Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Godly Gal Creations and 25 Days of Christmas (Day 2)

Artist Carrie Lawson
Carrie Lawson is extremely busy this holiday season.  A visual artist from West Virginia, she works long hours every single day and night, striving to please each of her customers with the highest quality product she can possibly give them. 
Carrie and I are both from the Mountain State; we also grew up in the same county and graduated from the same high school. As Carrie continues to post more of her work on her Facebook page, Godly Gal Creations, I continue to become more intrigued by her artistic talent and passion.  I couldn't resist featuring her fabulous spirit and artwork on my blog! Read on for a Q&A session I had with Carrie, and make sure to swing by her Facebook page!

S: Tell a little about yourself. You can be as basic or as detailed as you like.
C: I'm a wife and stay at home mom to 4 boys. I was born and raised in central WV, left for a long time, but returned home and haven't left since. I am from a HUGE family...my grandparents had 10 kids and I take a lot of pride in the fact that we are happy to see each other and greet and leave w/ hugs and kisses. I love God, I love my hubby and kids, my extended family, I love to travel, I love food, I love to laugh.

Moment with Mom #4, #14
S: How long have you been interested in art? Give a short history on how you grew to love and practice art.
C: My mom was an artist the early part of my life. I have lots of memories watching her paint. My brother also was awesome at pencil portraits. I have never had an art class past grade school... I basically learned from them and on my own, but have always loved art, and creating it.

S: What are your favorite mediums/techniques?
C: I have always loved charcoal and pencil; I started using acrylics two years ago....and am learning it pretty good...lots to learn yet though! I also love to dabble in photography...which to me is also art.

S: What are some past and recent projects have you enjoyed working on the most?
C: The "pickling rock" is my favorite. I am still shocked I actually did this! It was one of the few items this woman had from her mother after she passed...and had always worried it would be discarded as a river rock. I painted it with memories of pickling items and the jar her mom used; It really meant a lot to her, but I think it blessed me even more. Still does.

S: What/who inspires and influences your art?
C: In the past i would say bad moods...and troubles in life. but now that God delivered me from all of that, he shows me the beauty and treasures in life...in rich colors.

The first in the Abstract Moments Collection

S: Tell me a little bit about your "Abstract Moments" collection.
C: That was actually a surprise. I had finished a project and had a lot of leftover paint, and just created the first one. I really liked it, and thought others might, too. So I posted a pic on Facebook with a price, and it sold within 20 minutes. Now lots of people seem to love them 'cause their orders have turned it into a series. 

S: What are some of your artistic goals?
C: I just wanna create....and be able to bless people, all the while making some extra spending money. Any artist dreams of seeing their art go big....which i do...as long as i can stay home, lol. God comes first in my life, my husband, and kids after that, so I don't have the time it requires to pursue the big stuff in the art world and that's not a bad thing. I love what God has blessed me with.

S: What is the best part about being an artist?
C: Touching other people's lives, selling art that is affordable to anyone, and hearing my boys say,"mom you painted that!" when they see it somewhere else.

Abstract Moments Collection: Moments with Mom
 And, for fun:

S: Who is your favorite artist(s)?
C: M.C. Escher. I love how real it looks, yet is surreal in a way...but he used math to do it all...(i don't like math.) There are others I like...but he's my fave.

S: Do you prefer to listen to music or work in silence? C: I Definitely prefer listening to music. Kari Jobe is my favorite at the moment, but I listen to everything from Hillsong, Toby Mac, Lecrae, and Red, to Switchfoot. LOTS of faves, as long as they're praising God.

S: Briefly describe your idea of the "perfect" day.
C: Everyday I wake up. It's a gift.

S: 3 things you couldn't live without.
C: The only thing I can't live without is God. Everything else is just a bonus from him. Some of my favorites are my family, my iPod, and good coffee.

Top: Moment with Mom # 9, Family Moment #2.
Bottom: Family Moment #1

S: Do you have any quick advice for those who are thinking about pursuing art?
C: Create because you love to create. If you do it for the money, you will never be satisfied.  

