grinned and kept making our lists.

While we were focused on our RV plans, a funny thing happened. We had a showing. And then another. And then one this past Saturday. Then a follow-up on Sunday. And then an offer Sunday afternoon {with a request to make a decision by 9PM}. We counter-offered and our counter was ACCEPTED! We had ANOTHER showing today {our realtor told us to go ahead, just to be safe}. We signed papers today and a check is in escrow. They want to close July 26... just in time for us to move into our RV!!!

God really surprised us with this one. A tremendous weight has been lifted. Relief. There are no words. Now there are new lists to be made. Things to be done. But we will really be together at the end of the month and no house payment to tie us down. It is an amazing feeling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hot. Hot. Hot.

Yesterday afternoon the air conditioner went out at work {unfortunately it only seemed to effect the creative department}. It was an uncomfortable end to the work day.

This morning, I arrived at work to find that we still had no AC. It was 80 outside at 9AM and 85 inside and it became increasingly unbearable as the day progressed. Since I am on a tight deadline to get the August issue of my magazine wrapped up and uploaded tomorrow, I was stuck at work.

The editor of the magazine brought me a Dyson fan {that he borrowed from the CEO of our company}. I don't think I could have survived the day without a fan. 

By the afternoon, the PR and web departments were starting to feel the effects of the heat. We turned off all of the lights on our end of the building to try to help us stay cool - it didn't really help.

One of the web guys was complaining to me in the kitchen about how hot it was in his dept. I told him he should walk through creative. He did. Then he took back his comment about being hot.

Thankfully proofs are out the door and I was able to leave a little after 5PM - which is good since I was feeling light headed. I am heading in early in the morning to wrap up final changes and do file prep for the upload. I will be so thankful when this issue is wrapped up. I will be even more thankful to have the air conditioner fixed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the good. the bad. the random. (On My Own in Charlotte, June 2010)

The Good.
We had a house showing last week {the first one in 1.5 months}.
The Bad.
They have not come back for a second showing.
The Random. 

Thanks to a storm back in March, we are getting our roof and siding replaced. Friday we get to look at samples and decide on colors. I am so excited.

The Good.
My sister and her husband and daughter are moving to Nashville this weekend - that means they will be CLOSER to me :)
The Bad.
My Brother-in-Law needs to find a job. So does my brother for that matter. Both in counseling. Both looking in the Nashville area.
The Random. 

My Sister-in-Law quit her job as a school counselor and moved to Boston this past Friday to fulfill her dreams.

The Good.
Daniel said I should fulfill my dream of having being a guide for an outdoor company by becoming a white water rafting guide on the Ocoee River.
The Bad. 

I think it is a requirement that you smoke pot to become a river rat. Plus I am still in Charlotte and summer will be over before we know it...
The Random.

I am the 158th person to request the book, Little Bee, from the public library in Charlotte. How ridiculous is that. It had better be a good book.

The Good.
My parents are heading to Canada next week {after they help move my sister's family to Nashville}. We will be driving up for the week of July 4th. I can't wait. I think it has been over 4 years since we have gone up for a visit :(
The Bad.
My grandpa finally received his pathology report. Cancer has indeed spread to his lymph nodes. He will be starting a weekly round of chemo soon. It is to last 6 months. I am glad we are going to Canada, I hope that we are able to have a good visit with him even though he will be experiencing chemo.
The Random.

I went to Ru Sans for sushi tonight with a friend. I tried their Gone With The Wind - it was superb. It was nice to have some girl time and the opportunity to eat sushi {especially since Daniel refuses}. He will give in to PF Changs, but is not crazy about Asian food. ESPECIALLY sushi. Once when we had an unexpected layover in Japan for a day, he ate ICE CREAM the entire time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights - Change of Plans

Saturday we decided to go see Shakespeare in the Park. It is a FREE 2-week long event in Uptown Charlotte. The play was Comedy of Errors. It was something I really wanted to do. Daniel could take it or leave it, but since he loves me, he was willing to attend a free play for a date night.

The play didn't start until 8PM, so I decided to cook dinner at home. The recipe was Pioneer Woman's CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza. I love PW and we love California Pizza Kitchen, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. I followed the PW recipe, only adding baby portabello mushrooms because I love them. Well, I must have made my crust too thick because it took 40 minutes {instead of 17} to get the crust to brown. While we waited {and waited}, Daniel decided to take care of some yard work.

