Thursday, December 27, 2007

We Have a Visitor

Finlay has a visitor for the next few days. Her name is Rocket Rinehart, and she is the baby of one of Lindsay's co-workers. Her parents are in Colorado, the luck dogs! We mentioned Rocket for the first time a few days ago (she was the pup who came to play the day that Tiny Fin hurt his leg, which is all better now by the way). They have been playing and having fun all day, and even though Rocket is a native Ohioan, she has been helping us cheer on the Texas Longhorns!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas Video

We think this speaks for itself. Enjoy, and make sure to turn on your speakers!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas everyone! We are currently working on a video montage of our Christmas festivities. It should be up tonight or early tomorrow. Check back soon!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve in Pictures

We wished you all could have been here to share Christmas Eve with us, but since you weren't here are a few pictures of our day.

We saw The Golden Compass. It was great, and we can't wait to see the next one. We'd definitely recommend it. It was our first Christmas Eve movie together, ever!!

Lindsay cooked the big Christmas meal, with some key help form Nick of course. We had ham with cherry glaze, cheese grits, twice baked potatoes with blue cheese and thyme, green bean casserole, rolls, peanut blossoms, and cut-out cookies!

We set the table with our fine china, flatware, and crystal (for the first time!) and of course our advent wreath. Since we don't have a proper dining room, we set it up in the living room.

Nick thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and to be honest, Finlay did too.

The Christmas Eve church service ended outside, in front of a live manger scene. Cool...and very cold, but we did get to sing Silent Night while holding little white candles so it felt somewhat complete.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! We're sad we can't be with any or all of you today and tomorrow, but we are planning our own little Christmas here in Columbia. We thought it might be fun to give you a running blog today and tomorrow so that you can kind of experience these days with us! Oh, and we will try to post a video tomorrow for your enjoyment.

Today the plan is to cook, go see the Golden Compass, cook some more, eat dinner, got to a 9 p.m. Christmas Eve service, and then get ready for Santa to come!

We should mention that instead of Tiny Tim this year, we have Tiny Fin. He's been limping since last night when his friend Rocket came over to play. Nothing seems broken, and he can bear weight on the leg so we think it will get better over time.

Well, check back in later for an update! Oh, and for those of you on my side of the family who have not yet been gotten, CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!!!

We are currently in the midst of the cooking for our big Christmas dinner, which we will eat tonight, per the Hall family tradition. I've made the twice-baked potatoes and the grits are just about to go in. We still have the green bean casserole to cook, the ham and the rolls to warm, and the sauce to make, but so far so good. Sorry about the burned pumpkin pie, Mom!

We saw The Golden Compass earlier, for our Christmas Eve movie, and we really liked it! We can't wait for the sequel!! The Reitmeiers will have to let us know about Charlie Wilson's War. Well, I'm off to do more baking. We'll update again soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Heeeeey Sic'Em Bears!!!

Last night Nick and I attended the Baylor vs. South Carolina basketball game here in Columbia, courtesy of Steve, my U-101 co-instructor. Thanks Steve! We had a blast! Steve was good enough to give us his season tickets, which put us right in the middle of gamecock country. Possibly, this was not good. We got a few dirty looks, and once someone tried to kick us out of our seats (they didn't believe that we really had the tickets). We made it through the first half unscathed, probably because the Bears were not doing so hot. We were very classy fans, only clapping a few times whenever Baylor did something good.

At halftime we met up with the Killens. For those of you who don't know, Robin Killen is originally from Waco, grew up in Woodway, and graduated from Midway High. For any ex-Panthers out there, her mom is Mrs. Beck, who teaches geometry at the high school. She took me in and helped us a lot when we moved to Sumter (which is where the Killens live). I also have spent some time hanging out with her kids (pictured below) and I was excited to get to see them again!
Rebekah, Robin, Mary Kate, Ruthie, and I

In the end, the Bears pulled out the win, and Nick and I were so proud!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Cool to Comment!

So, we need to have a bit of a blog intervention. Not because of something that you do, but because of something you don't do! You have stopped commenting! It's kind of sad to think that I am sending this out into the universe and am getting no feedback. I really enjoy seeing what you all have to say about our posts and it encourages me to keep blogging. So please, the next time you take a peek at Texas Ex-Pats, leave a comment!

