Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Cascade of Misfortunes

Time: 11:00 a.m.
Event: Cut-out cookie failure. Lindsay's traditional cut-out cookie recipe turned out too dry, sweet, sticky, and crunchy. Cookies were inedible unless the cookie-eater needed a serious and painful jaw work-out. No cut-out cookies will be had by any Colvin/Reitmeier/Halls or any History department employees.

Time: 12:00 p.m.
Event: Diva Dogs is not answering their phone. They did not answer yesterday either. Finlay is forced to take a last-minute grooming appointment at the Petsmart on Harbison, possibly the biggest traffic debacle at any given moment in the city of Columbia and 20 minutes from home. Appointment time: 5:00 p.m.

Time: 12:30 p.m.
Event: Nick takes Lindsay's car to be washed and detailed for the big trip to Texas. It has now rained off and on since 3:00 p.m. It is now 9:00 p.m.

Time: 2:00 p.m.
Event: Photo-op for someone's Christmas gift (a picture frame). We are already so behind schedule that we are having to miss a friend's Christmas party. Boo. However, this picture is essential. Cloudy skies, wind, humid temperatures, and uncooperative Finlay led to a hot temper on Lindsay's part and severe frustration for Nick. The final picture featured only Nick and Lindsay.

Time: 3:00 p.m.
Event: Last minute errands. We got in the Gourmet Shop and Three Dog Bakery, but forgot the most essential stop - the pharmacy. Didn't realize this until later. It would later involve an extra hour on the road, a pharmacy which closes at 6 p.m. and a locked cabinet which further complicated the process.

Time: 4:45 p.m.
Event: We tried to develop the picture we'd taken previously while Finlay was being groomed. We'd been told it would take from 4:30 until 8:00. We had lots of time to kill. Publix, despite advertising photo services, did not in fact offer photo services of any kind. We trekked a few blocks down to Target, which did offer services. They were just slow to render them. We finally got the picture printed, paid for it, and then looked down to realize that I had lipstick - bright red lipstick - on my front teeth. Picture is now worthless and all effort spent in procuring it is an utter waste.

Time: 6:00 p.m.
Event: Following a nice dinner, we decide to return to Columbia proper to pick up my prescription, which must be filled no later than today. Arrive at CVS at 6:30 to find the pharmacy closed. Recognizing our predicament concerning lack of prescription's benefits, we seek out alternatives. All alternatives are locked in a glass cabinet which must be opened by an "associate." It wasn't worth it.

Time: 6:45 p.m.
Event: Returning to check on Finlay at the groomer's we pass no fewer than 4 wrecks. One was a flipped car. One was a car with its entire back crushed in. We feared for our lives as we headed back to the gauntlet that is Harbison Blvd.

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Event: Checking in on Finlay. Thinking that 2 1/2 hours is always more than enough time for Diva Dogs to complete the job we decide to check in with Fin and see if he might be finished early. He was not. We were told so in no uncertain terms. Our anxiety and frustration was not quelled when we were told that one reason he would be ready, actually later than expected, was that the groomer "didn't actually know he was there." Not kidding. He, in fact, would now be ready not a minute before 8:30.

Time: 8:30
Event: Rescuing our precious baby from the evil Petsmart groomers. Finlay is brought out to us smelling like cheap gas station coconut car freshener and still quite damp. Are you kidding me?! They had my small dog for 4 and a half hours and couldn't bathe and dry him completely?! Petsmart groomers. You are worthless.

We're going to bed now, before anything else can happen.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I have hesitated to post about this until everything was in order for fear of jinxing it. However, our flights and hotel are booked so I guess it's time to spill the beans. A few weeks ago, Nick was requested to attend a business meeting in London during the second week of January. At first we thought that this would blow our plans to go skiing in West Virginia over that MLK long weekend. I was very disappointed since I'd already planned to take Friday off and was getting very excited about a fun trip with Nick. Then it occurred to us - why not turn our ski vacation into a London vacation?!

So there you have it. Nick will arrive on Wednesday, and I'll follow him, arriving at Heathrow on Thursday morning. I'll have Thursday to settle in and visit my favorite London sights from my summer studying at the Imperial College. Nick and I will have Thursday night, all day Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning to hang out together and explore one of the coolest cities in the world. We're staying at the Marriott Grosvenor Square, which is very nice and very close to Hyde Park and other neat spots. I've linked their website. The best part is that since Nick's job is flying him there and putting us up on Wednesday and Thursday nights, we're doing this trip for not much more than we would have paid to ski in West Virginia. Pretty cool, right?

