Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh, Possum....

This morning, 30 seconds away from needing to walk out the door and head to work, Bobby came into the kitchen, wide-eyed and momentarily speechless. Then, he said...

"There's a...'possum...laying in front of the couch in the living room."

I don't remember what I said. It doesn't matter, really.

I looked around the corner and peeked into the living room, where, sure enough, was an opossum laying on its side in front of the couch.

Yes, the floor needs to be vacuumed.
(As though THAT'S the biggest issue with this photo.)
The sticks Royal keeps bringing inside to chew on make
keeping the carpet clean a losing battle.
Oh, well. We (clearly) have bigger problems.
Was it dead? Was it "playing 'possum"? Who could say?! (You never can tell with 'possums.)

The other question on our mind...how the heck did it get inside? And, when?

The point of entrance, we're thinking, was Royal's doggy-door. And our suspicion, mortifying though it is, is that the intruder came inside...last night. As in, while-we-were-still-awake, last night. The interior laundry room door which leads to the doggy-door is closed before we go to bed, and so our little guest couldn't have come inside after that. Which unfortunately means that last night while I fell asleep watching t.v. on the couch in the other living room, waiting for Bobby to get home, there was a 4-legged, hairy critter with a tail (that wasn't Royal) meandering through the house. Ewwww. 

We can't even blame Royal. Truly, I'm not sure he was even involved. If you've met Royal, you'll likely agree that if he knew about the opossum's existence, the likelihood of it hanging out in the house and not causing a stir is slim to none. I just really think I would've been aware of any 'possum vs. dog interaction going on...in the next room. But, who knows? (If anything, I'd rather thank the dog. Even if he did bring the 'possum inside or play with it somehow, there was no obvious chase or damage to furniture, and no bloody mess. Let's face it, it probably could've been way worse.)

Anyway, back to this morning's predicament. Sure, the thing looked harmless enough, motionless and sleeping (?) as it was. But, if it was just "playing 'possum", would it bite when jostled? Jump? Run around the house? What does one DO in that situation?!

My first suggestion was to shut all the interior doors in the house and let Royal back inside. Surely he would bother the opossum enough to allow us to figure out whether it was alive or not. Brilliant, right? (Okay, I'm not proud of my thought process...but it was the best I could do given the circumstance. It seemed appropriate.)

Bobby, using his brain a bit more than I, pointed out that the 'possum could bite Royal, might be rabid, etc., and Royal needed to stay outside. (See? Smart in a crisis. I love him.) So, while I maintained a safe distance from my position on top of the kitchen island, Bobby heroically placed a large plastic bin over the critter. The thought was that the 'possum would either wake up and just walk out the door underneath the bin...or have to be scooted across the carpet.

Of course, the latter was what happened. The biggest problem was getting the non-moving 'possum up over the door trim by the front door. Bobby used a broom, and swept the little guy off the porch. Gross.

We're pretty sure the thing is dead. He seemed pretty stiff, and although he is a nocturnal creature and likely traumatized, the fact that he's been lying in the same spot on the cold grass for the past two hours getting snow-covered seems to suggest that he's a goner. But, only time will tell, I suppose, if he decides to get up and walk away. Ugh, whatever.

Needless to say, I felt a strong need to clean this morning. I shampooed the carpet (you know, since an opossum was laying on it...and was then scooted across it), and then Royal got a bath. Mark my words, the disinfecting has only begun.

It was a funny and obviously surprising way to start the day, and most certainly the strangest situation in home ownership we've experienced thus far. But, most of all, Bobby is my hero for bravely playing exterminator this morning...in his business suit. What a guy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

myPhone: Part III

Last post about my stolen and then recovered iPhone, I promise. (Well, no, I don't promise. You just never know.)

I'm fascinated by the amount of personal reflection and thoughts of faith that have emerged as a result of such a seemingly insignificant event in the course of the world (i.e. a lost phone). I'm thankful for the reminder given by this experience, that God uses the moments we least expect to guide and grow us. Seeing Him work in big ways in our little trials is such an excellent display of His intimate involvement in the smallest of life's circumstances.

My mom's blog post regarding this incident is encouraging and insightful, and truly makes the happy ending to this story "Even Better". Check it out.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

myPhone: Part II

In case you missed it, my iPhone was stolen Sunday night.
Now that we're all caught up, let's move on to the really good part of the story....

Last night, Bobby took me to AT&T to get a new phone. I was not eligible for an upgrade, and so we would have had to pay face value for a replacement iPhone 4...not gonna happen. Thankfully, though, Bobby's phone was eligible for an upgrade (read: contract extension). I should mention that if anyone is actually in need of an upgraded iPhone, it's him. He has put up with a slower iPhone model (with a big ol' crack across the screen) for months now, and never once has he complained. As he said yesterday, "it works just fine, it just has fewer bells and whistles". He's a good guy. Bobby used his much-needed upgrade to get me a new iPhone yesterday, one that's slightly better than my old one, in fact. And although an unfortunate and unexpected expense, the cost of the phone with the upgrade was a far more reasonable price to pay, given the circumstance.

Yes, I was excited about a brand new phone. But, I still couldn't help but feel guilty for getting a second, new iPhone 4 when my ever-so-deserving husband was still dealing with a broken old one. We got in the car after making the purchase, and I was moved to tears considering his selflessness and generosity. He never complained. He never balked at the idea of using his upgrade. He just did it...and I highly doubt that I would've been equally as loving had the situation been reversed. I know I am married to an incredible man, but getting such a poignant reminder every now and then of what a truly excellent husband I have is certainly a powerful blessing.