Oh, and if you could just leave your name after your comment, that would be great. Lots of people read us every day so sometimes it's hard to know who said what!

In other news, I got a hair-cut today. I took a picture with me. It was a bit daring, with some layering and sidebangs. However, I think my hair stylist took me a little too literally about the bangs. So...there will be a photo of the haircut, but not until I can get these bangs to calm down and behave!

Tomorrow Nick and I will be cheering on our Baylor Bears when they play the Gamecocks here in Columbia. Look for us on TV! We will bring back a report on Thursday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bellsnickle and Other Tales

On Friday, something very exciting happened at our house - Bellsnickle paid us a visit! Although Bellsnickle never visited me as a child, I guess I inherited him as a memeber of the Hall family. He made a brand new basket in which to leave his special treats (I hear the folks at Hobby Lobby were very helpful in his endeavor). I think he even brought us a few things from Lauri's house (thanks Bellsnickle!). Here are a few pictures of the whole set-up.

Yesterday, Nick and I had another first. We baby-sat! Most of you who read this blog know that I have traditionally not had an affinity for children, but, dare I say that in the past few months my feelings have begun to change. Don't anyone go getting excited, now. We are still not planning on starting our own family for a while, but we figured there was no harm in hanging out with some cute kids every once in a while either, just to get our toes wet.

We hung out with my boss, Ang's, precious three year old twins, Emma and Jehu. We got to play with toys, chat about Santa, play outside, and watch Nemo. We even survived naptime! Although it took every ounce of self-restraint in me to not go in and hold them when they were crying out for their Mommy! I stood by everything I've heard about parenting that told me to just wait and they'd calm down. And you know what? They did. I asked Ang to please let us come back again soon.

In somewhat less thrilling news, we lost power at our house today in the early morning, and it did not return until 7:15 p.m.! This made for an afternoon of chilly reading, followed by an early evening of candlelight. We are just glad that it's back since the low tonight should be in the twenties!

We hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lights Before Christmas

Last night Nick and I, along with three other couples went to The Lights Before Christmas, at the Columbia Riverbanks Zoo. It was really cool, with the whole place lit up with twinkle lights! There was even a really fancy lights and music show by the sea lions. Here are a few pictures.

You can barely see us!

Alicia, Tara, Rachel, and I

Nick with the penguins

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Halfway Done!

I'm taking this break in studying for my Legal final to let everyone know that as of today I am halfway finished with my M. Ed. degree! I've had a blast and learned a lot so far, but I am definitely feeling the itch to get a real job. Here's to being halfway done.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday fun

With Nicholas back home the holiday celebration has truly begun at our house. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the advent wreath. We always had one at my house growing up, and I plan to always have one in my home. Nick and I are sharing the tradition for the first time this year, and it has been exciting to share the symbolism behind the wreath as well as the special time of devotion as the candles are lit. If you don't have an advent wreath, I'd definitely recommend it.

Speaking of advent, Nick and I went back to Shandon UMC yesterday, and we really enjoyed the service. The church was decorated as if for a wedding, with candles on stands at each pew, poinsettias and ivy everywhere, and of course, the advent wreath. It truly felt like an advent celebration! We are going to be visiting this church exclusively for a while so for those of you concerned about whether or not we would find a church home, I'd say we're about halfway there.

Below, you can find some pictures of the SPAliday party we attended on Saturday night. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nick is home!

Nick is finally home after a 2 week trip to Nebraska! He had a great time, considering he was there for work. Perhaps the highlight was getting to spend a bit of time in the snow. Finlay and I were very jealous.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Lean-to

A minute ago I told you that nothing of note had happened in a while. Well, I forgot something. Nick and I live in a neighborhood with lots of old houses, and lots of those old houses are occupied by old people. One particularly cranky old man lives at the end of my street; actually he just moved in a few months ago.

The first thing he did when he moved in was to put up a carport. Now, I'm not the biggest carport fan to begin with, but this one only even qualifies under the loosest of definitions. It is made of pvc piping and a few mismatched tarps. Unacceptable. When this went up Nick and I were more than a little miffed. However, since we rent our house we didn't really know who to complain to so we let it ride.