I admit that jetting off for a long weekend in Europe is a little over-the-top, but Nick and I had agreed to take a really cool vacation together before his deployment this summer. It seems like this is the perfect opportunity! You can expect some cool pictures from this trip, especially if Santa brings me that new camera I asked for...

Last thing, those of you who have made the trip before, please give me your ideas on the absolute must-sees for a weekend in London. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You'd better watch out...

You'd better not cry. You'd better not pout. I'm tellin' you why...Nick and Lindsay are coming to town! One week from today we will arrive in Waco, and if you've been really good this year we just might have something for you under here:
Go ahead. Look a little closer. See if you can figure out which one might be yours!

Santa's elves have been hard at work the past few weeks, as you can see. Sorry for the lack of posts! We can't wait to see all our family and friends in just one short week!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Big News

Start praying now, because Nick will be leaving for a nine month tour in southeastern Afghanistan this July. As many of you know, he has been wanting to do this for quite some time. I am not so enthused. Even with being able to anticipate this as a possiblity, I still took it as a shot to the gut last night when Nick broke the news.

Still, we know that with so many people praying over this situation it absolutely is God's will for Nick to go down this path, and we are confident that he will be faithful to see us through it. Lately I've been using my Daily Light devotional book from Traynor and Morrow. The devotionals are strictly scripture - different verses put together in a cohesive way that makes sense. They're pre-planned for each date. Here's what December 3rd says:

"I would seek God and to God I would commit my cause. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. * Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and suppication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. * Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. * Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spead it before the Lord. * It shall come to pass that before the call I will answer; and while the are still speaking, I will hear. * The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. * I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live."

I love it when the Lord provides for me in ways like this - a surprisingly applicable word of scripture in such a timely way. It makes me remember that he is in control over all of this. I just have to commit to following him, and he'll make my path straight.

July seems as if it is a long way off, but I would appreciate any of you who will help me prepare Nick's journey through prayer. Pray for his preparation, for the preparation of those he will serve with. Pray for the Afghan people he will be serving, pray for peace in Mehtar-Lam, which is where he will be.

I'm so thankful for all of you who I know read this. Your continued support over the next 18 months will make all the difference for us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another post with lots of pictures

Today was a big event for us - we joined out church! We made a pledge to support the church and they made a pledge to support us. With a possible long deployment looming in the not so distant future that means a lot to us. Sorry we don't have pictures, but we didn't really get a chance to take one!

This afternoon I volunteered with some others from our sunday school class at something called Come to Christmas. Church members (mostly kids and their parents) visit different rooms with different themes. Our room was for making Jesse Tree ornaments. I'd never hear of this, but it's pretty cool. There's a symbolic ornament for different members of Jesus' lineage. There was a star for David, an altar for Abraham, a rainbow for Noah, etc. We got to help cute little kids make crafts all afternoon - so much fun!

Kelly, Jen, Lauren, and I

Helping Ellie and Rachel make their ornaments. Liberal use of glitter here.

While I was at Come to Christmas sweet Nick did all of the grocery shopping and household chores. I know I don't give him enough credit for this, but he does stuff like that all the time. Our household would be in shambles without him!

Once I got home we had dinner and decorated our little Christmas tree. The one we bought this year is really small. Since it rained all day yesterday we couldn't cut our own and had to go with whatever Lowe's had to offer. Our Christmas tree photo shoot was an adventure - I'm including an out-take for your viewing pleasure. Fin was a good helper!Real family photo

On one attempt we almost dropped Finlay. Almost.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving in pictures

Since we only got Thursday and Friday off work and since we will be in Texas for almost two weeks at Christmas, Nick and I spent this Thanksgiving in Columbia, just us and Finlay. Since we did both Turkey Day and Christmas on our own last year, we've become old pro's. I think you'll enjoy seeing rather than hearing about our holiday so here you go:

Welcome to Thanksgiving at the Hall House!!

Nick, Fin, and I watched the parade, but I refused to be photographed without make-up!I spent the day in the kitchen...We have a problem with our oven and the smoke alarm. It went off when I was cooking the butternut squash - no they were not burning AT ALL - so I had to research plan B on the internet.Poor Fin was not a fan of the smoke alarm. He hid by the hookah.Fin got some relief this afternoon - we took him out to play in the field behind our apartment.Shot with Mom.Shot with Dad.

