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A Year in Review

It is the last day of 2006. I've decided to do a running summary of this years events (as I remember them with no looking back for ideas - so if I miss anything important, sorry).

[If you don't want to read all of the details, feel free to skip to the last paragraph, where there is a three sentence summary!]

I celebrated the beginning of 2006 with Marco and his friends from Google in Dublin, Ireland. We stayed out until almost dawn, called my family at East Coast time and watched Dick Clark's party (sans Dick) and the ball drop in NYC on the internet. It didn't really seem like the New Year until that.

January was spent teaching and saving money. (And turning in grad school applications.) I also got to play in some volleyball tournaments in the southern part of my region in France (Champagne). In February, I went to Nancy with Alice and Martin to visit Isabelle and Anne-Helene. On the return trip, we stopped in Luxembourg, Luxembourg - which was fabulous.

A week late…

A Change in Plans

The only thing to say is that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and that there are parts of that plan we cannot control.

The longest I have ever lived in one place was 11 years, in South Florida from kindergarten to ninth grade. We lived in one of those classic 90's American neighborhoods where everyone rode bikes together, played kickball in the street, swam in each others pools, ate fruit off of everyone else's trees, and shared homes like they were toys. Most summer days were spent with half the neighborhood doing some sort of activity. "Can the kids come out and play?" was a common question. The little girl next door used to walk in and say, "Honey, I'm home."

She was seven years old then and I was fourteen - but I was her best friend (and babysitter). I'd known her since before she was born - I can clearly remember the stork in the lawn for two weeks after her birth. And the night we moved out of that house, she was the last pe…

Late Nights

I have been staying up really late lately. I need to get out of this habit. Two nights ago, I drove in from out of town and then stayed up reading (even though I didn't get home until after 1am). Then I stayed up until 3:30am playing cards with my siblings and Dad and then read until 5am. Tonight, I am determined to go to bed at my normal 2am bedtime (I know this seems late but I don't get up until 9am, so I'm getting plenty of sleep).

This will be brief, so I can reach that goal. But, I just wanted to ask the world (or the few of you fabulous people who actually read this) if they knew how to save a file from Windows Movie Maker to a DVD I can play on my parents television. I made my family this, I think, really cool Christmas present, and now I can't seem to get it onto the blank DVDs I bought. Ideas or assistance would be much appreciated.

Since I finished my fun reading book, have no idea how to finish making this present, and everyone else seems to be sleepin…

The Caroling Party

So most of my excitement about staying in town this weekend revolved around preparing for the Caroling Party. I baked like a fiend, cleaned the apartment, did some gardening (which no one can ever see because all our parties are at night, but whatever - I like it), and finished my laundry and such.

The party was super. Not everyone could make it (which was a bummer), but the people who came were amazingly fun. We ate an inordinate amount of baked goods (and I also made people take tons home) had an actual fire that lasted, drank cocoa, watched the original cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and sang a bunch of songs. Some notable classics were the "Twelve Days of Christmas," acted out respectively by each individual; "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which was making us laugh so hard Dana had to stop playing piano; and "Thirty Two Paws and Eight Little Tails," which was a song no one had ever heard before, but Dana and I think is hysteri…

Thumbprint Jelly Cookies

These are my all time favorite cookie:
They can be made entirely sugar free (if you want to) and filled with your favorite flavor jelly. I fill them with a variety of flavors. Above are apricot, black cherry, Bonne Maman Quatre Fruits, and strawberry. I discovered that there are some serious tricks to getting them to NOT crack in the oven, but even with that, total prep time for a batch of 12 is about a half an hour (add about five minutes more per batch if you want to make more than that). If you are interested in the recipe, let me know.

Anyway, Mom has been making these for years, and theses are my first ones ever - all by myself, so I'm proud. I wanted to make something a little different for the Caroling Party we're having tomorrow.