By the time we {finally} ate, wrapped up our yard work and took showers, it was almost 8PM. It is a 20-minute drive Uptown, but Daniel said we should go anyways. I complied, though I really didn't like the idea of being late to a play. We got to Cotswald and Daniel said he needed to stop and get a Gatorade. While we were there, he filled up my tank with gas since it was basically empty.

I sat in the car and tried not to stew. We were going to be really late. When he got back in, I asked him how he would feel about being 20 minutes late for a movie. We agreed that it probably wasn't the best plan to go to the play. I tried to not be annoyed. I really wanted to go. But I also knew that Daniel was exhausted. And the yard work really did need to be taken care of before he went back to Chattanooga.

I suggested that we run to Harris Teeter for the Gatorade and pick up a Red Box selection instead. Even though I really wanted to see the play, it was for the best that we went home. Daniel needed to crash - especially since he had a 6-hour drive to make the next day.

Maybe we can catch Othello in August. In the meantime, I am going to see Macbeth with a friend from work next week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Somebody has to do it...


When you live alone, you have to deal with a lot more things by yourself. If I have a bug {read ant, spider, moth, etc.} in the house, I have to take care of it. If the plumbing for the hall bathroom sink starts to leak, I have to take care of it. If light bulbs need to be changed or the yard needs to be mowed or the dishes need to be done or the dog needs to be walked, I have to take care of it. It's not fun, but somebody has to do it. I would say I am a pretty independent woman. Independence is overrated...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marriage Advice According to Daniel...

This weekend Daniel told me about the advice that he recently gave to a couple of his engaged co-workers. I thought it was interesting to hear a guy's perspective on getting married.

Advice Part 1: Registering for china
Under no circumstances should you let your bride-to-be convince you to register for china. It will sit in a box for a long time, until you finally have a hutch to display it in. Then it will sit in the hutch. It will collect dust and you will only use it once a year - at which time you will have to clean it before you eating AND after eating. Not worth it {in Daniel's mind}. It is better to register for daily dishes that are durable since you will use then on a daily basis. 

Note: we own china and have only used it a handful of times in almost eight years.

Advice Part 2: ALWAYS be honest 
I think this bit of advice stems from the younger guys asking if you should tell your fiance she looks fat IF she initiates the conversation by asking you, "Does this make me look fat?" Or if she asks something like, "Do I have anything in my teeth?" Daniel has learned that you should just be honest. If you can't be honest about these little things when you are engaged, do you really think it will be easier to be honest about these things after you are married? What about the big things?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

House Update

We had a house showing on Thursday. It was unexpected. I got the call after a moment of brokenness, crying in my bathroom during my lunch break. Seems like my mom has a similar story - though her story is about wanting a new home after living in a very small house with an outhouse in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. My parents lived in this house for four years, two of which included two small children {my sister and I}. At the end of four years of waiting, my mom had her own moment of brokenness, crying in her outhouse...

Anyways, my house story is not about an outhouse, but it is about waiting for God to answer a prayer request. I was on my way back to work {after the crying in the bathroom} when I received a call requesting a showing for that afternoon. I said YES and turned my car around to ready the house for the showing.

According to the follow-up comments, the couple liked our house. They also liked the area and neighborhood. They are considering a second visit next week, though they were concerned about the windows {which is an understandable concern since the windows are 30+ years old} and they aren't crazy about our kitchen cabinets. It is in God's hands. We have let them know we are willing to work with them on the windows.

I am trying to have hope, but to also be realistic, while not allowing myself to become cynical.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 22

Life is complicated and ugly at times. We are all touched by things like job loss, job searches, a bad economy, cancer, unexplained illness, divorce, addiction, aging family members, hurt, loneliness and so on. It touches all of us. And sometimes we stand at the edge of this chasm and hold hands with cynicism, giving in to the despair that comes with this thing called life. We give up our hopes for the future and let the numbness of not caring set in. 

Overcoming that numbness through prayer is what A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, by Paul W. Miller, is about. At this exact time in my life, this was a book that I really needed to read. My natural tendency is to get overwhelmed by life and think that the best solution is to not care, to give up hope. But when I stop caring, I die a little inside.

Instead of shutting down, I should be praying and waiting on God as he weaves together the story that is my life. It won't always be pretty, but it is my story of growth and relationships with God and those around me, one in which I should be an active participant, not just a detached bystander.