Yes, we ate Thanksgiving dinner at the coffee table. However, I made it look nice anyway! Why the coffee table, you ask? The dinner was ready at 4:30, 3:30 for you central time-zoners, and the Cowboys game was starting.

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We're thankful for all our friends and family, in South Carolina and at home in Texas. For those of you in the Lone Star State, we'll see you next month!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cousin Date!

My cousin Matt has been in Charleston for business this week so we decided to meet up for dinner tonight. Now, Charleston is over 2 hours away so either of us going all the way to the other was out of the question on a weeknight. We agreed to meet in Orangeburg, which is about the only civilized area between Columbia and Charleston. We thought Waffle House would be a nice idea.

I was still 10 minutes away when Matt called to say he'd made it to Waffle House and it was "questionable." Ok, no problem. His GPS told us that there was a Pizza Hut mere miles away. We got to Pizza Hut - even more sketch. We finally arrived at a local pizza place we'd passed whose parking lot was full of cars. LeCirque it was not, but we shared a tasty pizza and a few hours of great catch-up conversation. It was great! We're scheming to get Stephanie out to Charleston for a weekend tagged onto one of Matt's trips so that all four of us can explore the city together.

Lucky Matt will be dining at Hyman's tomorrow night (maybe the best seafood place in Charleston) so don't feel too sorry for him. Thanks, Matt for having dinner with me tonight! I had a great time, and I can't wait to see the whole Smith family in December.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yea for family!

I have great news. My cousing Matt is coming to South Carolina this week! We are going to have dinner on Tuesday. I've also added his family's blog to the ones I watch. I lost the link when my tower computer quit on me several months ago, but Stephanie's blog is the one that really gave me the idea for my own. Now I can better keep up with the Smiths like they keep up with my ramblings. For all those Colvin-Reitmeier-Smith-White family members who read this blog, I'll be sure to get a picture when we meet at Waffle House Tuesday night.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where is Bahrain?

Mom, I didn't forget my promise to show you where Bahrain is. Here you go:

He's Gone Again

Well, Nick is gone again. This afternoon I dropped him off at the airport, bound for Bahrain. He'll just be there for this coming week so he's not gone for long. All the same - I miss him already!

I did a little retail therapy this afternoon - bought some stuff from Target and Pier One. I think either the people who live above or below us must smoke in their apartment so there's always this funky smell seeping into ours. I'm trying to solve this with lots of good-smelling things. I'm also hoping that this plan doesn't backfire, creating a mixture of yucky and yummy smells.

My ultimate goal in shopping today was to buy a church dress. Think it should be simple? Think again. I've got some money to spend - thanks to Mom and Dad for my birthday gift - so it's not even like I'm on a tight budget. However, I scoured the best mall here with my friend Rachel last weekend. Nothing. Today I went to some of the higher-end boutiques here, but even if I'd wanted to spend $400 on a church dress (no thanks!) I still didn't find anything acceptable. I also visited a stand-alone Belk's and Talbots (yes, Mom, I resorted to your favorite store). Nada. Zip, zero, zilch. No luck.

So here is my question: have any of my blog readers found a cute church-appropriate winter dress lately? If so, PLEASE tell me where you found it! I'm getting desperate.

Finally, I will end this post by asking for all your prayers. It's getting to be about the time that Nick and I have to make some big decisions for the next few years. Will Nick go on a long tour overseas? Should we move to Florida, California, or Germany? Clearly, there are other considerations too - I'm not going to spell them out for you. Please pray that we will be given wisdom and guidance as we try to make the best choices.

And very, very finally...Sic-em Bears! Beat the Aggies!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nick's Texas Hunting Trip

Last weekend I (Nick) went back to Texas for a hunting trip with Philip and Amanda and my Dad. We camped out at Philip's family's ranch near Barnheart for two nights and had a great time! Thanks Amanda, Philip, and Philip's family for doing a great job putting everything together, it was great to see ya'll. Anyway, here are some pictures of the weekend.

Setting up camp

Getting ready to sight 'em in

West Texas Sunset

Philip and Amanda

Philip and I with my 10 point Whitetail

Nice work! (you don't want to see what it looked like on the ground...)

Me, my dad, and our deer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Results

Yes we are happy! No, we are not drinking the kool-aid. I'd say we're cautiously optimistic. I'd say that above and beyond anything I (Lindsay) personally am glad to not have someone in the White House who wants to continue sending Nick and his fellow soldiers back and forth to Iraq indefinitely. Those are my thoughts at midnight on the East Coast. I'm going to bed, and will try to post something better tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Early Birthday!!!