Then came the lean-to. Yes, I said lean-to. This guy actually put up steps, railing, and a deck (maybe 3x3 feet) and then proceeded to box it all in with unfinished, unpainted particle board, a crooked window, and a door that leaned over at a distinct angle. We weren't even sure how it would work. This was the tackiest, sickest thing you have ever seen. Seriously. I mean, this whole thing was clearly not well-engineered, could never have been up to code, and was apparently assembled from junk yard scraps.

So you may be able to imagine my utter elation when, while out walking with Rebecca on Friday, we discovered that the lean-to was being torn down. Half of it was already on the ground, and the ornery old man who built it was sitting in what appeared to be an over-taxed wicker chair, griping to someone on the phone about how he was having to take down his porch.

When we checked back on Saturday the entire abomination had come down and was lying in a heap on the curb. Victory is mine!

Long time, no see

It has been way to long since we blogged, yes, we know. Other than Rebecca's visit, covered below, there has not been much inspirational going on. Fin and I have been hanging out while Nick has been busy at job training. Not much excitement.

However, we did get a visit from Fin's " Aunt Rebecca" last weekend! It was her first visit to South Carolina, and we were so excited to show her around our home. She arrived late Thursday night, and on Friday we took her to see the sights on campus. We had a tasty southern lunch at Mr. Friendly's, did the requisite campus tour, and she even got to work with me for a bit. Friday night we had dinner at the Mellow Mushroom in the Vista. Saturday we spent the day shopping, and discovered the most previous pet store! Three Dog Bakery, in Five Points, actually bakes fresh pet treats in-store. They also have a great selection of pet accessories. I will definitely be going back! Saturday night Bec got to meet some of my friends here at USC when we had dinner at Rockaway's and went bowling. We were so sad to see her leave on Sunday, but all good things must come to an end. We miss you already, Bec! Come back to visit us soon!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

O Christmas Tree

Well, we did it! Today we chose, cut, lit, and decorated our very first Christmas tree. It all started with a trip to Seekhaven Farms, just outside of town, where we found our tree. Finlay came along, of course, and absolutely could not have been happier. He had so much fun running around in the fields of trees. He, Nick, and I finally chose one, after much deliberation, and the real fun began! Nick cut down our tree all by himself, and then the folks at the tree farm "shook and baled" it for us.

Once we got home Nicholas didn't waste any time trimming the stump, putting the tree into water, and stringing it with lights. We did have to make one additional trip to Target for more lights, though! This evening we decorated the tree with all the ornaments we have collected over the past three years and a few new ones. We have received so many special ornaments from people whom we love and it was great to finally be able to hang them!

To top it all off, we actually had a gift for each of us wrapped and ready to put under the tree once it was finished. In conclusion I have to say that this may be our first tree in three years, but I wouldn't have had it any other way because this tree is, and this day has been, absolutely perfect!

A Trip to the North Pole

Santa and his little elf went Christmas shopping yesterday at the Southpark Mall in Charlotte, NC. We chose that mall because it is almost a carbon copy of Northpark in Dallas, and one can't truly invest a full day of shopping in a mall with any less than a Neimans and a Nordstrom!

Nick gets serious bonus points for enduring a full day of trolling the mall in search of the perfect gift(s). I, of course, bought him several things as well, but we still have some shopping to do for him today.

Speaking of shopping today, we will be going to a Christmas tree farm outside of town to choose our very first Christmas tree. Yes, it may be our third Christmas as a married couple, but we didn't have a tree our first year and I decorated our ficas last year while Nick was deployed (yes, really). It should be an experience!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We're Thankful!

This year Nick and I are thankful for so many things. Our family and friends who have been so tirelessly loving and supportive through the challenges of the last year and a half (hey, we didn't have the blog to thank you with last year!), our new home in Columbia, Nick's safe return from his deployment, my new friends here at USC, and, in general, always having everything we need. Speaking of last year, we tried to make this year an extra-good Thanksgiving since Nick didn't have one last year. You may remember that he was deployed, and sadly he actually slept through the Thanksgiving dinner at the dining hall.

