'Twas the Day After Christmas

Here I am back at work. Cold, dark, tired, and sad. Presents have been opened, food has been eaten, oh yes, Christmas is over. Don't get me wrong. Christmas was good. I just hate being back at work today. I couldn't sleep again last night. And now I'm here at work with nothing to do (and no management in sight) and my lights are almost off (and blinking annoyingly) and it is freezing cold. I wish I would have had today off as well.

Anyway... here's a rundown on my short Christmas break:

Austin and I finished the last little shopping we had left to do over Friday and Saturday and just relaxed. Sunday we went over to my parent's for the McNeil "Bring a Special Thing and Share Memories and Eat Treats" night. That was fun. It was good to see some extended family and hear them share some thoughts. We were to bring an object that was special to us and explain why. I brought my guitar that my dad had given me, and Austin brought his painting he had done in Italy. My guitar is special to me for several reasons. One, I love the sound of the guitar. It will always remind me of my dad and him singing to me and HayLee as we went to sleep. It also reminds me of family time together. Two, I love music and I practiced really hard on my dad's old, beat-up guitar and the night before my 20th birthday my dad presented me with my guitar. It meant a lot to me to have my own guitar. Austin's painting was special to him for several reasons as well. As most know, Austin got cancer when he was 15 and Nana taught him how to paint. He made a wish with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and he wished to go to Italy to study painting. So he went to Italy and painted the painting that now hangs in our house.

Monday, of course, was Christmas Eve. We went over to my parent's house where we ate dinner (and my lousy funeral potatoes). We did some karaoke and talked and did a special nativity presentation with the whole family. Austin was the narrator and I was the angel. We got it taped so that should be pretty cool. Austin and I stayed up late playing Scattergories with Taylor, Trent, and Jessica. We had a really good time. I want Taylor to know that I named one of my video game characters Lammy just for him. We got home really, really late, and then I couldn't sleep for the life of me.

I woke up on Tuesday and Austin and I opened our presents. We were very excited this year as it was our first Christmas together at our own home with our own tree. It was also the first time we could afford decent presents for each other and we went a little crazy. Since I know Austin wants to write about Christmas I'll let him tell you what he got. Here are some of my highlights: Austin got me a gift certificate to a spa to go get a massage. I also got Lois & Clark season 4, Stardust the movie (which we watched last night. I LOVE this movie!), Stardust the book, the Superman collection with Christopher Reeves (I-IV), and Sliders seasons 1 & 2, among others. Another standout present came from my in-laws. Austin's parents got me the Calvin & Hobbes Complete Collector's edition. And I LOVE it. I was SO excited to get this! I've been wanting it since it came out. I now own every Calvin & Hobbes strip ever written, in an attractive (and extremely heavy) hardbound copy. I started reading them last night before bed. It's my favorite comic strip ever and I never tire of them. I'm so excited to finally have my own. I'm extremely grateful to Alice & Mark for their generous gift. :) (Austin thanks them too as he also loves it.)

After opening most of our presents Austin and I headed over to my parents. We got to see everyone and spend some time over there. My parents gave us this really cool griddle/grill appliance that I am also way excited for. Austin and I have lamented selling our griddle for a while now. (Quick story: We got a griddle as a wedding present, we didn't like it, we tried returning it at Costco where we thought it was from [turned out it wasn't], and the guy behind us in line bought it from us for $20. We later found out it was a $35 griddle from BB&B. Sigh.) Anyway, I am really excited to use this (don't know where we'll put it as we have zero shelf space left, but we'll make it work.) and can't wait to cook different things on it. The plates are removable! You can't beat that!

So overall Austin and I had one great Christmas! He was sad about not seeing his family, but he'll see them (with me) in February, which we're both looking forward to. Now we're looking forward to enjoying the presents we received. In all honesty, I was more excited to give Austin his presents than to get mine. I got him stupid stuff last year, and this year I flat-out spoiled him. You'll have to read his blog to find out exactly what I spoiled him with. (I got spoiled too as well, but everyone is entitled to some spoilage once in a while.)

Now I bid adieu. I shall write again once more. In case no one noticed, I posted part four of the Tracie & Austin story earlier. If you did notice and read it, go back and comment. Sheesh. Here I get all this pressure to update this story and then almost nobody says anything once I finally do. Part five will be coming as soon as I write it. I don't know when that will be. Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!