Some passages that really stuck with me from this book:
Few of us have {the} courage to articulate the quiet cynicism or spiritual weariness that develops in us when heartfelt prayer goes unanswered. We keep our doubts hidden even from ourselves because we don't want to sound like bad Christians. No need to add shame to our cynicism. So our hearts shut down.
If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details in my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for good. If he is all-wise, the he's not going to do everything I want all of the time because I don't know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all of this.
If we think that we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously. Our failure to pray will always feel like something else - a lack of discipline or too many obligations. But when something is important, we make room for it.
Many Christians stand at the edge of cynicism, struggling with a defeated weariness. Their spirits have begun to deaden, but unlike the cynic, they have not lost hope.
Cynicism creates a numbness toward life. {It} begins with the wry assurance that everyone has an angle... the cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving and hoping.
It's a short trip from determination to despair, when you realize that you aren't going to change the situation, no matter what you do. It hurts to hope in the face of continued failure, so you try to stop hurting by giving up hope.
Gospel stories always have suffering in them. American Christianity has an allergic reaction to this part of the gospel. We'd love to hear about God's love for u s, but suffering doesn't mesh with our right to the "pursuit of happiness."
I don't buy many books. This is one that I plan to purchase.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: House Sitting

Friday I worked half a day then high tailed it to Signal Mountain, TN {Chattanooga area} to hang out with Daniel for the weekend. We were house/pet sitting for the Reynold's {who were at the beach for the week}. I made it there by 7PM. It only took 7 hours of driving and 5 stops... driving with a dog makes life more complicated.

On our drive, we stopped 1) on the way out of town to get me lunch; 2) about an hour down the road to get gas and throw out my trash from lunch so Sophie wouldn't eat the cardboard that held my fries; 3) at a rest area outside of Asheville because Sophie was whining and I figured she needed to walk around/do her business {which she did} and I got myself some caffeine; 4) I stopped at another rest area to let Sophie take a break; and finally 5) I forgot to feed Sophie during the last break, so we stopped AGAIN for feeding. At this stop she managed to get into an ant mound and ants were crawling all over her front legs before I realized what had happened. I grabbed a towel and knocked the ants off and made sure she was OK before heading on.

When I finally arrived at Signal Mountain, I found that Daniel had cooked dinner: grilled steak and baked potatoes. It was really sweet that he did that. After dinner we were both tired. We talked some about future plans for getting me moved to TN and then we crashed.

Saturday we did a bit of house hunting {which is hard because we really don't know where we should be living, there is a lot that is up in the air right now}. We also toured the area looking at campgrounds {more details later}. Saturday night, the Reynold's came home and we hung out with them - including getting takeout from a really amazing pizzaria. 

The Reynold's kids are so sweet. Sadie {age 3} asked me if I was going to be moving there. I told her that I would eventually. Then she said, "No. Are you going to be moving here, into this house, like Daniel?" Hahaha. I told her that I would move there but that Daniel and I would get our own house and she could come visit me for a change.

Sunday we went for a 1.5-mile hike where we let Sophie run {off leash} through the woods - this was a plan on our part to make sure she was good and tired for my drive home. For brunch, we went to the Sweet Gipsy Bakeshop. Daniel was going to take me here on Friday night, but it turned out that the extended summer hours for this coffee shop were only until 5PM! 

I managed to get on the road by 3:45PM and made it home by 9:45PM {I went home through Atlanta and we only stopped twice}. Date weekend complete. I am looking forward to a day when we have normal date "nights" and not crazy weekends that are so tiring and involve 6+hours driving {each way} for one of us. It is truly exhausting!

Monday, June 14, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 21

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, Ph. D. explores the psychology of why we eat what we eat. This was a quick read that reinforced a lot of beliefs that I already held.

It was interesting to see how buying in bulk can affect the amount we eat and that children can be influenced in their food choices from a very young age and that having a good cook in your family generally equals healthier eating.

