Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Thumbs Up Friday

Happy Friday! It seemed like this week went by with lightning speed. I think it has something to do with having had such a busy weekend last weekend, followed by two full, busy days in NC before making the drive to MD. Coming to Maryland always makes me feel like I'm on vacation!

Things making me happy this week...

Thumbs Up: I did some work at my mom's office yesterday afternoon, on my new Mac (!), accompanied by a delicious dessert. I felt really important and cool. My new computer is awesome, by the way.

Thumbs Up: I'm in Maryland.

Thumbs Up: These beauties were waiting for me when I arrived on Wednesday. It was my mom's birthday on Tuesday - mom's birthday = my cupcakes!

Thumbs Up: These two cuties were waiting for me, just like this, when I woke up this morning.

Thumbs Up: And best of all, Tuesday was the day I have been waiting for for many long, dark, months. I ran. My therapist let me do about 5 minutes of intervals: walk for 30-45 seconds, run for 30 seconds, repeat. I ran a total of 2.5 minutes, and was incredibly sore the next day, but it didn't hurt. I could tell that my hip was reacting to the running - I was very conscious of it being there - but it wasn't a painful feeling, necessarily. Thus, as promised:

Enjoy your final weekend of June! I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown by. I'm not complaining!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beach Day

Greetings from Maryland, earthlings! I had a very long trip up yesterday, but at least I made it safely. And in time to go out to dinner with my family :) I am also insanely happy about the events that took place in the Supreme Court yesterday. And that's all I will say about that. Back to regular blogramming!

At the end of last week, PJA, HL, and I headed to Ocean Isle beach to pick up our friend KC from her family beach week. KC lives in Nashville and wanted to come to the Zac Brown Band concert with us, but didn't have a way to get from the beach to Raleigh. So, her parents invited us to stay and take her back with us, and we kindly obliged!

We got to the beach Wednesday night around 6:45 or so, and played charades with KC, her parents, her brother & sister-in-law, and her aunt & cousin.

acting out "Grandma's Boy"
The next day, we spent the entire day on the beach {and I have the sunburn to prove it!}. {Editor's note: I applied lotion religiously and it has all turned to tan. A very weird tan, but no sign of peeling - yet - so I am pleased.} The morning started off cloudy and a little chilly, so there were very few people there when we set up at the beach around 10am.

ladder golf
Luckily, the weather soon warmed up, the sun came out, and it was a beautiful sunny day at the beach!

We spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach, drinking beer, playing games, and reading.

beach babe friends!
Truly a perfect day! Though apparently sunscreen has no effect on my skin. I reapplied every hour or so, and lathered liberally. Yet I still came home as a painful tomato!

Thursday night, we ordered take out from Sharky's Restaurant, which was delicious. I had the not-so-cajun chicken, which was an angel hair pasta & chicken dish with a cajun-flavored alfredo-type sauce. It came highly recommended by KC's family, and it certainly did not disappoint. Best news was I had enough leftovers for another 2 lunches!

We spent the evening watching UNC baseball play NC State in the College World Series, which UNC won {go Heels!}. We ended up being eliminated from the tournament on Friday night by UCLA, but it is still a major accomplishment to go to the CWS and win two games. I am so proud of my team!

The four of us got up nice and early on Friday morning to head back to Raleigh/Chapel Hill so that I would be home in time to greet SRK and prepare for the Zac Brown Band concert. Yay summer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Only One Worthwhile

Good morning! Some teacher-y news this morning. A new report rates hundreds of teacher education programs throughout the US, and fewer than 10% of schools were given a favorable grade. To quote the article, "The review gave only four programs in the United States its highest ranking of four stars. Only 20 elementary programs and 84 secondary programs made the report's 'honor roll' of at least three stars." 

Guess who came in with 3.5 stars {out of four} as the only education program worth attending in North Carolina? You guessed it. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's secondary education graduate program.

I knew I made the right decision. Love my school.

Full story here.
In other news, I'm actually headed back up to Maryland in a few hours {seriously, I should be paid for advertising I-95 & I-85 or something with the amount I'm driving on those roads} for a week for more dogsitting. Not of the big fluffy variety this time, but little miniature white pipsqueak dogs. But they snuggle, and they love me, so it's okay. I'm waiting to leave so I can hear the verdict from the SCOTUS and I hope it's a productive, useful, forward-moving verdict. Ain't no one got time for goin' backwards, ya hear?

