Saturday, August 25, 2012

on year three

Well, it's finally happened.  Ricky and I have finally reached our LAST YEAR OF LAW/GRAD SCHOOL, RESPECTIVELY!

I'll give you a minute to bask in that glorious news.

It's weird to think that it's been two years since we moved to Florida.  We miss the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (and I, of course, am extremely fond of Charleston), but honestly, both of us love SW Florida more than any other place we've lived.  We love the heat, the beach, the 75-degree "winters," the afternoon storms, the fantastic county library system, the short(ish) drive to Disney World, the Everglades, the rich people that make sure our city looks really nice (no billboards, strip clubs, neon signs, etc.), the crime rate so low the local newspaper publishes front-page stories about the next town over, and the Publix on every corner.  I could do with more bookstores (everything here is chain stores--no cozy secondhand bookshops) and less 80-year-old drivers, but other than that, I'm completely enamored.  I'm not used to staying in one place for any extended period of time--my dad was in the Navy, so if we weren't moving, there was always the threat of moving--so the idea of living in Florida for years and years is a little scary.  But we're really hoping we'll get to stay anyway. 

I wish I had taken more time to blog about last semester (outside of my 99 list blog), but it was definitely one of those times in life that's so unbelievably chaotic that you're not sure how you managed to pull it off.  On top of my full-time job, I was teaching a three-hour college class, holding office hours for another four hours per week, and taking six credits--three of which were in Old English, which is a foreign language (Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.), and which resulted in a lot of faux-swearing and throwing of pens.  (In my 18 years of schooling, I've never struggled more with a class.  But I digress.)  I was "working" 53 hours a week, and that's not including church/church callings and the additional 10-15 hours a week spent on translations, reading entire Hemingway novels, writing weekly papers, and grading the assignments of 25 students.  On weeks when they had papers due, I would spent around 12 hours on grading alone.  It was exhausting.  I did a lot of not-sleeping.  There were many nights when Ricky decided to stay up with me to make sure I got my grading/papers done (bless him), because he knew I would fall asleep if he didn't.   

Since it's my blog and I can brag all I want, I'll say very smugly that I came out of that semester with A's in both classes, glowing teaching evaluations, and without losing a single client.   Gold star for me! Ricky gets two stars, because his schedule was just as hectic as mine (he handled his with a lot more grace) and he still emerged from the fray with A's and B's, even though his classes are a lot more difficult than mine are.

This summer, I've been adding to my collection of antique maps (I've been redecorating our living room: old maps framed in a gallery wall, old books, old brass get the idea) and working on a research project in YA dystopian literature (think The Hunger Games).  Ricky was back in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office in the misdemeanor division, living with my excellent grandparents and commuting home on the weekends.  We went to NYC in May, and Charleston in July, and got to see a lot of wonderful people. 

Now that we're back in the throes of schoolwork and never vacuuming enough, it feels like summer break (can you call it that when you still have to work?) was much too short.  Ricky's interning again with the Judicial Circuit Court for the fall (working closely with some judges!) and he's already started applying for jobs all over the state.  He's also President of two law societies (J. Reuben Clark and Criminal Justice) this year, which means I have to do much more socializing that I would like, and he's working on his blue belt in karate in his spare time.  I'm teaching a Composition I course and taking Earth Science Studies in Shakespeare (don't ask--it was the only class that worked with my schedule), which means I'll be doing a lot of Shakespeare/Milton/Spenser/Donne analysis, and I'm tossing around a thesis idea with one of my professors.  I'm also working with the girl half of my church's youth group, so my Wednesday nights are filled with pancakes and laughter and the occasional glow-in-the-dark volleyball game.  Neither Ricky nor myself is near as busy as last semester, but we're both so burned out that it feels harder.  I can't wait to be done!  I have every intention of eventually getting a doctoral degree, but I need a couple years to recover from my M.A., I think.