When we got home, I was surprised and overjoyed to discover that my apps and music and contacts (though not entirely updated) were backed up on the computer and transferred easily to my new phone. Last night, as we waited for trick-or-treaters, I worked on getting the phone back to my preferred settings and was officially back in business. Life was very, very good again.

But, the story isn't over yet! Oh no, my friends...read on.

This morning, Bobby and I were awoken bright and early to the doorbell ringing. Thinking it was the utility company coming to read our meters so early in the morning again, I had no intention of answering the door, but peeked out the window curiously. There, sitting in the driveway, was a police car.

"Bobby! It's the police! I think we need to answer the door!" Of course, by "we", I meant Bobby, as I was hardly feeling presentable for an early morning visitor.

But, when I heard the officer say that a cell phone was recovered at a local high school (my alma mater, in fact), and that they were able to trace the number back to our address, I was hardly concerned with appearances. I came to the door and said "no way...." (Sidenote: Bobby and I never actually offered to let the officer come inside. We are so not experienced in proper policeman etiquette. Oops.) The officer (another alum) was very friendly, and his very much unexpected news absolutely made our day.

The individual that we had suspected was responsible for the theft does, in fact, appear to be the perpetrator, and was described by the officer as a "regular troublemaker". (Yeah, that's evident.) After the teenager brought the phone to school yesterday, it was stolen from him (ironic, yes?), and somehow made it into the hands of the school security officer, who questioned the student. And his story wasn't adding up. Why couldn't he get into the locked device? Who were those two people on the home screen?

Lesson #1: Passcode protection on the phone works. My data should be entirely secure, as he was never able to get into the phone. Fantastic.

Lesson #2: A personal photo on the home screen makes it quite clear whether or not the phone is yours. Nobody has a wedding picture of the bride and groom on the home screen of their phone if they aren't part of the happy couple. And, when you're in high school, and look nothing like either of the newlyweds, it raises suspicions. (Although you've got to appreciate the story he came up with when asked who the bride and groom were. Apparently, he met "us" downtown, and took our picture. "That's John and Karen". Good one, dude.)

So, the phone was apprehended and I should be able to pick it up soon, data (photos! contacts! calendars!) in tact and secure. For a brief second, I was annoyed that we had purchased a new phone no less than 14 hours prior. But, my well-deserving husband should end up getting his earned upgrade, and be able to use the new phone as his own. That's what being loving and unselfish will do for you, I suppose!

The difficult question today was determining whether or not to press charges against this young man. I certainly don't wish to ruin a 15-year-old's future, and it's tempting to think that offering grace as a Christian should mean giving him a free pass. But, recognizing the deliberate and brazen manner in which this individual did what he appears to have done, it feels as though the more loving thing to do is to provide an opportunity for him to learn, grow, and change...before stealing an iPhone turns into stealing a car, or worse. That potential for change is exactly what we hope a juvenile intervention does for this young man.

I've considered where my heart is with this matter: am I simply seeking justice for wrongs committed against me out of spite or vengeance? No. I'm not out to get anyone. But, after considering the facts as they've been presented, about this event and about this teen, I truly believe that not getting away with this and suffering the consequences could be the best thing to happen to this adolescent. I'm so hopeful for an even-happier ending to his story.

We'll see what happens.

Tonight, I am feeling unbelievably refreshed. After feeling discouraged and frustrated by this experience, I now feel nothing but deeply blessed. I am grateful that my phone was rescued. I am grateful that my husband will now get a better phone as a result of this ordeal. But, more than anything, I am ever so thankful for the opportunity to realize again what special people I have in my life.

I was at church when the theft occurred, and many friends there offered such encouragement and sweet words when I was so clearly distressed. My parents fed us a spaghetti dinner afterwards, providing comfort and hugs and patiently letting me mope. My best friend checked on me the next day, and gave an enormous compliment that was of more comfort than she knows. And Bobby, besides making sure that my phone was replaced quickly, did his best to make me happy again. He takes such good care of me. ("I said, 'for better or for'...now.")

I am surrounded by individuals who through their example of compassion and love don't allow me to foster malice, but instead help inspire an attitude of grace. This entire experience has reminded me of that; I believe God intended this trial as definite evidence of His abundant blessings in disguise.

How can I be anything but grateful?

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith
—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—
may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7

Monday, October 31, 2011

myPhone: Part I

On Sunday night, my iPhone was stolen.
At the Fall Festival.
At our church.
How's that for irony?

It's sickening, really, and that's exactly how I felt when I realized that someone more than likely walked away with my phone as I passed out candy in a game booth. (One of the frustrating parts about this scenario is that I knew...I knew...this was a possibility, and so I deliberately hid my purse in a filing cabinet, and thought my phone was out of the way enough to be in a safe place, too. Clearly, it was not.)

I have never felt so violated, so taken advantage of, or so hurt. I cannot, cannot understand how someone could do what they did. They must be in a desperate place, and I am so trying to remind myself of that. Nevertheless, I'm crushed. My phone had passcode protection, and we deactivated our phone service quickly, so I am very much hoping that my data remains secure and that the collateral damage is minimal.

