Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Conversation with Harley

Harley is so funny. He doesn't "talk" like most dogs - in other words, he doesn't bark. Sometimes he just blows air through his nose to "speak" but in the mornings when he is feeling talkative, he makes the strangest noises. I get a kick out of listening to him. Enjoy the video below, and please ignore my high-pitched voice. It really does help to get him to talk.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Abigail, the Cutest Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen... But do you recall the most adorable reindeer of all?

Abigail came over to help me put up my Christmas tree on Tuesday night. After we finished with the tree (which looks lovely, I must say), she helped with other decorating, including dressing my Build-a-Bear in its elf costume and putting the reindeer costume on herself. She did this a couple of years ago, but this year it didn't fit quite as well. She was adorable anyway, and I managed to snap a couple of pics before the jingle bell collar started to strangle her.
Anyway, thanks, Abigail, for helping me make my apartment festive and bright. And you make a pretty cute reindeer, though I don't think it's gonna fit next year...

Feeling Roll Tide-ish

When I walked into the office today, my friend and fellow Bama grad said "you're looking very Roll Tide-ish today. you need to have somebody take a picture of you." So after lunch I brought back my camera and she did just that. I was actually pleased with one of the pictures. My eyes are open, though barely. Man, my big cheeks just get in the way of a big open smile! Oh well, it's actually decent. Here are a couple of my Bama-esque photos, and one of Emily, my photographer and Bama buddy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Post-comps celebrations

This week has not exactly been the most pleasant I've ever experienced. I'm sleep-deprived, brain-dead, and my stomach is not liking much of what I put in it. But at least comps are over and now all I have to do is wait on the results (hopefully I'll know something sometime next week - I'm trying to butter Dr. Wolfe up by bringing him milkshakes!).

But this week everyone has made me feel so special. Thanks, everyone, for the abundant prayers. They were certainly felt! Mom and Dad sent me flowers on Monday (via Genny) with a card that said "RELAX! (And congratulations in advance!)". They are beautiful and definitely brighten my apartment with their beauty and fragrance.

Genny brought me dinner on Tuesday night so I wouldn't have to worry about what to eat - and she brought my favorite, Red Hot & Blue! Yum! (Sorry, Genny, I didn't think to take a picture - see, told you I'm braindead!)

Yesterday when I came back to work, all my coworkers gathered in my office and sang "congratulations to you" (to "happy birthday") and brought me a delicious carrot cake to celebrate.

And last night Joanna, Taryn, and I celebrated that comps are over by eating dinner at my other favorite, the Japanese steakhouse. Unfortunately, it really didn't like me and I've been pretty much miserable ever since. :(

Oh, so how did I do? Well, I think I did fine. As long as what I studied was what they were looking for, I did well, because I wrote exactly what I had studied. They did throw a couple of curveballs at me, but I think I handled them. Maybe not a homerun, but at least not an automatic out. :) Okay, that's about the extent of my baseball analogy. I'll let you know the results as soon as I hear. Thanks again for all your prayers, support, and encouragement. I couldn't ask for better family and friends.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Comprehensively STRESSED!!!

Next week I take my comprehensive exams. These exams could be over ANYTHING related to my major (New Testament) and my minor (New Testament Theology), and I have to pass in order to move forward and write my dissertation. They are written exams, 4 hours Tuesday (major) and 4 hours Wednesday (minor). I have been madly trying to study for the exams, and the more I study, the less I know. All the information is a big jumble in my head, and I'm struggling to keep it straight. It doesn't help that I don't know what is going to be asked! My task over this weekend is to create a question related to each area that I know will be covered and sit down and write an essay to answer the question - this should help to compartmentalize the information, and it's good practice. I did one essay yesterday - it's 6 pages long, single-spaced, and took longer than I will have on a single day. STRESS!!!

In the meantime, I've been putting off anything that is not absolutely urgent until after comps. Which means that I now have a LONG list of things to do after comps, and I've already started forgetting some of them. So for the sake of my mental health, I'm going to make a list here of all the "to do's" for after comps.

  1. Clean my apartment. It's a disaster!
  2. Get the oil changed in my car.
  3. Edit Ingo's dissertation.
  4. Send CV's out to colleges for possible teaching jobs.
  5. Prepare for the children's choir Christmas concert.
  6. Take photos for various families.
  7. Start Weight Watchers with Genny.
  8. Introduce Courtney to Sam Moon and the stores around it.
  9. Finish (and START) Christmas shopping.
  10. Create this year's installment of the Barb's Favorite Christmas Songs cd's.
  11. Finish the scrapbook of my family's trip to Scotland/England before I go home for Christmas.
  12. Catch up on all the tasks in the office that I've been neglecting - like filing...
  13. Put together my prospectus for my dissertation (assuming I pass comps).
  14. Put up my Christmas tree (admittedly this can wait a bit).

