Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fields of Imaginative Frolicking

"Two roads emerged in the wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference"
-Robert Frost

I think it is safe to assume most people have heard this Frost quote before. Today, the quote serves-Frost's intended purpose aside-to encourage (generally young) people to step out into the world boldly, not be afraid of the unknown, take a chance, and other messages similar in theme. Has anyone stopped to wonder what would have happened if Frost did take the more traveled way? What if the worn path looped around and eventually met it's other half further into the wood? 

My blogs often explicitly reference my quick decision to move to North Carolina. So many great things have happened since and I know that I have been generously blessed. Every so often I wonder: what if I decided to stay in upstate New York? If I had, where would I be today? 

I'm not talking about regret here. I do not live in regret, but there are a good number of things I have done that I can now see other-wiser-ways in which I could have handled past circumstances. 

I urge you to wonder for a while where the path you passed by could have taken you. When your mind returns from the fields of imaginative frolicking, appreciate the path you're on and the fruit that this part of the "wood" has granted you. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Chad and I just returned from a little anniversary getaway in Charleston, South Carolina. I absolutely adore Charleston. It is a quaint city with a tangible nostalgia of antebellum days that can charm just about anyone. Part of what made our trip as enjoyable as it was, were the overwhelming recommendations we received from friends for restaurants, activities, historical "musts", shopping, even parking. So rather than narrate our experiences to you, I'm going to share some of our own recommendations. Here goes...

For the Civil War/historical buffs:

Now, I'm not one to trade shopping for a historical moment, but this was probably one of the coolest museums (if you will) that I have ever encountered. Our guide was more knowledgable than any history teacher I have had and I truly walked away feeling more educated than I was when we pulled up. If you have time to spare on a Saturday or Sunday, visit the H.L.Hunley, the first submarine (used in the Civil War) and the vessel responsible for sinking the USS Housatonic in a mere five minutes!

this guy is old

Chad and I hanging out in a replica 
(10% larger than the real deal!)

Our first day in downtown Charleston began on an hour-long carriage tour with Palmetto Carriage Rides. My favorite part of the tour was learning about the unmistakably unique architecture throughout the entire peninsula and the practical functions behind it. If interested, there are two dollar coupons on their website AND they offer free parking for the entire day. We even returned to the city for dinner that same day parking!

Some sites from our tour...

For those who must eat to survive:

Craving a cheeseburger (or GREAT turkey burger) but don't want to walk away feeling like your stomach is on the verge of bursting? Burger Babies has all your favorite burgers and sandwiches, just reduced to a more manageable mini size. It's perfect for a quick lunch to keep you fueled for King Street shopping. If you go, add a side of sweet potato tots. You won't regret it. 

Chad's cheeseburger and jerk shrimp sandwich,
made complete with the sweet potato tots.
(They offer great combo deals!)

Our pastor recommended that we check out Hyman's Seafood. The food, service, environment, tabletop food for thought, and even the waiting bench is worth your time. Also, allow your eyes to stray to nearby tables as they feature small brackets letting you know the various celebrities who enjoyed the same food. (We were near Hootie and the Blowfish, Vanilla Ice, Sandra Bullock, and Kevin Costner) Don't be crazy, go eat there. (I ordered the crab cakes...awesome!) 
The hubs :) 

Keep your eyes peeled around town for coupons-easy to come by-for free appetizers. Also, we told our server it was our anniversary and they treated us to a free brownie with three scoops of ice cream. We loved the treat, but it ruined our plans to visit Kaminsky's-just down the street-and indulge in dessert (recommended by friends). 

For the walker/nature lover/collegiate minded...

Located in the heart of Charleston is the College of Charleston, a public liberal arts and sciences university. If I had grown up in the south, I would have begged to go here! The campus is breathtakingly beautiful. Chad and I strolled around and enjoyed the nature the school obviously values. 

*Located southwest of the Calhoun and King Street intersection.

Me...wishing I could go back to college

For the shopper:

Market Street is known for guessed it, open-air markets that were very recently given new life. Here you can find locally produced pottery, jewelry, baskets, and the like. Great for souvenirs, but beware: very touristy. 