My condition Sunday evening was...not good. I had a good cry once I got home, letting down from the feeling of helplessness and emotional distress. Today was quite an interesting day, sans phone. But, my outlook at this point is greatly improved, and I'm thankful that I chose to hold off on blog-writing until my state of mind could be considered more "reflective" and less so "vindictive". I'm not upset about the phone itself. It's replaceable. (With some birthday cash that I'd earmarked for curtain-making...sigh.) But, it's the apps and photos and such that I cannot get back that I'm sad for now.

In any case, this experience has made me think.

First, I've found myself thinking that the amount that I rely on that device is impressive. It is my alarm clock, my watch through the day, my connection to everyone, my source of news, my camera...and even when I'm not using the phone, I know it's there and I can. (Basically, it's my grown-up security blanket.) To a degree, yes, I'm sure I rely on my phone more than I should. But, it's the world that we live in. And rely on it, I DO.

Secondly, I've thought about the personal nature of our phones these days, and that it's the loss of that personal data that makes this hard. Yes, it's just a phone, made of metal & plastic & gizmos & gadgets. But, the beauty of iPhones (and likely smart phones in general) that I hadn't appreciated until now, is how much it becomes a personal reflection of us. My photos, my music, my facebook, my e-mail, my contacts.... Those things help tell my life story, and it is violating to have that taken away. And, it isn't just the personal data, but the personal habit. Using my phone throughout the day...from checking the ABC News app. as my hair dries in the morning, to catching up on e-mail as I unload the dishwasher...is a part of the habits of my daily life. When that is disrupted, when that is taken away, it doesn't just feel like a piece of technology any longer, but it feels as though it really is a piece of my life. I had no idea until I was forced to spend a day without my iPhone, just how much I use it...and enjoy doing so!

Third, I realize that having an iPhone stolen is hardly the worst thing that could happen. To even have have once had an iPhone, for goodness sake, is evidence of my being a part of a very privileged segment of the world's population. I know that life could be so much darker for us than it is. Relatively speaking, this still only falls in the "annoying" category of the difficult experiences that life can bring.

Finally, I really wish someone had told me about MobileMe or the FindMyiPhone app. before this happened. Sure, everyone was happy to tell me about the perks of such apps once it was too late to be of any use to me. Haha. Everyone was sincerely trying to help, but it is truly an awful feeling to think that, had I had such a tool on my phone, I could've tracked the stolen device or wiped the phone's data or done something else similarly useful. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. So now, besides just feeling bummed that I didn't have an obviously well-known phone feature that could've saved me from this emotional turmoil, I'm also left wondering, "what other super-handy things do my friends and loved ones know about that I don't?!" Please share, won't you?

On a similar note, do you know what the iTunes App Store shows as the example of what the FindMyiPhone app can do? Take a look.

Emily's iPhone located? Really? Just plain cruel, don't you think? Tell me about it.

(Stay tuned for an update. This story is just about to get good!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Christmas in October

The Christmas decor is up at Walmart, and it's been on display at Hobby Lobby for weeks now...and I am bothered when I see that commercialism beginning so soon. I'll be holding off on decor and preparation until November 25th (at least). I have a strict rule: no Christmas-anything until after Thanksgiving. (Apparently I'm "old school" like that....)

So, as you might imagine, when I joined the Christmas Choir at our church and our first practice began in August, I was admittedly a bit apprehensive about listening to Christmas music so early.

My cousin will smile at what I'm about to say. She's from the school of thought that Christmas music can never come too early. My dear sister, who shares my feelings about giving each holiday and season its due time, might disown me...but I do hope she doesn't.

The fact is, I am truly enjoying listening to and singing Christmas music in October. (To be clear, sis, it's just the choir music, I promise!)

Most of my mornings in recent weeks have begun by singing along (with gusto!) to the rehearsal CD in the car on the drive to work. The songs are jubilant, beautiful, and with lyrics like "arise...come alive!!!...", how can one help but to be awakened and ready to start the day? My morning "rehearsals" have been such a worshipful time.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

(This is, interestingly enough, not my first post this year about singing Christmas music out-of-season. Remember this one in April?)

I always greatly enjoy and appreciate Christmas music in the weeks leading up to December 25th. And, I know that when December rolls around (shoot, when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around!), I'll be ready to play my Jim Brickman Christmas albums (yes, plural) on a regular basis. But, what I didn't expect was the appreciation that I've found for these carols right now.

Right now, the shopping frenzy has not begun. The television commercials are not yet emphasizing finding "just the right gift", and our minds aren't overwhelmed by what "must" get done before Christmas morning. The decor & the shopping & the wrapping & the baking & the parties are all such fun! But, they can lead to a frenzied and overly-busy month. Right now, I just get to reflect on the message of Christmas through the music, without the distraction of all of the other things that December holds.

There is something to be said, I believe, for having a few weeks of mental and spiritual preparation for the holidays. Who would've thought that by listening to Christmas music in October, God would bless me with the chance to do exactly that?

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Six Months

Six months ago Friday, we closed on our house! We didn't move in until a month or so after that, but we have officially owned our home for half a year (plus four days) now. Wow. We've done a lot of living in the past six months, and have still been able to spend a lot of time working on the house, too. The progress we've made in these past months is considerable, and I'm so very proud of what we've accomplished.

New paint, new hardware, new furniture...a new "look". We're definitely making our mark here.

Those dents in the garage door? Yep. That was all us! (Okay, that was all me.)
The paint stains on the carpet? That was me, too.
Royal has chewed the trim in the laundry room, and the window screen in the guest bedroom has a few Royal-related scratches.
(Seriously, Bobby, have you not damaged anything? I'm the destructive one?! I didn't see that coming.)