Catch ya tomorrow from Maryland - hopefully from a freer, more equal, world. :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

12- Week Surgery Appointment

Last week I had my 12-week post-op appointment with my surgeon, and despite my hip pains, frustrations, and grumpy-hip-ness of the last several weeks, he says all is looking good!! This is a gigantic relief, because I have been concerned with my {seeming} lack of progress in therapy, as well as with the pain associated with the pulling-into-the-pool incident.

12-week hip {and new shorts!}
He said that the pre-pool achey pains I'd been having are normal, and wasn't overly concerned with the aftermath of the pool incident - my hip {and my emotions} have calmed down and gotten back to baseline in the past week or so, which is a good sign.

Doctor Man told me that I can start jogging within the next week or two {I'm leaving that decision up to my therapist}, on soft surfaces only - rubber tracks, trails, etc. Road running is not allowed for another 4-6 weeks. I asked him about the general pains - I've been so unclear as to whether my hip should be hurting, whether it will/should hurt when I'm running, etc. - and he said that aches are normal and running will likely be painful. Not shooting pain painful {that would be a real problem}, but it will likely be quite achey and sore, especially since I haven't properly used my leg in about 8 months. As long as I'm not hurting my hip by running, I plan to do so as long as my body tells me I can.

me, on the day i can run {source}
I've said it once, and I'll say it again now: it is impossible - repeat, impossible - for someone who has not been through this type of experience to even remotely comprehend the emotional, mental, and obviously physical side effects. I have not exercised like a normal C since October of 2012, and I started having pain in August - that's almost a full year of pain, non-use, and general malaise. If you tell someone who runs 4-5x per week and exercises almost everyday that they are not going to be able to do ANYTHING - not just running, but anything - not even walking or jumping in the pool {apparently} - for almost a year, it is not going to go over well. I have gone through a complete and drastic lifestyle change, and with that I've had to {try to} adjust my thinking. I would give anything in the world to be able to go for a 3 mile run {or even a 1 mile run, honestly} without having to think twice. This life is hard. My mental health has suffered. I know I'm making progress and I know eventually I will be back in the land of happy, carefree exercising {we hope}, but sometimes it is too much when people tell me they understand, that they know it sucks, that I'll get better and just have to give it time, and hey do I want to hear about their workout? I'm sorry, you don't really understand, and no, I don't care at all about your ____ exercise.

The day when I can run, on my own, on a road, without restrictions, and, most importantly of all, without pain, will be the best day. This year of my life {age year, not calendar year} has been one of the worst, most challenging, and depressing times - mostly hip related, though of course there are always other factors. My birthday is coming up in August and my dearest most earnest wish is that I can go for a run on my birthday. And if I can run pain-free, it will be the best birthday. And I will feel like this:

Happy running. xx

Monday, June 24, 2013

American Saturday Night

Immediately following DC's birthday celebration, I headed out to see Brad Paisley in concert with a few of my friends. The ticket was a bit of a last-minute purchase {I couldn't decide how appropriate it would be to go to a concert the same night as DC's birthday}, but I really wanted to go so eventually I decided that it would be fine. {Side note: it was fine. By the time I got back from the concert, DC was over at her boyfriend's anyway, because everyone else had gone home. Win-win!} {Another side note: DC and JB got engaged this weekend! A big congratulations to my roomie and her brand-spankin'-new fiance!}

A summertime country concert is one of my absolute favorite things - especially in the south. There's just something about the weather, the atmosphere, the venue, the friends, the cornhole - just everything! - that makes it so memorable and perfect, no matter what. Side note: "Paisley" is the perfect southern name. Anyway, I digress.

And, Brad did not disappoint. He was awesome in concert. I was pleasantly surprised by this - I really love him as a singer, but for some reason he never struck me as a big performer. But he sounded wonderful and I knew every word to every song he played, so I was a happy camper.

our group!
I will be honest and say that tailgating is probably not something that needed to happen after the day we'd already had at DC's birthday pool party. And that's all the explanation I will give about that.

my friend NC
The Brad Man wore his signature white cowboy hat, which made me so happy because I was finally able to wear my brand new Stetson {which is kind of white, which kind of made me feel like hat twinzz with BP}! My brother bought me this Stetson for my birthday last year, and I absolutely adore it, but I don't have many opportunities to wear it {go figure}. So bring on the summer outdoor southern country concert! Boy, that was a mouthful.

We were obviously super far from the stage, but it didn't matter at all. Though, we were a bit too far from the stage for me to not freak out when Carrie Underwood appeared to duet with Brad while they sang "Remind Me." It wasn't until two days later, when I was still hyperventilating about Carrie Underwood being at the concert, that I did more research and concluded that it was a hologram. Alas, Brad. You duped me!