It is amazing how weird it is to have free time. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I figure I better enjoy it though, because when I have to be out in the real world next year, I'm really going to miss this. Back to pres…

Rosy Sunday

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. It is a fabulous day - one week from Christmas Eve and quality time with my family. I spent most of the day indoors again (mild bummer). But, my cold is basically gone and there are three types of cookies in my kitchen.

The biggest challenge of the day was thumbprint jelly cookies. The first obstacle was not having the right extract, which was solved with a simple substitution (and a call to Mom). Then, I didn't have a pastry brush. But, my landlords lent me an unused barbecue basting brush in return for a taste of the cookies. In the end, my cookies came out marvelously (if I do say so myself)! This was my first pass at them, but I think that came out an awful lot like Mom's!!!

I also made oatmeal cookies. Now, I didn't actually buy a container of oatmeal (because I knew I wouldn't use it all). Instead, I dug into the economy size box of individual oatmeal packets my Mom gave me at the beginning of the year and found all t…

One Sweet Day (x3)

It is definitely not a good idea to eat as much chocolate as I have tonight. Chocolate is good. Chocolate is yummy. Everything has its limits.

I've spent the day resting up after a really great night with my SOC pals. I must say, I haven't slept with that many people on a couch since high school!

Other events from the past few days:

I took my last final on Thursday. I wasn't overly excited with the questions the professor chose, but I guess it came out alright in the end. Then Thursday night, completely hopped up on DayQuil, I went out to a Celtic Bar with a few people from the Principles study group. Amanda caught up with us and so we moved on to the Dancing Crab (there were no actual crabs there, nor dancing). Afterwards, Theresa came over and we stayed up talking until after 3am. I love the kids in my program!!!

Friday, I slept in due to severe NyQuil and sleep deprivation. I headed out to school to work with Nisbet. I got like ten phone calls while I was at work…

Spinning

In this post, I am going to "reshape the image of an unpopular idea." This is my classmate Amanda's way of saying, "spin." Many communications professionals are really spin doctors - whipping everything up and pouring it out to make what they want. So here is my "spin" version of this weeks events ...

Today I spent the day working hard. At home, I completed multiple questions in preparation for study groups this afternoon. I proctored an exam and then worked with a classmate on an SPSS project. I then, productively, read over 60 pages of notes in preparation for study group. This was done first on a bench (watching birds fight over a chocolate chip cookie) and then lying on the floor outside the "Hub" on the third floor of MGC (which has become my surrogate home).

The study group met, which resulted in a number of positive revelations and resolutions. All members are looking forward to an exceptional score on Thursday's final. Alth…

Disappointed?

I wanted to drop a quick line to say that Hoops for Home, the charity basketball game I played in on Friday, went outstandingly. The SOC Dance Party II at Rumors downtown was amazingly fun (how could it not be with that crowd?). The rest of Friday night went basically like I thought it would, but I wound up staying up waaaay too late, and then slept through a good portion of Saturday.

Costco was, well, an adventure as usual. Theresa was the greatest friend Saturday evening, being not only completely supportive but a great motivator for productivity (lots of homework finished!).

Choir this morning was a ton of fun and did alot to set the right tone for this second Sunday of Advent. I checked Dana's paper(s), cleaned my disaster area (aka bedroom), made Christmas presents, caught up (a little) with the newspapers, and got the soap scum out of the shower. Aunt Rosemary was her usual expert self on the phone and helped me realise that the emotion that was plaguing me was disappoi…

Devoirs

Ah, les devoirs! (English summary below.)

C'est le fin de semestre et ma vie est les devoirs. Les projets, presentations, essaies, et examens. Oh, oui, j'etude un peu aussi. Depuis dimanche j'avais fait presque 40 heures de devoirs. Super! Apres presque 12 heures a l'ecole aujourd'hui, j'ai fait mon travail.

