Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Insanity

Once upon a time, there were two people who met, fell in love, and then got married. Both of their parents were divorced, so each of them went from two families to four families. And then the craziness of the holidays began. It's a lot of fun, what with all the extended family and relatives, but it also makes it confusing at times. Fortunately, this Christmas was spent mostly with people I know or remember. We'll leave future gatherings for me to get to know my mother-in-law's second-cousins' families, or my father-in-law's cousins' cousins.

December 23rd after I got off work we drove the 550 miles to Birmingham, Alabama. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Shannon's dad, stepmom, and their family. We went to Green Valley's Christmas Eve service. We opened gifts, ate gumbo (or chili for me since I don't like shellfish), and opened gifts. It was a lot of fun.


All of Shannon's dad's immediate family, minus his mother, who is in a nursing home. Me, Charlie (Cindy's stepdad), Meme (Cindy's mother), Lyn (Shannon's dad), Cindy (Shannon's stepmom), Shannon (Christopher's wife), Christopher (Shannon's stepbrother), Alex (Christopher and Shannon's daughter), Shannon, and Brad (Shannon's brother).


Our neice, Alex. The kids always are the life of the party.


Until you let their daddy get ahold of the eggnog, that is.


We actually didn't have any of the eggnog, but I had to get a piece of Christopher's cowboy hat!


Alex's first Christmas, and the first present she opened all by herself (well, almost).


Uncle Brad putting together the walking toy her bought Alex.


Mission accomplished!

On Christmas Day we spent the morning with the Scarbrough side of the family. Then we packed up the car and headed to Alabaster to spend a couple of days with Shannon's mom and stepdad.


The Murphy side of the family: Milton (Shannon's stepdad), Sharon (Shannon's mom), Brad, Me, and Shannon.

We opened gifts, ate Christmas dinner, and just hung out that evening, doing a whole bunch of nothing. On Friday, Sharon, Brad and I went shopping with all of our giftcards. I got a few desperately needed things and a few fun things, and still have lots of giftcard money to spend. Shannon and Milton even graced the doors of Belk for Shannon to buy a pair of shoes.

Then on Friday evening we celebrated my birthday. Milton grilled chicken and made a salad and we all ate dinner and then had birthday cake. They got me my first-ever ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen...I was super excited.


Yum...mint chocolate chip!


Shannon's double-forking it!

Saturday we lounged around, met one of Shannon's friends for lunch, and then headed back to his dad's place. We met more friends for pizza that evening, and then I helped Lyn download a new virus protector and XP's Service Pack 3. Isn't that update three or so years old? Sunday morning we woke up way too early and headed back to Wake Forest, getting in at about 8:00 pm. It was a long day of driving, but at least the traffic wasn't too bad. Today and tomorrow we're back at work, and then on Wednesday my friend Marci comes to visit! This weekend we're headed out of town again for a wedding in Asheville and will do Christmas with my dad's family. And then we have one more week of break before our January class starts. So, before all the craziness of the new year begins...


Happy Holidays from the Scarbroughs!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Decorations

We actually decorated our Christmas tree, put up our stocking and select few Christmas decorations, and wrapped all of our Christmas presents about two weeks ago. But I'm just now getting the time to post pictures! So here's the view of our humble abode, as decked out as I can manage. Not knowing whether we can take our stuff with us overseas, I'm hesitant to buy much, although I did splurge on a new ornament today...our one for the year.

Shannon gets to put the star on the tree (until we find an angel we like, that is).


We like colored lights and eclectic ornaments. Can anyone find the Strawberry Shortcake one that was mine when I was a little girl? On the coffee table are our coasters and serving tray, last year's gift from my stepmother-in-law.


This year's gift from my stepmother-in-law...an ornament and stand.


Stockings. Anyone want to guess which one's Shannon's?


Our nativity.