This Is What Happens When I'm Bored at Work

Here are my answers to Seth's survey.

Do you have any pets? Nope.
What color shirt are you wearing? Purplish
Name three things that are close to you: Water bottle, twisted-up paperclip, and post-its
What is the last book you read? Neverwhere
What's your favorite sport? Basketball
Do you enjoy sleeping late? Yes, I sure do.
What's the weather like right now? Cold and dark
Who tells the best jokes? Austin
What was the last thing you dreamed about? You know, I can’t really remember right now. I’ve been so tired lately. I usually have really cool dreams.
Do you drive? If so, have you ever crashed? Of course I drive. I drive 80 miles every day. It took me two hours to get home yesterday. I have never gotten in an accident (unless you count the time I tapped the car in front of me, which I don’t) or gotten pulled over.
Do you believe in karma? Sure. What comes around goes around.
Do you believe in luck? Yes, I do.
Do you like your eggs scrambled or sunny side up? Scrambled, very dry, or over-hard. Sunny side-up is gross.
Are you reliable? Most of the time. I may run late, but I’ll eventually get there.
Have you ever given money to a bum? No.
What's your favorite food? Too many.
Have you ever had a secret admirer? No.
Do you like the smell of gasoline? No.
Do like to draw? Yes, I am the doodle queen.
What's your favorite invention? The Internet
What do you like better, oranges or apples? Apples
Do you give in easily? Sometimes, but I’m pretty stubborn.
Can you read other people's expressions? Yes. I am really aware of other people’s feelings.
What time did you wake up this morning? Woke up? Or got out of bed? Woke up around 7, dragged myself out of bed at 7:40
What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Bagel
What do you plan on doing tomorrow? Work, hopefully workout, spend some time with Austin
What's your favorite day of the week and why? Saturday. I can sleep in and be with Austin all day, except for when he’s in class.
Have you ever been scuba diving? Nope.
What's your least favorite color? Purple.
Would you ever go skydiving? Nope.
What's the worst injury you have had? Sprained ankle
What's the last movie you saw? At home: The original Pink Panther; in the theater: Enchanted
What do you want to know about the future? Will I ever get a book published? Will I have the kids I want (3 girls, 2 boys)? Will Austin’s leg get better? Will we get into a house?
What does your last text message say? Sent or received? Sent: “You had a girl on sims. What do you want to name her?” Received: “In what town again?”
What's your least favorite school subject? Math, science, literary theory (ugh)
What is your dream vacation? Australia or Europe
What is your favorite animal? Monkeys
Do you listen to the radio? Nope. I listen to books-on-CD on the way to work.
Where were you when 9/11 happened? In school. All the teachers turned the TVs on. I didn’t really know what was going on till I get home and could watch and listen for myself. Then I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching the news hypnotically and feeling scared, like the world was going to end.
What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Get really mad, then walk away.
Have you ever caught a butterfly? I think so.
What color are your bed sheets? Either red or cream.
What's your ringtone? I have several. I have super Nintendo theme song (for Heidi), “Call and Answer” for everyone, and “Chasing Cars” (for Austin).
Do you like things that glow in the dark? Yes. Who doesn’t?
What's your favorite fruity scent? Citrusy
Have you ever sat on a roof? Yeah. In an uneasy and precautious way.
Name three things in the world you dislike: Greed, selfishness (the me!me!me! attitude that persists today), and the general wickedness of the world
Do you like sushi? Not particularly. But I have tried it!
Do you believe in magic? Of course.
Do you hold grudges? Nope. I don’t believe in holding on to negativity.


The Tracie & Austin Story -- Part Four

Hot off the presses! Part four of the Tracie/Austin story: (two parts to go)

Lingering Feelings
Austin and I had only been dating for about two weeks when Trent and Jessica got married. I knew Devon was going to be there. He was, after all, one of Jessica’s best friends. It was very, very difficult for me to see him. I tried not to cry and held back tears. I was feeling so many different things. For one thing, after I had gone to talk to him, he said that we could be friends. So, several weeks after talking to him I wrote him an email, and he never wrote back. I was obviously a little mad when I saw him at the wedding. So I casually asked him why he hadn’t written back, and he said that he didn’t use that email address anymore. Well, how in the heck was I supposed to know that?!? Part of me was relieved he wasn’t avoiding me on purpose, but it made it harder for me to be mad at him anymore since I now knew he hadn’t deliberately not written back. Anyway, I kept my cool and chatted casually with him. I was happy to see him and thought maybe we could be friends after all. Unfortunately, I found that I was still very attracted to him and that I still had feelings for him. They weren't overwhelming because I’d been trying so hard to get rid of them but, at the time, if I had let myself I could’ve still felt the same way about him again.

