Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Out of Bed, Out the Door, Ten Minutes

Spring has sprung! Well...Monday it did, anyway.

Today, not so much.

This morning had all the makings of The Morning From Hell.

12 a.m. I finally drift off to sleep after staring at the ceiling and counting the seconds between lightning flashes and thunder booms.

2 a.m. I practically pee in my bed when I am violently startled by the biggest clap of thunder I have ever heard in my life. I thought the windows were going to blow it!! It happened *right* over our apartment. Takes me a minute to compose myself from that rude awakening, but eventually I fall back to sleep.

5:30 a.m. I am supposed to be roused from slumber by my kind, chiming alarm. Instead, it doesn't go off, and I am asleep.

6:55 a.m. I jolt awake and realize it is far too bright outside to be 5:30 a.m. Say the eff-dash-dash-dash word.

6:55:15 a.m. Clamored to the bathroom and prayed to God that my hair was acceptable for "teacher" day. Ripped labels/God forsaken stickers off new makeup and poured it on my face while simultaneously brushing my teeth. Throw on clothes (pretty good combo for 20 seconds--dress pants, tank, hells-yeah-leopard sweater, heels). Throw hair in pony tail and grab bag.

7:10 a.m. Bolt down the stairs to my car with yogurt (straw slammed through the foil lid--efficiency, people, efficiency).

7:15 a.m. Arrive to pick up Dr. Dayton-Wood to go to Bryant. Am shaking from lack of food and excessive amounts of adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Our lesson with the ninth graders went well, and one girl totally stole my heart. When we came in, she said, "Miss Leah, I did all my research! Can I get a hug?" She's so sweet--and on point! She's not even in my group. Props, awesome 9th grader. Headed to Becca's at 9:30 and drove fast enough to get a Chick-fil-a biscuit ("It's about damn time," said stomach.)

Miss Lauren always makes my day a little brighter.

I've watched her the past two days, and we have so much fun. She barely even cries when Becca leaves now. She's a mama's girl for sure, Miss Clingy, but now she likes me when I come in the door...most days. :)

Lauren offering me some of her snack.

Colby and Jackson, or Cheese Heads as I refer to my head, waiting for scraps.

We played and played today after Lauren woke up from her nap. This is her monster puppet. Most kids would be freaked out by this furry friend, but Lauren flippin' loves him! I enjoy making my nice monster voice and pretending to eat smoothies that Lauren makes. (Um, the only blender we had in my day was the real deal. She has a singing shape sorter blender. "Throw in some apples, then add some grapes, and I'll whip you up a nice drink," sings the blend. Too bad Mr. Blender probably doesn't make margaritas...)

Baby necklace...which also doubles as a hula hoop.

After hanging out with Lauren and running up to school to make some copies, I got my hair cut. Just needed a little trim to shape things up. I was having a missing chunk issue as one side of my hair seemed to grow faster than the other. All fixed now. I'll post pics later when I've had a chance to do it myself. I always tell Julie I like volume, but she doesn't get it...a girl cain't never tease her hay-ur too big!

Also went to Old Navy with Ellyn, and I found a pair of shorts, a gray "swirly skirt," and a pair of mustard yellow sandals I've been stalking for a while. Love! Will post pics of them later. I also found to pins ($0.50 each!) for St. Patty's Day. My mom and I will head to Savannah, GA on Sunday for Spring Break. I still don't think she realizes what a big deal St. Patty's is in Savannah, but it'll be fun!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Was that a Roman Numeral 9?

Another great (calorie-filled) weekend!!