But, I love all of that. It means we live here. Are we trying to destroy things? No. We take a lot of pride in our home, obviously. But, a house doesn't turn into a home because of a new paint job. Instead, it's the living and the memory-making that takes place there (for better or worse!), that makes it a special place to be.

We don't want to fix the garage door right now (let's be honest, I could damage it again!), and for now it serves as a reminder to me that accidents happen. The paint stain reminds me how hard we worked to paint for so many weeks, and how much fun it was for Bobby and I to take on that project together. And the Royal stuff? Well, we love that dog, who undeniably brings us more joy than the times that his behavior reminds us that he's very much still a puppy. I hope those bite marks always make me think of him, and these past few months when the three of us made the house our own.

In many ways, it feels like we've lived here for far longer than six short months. We're so very content, very comfortable, very much "at home" in this space, and that's exactly the way it should be.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Objects In Mirror

Did anyone destroy their car's passenger-side mirror while reversing out of the garage to head to work this morning?

Nope? Just me then?


Yes, that is how my day began. Which was a shame, too, since it had otherwise been such a lovely Friday morning, complete with a new outfit combination and a hot cup of Hazelnut-flavored coffee. And then I had to go and complicate it.

This little accident is especially annoying since I was making a deliberate effort to not let it happen. I had my foot on the brake, and I was watching the mirror and the garage closely to avoid such an incident. (Which I knew would happen one day. It's a tight fit in there.)  But, I clearly wasn't watching closely enough. The ol' Camry had a little more 'get-up-and-go' reversing power than I gave it credit for today, and before I could stop it, I just watched the mirror get crushed.


In all fairness, I'm convinced the garage is out to get us, as this is not its first offense. The garage door may or may not have been shut twice on the tailgate of Bobby's truck in recent weeks...and the person responsible for that misfortune is still very, very sorry.

The matter of fault in today's incident is largely irrelevant and placing blame is clearly unhealthy. But nevertheless, it is being contested a bit between the mister and I. For reasons I shall not describe, I am inclined to believe that my dear husband shares some of the responsibility here. (Although I'll admit, Bobby, my preliminary estimate was a tad unfair. 75%-25% is too harsh. I was the one behind the wheel, after all. And...all of the vehicular damage suffered in recent memory has been my fault. I'm willing to go 95%-5%. Thoughts?)

Why is accepting fault so difficult? ... I really should man-up and accept 100% of the blame, but why do we (or really, is it just me?!) feel that urge to diffuse responsibility? EVEN IF someone else IS even a little bit responsible, why does it feel so unnatural to say "it was all my fault"? There are people who are able to do that. I, however, have obviously not matured to that point just yet. 

This is another opportunity to grow, I suppose.

So, we have this unexpected expense for something that probably should've been avoidable and I wish wouldn't have happened. (Guess that's why it's called an accident....) I would've preferred to spend the money it will take to fix it on something more fun...like, say, a bathroom doorknob. (Hey, 'fun' is relative!)

This hasn't ruined my Friday, though. Heavens, no. I'd have to put this pretty high on the imaginary list of "Top 5 Annoying Things That Have Happened to Us This Year", and goodness...it could be so much worse.

Life is too short to lose perspective on the true magnitude of annoyances like this, and there's no looking back. I mean, really, in my case, there's no looking back...the mirror's broken, remember?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Puppy Love

This morning I substituted in a kindergarten classroom. When one of the little girls came in the door, she stopped in her tracks, eyed me, and quite emphatically said, "Whoa, what are youuuu doing here?"

To which I replied, "Well, good morning to you, too, dear."

I thought, at that point, that it might be a blog-worthy exchange...until 4th grade happened this afternoon.

Specifically, one pre-pre-pubescent 4th grader happened, who we shall refer to as "Romeo".

And here you were, reading the title and thinking this was another post about Royal. Oh, how wrong you were.

There I was, minding my own business, just passing out papers to the class before the end of the day.

Romeo: "Mrs. Phillips, I would gladly take a bullet for you."

Me: "Hmm. That's quite generous of you." (I walk away thinking, "that's quite the line! Surely he's just heard that somewhere and has no idea what that even means.")

And then, as the rest of the students were lining up the door, Romeo asked if he could tell me something to the side "real quick". I had no advance warning of what was to come next. (Except for that whole "take a bullet" thing. Yeah, I guess that should've been a clue.)

Romeo: "I'm like, really, pretty much in love with you."

Me: "Oh!"

Okay, before you pass judgement on my lackluster response, what would you have said, to a 9-year-old, in-the-moment like that? With a classroom full of students about to head out the door, I might add! Sure, in hindsight I can think of several other responses ("I'm married! ... "Do you have ANY idea how old I am?! ... "Gross!"),  but again, I was kind of put on the spot there.

I'm hoping (and it's entirely probable) that he'll forget he ever felt this way. However, given his boldness in expressing his (...gulp...) "love", I may just have the chance to express my very-much-non-mutual feelings another day. Probably won't use the "Gross!" response, though, so rest assured.... 

Me: "How do you know you're in love?"

Romeo: "Pretty much just how you look. (face turning red) ... I think I have a problem."

Yes, child, I'd say you do.

