December 16, 2009
Trey's CO's are holding fast to the plan that we can't sign out until midnight Friday night. Seriously? You're really going to dismiss him around 2 and then we just have to sit around and look at each other for 10 more hours??? That's precious driving time. I'm still holding out hope that they get a touch of the Christmas spirit and let us leave early. Just in case though, we are staying up as late as our eyes will let us Thursday night and I will sleep as far into the day as possible on Friday. Trey will still have to get up at 5 for PT, but that's good for him. That way he'll come home and if we can't leave, he'll sleep until later in the night. Maybe I'll make some coffee around 9:30 - yes, pm - and maybe we can eat at IHOP before signing out.
Grrrrr while reading over my shoulder, hubs informed me that we absolutely are not leaving before midnight, so operation stay up as late as possible and sleep all day Friday is on. I might as well make the best of the situation - it'll be fun trying to stay up tomorrow night. Pizza and movies it is. Wish. us. luck.
edited to add: my bad! I forgot a little piece of vital information regarding our trip. Hubs leave doesn't actually start until Saturday, hense the reason we can't leave until 12:01. Teehee..
Army 1, Jessica 0
Sorry to bore you with all that, but don't you feel better knowing my sleep schedule for the rest of the week? I may post one more time before we leave, but after that, I'll be on a holiday hiatus we'll call it. I'll be back after the new year with lots more talk and pictures of our trip home. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones!! And if you have a spouse that is deployed during the holidays this year, I hope you are spending it with many friends and other family. Thank you so much for your sacrifices!!
Ohhhh yeah!!! How 'bout that SYTYCD finale??? I am more than in love with Russell. My feelings would not be hurt at all if either him or Katherine win! He has come so far, excels at every single style he attempts, and I just love his personality and heart out there. The only way I will be extremely ticked off is if Ryan or Ashleigh win. Ash isn't that bad, but I really don't see how or why Ryan is still on the show. And the whole "we're so much in love that we cry when we're together and can't stop hugging and kissing in front of the camera thing"? PLEASE don't tell me anyone is dumb enough to fall for that. THEY KNOW IT WILL GET THEM VOTES!!
End Rant. Seriously, each and every one of those dances warmed my heart to no end. My favorites were: Kathryn and Jakob's contemporary ( I admittedly shed a tear or two on that one.. beautiful.. but can't find it on YouTube), Kathryn and Ryan's Samba (she made it.. not him), Russell and Eleanore's Paso Doble, and Russell and Kathryn's hip hop. Now you know I have to show as many videos as possible because I want so badly for you all to be just as enamored as I am :) Aren't you all glad I learned how to post videos??
That hot little Samba I told you about:
Russell and Ashleigh's Lyrical Jazz. He is so so great in this one:
So many other great ones, but those are all I could find... for now.. muaahhahahaha
December 15, 2009
Real tree or fake tree? I haven't had a real tree for years, so I guess I'll go with fake. I always think I want a real one, but really it's so much easier dealing with a fake one. You don't have to deal with lugging it up the stairs, making sure it's watered, dragging it down after Christmas and having dead pine needles everywhere. Just light some Christmas Tree scented candles and pretend...
What is your least favorite thing about the holidays? There's little I don't like about the holidays, but I guess I'd have to say going into any store around this time of year. Can we say panic attack?
What is your favorite holiday smell? Any Christmas related candle scent
Who is your favorite reindeer? Dancer... I imagine he'd be pretty fun
What is your Christmas Eve ritual? I just really love the time spent with family. Hanging out, eating, drinking, baking, with all the Christmas decorations surrounding us. I used to love opening one present on Christmas Eve, but I don't do that anymore. I want more to open the next day :)
Are you a Friday after Thanksgiving shopper? See above when I mentioned crowded stores and panic attacks... absolutely not!
What is your favorite holiday food? I don't think we have all day to answer this one... but to name a few... cookies, cheesecake, dips, pies, apple crisp, celery and cream cheese. Every Christmas morning, my mum makes me a egg sandwhich. So what you say? What's so special about that? She fries the egg in bacon grease... lol... heart attack waiting to happen! Don't worry.. it's just once a year :)
How did you find out that Santa wasn't real? I don't remember exactly how I found out, probably some stupid kid at school. My parents always like to tell the story how I was sobbing in bed when I asked them and found out the truth. I yelled out afterwards through my tears, "I guess this means there's no easter bunny or tooth fairy either!"
Have you bought all your presents yet? I have 2 more to buy!!
Do you still make snowmen and snow angels? I haven't seen snow in years. If I had kids I probably would, but I don't do well with the cold so I don't see myself going out to make a snow angel just because.