Ahhh

It's been awhile. But I have a good excuse. It's called finals. However, they're over now, we're on Christmas break, and we only have about 7 months left til we graduate! Yippee! These last few weeks have been insane as we've had finals, meetings, Christmas programs, Christmas shopping/wrapping/decorating, and so on and so forth. I'm so glad it's break, but I'll be even more glad once it's December the 28th because that will be that we're back from Alabama with 2 weeks until classes start with relatively nothing planned and nowhere to go. Until then, we have plans I think 6 of our remaining 8 evenings here. And driving to Alabama and back after that. I'm super excited to see Shannon's family...just not so excited about the drive.

This past weekend our small group raked leaves for an old couple that Shannon met last year. There were 7 of us and we raked and hauled leaves for 4 1/2 hours. Check out the craziness:


The whole yard looked like this (or worse) when we began.


Hilary hard at work.


Kristel raked and raked and raked and raked...


Shannon preferred the "hog" leaf blower.


Anyone else think Allison's got the harder job here?


I fell in the ditch when we went to dump our leaves.


Last load of the day!


When we finished, the whole yard looked like this!


Group shot. I think Alex might be tired...

We had a lot of fun raking, even though most of us were (or still are) quite sore from all the hauling. It was a nice day, even if the leaves were still wet from Thursday's downpour, and we all got to know each other better and laugh a lot. There's nothing like serving alongside of people to get to know them! It's too bad we don't have the time to do something like this every week!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving from the Scarbroughs!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have to say that maybe the best part of it this year is having a four-day weekend that I got paid for. Having paid holidays is really strange the first go around! Here are some pics to recap the weekend:


The dessert spread: pear pie, mincemeat pie, pecan pie, pumpkin torte, pumpkin pie, White Russian cheesecake, key lime pie, sweet potato pie, and lemon-poppy seed cake. Yummy!


Aunt Pat was very hungry!


What does everyone do after eating? Watch football, of course!


Rachel eating one of Uncle Howard's moonshine-soaked maraschino cherries.


Roberts girls do not do "pretty" at 5:00 am.


Fortunately God does do "pretty" at 5:00 am: beautiful sunrise.


The goods: new Asics for half-price.


After shopping it was...five games of Catan. Congratulations to Shannon and Lucas, who each won two games, while I only won one and Rachel pulled up the rear. We girls were only operating on four hours of sleep though...

So my sister and I got up at 5:00 am on Friday to brave the crowds and scope out some good deals. We managed to get new Asics (totally worth 5:00 am to save $135 on two pairs of shoes, in my opinion) for half-price. Other than that we got some Christmas shopping and I got Shannon and myself another down comforter for only $35. I thought that was a steal, especially if we end up living someplace where electricity is unreliable.

After shopping we came home and played Catan a lot, ate some leftovers, and just hung out. It was a very relaxing few days, and I'm sad to say that I have to return to work tomorrow. But Christmas is less than a month away!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

5 Years Ago...

...I was in Spain.


A statue in Retiro Park, the most popular park in Madrid

I had flown from Warsaw to Madrid to spend a week with some friends for Thanksgiving. My friend Sarah lived there, as well as my friend Ben, and our friend Mendy flew from Frankfurt to join us. It was a great week, as I desperately needed the break (after a year in Poland I still had few friends, and around the year-mark is generally when culture shock starts to hit the hardest). So, we spent a week bumming around Madrid.


Ben, Mendy, Sarah, and myself

One day we at at Botin's, the oldest restaurant in the world. It dates to 1725, and Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor.


Restaurante Botin

Another day we went to Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toledo was known for religious tolerance, and many Muslims, Jews, and Christians co-existed there peacefully (before the Muslims and Jews were expelled from Spain, that is).


The Cathedral of Toledo, seen through an alleyway.

And, in November of 2003, I made my first complete Thanksgiving dinner while out of America, and only the second Thanksgiving dinner which I prepared alone. I recall being disappointed with the results, but in retrospect, I think I did fairly well!


Clockwise from sweet potatoes: sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, turkey breast, stuffing, sweet potato rolls, and salad.