Some quotes that I took away from this book are:

While most Americans stop eating when they're full, those in leaner cultures stop eating when they're no longer hungry.
We are all tricked by our environment. Even if we "know it" in our head, most of the time we have too much on our mind to remember it and act on it. That's why it's easier to change our environment than our minds.
In most households, decisions about what to eat are determined by what foods the grocery shopper - the nutritional gatekeeper - brings into the house. Although they don't always realize it, gatekeeper's powerfully shape what foods get eaten inside and outside the house.
I am definitely the nutritional gatekeeper. I have always been of the opinion that if it is in the house, you will eat it. Therefore I only buy what we need for meals and healthy snacks. No more. No less.
Not only do they {children} develop prenatal munchie preferences, children start learning what they like and don't like before they're 4 months old. They do this by picking up on signals a parent or caretaker unconsciously gives about whether food is tasty or not.
No food company is in the business of making us fat, they're in business to sell us food. If we want fattening food to mindlessly eat, companies will fix it.
And vice versa if we want healthy food. We need to take more personal responsibility with our food choices.
We can turn food in our life from being a temptation or a regret to something we guiltlessly enjoy. We can move from mindless overeating to mindless better eating.
I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to better understand why you eat the way they do and how you can be a positive influence on your household.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Things that go bump in the night...

One negative to living alone is that I am more susceptible to fear over every little noise. When Daniel is here, I don't notice the groanings of our home. When I am alone, my ears perk up with every sigh that the house makes. I also hear car doors slamming and garbage cans being rolled to the street. I sincerely admire those who live alone and are used to the "noise."

Last night {around 9:30} there was a loud crash that sounded to the front of the house. Sophie started barking and I flipped on the exterior lights to see what was going on. We didn't see anything. Sophie was acting a little nervous, so I decided to open the front door and let her check things out {this was well after the fact that I was sure it was nothing}.

As soon as I opened the door, Sophie bolted. After a rabbit. Which is incredibly annoying. She is known to do this on occasion. She KNOWS she is not supposed to do this and she normally comes back pretty quickly {and begs for our forgiveness, ears down and tail tucked}.

I could hear her dog tags clinking in the dark, but I couldn't see her. So I started yelling her name {at this point I feel like a TERRIBLE neighbor}. Sophie does not heed my calls and I can hear all of the dogs in the neighborhood howling. Then I start to get nervous because I can no longer hear her dog tags. I grab a flash light and my cell phone. My concern is that she has managed to get several streets over {closer to the major roads} and something will happen to her. And what happens if I can't find her???

I cross the street {in my pajamas} and knock on the door of the just-graduated-from-college guys. I explain to them that my dog has run after a rabbit into their back yard and I need to go check their back yard and I would appreciate it if they didn't call the cops on me... They are totally cool with me searching and offer to turn on the lights.

I walk to their back yard, not sure of what to expect or how deep into the woods I am going to have to venture. I am rethinking having a dog. Then how upset Daniel will be if I have to call and tell him that the thing he loves most in this world {after me} is missing.

I start calling her name and shining the flash light. Wait. Is that clinking dog tags I hear??? I look into the FENCED yard of the next neighbor over and there she is, peering at me through the dark. How did she manage to get herself inside a fenced yard? I'm not sure. I suppose she followed a rabbit through a loose section of fence and then didn't know how to return to me. I try to coax her around the fence but she doesn't seem to know what to do. And neither do I for that matter.

Deciding it is better to interact with the neighbors than to wander through their yards in the dark, I proceed to go to the front door of neighbor #2 - an elderly man {who we call the preacher as he is ALWAYS wearing a suit and he has 3 mini vans but no discernible family}. I ring his doorbell. He anxiously asks who it is through the closed door. I explain my situation and he opens the door because he recognizes my voice. He shows me how to access his gate.

I grab hold of Sophie's collar {even though I am 98% sure she will follow me home with her tail between her legs}. I don't want to take any chances. With the yelling and going door-to-door in my PJs I am sure the neighbors already think I am a little crazy...

Lonny

My friend just introduced me to Lonny. What a great online magazine to get inspiration from. I am hooked. Here some of my favorite images from the most recent issue. 


I have posted about my love for these swings before. But seriously. I want one. They would be a great addition to a sunroom or covered porch.


Also love this modern version of the rocking chair. I have a special place in my heart for the wicker and wood ones from the 70s, but love this one. Could totally see it in a nursery.
 

The exterior of this house is so pretty. It looks like it would be in a grownup fairy tale.


I really like these curtains. They would be super easy to make. The simplicity of white with the bright color at the bottom makes me happy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

100 Days


Yesterday marked 100 days apart.*
 
Just to visit me in Charlotte, Daniel has driven over 8,000 miles. 
He should win an award.
 
