Edit: When I transferred posts from Blogger to this new blog location, the picture attached to this post didn’t make it. I haven’t figured out yet how to relink it. However, it’s a larger and less cropped version of the same photo used in the banner at the top of this page.

I don’t exactly blog anonymously like some bloggers do; I use my name and my family’s first names here. Mostly because I never really expected to have actual readers! But I’ve been hesitant to share pictures other than my little mug shot that is part of my profile—because you just never know who is surfing the web. Yet that mug shot is a year old, and I’m 40 pounds lighter and in the mood for showing off. My original goal was to lose it before a cruise that we have planned for next March, so I could fit back into my pre-Noah bathing suits. I started quietly back in January, but when people started noticing I was shrinking, I redoubled my efforts and was so far ahead of schedule that I revised my goal to get it off before this wedding that I just attended. Mission accomplished. So now I am unveiling here the “skinny” me. This picture was taken this weekend, and is my new favorite. The camera normally hates me, so getting a good picture like this is a rarity indeed!

The weekend was a blast. My friend’s wedding was beautiful, and it was wonderful to visit with old friends. I’ll have more to blog about on that soon, and I’m inspired to write about my own wedding, kind of as a bookend to the story about how Kent and I met. But I must finish this article first. It will therefore be a quiet week or two for me here. I’ll be back to blogging in full force again very soon, and about much more consequential things than my weight loss efforts.

High school vs. college

I’ve been thinking lately about how high school has unexpectedly played a big role in my life this year, the result of an online message board through which I reconnected with old classmates I haven’t spoken to, or in some cases even thought about, in 17 years or more. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into rebuilding those old connections and forming what I hope will now be cherished lifelong friendships. I’ve also been doing a lot of reminiscing about my growing up years, and some of those stories have appeared in this blog. Many more will follow, I’m sure.

Yet really, I think it is more of my college experience that formed who I am today. It was in college where I began to break out of my “shy” shell. It’s my college friends who I still keep in touch with all these years later. These are friendships that have withstood the test of time. One of those friends is getting married on Saturday. I’ll be attending her wedding in Boston. I can’t even begin to say how much I’m looking forward to that. I’m hoping the mini-reunions of this weekend will jog my memory for some of my good college stories, which need to make their way here too. I will be seeing several longtime friends over the next couple of days and expect to return with lots of good fodder for this blog!

I’m such a slacker

I’ve become quite the delinquent blogger. How did that happen? The next couple of weeks will continue to be quiet for me (bloggingly speaking) as I settle into my new role at work. The honeymoon period is over and I am beginning to understand the beast I have taken on. Don’t you just love it when people butter you up to get you to agree to more work?

In my free time (ha!) I am still working on that article which is destined to be published. It’s only half done, and only half of that is any good. It still needs lots of spit and polish, which requires time, which is in short supply at the moment. The clock is ticking, though, so write I must.

In a bit of non-slacking news, I am pleased (a major understatement) to record for all the world to know that I have stuck with my New Year’s resolution and reached my weight loss goal. Even my skinny clothes are loose. I rewarded myself with a mini shopping spree this weekend. I wonder if it’s possible to ever get tired of hearing people tell you how fabulous you look? Nah…

Tagged again

One of the dangers of making friends in the blogosphere is getting “tagged” with these getting-to-know-you type things that seem to endlessly make the rounds. This one is courtesy of WordWhiz. On the bright side, it saved me from having to think of an original topic to write about today!

7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:

  1. Grow VERY old
  2. Spend lots of quality time with Kent
  3. Watch my kids graduate, get married, and have their own kids
  4. Alaska cruise
  5. Road trip across the country
  6. Get published Mission accomplished 12/05/05
  7. Win the lottery

7 Things I Cannot Do:

  1. Sing
  2. Anything artistic
  3. Pass up the opportunity to buy new shoes or a new purse
  4. Anything athletic (too uncoordinated)
  5. Eat eggs (can’t even stand to smell them)
  6. Spend less than $75 in Target
  7. Think of 7 things for all of these categories!