Do you still have snow ball fights? Again, the whole no snow thing hinders me here. Yes, I'd probably do this. I'd deal with the cold to hide behind a car and whack Trey with a good snowbell when he least expected it!
What's your favorite Christmas movie? How can I chose just one?? Christmas Vacation, Elf, The Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, and if you can count it.. Love Actually
What do you plan to do for New Year's Eve? This year I have no idea. I don't even know if we'll be back home in OK or if we'll still be on the road!
What's the most expensive thing you've ever gotten for Christmas? Hmm.. I really don't know to be honest...
How early do you wake up on Christmas morning? Whenever my little brother wakes me up.. usually around 7 I think..
What do you usually get in your stocking? Candy, gift cards, socks
What is your favorite religious Christmas carol? Oh Little Town of Bethleham
What is your favorite non-religious Christmas song? I'll Be Home for Christmas (see videos below for my fav. versions) and Baby, It's Cold Outside
How long do you leave up your Christmas decorations? They come down New Years Day or the day after
This gets me every. single. time
December 14, 2009
December 13, 2009
Mum at my SIL baby shower
Her and my dad flew up to Mass. for the Patriots game this weekend. Best present of all for her? THEY WON!!
December 12, 2009
We are participating in the Jingle Jog at 2:00. Okay okay... more like the Jingle Walk for us. It's a fundraiser for the food bank. I'm really excited for Trey to meet some of the people I "work" with every day. When that is over we'll come home and I'll start cooking for our Christmas party tonight! We are getting together with our little group of friends for a chinese gift exchange. I'm making a buffalo chicken dip and brownies. I'm going to be sure to bring my camera. I haven't taken many pictures since we've been out here and I'm wondering if everyone back home is doubting that we do actually have friends...
Hope everyone enjoys their weekend! We don't really know what to do with ourselves with no football to watch! ~ one week from today, I will be home ~ !!!!!!!!
December 11, 2009
Me to Trey: Let's call mum to tell her happy birthday!
Ring ring ring
mum: Good morning!
Trey and I together in a sing song voice: HAAPPPY BIRTHDAYYY!!!!
mum: umm.. thanks.. but my birthday's not til Sunday.
Uncontrollable giggles came from both my mum and I for about a minute straight. Ahh well - I think birthdays should be week-long celebratoins, so that was just the kick off to her birthday week! Yeah... I really did that on purpose...
Yesterday, I got a text from Trey letting me know he was meeting some friends for lunch at the PX food court instead of coming home. I just so happened to be on post so I invited myself along. I'm pretty sure they were thrilled to have me and that conversation filled with Christmas decorations, my trip home, and presents for my mum were a much appreciated deviation from there regular boring lives ;)
We finish lunch... all is great... and Trey is walking me to my car afterwards. We're walking along, with me babbling on and on about who knows what, per usual, when the two soldiers walking by stop and salute Trey. My husband... getting saluted. It all happened so fast.. they salute.. Trey salutes back.. and I'm sure my face was pretty scrunched up like "WTH just happened". After a second my brain processed it all and I was overcome with emotion. That was the first time I've seen that happen - it made me so incredibly proud of him! He is still pretty humbled by it and doesn't make a big deal out of it... but to me.. it was huge and warmed my heart :)
December 10, 2009
And because I really can't get enough and want your day to be filled with laughter... a couple more for your viewing pleasure:
Okay I'm done. Hope you enjoyed :)
December 8, 2009
You can't really see, but those napkins have a big N in the middle. I think they are so cute. I don't remember where they came from, but I got them last year. I don't think I've actually used them. And see my poor little snowman on the end? His light's gone out... it's been out for about 2 years and I've yet to find the motivation to fix him. Poor guy. I keep those Willow Tree angels out all year. My bff Sara, that lives in Massachusetts gave them to me a couple years ago and started my collection. I love everything Willow Tree. I have another one - husband and wife - that I keep in our bedroom. Those are always welcome as gifts for any occasion ;) I would LOVE to have the Willow Tree Nativity set!Here are our very empty stockings. I sure hope Santa swings by while we're in SC and fills them up for us!That is all. We didn't put a tree up this year. Don't really have room for one, plus the lights I have everywhere else satisfies me enough. We'll have our parents tree to enjoy in A WEEK AND 1/2!
December 6, 2009
December 3, 2009
... to a an email my lovely father forwarded to me today. Mmmhmmm.. enjoy. WARNING: at times I didn't know whether to throw up or continue laughing. The lady at minute 2 really does it for me!