On Friday afternoon, Alex, Sarah, and I went to Plato's closet and found some sweet deals. I got a great Cocoa Authentic Vintage (never heard of it!) sweatshirt with an elephant on it, and Sarah found practically an entire spring wardrobe! I can't remember what Alex got (sorry!!). That night Alex came with me and my education peeps to Brown's Corner, and we listened to the dueling pianos for a few hours. I enjoyed our outing--especially the second half after someone who was in a foul mood left--and spending time with my pals. Then Alex took us to Taco Bell for fourth meal where we spent at least 20 hours in line at the drive-thru, followed by another 20 minutes while Alexa tried to remember the name of her favorite taco/burrito hybrid. Taco Bell's all the same, Lex. Beef, cheese, lettuce in some corn/flour tortilla-like casing. They're just folded different. :)
Alex and me before we left
Alexa, me, and Sarah at Brown's Corner. These are two of my closest friends since I've been at Bama!

Alex and Alexa yelling at each other...nicely.

Saturday morning I slept in until 10 (unheard of these days) and pretty much hung out watching back-to-back AWESOME movies like Legally Blonde and No Reservations most of the day, stopping here and there to do homework. But I hate doing homework on Saturdays, so I quit and made dinner with Ellyn. She had some Asian chicken helper something or other, and we tried our hands at making shrimp sauce...and it worked!! It wasn't as good as Ichiban's or Kobe's shrimp sauce, but it was a great first try. After we stuffed ourselves, I headed to Lauren's with some of the crew to watch Zack Galifianakas host SNL. It was pretty funny--"You're the worst!"--but the best laughs came after we went to midnight sushi at Surin.
We got there at midnight and our party of 12 was ready for some dollar sushi and other Thai treats. The poor sweatly, clearly frazzled host said it'd be about 20 minutes until we had a table. We were seated at 1 a.m., but the kind host gave us free saki for being so patient. Dollar sushi turned out to be baby sushi, but we still had a blast and enjoyed each other's company, drawing all over the paper table runner and entertaining the waiter with our comics and stories. An hour-and-a-half later, our bellies stuffed and our eyelids drooping, we headed home.
We were stopped at the red light at University and Campus--by Publix--when 3 guys crossed the road. All three were clad in popped collar polos, and they began fist pumping Jersey Shore style as they walked through the cross walk. I have an affinity for fist pumping and the GLT (gym, tan, laundry) routine even though I've never seen the show, so I suggested that we also pump our fists in the air to show the boys our approval for their sweet guido get-up and general carriage. They began to yell enthusiastically, thanking us for our camaraderie, especially after we rolled down the window and started chanting "G! T! L! G! T! L!" Then, Mr. Pink Popped Collar Polo Man who sported some sweet red shutter shades, that he no doubt scored at the basketball game a few weeks ago, showed his supreme gratitude by jumping in front of Alex's (stopped) car, dancing and errrmm...spanking? the hood, all the while flicking his tongue and batting his eyes. He was trying to be sexy...or something. All I know is I almost peed my pants, and Alex couldn't breathe because she was laughing so hard. I thought Lauren was going to pass out because I she barely breathed between high pitched squeals of laughter than made us all dissolve into fights of hysterical giggles all over again. Definitely a top 5 moment in college. I haven't laughed that hard in SO long.
Today wasn't nearly so hilarious. After church and a day of homewoooorkin' (Boooo!), I went to Lauren's to watch the Oscars with Alex, Ally, and Lauren. We made a few yummy snacks: Alex's brownies, Ally's homemade (from a bag) cheese sticks, Lauren's rotel/chili dip, and chicken crack dip, my signature appetizer, passed down from my mom's side of the family...or easily googled.
Chicken Crack Dip ('Cause it's like a can't get enough)
1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and shredded OR 2 10 oz. cans all white meat chicken
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
16 oz. ranch dressing
8 oz. Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
buffalo sauce (Frank's Buffalo Sauce is my favorite)
  • Preheat oven to 350*.
  • Shred chicken and place in a mixing bowl with enough buffalo sauce to coat (or more if you're adventurous).
  • Spread chicken and sauce mixture into the bottom on an 8x8 or 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside.
  • Melt cream cheese over medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk for smoothest consistency.
  • Add ranch dressing when the cream cheese is smooth.
  • Pour cream cheese and ranch mixture over chicken and smooth out.
  • Top with cheese.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Do not let it get browned on top or the cheese will harden. Serve with Fritos or tortilla chips.

