Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Austin Blog

Okay, okay! Here is the Austin Blog everyone (Cliff) wants to read!

As you probably read from the wedding blog, I was very tired and stressed from work. I had no idea how a vacation could change my mindset so much! This is probably my first real vacation since I've been out of school. It wasn't at family's house or on the way to family. It was just vacation, with our favorite couple, Cliff and Teresa!

After the wedding, Jon and I got home, dropped our bags on the floor, and crashed. The next day we got up to lead the weekly worship service at a rehab center here, then we dropped off the tux, and headed to Austin! We met up with Cliff and Teresa in Waco, and drove to Bee Cave, a very nice suburb of Austin. We stayed in a beautiful home, the home of Cliff's dad, Tim. Tim and his wife Laura had stocked the pantry for us, and we had no expenses but a couple of meals out! It was great!

We slept late, worked on a crossword puzzle (yes, one crossword the entire time), read, watched movies, and then did touristy stuff like going to the LBJ library and the state capitol. Thanks, guys, for going to those! I wasn't as impressed with the LBJ library as I was with the Bush library. I would highly recommend the Bush library to anyone heading to College Station. The capitol is always fun to see, and it was fun to freak Jon out when I wanted to take a picture over the balcony of the floor.

It seems I took lots of pictures of the house. First, it was a gorgeous house, and I wanted my mom to see every detail, because she would appreciate it. Second, I kept forgetting what pictures I had already taken, so there are lots of duplicates. Sorry about that.

The whole vacation was perfect. The house where we stayed was better than any 5 star hotel, the food we ate was great, and our only real expense (when we went out to eat), and we got to kick back and have fun with Cliff and Teresa, whom we don't get to see as often as we'd like. I came home completely relaxed and no longer unreasonably consumed with work. My life kind of evened out over those few days, and I came home much happier, which I'm sure Jon appreciated. :) I would recommend that everyone go on vacation. :)

Here is the link to my Family and Friends page. If you have bookmarked it before, I've changed the link a little, so you might need to re-bookmark it. It has pics of our Austin trip, birthday pics (we celebrated that the weekend after), and wedding pics. I've had some trouble getting all the captions to work, but I hope I've got it all figured out now.

In other news, since it's been forever since I posted, here's an update on Friday:
He got really sick last week, with a very high fever and generally not feeling well. It turns out that because of his heart murmur, he had several small blood clots, which caused the inflammation which caused the fever. He is now feeling much better, and will be getting Aspirin for the rest of his life as a blood thinner, just like for people who are susceptible to clotting. He's still a wild and crazy kitten, but is starting to mellow out into an adult cat a little. But only a little.

This was my view from my window one day:
Yep. A squirrel found the bird feeders, and he was pretty determined to get some yummy sunflower seed. I missed the shot with his back feet on the pole and his front feet on the feeder. He fell too quickly for me to get it. Acrobatic though he may be, he never got any seeds.

And this is what my husband brought home last weekend!
Jon won Best Composition at the Warhammer tournament he and Dave went to this past weekend. Best Composition means Jon had the best painted, best looking army. He got a unanimous vote! And no, I did not paint it all. Warhammer is Jon's hobby, and he does a great job with all that stuff. I like painting the army men with him, but it's his thing, and he's really good at it.

I've made some changes in the sidebar. Now that Dave and Karen are married, they've combined blogs. Cliff and Teresa have also combined blogs. And as I said before, I've changed the link to my Family and Friends page slightly.

That's all for now! Hopefully my next blog will no be so long in coming. It just took awhile to get all the photos up and captioned.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A new sister, fondue, and dancing with abandon

I am writing at the end of a long day--a long three days, in fact. Dave and Karen are now officially married! It was an absolutely perfect day, today, and I wanted to write my thoughts about it before I went to bed and forgot anything important.

The "event" began Thursday night with a bachelorette party for Karen. I had experienced an awful week, was trying to get things finished for work (so I could go on vacation this upcoming week) and also get ready for the wedding. By Thursday evening I was very physically and emotionally tired, with stress of work weighing on my shoulders.

We went to Simply Fondue. I've decided that fondue is wonderful--but only for the dessert course. In an instant-gratification world, I'm surprised a place like that has even made it. In an hour's time, I probably managed to cook 6 bite-sized pieces of meat, 2 slices of vegetable, and two stuffed jalapenos. Surprisingly, it filled me up! But I still say that the chocolate fondue is really what it's all about. No waiting for anything to cook, and options like Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Tirimisu!

There were 11 people at Simply Fondue--mostly sorority girlfriends of Karen's from college. I am a person who has very few good friends, and meeting so many (and trying to remember their names!) was very trying for me. I felt very overwhelmed and inadequate. By the time we made it to bed (at 2 in the a.m.), I was grateful for the rest.

The next morning began with a brunch with all the girls from the previous night, plus several more girls, plus all the women in the family! It was another overwhelming time for me. All the girls were wonderful, but I felt very out of place. Not because of anything they did; I was still stressed about work, and out of my comfort zone with so many new people.