Mon job n'est pas tres difficile. Je travaille a la maison et pour le plupart, je lis les articles et categorize les differences. Ce soir, grace a Excel, j'avais fait les tables et "graphs" (le mot en francais?). La bonne nouvelles: mon recherche va etre publie dans un livre! Pas demain, mais bientot. C'est comme un bonbon apres tous les legumes (j'adore les legumes, mais ce n'est pas le meme chose n'es-ce pas?).

Je suis super fatigue et il y a toujours deux "papiers" important (je ne suis pas super fort a L'Ecriture), et un paquet de media. (C'est un cahier avec les photos et bulletins pour un eve…

Psalm 119: 165

Quick catch-up
I've been working on papers non-stop for approximately two days.
I have three projects and three exams left until the end of my first academic semester of graduate school.The advent dinner party went fabulously, and I had so much fun that I didn't even mind how much work I've done since Sunday.Tonight there were three deer in the ditch behind our apartment. They were so close I could have spit a watermelon seed and hit them.Studio 60 is wonderful. I don't care if it isn't as good as the West Wing. It makes me happy.It is freezing in the apartment.Now for the narrative. In my five to ten minute breaks over the past two days, I have had a chance to clean up my room (you can't tell) and spot read a few blogs. This wasn't procrastination, it was necessitated pauses. Seven hours straight discussing the history of science communication and the popularization of science is enough to drive even me batty.

I found this on Pritcher's blog.
"T…

SOC Madness & SEC Matchups

This week has been a whirlwind. The Holiday Party for the SOC was last night. What a blast! Well worth the time and energy exerted to make it happen. I haven't heard a single bit of bad dialogue (which is a first). After the actual party almost everyone I know from the program was out at Nolan's in Adams Morgan.

Watching my friends get completely plastered was no more fun than it usually is, but getting to watch them dance and carry on with each other was incredible. I love seeing the "other" side of people. It helps me appreciate the fullness of human beings. It also makes me laugh, because no one, I repeat, NO ONE should lie down on the floor waiting for the Metro. Yuck.

But enough of the debauchery (because if you were there you know what happened and if you weren't you can just imagine an experience you've had with fellow classmates). Today I crashed at home, splitting my time equally between productivity, relaxation, and procrastination. It sou…

Introverted

I think it is interesting how a person can seem so present and yet so absent simultaneously. I'm not saying I feel invisible. In fact, it is probably the opposite. I've been busy with planning and writing papers and just recently singing Christmas songs with my roommate (which, by the way is an incredible amount of fun).

I'm just kind of feeling ... introverted. (Feel free to laugh if you actually know me, chances are you don't believe this is possible.) In fact, tonight at dinner when describing myself, I actually was explaining to a friend that of the three kids in my family I am the most introverted or (perhaps better worded) the least social. I'm not sure she believed me (but you should, since I'm not lying and anyone in my family can attest to this truth).

Maybe I'm in a pensive mood? Who knows. I know that when my parents called tonight to make sure I was doing okay, I was really glad they called. And that I've been incredibly lucky to have…

Support the Troops

As I was reading the Washington Post today, I noticed that there were a bunch of articles about the deterioration of the conditions in Iraq (as if they weren't bad before). Then, I was checking out one of my favorite blog sites, PostSecret and I found this link to AnySoldier.

I haven't finished reading the entire site, so forgive me if there is something tragically horrible on it, but I've read about 75% of it, including some of the requests from soldiers and I couldn't help but be moved by it.

I don't care what your political affiliation is, or what you think about war, or how you feel about the American administration. There are men and women dying every single day, and they are wearing American flags on their shoulders. Their burden is heavy and we get to live in glorious freedom because of it. So support the troops, even if you can't support what they are doing.

If you don't like the idea of sending a simple letter through this program this Christmas, …

Gamecock Glory

Also known as 365 days of bragging rights. A special thank you to Clemson's field goal kicker for making this rivalry Saturday a joyous one. I am rather glad we finally beat them. This was the first time since 1996 that we've beat the lousy Tigers on their home turf. Hooray, hooray.