Carrie can be contacted via email at clawson5104@yahoo.com. Her Facebook art fanpage, Godly Gal Creations, includes daily updates and photos of the latest finished pieces! Stop by and become a fan!

Jmo & Star's 25 Days of Christmas continues today, and we're blogging about Christmas Traditions! My family and my husband's family live only half an hour apart, so when we travel to WV for the holidays, things are pretty easy (with the exception of driving back and forth in the mountains with snow and ice all over the place.) Ever since we married in 2006, our traditions have rolled like this:
Dec. 23rd - Hub's birthday: leave Ohio in early AM, arrive in WV around Noonish; have cake and ice cream with the whole fam. Stay the night at in-laws' house.
Dec. 24th - Christmas Eve: Drive to mom & step dad's house in the AM, do Christmas-evey stuff all afternoon.  Visit Husband's aunt who lives nearby in the evening, snack.  Head back to In-laws' house for Christmas eve fun and fare all PM. Stay at in-law's.
Dec. 25th - Christmas Day: Open presents at in-laws' early in the AM; head back over to mom and step-dad's house to eat dinner, relax, visit, and spend the night.
Dec. 26th - Head back to Ohio!
So there are my traditions in a nutshell - very rigid, very predictable, but fun nonetheless!  I can't wait to throw a little curveball in the next few years, when I introduce a baby into the mix - new traditions will be added to the old and I cannot wait! I think Christmas will feel like less of a whirlwind, with me blindly wandering here and there and everywhere. Or, maybe, it will be even more whirlwindish. Either way, I look forward to being a parent and experiencing the kids rip-roaring through wrapping paper and boxes, and having Christmas morning breakfast in my own home. Maple Syrup in my baby girl's hair, husband and son fighting with inflatable boxing gloves... ahh. I get excited.
Traditions.  They're nice to have - but nice to break every once in a while.

Tomorrow's topic is "WISHLIST", and ohhh man... do I have a wishlist.  Let's just say I look forward to being a professor's wife. He's so gonna get slammed with my wishlist. SO gonna get slammed. SOOO soooo slammed. Poor fella :)

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Monday, November 29, 2010

25 Days of Christmas

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday!  I spent a few days in WV and ate way too much, too many days in a row. I made time in between the face-stuffing to sneak around my mom's house and take a few pics of her cozy decor, which I'll share later this week.  Trust me, you'll want to visit her and stay awhile!

Today kicks off the "25 Days of Christmas" hosted by Star and Jmo.  If you're a Christmas fanatic like I am, then you're sure to love the daily blog topics Star and Jmo have chosen! The first topic of the countdown is: Christmas Decorations.
Currently, my Christmas decor is a jumble of things - a little bit modern, a crap ton of glitter and sparkly things, a childish piece here and there, and some folksy primitive style weaved through.  Does it work? Ehh... I make it work. For now.  My tree is definitely a keeper; however, I plan to phase out the remainder of the decor and gradually replace it with pieces that are clean, cheery, and modern.  Since I will be living somewhere completely different next year, I want a fresh, new look for the Holiday season.  Here are some examples of holiday decor that are currently inspiring my future "Christmas Decoration Revamp":

Marimekko Bedding Collection, Crate & Barrel
Ornaments, CB2

Fiestaware in Christmas Tree Pattern, Shamrock,
and Scarlet, Homer Laughlin China Co.

Vintage inspired ornaments and glass bead garland, Restoration Hardware

Can you tell that I love Crate & Barrel?

Vintage inspired garland, Restoration Hardware

Outdoor decor, Pottery Barn

Ahh... how's that for cheery holiday inspiration? 
You can check out my Christmas tree here.

Tomorrow, I'll be featuring the work of a super talented artist, Carrie Lawson.  She and I grew up in the same small county in West Virginia, and graduated from the same high school.  For someone who has had no formal training, Carrie produces phenomenal, powerful artwork that is keeping her very busy this holiday season.  I can't wait to share her positive spirit and talent with you!

Have a great Monday, and be sure to come back tomorrow for Day 2 of "25 Days of Christmas"!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Thankful for... (Day 4 - last one!)