Have I ever mentioned that I have the world's most thoughtful husband? Well, I do. Yesterday we celebrated my birthday early because Nick had a plan that would only work on a Saturday. I started out the day with a birthday basket full of goodies:
In it were a subsciption to my favorite magazine: Cooking Light, a cookbook all about making sauces (not sure if this is more for me of for him!), a bottle of California sparkling wine, a copy of Baby Mama (the movie)from Fin, and a gift certificate for a couple's massage!

We had an appointment for a couple's massage yesterday morning at Urban Nirvana, which is only a block from our house. You can check out their website here: It was fabulous! And it was so much more enjoyable since Nick was there with me.

We spent the afternoon watching college football then went out to pick up a few things for Nick's hunting trip to Texas next weekend. We finished up the night out with dinner at a great Thai bistro here called Baan Sawan. I had seared tuna with three sauces - so tasty!
We picked up some dessert at Fresh Market before heading home to pick up the South Carolina and Texas games. It was a great early birthday. Thanks honey!!

My yummy creme brulee and a mini cannoli - I couldn't decide!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going Blue

Our blog is going blue for the next week. I think you know why.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sing your praise to the Lord!

So, Nick and I have decided to join our church choir. We both like to sing so it wasn't a totally foreign idea for us to begin with, but when I mentioned to my friend Kelly, whose mom just happens to be the music director for our church, that a song the choir had sung one Sunday morning was a piece Nick and I had learned for All Region auditions in high school, we were recruited. Tonight was our first practice, and we had a blast. Look out for more to come from our adventures in church choir!

In additional news, we'll be officially joining our church at the end of next month. Woo hoo! Posts are slow now, and I apologize, but I've hit my busy season at work. Bear with me, and I'll come up with a good picture or two in the next few days.

Last, we really do have a big praise to sing. We were able to pay off Nick's first college loan this month!!! It wasn't a big one, but it's the first one, and it feels like a big milestone.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is just embarassing

A shortened version of this story appeared in the Daily Gamecock today, our campus newspaper. I am so embarassed for my alma mater! If you haven't already, read it here: I will spend the rest of the day hanging my head in shame. Ugh.

PS If you don't have time to read the whole thing, it's basically saying that Baylor paid freshmen to re-take their SAT's, some think in order to boost the US News and World Report ranking. Boo.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall is here!

Today was a great fall day here in Columbia! Finlay and I woke up early to volunteer at our church's pumpkin patch. Finlay was the portrait of perfection - he got compliments on his behavior all morning!
Afterward Finlay went to Diva Dogs for a little grooming and I went shopping. I got our dining table all ready for fall. Enjoy the pictures!

It sounds like Nick should be coming home on Monday night so keep your fingers crossed. Have a great Saturday everyone and Sic 'Em Bears!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Voting Absentee

Mom, our conversation tonight inspired me. I've just downloaded my absentee ballot request from McLennan County. I always wondered who actually did those, especially during the 2000 elections when I was glued to MSNBC and they kept talking about waiting for all of the military absentee ballots to come in. Well, now I'm doing it!
I don't think it will be much of a surprise to any of you that I will be voting for Barack Obama, and I'm aware that my little blue voice will probably be drowned in Texas' big red tide, but if I didn't submit my vote I wouldn't be doing my civic duty. Although I declared democrat on my application (Daddy, I can hear you cringing) I'm still an independent at heart, and will be trying to read up on the other candidates in other races in McLennan County and Texas. Your help (links, etc.) would be greatly appreciated! I do intend to be an informed voter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Chicago Pictures

I'm home safe and sound from Chicago! Here are a few more pictures from the conference.

Lauren, Dana, and I near our hotel.

Fabulous dessert at House of Blues Friday night. I shared it with Chris and Veronica!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Picture Time!

I'm in Chicago this week at the NACADA conference (national academic advising association), and I've got a few pictures to show you! Now, I know this is a lot of me, but Nick told me today that he's been checking the blog for pictures so please indulge me for his sake. By the way, all is well in Qatar, aside from the fact that he's sleeping in a shipping container. Please continue to pray for his comfort, his stamina, and his safe return in a few weeks.
Spouses get-together Tuesday night. We made pottery!

At the top of the John Hancock building - Chicago skyline.