Today was primarily spent watching college football. I was thrilled for Georgia, South Florida, Florida, slightly thrilled for Arkansas (not too much though), sad about Notre Dame, and generally encouraged by Wake Forest*.

*This is because Clemson beat them and Georgia Tech, which means if we face off with whoever wins that game when we play the bowl game this year, we stand an okay chance of winning!

And now bedtime beckons. Tomorrow is my last full day at home for awhile and I don't want to spend it yawning. Love always, ~Heather

Bright Friday

My family doesn't really believe in Black Friday. First of all we have our own traditions. Second of all, it is a really stupid idea to go to a store and get trampled. Actually, I think anyone willing to go is really brave, so hooray for you if you went. I was otherwise occupied with the holiday spirit.

My idea of spending the Friday after Thanksgiving is on a ladder. We took all of the Christmas boxes and containers out of the attic. This doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, except we have three regular size tubs, one large box, and seven giant tubs (like the kind you or I could fit into). This is in addition to the big tin of ornaments, the huge computer box with my stuff in it, the dishes and such that were already on the top shelves of the kitchen cabinets and the two boxes of wrapping paper and the two boxes with the Christmas tree lights and ornaments in them that we left in the attic until later.

As I write the list, I feel a little awkward. It seems strange…

Shooting Stars

I just saw a shooting star, and I had to tell you about it. I was searching the sky for the dippers - which I couldn't find. But Orion was just as bright as I have ever seen him, even the distant stars were clear. What I am pretty sure was Saturn was hovering, blinkingly a little bit above the horizon. And then, there it was. It dove right across Orion's belt and disappeared.

You can't keep amazing things like that to yourself - you have to share them. I made a wish as soon as it registered in my brain that I hadn't imagined it. (That I won't share.) But the thing I like about wishes, is that they are really prayers. You ask the light for something, just as it appears to be going out: shooting stars, birthday candles, and so on, and then you feel better inside. Even if you know that the wish seems completely unattainable, it sort of gives you this cheery feeling inside, a calm-happy feeling. I don't just wish into the dark. My whispered wishes are g…

Mercredi

I finally got some homework done! Hooray for me!!! I also had some particularly excellent pumpkin soup for dinner. Yum yum. I discovered the secret to good mushrooms is a little wine - all this time I've been wondering why mine don't taste as good as Mom's! I wrote to my French family and received some interesting advice about simplifying life. All in all, it was a good and productive day.

Tonight, we even went up to a neighbor's to have a little get-together. The hosts are members of our church choir. I love singing, and Becky is an incredible alto to sing with. I might even be taking care of their pets when I'm home for Christmas (even pets should have people around on the holidays!).

Speaking of pets, I walked Shadow three times today. I love walking the dog. I think I am most thankful for unconditional love today. Pets often love you unconditionally, parents try to (mine, I think, are successful), and most of all God loves me all the time. I'm pr…

Time Well Spent

Procrastination consistently gets me into trouble. I am, however sadly, addicted to it. I procrastinated a bunch today. I was relatively productive though. I'm finished with all the homework for one class, I went to four shoe stores all over town trying on an incredibly large number of shoes in sizes ranging from 9 to 11 and M to W. It wasn't terrible. But I still don't have dress shoes. If it ever stops raining here, I'll venture out again.

Speaking of the rain: If you are planning on driving tomorrow, please DRIVE CAREFULLY. I am not your mother or other annoying relative. I am a friend who has driven on the most travelled day of the year way too many times. I've also seen what flash flooding can do to the roads - particularly I-95 - and I just want all of you to be able to spend Thanksgiving safe and sound at your intended destinations. You've seen the storms over NC, watched the snow stories from SC and TN, and heard about the wind everywhere. I…

Proclivity

Proclivity - a natural inclination or predisposition

This is yesterday's word of the day. Today's was exacerbate. I didn't really think it applied. Proclivity matches my thing I am thankful for.