We couldn't make it back to Texas, but that didn't stop us from being with our families, at least in spirit. We enjoyed the phone calls we got throughout the day to remind us that we were missed back home. We missed you too!

We started off the day with a true Thanksgiving classic, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Nick actually let me watch the whole thing. At around 2 we went to a Thanksgiving gathering at one of my professors' houses, also attended by lots of friends from my grad program. It's so wonderful that people are willing to open their homes to us poor students who can't get home. It was so nice, even for just a few hours, to have the feeling of gathering together with people you love on Thanksgiving!

In the evening Nick and I helped serve dinner at the Salvation Army. We had decided to do this a while back since we didn't want to make a big meal just for the two of us. Things like this really take me out of my comfort zone, but I was really glad to be helping out the homeless population here in Columbia.

Allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment, please. The city of Columbia has zero year-round shelters for the homeless. There are around 1500 homeless people in Columbia, and they are actually forced to sleep on the streets. The only time that they are ever able to sleep inside is when the winter shelters open up. I believe the nighttime temperature must dip below 50 for the city to open these. If these people have nowhere to sleep or wash themselves or spend time in a safe environment, then what does one think that the effect will be on the city? It is obvious when you are in downtown Columbia. You can't escape the homeless and they cannot help themselves. It's a lose-lose situation in the truest sense. Recently there was a sit-in of sorts at the Salvation Army, with about 700 Columbia residents choosing to spend one night sleeping outside as a homeless person. That event helped to raise some awareness, but so much more needs to be done here for these people!!!

So, it felt good to be even a tiny part of some kind of, if not a solution, then at least some assistance. We probably served over 100 folks, mostly men. Most of them were courteous and thankful, and as Nick pointed out, they are great conversationalists. One of the men at the table Nick and I served has family in Harker Heights, and he loved to talk about Central Texas, the Texas Ranger Museum, and his neice who is ten and loves competition cheerleading. Each person who attended the meal received a hot dinner and a to-go box of food as well. I wish we could have given them more.

Tonight will be a bad one out on the streets. We had torrential rains today and the cold front that you all (in Texas) are feeling now should roll into South Carolina later tonight. I pray that what we could give them tonight gives them a little more strength and endurance to brave the cold, damp night ahead.

I guess you always leave a place like that being thankful for what you've got. We certainly did, and I am thankful for experiences like that, how they serve to remind me of how blessed I really am.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

All weekend Nick and Finlay have been hard at work, decorating the exterior of our house. We won't have much time to do this kind of thing next weekend so we decided that earlier was better than later. We wish you were all here to enjoy our festive home in-person!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do-Gooder No More?

This past Tuesday I attempted to do a good deed. One should always be ready to help others in need, but especially at this time of year it seems appropriate that we would all try a little harder. So it was with this attitude that I set about my day on Tuesday. When I left my house for class (thankfully the one I co-teach and not one I am enrolled in) I saw, running around in my front yard, my next door neighbors' german-shepherd/lab mix.

My first thought was to put him in my backyard for safe-keeping, as this was the second time I have seen him out and roaming the neighborhood in the last few weeks. However, closer inspection of my gate revealed that he had actually most likely escaped from his yard, into mine, and then out of mine as was evidenced by the gate to my yard hanging open. So, I brought him into my house and shut him up in the laundry room, also relegating Finlay to Nick's and my bedroom.

I knew this solution wouldn't work long-term, but I was very late for class by that time. The situation got more complicated when, upon trying again to get in my car and leave, I saw their other dog, a Jack Russell, running around in my front yard. Now, this dog gets out all the time - three times in the last week - but since I had rescued the big dog I didn't feel that I could neglect the little one. I decided that I could make this work if I got Finlay's kennel out of the attic.

I have been quoted as saying "I don't do attics" which probably doesn't surprise most of you, but to save a little helpless animal I will stretch my comfort zone. So I climbed up into the scary, cold attic, rummaged for the kennel, upon finding it in-tact and too large to fit through the attic door dismantled it, and began to drag it down the stairs. By this time I was admittedly not in the best of spirits, was 30 minutes late to class, and was rushing to settle affairs so I could leave. So, when the kennel wasn't cooperating in being pulled down, I just yanked harder. Big mistake.