So then came the reception. I was VERY nervous. One, Devon was going to be there. And, two, Austin was going to be there. Old boyfriend, meet new boyfriend. I hate to admit it, but I stared at Devon for a large part of the reception, especially since I could see him from my spot in the line. Then Austin showed up, and I found myself very excited to see him, though my feelings were definitely torn. On the one hand, I felt the tug of my emotions for Devon and for what we had had, and on the other, I had the beginning of exciting feeling for someone new and different. It was a difficult time for me. And very confusing. I didn’t know it was possible to have feelings for two people at the same time. (By the way, it’s possible.) I could tell Austin felt weird. I would do if I were in his shoes. He KNEW that I still had feelings for Devon. When the time came for dancing, I had wanted to dance with Devon, but I never got the chance. (I did dance with Austin though.) And then Devon left, without saying goodbye. I felt angry and hurt.

Straight from my old journal: “Then Austin got all insecure and I had to reassure him all the rest of the night. He said something about me looking at Devon more than him. I apologized. But I really couldn't help it.” I knew that Austin was my current boyfriend, but I felt he was more my best friend than my true love. (Sorry, sweetie, it was true at the time. Now you’re both!) At the time I felt Devon was the love of my life, and I missed him. So, then I contemplated breaking up with Austin. I knew I had feelings for him, but I was so confused about my lingering feelings for Devon, plus I didn’t know if Austin would stand in the way of my mission plans.

Feeling Pressure
I think it scared me that Austin fell in love with me so fast. It was difficult to handle the emotional roller coaster that had become my life. I was struggling with school, juggling feelings for two different guys, and dealing with the question of serving a mission or not. It didn’t help that when in Chicago for a friend’s wedding, Austin told me he got his “answer.” I mean, I was happy for him and everything, but it scared the CRAP out of me. All of the sudden I felt all this pressure. I knew I had feelings for Austin, but I wasn’t even sure if I was in love with him yet. And then Austin tells me he knows I’m the one. But we dealt with that issue, like we do all things that have come up in our relationship, with lots of crying, emotional outbursts, and hanging up the phone with lots of patience, understanding, and love.

As time slowly passed, I found myself becoming more and more attached to Austin. He was my best friend, no doubt about it. I texted him when I woke up and his voice was the last thing I heard before I went to sleep. If I had an issue, he was there. But there was still the Devon problem. I still wanted to be friends with him. That spring Devon finally called me. It had been SIX MONTHS since we broke up, and NOW he was ready to talk to me. Unfortunately for Devon, I had been dating Austin for several months now and while I wasn’t totally in love with him, I definitely had love feelings for him (Austin, not Devon). And Austin wasn’t too keen on Devon. The good thing for me, and for Austin, was by this time I was over Devon. I mean, it had been six months, and I had wonderful, caring boyfriend who was my best friend. I did want to be friends with Devon though because that’s always been the saddest part of breaking up for me is losing a friend.

So Devon and I hung out for a few hours while Austin freaked out at home. Devon left, and that was the end of our friendship. I went to talk to Austin and decided that his jealousy and anger and hurt feelings would forever put a stop on me pursuing a friendship with Devon. Because while I wanted Devon to be my friend, Austin ultimately meant more to me.

Falling in Love
Austin and I had a great first few months, besides the rocky Devon territory and the occasional problems with Austin reading my journal and discovering that I was unsure about him. Austin was fun to be with, made me laugh, and was utterly devoted to me. I actually remember the moment that my feelings for Austin were deepening. During this entire time I had loved Austin. I mean, he was my best friend and I cared about him very deeply. But I wasn’t quite in love with him. But then one night after Austin had left, I felt something. It scared me a little, but I knew exactly what it was: I was falling in love with him. Finally. I texted Austin the lyric “I’m falling even more in love with you/Letting go of all I’ve held onto.” Austin later said he felt like he was flying when he got this text because after having been in love with me for like five or six months, I was finally falling in love with him.