I'm more on-guard against such "feelings" when I'm teaching in, oh, a middle school classroom. (Although, I'm usually forced to be so strict when dealing with 8th graders that I'm quite certain my demeanor negates any feelings of attraction! Not a bad thing.) But, I've never before (to my knowledge, anyway) been the object of a 4th grader's affection. So, note to self: 4th grade boys can think they're in love. Yikes. Who knew?!

Romeo is surely innocent enough...an expression of "puppy love" at its best. But this is, of course, a somewhat delicate situation to be in. There are far too many incidences of inappropriate behavior in school environments and so my awareness is heightened of the importance of my thoughtful response...for those obvious reasons, and because it would also be inappropriate to carelessly crush a young man's confidence at a delicate age.  Given that confidence, I'm sure he will have many, many age-appropriate romances ahead of him. I hope he does. More importantly, I'm hopeful that he'll be taught that those romances should be based on far more than just appearance.

For now, though, he's just got to learn that hitting on the teacher isn't the wisest decision.

That'd be a good start...and I'll choose my words wisely.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Cushion

Over the summer, my mom and I were able to spend some relaxing days together shopping and visiting and just generally enjoying each other's company. (How great is it that I'm a "grown-up" now and can hang out with my mom? Answer: VERY.)

At Mom's suggestion, we took on the project of creating a cushion for the kitchen window seat. I'm so glad she encouraged this project, because although I thought it would be nice, it certainly wasn't at the top of my "home renovation" list. But, with my mother's guidance and general oversight of the task, we put together the cushion one afternoon.

Our supplies:
a piece of board from Lowe's ($5ish), cut to fit courtesy of my handy husband,
quilt batting from Walmart (another $5ish),
foam pieces (FREE! see note below),
fabric ($10ish),
and staple gun (borrowed).

About that foam.... Do you realize how pricey foam is?! It's ridiculous, really. Mom, however, had the brilliant idea of using the foam pieces inside of the leftover Kindergarten mats in her classroom. Each mat has three or four rectangular foam pieces inside, and we used two mats and cut the foam to fit. Voila! Free foam. 
Foam on top of board, batting on top of foam, staple on the underside, stretch fabric around, staple again.
You get the idea.
The finished product!
Still on the lookout for some throw pillows....

I think it turned out really well, and the fabric complements the wall color nicely. It adds to the kitchen aesthetics, but I love it all more because it turned into a happy memory made with my mom.

So, what will we tackle next?! (Curtains.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finally Furniture

For our anniversary gift to each other, we decided to purchase living room furniture. (Which also fits the traditional two-year anniversary gift, "cotton". Okay, it's definitely a stretch, but we think it works.) It's not as exotic a gift as last year's trip to Mexico was (oh, I'm missing the beach these days....), but buying furniture was really a much wiser purchase at this point in time. And, to be honest, celebrating a special milestone by gifting each other with something to help make our house even more of a home felt quite romantic.

We're not laying on the beach this year, but we are finally laying on the sectional...and it's pretty darn great.

Yeah, Royal, I see that mischievous look.
So far, so good....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Royal has developed many habits, but among the most entertaining is his love for chasing shadows.

We discovered early in the summer that when afternoon began to turn into evening, and the long shadows made their way across the yard, Royal became incredibly preoccupied with them. There was a week or so when we were convinced we had a problem: that the dog was so overwhelmingly interested in them and nothing (or no one) else...that he was going to drive himself crazy. He didn't seem to be scared or otherwise emotionally affected...just intensely preoccupied. He'd head out to the yard in the early-evening...prime "shadow-hunting" time...and we knew that we wouldn't be seeing him for the rest of the night.

Thankfully, he worked through that obsessive behavior relatively quickly. Now, it's more of a hobby, and he lets us play with him again now, too. Among other things, he'll chase the shadow of a ball being tossed in the air (not the actual ball, mind you...he's bored with those...just the shadow that the ball's upward trajectory makes on the grass). Then, he'll dig where the shadow lands...which isn't our favorite aspect of this hobby of his, but it is somewhat cute.

All things considered, it's quite entertaining! As is watching him chase the flashlight beam across the yard, an activity that provided great evening fun on multiple occasions this summer...and proved to be a great way to wear him out before bedtime. Goodness, that puppy can run fast. Of course, it's not an activity easily photographed...but it is another happy memory from our first summer with our little guy.

Royal, you're one cool cat dog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Second Anniversary

August was for us, as it seems to be for many people, an incredibly busy month. Between our anniversary + the beginning of a new school year + my best friend's wedding, last month was a blur...which left little time for blogging! But, now I'm back and finally have time to reflect a bit. 

Bobby and I had a low-key anniversary celebration...which was absolutely perfect for the busy month we were in the middle of! (It was also a Monday and the first day of the school year.) Bobby came home after work with a bouquet of flowers, including Cosmos, which he romantically explained was the two-year anniversary flower. (I didn't even know there was such a thing, but I was definitely impressed by his thoughtfulness.) 

He ushered me outside to the porch and told me to wait while he got things ready inside. He brought me back in, where a delicious Hong Kong Inn meal was waiting for me on the kitchen table..."because the modern two-year anniversary gift is 'China'". 

Well-played, Mr. Phillips! Isn't he romantic??