350* of deliciousness!

We were so happy that Sandra Bullock won Best Actress, but we were so sick of hearing about Avatar and the Hurt Locker and waiting 20 minutes between awards! Luckily, we had tons of yummy (terrible for you) food to snack on while we waited!!

Ali desparate for food...or falling over...not sure which.

Our spread...super healthy, right??

Alex is tweekin' for fried food! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Long Days: A Reminder

I've had a long couple of days. Mondays are always long because I have classes from noon to 8 p.m. with a couple short breaks. It's a lot of paying attention for one day!! :) Tuesdays are long, too, with the Bryant project (we were off this week, though), hitting the gym, babysitting in the afternoons, and night class. Wednesdays are pretty long, too, come to think of it! I'm only taking 12 hours this semester, but with the extra stuff I've been able to take on, it seems like I still have very little "free" time. But I really shouldn't be complaining because I'm lucky to have time to go to the gym and work on the service learning project...and sleep!

Alicia's gone to Huntsville to do her preceptorship and Lauren's doing hers here in Tuscaloosa but works afternoons/evenings which means I haven't seen two of my BFFs in a week. :( I'm in serious need of some friend time!! Haven't seen Mo, J, Susan, or JA in a long time either! EEK!
But enough complaining, because I have great news to share with the blogosphere: Brian's last MRI was clear, so his port comes out in TWO DAYS. Hopefully this will be the last time he ever has to worry about cancer ever again!

For those who don't know, my youngest cousin Brian was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, on Christmas Eve 2008. He was 7 years old at the time. Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C. has been his home away from home as he made frequent visits over the last 15 months. He had surgery to remove the tumor from his brain stem and then underwent intense radiation and chemo.

Through the whole ordeal, I've been stuck in Alabama at school or at home in the summer and have felt pretty helpless because I couldn't do anything for my aunt and uncle, Lauren, Eric, or Brian. I'm a fixer. I wanted to be picking up dinner or cleaning the house or something physical. But my prayers and happy thoughts had to suffice. When I had to miss the D.C. Race for Hope (brain cancer research fundraiser) because of finals, I got my pals together and had a walk in Tuscaloosa. This year I'm excited to make the trip to my grandparents for race weekend, even though we'll be celebrating Brian's first communion instead of running a 5K downtown!

I often wrestled with my feelings about Brian's cancer, questioning God and wondering why such a young child had to be sick. I gladly would have taken his place. Since I was so far away, I didn't see his daily struggles . . . or all the good days. I wasn't there in a way I wish I could have been. BUT...fifteen months and countless treatments later, Brian is cancer-free and feelin' pretty darn good!! I hope that this will be the end of cancer for B, that his future scans will remain clean and he can continue being a spunky kid.
I've learned so much from afar "watching" Brian. He doesn't complain; he laughs and repeats movie lines (just like the rest of us). His advice to other cancer patients is simple: use the numbing cream when they access your port. He's a kid, so maybe he didn't really understand everything that was happening. But I know he's pretty intuitive. It's that positive attitude, that "giving up isn't an option" that saw him through and taught our family, friends, and even strangers to appreciate the little things. It seems it's always the same story: fighter kid beats cancer and teaches family to appreciate life. I'm just glad I can be apart of that "same old story."

Love you, Brian!!!

Brian and his puppy, Cleo, Christmas 2009

Brian last spring, sporting his mohawk (before losing all his hair) and holding a sign for my Personal Creed Project. I still believe in miracles, buddy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Relax and Recharge

Last week was insane, hence the lack of blog updates!

A quick recap of the last ten days:

Last weekend I went on my last Joint Conference Retreat at Camp Sumatanga. All the Wesley Foundations and Methodist Student groups from our conference (region?? I'm still new to this whole Methodist thing) are invited to get together for a weekend retreat. We usually have a speaker, some sort of service project, and a sweet dance. This year Ken Sloane came to speak to us about the church's new campaign, Rethink Church. I love the Ten Thousand Doors idea--that church is more than a building or the people in it. To me, church is getting out in the world and showing God's love through your words and actions. Sundays in the sanctuary are nice, but they're not enough. (Not that I always do a great job of being the church in the world, but I have goals.)