Ahh, memories. Funny that now all four of us are married and not really in touch anymore, and yet that week I spent in Madrid will remain one of my "greatest vacation" memories, perhaps because I needed the break so badly. Maybe one day I'll make it back there again, but if not...at least I'll have fond memories of the week I spent in Spain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks

It's the most wonderful time of the year. At least in my opinion. I absolutely love chilly days, apple cider, "seasonal" coffee creamers and special blends, and of course, the wonderful feeling that you get when you are able to bless people with gifts. I have been fortunate to have always had enough to buy gifts for those important people in my life. And I think it helps that I start shopping months early and like sales. :-)

This is also the time of year when nostalgia sets in and I think back on past Thanksgivings. Some were not so wonderful. Some were full of surprises, like my first Thanksgiving in Poland, where I made a pumpkin pie from scratch for the first time (and from scratch I mean there was no Libby's canned pumpkin). But all Thanksgivings I remember how blessed I am and how much I have...how good God has been to me.


Shannon cleaning the kitchen after it was declared a "disaster" from the Sweet Potato Soup adventure.

I try to remind myself that I have too much to be thankful for to complain. Sometimes it's hard, knowing that my peers are out there working "real" jobs, making "real" money, starting families and settling down. I'll be 30 in a little over a year, and I think the only "worldly" accomplishment that I can say I have is that I'm not in debt. Not a penny. And I know that's worth a lot. But still, in a world (or maybe just a country?) where who you are is most often defined by what you have, I often feel that I come up short.

So that's when my "remind myself of how blessed I really am" activity surfaces. It goes like this: make a list of everything you're thankful for. Everything. Nothing is exempt. And after you've filled pages with small things that you're thankful for, you start to realize...there's not much to complain about. Here's a part of my list:

No debt
Almost 2 months of living expenses in savings
Life insurance
Health insurance (not great coverage, but in an emergency it'll help)
My new computer
A camera to capture memories
A great small group
Friends
A full tank of gas and a fresh oil change
Gas at less than $2 a gallon
A husband who, while he never cooks, always does the dishes
Stores that double coupons, allowing me to make our $60-a-week food/toiletries budget every week, without fail.
Graduation in May
A warm comforter and soft towels
Lots of fuzzy socks
Treadmills only 5 minutes from home
Coffee and the newspaper in bed on Sunday mornings, courtesy of Shannon
A job that pays well
My sister and her hubby being close enough to spend holidays with
In-laws that I actually like and enjoy spending time with
2 classes finished and only one left for the semester
The right to vote
Good health, no recent cavities, and another year's worth of contacts
Knowing that God is not surprised by our circumstances and that he will not leave us hanging

How about you? What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Procrastination

There are really about a million things I should be doing other than posting on here. But, I know that the few people who read this blog have been missing my updates, so I'm going to put off studying for my exam about 10 more minutes and fill everyone in on what's up in Scarbrough-Land. :-)

First off, Shannon and I have a final exam tonight, almost 3 weeks before the official end of the semester. Our professor "forgot" that he'd be out of the country the last few weeks of school, so we get to finish this class tonight. Neither of us are complaining. We received our grades back from our class that we took over Fall Break, and we both got "A's", so that's nice. After tonight I have about 60% of a book left to read and 3 quizzes and one final exam left. Shannon has one quiz tomorrow, one final exam, and a book to finish reading and write a review over. And then the semester is over!

For Thanksgiving we're going to Charlotte where my dad's family gathers every year for Turkey Day. We didn't go last year since we were in Alabama, but this year we'll go to our first holiday event with my dad's family since being married. Should be fun. For Christmas we're heading to Alabama to be with Shannon's family. Should be fun, excepting the drive (ugh...12-15 hours each way...).

We have decided that we are graduating in May. Or rather we'll walk in May and have to each take one summer class to finish up. So we're each taking a January class, 3 classes in the spring, and a summer class and then we're GRADUATING! I'm so excited, can you tell?

I found out last week that my class schedule in the spring will not work for the family I currently work for, so I have to find a new job. It's hard looking for a job almost 2 months in advance...most people who want a nanny don't know it a full 2 months out. So...I'm trying to just trust and not worry. Easier said than done.