Oh my! So much to do, so little time! Please pray for me as I go through this final crunch time before the exams. Pray that my mind will be clear, that my anxiety will ease, that I will be able to recall the information that I have studied, and that I will be able to articulate it well. I can't WAIT till 5:00 on Wednesday, Nov. 12! Anyone up for a celebration?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Top Ten Christmas CD's

It's the time of year when I have Christmas music in every cd player I own - both in the house and in the car. So I thought I'd take a moment to share with you my top ten favorite Christmas cd's from across the years. Out of the ten, it's hard to rank them, because they're all so different and so good. And every year I end up with a new favorite. But these are the ones that have stood the test of time. (I really wish Blogger had a way to post mp3 files so you could hear some of the best songs on each... I did link the titles to so you can preview the tracks if you're interested.)

Reba McEntire, Merry Christmas To You

One of my favorites growing up, it still gets me when I hear Reba's countryfied version of "O Holy Night." And I love telling her story, "The Christmas Guest," along with her. I can mimic every inflection and pause. It makes my mom laugh every time she hears me do it.

With Selah's trademark harmonies, beautiful piano accompaniment, and amazing unique songs such as "Mystery," "Light of the Stable," and "Once Upon a Christmas," this cd is one of my all-time favorites.

From a rocking "Rocking around the Christmas Tree" to a country "Silent Night" to the lyrical "Joseph's Lullaby," Mercy Me shows that they can do all styles of music, and do them well.

Nobody sings "O Holy Night" like Josh Groban. Unfortunately, he didn't put it on his Christmas cd! Regardless, this cd is an instant classic. His duet with Faith Hill on "The First Noel" is amazing, and I love his duet on "Angels We Have Heard on High" as well.

Both of PoG's Christmas cd's are great, but this one has some really fun arrangements of classic Christmas songs like Rudolph and Frosty, as well as a beautiful a cappella "In the First Light" and a breath-taking version of "All Is Well."

Evie Tornquist, Come On Ring Those Bells (no mp3 link)

An oldie but a goodie. I grew up singing "Come On Ring Those Bells" with Evie, and hearing that song is always the perfect beginning to the Christmas season.

Full of traditional Christmas songs, Martina's voice rings pure and beautiful from "O Holy Night" to "The Christmas Song."

Child of the Promise - a Christmas musical (no mp3 link)

This musical tells the story of the incarnation from the prophetic predictions of Christ's birth through the magi's visit to the Christ child. It's full of great contemporary Christian singers, and the music is just fabulous!

I picked this one up on a whim, not really knowing Erin O'Donnell's voice or style. But her jazzy arrangements of classic Christmas songs make this cd a ton a fun to listen to. A favorite is "Frosty the Snowman/Winter Wonderland."

Billy's voice has the pure boy-choir sound even in the country genre. I LOVE to hear his high notes. The song with Charlotte Church, "Sleigh Ride" is awesome, and my favorite is "There's a New Kid In Town." What a talented kid!

And two new favorites that just released this year...

Their unique arrangement of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" introduces this cd, and it gets better from there. Their original song, "While You Were Sleeping" is a call to America not to be caught unaware by Christ's second coming like Bethlehem did His first.

In the same style as Josh Groban, Travis Cottrell's voice is gorgeous! I absolutely love the song "Ring the Bells," and his rendition of "What Child Is This" is lovely as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


For Halloween Genny's youngest, Abigial, and her friend Claire asked me to paint their faces white for their costumes. I did Abigail's face a couple of years ago when she was a clown, calling upon my experience of turning myself into a mime during my college days. I was quite happy to oblige, so I went over to Genny's after work last night and promptly set to work on Abigail's face, then did Claire's when she got there. They were so cute in their costumes, Thing 1 and Thing 2!

my favorite part - beating the face with a sock full of baby powder!

After they left for the Fall Festival with Claire's family, I visited with Genny and Rebecca, played Wii with Bec, and Jeff made our evening by bringing us Double Daves' pepperoni rolls. Yum! Then, after removing their white faces, the girls pulled out Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii, and I challenged Genny. We both did the beginner level and neither of us did well, but it was still fun and we worked up a sweat even after just 3 songs. DDR is good exercise! I can't wait till I get my PlayStation so I can play at my house!
All in all, it was a fun though unusual Halloween for me. No Fall Festival, no witch's brew, and no candy! But I got to hang out with one of my favorite families, so it was all good.