I did manage to get it down, but when I returned to the attic door to shut it, it refused to close. Closer inspection revealed that the impediment was a spring that had sprung off its track. No matter how hard I tugged, it would not go back, but I was now 45 minutes late so I had no choice but to leave the attic door hanging down. Thinking about it now, it was kind of like my house was sticking its big, nasty tongue out at me...

So I went on to class, for all 45 minutes that were left, and then rushed back home to figure out a better solution. Unfortunately I was too late. When I opened the front door, the stench of dog poop was overwhelming. That was due to the fact that my neighbors' big dog had escaped from the laundry room and pooped all over the living room. Even for a big dog, it was a lot of poop.
aside from some chewed up blinds he didn't do any more damage to the living room, but he had done a number on the laundry room. He had spilled all the water that I had left out for him, and judging by the smell, added to the wet mess by peeing on the floor. He had scratched huge gashes into our wooden door and had apparently chewed on the deadbolt cover so hard that he crunched it (fortunately it still functions). Needless to say I was livid. But I still tried to hang onto the dog for my neighbor. So I put him out in my backyard and did my best to chain the gate shut.

I then set about cleaning the house and brainstormed about what I could do with the little dog. Once the house was somewhat cleaned-up I went into the backyard to find the spot of the dogs egress into my yard. I should mention here that the Jack Russell jumps up so high that the neighbors have had to add 18 inches of chicken wire to the top of their chain-link fence (resulting in a very attractive fence I might add). I finally found a spot where the chicken wire had fallen down so I took the little dog and placed him back over the fence and pulled the wire back up the best I could.

It was then that I noticed that the big dog was no longer in my backyard and the gate had been forced open. I gave up on him. I figured, given the day's events, batting .500 wasn't a bad average. By then I had to go back up to campus for work so I reluctantly bid farewell to Finlay, who, by the way, had behaved perfectly all day, not even complaining when he was eventually stuck in the bathroom.

My efforts were made complete when, as I was driving down the street on my way back to work, I saw both dogs happily prancing around in someone else's yard. I give up.

Nick and I have vowed that the next time we see those dogs out we are calling animal control. For actually feeling this sentiment alone, I feel totally defeated, and it makes me wonder if doing good deeds for others is really ever worth it.

I guess we'll find out when we spend our Thanksgiving volunteering at the Salvation Army. Hey, I'm not giving up on my conscience that easily!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's beginning to look...

Today was a pretty nice little Sunday at the Hall house. We slept in today - hey - it's our first weekend in Columbia in the last 3 weeks and we needed the rest! We are starting to get really excited about our first Christmas at home together. We are planning on actually decorating for the first time, complete with lights, a real tree, and all the trimmings. We want to do it right so we started off by measuring the roof-line to find out how many feet of lights we'd need. Nick was very brave and climbed up onto the roof to do the dirty work! In the process of being outside - inside - outside Nick and Finlay spotted our neighbors' lost dog, Deuce. He reminds me of a certain other terrier by the name of Harriet! The boys ran out and rescued him, and you can see him in the picture below. This afternoon we looked around at Lowes and Target, making our pre-Christmas shopping list, and we found the best thing ever! A puppy advent calendar! Now Nick and I have our advent wreath and Fin has his very own advent calendar filled with rawhide treats. We hope everyone had just as wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

SPA Family Thanksgiving

This year Nick and I are particularly thankful for new friends. Last night we celebrated Thanksgiving a bit early with some of those friends at the SPA family Thanksgiving dinner. I made a squash a corn casserole, which was pretty tasty if I do say so myself! I was also reminded of last Thanksgiving, playing Apples to Apples with the Whites because we played a rowdy game of Apples to Apples last night. Enjoy the family picture below!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Homecoming Part II

Please read Part I will make much more sense!
Campus Tour

After we left Nanny's house, the wheels began to fall off - arguably in a literal way. The old Tahoe decided, at the moment we pulled away from the curb, to perma-lock the doors, but in a way that wouldn't allow them to shut. Hence the doors began to flap open and threatened to take Dad with them. We returned to Nanny's house at 3:15 (our flight was at 4:40). Dad briefly tried to fix the doors, but in the interest of time abandoned that plan in favor of taking Nanny's car to the airport (thanks Nan). We got to the Waco airport without further event, checked in for a our flight, processed into the gate at the allotted time, and were set to go, until they announced, at our scheduled departure time, that the plane was awaiting a part in Houston, and had not left for Waco yet.

