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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Things that are "Lover-ly"

1. Reading the Washington Post during breakfast
2. An excellent homily from the visiting priest from Massachusetts
3. Having someone tell me they were glad to hear me singing in church
4. Clean spaces
5. New kitchen stuff for a new apartment
6. Starting my first real job tomorrow
7. Finally seeing My Fair Lady
8. Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches
9. Chats with friends
10. Checking out interesting material from the library
11. Creating a budgeting program for myself
12. Having a new crush (isn't that rush so exciting?)
13. Being absolutely, positively blessed
14. Spending the weekend at home with my parents
15. Packing boxes and preparing for a new adventure

Oh, isn't life just lover-ly?

Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where, o where

.... will Heather be going?

I'm moving to the other side of the city to be closer to my job. Right now I live in Maryland, and the job is in Virginia (though both of these places are on the DC Metro system). Luckily, God has made this whole transition period really smooth for me.

I found a place just a few miles from work. It is a one bedroom on the top floor. The complex has everything a girl could ask for (and more). There is a free shuttle that'll drop me a few minutes walk from work (no transportation fees!). If the weather is bad, or the shuttle isn't running, I'm about a ten minute commute in traffic with a pass for the free parking garage at work.

The complex has a fitness center and a pool (both of which are really close to my building), a sand volleyball court, a lab with computers and a fax (in case my computer is on the fritz) ... basically as good as you can get. Rent and utilities are reasonable (but only by DC standards), and I even have my own washer/dryer and a dishwasher!!!!

So, in a few weeks, I'll be putting the last of my things in boxes for the 14th move in 6 years. I am really hoping to stay in this place for a little while ... settle in, not have to repack for a year or two, you know, the usual. I'll still be in my old place for the Georgia game (vs. USC, for those not sure of my football preference), and everyone is welcome to come over and sit amidst the boxes for one last football extravaganza before the move. (I'll have to christen the new place with a football party later in the season!)

This morning I drew a schematic of my new place. My goal is to economically furnish the apartment so it doesn't look like my college dorm. As homey as my room in Capstone was, I'm hoping that along with this new job, new apartment, and first time living alone-alone (not sharing a kitchen or bathroom or laundry with others), I'll be able to take that big step away from cinder block tables.

I currently have four pieces of furniture to my name: a giant desk chair, a corner TV unit, a fish tank table (basically an entry-way table with my fish tank on top), and a desk. Only the desk and desk chair match each other. I do have some wood filing cabinets, plastic and metal shelving units, and stuff like that, but I feel like having a bed and perhaps a kitchen table or a couch (or both) might be important.

OKay. I need to go now and get price quotes on renter's insurance and figure out where I'll be consolidating my student loans. Hopefully this will go as smoothly as finding a job and an apartment did!

Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Please keep my landlords' family in your prayers, as her dad is suffering from liver cancer and other failing organs.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Reverse Co-ed

This is volleyball code for co-ed doubles playing on grass courts with "women's" height nets. It was a good day for playing - slightly overcast, light breeze, bearable temperatures.

My partner Aaron and I lost every game (though some were pretty close). It was a ton of fun, despite all the losing. Part of it was definitely the competition. I am a B level player (based on experience, skill sets, speed, etc.). We were playing in the A division, which is considerably more competitive. Also, I was probably the only player on our court (pool play) that didn't regularly play doubles. In case you aren't sure what the difference between playing indoor sixes and outdoor doubles is, I'll briefly explain:

No air-conditioning
Difficult to dive
Limited plays (no over hand passing across the net, and because it is reverse co-ed, no guys in front, etc.)
Sun in your eyes
Shagging the ball means chasing it over half a soccer field (this can be a little wearing when done repeatedly)
1/3 the normal amount of people, though an equal amount of court to cover

The last is probably the most important difference, because it means you have to be about 3 times as quick getting to the ball than a regular sixes player. It is commonly known among anyone who has ever seen me run, that I am, without a doubt, one of the slowest "athletic" people ever. I am like the big guy playing center (football reference) running sprints with the wide receiver; 99.9% likely to come in last.

Somehow this was not discouraging to my partner, who has encouraged me to play with him at other tournaments this fall. I think he is crazy for wanting to keep playing with me, but this totally exhausted feeling is so good that another tournament sounds rather appealing. I mean, I even hit today. My shoulder didn't start to feel bad until the fifth game, and I was still spiking. In another month, I might be able to serve a few overhand again. We might, you know, win a game.

For now, I'll just think about it. And sleep, because being out on the grass courts from 8:30a.m. until 7:30p.m. (even if you don't actually play all the time) is totally exhausting.

Love always,
~Heather

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Gainfully Employed

Well world, I finally got a job. I'm pretty excited. I've been working on getting a job since June, so this is two months of labor come to fruition. (And if you've been following a bit, you know my argument about how all of my schooling actually has led to this point.)

I'm a little nervous about how this works. All the other jobs I've had have had an outline, a procedure. I'm not sure what I'll be doing all day. How does working in an office function? Everybody is at their desks all day ... does the work just appear there? Do people bring it to me, do I generate it? Is it reasonable, when brainstorming, to spend most of a day thinking? How do you measure thinking?

The people I'll be doing outreach to - I don't know them yet. Will I have to figure out who they are? Will there be inroads paved by my new colleagues? I only have four business suits - am I going to be dressed appropriately for work?

There are other nerve-racking things, like wondering if the people there will like me, whether I'll be good at my job, whether I'll like my job, whether I'm prepared for all of this. This is quite possibly the biggest step I've ever taken.