Our fortune cookie fortunes.
Appropriate for a married couple, don't you think?
Our 2nd annual anniversary 'hand' photo. You know, like the traditional ring photo on the wedding day?
We'll see how long this tradition of ours lasts. Cheesy, yes, but fun for now!
It was a romantic and memorable anniversary, and exactly the kind of relaxing evening at home we needed. Thanks, handsome. You are absolutely the best! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hallway Progress

The hallway has been in the following state of completion for the past two months, or so. We're oh, so pleased with the progress! The painted trim, doors, and the new wall color (Valspar Natural, color-matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC) lighten up the space immensely. We should be all set once we get a new hallway light fixture, add decorative trim to the doors...oh, and replace the doorknobs.

Who knew doorknobs were so expensive?! That's going to be an 'as-we-feel-like-buying-them' ongoing project, we've decided. So, if you come over to visit and need to use the restroom...consider yourself warned.
In Progress.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekend Guests

Two weekends ago, Bobby and I got to have a long-awaited visit with our dear friends, John and Natalie. Their beautiful wedding was in May, and (wouldn't you know?) the newlyweds had a busy social calendar all summer long, so we were just now able to coordinate schedules and spend a weekend together.
The happily-married couple!
It was worth the wait. We were so, so excited to see those two!
I think they'd tell you that the feeling was totally mutual.

Dinner Friday night at Little Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse. 
John and Bob at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
A black snake that Natalie spotted slithering around on our hike.
I'm quite convinced that it was actually larger in real-life than the photo depicts.
Since I wasn't having enough fun (note the sarcasm) getting to play hostess and entertain our very first overnight guests in our new house, I decided to make things a little more interesting and get sick. Yes, mid-day Saturday, in the middle of our hiking excursion, I started feeling ill. I had a fever, was entirely exhausted, and later spent several hours in bed while everyone else had fun. (Yes, I'm still a little bitter.) The boys left to go get pizza (thanks to the rain and my state of health, the planned BBQ wasn't happening), and Natalie, being the darling that she is, cleaned up the kitchen. She's amazing, I tell you. Anyway, I was able to re-join the group after dinner, and we all spent the rest of the evening watching last season's episodes of "Parenthood".

I certainly would've preferred getting to spend our time together a bit differently. But, John and Natalie are special friends...the kind that don't mind hanging out in the living room all night with germ-infested me...or sleeping on an air mattress in a guest room with no door knob (...and eventually, no door, but that's John's fault, really).

I didn't count on getting sick on a weekend that we'd looked forward to for so long. And I was bummed about the unexpected (and unpleasant!) turn of events. But, I was expecting that, as always, there would be lots of laughter and that the four of us would make new memories together. That there was, and that we did. Our time together did not disappoint...and we can't wait to see our fellow married friends again!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Photo by Meg White Photography.

In life's busyness, and the everyday..."stuff"...
it's all too easy for me to take for granted 
the love that Bobby and I share. 

I get to be married to the handsome baseball player 
who made me weak in the knees when he first asked me to dance.

He still makes my heart melt.

And now, I get to spend a long three-day weekend with HIM. 
Am I a lucky girl, or what?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Twenty-Five and Golden

Today is my 25th birthday!

To be honest, I have always wanted to be twenty-five. My sweet husband thinks that I have forever looked forward to this birthday, which has put him under a bit of self-imposed pressure to make the day "perfect". I've tried to assure him that although this birthday is fun, it's really not the birthday I've looked forward to. I've truly just always wanted to be twenty-five!

To be fair, I suppose I'm somewhat partial to the number itself. My birthday is on the 25th (which makes this my 'Golden Birthday'!), and December 25th is a pretty fun day, too. What can I say? It's a good number. 

Besides that, though, being twenty-five just seems like such a great time of life!

I'm old enough to feel sure of myself, knowing confidently that I have some things figured out, mature enough to know that there are some things lots of things that I don't, and young enough to feel great excitement and anticipation for all that life has in store in the years ahead.

I think I'm really going to enjoy being twenty-five.

Some highlights from my day so far....

  • Pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, courtesy of Bobby, who got up early to cook just for me!
  • Having the "birthday cheer" performed in my honor by a cafeteria full of elementary students: "Happ...yyy...happ..yyy...birth-day!" (repeat) (Think, "we...will...we...will...rock you!")
  • Listening to Miss Baer's 4th grade class sing "Happy Birthday" to me in the hallway before class (Is that a great way to start the day, or what?!)
  • Spending the day around my mom, who played a pretty huge role in giving me life in the first place
  • Mrs. Hockman's 2nd grade class joint birthday wish
  • Several texts and facebook well-wishes from friends throughout the day
  • Being the recipient of multiple hugs and well-wishes by kiddos and teachers at school
  • My sister's lunchtime birthday phone call, complete with the "Happy (Golden) Birthday" song (yes, Rachel, you're still the only one to have thrown that in there...you creative thing, you!)
  • Being given a stack of surprise, hand-written/hand-colored birthday cards from Mrs. Miles' class of kindergartners, who were oh, so excited to deliver and show-off their handiwork...as well they should have been!

It was such a blessing to be around children today, who know more than anyone how special birthdays should be. They were so tender in wishing me a special day, and I could tell it was heartfelt.  What a gift, to have the reminder of the children's innocence.

And, the day is not over yet! I'm looking forward to...
  • Bobby coming home from work!
  • Not having to go to Parent Orientation at school tonight (Whew! Close one.)
  • BBQ chicken on the grill...Bobby's specialty
  • Blowing out the candles on my birthday cheesecake (homemade, by Bobby! I know, he's amazing!) with my husband and my parents
  • Enjoying the beautiful weather outside this evening
  • Tomorrow! It's almost Friday!
I am blessed. 