I'm very thankful for everything blogging has to offer - especially all of my readers who've become buds! I'm thankful for your time, your comments, and your blogs, too. 
May your holiday be blessed with lots of family, fun, love, and laughter (and food!)

I made this geeky Turkey fella' just for you. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Thankful for... (Day 3)

the fam.
My mom, my brother, my step-dad, my in-laws... I'm thankful for all of 'em!

When I married my husband, I got a couple of extra cool grandparents - L & J are pretty awesome and make an extra special effort to keep up with all the grandkids' whereabouts - which is pretty much almost impossible these days. They are loving, caring, and FUNNY. My father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sassy-sis-in-law are just plain GREAT.  They always have my back - they're a protective group of peeps that support, spoil, love, and care to no end. And they love the Marshall Thundering Herd, too! My F-in-L and M-in-L both serve their local community by volunteering a crap ton for various organizations, festivals, and local schools.  My sass-in-law goes to Marshall - yes, she carried on the tradition!  She's super mega smarter than me, but I still love her. I think we all have a silent agreement that she's definitely the genius of the family. 

My mom and step-dad are the most gentle people I know. Step-Dad loves college football, and is a huge Nebraska fan (of course, he roots for Marshall and the Ohio Bobcats, too - he's bound by the whole step-dad thing.) He's a great cook and makes the best pasta salad and baked steak in the world - seriously! Mom is a Home & Garden Party/antique addict, so you never know whether the chair in the corner is for real or just decoration. The last time I visited, she'd added a 11 ft. barn ladder in the dining room as decoration.  There it was, leaned against the wall, and I'm like... "where does that go to?" She also has a collection of antique pitch forks, scythes, and other "items" that look like they came straight off the set of SAW, which she has managed to stylishly arrange in a fabulous wall grouping.  My future children are going to have to be really careful at grandma's house!

The one thing I like about my brother and his wife most is how cool they are when we visit.  We only see each other a few times a year, but there's never a big production about how long it's been since we've seen each other, or a big hug and sob fest goodbye when we part ways. We pick up right where we left off before, and it feels like we haven't seen each other in 6 days, rather than 6 months.  Hellos and goodbyes can make me uncomfortable if there's a lot of emotion involved, but i never have to worry about that with those two - they're just cool about things.  

Last but definitely not least is my husband.  You read enough about him to know what he's up to, but let's just say this - for one of those reading/writing/researching "professor types", he's really too cool for school.  He's not what you expect - certainly not like the English professor you may have had in college, or the sleazy ones you see in movies.  He's a stylin' little dude who has fun taste in music and movies, and probably spends too much time playing and not enough time being "scholarly" by most academics' standards. He's just plain "neat", and I'm just plain lucky. 

L-R: Grandpa L and Grandma J, F-in-Law, M-in-Law, Claire the cat, Sassy-in-Law, Charlie the kitten,
Husband, Diego the cat, Stephanie, Mom, Mac the cat, Tootsie the cat, Step-dad, Brother, sister-in-law, their cats.
All of us love the Marshall Thundering Herd; APPARENTLY WE ARE ALL CAT PEOPLE.

Tomorrow's the last day of my "I'm Thankful for" series; be sure to swing by before you fall into a Turkey Coma!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Thankful for... (Day 2)

my furbaby.

He's warm, soft, big, and super lovable.  My sweet little orange tabby, Diego, has grown into a huge 30 pound sack of cat over the years, but has still maintained the little boy face with the sweet pink ears and nose - oh, and his Cindy Crawford-esque beauty mark!
His eyes are always so bright and lively, even when he's just woken from a long sleep.  He's pretty simple-minded as far as finicky feline needs are concerned - you know, food, soft bed, some water, and catnip toys to chew on. He can still play a mean game of "rat-receiver" (jumping in the air to catch toys we toss to him), and really loves this time of year because he totally digs laying on top of the gift wrapping paper I've carefully measured and cut. 
Diego can sense our moods/emotions better than most humans - seriously!  He knows when we're upset, and can distinguish between "mad" and "sad" (if I'm mad, he runs and hides, if I'm sad, he curls up near me and purrs.)  He can also sense happiness, and tries to butt in by mewing excitedly when my husband and I are chit-chatting and laughing. Silly cat... thinks he's human!
I'm a crazy cat lady, I admit it! I'm thankful for Diego, and although he doesn't do too much, he warms my heart and makes me smile - even when his litter box is a disaster (he's a large cat that can produce large-scale disasters, If ya know what I'm sayin'!)