To visit him, I have driven over 3,000 miles.
 
I have eaten more than 200 meals alone... 
I am guessing more than half-of-which were take out.
 
I don't have to share the remote control, but that is of little consolation.
 
Daily dropped calls are annoying.
 
Saying goodbye does not get easier.
 
On a bad day, regret over not accepting a ridiculously low offer lurks in the shadows.
 
Praying we don't have to wait another 100 days.

*This number is a reflection of the consecutive number of days we have spent living 400 miles apart.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Low Key

This weekend was all about being lazy. I think this was the first lazy weekend we have had this year. Which is pretty sad since it is already June...

Friday night we opted to go eat at a local joint. We are trying to savor local Charlotte places since there will come a time when we can no longer visit these places on a whim. We decided on Charley's in Cotswald. We were excited because we have not been to Charley's in some time and they have outdoor dining (a plus in our books). As we walked up to the restaurant we were excited to see a guy playing live music in the common outdoor eating area. We managed to walk all the way up to the door before we realized Charley's was CLOSED - they appeared to be updating the interior and a sign on the door said: Under New Management. So that was a HUGE disappointment :(

Our options at this point were to 1) eat a Salsarita's {a chain TexMex place where we could still enjoy the live music} 2) try out Blue Basil {a newer restaurant with a semi-pricey menu and few people eating there} or 3) go to Wolfman Pizza {our absolute fave pizza joint, but no live music}.

We opted for Salsarita's. We shared Chicken Nachos and a Chicken Quessadilla and enjoyed the music. Then it started raining. We had a nice evening anyway. After our meal, we went over to Books-A-Million to peruse magazine's and books. This is a favorite past time {though we haven't done this is FOREVER, too busy I guess}. After the bookstore, we hit up a RedBox at Harris Teeter and went home to enjoy a movie in the comfort of our home.

It was a lovely evening which set the tone for the whole weekend... Nice to have a really low key weekend for a change.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Friends from Papua New Guinea

Six-and-a-half years ago, Daniel and I took a 5-week hiatus from life and traveled to Papua New Guinea {PNG}. Daniel had just graduated from college and we were planning on transitioning to Charlotte, NC when we came back to the States. I had my mind set on taking some type of big trip before we settled into the business of post-college life. I also had a desire to go back to PNG and show Daniel where I had lived for the first six years of my life.

When I first presented these ideas to Daniel, he was a little reluctant. He thought that a 2-week vacation would be plenty of time to take off... wouldn't it be better if we stayed in the USofA? I dug my heels in and proceeded to persuade him to go along with my plan. This led us to a week of camping in Oahu, Hawaii {which is free if you take your own gear} and then 4 weeks in PNG. We spent our first 3 weeks with Andy and Catherine Scott in the highlands – mostly Mt. Hagen where I lived as a child. We were able to take some quick trips into the bush including a trip to Drima where our Land Cruiser "fell through" a bridge on our way up the mountain. Oddly enough when this happened, Andy was in the process of telling us he had only fallen through this bridge once {before}... 20+ years ago when he crossed it with my Grandpa. How's that for strange?

The Scott's persuaded us to go down to Madang for a week to spend some time with Jason and Sheryl Moriarty {they also convinced us to take a scuba diving course, which we did}. Jason and Sheryl were gracious hosts. We were able to meet some of the local Christians and they carted us around Madang, showing us the touristy things and taking care of us when Daniel contracted malaria... We initially thought Daniel was having some ear problems from scuba diving and he sat on the boat while I did our last open water dive alone. I came up in time to see Daniel puking over the side of the boat. I figured he was sea sick, but it turned out he was in the early stages of malaria. They drove us to the doctor and helped us acquire drugs to put Daniel on the road to recovery. They gave us advice like, "Don't tell anyone on the airplane {or at customs in Australia} that Daniel has malaria because they will quarantine you and make you stay in Australia indefinitely..." We took their advice and made it back to the US in one piece {though we did get re-routed through Japan due to a problem with our plane...}.

Anyways, I have lots of stories from our trip to PNG, but I wanted to focus on meeting Jason and Sheryl. I think I actually met Jason when I was in high school, but Daniel and I officially met them in their home in Madang. After our visit, we decided that we wanted to start supporting the Moriarty's in their work in PNG. So for the past 6 years, we have kept up with them and the work that they have continued to do with the Christians in the area.