[This message brought to you because I could seriously not think of a title for this post. The picture below is of the Taize monastery. I was reminded of my time there again today when Frida, a friend from Sweden, wrote me a message.]

I was significantly less productive today than I wanted to be - but I still have all day tomorrow to make up for it. I did find some great academic article and research search engines, got prepared and brainstormed on my Strategic paper, and I seriously considered doing my writing homework. I actually am three people shy of finishing my Research homework - and I only started about 5 hours ago. I feel like I should probably be done with that by tomorrow.

I want to really finish up the Lit Review before lunch tomorrow. Since I only have 2 of about …

BCS: Blowing College Sports

The BCS sucks and we need a playoff system now. If Florida beats Arkansas and doesn't get into the National Championship, there are serious problems in the world of college football.

In fact, I propose (idea from Dad) that all SEC schools boycott the bowl games if an SEC school isn't in one of the top two bowls. Looking at that last sentence makes me feel a little bratty. And, if USC doesn't play in a bowl this year after we made ourselves eligible, I think I would feel a little defeated.

I also have a theory that the ESPN people biased the voters because they bad-mouthed the SEC all day on Saturday. They are just cranky because their sister station ABC got beat out by CBS for all the SEC match-ups and so they are trying to punish the best division in college football. This is ludicrous when you consider that most other divisions have exactly 2-3 ranked teams. The SEC had 6 most weeks of the year.

I know you probably think I am just being biased towards Florida, but if A…

St. Catherine

I looked this up for Grandmother - who was reciting a poem about St. Catherine to me. We were trying to figure out what she was known for, and here it is. St. Catherine is the patron saint of young maidens and female students. In life she was known for her eloquent speech and persuasiveness. She was a student of the sciences who, knowing that Christians were being killed for their beliefs, was audacious enough to tell the king what she thought. Also, she was one of the chief spiritual counselor's of Joan of Arc. I think I'll pray to her more often - I think we would have gotten along pretty well!

(Note: I am home in Fayetteville for the next week.)

Today has been good. I sang with the choir at church this morning. It was nice to sing with a choir again. Then we went grocery shopping, got a fireplace kit (so we can finally have a fire in the apartment), and then did some gardening. I read a little for one of my classes and fell asleep on the sofa for a bit. I taught t…

Gundabar

Big event of the day: I discovered the truth.




(The "you" should be "I") (Thanks to G for the link to the Quiz page)

Otherwise, I:
Slept in.Had a meeting about my graduate program.Put flyers in student mailboxes.Printed out about 75 pages of stuff I need to read over vacation (in addition to the other things I already have.)Cleaned up the kitchen.Shredded cheese and hung out with Dana (who made me some awesome cookies for my car ride home tomorrow!).Briefly listened to Christmas music, breaking a rule I have followed since I was in kindergarten.Vacuumed and tidied my room while starting laundry.Talked to Grandmother.Watched basically all of the original Star Wars series - except they weren't actually in the original format. (And yay for Dana's friend who came over to watch some of it with me! Also, I had no idea we had Cinemax.)
**Note on how crappy it is that they "made the movies better" by changing the music and adding digital imagery. I vote th…

Cache en francais

Ce soir, j'ai etudie chez un ami. C'est un situation unique. On est les amis de universite. On nous a retrouve sur l'internet pendant mon temps en France. Quand j'ai decouvree qu'il habite a Washington aussi, on a commence de passer de temps ensemble. C'etait super bien passe, parce qu'on aime les memes choses, on entendre (tense?) tres bien ... Un soir, c'etait evident qu'on n'a parle pas de quelquechose. Et enfin, il me plait, je le plait ... super! Mais, c'est impossible a cause d'un probleme (comme normal) de choix.