So that's where we are.  We do a lot of microwaved vegetables, pasta, and organic oven pizza--not much actual cooking.  (Truthfully, though, I'd rather spend two hours grading papers than I would making dinner.  I don't enjoy cooking in the slightest.)  We're planning trips to the Florida Keys and Harry Potter World (I think I have Ricky persuaded, Becky!) and Idaho and hopefully a lot of mini-adventures to fill in the gaps.  I'll probably be blogging about those a lot more on my 99 in 999 blog than I will here, because I'm not sure what to write in this one sometimes.  I certainly don't feel like I speak for Ricky when I write posts, and I don't have a lot of extended family I'm trying to keep "in the know," and nothing I have to say really falls into the cooking/homemaking/crafting/fashion/babies categories.  So...we'll see. :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

on strawberries and manatees

Taking advantage of our last precious days before classes and homework start up again (ok, so we both already have homework, but whatever), Ricky and I decided to fill our particularly restless day with a trip to a local produce farm!  I found a website that lists all of the places in SW Florida where you can pick your own fruit, and since it's strawberry season, we drove to one of the nearby farms to see what we could find.

Ricky was extra excited because the produce stand was selling guava jam, which is indescribably delicious, and something that we've only ever seen in Costa Rica.  We also picked up a jar of their homemade blueberry preserves (SO GOOD!). 

After perusing the stand itself, we walked back to the fields, grabbed a basket, and got to picking! 

Also, check out the sweet riding boots Ricky got me for Christmas!  It's a daring husband who picks out women's boots, that's for sure.
Between singing lines of "Strawberry Fields Forever" to each other and making sure to grab all the oddly shaped strawberries, Ricky and I had a great time. 

The first one!
"This one looks like a heart!"
Lots and lots of strawberries.
I'm pretty sure Instagram isn't cool anymore, but too bad.
Our haul!  Five pounds of strawberries for $8.55.
Our total came to $21.03, with the jam and preserves.  Definitely a cheap date, which is our favorite kind.  There's also a citrus grove nearby where you can pick five gallons of oranges/grapefruit for $9.00, so I think that'll be our next stop!  We'll probably pick a day that's not so "cold," though--it was in the mid-50's on our strawberry trip, and Ricky and I were freezing.  My ears haven't hurt so much since the time we went to Obama's inauguration, and it was seven degrees that day.  It didn't take long for our Virginia blood to thin, I guess!

We had read online about a county park that has manatees in the river (yeah Florida!), so on a whim we asked the produce stand attendant if she knew where it was.  As it turned out, it was a three-minute drive up the road, so we made a detour on the way home.

Manatee Park!  You can see the manatees in the water.
On cold days (ok, "cold"), the manatees come up the river from the Gulf because the water is warmer.  We didn't see many until we came to this little pool off the edge of the river, where the water was clearer.

Mom and baby!
Not the best view, but it was still pretty cool to see them in the wild.
Manatees and strawberries?  Yes.  Lizbeth, I'm sorry we didn't know where these things were when you came to visit, because picking strawberries would've been a lot of fun!  

In other news, I teach my first class on Tuesday.  Every time I think about it, I want to hide in a closet somewhere.  Why is this happening??  Why are they letting me do this??  Don't they know I have no earthly idea what I'm doing??

If you don't hear from me again, it probably means I died of shame, or that I ran away to a foreign country. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

on auld lang syne

Since I've been abysmally poor at blogging this year (...and every year...), I'm going to attempt a "Year in Review" for memory purposes, because I really only have so much room in my long-term memory and I need most of it for the plotlines of my favorite novels.  Where's a good pensieve when you need one, anyway?

Also, there probably won't be pictures in this post.  And it's written in third person for no good reason.  And most of it is boring and self-serving.  You've been warned.

-Ricky and Katie go to Idaho/Utah to visit Ricky's family.  Katie comes close to killing herself on the ice a dozen times because she brought cute shoes instead of practical ones.  Ricky's uncle fishtails the SUV on the way home from the airport and Katie almost wets her too-thick pants while everyone else calmly carries on the conversation.  Salt Lake City is gross and covered in smog, but Ricky and Katie go to The Pie with Megan B. and Jacob and Kaitlyn S. and good times are had by all.

-Ricky and Katie celebrate their first anniversary!  They think they might've gone to Outback Steakhouse, but they don't really remember.  Ricky buys a cake from Whole Foods with the same fruit filling as the wedding cake, because they decided that eating year-old wedding cake is really disgusting.  (Not like it would've lasted the 15-hour drive to Florida anyway!)  Ricky gets Katie a collage frame of the last two years together (including dating and all that).  Katie doesn't remember what she got Ricky (see above reference to memory capacity).