And we're still undecided about where we'll be going after we gradate and when exactly we'll leave. We're hoping to figure some of those things out in the next couple of months. We may be taking a trip across the ocean in the spring to check out some jobs. But that's all speculation and the bottom line is that we're just unsure as of now but will keep everyone posted as we figure things out. This whole process is quite a test of faith for us...we really want to know what we're doing, but those answers just never seem to come as quickly as we'd like them to. So we're just waiting...

And that's about what's up here. Hopefully after tonight we'll be a little less stressed about school and more able to relax, take some pictures, and have some fun. We went to the gym the other night...that was fun, in the sense that it wasn't work or homework...

So now I really do need to attempt to study for my exam tonight. The professor was extremely vague as to what's going to be on the exam, so hopefully it won't be that tough...

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Many Countries Can You Find?


So, recently I have become addicted to this game. I like to go to "custom" under the "hard" mode and set the first option to 162/162 and the rest to 0. Then I can practice locating 162 different countries. I think the first time I did it I missed about 30...I'm down to 13, mostly groups of islands that I can't keep straight (and a few countries in west Africa). Among the ones I can keep straight: Fiji, French Polynesia, the Maldives, Cape Verde, Seychelles, the Bahamas, and the Northern Mariana Islands (the Maldives being the only one I could locate before I started playing this game). Among the ones I can't keep straight: Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Dominica, Kiribati, Guadeloupe, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands. Anyone have a trick to help remember where those are?

The game does have a few drawbacks: 1) a few things are misplaced, like Albania. For anyone who's wondering, it's south of Montenegro and north of Greece, and west of Macedonia (which isn't on the game). Even when you click on the correct place it tells you you're wrong. 2) I haven't spent much time on the "landmarks" section, but apparently they have Mt. McKinley on the East Coast instead of in Alaska. Hmm. 3) There are quite a few countries missing...countries I could locate if they were asked for (Azerbaijan, Belize, Dominican Republic, Moldova, Macedonia, Togo, Ivory Coast), others that I see the spot there, know it's a country but don't know its name (French Guiana, Brunei, Bhutan), and others I've heard of but couldn't place if asked (Rwanda, Djibouti, Qatar, Swaziland, Bahrain). Nicaragua is only on "easy" mode. 4) And, even when I only missed 13 out of 162 (let's face it, that's not too bad) it ranks me as a "Hobo" or "Local Expert"...probably because I'm on a laptop and it's harder to click on the right place in less than 3 seconds. But overall, it's way fun, educational, and...I'm Addicted! Try the game and let me know how you do...practice for a week and let us know how much better you've become!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ratings on the Recipe Blog!

Well, for the few of you out there who have tried my recipes, I'm asking you to go back over and rate them. That's right, blogger has added a feature so you can give feedback to future readers letting them know how the recipe was. So...if you've cooked/baked things on my page, please go here and rate them. Then I'll also know how you all like them!

As far as other news goes, we found out tonight that one of our classes is actually going to finish about two weeks early because the professor forgot he'd be out of the country for the last week of class, and the week before that is Thanksgiving. So...we're already finished with one class (A's for both of us), we'll finish another 2 weeks from tonight, and the third will be finished by December 5th for Shannon and the 10th for me. Yay! We can't wait for the semester to be over...senioritis is hitting us already!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today I...



Today I filled out my ballot, got the required signature of a witness, and sealed the envelope. Tomorrow it will get dropped in the mailbox, and it will be counted by election day. Let me say that as an Alaskan, I vote in what is probably the state that matters the least as far as elections go, especially this year. If you live in a state that has more than three electoral votes or which is a "swing state," please go out and cast your vote! I'm voting, even knowing that Alaska is always Republican, whether I vote or not. So, if you are registered to vote in a state which fluctuates...cast a vote and exercise that right and privilege! If you don't...no complaining from you about whatever the next four years holds!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Fair Day

On Sunday after church Shannon, my sister, brother-in-law, one of my sister's friends, and I all went to the State Fair. The State Fair is probably one of the highlights of the year for Shannon, because he gets to eat junk food. For me, personally, I have fun, but it's not the greatest thing about fall, in my opinion, although North Carolina does have a pretty decent fair. Anyways, Shannon had an Italian sausage, I had a chicken gyro, We shared a fried Snickers and a fried Oreo, and we got some ice cream and grilled corn. The food really is the main reason you go to the Fair, after all.