Alex, Kimberly, Me, Heather, Justin (creepin'), Becca, and Chris waiting to climb.

We also climbed Chandler Mountain, a.k.a. Mount Olympus. Jay, the campus minister from JSU, told us it would be a pretty short, easy climb. "We'll be back in an hour if we take it slow." EPIC FAIL! It was the steepest, most difficult climb I've ever done willingly, not that I'm an avid hiker or anything. The view from the top was mostly worth the boulders I had for calves the next day, and I wouldn't have missed Carrie and Alex Ludvik's (fake) wedding for the world! Plus we have some great stories to tell about *that guy* who pushed people over and played the inappropriate distances game with strangers. Not you, Chris Carr. You're cool.
Carrie and Alex's (fake) wedding. It's tradition.
View from the top
Anton, Chris, Becca, Alex (creepin'), Justin, and Carrie at the chapel
My favorite photo from the chapel.
The 80s themed dance was by far my favorite part of the weekend. I know, I know. What about the speaker? What about the awesome worship band from UA (Can I get a witness?!)? What about the hike, the quiet time, the bonding with new and old friends? All excellent. But the 80s attire was epic. Neon, tulle, hi-tops, converse, acid wash jorts, leather jackets, lace gloves, Ray-Bans...somebody tight rolled their purple pants. Giant. Teased. Hair. Love. I was meant to grow up in the 80s rather than just be the product of them...

We danced til midnight, and we non-counselors tried to learn the Sumatanga classics to no avail. But much fun was had by all, as Ken might say, and nobody had to pray for forgiveness for their dance moves.

The Wesley Girls all dressed up!

Sweet Home Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Epic rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody

Sarah and Me rocking our glasses

Justin scored this sweet outfit at the thrift store!

Back to UA, back to reality. I hit the homework hard and tried to get everything in order for the week. Our long-awaited, year-in-the-making service learning project at Bryant began on Tuesday, and I couldn't be more pleased with how things are going so far. I think the kids are enjoying their time with the college students and are getting excited about their projects! YAY!!

Wesley co-ed played their first softball game on Wednesday night--just after we had a farewell dinner for Alicia at Ichiban. I know my BFF for all of college isn't going to be far away, just in Huntsville doing her nursing preceptorship, but I'm going to miss her somethin' fierce. I don't like to talk about it. (In happy news, Alicia, Lauren, and Ally all passed their LAST HESI!! today! I am SO proud of them!!)

It was nice to be back in the swing (har, har) of things with softball, and I was glad to catch up with Mo and J at the game, too. Nevermind that it was about 30* outside. I was the kid who was just ready for the snowcone (or hot chocolate as the case may be) at the end of the game, but this week will be better. And hopefully warmer. At one point, we had a 12-11 lead over the team whose name I cannot remember and then we lost, and lost hard. No one much cared, though. We were all ready to get warmed up!!

I headed home to Huntsville on Thursday morning since my only Friday class was cancelled on account o' ASPA. Oh, how I miss high school journalism. Those were the good old days when we thought we studied hard...those were the days.

A few days in the 'ville to relax and recharge were just what the doctor (or nursing students) ordered. I enjoyed doing not a whole lot and spending time with the folks. We went bowling with the Huskey fam on Friday night and had a blast catching up. I also napped, caught up on pleasure reading (no textbooks allowed), and went shopping. Found some AWESOME deals at Anne Taylor Loft and Kohl's...teacher/church/summer working wardrobe is complete!!

I came back to Tuscaloosa bright and early this morning, reminiscent of the good ole days freshman year when Ellyn and I would race back from Huntsville to make our Monday morning classes. I can't believe we're all about to graduate and get real people jobs. And before I start thinking too much and getting too sad about it...again...I'm going to go do something grade papers. :)