Close-up of me and tall buildings!

Melissa - world's greatest supervisor - and I getting some deep dish pizza at Gino's East!

Monday, September 29, 2008

On the Road Again

Please pray for Nick tonight. At about 11pm EST (10 for you Central time zone folks) Nick will leave the comfort of the posh Crowne Plaza in Bahrain for Qatar and life in a tent. He won't be flying direct since he's traveling on military aircraft so he'll be in the air for most of our nighttime. I'll let you know when I know that he's made it safe, but it could be a few days until he has phone access. Just assume that no news from me in the next few days is good news :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quick Update

When you live solo, there aren't a lot of photo ops. However, I firmly believe that blogs get boring fast without pictures.'s a picture we took of Finlay at the beach this summer. Enjoy.

And yes, he is sitting on the beach chair. He really does think he's a little human.

In other news, I find it really helpful to dwell on positive things when Nick is gone on trips. Maybe having "whatsoever things are good,whatsoever things are honest, etc." drilled into my head so many times paid off! At any rate, here are some things I'm thankful for this week:

First and foremost, Trenholm Road UMC. Nick and I have decided to join this church, and the people there are really reaching out to us. I'm really excited to get more involved with this church!

Second, phone cards. While Nick has been in Bahrain he has been able to call me every day, and trust me, hearing his voice and being able to communicate with him while he is so far away makes a huge difference.

Speaking of huge differences, I'm very thankful for our new apartment. While it is overall much nicer than our old house, what I really like about it is the sense of security I have in my home. I'm not afraid to walk Finlay at night, and I've been able to sleep!

Fourth, I am thankful for my new job. This one probably deserves to be higher up on the list. Not only is it a means of paying the bills and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, I get to do what I love all day every day. Add to that a fantastic supervisor (who I also count as a good friend) and a staff and faculty I couldn't enjoy being with more, and work is a great place for me to be!

Finally, my new car. I actually try to think of reasons to go places because I enjoy being in it so much! I guess if you've got to get a new car, you might as well have one that you love, right?

I hope you all are feeling just as blessed this Sunday evening. Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reader, I bought her

Bronte may seem a little dramatic here, but I thought of that great line from Jane Eyre when I was driving my new car home today. I love her! Here are some pictures. I'll post better ones tomorrow when it's lighter outside.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Nick Update

I just want to let everyone know that Nick has landed safely in Bahrain. He seems comfortable in his hotel, and he got there in just enough time to go to bed to rest up for tomorrow! Thank you all for your prayers while he is over there. Although both countries he is visiting are very friendly, it's always a little disconcerting for him to be so far from home.

Fare thee well, Big Red

Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day. It's the day I'm picking up by brand-spanking-new CRV, and it's also the day I bid farewell to Big Red. It may seem odd for a girly-girl like myself to be so attached to a car. I think most would agree that she's probably not so fond of me, owing to the fact that I wrecked her pretty three years (but not once since 2002).

The thing is, she's been in my family since she was, 1997. I remember clearly the day my mom pulled up to the freshmen carpool line in her. I remember traveling to "away" football games with her loaded down with friends. I remember what a big deal it was when I got to take her all the way to Hillsboro, packed full of fellow seniors, to watch a high school basketball game during Corrigan. I remember when Mom and Dad finally relinquished her to me (after I'd ripped off my Firebird's ground effects on all the speedbumps around Baylor).

Since she officially became mine in college she's taken road trips across Texas and across the country. She took mye to mywedding and my honeymoon, Nick's and my first apartment, and hauled all of my most precious belongings to South Carolina. She spent six months hauling my butt back and forth from Sumter to graduate school and back again every weekday! She even made it to a real Gamecock tailgate party or two.

So you can see that it's no small thing for me to give her up. She's never once complained about her old age. She's never had so much as squeaky brakes or a flat tire much less a major breakdown or part failure. I know that the mechanic says I have to let her go, that she is too tired to carry on much longer without some major help, but I have to admit that even the prospect of a sparkling new car is not enough to make me feel glad to give up Big Red.

Big Red, I will miss you, and not just when I'm trying to pack all of our Christmas luggage into the new, smaller, CRV. I will miss the way your cheery red color stood out in a packed parking lot. I will miss the place where your console is so worn from my elbow resting on it that it has a little indention just the right size. I'll miss the gritty stains on your floor mats, each one a reminder of a trip to Wendy's with my buddies or a near-miss accident, avoided thanks to your excellent handling. I will miss your ability to carry me and four of my friends and all of our stuff for a weekend trip, no problem. I will miss the way you proudly bear your Texas license plates and tags. I will miss your dignity, even in the face of certain abandonment. I will miss all of the precious memories that you were a part of.