Christmas, Christmas

Okay, I got this from Amanda. I’m also going to combine it with the Christmas quiz that Jen sent around.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, though I do like getting gift bags so I can reuse them later.
2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial, and prelit. I really don’t understand why you’d still want a real tree these days. It’s more practical, economic, clean, and reusable.
3. When do you put up the tree? After Thanksgiving sometime.
4. When do you take the tree down? Probably after New Year’s.
5. Do you like eggnog? Nope
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Keyboard that I really, really wanted
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Not yet
8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad. Good thing I don’t have to anymore since I’m just going to donate to my parents’ mission fund from now on for gifts.
9. Easiest person to buy for? Austin is actually pretty easy to shop for.
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Don’t really know. Most gifts have been pretty good.
11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? I don’t do either, but I’m thinking about starting to…
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Home Alone I & II, The Grinch, The Santa Clause
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Used to a week before Christmas, this year I started beginning of November.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Who hasn’t?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? All the yummy food.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear
17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night, Silent Night, What Child Is This?
18 Travel at Christmas or stay home? I like to do both, but I’m looking forward to staying home this year. It’s our first Christmas with a tree.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? I think, let’s see there’s Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blixen, and of course I recall, the most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Pjs on Christmas Eve, open presents Christmas morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Driving, traffic, commercialism
23. Favorite Christmas tradition? Reading a Christmas story on Christmas Eve, having the whole family together, opening stockings Christmas morning, getting new pjs
24. Up early or sleeping in? In general? Or for Christmas morning? In general I like to sleep in. On Christmas morning I loved getting up early when I was younger, but now that I’m older I prefer to sleep in. Get more sleep and makes the morning last longer.
25. Who hands out the gifts? At my parent’s house, my dad does.
26. Does Santa wrap your gifts? Growing up, yes. But Austin grew up in a house that didn’t wrap. We’re going to compromise and do both with our children.
27. Do you tell the Christmas story? No, but I should.
28. Do you leave cookies for Santa? I did when I was younger.
29. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate for sure! I don't like Egg Nogg. I love Steven's hot chocolate the best. My favorites are Italian Amaretto, Mint, and Orange
30. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but I might if I knew where to get it.
31. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was 6 or 7. I was helping my parents put groceries in the car and went to put them in the back and they were like "no! don't look back there!" I saw a doll that I wanted and when I got it Christmas morning I deduced that Santa did not exist.
32. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Right now it has white lights and various red and gold ornaments.
33. Snow: Love it or hate it? Both. I love it for Christmas and I love sledding, building snowmen, snowballs, stepping on ice, but I HATE the cold, the wetness, THE EVERENDING WINTER, bad traffic, and slippery roads.
34. Can you ice skate? Not really.
35. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Being with family. Giving presents. I love picking presents for people and seeing their face.
36. Which do you like best giving or receiving? I love giving gifts. I've gone crazy this year buying stuff for Austin. I can't WAIT to see his face. But, of course, I do enjoy getting gifts that are a surprise and perfect for me.
37. Do you like candy canes? Yes.


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

How tender are thy branches! Da-da-da-da, da diddly do, da-da-da-da, bah liddly do.....How tender are thy branches!

Yes, those are the only words I know. So our Christmas tree is finally up & trimmed! (It's been up for a week or so, but it has shiny red and gold ornaments on it now!)

It's so pretty! It's my first tree, and I'm so proud. I'm going to take pictures. Unfortunately, I can't post them since I still don't have a card-reader or a cord connecting my camera to the computer. If anyone want to get me that for Christmas, you're welcome to. Then you'd see pics more often.

Anyway... today was my first performance review at WGU. I was a bit nervous, but everything turned out well. My managers actually rated me better than I did myself. I got "exceeds expectations" in every category! They said I was doing well, and they expected me to accelerate rapidly and eventually be a senior editor and leader. They also addressed my concerns of not having enough to do. They said they would assign me to more projects now that they know I'm ready and willing for more work. So that's good. :)

So, yeah. Cheryl needs to update her blog. That's right, I'm calling you out! I need something to entertain me. That goes for everyone. Update your blog! Or start one!

I'm SO excited for Christmas. I think I'll do a Christmas memories post here soon. And I promise I'll get around to finishing the Tracie & Austin story. It's a lot of work and I have to remember stuff, so I'll work on it sometime I promise.