Thursday, February 28, 2008

Up in Flames

"From a little spark bursts a mighty flame."
-Dante Alighier

As I child, I had terrible nightmares about fire. One that remains vivid in my mind is a dream that a music stand in my room (I was taking violin lessons at the time!) suddenly burst into flames. I would lay awake at night trying to figure out what my emergency plan would be in case of fire. In fact, that’s why I start sleeping with the door shut—so I would have somewhat of a barrier from the inferno.
And although these fears seem excessive, fire can happen to anyone. In fact, in the last month, fires have devastated the lives of two families that I know.
On February 7, an explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA injured one of my sister-in-law’s good friends, Paul. In fact, he was supposed to be a groomsman in her wedding this weekend. But instead, Paul is battling 3rd degree burns over his whole body in a Burn Center, where he has a long road ahead of him.
Then, yesterday I got the news that Debbie and her husband’s house burned down yesterday. Debbie is one of my mom’s best friends, and she hosted my bridal shower last year. She was able to rescue their two dogs and few personal belongings, but they will be starting over with basically only the clothes on their backs. They are lucky that no one was hurt, but they have a long road ahead of them.
I’m crying for those whose lives have been disrupted by fire and its destruction. I can’t imagine having to sit at the bedside of my husband for a month without hearing his voice, knowing that he is hurting and that he will always have scars of such a terrible catastrophe that took the lives of his friends and coworkers. I can’t even imagine watching your home go up in flames as you wait for the fire trucks to arrive.
But yet, what control do I really have? We have renter’s insurance and we keep our most precious documents, photos, etc. in a fire-resistant safe. What else can you do?

Monday, February 25, 2008


“A strong marriage is based on commitment. A strong marriage has passion and understanding.”
-Howard Martin

Rob and I spent most of the weekend with two of our friends from school. Rob worked with them in the Housing Department for two years. A and Z have dated for a little over a year, but we’ve never really hung out with them as a couple before. We went out to a pub Friday night, and then they came back to our apartment where they wanted to watch the slideshow of all 650 wedding photos. Then on Saturday we went shoe shopping and then spent the evening up at the outlets in North Georgia.

Rob has decided that he really enjoys hanging out with “couples,” and told me this several times over the weekend. I’d have to agree with him. It’s fun to watch the different personalities of people interact, as well as the personalities of the pairs.

It was very interesting listening to A and Z talk about their futures, especially through the wedding slideshow. They both spoke about how much they enjoyed our party, and how they would like to incorporate some of our details into their own someday. But they never said anything the whole weekend about marrying each other--it was always some unknown person of the future.

Now after a year of dating, if Rob had mentioned marrying someone other than me, I would have given him quite a look. We were already talking about being married and sharing a future together, even though we were still just having fun in school.

On Saturday night as we curled up in bed after our fun-filled day, Rob whispered, “I’m so glad we’re married. I can’t even remember what it was like not have that commitment.” Amen to that.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lucky Duck

“I ain't nothing but a winner.”
-Paul Bryant

At my office I’m know as the “go-to-girl” for writing. I’m not totally convinced that it’s because I’m the best writer around, but I am pretty certain that I’m the only one who’s willing (and capable) of actually sitting down to write something intelligent.

Thus, I’m the one who manages competition entries for products that we’ve launched. I’ve done this for at least 3 competitions each year. And every time competition time rolls around, the upper management weighs our options, whether the time/financial obligation is worth it, considering we don’t really have a history of winning.

However, my luck might be changing. We were notified this morning that one of my most recent entries actually won its category for the Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA)!!
It really is a cool product: a surgical tool used for Brachytherapy treatment of prostate cancer. And not only did I just write answer the entry questions, but I also designed some of the graphics on the device.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Team "B"

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”
-Priscilla Welch

Last fall, Rob and I had gotten in a good routine of power walking every Sunday afternoon. We had a couple of favorite spots around the city, and we would walk and talk for about 6 miles each weekend. That was, until it got cold. Then we became lazy bums.

That doesn’t sit well with Rob. Running is in his blood. He ran cross-country in high school, and regularly ran a route around campus through college. So last night, we started a new exercise routine. With his new work hours, we can eat a light dinner early in the evening and let it settle for a few hours. Right before bed we can work out in the gym at our apartment complex. And then after a quick shower, we can put on our pjs on and hop into bed.