My greatest hope is that the good people at the Honda dealership can fix you up and get you settled with a nice family. Maybe one with a teenage girl with a good heart and a slightly leaden foot. I hope you enjoy your new life, but please don't forget about me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big Weekend

This weekend two big things happened. Yesterday we bought a car - a new Honda CRV! I get to pick it up on Tuesday so I'll put up some pictures then. I'm planning an homage to Big Red (my old faithful) soon. I'm kind of sad to give her up! Nick did all the wheeling and dealing yesterday, talking the sales guy waaay down on the price and getting us a great interest rate. I was so proud and grateful!

Today was not so happy. Nicholas left for a month-long trip through the Middle East. He'll be visiting Bahrain and Qatar. As I'm typing this he is en-route to Frankfurt. Finlay and I are really sad and tired and don't really feel like blogging. Fin's actually concked out on the couch next to me. We're watching Hope Floats, which is not exactly helping our sadness. Perhaps in a minute we'll peruse the offering on our HD movies on-demand.

I hope everyone has a great Monday, and I'll give you an update on the new car just as soon as it's in my hands.

Monday, September 15, 2008


As you might imagine, my new life as a career woman has kept me a bit busier than I used to be! I'm sorry that I'm just getting around to posting after my new job announcement, but I'm just getting settled into a daily routine. We don't have anything particularly exciting to share, except that Nick's trip to Qatar has now been moved to the end of this month through mid-October (not sure of the exact dates, but he could leave as soon as Sunday).

We have a few pictures to share with you. The first is from Nick's and my celebration dinner for my new job at Gervais and Vine. The second picture is of the massive plug of Finlay hair that stopped up our vacuum last weekend. We had to stick a curtain rod down the tube to force it all out! I know it's kind of gross, but we found it pretty amusing and amazing. I am loving my new job as an academic advisor in the History department at USC. As an extra bonus I even get to go to the national NACADA (National Academic Advisors Association) conference in Chicago in early October.

I hope this post finds you all well. Please pray for Nick's safe travel this weekend/early next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Straight Path

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
*Disclaimer: This post is going to be long and sappy so if you're not up for it, come back later!
Over two years ago Nick and I moved to South Carolina. Soon followed a strange and difficult turn of events for our new and little family. A week after our first wedding anniversary, in late May, we discovered that, surprise!, we were pregnant. One month later we learned that Nick would be deploying for the last five months of the pregnancy. I was more devastated about that than I had been about anything else in my entire life. Three days later, on June 29th, we lost the pregnancy at not quite 11 weeks. One month after that Nick left on a 4 1/2 month deployoment to the middle east, as scheduled.
At the time I couldn't fathom why on earth I was being afflicted like that. Although I know that so many of my family and friends have gone through similar struggles, and that my situation is certainly not unique to me, it is difficult during those times to not feel as if you are being singled out for punishment. It was easy for me to sit around and feel sorry for myself.
The Sunday following my miscarriage, I sent Mom off to the airport and attended church services at the new church I'd been visiting (Nick was still on shift and unable to attend on Sundays). There was a baby dedication that day, which was especially difficult to sit through. At the end of the service I took communion and tried not to cry at the altar as I begged God to take away my pain, to reveal some kind of greater purpose for my life.
That prayer set about a series of events that can be described as nothing but providential. First, I was provided with a job at my church. This provided a much-needed income and a reason to get out of bed each day. With time, too, came friends, real true friends who saw me through some difficult times during Nick's deployment. Then, as I was looking around for a full-time job, a career I could sink my teeth into, God revealed to me the next big step in his plan, and boy was it a leap of faith.
God called me to graduate school! Again, he provided for me every step of the way. I got in with no trouble, and was soon introduced to another incredible group of friends, mentors, and allies, who got me through 20 trying months of school and work. Throughout grad school, I was constantly reminded that soon I'd graduate and need to get a job. Although I knew it would be challenging to find a job in Columbia, with a high number of qualified applicants for every job, I trusted that the Lord had led me this far, he would show me the way forward.
While I can't say that my faith in his plan and provision never wavered, I can tell you that I had an uncanny peace about how things would turn out. Just as I'd had a rather sudden epiphany about starting graduate school, this May I felt a rather strong inner urging to graduate a semester early. Doing this meant that I endured a rather trying summer, but I couldn't help but have a sense that the purpose of all my hard work would be revealed in due time.
Just as I was finishing up my last few weeks of school, my mentor and former co-worker, Anna (her blog is linked on the left), decided to stay at home with her new baby and work on her PhD rather than come back to work. It seemed like her position just might be tailor-made for me.
As it turns out, it was! I have been going through the application and interview process for the past few weeks, and was just informed that I had been offered the position. I am now officially an academic advisor in the USC History Department!! I know that a number of you have been hoping and praying for me to get this job for some time. Thanks for all your prayers - as you can see I have tried to be trusting and faithful, and the Lord has certainly given me a straight path here. For those dark weeks when I couldn't understand how any of my difficulties and trials could possibly fit into God's plan for my life, I have a definite answer. Even if I can't understand it all the time, I know that he is preparing the way for me.
I could not be more grateful or excited! I start tomorrow, and I'll let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2 Big Things