-Katie finds a job listing in the newspaper classifieds for a publishing assistant at a local publishing company.  She applies on a Sunday; on Monday, she gets a phone call for an interview.  Wednesday, she finds out the Borders store where she works is closing, and she interviews for the publishing job Thursday morning.  Thursday afternoon, she gets offered the job!

-Ricky and Katie drive to Buena Vista, VA for spring break, also making a surprise trip to Stafford to see her parents.  While in BV, they stay with Robin and Baden B. and play unhealthy amounts of The Lion King on SNES.

-Katie begins her first full-time, salaried job!  In her degree field, even!  She does a lot of editing and a lot of graphics work and she is in love.

-Ricky drives to Port Charlotte, FL to see a Yankees spring training game.  The Yankees lose, but he leaves with a ball from their batting practice, and is really excited.  (Ricky collects baseballs from the games he attends.)

-Katie becomes a pescetarian and gives up eating land animals.

-Katie gives up Facebook for Lent.

-Katie takes Ricky to his first hockey game! The home team--the Everblades--is playing the Stingrays, the team from Charleston that Katie grew up going to see.  The Stingrays win and Katie is secretly really happy about it.

-Ricky and Katie build a blanket fort for General Conference and it is awesome...until the cat tries to jump on the "roof" in the middle of the night, falling on Katie's head and collapsing all the chairs.  (Still worth it.)

-Ricky and Katie go to Miami to spend Easter weekend with the grandparents and Katie's extended family.

-Ricky starts an internship with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, an internship which is super exclusive and incredibly hard to get (/wife brag), and he's assigned to an ASA in the felony division.  He lives with Katie's grandparents during the week and makes the two-hour drive back home on Friday afternoons.

-Katie and Ricky drive to Miami to see Kayla C. and her now-fiance, Felipe.  They have lunch with Felipe's family (during which Katie loves all over Felipe's little niece) before driving home, at which point Kayla asks Katie via text message what her impressions of Felipe were.  Katie replies that she thinks he's super nice.  This approval is almost definitely the reason Kayla and Felipe eventually were engaged, but Katie is really modest about it.

-Ricky and Katie buy seasonal Disney passes!! 

-Ricky and Katie drive to Titusville, FL to see the launch of space shuttle STS-134, the second-to-last manned NASA flight before the space shuttle program ends.  They camp out overnight on the bank of the river, across which they can see the Kennedy Space Center and the launchpad, and they view the launch around 9:00 then next morning with binoculars.  As of January 2012, this is the most incredible thing they have ever seen.

-Ricky and Katie make their first trip to Disney World after the space shuttle launch.  Ricky has never been to any Disney park, and Katie hasn't been since she was about seven.  They visit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and then Magic Kingdom again (for the fireworks, obviously).  Ricky and Katie decide that this day is definitely one of the top three best days of their lives so far.

-Ricky is elected Treasurer of his law school's Criminal Justice Society and President-Elect of his J. Reuben Clark Law Society chapter.

-Ricky goes on a ride-along with police officers in Naples, during which he translates Spanish on two occasions, participates in a search for a kidnapped woman, and witnesses an arrest.

-Ricky and Katie make their second Disney trip, this time visiting Epcot.  They try to keep to their policy of never waiting in lines longer than 30 minutes, but decide the 45-minute wait for the "Fantasy of Flight" ride might be worth it, since the Fastpasses are all gone for the day.  Walking up to the ride entrance, they greet the ticket-taking cast member, who suddenly flashes two Fastpasses and says "I think you guys dropped these!" with a wink.  They manage to stammer out a "Thank you!" and mean to thank him again after the (awesome) ride, but he's gone.  They relish the Disney magic. :)

-Ricky and Katie make their first donations to the SVU Annual Fund!  Katie donates $10 without knowing that Ricky had already donated $5 the day before.

-Katie and Ricky fly to Costa Rica for the Alfaro (Ricky's mother's family) family reunion.  Katie is reminded of how terrifying Costa Rican driving is as they make their way in their rental car to the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Despite the crazy drivers, Costa Rica is beautiful and peaceful and lovely.  They finally get to go zip-lining, a year and a half after their honeymoon debacle--it's incredible, and made even better by going with their brother-in-law and older nieces and nephews.  Katie bonds with her preteen nieces over Glee and a mutual dislike of Justin Bieber.