Diego having a serious conversation with his humans. "When do the Ohio Bobcats play again? I wanna go!"
Do you have a pet that you're thankful for? 
Show him/her some love by giving an extra nuzzle today.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Thankful for... (Day 1)

my education.
There isn't a day that passes without me being consciously aware of how much my education from Marshall University has benefited my life.  I took a huge leap of faith when I moved to Huntington in the Fall of 2002; I moved 3 hours away from home and chose to attend a school where I'd never received a formal campus tour.  I left behind a home on the mend, as my mom, brother, and I were still in the process of picking up the pieces and moving on from the untimely death of my father. Little did I know,  Marshall University would FIX me for life.
It's where I moved on, overcame grief and shock, and grew up.  I began dating my husband there, learned the concepts of hard work and team effort, and found a real sense of belonging in this big crazy thing we call "life".  I really became my own little woman in the city of Huntington, discovered a serious need for challenges and adventure, and developed the beginnings of a ruthless attempt to live life to the fullest.  I became brave.  "What's the big deal?", you ask - "it's just Huntington, it's not like it's New York City or anything."  For me, it was!  I grew up in a town of 3,000 in rural West Virginia, scared to go anywhere and do anything.  The four years I spent as a student at Marshall University were all I needed to realize that I can do anything. (OK, not anything. But lots of things.)
My education also benefited me employment-wise.  Moving to Southeastern Ohio doesn't exactly guarantee a large pool of job opportunities.  No, I'm not a lawyer. Or doctor. or dentist.  I'm definitely nowhere near having as much money as I would like, but I have a sweet office inside the building of a non-profit organization that most would die to have. I work with fantastic co-workers that have become friends. Most importantly, I found a sense of belonging as a working person in a college town that is basically made up of the college and various pizza chain restaurants, and have been able to live happily and fully with my husband and our little fat house cat.
I earned a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from the Marshall University College of Liberal Arts in Criminal Justice.  The confidence and sense of accomplishment that I feel is still overwhelming, even after 5 years of sporting the cap and gown and shaking president Kopp's hand on stage as the late Senator Byrd looked on from his seat. It's not just a piece of paper on the wall; it's my love life, my work life, and my entire future.  It's a great past, an unforgettable experience, and a tradition for my husband, sister-in-law, and I.  How could I not take time out to be thankful for something that resembles love, livelihood, and special bonds that will last forever?

What is one thing that you're thankful for today?
(Go Herd!)

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Friday, November 19, 2010

O' Christmas Tree (part II)

Hey, you.

Yeah, YOU.  The one who's been trashing people like me who like to start celebrating the holiday season a little early via Christmas decorating. I'm not talking about those who simply do not put a tree up until after Turkey day because it's tradition.  I'm talking about the ones who are RUDE, NAGGY, and JUDGMENTAL. It's time to grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfy, ya ol' crank!

My first initial reaction to early Holiday celebrating haters is: "WAHHHH!  WAHHHH!!! Just leave me alone!!! Let me enjoy my Christmas tree in peace! boooo hoo hoooooooo..."

but then I start thinking about how screwed up it is to give someone serious heck over a house decoration, and my thinking gets a little less simple and starts getting a lot more crazy.