Continental automatically rescheduled everyone who had a 7p.m. connecting flight or later, but our connector from Houston to Columbia left at 7:30. Sparing you the unnecessary details, this ended in an hour-long delay in Waco, and Nick and me sprinting, yes sprinting, through George Bush International airport, in hopes of catching our flight. The issue was that we landed at 7p.m., but our other flight was scheduled to board, in another terminal, at 6:55. We made it to the gate at about 7:15, and had our flight not been boarding late, we probably would not have made it. We got to Columbia around midnight to find that only one of our suitcases had made it. Nick's luggage came in on Monday and all was well. At least they didn't misplace, oh, say, our dog, like American did last Christmas.

That's the end of the Homecoming trip story. I have been very very busy with class this week and apologize that I was not able to update sooner. Enjoy the pictures, and remember that you can see the others on Snapfish. If you need me to e-mail you an invitation to look at them, shoot me a line at

Finally...Homecoming Part I

Herman Melville said," life's a journey that's homeward bound." While Nick and I hope this is true for us someday, we were content, last weekend, to return home just for a few days. As I mentioned before, Nick and I had the chance to go back for Baylor Homecoming as a birthday gift from my parents.

We left Columbia on Thursday evening and were in Waco by late Thursday night. Friday we had lunch at one of my favorite high school spots - Rico! The lunch stop was truly complete when I ran into two of my favorite teachers - Peggy Jezek and the former Jill Osborne, now Wilkerson.

After lunch we ventured over to campus, where Mom played photographer as Nick and I snapped pictures at our favorite spots all over campus. A highlight was sneaking into the Pi Phi room and seeing the clock that Mom and Dad gave to the room. I love it's new spot!
Dinner Friday night was, of course, at Ninfa's. The whole family joined in, and we were glad to see Mark and Lauren. We were also happily surprised to see Jim, Shelly, Kate, and David (Nick's aunt, uncle, and cousins) while we awaited our table.

Post-dinner it was on to the bonfire, with a stop at Lauren's apartment to visit our cat-nephew, Rocky. I also got caught up on wedding details, which is always fun! At the bonfire we were able to run into lots of friends and some family. We had a blast, and it was even better when we heard the announcement that Pi Phi had won Class A Float!!!

Saturday morning we, of course, attended the parade. It wasn't too cold, and the floats looked great, but once again, the highlight was seeing so many people that we haven't seen in a looong time. Especially exciting was seeing some of the new babies of friends and family, a few of whom I have seen growing up on their own blogs. A shout out here to Kayleigh Conlon, Price Boyd, and Price Dyer.

After the parade Mom and I went to the Pi Phi coffee, where we caught up with - you guessed it - more friends! Pre-game Nick and I were hankering for some tailgate action, the likes of which it is difficult to find at good ole' BU so we found ourselves at the George's tent. After a great burger and refreshments we headed over the see the slaughter that was the Baylor-Tech game.

For Saturday dinner some the family came over for Uncle Dan's I really enjoyed seeing Grandma, Boppy, Aunt Carol, Uncle Jamey, Matt, Stephanie, Camille, and Lily. As a sidenote here, Lily let me hold her and did not cry! This may be a first for me. I also opened some great birthday gifts. You should all know that Nick worked with a very limited wardrobe during our trip because he carried my new grind and brew coffee maker to Texas, for me to unwrap on my birthday. What a great husband!

Saturday night we did make a trip to Cricket's, how could we not? I loved seeing my college girlfriends guy-friends, and I was so sad to not have more time to hang out!