Four years ago, they came to visit us in Charlotte. We had just moved into our house and started our renovation process. They were good sports and let us put them to work.

This past Saturday, they came back for another visit. This time they have two precious children and we have a finished house. They are trying to determine if they will continue their work in PNG or head to Cairnes, Australia or possibly somewhere in China. These are big decisions for them. We will continue to support them and pray that God leads them to where they need to be. Hopefully we can visit them wherever they end up... I'm already dreaming up our next international trip ;)

Sorry for not having photos with this post, our trip photos are not digital and my scanner is not hooked up right now.

KIS'D

Over the last three months, Daniel and I have had to adjust our eating habits. For me, this means committing to cooking for one instead of running out for fast food every night. For Daniel, this has meant frequently eating out for lunch {the Reynold's, who he has been living with, have graciously provided meals for him in the evenings}.

This past weekend we discussed trying to limit eating out so often in order to save money and to improve our health. For this week, in particular, Daniel is house sitting for the Reynold's and will be on his own for all of his meals. So I asked him if he would like me to help him with a meal plan and shopping list {he said YES}.

When I thought about what Daniel could/would make for himself, I decided to incorporate the KIS'D
method or Keep It Simple Dear {as opposed to the KISS method - Keep It Simple Stupid as my husband is not stupid}. Daniel enjoys simpler flavors and tastes and since he is cooking for himself, I wanted it to be meals that he could put together quickly.

So for Daniel, we agreed that a Craisin Turkey Salad would be easy for his lunches. And for dinners, I suggested Spaghetti, a Salmon with Veggies packet and a Steak and Baked Potato night. He would most likely have leftovers from the spaghetti and none of these meals should take more than 20 minutes to prepare {even for Daniel who rarely cooks}.

I, on the other hand, will be making meals that include Lamb with Jasmine Rice and a side of Spinach, Dijon Pork Chops with Corn on the Cob, Eggs served on Red Peppers and Tomatoes and Fried Tilapia with Green Beans and Almonds.

Daniel has grown to love my cooking, but I know that if he is going to commit to cooking for himself, we need to keep it simple...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

...

So... we have known since January that Daniel had the job with TVA and that we would be moving {eventually}. Although he didn't start until March 1, we have officially known/been preparing for this transition for the past 5+ months now.

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I have a daily planner that I use to keep track of my projects at work. Earlier this year, when we developed the monthly schedule for the magazine I design/layout, I only updated my daily planner through the end of May. I suppose I was hoping to be moved to TN by now. Whatever the reason, I just realized that I am still in Charlotte, NC and I am about to start work on the August issue of the magazine. With no true end in sight, I sat down {yesterday} and filled out my planner for the rest of the year. Trying not to be too depressed about this {or the fact that our house has had ZERO showings since the end of April}...

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In other not-so cheery news, my Grandpa had surgery on Tuesday to remove a tumor {they knew going in that he had colon cancer}. The doctor's were able to remove the tumor but the cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. We are still waiting to hear an official prognosis and planning a visit to Canada for the week of July 4th...

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Also, I am feeling particularly lonely this week. Which is odd since it is a short week (thanks to the Memorial Day holiday) and Daniel will be home tomorrow. Most of the time I am fine, but this week not so much...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 20

A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe is a compilation of short stories written by women traveling the world alone. Edited by Christina Henry De Tessan, Faith Conlon and Ingrid Emerick, these stories take us to remote deserts, lush islands and a variety of exotic locals.

To me, the thrill of adventure is always alluring and I appreciate reading travel stories from a woman's perspective. However I experienced an underlying loneliness while reading these tales... This is probably just my personal reaction to traveling alone in foreign countries. I keep thinking about the summer I spent in Europe while in college. How I traveled with companions the entire summer until the day I boarded a train from Rome to Paris. Alone. It was one of the hardest things I have done. Adventure will always drive me. But I want to share it. I want to have people that understand my stories and experiences after the fact...

Some excerpts from the book:
Travel intensifies the elements of a person's nature - both fine and toxic - making them stand out more starkly than they ever do in the safe, regulated environment of home.