-Katie finds out that her "unofficial sister"/best friend since 8th grade is pregnant and actually shrieks with excitement after she gets off the phone with her.  Katie laments that she no longer lives in South Carolina.

-While researching for his ASA, Ricky discovers legal precedence in a drug possession case that overrules the defense attorney's motion to dismiss, and the defendant is forced to take a plea.  Ricky's life is basically a Law and Order episode.

-After months of paperwork issues, Katie is officially extended a Teaching Assistantship for spring 2012.  She is the instructor of record for a college freshman composition course.

-Ricky goes to the medical examiner's office and is way too excited when he tells Katie about all the cadavers he saw.  He also visits the county jail.

-Ricky and Katie watch 4th of July fireworks on the beach and are dramatically underwhelmed. 

-Ricky and Katie fly to VA for the wedding of one of her EFY girls!  Katie cries like a baby and is thrilled that she got to go.  While in VA, they also spend a lot of time with Katie's family and make quick trip to BV.

-Katie and Ricky go to the midnight showing of the very last Harry Potter movie dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black, respectively.  Katie prepares for this event with multiple trips to Goodwill, using a semi-permanent dye to color her hair black, baby-powdering/styling a wig for Ricky, and carving/painting wands out of wooden dowels.  They get a ton of compliments on their costumes at the movie theater, and Katie's coworkers insist that she wear her outfit to work the next day.  She does.

-Katie's hair is the longest it's ever been--to her waist when pulled straight--before she cuts off 13 inches for Pantene's Beautiful Lengths.

-Katie and Ricky drive to Orlando with Greg P., who was Katie's very favorite EFY co-counselor, and his wife, Danie, who is equally awesome.  They visit the Orlando temple and Panera and meet Greg's oh-so-nice family! 

-Ricky and Katie purchase a fantastic sage-colored microfiber sectional + ottoman from a couple on Craigslist.  They rent a small U-Haul to get it home and have horrible flashbacks to their 2010 move.

-Ricky is officially home from his internship!

-Ricky begins his second year of law school.

-Katie begins her second year of graduate school.

-Katie and Ricky make a two-day Disney trip with Kayla and Felipe!  They visit the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios; Kayla sings in the American Idol Experience and is incredible.  Katie and Ricky decide that Felipe is really awesome.

-Katie and Ricky go to the Humane Society to pick out a new kitten.  As soon as they sit down in the "kitten room", a small grey-and-white cat jumps onto Ricky's lap, lies down, and starts purring.  Ricky and Katie make attempts to like some of the other kittens, but they keep coming back to the one who "chose" Ricky.  They adopt her on the spot!  Zelda, their older cat, only takes two days before warming up to baby Zora.

-Katie's car, Luna, turns seven and hits 100,000 miles!

-Ricky turns 26!  For his gift, Katie signs him up for two years of karate lessons.  Ricky is quoted as describing this as "AWESOME" and immediately starts referring to himself as "the karate kid."

-To celebrate their joint birthdays (10 days apart), Ricky and Katie go to the local dinner theater and meet very charming elderly people.  The show isn't too great, but the experience is!

-Katie turns 23!  Ricky buys Busch Gardens - Tampa tickets for her birthday and she is thrilled.  She's especially excited because the tickets include a safari tour where participants get to feed giraffes.