Sunday we visited FBC Woodway with mom and dad, and aside from some new paint and chair-covers in the sanctuary, it kind of felt like I had never left. I finally got to see Rebecca on Sunday afternoon since she was so wonderful to come down to Waco to visit. We only had a few hours to hang out on Sunday, but she's coming to visit in just a few weeks! Yay!

On the way out of town we were able to stop at Nanny's house, and I was very pleasantly surprised to get to see Aunt Sherri and Uncle William there too. We had a great, but too short, visit, and I know it will be too long until I get to see any of my family again.

Pictures of our trip will be in our Fall 2007 snapfish album if you would like to see more than are posted on here in Part II

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We know, we know

We are sorry for the delay in posting about Homecoming events. We hit the ground running on Sunday night (technically Monday morning) and haven't stopped since. We hope to post something substantial on Friday so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I know I said we wouldn't be blogging again until we get back from Waco, but we just couldn't resist putting up some jack-o-lantern pics. Please enjoy!


We may not have another chance to blog before we take off tomorrow so we just wanted to let you all in on our plans. In the truest sense of the word, Nick and I are headed to Homecoming tomorrow afternoon! It's only been since July that we were in the great state of Texas, but it feels like an eternity. We'll be arriving tomorrow (Thursday) night and won't leave until Sunday afternoon so we should have lots of time to take in all our favorite sights. We'll be making the usual rounds to Rico, Ninfa's, and Crickett's, and we'll also be hitting up all the normal Homecoming festivities: bonfire, parade, Pi Phi gathering, game so if you are planning to be there, we are hoping to see you!

No need to worry about Fin. His new friend Rocket and Rocket's mom and dad are coming back to visit all weekend so he is set!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ocean Isle Beach Fire

I've been trying to find something eloquent to say about the students who were killed in the fire this weekend. Since nothing I can find seems right, for now I will ask any of you who are reading this to pray for those students who were killed and their families as well as the USC and Clemson campuses as we all try to deal with this tragedy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Carolina Convoy

Carolina Convoy 2007
South Carolina vs. Tennessee
Nick and I in our seats at the game
Tara and I
Sir Big Spur, our live mascot
Well, we did it. Nick, Tara (my co-grad assistant), two other volunteers, and I made the trip up to Knoxville, TN yesterday to watch the Gamecocks battle the Volunteers. As a part of my graduate assistantship, I was in charge of 2 charter-busses full of USC students who had each bought a ticket on the Convoy.

It was pretty nerve-wracking, but we made it there and back with no major problems: no alcohol poisoning, no illness, no missing students, no fights, no problems. Well, no problems with the students anyway. We did have a bit of trouble with the bus drivers, but that's a long and ultimately boring story. And we did lose the game in overtime. However, suffice it to say that I feel very relieved today.

Nick and I are both exhausted - we got in at 6:30 a.m. - but we have had a great day being home with Fin, who missed us very much. Tonight we will be carving jack-o-lanterns!

We hope everyone else had a great weekend and is enjoying the fall-like weather. Until next time...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are you ready for some football?!

You won't be hearing any more out of us until Sunday, or even Monday. That's because tomorrow is the big day that I'm in charge of the Carolina Convoy. We'll be taking two charter busses full of students to the Carolina-Tennessee game tomorrow. The responsibility is really scary, but I've got some great help.

We promise to report back with plenty of pictures soon.

Oh, and don't worry about Finlay. He's making a new friend - Rocket - who, along with his mom, will be hanging out with Finlay while we are away at the game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Care About This

This encouraged me today:

Most of you who read this are in Waco so you probably saw this article today, but for those who didn't or who don't want to read the whole thing now, it's an article in the Waco Tribune Herald about how a group of University High School students are speaking out against teen pregnancy and trying to educate their peers.

I spent a year working in a high school with a similar student-body make-up to University, both socio-economically and in racial and ethnic diversity. I noticed similar attitudes toward teen sex and pregnancy as discussed in this article. At the time I felt absolutely hopeless for those students. When there is at least one pregnant girl or daddy in each class you teach, I think it's easy to be discouraged.

