Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm a Dork

That, of course, is no secret. But the most recent reason I am a dork is because yesterday I bought an autumn wreath for our front door. It may be a little early for fall decorations, and the weather in Abilene certainly does not feel autumnal, but Target is already selling Halloween candy and decorations, so I guess that makes it okay -- or at least that's how I rationalized it.

I really like it. I think it communicates to our neighbors, "Hey, we have a wreath on our door; we're friendly people. And we like to decorate a little too much for holidays."

Ain't it purty?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

111, Here I Come

I teach my first English 111 class tomorrow afternoon at 1:00. Eeek! My syllabus is printed and ready to go. I have my lesson planned for the first day. I'm about as nervous as I am excited, which is a lot. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

This week, I took a major step in my personal life. I broke up with my purse. It was large and boxy, made of soft, colorful canvas. I bought it last summer, and it lasted me through many milestones in my life. It had become like an appendage and was by my side through my engagement, my first year of grad school, and almost eight months of marriage. It's in most of our honeymoon pictures, a small stripe of green and white stretched across my body. It was cavernous and could easily fit my camera or a small shopping bag, in addition to it's everyday contents.

But, it was time to move on. Eventually the dirt began to show, and I wasn't proud of it anymore; it began to feel kind of ugly. Even my mother, the least-critical person in the world, would say every time she saw me, "Honey, when are you going to replace that purse?"

Goodbye, old friend.
Enjoy your stay at the retirement home (a.k.a. Goodwill).

I was at Target the other day, and I decided that this was the day to move on. So, I hesitantly walked down the aisles of purses until I found one that I could get used to. It's smaller, less summer-y and, dare I say, more mature(?). I'm still getting used to the new one. I keep forgetting that I have to unbutton the top (unlike my old one), and I'll mindlessly try to jam my hand in there when the flap is closed, without success. Its belly is much smaller, too, but that's probably a good thing; I really didn't need to haul a knapsack around with me.

Mama's got a brand new bag.

When you get a new purse, it's a little hard to let go of the old one because of all the memories it symbolizes. This new purse will carry me through my second(!) year of grad school, my one-year anniversary, graduation, and my first real job. I'm ready to start that journey.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Family Affair

We had a whirlwind weekend with lots of family in town. On Friday Brendan's mom, aunt, and uncle drove to Abilene for a long weekend. Brendan's cousin Victor just graduated with his Ph.D and was hired to work at ACU in the fall, so we threw a party for him on Friday night. The rest of the weekend was filled with shopping, a trip to Chuck. E. Cheese (wow, I had forgotten how bad their pizza is), lots and lots of food, and copious amounts of the Olympics. We got to show off our little duplex, too, so that was nice. They left on Tuesday morning; I do love seeing family, but it was an exhausting weekend. Victor and his wife and kids are wonderful, so it will be nice to have some family in town.

School starts a week from Monday, and I think I'm ready. It's weird to think that I'm about to start my last year as a student (minus that Ph.D I've been thinking about), and my last year at ACU. I'm so ready to finish, so ready not to have 20-page papers due, but I will miss this place. All the second-year English grad students (woah... I'm a second-year grad student...) have formed this tight-knit group of wonderful, slightly-nerdy people trying to wade through grad school together. We've been through a lot and shared some wonderful experiences, and I'll be sad to leave them.

Today is my last day at work, which is a little sad. I really enjoyed working at the Camps office this summer; it was the perfect summer job, and I worked with some great people. I'm using next week to prepare for classes and to plan my English 111 class. That's right, I'm teaching a college class in the fall; all the second-year grad students are encouraged to teach a freshman Composition class. Why did I sign up to do this? I want to be a teacher more than anything, but I admit I'm pretty terrified. This is college, people! I go through periods where I'm really excited about my class, but then I'll get nervous. Oh, well. Student teaching equipped me with valuable experience, and the seniors I taught during student teaching are pretty much at the same cognitive level as my new freshmen. We'll see how the semester goes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wonderful Wedding Weekend

Brendan and I spent the weekend in Ohio for Clay and Heather's wedding, and it was so wonderful. We flew out late Thursday morning and arrived in time for dinner, so we (my parents, grandmothers, aunt and uncle, cousins, Brendan, and I) ate at this really interesting and delicious Mennonite restaurant. Almost everything on the menu was homemade, and it sure tasted like it. We saw quite a few Amish and Mennonite families while we were there, and I think they're fascinating. Central Ohio houses one of the largest Amish/Mennonite communities in the country; there's even a "buggy lane" on the road so that Amish families can drive their horse-and-buggy around town.

My beautiful mama and me

Hangin' out at the rehearsal dinner

On Friday afternoon, we helped set up for the rehearsal dinner and the reception. The rehearsal dinner later that evening was one of the funnest ones I've ever been to. Heather's parents own a coffee shop in Coshocton, and it was the perfect place for a rehearsal dinner. They shut down the coffee house for the evening, and dinner was very small and intimate. After dinner, we busted out the karaoke. My cousin Brittany and I tore it up with our renditions of "Goodbye Earl" and "Wannabe." It was so hilarious seeing my family members belt out karaoke.

Spice Girls, Utley-style

Brendan rocking the house

Good looks run in the family.

The next day, I was up bright and early for my hair appointment and left Brendan sleeping in the hotel room. Guys always have it so easy with weddings. The girls have to get up extra-early to assemble their hair, make-up, dresses, etc., while the guys simply have to put on a tux and head out the door. Seriously.

The ceremony was lovely, and my dad performed the service. He also married Brendan and me, so it was very special for our family. I was a groom's attendant and stood on the boys' side, which was really cool. I had never been in a wedding before, so that was a neat experience to have. It was interesting, though, because since I stood on Clay's side during the ceremony I was in the pictures with all the groomsmen. I definitely stood out!

The reception was awesome. It was a big dinner-and-dancing reception, which I love. I even managed to drag Brendan onto the dance floor for a few songs. Brendan's not a big dancer, and his philosophy of dancing is to intentionally act stupid rather than try to dance and fail, so there was lots of "white boy" dancing from Brendan.

Chillin' at the reception - I'm wearing clothes, I promise!

Beautiful bride

Dancing with bro

It was weird seeing a wedding ring on my brother's finger. I'm glad that he's so happy.

We flew back home on Sunday afternoon, and I was a little sad to leave. I had so much fun, and it felt so good to spend time with my family.