If today was any indication of what twenty-five will be like...then I was right all along! 

Twenty-five feels good.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Happy 30th anniversary to my parents, 
who are creating such a legacy of love.
Mom and Dad, your marriage is a blessing and an inspiration.

And, happy 2nd anniversary to my groom. 
Thank you, Bobby, for making the past year one that I'll treasure. 
You bring me such joy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Ready.

Last night at Walmart, I spotted a former kindergarten student from Willard that I had the pleasure of spending a few days with in the spring when I subbed in his class. I recognized him immediately...the whipper-snapper had left quite an impression. We made eye contact in the snack aisle, and I could tell that he knew that he knew me...from somewhere.

I waved. He eagerly said "hi". Then...

Me: "Hi! Are you ready for school to start?"
Alex: "Yep. ... Look! I get to get these!" (holding up a box of Cars fruit snacks) "They're a snack!"
Me: "Yum! Those look tasty!"
Alex: (brief pause) "Are you a teacher...at Willard?" 
Me: "Well, yes, a substitute teacher." 

It was then that the little guy's eyes doubled in size...he'd figured it out! His mouth opened as if in complete and utter shock, and excitement, that a teacher (so to speak) could be shopping at Walmart...and he had seen her!

Alex: "So, I'll see you there?!"

That child caused a couple of headaches for me (and likely a few dozen for his teacher), but getting to see him yesterday and his happy anticipation of being back at school made me ever so much more excited to be back there myself.

Substitute teaching isn't where I ever would have expected my career path to lead me, and admitting that it's what I do "full-time" these days has taken a bit of time for me to say with confidence. But, truly, subbing is perfect for me right now. I enjoy it. I'm good at it! I get to be in the classroom, I get to have new experiences every day, I get to face constant challenges that keep me on my toes, I get a flexible schedule...and, it's a job that I can step away from easily when I'm ready for the one job that I've ever really wanted: motherhood.

I'm not a full-time teacher, and I don't pretend as though my subbing commitment is significantly comparable to the efforts that certified teachers achieve in their classrooms on a daily basis. But, I do believe that I can make a difference by doing this job well. Whether or not it's a particularly admirable job (it certainly isn't glamorous!), it makes me happy. I get a chance to do my best and make a meaningful impact. And, really, shouldn't that be the goal of any job or responsibility?

A new school year is about to begin. Between that brief encounter at the store, and the slight crisp in the air that's making it feel just a bit like fall...I'm ready.

Me: (smiling) "I'll see you there!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Finish Line

In anticipation of my two-year anniversary next week, I've been reflecting on our wedding day and moments of the day that made it memorable.

Here's one.

After the toasts at the reception, Bobby and I decided to say a few words of thanks to our guests. I went first, and it went something like this:

"This day has been absolutely perfect, all the way from the start. 
And, I know it'll continue to be perfect, 
all the way to the finish line...."

I didn't exactly realize what I had said, but I recognized my poor choice in wording quite quickly once the room full of our friends and family began to laugh and clap. 

Talk about awkward.

First of all, who talks like that?! It wasn't as though I used that verbiage in my day-to-day conversation.

--Hey, how was your day at work?
--Oh, it was great from the start. Pretty sure it'll be good all the way to the finish line, too.

I mean, really? I like to think of myself as a little less dorky than that. 

And secondly, what was I thinking?! 
Okay. I guess the answer to that was embarrassingly clear. 
But I didn't know that was on my subconscious mind!

Awkward though it was, I must admit that it does make for a good story. 

The getaway car decor, courtesy of Bobby's friends,
and thanks to my embarrassing inspiration.

Paint Progress

Using the file folders to aide in the trim-painting process in the living room worked like a charm! I ran a butter knife between the trim and the folders before removing them to ensure that the paint wasn't sticking. After that, the folders slid right out. The carpet was spared and the trim is now white, clean and bright...and looks happy to greet me. ('Sound of Music' reference...anyone catch that?)

Post-trim painting.
After the trim's facelift, it was time to paint the walls!

We used three colors of paint in the living room. The first, Valspar Khaki, is along the back wall and on the mantle (as pictured below). Second, we chose Valspar Colonial Beige for both walls at either end of the room, which is the darkest tone in the trifecta. Finally, we used Valspar Natural for the fourth and lightest-colored wall which continues down the hallway. (All color-matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC.)

This would otherwise be your run-of-the-mill, 'paint the four walls' of the room story, were it not for the incredibly-high ceiling situation in the front entryway.

Thanks to the ugly wooden shelf that used to live on this wall, we were left with unsightly scratches and holes...that left the otherwise-desirable option of leaving that really tall wall unpainted, as not really an option at all.

Getting to the top of the wall (even with the 8-foot ladder on loan from Dad, and a lengthy extender...also on loan) was not going to be possible. So, at Bobby's brilliant suggestion, we taped off a straight line (that is, as straight a line as one can eyeball from the very top of an 8-foot ladder) that was even with the third wall. 

See how high we're talking about?
That little line at the bottom is the top of the closet door frame.
Trust me. It was way up there.
The view, looking up, from the front door.
We painted below the tape and left the walls white above, which we think works well. We were definitely pleased with the result of what was most definitely a last minute, "what if we try this?" idea. (Don't you just love it when that happens?!)