But I don't mind. The concert was fantastic, and it was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day full of wonderful friends. Brad is actually playing in Virginia at the outdoor concert venue the next time that I'll be in Maryland, and I am sorely tempted to go see him again. I guess I should save my money for more important things, like graduate school and paying my rent, but, Brad.....

Friday, June 21, 2013


My friend WB sent me this image to explain today:

Add in almost all of my best friends in the world {missing a couple!}, and it makes for one happy girl.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Scientific Anomaly

I already posted my scheduled post for today, and am leaving for the beach in just about an hour - but I just had to share this typical-clumsy-C story with you.

Last night, I went to see This Is The End {fantastically funny, by the way, even by my humor standards. Worth the 10 bucks!}, and as I was getting out of my friend's Jeep I slammed my knee into the inside part of the car door {I guess I was jumping out to get to the ground}. It started bleeding and it was the kind of pain where you just want to rattle off a chain of swear words but know that it's going to stop hurting in just a minute if you can hold on. Somehow I managed to say the words silently {hooray for continuing my Lentdom no-cursing!} and also managed not to cry. I doubled over for about a minute or so before I decided I was able to stand up. Luckily I'm so used to doing embarrassing clumsy things in front of people {and I was in so much pain/trying not to cry} that my face was only a pale shade of pink.

Anyway, the clumsy part isn't anything new. What was new was that after I walked about 10 yards or so, I got really dizzy, and had to stop every couple of feet. Once I'd walked a total of maybe 20 yards, I was hit with a serious wave of nausea and had to sit down. I was convinced I was going to throw up - I did that swallowing thing a few times and was prepared to tell my friend to get out of the way and not watch. So I put my head between my knees, prayed that I wouldn't vomit and make the evening even more embarrassing, and after a minute was able to take a sip of water. Soon after that it passed, I stood up, and felt totally normal.

When I got home, I of course had to google what the heck happened. The first result the computer gave me was that I am pregnant. Haaaaaa! Just kidding. Totally not pregnant. Thanks, Google. I found an explanation that makes a lot more sense - that that's a common reaction to pain. I have broken a couple of limbs, had shooting hip pain, and had hip surgery, along with a myriad of other bumps, bruises, and cuts {due to aforementioned clumsiness} and have never once thought I was going to pass out/die/throw up everywhere from pain. Ahhhh, car doors. Those bringers of ultimate pain.

Today my knee hurts and it's swollen and bruised, but I am no longer in fear for my life. On the other hand, I managed to burn cleanly through several layers of skin on my thigh via a drip from a hot glue gun {the area is bright white and covered with a bandaid in anticipation of the salt water sting}, so I'm making up for my knee recovery.

Speaking of my ever-graceful life:


If you can't laugh at yourself, life is gonna seem a whole lot longer than you'd like.

A Birthday Celebration

Two weekends ago, my roommate DC turned 26, and she wanted to celebrate by hosting a pool party at our apartment complex. So host we did. DC made vodka gummy bears and gummy worms, and she and I made jello shots along with the help of her friend JS. And we made a lot, let me tell you. They filled our fridge:

oh, you're looking for food? sorry, we don't have that.
I don't make a big deal out of my birthday, because I don't really like being the center of attention {I almost had a hissy fit the last time I caught the bouquet at a wedding - it was really mature}. But, I think it's also because I find much more joy in giving gifts to others and being nice to people than I do in receiving gifts. Shopping for the perfect Christmas gift is actually one of the best parts of the holiday for me.

But DC absolutely adores her birthday, and as her roommate I wanted to make sure she had a great day from start to finish. She ran in the Race for the Cure that morning in memory of a friend's mother, so while she was gone I decorated the entire apartment.

I actually blew up most of the balloons earlier in the week and hid them in my closet {!}, because I was afraid of passing out if I had to blow up 40 balloons in 2 hours. I also baked the cupcakes the night before and hid them in the microwave.

When she got home, I was waiting for her with the candles lit...

 ...And a Smirnoff Ice waiting for her on the floor {in a fun birthday koozie} as soon as she opened the door!

I also put an Ice in her shower, so she got iced twice before 11am, and it was great fun. Balien wanted in on the Icing action, so instead we let her pounce on the balloons for a few minutes until she popped one.

Once we got the coolers, cornhole, and cars {love alliteration} packed up, we drove all of our stuff up to the pool. It absolutely POURED the day before {and I mean poured - the roads were flooded from hurricane Andrea}, and the morning started out kind of grey, but the sun came out right when we were headed up to the pool. Since it was grey, no one was at the pool yet when we got up there, so we were able to  claim a space out of the way in a corner to make our home base.