King Street is home to every major national retailer you can think of as well as some diverse antique dealers. If seeking antiques, bring a full wallet and make sure you visit the southern end of this retail walk. 

a fun find!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mama Taught Me to Share

Yesterday evening I got to hold a week old beautiful baby girl, Bellamy. Her tiny body was warm as I cradled her-so fearful I could hurt her in some way-in my arms. Peace consumed her. She stole a peek at me as she yawned and her delicate arms stretched. Seeing the product of life created so beautiful in a mother's womb is indeed an awesome miracle. 

That same evening progressed to a dinner date with friends. The couple treated us to fried cucumbers, tasty grilled chicken, green beans and potatoes made complete with garlic bread-yum! S'mores for dessert? Yes. Please! Sharing laughs with good friends: wonderful.

Today marks one year since Chad and I promised to love and support each other no matter what the challenge. "They" warn you that the first year of marriage is the hardest. (Was there a field test that warrants this claim?) The first year of marriage is more educational than anything; you learn about yourself, you learn about your spouse, you learn about compromise, patience, forgiveness, selflessness, the actions of love, and so much more. It's full of adventure and new beginnings. Tomorrow morning Chad and I leave to explore Charleston as we celebrate our new life together. Sharing life with Chad is the best decision I've ever made. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do Not Touch The Painting

My good friend Marissa is beautiful and remarkably brilliant. I met Marissa while living and studying in London during the summer of 2006. We clicked instantly. One of our favorite past times was to galavant to all of the museums we could get into for free (courtesy of our Boston University student ids) or a minimal fee. When we had our share of collections we would stroll through breathtaking parks or tackle famous markets. The occasional wrong turn or missed tube stop allowed us the opportunity to explore culturally rich neighborhoods on the outskirts of the central city. These excursions are among my fondest memories of London.

Today, now stateside, I still have the constant itch to visit local-and not so local-museums. At the ATM, of all places, I saw a sign that caused me to let out a small squeal of excitement. Bank of America card holders earn free access to select museums in certain cities on the first full weekend of each month! If that's you...check it out:

A Little Life Update

Nearly a week has passed since my last post. It is summer yet my calendar has more events penciled in than during the school year; such an odd yet exciting occurrence. My time, lately, is filled with things that I have been longing to do for a while but managed to put on the back burner for other "priorities" (or so justified in my mind).

Although my blog has been a tad bit ignored I have made strides to pursue pieces for potential freelance opportunities or contests. Also within the literary scope of pursuits, I finally started a book club. I always wanted to be a part of a book club, an idea further ignited after watching "Jane Austen's Book Club". Contrary to certain stereotypes, our book club is young-not relative, in actuality; no member is a grandmother and we are, personal claims confirmed by dear (unpaid) friends, cool. If you want to read along with us or are interested in joining (women only), you have until July 28 to finish Mary Kay Andrews' Summer Rental.

On Saturday Chad and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary-eek! It is such a paradoxical occasion; it feels as though we have been together for decades yet we just got married. I don't buy into the first-year-of-marriage-is-the-hardest myth. I don't have much experience, but it was more exciting than anything. I loved learning new things about Chad with every passing day. He continuously serves me no matter what the day or my mood-for this I am eternally grateful. Chad has taught me, by his daily examples, to always be quick to forgive and patient to see change. I am a stubborn, difficult person to live with, and he hasn't left! Hallelujah! This coming week we will spend three days in Charleston on the beach!

I have made headway on some wonderful job part-time job opportunities that have come up, for this summer and throughout the year. There are several and they are an answer to prayer-thank you for those who have prayed with us.

Koda is still a rascal. In fact, I better go check on him to make sure he doesn't eat our garden. He fancies peppers.

Good night sweet friends!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Furious Fluttering

Do you ever notice how butterflies appear in the oddest of places? Today, for example, at the pool, a butterfly danced for a short while above the water's basketball hoop as boys vied for the title of best shooter. It's wings fluttered furiously before flying off toward the bushes to the west. I admired it's gracefulness in spite of the chaos below its flightpath. Whenever I see a butterfly I think of my brother. He died nine years ago next month.

I can't remember where I heard the following (from a person, movie, book, magazine, strange attempt at an inspirational quote...) : butterflies are representative of the spirits of those we once loved, but have now passed. Please don't mistake me as someone who buys into everything she is fed, although I am admittedly naive at times. I do not believe this in the literal sense. I whole-heartedly believe that my brother is walking among angels and is presently in awe of God's glory, in heaven. Nevertheless, whenever a butterfly hurries past me, the part of my heart that still aches during moments when I'm reminded of his absence causes my imagination to entertain the idea of truth behind the butterfly theory, just for a moment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Swaddling Young Summer

Summer-for me-has not yet aged a week and it is already off to a better start than I could have even imagined!