However, this year there was something that neither of us had experienced before: pig racing. And duck racing too. It was so funny...I'll let the videos speak for themselves.
video
Duck Racing

video
Pig Racing


Shannon eating "the best Italian sausage of his life."


Me and Shannon with a fried Oreo (not as good as the fried Milky Way from last year).


My sister, Rachel, and her husband, Lucas, at their first ever NC State Fair.


Shannon and myself at the pig races!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Sweet Husband

Shannon surprised me with a subscription to Cooking Light, which I love. I checked the mail yesterday and there was my first issue, just in time for the holidays (and the end of all the insanity).


And...our apartment has absolutely no way to circulate air around: there's no hood fan and no fan in the bathroom. So, our windows get fogged up in the mornings when we take showers, or when I'm cooking something like soup that lets a lot of steam off into the air. The other night when, umm, my stomach was bothering me, this is what I saw when I turned around:

I think that Kari put it best: it's the little things that speak the loudest to my heart.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unbelievable Ignorance

Like someone else said, people should have to take at least a simple test before being allowed to vote. Thanks, Marci, for the link.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Midnight Munchies


Shannon always thinks it's really funny that I get hungry so late at night. What can I say? I have a high metabolism. So last night I got myself a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats and settled into the warm bed to eat them. And Shannon laughed at me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Survey Says...

So...I hate doing these when I get them as emails, but since I've been tagged (thanks, Jackie!) and I haven't posted in awhile, I figured I'd try it out. And, fyi, the countdown until the insanity of our lives ends is 7 days. Thank goodness. And, since I'm gathering that I'm supposed to tag people as well, I tag Marci, Thomas/Leslie, and Tara.


4 things I was doing 10 years ago:
That would be fall 1998...let's think...

Just getting involved in the BSM at U of I.
Trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (ie: I knew that being a Dance major wasn't it).
Lamenting my singleness.
Getting ready to go to Florida (and Universal Studios) for Thanksgiving.

4 things on my to-do list for today:
Finish the story-set I'm working on for class.
Make Squash Soup for dinner.
Go to bed early.
Buy more bananas for my husband on my way home from work.

4 random things I love about my husband:
He always does the dishes and gets mad at me if I do them.
His eyebrows grow straight out and when I tell him he needs to shave them down he always obliges me.
He makes me take time for myself and relax.
He never yells at me or makes me feel stupid.

4 jobs that I have had:
Waitress (5 restaurants and counting)
Nanny
English Teacher
Fish slime worker...how do you describe the joys of working at a fish processing plant?

4 movies I have watched more than once
Big Fish
The Shawshank Redemption
Little Women
Fried Green Tomatoes

4 favorite albums:
Red: End of Silence

David Crowder Band: Sunsets & Sushi

Goo Goo Dolls: Dizzy Up the Girl

Norah Jones: Come Away With Me


4 places I have lived:
Kenai, Alaska
Moscow, Idaho
Rzeszow, Poland
Wake Forest, North Carolina

4 places I've been:
Hong Kong
Rome, Italy
Belize City, Belize
Prague, Czech Republic

4 places I want to visit:
Egypt (the pyramids)
India (Taj Mahal)
Australia (scuba diving!)
Moscow, Russia

4 TV shows I watch via DVD:
LOST
Friends
Alias (used to...not recently)
Heroes (haven't started yet...will once Shannon gets them for Christmas)

4 of my favorite meals:
Eggplant Parmesan
Pizza

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

Chicken Bruschetta


4 things you may not know about me:
I can touch the tip of my tongue to the tip of my nose.
I lived in Europe for 3 years.
I love to cook.
I'm almost 30 and can still do a cartwheel. :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oral Learners

For the class I'm taking this week our assignment tonight was to read a book about oral learners. I learned some interesting facts. I'm not going to quote the numbers from the book since I can't get their web address sources to work, but I did find a survey that was taken back in 2002 called Reading At Risk. Anyways, here are some stats for 2002 I bet none of you knew:

*Only 46.7% of all American adults had read at least one book in the past 12 months.
*Only 37.6% of these adults were male.
*Only 37.7% of high school (with no college education at all) graduates read at least one book in the 12 months prior to the survey.
*63.1% of college graduates read at least one book in the past year.
*95.7% of adults watched at least one hour of television per day (on average).
*46.2% of adults watched 3 hours of television per day (on average).
*Only 42% of Southerners had read a book in the last year.
*Between 1992 and 2002, the percentage of 25-34 year-olds who had read a book in the last year decreased from 23.1% to 17.6%.

Aren't those statistics crazy? I love to read...I can't imagine people not reading at least one book per year! And 3 hours of television per day? We don't even own a TV! The whole point of this is just to show that people are getting more and more of their information through oral means: television, radio, podcasts, and so on. People aren't reading as much as they used to. So this is why we need to start being able to verbalize things that for so many years have only been in print. We need to rethink how we educate. Oh, and one more statistic: 4 billion of the world's people are considered illiterate. That's two-thirds of the people in the world. 4 billion people are oral learners. 4 billion people would understand an oral story better than a 1-page story that was written for them. 4 billion. Wow.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The First Day of Fall

Sorry for the long absence from blogging. Our lives have been insane. In the past 3 weeks we have had the usual classes and work, but we've also had multiple meetings, a wedding, a funeral, birthday celebrations, a book review to write and a midterm exam (we both had these), another book review to write (mine), and weekly quizzes in our other classes. Actually all of the midterms and book reviews have been in the last 2 weeks. So we've been a little busy with school. We have 3 more weeks of school insanity and then the semester should be cake. By October 24th we each have another midterm, a presentation on a country of our choice (Tajikistan for me and Uzbekistan for Shannon), weekly quizzes, a book to read, and 45 hours of class next week with quizzes, two exams, and homework. I'll try to be good about updating, but I won't be surprised if I forgo the blogging fun to focus on school.

I know that today is not the official first day of autumn, but it is at the Scarbrough household. Let me explain. Today our fall wreath that I made last October went up. Today our sweaters are being pulled out of storage and all the tank tops and shorts are being put into storage for the winter. The down comforter is on the bed. And baking will commence later this afternoon, after I've made Butternut Squash-White Bean Soup for lunch. I've worn my hat and gloves this past week. My Yankee fall candles are being lit more often. And we're officially on Fall Break, although since we're taking that intensive class so we don't actually get a break from anything except for work. But we're caught up on our other classes' work and today is a day of relaxation after the last 2 weeks of insanity.

Tomorrow my sister and her husband are coming down for the day. It's a real mark of the busyness of our lives that we only live a little over an hour away from each other and yet we see each other less than once a month, on average. So tomorrow is a catch-up-on-life day, and maybe we'll play some fun games too.

Shannon and I are in the process of trying to make some major decisions about life after we graduate. Please be thinking of us as we try to make wise decisions and get everything finished that we need to.

It's off to a day of baking, running (after my coffee is not still sitting heavy in my stomach), grocery shopping, filling out application forms, and later Shannon's going to watch the Auburn game while I have dinner with some girlfriends. After 9 months I still absolutely love having Saturdays off.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My New Computer


On Monday when I got home from work, this was awaiting me. Isn't my husband sweet? I had no idea that he'd bought me a new laptop! My old one is not dead, as my friend Marci suggested, but it definitely had some health problems resulting from old age. It was extremely slow. If I ever clicked "shut down," it would mean that the next time I turned the computer on I'd have to wait at least 10 minutes before it'd be ready for typing and surfing action. The battery lasted maybe 4 minutes, which was a problem since the power cord was extremely sensitive and would not connect (even though plugged in) if it was bumped or placed at an odd angle. This was the computer that got me through 2 of my 3 years overseas and my first 3 years of grad school. So, as sad as I am to see it go, my new, fast, 15.4" screen espresso brown Dell Inspiron 1525 will definitely make the grade. I think I'm in love. The only downside? I'm too busy to play with it!