Tomorrow morning I have an interview for my dream job at USC. Please wish me luck!

I'll also be putting together my first hurricane emergency preparedness kit, per the Red Cross. I figured that since I actually got a notice about the storm from the electric company I should look into getting ready for Hanna (and maybe Ike, we'll see). No worries Mom - we'll be set if Hanna gets to us!

Hope everyone is having a great short week!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Congratulations Mom!

Congratulations are due to my Mom, who is in Chicago this weekend to receive a big award from Veterans Affairs! I haven't been able to find anything online to describe the award, but I'll have her give me a write-up when she gets back. At any rate, it's a HUGE deal, so give her a big pat on the back the next time you see her (which will probably be before I do).

On a significantly less happy note, it looks like I'll be getting a new car sooner than expected, probably as soon as Nick gets back from his September deployment. Oh yeah, Nick's going to be back in Qatar for the month of September - I think I've neglected to mention that. Long story short, I took my car in for some routine maintenance today, and the guy showed me about $2000 worth of work that Big Red needs to make it though the next year. These are big things like replacing the ball bearings on my front wheel/brake/tire part (you know, the part that lets you turn - I'm not a mechanic!)

So the plan is to trade before she quits for good, which, if you believe my mechanic, should be really soon. I was a bit skeptical about the place, to be honest, until I ran into my former boss's(JB for you USC folks) son there, who told me that his family doesn't take their cars anywhere else. Seems like the place is legit so I guess I'll believe my mechanic.

I'm thinking about one of the new Honda CRV's. Does anyone have any experiences with/thoughts about them? Do you have anything else in that price range that you'd highly recommend? Considering all of the road trips we take, and the plans we have in the next few years to add to the Hall family, it has to be a small SUV. No sedans! Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pi Beta Phi to thee...

After three years on the lam, I'm finally getting back to my Pi Beta Phi. As I've mentioned before, I'm becoming a charter member of the Alumnae Panhellenic that's being formed here in Columbia. Well, I figured that since I was representing the Pi Beta there, I ought to try to get in touch with the actual Pi Phi alum club here in Columbia.

This morning I contacted the alum club president, and I must admit I was a bit skeptical about the activity level of the alum club here. You see, there is not a single Pi Phi collegiate chapter in the state of South Carolina. However, I just got off the phone with Madame President, and she's sending me all the information about the club in the mail, adding me to the roster, and has invited me to the club's September meeting. It sounds like the club is mostly composed of older women (Ellen, the pres., graduated from college two years after my mom was born), but she sounded excited to have a younger woman in the mix. My days at Trinity UMC and with the PEO's in Sumter have taught me that there's nothing quite like having a bunch of grandmotherly and motherly women around when you're in a new place, so I'm equally excited to have some new Pi Phi companions.

I'll let you know how our first meeting pans out!

Work in Progress

Ok, Mom, this one's for you. I know you're dying to see what the new apartment looks like so even though it's certainly not a finished product, here's what we've got so far. Highlights include tons of bright windows, two walk-in closets, and a garden tub in our bathroom. We plan to get a new entertainment center, desk, and curtains ASAP. And for any of you wondering where some of our missing furniture is, we've put some big pieces, like our piano and buffet, into climate controlled storage until we have a house big enough to accomodate them. Hope you all like the pictures!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recent Happenings

A few things have happened in the past several days that warrant mentioning, but I'll have to expand on some of them (with pictures) later since I'm blogging at 6am and need to go get ready for work soon! I have one story that has to be told today, though, so enjoy.