Monday was my last day at school. Yippee!

Tuesday I had a slow morning of breakfast in bed followed by episode after episode of the television show Survivor. Chad and I are television series addicts; we find a series we like and, together, watch it religiously down to the very last episode. Following Survivor frenzy, I met with a friend and decided to start a business with Mary Kay! Then Chad and I returned home to make tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil pizza-yummy yum yum!

Wednesday I woke up-are you ready for this?-at 3:45 a.m.! My friend Sarah and I joined ranks with our friend, and Anthropologie employee, Kelly to assist with Anthro's early morning inventory. If you know me well, you know I am a sucker for all things Anthro. Not only were we paid, but those of us who assisted received a temporary employee discount! I am quite proud to say that I deposited my cash that same day. Save, Kim, save. Yesterday afternoon I visited a new friend who is willingly allowing me to write a feature piece on her to submit to various publications for editorial consideration; I am very grateful. The afternoon didn't just yield an interview, but three hours were well spent sharing stories about family, friends, teenage rebellions, and reveling in the sweet smile and laughter of her gorgeous little boy. It was the most honest and encouraging conversation I've had in a while. This woman is quite spectacular.

Today I slept in a bit (recovering from yesterday's damaging wake up call) and caught up on emails and such. I got my hair cut by the ever-so-impressive Lorraine Conrad. Post-cut I ventured to Barnes & Noble across the street and bought a new book. The book came with me to the pool, where I boycotted sunscreen and, consequently, am currently an interesting shade of red. My new iPhone case came in the mail along with my Mary Kay starter kit with plenty of goodies. Koda and I shared two walks today and I made dinner for my husband before he got home.

My days might sound mediocre, maybe even pathetic, to you. The events I shared were fun, great, memorable, but what you can't read are the moments when I took in the moment to wonder at the vastness of the blue North Carolinian sky, the laughter that Chad and I shared when Koda decided to plop his rear end directly in front of our Survivor marathon showing, and the peace my spirit finds in the rest summer provides.

Long live summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My First Day of Summer

Yippee to my last day of work for the rest of summer! Since I was a wee little child I have always had summers off. This year I have a few projects that will keep me busy, but at least they can and will be done on my schedule.

The arrival of summer is always accompanied by grandiose plans to revamp my day-to-day life. Some plans are carried out, others get swept away by the lure of the poolside, sleeping in, and good books. This summer will be highlighted by a week of me being a student again (the nerd in me is beyond excited over this fun fact), a first anniversary trip to Charleston with my love, more writing, of course some good reading, pool time, friend time, and my domestic quest (more to come on this soon).

Hello sweet summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Price of Entertainment

Being more disciplined in my blogging has changed the way I think. Hear me out. I blog about my life for several reasons: one, that I don't forget it (if you know me, you know I don't remember much); two, to practice my writing and potentially inspire myself-by default-to write something people might one day pay to read; three, to entertain; four, to share my life in the hopes of potentially bettering others-even ever so slightly-by my experiences, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, assuming my writing yields slivers of wisdom. (I am sure that is a run-on sentence...perhaps I should extend that list to encompass grammar and mechanics lessons.)

In between blogs, I look for life experiences that stick out as a bit more exciting or purposefully symbolic of something greater than just my presence. Here is one such moment.

This moment came as a product of my search for normalcy. Usually I am up and out of the house before most people I know ever hear their alarm clock. I am a strong advocate that such a practice is just wrong. Nevertheless, this past week I haven't had any students at work and so on Monday I decided to tune in to the Today show. Oftentimes I imagine myself doing this in my fantasy world of being a stay-at-home wife/eventually mom: watching Matt Lauer and folding clothes and/or making coffee and eggs.

One segment on Monday was exceptionally disturbing. Plain and simple, it featured a Chinese attraction where the public can pay to see Siberian Tigers-in a facility intended for preservation and breeding-exist in restrained freedom. Here's the clincher. For some extra cash, visitors can be entertained by viewing the tigers being fed live prey: ducks, chicken, sheep, and, for 300 dollars, even a cow.