DC & her boyfriend JB
I had to eventually leave to go to the Brad Paisley concert {recap coming!} so I missed the end of the party, but DC had a fantastic day with all of the people that mean the most to her. A birthday success!

In other exciting news, I am actually headed to the beach this afternoon for 1.5 days to bring back my friend KC for the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday {a long/complicated story}. I'll be back just in time on Friday morning to welcome SRK to the dirty south, but I'll try to pop in before the concert if I can. Off to enjoy sunshine {and one day of no work!} I go!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Happy Sidenote

Since I have been very down and out about my hip lately, I just wanted to share this tidbit with you: my hip has finally calmed down- not so angry after the pool incident; and, for the first time in a long time, I had a good day at physical therapy. I walked in happy, was happy while I was there, and left happy.

Little bits of happiness where you find them.

A Spicy Goodbye

The day of JM's departure for Seattle for the rest of the summer finally arrived. It was full of sadness and despair, for she is one of my closest friends, and one of only a couple of girlfriends in Raleigh. The Thursday before she flew out of town, I joined her and some of her friends from law school for a last hurrah celebration at Natty Greene's. Natty Greene's is a brewery and restaurant in Greensboro, NC, with one restaurant in Raleigh. And the beer is great. {So much North Carolina beer is great! What a great state.}

We got to NG's around 9pm and enjoyed $2 pints for several hours. Of course, I got hungry, and the only thing I could think of possibly eating was nachos. This is so bizarre, because I'm not a huge cheese person {i.e. I don't really like cheese except in certain situations}, and I have never before in my life ordered nachos.  But, restaurants in the Triangle tend to make pretty bangin' nachos, so to nachos I went. {Told you I was in a weird nachos phase!}

And let me tell you. These things were SPICY. There are itty bitty jalepenos all over the place in there, and my mouth was on fire, but I managed not to ask the waitress for milk {that has happened to me before by the way. It's not embarrassing at all}

JM's friend AB; JM; me
 I forced JM to take a bunch of pictures before she left the state. She's making me so sad! I will {and already do!} miss her greatly. She and her boyfriend are planning on moving back to Seattle once they are both finished with law school {JM's boyfriend is from Seattle}, so JM wanted to get out there and network this summer. Smart for her, sad for me, and depressing for her mama!

This girl makes me laugh an awful lot.

JM and her friend MH
JM stopped by my apartment complex on her way to the airport to give me a big fat hug and to take a jello shot {for my roommate's birthday}. And off she went! And now I'm craving nachos.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend in a Nutshell

Good morning, friends! Happy Monday! I'm dragging a bit this morning, and I'm pretty sure it's because it's 1. well, Monday, and 2. I had a busy go-go-go weekend and didn't have all that much time to relax by myself.

I got things started Friday afternoon when I drove to Chapel Hill to talk to the people at the campus computer store... and 30 minutes later I bought a MacBook! I have desperately needed a new laptop for about a year now, but we waited until Windows 8 came out so that we could compare systems. My dad and I have spent the past few months researching and weighing the pros and cons of a Lenovo and a Mac {the two types offered through UNC's computer program}, and finally decided on a Mac. This is a huge step for me, since I have had a PC for the past 6 years, and am seriously technologically challenged. It should work very nicely for my new scholastic endeavor, and I am very excited!

Friday night I once again volunteered at Extraordinary Ventures for one of their Friday Night Live! nights. It was very different than camp, but quite fun. I'll be out of town for the next several Friday night activities, but hope to get back there again this summer.

Saturday morning, I went to the outlets in Mebane. The 3rd-year PT student who's working with my therapist told me that the J. Crew factory outlet was having a 50% off sale this weekend {off everything!} so I went to check out some business casual pants. Of course, I left the outlets two hours later with a dress from Ann Taylor LOFT and two pairs of running shorts from the Nike outlet. You can take the hip surgery girl out of running, but I guess you just can't take the running out of the girl.

Saturday afternoon, I went back to Chapel Hill for an exciting adventure with my friends: putt putt! We really love miniature golf. We went to Wheels Fun Park in Durham, and while the course left a lot to be desired, it was a very fun {and different} way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I am proud to say that I finished second {out of five}, behind BS. So, we beat all the boys! And both of us had a hole-in-one. It was satisfying.

AS, BS, me, PJA
After we rested {seriously. We're old.} we worked up the energy to get to dinner at Tyler's Taproom, which I've been to several times in both Raleigh and Durham, but have never been to in Carrboro. I've been on a serious nachos kick lately {more on that to come}, so I begged the guys to let me order some nachos. The gentlemen that they are, they acquiesced. 