But travel was about letting go, and there was no other way to experience it. I knew it was only when you let go that the best things happened. That was why I traveled, and why I found it so hard some times. 
Traveling alone, as invisible as a ghost, was also a method of self discovery. What in fact, did I do when no one was watching?

We cannot predict who will change our lives, nor whose lives we will change.

For me sisterhood is the relationship with the purest motives, the least baggage. The thousands of hours spent playing in the same yard and eating the same cooking, the passing on of secrets... the layers of understanding conveyed by our own language of words and gestures - all make the bond of sisterhood a fundamental part of who I am.

A sister will never leave me. Our connection outweighs our differences.

Project 52 Date Nights - Wedding. PFunky Griddle. RiverWalk.

This weekend was another whirlwind of traveling - this time to Cedars of Lebanon {in middle Tennessee} for a cousin's wedding on Saturday. I believe that all married couples should attend at least one wedding each year, if for no other reason than as a reminder of why you got married. It was a sweet wedding and nice to catch up with family. 
  
We also managed to meet up with some friends {from this weekend wedding} on Sunday morning for breakfast at the Pfunky Griddle in Nashville. It was my friend's pick, so Daniel and I were unsure of what to expect. The restaurant had tables with griddles built into the middle and you get to make your own pancakes right there at the table. Pretty cool experience. It was nice to do with a group. This would make a fun "at home" date - just set up a griddle on the table and make your pancakes while you visit.

Sunday afternoon we headed to Chattanooga. Daniel took me to the town he works in {in Alabama} where I proceeded to have a moment of serious panic and culture shock. I really want to live in the same place as him. I am just having a hard time wrap my mind around moving to a rural area. I am hanging on to the possibility that we will live in Chattanooga, but if we end up moving to rural America... well, that will take some getting used to.

Monday, we spent the morning just hanging out. We looked at some potential neighborhoods and wondered downtown to the Riverwalk. We walked several miles - including across the Walnut Street Bridge {which spans 0.5 miles}. We had Sophie {as there were no signs posted regarding dogs}. We did find it odd that we didn't see any dogs. And when we reached Coolidge Park, we were informed that no dogs were permitted {oops}. Oh well. Sophie liked it and we didn't get into trouble. They really should post signs.

I drove back to Charlotte Monday afternoon/evening and made it home by 10:30PM. It was a good weekend, though exhausting. We are definitely ready to live in the same town again.

Trying to be hopeful...

To say that this weekend was tiring would be an understatement. It was fun, but thoroughly exhausting. That seems typical for our lives right now. One {or both} of us is in a constant state of exhaustion – Daniel more often than me.

My drive to Murfreesboro, TN on Friday took an extra 2 hours thanks to I-40 being “open” but only one lane through the gorge {on the TN/NC state line}.

The weekend included a wedding, spending time with family, breakfast with friends and then driving to Chattanooga...

About 30 minutes outside of Chattanooga, we stopped and parked my car in South Pittsburg and Daniel drove us down to Scottsboro to show me where he worked and also to scope out areas, in case we decide to buy land and build a house at some point.

Coupled with longs hours of driving, not enough sleep and overall emotional exhaustion, this was a little much for me. South Pittsburg and Scottsboro are seriously rural. Intellectually, I knew they were rural, but actually seeing it. Wow. It was very overwhelming. I don’t know if I can live in such a rural area. I just keep thinking about things that are normal to me right now… coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, variety of eateries and grocery stores, movie theaters, etc... if we lived in these rural areas, that stuff would pretty much disappear. I am trying to wrap my head around it all.

On top of that I am so ready to be living where Daniel lives. Three months of separation has been difficult. It really wears you down. As my friend Courtney pointed out, there is this feeling of hopelessness that occurs when you live like this {she knows firsthand, they did the Charlotte to Chattanooga transition about 2 years ago}. I am thankful to have someone to talk to about how hard this is… someone who actually knows. I am also thankful that we have friend's who have so graciously let Daniel crash with them while we are separated.

On my drive back to Charlotte yesterday, it rained for a good portion of the way. I listened to the radio and a song about hope started to play. I looked up and the gray sky partially parted and I realized that I was staring at a rainbow. Through the rain. Through the despair I was feeling. There was a rainbow. It gave me hope that everything would work out.

Lock Flock Family Reunion, 2017

When I was growing up, my family didn't take vacations in the traditional sense. We never went to the beach. We never visited Dis...