I did pretty well for my first workout in a long while. Walked fast, and even ran for a bit. At one points, I was going even faster than Rob!! I’m sure he would give some excuse like, “That was for about 20 seconds before my program ratcheted up to 9.5 miles per hour at a 5 degree incline.” Or perhaps he would sit down to do some math, saying “My average speed was 7.5 miles per hour, while yours was just 4.2.” But between you and me, I was faster than him, at least for 20 seconds!!

And just when I resigned myself to accepting that I was a walker, not a runner, Rob has decided that our fitness goal will be to get our family Turkey Trot time to 45 minutes. Let me clarify, so that our combined times (mine + his) is less than 45 minutes! He thinks it’s a lofty goal, I think he’s crazy! Luckily, we do have10 months until Turkey Trot time. And I’ve checked into the Couch to 5K running program and may use their fitness plan as a guide. They say I will be able to run a 5K in just 9 weeks. And then I can just work on my speed. We’ll just have to see about that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Word

“A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain”
-Arabian Proverb

Reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth M. Gilbert for book club has forced me to stop and ponder. Regardless of what I think about the story, I find myself in a similar search. In the memoir, her friend declares that every city—and every person—has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”; Gilbert declares New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her own word, antevasin, Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.”

So what is the word that defines me? Gilbert describes is as the word that you find yourself thinking about as you walk down the street, or in Atlanta—drive down the street.

So my word?? Fulfillment. A feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires.

I’m young, newly married, and just setting up myself in the world. So who do I want to be? It’s not about living up to someone else’s dream. But what are my own dreams? And now I spend my every waking moment trying to understand them.

What kind of job do I want to do? I earned a degree in design, and I love having an excuse to be creative. But I hate the business aspect of my current job—the fact that your clients dictate everything. And I hate that I’m just promoting the sale of poor quality, Chinese-made crap. And I hate that I’m constantly waiting on someone to tell me what to do. It’s gotten a little bit better since I’ve managed a couple projects of my own, but in general, that’s the way this company is run.

So now that I’m off my rant… What do I want to do with my career? I want to help children. I want to have a sense of autonomy. I want to be creative. I want to make a difference. I want to see the results of my labor. I want to have lunch dates. I want to live nearby. I want to play it somewhat safe. I want to make enough money so that our family doesn’t live hand-to-mouth. Where does that leave me? What are my choices?

But fulfillment extends past my job. It seeps into my relationship with my husband. It includes my plan to wait to raise children. It affects how I decorate my home. It inspires me to continue my search for a higher being.

So fulfillment is a symphony that I conduct. The journey may last a lifetime. But the path is mine. And the destination is never far from my mind.

Monday, February 18, 2008

No Good, Very Bad Day

"I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."
-Judith Viorist

I was in quite a funk this weekend. Totally blah. We had several activities planned: lunch with an out-of-town friend, church on Sunday, a re-upholstery project for my nephew new "Poang" chair. All of which I thoroughly enjoyed. But as soon as an activity was completed, I slunk back into this mood.

Rob totally didn’t get it. He thought I was mad at him. And, yes, although I got really upset that he had moved the can opener to a location high above my head—I really wasn’t mad at him. He was being really sweet trying to make me happy again, but it didn’t really work. At one point, I just curled up in bed for a half hour, neither sleeping, nor tossing. If I had been alone, I would have just had a good cry and been over it. But I knew that would totally freak him out.

And then I just couldn’t get these awfully-inappropriate-to-the-situation lyrics off my mind. Craig Morgan’s song, “Tough.” Every time I hear it on the radio I think, “I wonder if my husband thinks of me like that. I sure hope he does.” But after such a rough day, I knew that I totally couldn’t live up to that. And that depressed me more.

Well, I’m not so sure the blues are gone, but when I get home this evening, hopefully, at least a spark of the regular ol’ me will be back.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Celebrate Love

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.
- Plato

Today is a good day to be a girl. At least a girl with a significant other. Who doesn’t love a holiday that simply celebrates love? There is nothing else so basic, and yet so complicated.

2008 is my sixth year to celebrate with Rob. He is such a generous gift giver, especially for Valentine’s Day. Even after I told him that all I wanted this year was a nice dinner (and that’s the truth!), yesterday morning I woke up to candies, a glass bottle of Coke, and a new teddy bear on the breakfast table—with a note explaining that he knew he was a day early, but he just loves me that much! This morning there was a clever card, a giant stuffed monkey, more candies, more Cokes, and a snack that I mentioned wanting to try on our last trip to the grocery store. And tonight we have late reservations for dinner at a surprise (to me!) location. Rob isn’t the most creative man of the bunch, but he sure gets an A++ for trying hard.