The first and biggest exciting thing is that Nick and I moved into our new apartment. Now, you might be asking yourself why on earth we'd move to an apartment from the cute house we had. The answer is two words: shadetown and deployment. The first word refers to our old neighborhood. At one time described as "up and coming" I've determined that the sentiment was in fact wishful thinking. While there were several nice families on our block, once you strayed from there it was a total mixed bag...of nuts! Since Nick is hoping to go to Afghanistan for nine months next year, and let's face it he's been gone for half of this year, we thought an apartment in a nice, quiet community would be far preferable.

We were not let down! Our apartment is bigger and so much nicer than our old (read uncleanable dirt and grime hiding in every cabinet, only two prong outlets, and power that goes out whenever you vacuum) cute (read tiny) house. We've got a nice deck for enjoying the outdoors, and I think Finlay likes his daily walks more than the chance to run around freely in the yard, which he only did occasionally anyway. I'll post some pictures as soon as all the boxes are out of the way.

Yesterday I also got my first major appliance! Yes, Daddy, I did my research first. If you've every been to our house when we've been doing laundry you know it's a big pain to dry clothes. The dryer didn't time itself or turn off on its own, and for the last eight months it has made a horrible screeching sound constantly that is apparently irreparable. Since we have to be more quiet in our home now (we're on the second floor of three) we decided that we had no choice but to buy a new dryer. It's nothing fancy, just your basic-level Maytag. Of all the dryers in our price range this one got the best reviews, and I know that Maytags tend to be trustworthy. The coolest thing about it is that it has a cycle you can run on any heat setting (any of the five!) that senses the moisture in the barrel and automatically shuts off when it reaches the desired dryness level (you choose from several options). I tried it twice yesterday and absolutely love it! I'm a little poorer now, but at least my clothes will be pampered from now on.

The last accomplishment yesterday was the cable set-up. It almost went perfectly. However, we had a small glitch - I mean, come on, it's Time Warner Cable, of course there was a glitch! When I submitted my installation request I noted that we wanted to switch our box to an HD box because our new TV is HD. The guy comes to install my cable - no box. So, knowing how pumped Nick is about getting HD and wanting to reward him during his sixth straight week of 13 hour-plus work days, I haul my butt down to the TWC office in Five Points. Not, I soon discover, a good plan.

When I walk in, I can barely fit in the door because the line is so long - at least fifteen people deep. I should note here that I am holding our massive DVR box. I quickly notice that stationed inside the store is a policeman - not a private security guard, but an honest-to-God City of Columbia police officer, complete with gun. This, I think to myself, is not a good sign. So I stand in line, waiting patiently. After all, if I'm not here, I'm at home unpacking boxes, which is frankly getting monotonous. So I don't really mind waiting that much. I'm determined to remain pleasant.

About fifteen minutes into the experience there is a mini-revolt in the store. It seems that about half of the people in there are just there to pay their bills with cash or money orders. Who knew that many people actually went to the store to pay their bill? Apparently they do. So, there is one cashier who is handling only these people, and at some point they decide to make their own line at her station. Not the right plan! There are others who have apparently inquired as to this option previously and were told that there was one line and one line only. They become somewhat irrate at the people in the new line. It's at this point that I become grateful for the policeman because he gets over there in just enough time to diffuse the situation and send everyone in the new line back to their original places in the old line. Then, like kindergarteners waiting for lunch, they all scurry back to claim their exact places. The woman behind me, who I am guessing was mentally altered in some way, definitely invaded my personal bubble to ensure that she got to claim her previous spot. She never backed off!

So fifteen minutes later( at least thirty total minutes of standing in line) I reach the counter, swap out my box, and head home to hook it up, grateful to have left in one piece. I get all the cords plugged into all the right places only to discover that the woman at the counter failed to supply me with an electrical cord. Since I'm working all day today, that will have to wait until tomorrow, when I'm sure I'll have another adventure at the TWC office.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lindsay Hall, M.Ed.

Well, it's finally over and done with. On Saturday I graduated from my Master's program. Nick and I celebrated that morning by signing the lease to our new apartment. That night we went with some friends to the Flying Saucer to celebrate properly. We had a great time! Here's a picture of the flowers Mom and Dad sent me. Aren't they pretty? There are also some gorgeous lilies in there that you can't see. Below that is a picture from my graduation celebration!