I have strong opinions on this and know without a shadow of a doubt that I will stay wherever it is we are. I've had to defend this decision multiple times lately though. I have no doubt that people mean well. They are afraid I will be alone. That I need to be around family. I hate this argument, but it was said so I'll put it out there... "what if something happens to Trey, don't you want to be around family".
Here are my views. Number one and most importantly, I refuse to go into this with the assumption in mind that something is going to happen to him. Now that that's out of the way.. A) I'm planning on being extremely involved in his unit's FRG. I want to be surrounded by women who are close to the situation. Women who are going through the same exact thing that I am going through. I want to be there for them and vice-versa. I want to be there so I'm in the know in everything that goes on with the boys. Yes, I am fully aware that all FRG groups aren't so great. I know that they are not all as ideal as I've just described, but all I can do is my part. Maybe I am being entirely way too naive, but I don't see anything wrong with putting myself out there and being as supportive as I can be. Even in the worst group there is, there has to be at least ONE other wife that feels the same way. B) I want Trey to feel secure. Does this make sense? I have it all sorted out in my mind but sometimes have a hard time conveying things out loud (or typed.. whatevs). I want him to know that I'm holding down the fort back "home". That I'm taking care of the house (the same one we're in before he leaves) while he is gone and to know that he's coming back to the same one. I don't want him to worry about where I'll be or how I'm handling it. I've never been through this before, but from what I understand, the more stable and simple things are, the more at ease he will be. Home for us now isn't SC as hard as that sounds. As cliche as it is, home is now where the Army sends us. This is true. Which brings me to my third point. C) Moving around, being on our own, and time apart is part of our lives. We were both fully aware of this when he signed up. Signed up being the key phrase. He wasn't forced into doing this and I wasn't being the submissive wife with no opinion mattering. He volunteered and I supported him whole-heartedly. This being said, I refuse and cannot run home every single time he leaves. I need to be able to make it on my own, and truly believe that I can. This way of life already has so much instability... I cannot add to that. Especially when we add kids into the mix.
Don't get me wrong, I plan on going back to visit my family and friends as much as possible. My family still provides a source of comfort that can't be replaced and they still mean more to me than is probably normal. When I express these strong opinions that I have, I sometimes feel like I'm hurting feelings. No one has outright made me feel like that, but I just worry about it. But really, if my my family hadn't raised me how they did, if they haven't loved me as much as they did, I probably wouldn't be able to handle the time apart this way. I wouldn't be able to stand strong on my own.
As a disclosure - these are just MY opinions. And clearly, I haven't been through a deployment yet, so I can't speak for anyone that has. As much as we prepare ourselves for these things, we really don't know exactly how hard it can be until it happens. I absolutely don't think that people that don't share my views on this are wrong, this is just the way I want to go about it. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, but how do you feel about it? Please, feel free to let me know what you agree with, disagree with, or where you flat out laughed at my naive way of thinking! I love to see others opinions and different viewpoints!
December 2, 2009
Reason number 232436 is this little interaction:
After waking up and realizing that it is not after all snowing (no need for that ice scraper I guess) but just really really cold out and raining, Trey walks in from yet another morning of PT soaking wet from said rain. He showers, I selfishly get a bowl of cereal for myself and plop down on the couch. He comes out and I hear him in the kitchen:
Me: Treeeyyyyy, are you making coffee??
Me: YES!! I would have but I didn't even think about it.
T: breaks out in full enthusiastic rendition of "Who's yo daddyyy, who's your baby..." blah blah blah.
Off now to drink my hot coffee and try to work up the enthusiasm to go to the gym in that freezing rain. I wish working out was part of my job, like Trey, so I didn't have a choice!
December 1, 2009
I have a new favorite cashier at Walmart. As I'm unloading a full buggy's worth of food on to the register conveyor, the hmm.. how do I put this... eccentric looking cashier immediately starts talking my head off. Me being me, start talking right back with him and before you know it I'm teaching him about spices, he's telling me life stories about his friends, I'm coming back with stories that can beat his.. blah blah blah. Then he tells me he's giving me a discount today. He says I'm getting the "attractive lady" discount (in a completely non-creeper way). I tell him I'll take it with a shrug of the shoulders, not really taking it seriously. He finishes ringing me up, I take note somewhere in the back of my mind how low the price sounds for all the food, we wrap up the conversation and home I go.
I forgot all about it until this morning when I stumbled upon my receipt. I can't remember everything I bought, but I did notice this:
the 3 lb Roast I should have been charged $10 for - not on my receipt.