7 Things That Attract me to the same or opposite sex:

  1. I think this sums it up pretty well.

7 Things I Say Most Often:

  1. I love you (to Kent and the kids)
  2. In just a minute (when requested to do anything when I’m on the computer)
  3. Stop that!
  4. Do you want a time out? Then stop crying. (It works almost every time)
  5. Cool
  6. Turn off the fan (to Kent)
  7. Turn up the TV (to Kent, who has supersonic hearing and could, I’m sure, hear it even on mute)

7 Celebrity Crushes:

  1. Gary Sinise
  2. Colin Firth
  3. Johnny Depp
  4. Antonio Banderas (the accent!)
  5. Matthew Fox
  6. Matt Lauer
  7. Kent (a celebrity in my book!)

7 People I Want To Do This List:

See, I’m a bad person to tag for these things because I don’t want to inflict them on other people. Same rules apply as last time I did one of these. If you want to play, you’re it.

How I met my husband

Kent and I have slightly different versions of how we met. I contend it was a blind date (which I was tricked into by my roommate), but technically we had met briefly once before. I just didn’t make the connection until he arrived for the first date.

Kent had an art class with my roommate at the time, and at some point had borrowed a book from her related to the class. She wasn’t home when he returned it, so he left it with me. I remember wondering who this cute friend was that my roommate had never introduced me to. He says he told me his name when he left the book, but I say he didn’t, and that’s where our stories diverge.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and my roommate starts pestering me about a blind date with a friend of hers. I absolutely refuse. Blind dates are not my thing. So then she asks about doing a group outing with some others so I can meet the guy. This is something I can live with, so I agree. She presents this plan to the guy (who, unbeknownst to me, is the cute friend who returned the book and had apparently been asking about me a lot since), but he refuses. He wants a date with me, not a group outing. My roommate puts me on the phone with him and I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to go on a blind date with a stranger, but I’ve quasi committed myself by agreeing to the group thing. So I do the only thing I can that won’t result in hurting his feelings; I agree to the date. Imagine my delight when he picks me up at the appointed time and I discover that it is none other than Cute Book Returning Guy! The rest is history. We were engaged six months later and married a year after that.

And the fate of the book that resulted in that first chance encounter? Kent later bought it from my roommate (“A Century of Modern Painting”) and it has been in our possession ever since. He’s sentimental that way, and I love him for it.

What a week. My attention was seriously diverted by Hurricane Katrina last week. I, like so many others, have been glued to the TV. We felt the effects here last year of three hurricanes—Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. Charley was the most damaging locally, though Jeanne was the one responsible for our new roof. But what we got was nothing, NOTHING compared to what Katrina has wrought throughout the entire Gulf coast. At the height of the chaos, 80% of New Orleans was under water, 80% of Mississippi without power, and untold lives, homes, businesses, and jobs wiped out. Many of the stories in the media are truly heartbreaking. It’s a tragedy on a scale that I hope never to see repeated in my lifetime.

There is a lot of blame and finger pointing going on in the media regarding the situation in New Orleans, especially, about who should have done what, and when. In spite of that, it’s heartwarming to see so many people rising to the occasion and providing whatever help they can to those in need. Recovery will be a long, slow process, and this will be an ongoing story. People’s lives are changed forever, but the good news is that Americans are resilient. I have faith that those who were affected will in time recover and rebuild, or begin to build a new life in a new location. They need our help now to get back on their feet, so that they can help themselves as time moves on.

As for my last musings on this topic before I return to “normal” blogging, I’d like to extend my gratitude to those who are able to contribute not just money, but themselves. Last week I read this excellent tribute to the volunteers who are donating their time and energy to the relief effort. These people go above and beyond. I applaud every single one of them for doing what I have not.

The title of this post applies to me, obviously, and not to those who have been directly impacted by the storm. It will be many months or even years before life returns to something resembling normal for them. For the rest of us, life and daily responsibilities go on even in the face of tragedy. But I will not forget those who need to be remembered. We will continue to watch the still unfolding story and progress of recovery, donate as we can, and pray that those who need it will find the assistance, spirit, and will to regenerate and renew.

Everyone is talking about Katrina this week, and Katrina is weighing heavily on my mind. It breaks my heart to watch the footage on TV. It’s just something about the fact that entire communities are obliterated, and a great city with its own unique cultural history will never be the same. This has kept me largely away from my blog, but I wanted to remind people to do what you can to help, if you are so inclined. The Red Cross (1-800-HELP NOW) is equipped to handle a relief effort of this scale and a good place to start. I’ve already made my donation. Probably the first of many. There are other worthy organizations accepting donations to help too. You can find a list on the FEMA website. And please say some prayers, if that’s your thing. There are many, many people who need them, and will continue to need them for a long time to come.