Is it a crime to be emmer effin' happy?!?  It just so happens that my fake 6.5 ft. department store pine Christmas tree makes me kind of EXTREMELY happy.  I collect ornaments throughout the year, always looking for them when I travel. I think the tree's gorgeous.  It's fun, and so is silly cute Christmas Music. I smile, I get excited, I enjoy every single day leading up to Christmas (awww, good for me!)  Those days begin around the first week of November for me, when radio stations start blasting Christmas tunes 24/7 and I decorate my Christmas Tree.  If trees and music don't make you happy prior to the month of December, fine. To each their own.  But instead of raising total not-so-Christmasy hell over those who actually do enjoy the excitement several days in addition to the 25th, why don't you... peacefully turn the radio station to something else?  Yeah, that would do. Playfully teasing the people who are already hanging up stockings about how Christmas ridonkulous they are is cool, too. But please, do not resort to anger, or name calling. Or, how about this - don't accuse fanatics like me of "not being very Christian". That's being very judgmental, which is not very Christian-like. ("BOOM. Roasted.")

Thanksgiving.  I'm thankful - a very thankful person.  I enjoy a few days off from work, I travel to WV to see the fam, I enjoy not one but two dinners - one with my in-laws, one at my mom & step-father's house.  The food is great, we visit, we watch football and laze around, we laugh.  Occasionally, someone gets choked on a piece of turkey and nearly dies at the dinner table. It's a great time had by all, and I usually conclude the whole she-bang by helping mom decorate her own tree, and going shopping on Black Friday.  I go right along with the majority of consumer-happy Americans and hop head first into spending way too much dough at the mall, drinking unhealthy gluttonous amounts of Starbucks out of the red cup, and wasting entirely too much energy trying to achieve that perfect bow for that perfect present for that perfect sister-in-law. So what if i decide to start decorating before all of the Christmas chaos hits?   I'm not decorating because I'm a Turkey hater.  It's all because i enjoy it.

Some have repeatedly said, "I can't believe your tree is up.  I cannot believe your tree is already up."  Ok, fine.  You can't believe my tree is up. Yay.

Others have repeatedly snarked around about how wrong it is to put up a tree before Thanksgiving. Wrong?  Define "wrong".  And by whose standards? THEIRS?  Is there a direct correlation between the number of days that I insert a fake decorated pine tree into my living room prior to Thanksgiving and the percentage chance that I may have committed some kind of religious crime? Um, no.  Seriously. SERIOUSLY. No.

"It's just wrrrooooonnnng", someone whined the other day.  How much critical thinking fueled that comment?  According to my calculations, a big,fat,empty, round ZERO.

I'm cool with friends and family lightheartedly saying "wow, that's early - you're crazy!" or, "man, you're on the ball with that!"  or even "I don't think I could stand staring at the tree that long".  I understand, smile, say something dorky like, "welp, whatever floats your boat!" and go one. However, I stop playing along when someone tells me I'm wrong. Instead of brushing it off, i BLOG. I am so badass. 

If Christmas lights before Thanksgiving really make you sick, then turn your face in the other direction. If the Christmas gift card display at Wal-mart angers you, drop the act and just buy one for me already. If you really feel pent up aggression and rage about those who choose to start the celebrating a little bit early, you should just succomb to your fears and frustrations, join in the madness, and get to HO-HO-HO'in - you'll be a much happier person without all of those personal "Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is the devil!" feelings bottled up inside, I promise.  If nothing else, please don't measure my level of spirituality on your Christianity thermometer, based on a Christmas ornament and the tree skirt my cat took a huge dookie on last year. No measuring, no judging, no hate. Just peace, live and let live, love, and smile.  Those concepts are way easier on the heart and the mind. 

Oh, and a $25 Walmart gift card will do just fine.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Kanye

R.I.P. College Dropout Bear

Is there a celebrity you would like to write a letter to?  Do it, then link up at Mama Kat's!

"Power" artwork and bear graphics, google.com; Lyrics by Kanye West.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swap Goodies and Winnings!

My blogging buddies are really amazing. Today, I'm taking some time out to thank two fellow bloggers and tweeters (and both are Jennifers!) - Jenny M. and Jennifer M!

The Monday following my birthday, I came home to find a USPS box full of fun goodies from Jenny, my preppy Christmas swapper!

Oodles of fun stuff! 
Each and every item was wrapped, which obviously made for a lengthy prezzie-opening fest! My husband watched in amazement as I continued to pull another - and then another- and then another wrapped item out of the box.  Good times! 