And then, a very funny thing happened. I ate so many nachos that when my food came {the buffalo chicken sandwich, which is one of my two favorite sandwiches in the entire world}, I could only eat 4 bites before I was just full-to-bursting. So, shame-faced, I brought my entire dinner {plus a couple of nachos!} home and ate it for Sunday lunch after church. It would have been better fresh, but it was still fantastic after a few minutes in the oven.

Sunday involved church, watching the UNC baseball game {we lost; I don't want to talk about it}, a trip to Maple View Farm for some homemade ice cream {yum!!}, and a movie viewing. An extra bonus for the weekend? I'd put out a call for high school history notes - of any variety - since I foolishly gave mine away. My friend PJA answered spectacularly when he presented me with a gigantic binder of notes, quizzes, and other assessments from his sister. I am so excited to go through them and use them to study up on my history. {Nerd alert!}

Since I'm moving slowly this morning, I decided to make life happier by baking a loaf of banana bread {family recipe}. I can smell it in the oven, and I think it's almost done. Hallelujah! 

I have a busy week this week: photography class tonight, therapy and a Durham Bulls game tomorrow, 12-week surgery appointment & off to the beach on Wednesday, best friend SRK and Zac Brown Band on Friday. I love summer! 

And a belated Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there - especially mine! I know everyone SAYS that they have the best dad, but they're all sadly mistaken. Because I really do! :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dog GIF Friday

Well, another week has come and gone. I wish I could say this week has been happy and grand, but I'm not one to lie. Here's hoping another few days of rest and lazing around will get my hip over its grumpiness.

Since I didn't have all that many exciting or happy things to report this week, this Friday you get five of the best dog GIFs {all sourced from BuzzFeed, thank you BuzzFeed}.

This dog getting ready for bed {top 3 all-time favorite GIFs, by the way}:

 This dog who is too fat to get into his bath:

This dog freaking out over a lime:

This dog grabbing the mail:

 And these mops that are actually dogs:

Have a happy, love-filled, and puppy-filled weekend. xx

Thursday, June 13, 2013

An Extraordinary Venture

{Side note: I celebrated one year at my job yesterday! Hot dog.}

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog programming. {Blogramming, if you will allow me.}

The short week after Memorial Day, I volunteered each day at the Spectrum Skills Camp at Extraordinary Ventures, which is an organization that focuses on creating opportunities to fit the needs and capabilities of autistic and developmentally challenged individuals. Not only does EV give these individuals a place to hang out and socialize {especially with its bi-weekly Friday Night Live! events and the camp}, but they create employment opportunities for these individuals - both within EV and through connections with outside institutions. EV was actually named the Non-Profit of the Year by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. It is a wildly awesome organization, and the people that work there, both regular staff and the autistic individuals who attend events, are wildly inspiring.

One of my friends/acquaintances works at EV, and he put out a call on facebook for volunteers for the camp. Since I work from home, I was available, and I immediately decided I wanted to participate. Turns out this was a great decision.

campers doing zumba

The camp was generally a basketball camp, so each morning the campers did about an hour of basketball drills. There were about 15-17 campers, all between the ages of 17-36. Morning basketball was followed by crafts, lunch {each day sponsored by a different local eatery - very cool}, and then an afternoon activity, which was different each day: a basketball movie {Like Mike}; a visit to the UNC Men's Basketball Museum; and field day at a local park. The final day was the culmination of the week, and the campers got to play a real scrimmage in Carmichael Arena, which is a gynmasium on the UNC campus. The women's basketball team plays there now, and before the Dean Dome was built, the men's team played there, too - meaning that MJ himself played in this building!

teams shaking hands post-game
A very cool aspect of the scrimmage was that Jones Angell, the "voice of the TarHeels," came to announce the game. Not only did it make it seem like a real game {parents and friends were invited too, of course!}, but many of the campers are huge UNC basketball fans so it was very exciting to meet the man behind the famous voice! He was very nice and did a wonderful job.

Jones Angell & {sweaty!} camper Scott
Once we returned back to EV on the final day, we got to enjoy an awards ceremony, complete with cake, trophies, and certificates.

It was obvious that all of the campers had a very fun week - though camp didn't start until 9:30am, many campers arrived by 8:30 or earlier every morning! I met a lot of very cool people, and every one was so inspiring to me. There was never any talk about what couldn't be done - only talk about how much fun they were having and what they were able to do. It was an honor working with these individuals, and even I had a ton of fun that week {probably did a little too much hustling for my therapist's liking. whoops!}. I'm planning on going back to EV soon for a Friday Night Live! event!