The beautiful *calorie free* Christmas sugar cookies sitting on my counter - no proof that I actually bought them.
The 6 yogurts sitting in my fridge - only shows 3 on the receipt.
Dude really? I'm appreciative and all, but please don't risk your job. The more I think about it... I had no makeup on and felt like ass - remember - I didn't feel so good. I'm pretty sure he just felt bad for me.
* I don't have much to say about that mess of a Patriots game from last night other than that is not the team I have come to know and love ~ on to the next one... *
November 30, 2009
November 29, 2009
We had a couple ugly games this year, but you know what? We looked pretty solid in the game that REALLY matters!We now have bragging rights for a full glorious year....
Now we're waiting for Saturday, praying that Alabama pulls a big win out over Florida for the SEC Championship!!
November 28, 2009
Yes.. maybe, just maybe, Clemson is way ahead of us in the history of this rivalry. Like sadly so. 65-37 Clemson if you want to get technical. So what if we've lost our last three games and Clemson's kinda been kicking ass. If you know anything about us Carolina fans, you know we are the most hopeful creatures on earth. So this is where I will be all morning until mid-afternoon. Posted up in front of the TV, cheering on my Cocks with all of my entire heart, hoping for a game day miracle.
On a separate note, our Thanksgiving was okay. Just okay though and that's my fault. Dinner was great. Trey said it was the best Thanksgiving dinner he's ever had (lying to flatter me is completely okay in my book). I was just very, very emotional. I know it was just the fact that it was a big holiday, but I was extremely homesick for the first time since I've gotten out here. I cried for the majority of the day. From anything from a Folgers commercial I saw during the parade, from seeing Santa at the end of the parade (WTH???), to bigger more important things. I felt horrible for Trey. I feel like I pretty much ruined his day, especially towards the end of it. I took some NyQuil to go ahead and put an end to both of our misery, woke up and put my big girl panties on. Said a quick prayer, made a mental note of all of my blessings, and plastered a smile on my face. Yeah, it was a fake smile at first, but within a couple of hours my sour mood was lifted. I half-heartedly put Christmas decorations up, but thoroughly enjoyed them once it was dark. Celebrated a close call Alabama win with Trey. Got dressed up and had a much needed night out with friends (dinner and Orange Tree!), came home and laughed for two hours straight together while watching Christmas Vacation! I leave you today with some of my favorite Aunt Bethany quotes:
"Is your house on fire, Clark?"
" No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights"
Ellen: Oh Aunt Bethany, you shouldn't have done that.
Aunt Bethany: Oh dear, did I break wind?
Uncle Lewis: Jesus, did the room clear out, Bethany? Hell no, she means presents. You shouldn't have brought presents.
"Grace? She passed away 30 years ago"
"Is this the airport Clark?"
Aunt Bethany: What's that sound? You hear it? It's a funny squeaky sound.
Uncle Lewis: You couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.
November 26, 2009
Ashleigh and Jakob's Lyrical Jazz routine:
Kathryn and Legacy's Jazz routine (I have to say.. these two are quickly becoming my favorite):
My absolute favorite of the night.. Noelle and Russell's contemporary! So So So beautiful! Russell is another one of my favorites. For those of you who don't watch this show and have gotten this far in my post about something you're not particularly interested (I love you for that by the way), Russell and Legacy (the one above) have NO actual training. Russell used to do hip hop dancing in tha streets... Legacy was a beat boy. They have been so AH-MAZING that they bring tears to my eyes!
I also though Mollee and Nathan's Can-Can dance was adorable and like the judges said - perfect for their cute little selves!
I'm not very sad to see Karen go... I can do without her, but I am VERRRY happy to see Victor go. Just was not a fan.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving. We have had our turkey and Trey is passed out on the couch as a result!
November 25, 2009
It's my last day at the food bank for the week. We are closed for the rest of the week. I wanted to do something nice for them today for taking me in and immediately treating me like I've been a part of them forever, so I got up early this morning to make some sugar cookies. I actually made the dough last night and regridgerated it overnight. It was the first time I've ever made cookie dough and was pretty excited to see how they came out this morning.. mmm... not so much! It was so sticky that I couldn't do anything with it. I put all the flour I had left into it to fix it the best I could. I mean, they're edible... but they definitely don't resemble a sugar cookie. Nor do they really taste like one. I'm bringing them in anyway, but let's just say that I really hope my apple crisp comes out a lot better tomorrow! The icing on the cake? NOW I have to go to Walmart today to get more flour.. grrrr... wish me luck!