That's why I feel so encouraged by this article today. I applaud the Waco ISD school board for promoting an abstinence-based, but not abstinence-only, sex-ed curriculum. They are ahead of the schools here in South Carolina who refuse to take a common-sense approach to sex-ed, clinging to the false ideal of abstinence-only education. I salute the students who are behind this movement, and I hope and pray that they are able to make a real difference for their peers.

As a side-note, I got my hair cut yesterday...Picture to come.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Triumph!

To quote my father, who often, at this time of year, quotes Bob Cratchit, from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the pumpkin bread was "a triumph my dear, a triumph!" In all seriousness, the pumpkin bread was as big a hit with Nick's and my co-workers as it was with Mark and me when we were kids (and I guess even now).

Thus ends another day at the Hall house.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pumpkin Bread

Even though it's still 80 degrees outside, I decided to begin making pumpkin bread today. It looks like the temperature will cool down this week, and, well, this weekend was the last chance I'll have for a while to do any baking. It was a success...

That's all the news for today - we have temporarily suspended the church search due to the fact that we will be unable to attend for the next two weeks. We spent the day baking, doing chores, and reading. Yes, yes, exciting times at the Halls.

Stay tuned for more exciting news this week.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


This about sums up the day.

Well, this morning started out nicely, with Finlay attending his first tailgate. You can enjoy some pictures below.

Finlay was not a fan of the train that was passing by the tg sight.
He was curious about the port-a-potty so he came in with me once.
He was pretty exhausted by the time we came home!

Then the bottom dropped out. First our Gamecocks lost to Vandy...TO VANDY!!! We only saw the game on gametracker, but it looked ugly, even on there. Good-bye #6 ranking.

Then the BaylorBears suffered a sickening loss to Texas. It was sickening of course, because for a while it looked like we were hanging in there. But after that, we know what happened. Same song, different verse. We have taken some pictures to commemorate our feelings about the football games today. Please enjoy these as well.

Perhaps we will have a more positive blog tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Parents Weekend!

This weekend is parents weekend at the University of South Carolina. This morning I volunteered to help with registration for the 2,000 or so parents who will be visiting their students this weekend. I was a little bummed that I had to wake up kind of early to make it there, but in the end it was a pretty rewarding experience. The parents I met were sometimes absolutely precious, sometimes absolutely hilarious, but never boring. Their common denominator was the clear excitement that they felt to be there with their students. It kind of made me miss my parents, but then I remembered that this time, two weeks from now, I will be home in Waco with them, so then I didn't feel so homesick.

Tomorrow Nick and I will be taking "Big Red" (aka my car) to the SPA tailgate again. It will be another early tailgate, but it should still be pretty fun! We will bring back a report.

Happy Friday everyone, and happy parents weekend to Mike, Edith, Lauri, and Jay!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Clean Carolina

Today marked the first big even I have been charged with as a graduate assistant: Clean Carolina. It's an all-year event, similar to adopt-a-highway, but instead of sections of a road students or student groups adopt an area of campus. They clean it up once a month, and Student Government supplies them with trash bags and gloves. Our big kick-off event was held today, where we signed up this year's participants, handed out t-shirts and free pizza, and the areas got their first spiffing-up.

The event was a success thanks to my student senator and event chair, DeShawn (you can see him in the picture below) and some great SG volunteers.

Since I worked so hard all day, Nick is being his normal, truly wonderful self and making dinner. Hooray for my outstanding husband!

Also for your enjoyment today, I am posting a picture I took with Cocky, our mascot. He helped us recruit participants for C.C.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Flag Football

You know it's fall when flag football is in full swing!

Nick's team played a game tonight, and Fin and I were there to cheer them on. Nick played excellent defense, contributing to the AIS victory!

Fin had a lot of fun before the game, making new friends with some young kids who were also at the game. I am so00 grateful to his breeders, who taught him to be so great with kids before he even came to live with us! He is so patient and longsuffering - they can tug and yank on him and "pat" him as much as they want, but he just sits there, smiling and calm, never snapping or misbehaving.

Unfortunately, Fin is not the best game-watcher. He really wants to play in the game so he runs up and down the field (at least as far as his leash will go) and barks during each play. It's really annoying, but we can't very well leave him at home when we are gone until 10 p.m.

We're off to sleep now...Enjoy the pictures from the game.