When I was a kid, trucks would pass my house filled with cows and return empty. After seeing the look in my mom's eyes when I questioned where all the cows were going, I cried. I totaled my first car by stopping for turkeys in the road. The stop just so happened to be too late and too near my friend's car. Many jokes have spawned from this unfortunate circumstance. My mother would tease that I would grow up to be a professional "Watch for Animal Crossing" sign distributor along our nation's roadways.

I eat meat, even if it is a rare occasion usually involving only turkey or chicken. I have a heart for the humane treatment of animals. I believe in capitalism and I do enjoy being entertained. However, I believe morals, integrity, and good, humane character decisions are not to be thrown out the window for the sake of capitalism and entertainment. I am appalled by the choices of the aforementioned Chinese tourist attraction. Watch the video and decide for yourself: entertainment or cruelty?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Welcome to Albemarle

My first time in Albemarle, home of Kelly Pickler. I'm not going to lie...I kind of hoped I would see her! Chad's uncle is pastoring a new (to him) church in Albermarle and today was his first Sunday. Chad and I accompanied his parents to listen to him speak. God gave him a great word! (Habakuk 1:5) The congregation was incredibly receptive toward his presence and I'm glad I got to experience this morning with Uncle Rick.

After the service we enjoyed some lunch with Rick and Chad's parents before visiting Rick's incredibly beautiful farmhouse. The home, approximately 110 years old, sits on 100 acres of farm land and the front of the house boasts a spacious wrap-around porch. Walking along the boards of the porch I could picture myself sipping lemonade, relaxing in one of the several rocking chairs, and flipping through the pages of a good book on an early summer evening. 


Bonus: there is a group of chickens keeping Rick company. I'm not normally a bird lover, but I warmed up to these little ladies. 

I'm working on ways to convince Rick to let me spend some time on his porch reading and writing-maybe a blog post or two! Wish me luck... :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

All the Livelong Day

Today was a success! After some great coffee and breakfast I spent some time tidying up the house. This may sound strange, but cleaning and organizing relaxes me. It helps me to feel more settled for the rest of the day knowing I've cleaned up a bit. 

Before Chad woke up I tapped into my arts and crafts spirit (it's hard to reach, but it's in there somewhere) and finished up some projects for my newspaper girls. Once Chad was up we measured and figured out what we'd have to buy for our day's home projects. I couldn't help but snap this photo of his new found "perfect helmet".

I had to creep from the loft so he wouldn't see me and ruin the photo op. I love the glimpses of the kid in him. 

Off to Lowe's we went for some shelving supplies, but not before I caught this little guy in what I have now come to refer to as his aerodynamic sleeping pose-I like to think he's dreaming of flying when he assumes this position. 

Yesterday he demolished my fourth pair of shoes-yes, FOUR! (And this pair was one of the replacement pairs...gosh!) I'm hoping this is just a puppy thing. The score is now: me 4, Chad 1; I don't think my wardrobe can take another hit. I still can't help but love the little monster. 

On the way back from Lowe's we stopped for some lunch at this fabulous little shindig that we've driven past many times but never actually stopped in. 

Good stuff that R & R Bar-B-Que.

So here are the new shelves in the laundry "nook". Our laundry is downstairs in our house, off of the kitchen. Folding doors make it convenient to quickly toss items here as a makeshift storage space and I've been dying to get rid of the clutter and chaos. I'm not completely done organizing, but the shelves are a huge help.

And our semi-finished downstairs half bath. (Where I was standing when I took the shelf photo.)

It's hard to capture the whole thing in one shot. I was aiming for a rustic French countryside look and I'm eyeing a few more pieces to finish it off. Chad also added some new shelves in the garage to replace the ones that so pleasantly crashed to the ground last week (paint in was a joyous night). The new shelves look awesome-he's quite the handyman. 

And we finished our day with some dinner and a movie with great friends. 

Lots of photos this time around. I hope you enjoyed :)

Saturday Fun

Saturday mornings hold a special place in my heart. Chad and I are (usually) both free on Saturdays with no place to rush off to. The morning usually begins with a cup of coffee before moving on to a house project or errands or maybe a long walk with Koda. Koda and I are getting some snuggling time in while Chad sleeps a little while longer-he's been waking up with me this week (TOO early)!