After the brunch, I helped Walter and Mary decorate for the rehearsal dinner. It took awhile to get the sound to work on the slideshow I had put together of Dave and Karen. I was so excited about the slideshow, and very nervous it wouldn't work! I left for the hotel dead tired. My head was in a fog, and all I could think about was getting some sleep. I had to e-mail some things to work first, and couldn't get the internet connection to work. I could have cried at that moment. Walter let me borrow his computer and get done what I needed to, and I stumbled to my room and flopped on the bed to take advantage of the little time I had left before the rehearsal. Then Jon knocked on the door. He had class that morning, and just made it into town. I set aside my hopes for a short nap, and it turned out I needed Jon more than I needed sleep. He listened to me express my stress, and he made me feel wonderful and capable. We went to the rehearsal together, and just having him there made me feel much more confident around those girls that I did not know. No longer was I the odd girl out. My husband was standing right over there, and I could look to him for support any time I needed it! There was someone there who loved me and accepted me, and I didn't need to worry about anyone else!

The rehearsal was fun, as they always are. Everyone moved to the dinner, my slideshow went off without a hitch (and people really seemed to enjoy it!), and then came the speeches. The speeches were filled with memories and tears, and they were wonderful. Mary spoke about how adding Karen to the family was like having another child. The others would be no less loved, and it would be impossible not to love the new addition just as much. I have been a Norvell long enough now that I cried through the speeches. The rehearsal dinner was perfect: a wonderful mix of fun, laughter, meaningful moments, and tears. I got to know Karen's siblings, Mike, his wife Rachel, and Sarah. They are all very neat people, and seem to be more "small group of friends" people like me, so we got along very well. I also found out I have a shy blog audience (ahem, Vendsels!) who need to now make themselves known in the comments! No fair reading and not commenting! And I'll try to do the same for you!

At the end of the evening, Jon left for the bachelor party, and I went back to the hotel for a wonderful 10 hours of sleep. The next morning I woke up not thinking at all about work, much refreshed and ready for a full day. And a full day it would be.

Bridesmaid plans started at 11 o'clock. Karen was the perfect bride: very easy going and willing to delegate. We all got ready with plenty of time to spare! The photos were fun, and all taken before the wedding, which I think is a fabulous idea. I felt much more like myself, not like the little recluse I had been the past two days. The wedding began at 5 o'clock, and it was beautiful. Karen looked gorgeous, Dave was in tears most of the time, and every song had meaning beyond the marriage of two people. Dave and Karen left in a white horse-drawn carriage to go to the reception location a few blocks away. We all met them there to enjoy barbecue, cake and dancing.

I love weddings with dances. I don't have any other opportunity to dance, and I enjoy it. I think lots of people who enjoy music feel the need to dance. I always thought that since I have no idea how to dance, I would like conducting, because I could still move with and respond to the music. However, I am not a conductor. So, despite my lack of knowledge, I dance. Normally at weddings, Jon and I dance a few songs, then we let others do all the funny stuff and look ridiculous. But tonight, in honor of Dave, we decided to make the most of every dancing opportunity. Jon was my first inspiration to enjoy every dance and not worry if I knew what I was doing or not. Little Sarah was my second. She was the flower girl, and at 7 years of age has no inhibitions or worries about how she looks. She twirled and jumped, clapped and rolled on the floor, and she loved it. It reminded me of the story my parents tell of me with the Junkanu dancers in the Bahamas when I was a little girl, and got to dance on stage in front of everyone.

So I decided that tonight I would dance with abandon. Who cared if I had no idea what the song was, or how to dance to it? Who cared if I was only one of two on the dance floor? Who cared if all I could do was jump and twirl? If I was at a loss of what to do, I looked to Little Sarah and followed her lead. We jumped and twirled together, and it was great. I had the most fun I've ever had on the dance floor. Sarah Vendsel (I would call her Big Sarah, but she is by no means big) was my lone dance partner at one time, and she wore me out! I could not keep up with her!

Sarah, along with her brother and sister-in-law, are very neat people, and I hope that somehow we are family now, because I would love to call them brother and sisters. I think I'll call them that, anyway.

And I can officially call Karen my sister, and I'm so blessed! I'm telling you, I love my brother, and am glad I had a brother growing up, but I sure like having sisters now that I'm grown up. They're so fun to talk to and do stuff with. And I just like the idea of adding to our family. I love my family (and feel very much a part of the Norvell family) and love being able to be a part of inviting someone new into it. I hope Karen feels as at home in the Norvell family as I have.

I have now officially used up the 10 hours of sleep I had last night, so it's time to head for bed. I promise to put up any pictures I took onto my website soon. Well, maybe after vacation. Good night, and blessings on Dave and Karen as they start out on this most wonderful adventure.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Morning Musings

The mockingbird has decided to grace us with his presence the past two mornings. I like him because it's like having dozens of different songbirds. It's nice to hear him in the mornings. But he just likes to sing; he doesn't eat anything from the feeder. And the he leaves mid-morning. I hope he comes back tomorrow.

Every fall there is a Hot Pepper Festival in my hometown of Palestine. Last year my parents complained that all the salsas in the salsa contest were pretty boring, and nothing as good as what we make at home. That has inspired me to try to improve on the recipe we have, and enter into this fall's contest! Leanna and I, two salsa officianados, will be getting together this summer for a salsa fest of our own, seeing what we can come up with in the kitchen. If anyone has any suggestions, post them here and we'll include them in our salsa experiments this summer. :) And if you just know what you like in salsa (taste, texture, temperature, etc.), let us know here so we can keep those in mind as well.