-(This one should be a post by itself, but I'm already here, so too bad.)  Katie goes to San Diego on her first business trip!  She participates as a vendor at the NHPCO Clinical Team Conference and drinks unbelievably delicious Bloody Marys (or Virgin Marys, as it were).  After a client cancels a dinner appointment, her coworker decides to go to the airport early, and Katie decides to go to Ocean Beach solo.  She gets a map from a nice old man at the airport information desk, walks half a mile to the bus stop in business clothes (she realized later that she really should've changed at the airport) and pulling a carry-on, rides the bus for 30 minutes, asks the incredibly helpful bus driver where she should get off, finds her stop, walks down the boardwalk surrounded by half-dressed beachgoers (still in her slacks and blazer), becomes mildly concerned about being robbed, buys a vintage dress from a $2 thrift shop, makes it to Ocean Beach, and parks herself on the stone wall of the boardwalk to wait for the sunset.  She watches a few surfers ride the enormous (compared to the Atlantic) waves and reads a postmodern novel--which she really isn't enjoying at all--for class.  After a few minutes, a 20-something man approaches her from the beach (she keeps a wary eye on her purse) and introduces himself as Darren--he teases her about her business attire and "preppy" book before telling her all sorts of stories about San Diego.  He's appropriately friendly and funny without being flirtatious, and sticks around for about 15 minutes before saying goodbye with a handshake and a "Have a safe trip home!" Katie is bemused, but he didn't rob her and didn't ask her out, so she decides he really just must've been genuinely friendly and goes back to reading.  When the sunset arrives, everyone on the boardwalk counts down to the sun's disappearance, and it's so fun!  Katie is satisfied and gets back on the bus for the trip back to the airport.  There isn't room for her carry-on on her lap, but a sideways-cap-wearing, skateboard-carrying, cussing teenager looks over and kindly offers to put it under his seat for her.  The bus line ends unexpectedly at the bus depot, and a worried Katie asks the bus driver what line she now needs to take to get back to the airport.  Another girl, who introduces herself as Carrie, overhears and says she's going the same direction, and that they can go together.  They walk down to the metro line, where they start analyzing the metro map, and are approached by two police officers who offer to ride with them and make sure they get off at the right stop.  Carrie and Katie chat about school and work and their mutual love of little kids until Katie's stop.  Katie then catches a bus and makes it to the airport an hour before her boarding time.  She resolves never to fly United again because they don't even give out proper snacks for a six-hour, cross-country flight, but the kind and helpful people in San Diego (bus driver, Darren, teenager, Carrie, officers, and multiple people she asked for directions) make the entire trip amazing.

-Ricky's abuelo (grandfather) passes away and he flies to Costa Rica for the funeral. 

-Katie and Ricky go to Busch Gardens the Saturday before Halloween, and the park is completely dead!  They wait in almost no lines and have a blast.  The best part is definitely the safari/giraffe feeding.  Ricky's entire hand winds up in giraffe's mouth and Katie gets bulldozed by a giraffe neck.  They also get to pet kangaroos, which is awesome.

-Katie dresses up as a lion for Halloween in her office.  She combs out her hair for the first time in years!

-Katie and Ricky go to Sarasota to meet Elizabeth M. for the Sarasota Chalk Festival.  They eat Thai food and bring Elizabeth home for the weekend.  Katie and Elizabeth go to Sanibel Island to find shells and are attacked (no, really) by crazed seagulls as they attempt to eat their food.

-Ricky earns his yellow belt in karate.

-Ricky and Katie go back to Disney and spend most of the day at Animal Kingdom.  They eat cinnamon-glazed almonds and become completely addicted before heading back to the Magic Kingdom to see the holiday lights.

-Ricky and Katie celebrate Thanksgiving with Erin and Quinn K. at their apartment--Katie drops her pecan pie as she's taking it out of the oven and Ricky's turkey doesn't thaw in time.  They both dismiss Thanksgiving as a silly holiday, anyway.

-Katie earns a 4.0 for the fall semester (Ricky's grades don't post until January).

-Ricky visits Idaho for his sister's wedding in the Twin Falls temple.

-Ricky and Katie unknowingly buy each other the same thing for Christmas; Katie figures it out by the same size/shape and the same expense in the bank account.  They laugh about it a lot and revert to "backup" gifts.

-Katie and Ricky leave Christmas Eve for Katie's grandparents in Miami.  Ricky is getting over a fever and some serious sinus pressure, which gets him out of kissing all the great-aunts.  They open presents on Christmas Eve and have a great Christmas! 

-Ricky and Katie go to see "Blast!" (like indoor drum corps) and it is phenomenal.  Completely standing-ovation worthy.


Wow, that was incredibly long and involved.  If you read all of it, you get a virtual cookie, because it's not even very well-written.  I really just need to get it all down. 

I also read 46 books this year!  That's not including books for school or my re-read of my Animorphs books, because the latter are a quick read.  Hopefully I can up that number this year.

I've always been a firm believer that the year is only as good as you make it, so Ricky and I try to make every year better than the last.  Here's looking at you, 2012!