On our agenda today : more shelving in the laundry nook and some free standing wall shelves for the office. Photos to come. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sweet South

Since moving to North Carolina I have experienced/discovered several new things (new to me) :

1. Sweet tea (go on and laugh it up native southerners...). My first exposure to sweet tea was by simple reference in Nicholas Sparks' novel Dear John when the two main characters enjoy a casual dinner with "the best sweet tea around". What the heck is sweet tea? I thought. I continued reading with little problem. It's just iced tea where I come from. I love it.

2. North Carolina is not all palm trees. Growing up in New York my exposure to "The South" was based on movie depictions of the (stereotypical) South and my travels to south all of its palm tree glory.

My move to North Carolina was rash and the time between the decision and actual move was all of two days. I thought since North Carolina was in the South, there'd be palm trees...everywhere. Not true.

3. There are good and bad people everywhere. But generally speaking, southerners are more pleasant people. I'm trying to become more like a true southerner.

4. The majority of youth in Charlotte, North Carolina don't have southern accents. It's sad really. If they do, they are faint. Nevertheless I will find a way to have children with darling little southern accents.

5. Summers are hot. Incredibly and brutally hot. Air conditioning is a glorious thing.

6. Food. New food I've been exposed to : hush puppies, shrimp and grits, grits (I do not like), gravy that is not really gravy and actually eaten at breakfast, biscuits, coleslaw (slaw) served on top of hot dogs, barbecue-which is actually a food and not the outdoor cooking device you make it on or the event of eating it-just the food, and so much more that I'm sure I will remember as soon as I post this.

7. Getting to know and sharing in the lives of beautiful women and roommates. Bethany Early Marum and I crammed both of our female lives into a one bedroom apartment for several months. You know you have a great friend when the friendship doesn't end after your cat pees on her stuff (repeatedly...I'm still really sorry!). Heather Boswell Gatch opened her gorgeous home to me as I looked for a new living situation that would be a better financial turn for me. Her home is fabulously decorated yet still charmingly cozy, she loves Friends and has one of the best movie collections, and she bakes cakes and offers leftovers-score! Thank you Heather for your hospitality and friendship. Mikala Hooper is the most uplifting and fun person to be around....ever. God's anointing is all over this woman and I enjoyed sharing my home with such a beautiful woman (inside and out). She survived my pre-wedding mania and is still my friend....this girl is amazing.

Then my pseudo roommate, Taylor Cote, who I have never actually lived with but have had two roommates in common with her and I feel like she deserves a shout out! AND, I want to plug her blog because she's adorable and her blog-covering fashion, fun, and her life in Cali-is incredibly entertaining and will leave you walking away with ideas for your home, closet, or belly. :)

Check this girl out:

Taylor Cote's sweet blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Living and Learning

Teaching is challenging, there is no way around that. It is also incredibly rewarding. The rewards are scattered here and there and sometimes you may go a while without seeing one, but they do show up.

This morning one of my classes took their final exam which covered all areas of study since the start of the semester in late January. The majority of the exam was multiple choice, but the last three questions were short answer, and more personal. High school is not just about grammar, spelling and literature but also-and most importantly-about living and learning. In short, students had to :

1) Recall their most memorable life experience, explain why it was memorable and how it has influenced their life and who they are today.

2) Share the best advice they ever received, convince me why it was the best advice and let me know whether or not they took it.

and lastly...

3) Complete a bucket list with at least ten things they want to do before they die (FYI : skydiving was the most popular aspiration).

Some insight into the lives of youth today...

One student-talkative but incredibly sweet-saw his father murdered right in front of his eyes. He told me he tries to forget that it ever happened but it's really, REALLY hard....

One boy was involved with a gang and spent time in jail for various reasons. He lived wildly while his ill mother fought for her life. Before she died she told her son, my student, she wants him to graduate high school and do well in life. Since that moment, this boy has changed his ways and is currently working toward graduating next June. (In a class discussion he even quoted scripture. I'm praying for another soul in heaven!)

One young lady is going to high school, working, and taking care of her mentally ill mother, alone.

Another sweet student has recently moved to Charlotte from New Orleans to live with her father. She moved because her mother died.

This teeny tiny girl, filled with the largest, joyous personality, almost drowned this past weekend before a lifeguard pulled her out of the water. She described her thoughts, as she struggled to stay above water, to be filled with the desire to tell her family how much she loved them and was sorry for not appreciating them as much as she should.

And one boy wants to marry a supermodel before he dies.