However, in our house, it’s not all about me. On this annual day of love, I want to celebrate my husband as well. I carefully avoid store-bought tsotchkes, electronic gadgets, or trendy clothing. I want to give him a gift that celebrates what I truly love about him. The tradition has become to craft something for him. I have had several of really good ideas over the years, but this year I really struggled for a while. Then it came to me.

After making a list of the things that I love most about Rob, I carefully placed them in the shape of his favorite sports car, Audi R8.Thank goodness for Adobe Illustrator.

Since this year’s theme is sleep, I transferred the design to a pair of pajama pants and made it into a small car-shaped pillow. I also bought this really cute book that Jordan recommended on Oh Happy Day.

The most challenging part of the project was figuring out how to get it done in secret. This is the first year that Rob has lived with me, and I’m usually very thankful that he comes home early for work (see the 4th line from the bottom on the chassis of the car). But it sure makes it a challenge to pull out the sewing machine for a secret project. I had to drag all of my supplies to work, and spent my lunch hours this week crafting away.

I think he’ll really like it, especially the detail that it’s modeled after an A8—I mean, he is a man. But I hope it goes over better than last year. A year ago I spent a week designing and sewing a stuffed love monster out of felt. However, that effort was overshadowed a bit by Rob’s proposal and a diamond engagement ring. Not that I’m complaining about that :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Great Debate

“The most important thing for a good marriage is to learn how to argue peaceably.”
-Anita Ekberg

Rules of debating politics with your spouse so that neither of you end up sleeping on the couch!

  1. Headline your view. Start the debate with a summary of your opinion: what it is and how important it is to you. And then keep that in mind as we banter back and forth.
  2. Don’t tell me what I believe. I’m interested in hearing what you believe, not your misunderstanding of what you think I believe.
  3. Don’t try to convince me to change my opinion. Although my opinions are likely to shift a little bit over time, I can almost guarantee that they are not going to flip 180 degrees during this debate.
  4. I don’t have to know all of the answers. Politics is not my job, nor is it even my hobby. I lean towards a viewpoint, but I haven’t always worked out all of the details. And it’s rarely black or white.
  5. My opinion matters. Whether you agree with it or not. So listen and acknowledge what I’m saying.
  6. Keep it fun. Be able to laugh at your self and your views. Rob has decided that he needs a t-shirt that reads, “I have a sense of humor. I married a Democrat.” That's funny. Now can I have one that says the opposite?!?!
  7. Let’s agree to disagree.
  8. Know when to stop. I’m still working on this one. But when it does get out of hand, it’s best just to leave it be. You don’t always have to have the last word.
Next step, pray that November comes quickly.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Cake for Kings

“Mardi Gras is in our soul.”
-Kim Priez

Growing up in Louisiana means that the colors purple, gold, and green decorate the world through February. All of the stores display their plastic beads, doubloons, and masks alongside their hearts, lace, and
cupids. All of the bakeries and grocery stores sell king cakes alongside their pink and red cupcakes.

King cake—tastes a bit like bread; a bit like cake. Neither too sweet, nor too bland. It’s also kind of a party game. A plastic baby doll (supposed to be baby Jesus) is hidden inside the cake, and the person who “gets the baby” is supposed to bring the cake the next year. In my senior English class in high school, we had king cake everyday for a whole month—the person who got the baby brought the snack the next day.

In Georgi
a you can’t just run to the grocery store for a piece of king cake. So I pulled out my handy-dandy Junior League of Shreveport cookbook that we received as a wedding present and attempted my first ever king cake-baking adventure.

The recipe is not really difficult, but it does take a considerable amount of time. Perfect for a novice
cook on a lazy Saturday afternoon. After mixing all of the ingredients together, the dough was so sticky that I couldn’t lift my hands off of the baking mat I was working on. Luckily Rob was able to lend a hand, pouring the flour and holding the mat to the counter as I attempted to knead it all together.

I left it to rise for
an hour and a half, then shaped it in a ring, and let it rise for another 40 minutes. Then as it baked it continued to grow. After 30 minutes in the oven, I had a gigantic cake on my hands. Then the icing and colored sprinkles got a little bit out of hand. But, in my opinion, you can never have enough sugar. There’s no place nearby where you can just run out and buy a 1 inch plastic baby, so we had to forego that little detail this time around. Note to self: stock up on plastic babies for king cakes in our future! We took the cake and the homemade ice cream (that Rob is making in the photo above) to a Super Bowl Party on Sunday night, where everyone loved it.

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