Inside the box:
MISTO Olive Oil Sprayer, Vigar Dishbrush, Orange Kitty Heat Resistant potholder, Six pairs of socks (one of my favorite things - cute socks!), Lettuce Shears, Julienne Peeler, and a Skinny Dip moisturizing candle in Peppermint!

Thanks, Jenny!  I'm enjoying all of my new gadgets.
Who knew a dish brush could be so fun?!? 

And now, the second Jennifer:

The timing of JMO's Christmas ornament giveaway couldn't have been more perfect. She selected the winner last week, when I was gearing up to decorate my home in full force for the holidays!  My winnings arrived in the mail just a couple of days after I assembled the tree and turned my little home into Christmas heaven, so the ornament was easy to stick right in with everything else.

Thanks again, ladies - I truly enjoyed all of my goodies!  My husband can't believe all of the stuff that keeps coming in the mail - I think he's getting suspicious, wondering if I'm shopping all the time! I have told him, "it's from a bloggy friend" too many times to count. You are all so awesome!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

O' Christmas Tree (part I)

This past weekend, I spent an entire day on one project that most probably won't bother with until Thanksgiving or after.  Most may only spend an hour or two; I spent quite a few more than that. Some think I'm crazy; others think I'm awesome.  Are you excited to see my Christmas tree? Or are you rolling your eyes?

Truth be told, I know i'm ahead of the game. I'm aware that I should be sticking turkey-bird decorations around my kitchen, because that's what the calendar tells me to do.  The only problem is... Wal-mart is telling me otherwise! Seriously, though - I put up my tree a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving each and every year, because I leave town during the holidays.  I skip out of Athens for 4-5 days during the week of Thanksgiving, and again for a few days surrounding Christmas. Since I'm missing out on my home and Christmas decorations for 10 days or so during the holiday season, it's ok to put up my tree a week or two prior to Thanksgiving, right?  Right

In O' Christmas Tree (Part I), I'm going to share my magical tree and all of its' wonder with my readers. Some of you have been waiting for a while now, so today you're welcome to visit my home and check out some of my favorite ornaments! 

O' Christmas Tree (Part II) is going to be a little less cheer, a little more rant. Anti-Christmas Decor before Thanksgiving-ers, take note - it's a blog post especially for you. Only I'm not welcoming you into my home - you can stand on the doorstep, in the cold! I might offer you some hot cocoa, though - I'm not that mean. (Part II comes later this week.)

And now, it's time to get Christmas-y!

"The Story of my Christmas Tree"
by Stephanie S.

'Twas the morning of putting up the Christmas Tree, and all through the town of Athens,  not a creature was stirring- except for the lady at Starbucks who made my Peppermint Mocha at 9:00am.  "Whipped Cream?" she asked - "Hell Yes", I answered. Ok, not really. I just said "yeah, thanks." But "Hell Yes" sounds way cooler. Anyway,
The Fake tree branches were separated with care, in hopes that gigantic millipedes wouldn't fall out everywhere. True story.  Last year, a 3-inch long millipede camoflaged itself in my tree, then inched its way across my floor and onto the couch. You never know what you're gonna find in the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio...

500 Clear Lights were nestled all snug in their fake tree branches, while visions of anger and frustration danced in my head as i attempted to un-tangle 3 sets of gold beads. Gold bead garland is a tradition in my family, as they were my brothers' favorite tree decoration growing up. So I shoved a candy cane in my mouth and continued on, because I love my brother. :)  ...  and out on the coffee table, I laid out all of my ornaments - well, they were on the floor, too.  And everywhere else.  Because I'm ridiculous. And weird.  I sprang up and down the tree, strategically hanging the ornaments so the tree wouldn't tip over and make a loud clatter.

OK, enough of the Night Before Christmas thing - it's getting difficult and stupid and you're probably losing respect for me. 

Basically, following the lights and gold beads, I added blue. My dad's favorite color was blue, and for some reason, my tree lacked blue in years past.  This year, I purchased some new additions - Carolina blue snowflakes to tuck deep into the branches, and a few darker hued blue bulbs featuring glittery wintry/deer scenes. And so the ornament hanging had begun!