Il l'envie de voir plusiers filles au meme temps. Pas exactement plusiers petites amies ... mon traduction j'ai peur n'est pas juste ... mais, simplement il n'est pas pret pour une liason serieuse au moment. On a passe le weekend (apres le soir) plus des amis, moins des copains. Maintenant, on est, encore, seulment les amis. C'est difficile parce que lui me manque. Peut-etre c'est bizarre…

Magnificent Desolation

This morning I got up and again headed down to the National Air and Space Museum. I had a ticket to go and see Magnificent Desolation, the new-ish IMAX 3D film narrated by Tom Hanks. It basically told the story of how people trained for, worked, and walked on the moon. In the six missions to the moon, 12 men left their footprints there. The landscapes were beautiful, the perspectives great, the story fulfilling.

I love space. The film was primarily about the Apollo missions, which I have studied since middle school. Listening to actors reading quotes from these brilliant and brave men, watching images of their time on the lunar surface, hearing the *bleep* so often associated with the space race Mission Control room ... it was hard not to be intoxicated by all of it.

You can laugh if you want, but I was crying by the end. There was a little sub-story about a girl who wanted to go to the moon. She was sure she was going to get to go. I think I saw myself in her. I wish I was be…

Today is Tuesday

Highlights from today:
Breakfast and the Washington PostGoing for a walk with Dana on the Crescent City Trail near the house (this thing is beautiful with tunnels and bridges and woods all around).Cleaning up the apartment a bit - mostly sorting through all the newspapers from the days I wasn't here and getting them into the recycling bin.LunchWriting classGraduate Leadership Council Meeting (thank you everyone who came!)Focus Group for Lindsay. This was also dinner, since they served us pizza. Shawn and Adrian walked me to my car afterwards since it was dark and then I drove them home. Note to anyone interested: driving north on Massachusetts in the evening can take a long time - 10 minutes for two blocks!
American Forum on the mid-term elections. It will be airing on WAMU on Thursday evening for those interested. The panelists were quite good!Theory class, where we discussed infotainment and films as a means of communicating ideas. I should note here that I made class a litt…

The Wood

[Read the previous post first]

Just an update on the wood in my trunk. Now it is outside my trunk on the ground, pushed over by a wall so I will still be able to parallel park. Bill was kind enough to help me get it out. Then the wheelbarrow broke. And when I told Dad the story, he informed me the wood wasn't going to be able to be used this season anyway. All that work, a dirty trunk, a broken wheelbarrow, and I'm going to have to buy wood anyway.

Sometimes my frugality is my own worst enemy.

Love always, ~Heather

Five days in brief

What a wish-wash of things to talk to you about! This is a long one. I think you can make it through though ... it is (biased, yes) entertaining.

First and foremost, I hope everyone had an excellent Veteran's Day. Let us never forget the amazing men and women who fight for the freedom we enjoy every day. Pour mes amis francais, Veteran's Day = Journee d'Armistice.

Thursday I had an incredibly busy day, starting with an early start down at the National Air and Space Museum. I watched the new planetarium show Cosmic Collisions and interviewed other audience members and museum staff. This was all for a feature story I'm writing for homework. In the end, I needed to talk to some other staff people because the story I went there to write was not the most interesting one. As soon as I'm finished with it, I'll post it here so you can see it.

I ran home to have lunch and scoot out the door in time for Strategic (class). After class I had an audition for the Vagin…

Survey

For my Research Methods class, I wrote a survey about catholicism. I called some people around the country to get results to the survey. It was only a class assignment, but I think the results could be very interesting (they already are to me, I'm just assuming you'll be interested too).

The survey is for people who are Catholic now or have, at one time, considered themselves Catholic. (Respondents must be at least 16 years old.) The results of the survey are completely anonymous. If I get at least 25 respondents, then I'll analyze the results and post them. Please pass this along to others.

Click here to take survey

Thank you so much for your help! ~Heather