Manager of Science Outreach for Research!America.

Combining my science education with my political and science communication education and my programming experience. I'll be working to advocate health and medical research across America. Like Caroline said tonight on the phone, I might even be able to make a difference. Also, I'm finally going to get to use my business card holder.

So I'm gainfully employed. I have a job. My future is out there ahead of me ... I've taken the running head start, now all I have to do is leap!

Okay, off to other projects now! Love always, ~Heather

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Calories

I have never been the girl to turn down a good dessert when I was offered one. I've never seriously paid attention to anything except sugar content on packages. Calories, calories from fat, actual fat, total carbohydrates - these are things I used to not care about. Before.

Before was a time when I wasn't on the verge of potentially needing to buy new clothes because I was about to go up a size (this has not happened since middle school, when I more or less stopped growing). Luckily, this was the breaking point for me: recognizing I didn't have the money to be my current weight. This caused me to actually weigh myself and take a personal health inventory. With diabetes, joint problems, and cardiac issues on both sides of the family, I need to regain control of my health.

So, I have started reading packages. I made pudding for dessert tonight, since celery sticks just weren't solving my sweet tooth craving, and I actually split the bowl into six equal parts so I would be able to more accurately gauge how many calories I was taking in (150). Yesterday, when eating celery sticks (basically all the time now), I practically measured the peanut butter I was dipping them in into a bowl.

I also started reading up on how many calories each exercise activity I participate in is worth. This was the most disheartening news actually. I can handle knowing that tortilla chips and salsa are as bad for me as ice cream. I can survive the idea that drinking just a cup of juice (I don't drink soda, tea, coffee, etc.) is about as bad as having 15 pretzels. But the news that volleyball, my exercise of choice, is about as worthwhile as raking the lawn (both burn about 374 calories/hour for someone my weight) is killer.

It does, however, explain why I never lost any weight in college even though I was playing competitive volleyball five or six days a week. Volleyball - according to multiple websites - is basically the most useless sport you can play next to tossing a frisbee (not Ultimate). If I went ice skating for an hour, just sort of generally slid around the rink, I could burn almost twice as many calories, than running and jumping while sweating to death playing indoor volleyball.

I don't even know how to feel about that honestly. I was so excited to find a volleyball league nearby. I couldn't wait to play again - convinced that being off the court this past year was how my body threw itself over the edge. Maybe it was, but not by much.

Basically, all this is to say that I am beginning to despise calories. I've only been paying attention to them for a few days, but I dread looking at the boxes my food comes in now. I love milk too much to give it up (I dropped from whole to 2% as an undergrad but anything less is just too watered down). And, I don't look at the counts on anything I use to make meals I know to be healthy (pork chops with broccoli raab and mushrooms, homemade soups, etc.) because I would freak out if I had to give up healthy food too.

I'm sure I'm over-reacting a little. At a different time, I would have thought it was fun to compare the calories in different food items. It would have been a math game to get to 2,000 every day. I would come home from volleyball psyched I had worked my body so hard, been totally satisfied chucking my gross workout clothes in the hamper. Before.

Before I knew I'd have to increase to 4 or 5 miles a day walk/jogging just to kill 500 calories. Before Honey Nut Cheerios weren't a healthy breakfast. Before I cared about calories.

How many calories do you think crying is worth?

I know it will get better. It will slowly become easier to handle as I make baby steps of progress. Over the next 9 months (I decided on a long-term plan to account for plateaus and potential setbacks), I'll know what's better to eat. I'll forget what pure, unwatered-down juice tastes like. I'll get faster on my morning walks/jogs to the point of running - which burns way more calories. By my next birthday I'll still be wearing the size I do now, but everything will fit much better. I'll be healthier, less worried, and better looking in a bathing suit.

Anything worth doing is going to be a challenge. "It's the hard that makes it good. Otherwise everybody would do it." I love that quote from A League of Their Own (softball = 468 calories/hour).

Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Activities of the Moment

I am so behind trying to catch you up I'm giving up. Sorry about that.

Last weekend at home was fabulous. It is always a blast to celebrate family birthdays.

Dana moved out this weekend too. Things are different without her here, but I'm slowly adjusting. I'm throwing all my energy into cleaning. I've finished three quarters of the baseboards, vacuumed most everything else, decorated the nook, went grocery shopping, cleaned the storage closets ... you get the idea.

I'm also working on a few things to pass the time until I start my new job (which I don't exactly have yet, but hey, things like this take time!).

Exciting activities of the moment:

  1. Volleyball, potentially two nights a week (despite my sucky shoulder, and still not being able to serve or hit without serious pain).
  2. Analyzing HOBY surveys
  3. Hurricane/global warming content analysis
  4. Walking/running the Capitol Crescent Trail
  5. Cooking healthy meals at reasonable hours
  6. Finishing knitting my first multi-yarn, striped scarf
  7. Catching up with friends
  8. Writing letters
  9. Shoe shopping (must have comfortable dress shoes if I am going to survive dressing-up five days a week)
  10. Catching up on the other gajillion things that got pushed aside while I was studying my tailbone off (sadly, this is just an expression).
I'll try to get back to regular blogging now, though I don't promise to have anything interesting to say (sadly). Who knows though? Maybe there will be sudden excitement, a fabulous adventure, new friends, profound thoughts, stuff like that. Or maybe I'll just finally get around to catching up on all the back-logged stuff I said I was giving up on. Anything can happen!

Love always, ~Heather

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