Isn’t it sad that it takes a tragedy like this to bring out the humanitarian in us? I know I’m guilty. 9/11, the tsunamis, etc.—I’m right there contributing along with everyone else. But what about all the times in between? Obviously we can’t all respond to every need, but the needs are still there, on a smaller scale. Why not pick a worthy cause and do what you can, on an ongoing basis?

The cause Kent and I are newly committed to is supporting our troops overseas. We’ve thought about this for a while, but a story from Chevy Rose inspired me to take action. It also occurred to me that with all eyes on the destruction of Katrina, our troops in harm’s way would be more likely than normal to be forgotten. Any Soldier Inc. identifies individuals from all branches of the military who are in need of moral support from those of us at home. We plan to pick a couple each month to send care packages to. It’s a little more work than just writing a check, but I like the personal aspect of putting together care packages with items that we’ve picked out, and it lets me enlist my kids to help. Maia wrote some beautiful notes to the soldiers to enclose in the packages we have already sent, and I know she won’t let us forget our monthly timetable!

The “special” school

When I was a kid, we had a school in town that we fondly (or maybe not so fondly, I’m embarrassed to say) called the “special” school. This school catered to the special education needs of kids throughout the county—mostly those with mental and physical handicaps, emotional issues, and maybe even a few disciplinary problems. Yet at the other end of the spectrum, it was also home to the county’s gifted program for elementary students. Since someone at some point decided I was gifted (and I use that term loosely), I had the pleasure of being bussed once a week to the “special” school. A former gifted classmate remembers being teased about that. I don’t recall such taunting, but perhaps I’ve just blocked it out.

In any case, I attended the “special” school and looking back now, I’m glad for the experience. However, I have a confession. I’d love to be able to write some profound words about the impact of an advanced gifted education, or the beginnings of my social conscience. And maybe what I would write would be true. But do you want to know the truth about what I remember most from the “special” school? The rolls they served at lunch. After all these years, that is what sticks in my head more than anything else. I would LOVE to taste one of those rolls again.

My sincerest apologies to the honest taxpayers of Charlotte County who funded this gastronomical memory.

Target strikes again

Target is without question my favorite store. I could get lost in there for hours. That’s dangerous, because what happened today happens entirely too often. I went in with a small list and came out spending $117.51. That’s expensive shampoo and toothpaste! How, I ask you, does that happen, every single time I walk in the door? I have said many times before that I might as well direct deposit a percentage of my paycheck to Target because they get it anyway. What maddening techniques do they use to draw me in, weaken my resistance, and cause me to so willingly spend more money? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you! I’m going to figure it out and expose them someday. In the meantime I’ll continue my “research” into the matter. Entirely against my will, of course.

Also in Target today, I overheard a couple of high school girls as they were parting ways. “E-mail me,” one said to the other. “You e-mail me first,” the second girl said. It made me think once again about the effect of technology on our lives. Whatever happened to “call me”? I wonder sometimes if our world is getting too impersonal. Like I should talk, because I’m always checking my e-mail. But too much of that without the personal interaction would eventually make me start to feel pretty darn antisocial!

Buttering me up

We listen to Radio Disney in our car, a lot, by popular request. Except lately the requests sound a little too much like demands. I don’t like the attitude of entitlement, so I’ve stopped honoring the appeals to switch to Radio Disney unless they are put to me nicely.

This morning as we load into the car to head to the bus stop, out of the blue Maia tells me “Mommy, have a good day at work today.” Aw, I’m touched. She’s never told me to have a good day at work before. I thank her and enthusiastically tell her to have a good day at school, too. And I’m inwardly pleased at her generous spirit in thinking of others.

Then, very sweetly: “Now will you put it on Radio Disney, please?”

You get one guess what we listened to on the way to the bus stop. I’m putty in her hands. Hey, at least she asked nicely. She’s come a long way since her first hilarious attempt at manipulation at the tender age of two. No one has ever accused her of being slow.

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