I collect Marshall University ornaments, ornaments that look sweet, sugary, and edible, and I dearly love Hallmark Keepsake ornaments as well.  As far as a color scheme, I don't really keep one running - I just like things that are shiny and bright. The shinier and brighter, the better! When choosing new items to add each year, I make sure that they represent something personal - about me, my family, my life, the things I love. Places we've been, teams we cheer for, my favorite candy, and our favorite tv shows are represented on the tree.  Example: Why would you hang a Twilight Zone TV ornament that lights up and plays the theme music?   - A. Because it represents the 8 New Year's Eve Twilight Zone Marathons on Sci-Fi that I've watched with my husband since we started dating.

Of course, this little fellow was on hand to help in between cat naps.  Surprisingly, he's not the type of kitty to climb and/or tear down trees and destroy ornaments.  He's not a chewer, but he likes to rub his cheeks against the bottom branches.  Occasionally he will throw a lazy jab at a bulb - he's just too fat and tired to do anything else. 

I finished the tree just as it was beginning to get dark outside.  My husband and I went out for a nice piece of fresh grilled salmon and veggies (aka I got my cholesterol-lowering game on), and ended the evening by snacking on some peppermint patties while admiring my tree. Zero gifts are underneath it - and I'm going to keep it that way for a while, I think.  Partly because - well, I'm not quite ready to start shopping for and wrapping gifts yet.  But mostly because Diego likes sleeping underneath it.

Below are some of my favorite "parts" of the tree - enjoy!


Have you put up your tree yet?  What is its' theme?

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Waiting Game

It's been two months since I blogged about the beginning stage of my husband's academic job search. It's time to blog about phase 2, which is a total killer for some as impatient as yours truly!
The hubs submitted 40+ applications via online and snail mail this fall.  OVER FORTY.  Excellent opportunities in his field came up every week, and he couldn't pass them up! He totally hit this thing hard - and with me cheering him on, we decided together that we might as well go big or go home! Energy through the roof, I'm telling you!

And now, we're waiting.
he's received some feedback from schools already, such as requests for more information/documentation. Which is Great! But still...

It's hard.  We wait. We wonder.  We never worry, but we wonder... where will we live this time next year?
Everyone else is wondering, too. Our families and our friends.  My co-workers. His colleagues.  We're all just one big ball of waiting excitement.  It's gotten to the point where this is affecting Christmas a great deal, because I keep wondering - will we know by then? Or will we still be waiting?  Chances are, we'll still be waiting and wondering.

This experience isn't something that anyone can fully understand unless they've lived it.  I would have to say that this is comparable to the NFL draft - I'll be waiting in the wings, willing to move wherever my husband goes, whatever "team" chooses him in the end.  Will he be a first rounder, picked in early December? Will he be a steal for some lucky school in early January? Or will he be picked late in February, after a long, pain-staking wait that will all be worth it in the end because he gets to pursue his dreams?
I don't whine or whimper to anyone.  We're alone. Me, and him.  We have our families' support, and believe me, it's amazing - but do they feel what we feel?  We are ecstatic about all of the job opportunities.  Every school, every town, every city - we're in love with all of them.  We avoid sharing the full extent of our enthusiasm with our families, because how in the world can we explain to them that we would really love to live in the cornfields? Would we be able to convince anyone, seeing as how we've lived in the Appalachian mountains our entire lives? Yeah, probably not.
My biggest fear, the one that "scares me right out of my pants"? Breaking hearts. Trying to explain to my mom why we would rather be Oklahoma Sooners than West Virginia Mountaineers. Or move to Tallahassee Florida for a temporary post-doc rather than settle down in Bowling Green, Kentucky. All of this depends on actual offers and time - both out of our control. But still, I fear a difficult decision. I accept it, though - it's all a part of the game. 
Have we had discussions about the possibility of making a hard decision? Well - yes and no.  Yes, because we've both agreed that this is probably going to end up being very difficult in the end. No, because it's impossible to plan which school he would choose seeing as how we're not far enough along in this game to know what the offers are going to be.

And so, we wait!
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