So, this is where the living room stands now. I am quite happy with how it's turning out. The colors are exactly what I'd hoped for. The walls look different all throughout the day as the light shifts (which almost led me to believe that we'd made a very bad choice when we initially started painting on what was a dark, rainy afternoon), but I'm really enjoying that dynamic quality, and the changing moods that the room offers as the day goes on. 
As for the ceramic plate on the mantle.... Our guests signed that at our wedding, and the thing has been protectively concealed in bubble-wrapping at my parents' house for the past two years until we could provide a secure spot for it. It was such fun to open up the wrapping and look over the signatures of all the people who surrounded us on our big day and helped make it such a meaningful one.

And now, we get to be reminded of all those special people every day! Thanks to the Heavy-Duty Velcro pieces attached to the plate and to the brick, I think we've found the plate's permanent home. I'm about 99% confident that it'll be safe up there...but I'd be lying if I said that the above photo (and the ten others I took that look just like it) wasn't taken in the interest of preserving its' memory, should the unthinkable occur. If you ever see a post titled "Royal, NO!: A Lesson in Plate Tectonics", you'll know what happened.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Royal, NO!" - Part Four

I'll admit it. I've developed a bad habit of taking pictures of Royal's bad behavior. The behavior continues until I've gotten the pictures I want, and then I discipline him. 

It's not good. (I know, I know. I've got to get it under control before it's a small child of mine that's misbehaving. So noted.)

He's just so stinkin' cute! Anyway, I'm working on it.  I must say, as he's destroyed more things, it's gotten easier to look past the cuteness and just see the trouble he's causing. 

But, for now, back to his cuteness....

You should have seen him that afternoon...rear in the air, dirt clumps flying, his little nose snorting around, paws going a mile a minute. He was as happy as could be!

There are holes all over our backyard now. This was one of several that he dug in the span of a few days. (He did unearth a very old dinner plate in one of his excavations. Impressive, right?) He does seem to have largely worked through this hobby of his since then (see? I discipline!), but it wasn't before he wreaked havoc on the lawn. 

Dirt on the tongue and everything...he's a mess.
I can't blame him entirely. I like digging in the dirt, too. 

Here's my garden these days. It's been a busy spring and summer, so I only had time to weed a small section of the overgrown garden, and plop in a few tomato and pepper plants. 

At this point, there's only one lone tomato. (Which is especially sad, since this photo was taken over two weeks ago...and there's still only one tomato.) I did get a late start with my planting, so I'm trying to stay optimistic that the rest of the plants will follow suit.

But, wait. This is about Royal...who has clearly also taken an interest in gardening. After using an old pair of pantyhose to tie a tomato plant to a stake, Royal ripped it off...and broke off the top half of the poor plant. I'm hoping it can rebound.

(On a side note, the pantyhose seemed to work really well before Royal's intervention...a smart tip from my green thumb/pinky/& pointer-fingered father. Thanks, Dad!)

One pepper plant was taken out during the struggle, too, and sadly it couldn't be saved. 

I was not happy.

But, I also can't stay mad at this little not-so-little guy for very long, either. What can I say? He's stolen my heart.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Post about The Post

Since we bought our house, we've spent most of our time, energy, and cash working on the inside...which has been great! But, that's meant that the yard hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves, and so desperately needs in order to get it where we want it to be.

Bobby does an excellent job keeping the lawn (which is getting more and more brown by the day, through no fault of Bobby's and despite his valiant efforts to keep it alive...which has grown more and more difficult thanks to Royal's treatment of the sprinkler...but I digress) mowed on a regular basis. This act in itself is more attention than the yard had been getting before we moved in, but the flower beds are overgrown with weeds (there's only so much we can do, Grandma!), and there are shrubs that have turned into trees. 

I'm really hoping that next year (or even this fall, perhaps?) we'll be able to focus a bit more on outside projects. That seems likely. 

But, we have been able to make some progress lately in the landscaping department....

The lamp post in the front yard (I think of Narnia every time I say that..."lamp post"....) had a clematis plant attempting to climb it...key word, "attempting". It was really just more of a mess, and the look was quite dated. So, it had to go. (We still have a clematis in the back yard that is thriving, so I didn't feel quite so terrible ripping this one out in the front.)

Much better. Except that then we were left with the issue of the rotting wood at the base...which isn't quite the look we're going for. So, it had to go, too. 

After the wood was gone, the initial thought was to create a rock border around the base instead. So, we carried (okay, Bobby carried; I was on doggy-duty) lots of rocks from the backyard that had previously been used near the fountain. 

The fountain, I should mention, is no more. My sister said months ago that we "aren't fountain people", and though I can't say that I agree with her entirely, it was seeming to be more of a hassle than it was worth. Yes, the sound of trickling water was pleasant, but Royal was growing interested in the area, we didn't want to mess with chlorine tablets, we weren't particularly excited about paying for the electricity to run the thing...and, well, we know what it was doing to the bird population. So, when the pump stopped working and the standing water attracted bunches of Japanese beetles, we decided that enough was enough. Out came the fountain.

Anyway, Bobby carried lots of rocks to the front of the house, and I arranged them around the flower bed. And, wouldn't you know, I didn't like the finished look of it at all. It did coordinate well with the other rock landscaping around the yard, but it just wasn't working for me there. So, the rocks were removed...again (thanks, dear!)...and now we've decided to flatten out the dirt, lose the flower bed, and just let the grass grow around the lamp post. (Sweet Mr. Tumnus....)

I'll keep you posted. Pun most-definitely intended.