We are spending the holiday by ourselves tomorrow. We do have some friends getting together, but we wanted to take the opportunity to spend it just the two of us. We've never been able to do that and *hopefully* won't be able to again. I'm making a teeny tiny turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn and rolls. Then apple crisp for dessert.
This year I am more than ever thankful for my husband. After spending a rough 7 and 1/2 months without him over the year, I'm soaking up every moment we have together. I miss my family and am verry thankful for the technology that allows us to pretty much stay in every minute of each other's lives. I'm thankful for our friends that I'm more than excited to see next month! And for our friends that we have here.. our little family away from home. I am extremely thankful for all of the soldiers that are fighting over seas that are not able to spend this holiday with their families. I'm thankful for the wine I plan to enjoy at dinner tonight. *okay okay... and the rest of the week*. Very thankful for our cozy little home. And really... I'm thankful for the faith I have in my heart that knows I have all of this because God allows me to.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
November 24, 2009
I get so inspired by all of you runners out there. I admire all the dedication you put in to training for marathons. I celebrate each and every met goal with you. My heart bursts with happiness for you when you finally reach your target goal. I get completely sucked in to the whole process and think to myself how great I would feel if I did something like that. So I try. I get all amped up. I print out a training program. Set my little running clothes out. I go to the gym extremely motivated on Day 1. And that's about as far as it goes.
I've tried to enjoy running, but I JUST PLAIN HATE IT. So, I then find myself making up any reason what-so-ever to avoid the gym for the rest of the week. Not good. I let myself off the hook this weekend and realized I don't have to be a runner. It's better for my health
So keep up all that running ladies! I'm living vicariously through you, so keep up the hard work!
November 21, 2009
Has anyone heard of Orange Tree??? It's only a little slice of heaven here on earth. Day by day I'd drive by the promise of a self-serve frozen yogurt bar, semi-patiently waiting for them to open. They opened at 5:00 yesterday. So after a delish steak quesidilla and one or two margaritas, I couldn't get in the door soon enough. I may have squealed like a 16 year old girl in line for New Moon when I did get in there. Options and options of flavors. It was hard to chose, but I ended up with a mix of strawberry and cheesecake. After you decide on the flavor, you head on over to the topping bar... to DIE for.
I will not ever again go to Braums to have a full fledged fattie ice cream. Unless of course it's for a rare banana split....* this is not my yogurt, I googled a picture so you could imagine it's full goodness. And no, I was not paid to do this post. It's really just that good.
November 19, 2009
I'm stealing this idea from a few other bloggers! If you've never left me a comment before, today's your day, lucky ones! I'm always surprised by the amount of followers I have and that number has gone up a little in the past few days (welcome!) and while I appreciate the fact that people think my life is interesting enough to "follow", I LOOVVEEEE getting comments from people. Each and every one of them puts a smile on my face... it means a lot for y'all to take time out of your day to let me know what you're thinking. I have 85 followers now (yay!) but on average only see about 10 comments a post... and that's a good day! So today's your day. Let me know you're out there! You can even comment anonymously if you don't have an account. I promise I won't be creeped out (unless I should be)
And this is where my shameless begging for love ends. I'm just curious to see who's really out there...
November 18, 2009
Rules are to list 10 interesting things about yourself and tag 7 other friends. I don't know if I'll be able to think of 10 different things, but I'll give it a shot...
1. I've been thinking about going back to school for a while now. I haven't yet because I couldn't decide what to get my degree in. I'm pretty sure I've decided on Social Work. I want to do something in the adoption process. I would love to help families out who are looking to adopt.
2. Speaking of families - I want a baby.. like NOW. I suddenly have baby fever that's crept over me in the last couple of weeks. So we may or may not be TALKING about it. No need for any mothers out there to get excited just yet.
3. I've started reading in my Bible every day. I printed out a guide online that gets you through the entire Bible in a year. I've been doing this only since Nov. 2 and it's already changed me. We're trying a new church this Sunday and I'm pretty excited.
4. I have the widest taste in music ever known to man. For example: my two favorites are The Fray and Lil Wayne, but my all time two favorite songs ever are I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me
and Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole
5. I'm really a HUGE nerd at heart. If reading didn't make me sleepy, I would read all day long. And I'm the master at Sudoku. The regular 9x9 grid bores me. I need the big one that mixes 5 grids together.
6. I'm really excited about the whole moving around the world aspect of the Army. I realize this may change after the 700th move, but for right now, I'm soaking it up. The thought of living in another country thrills me. But I'll be devastated if none of my family ever visits me.
7. I have incredibly unruly hair. I have to straighten it every day now that it's short so in order to even leave the house on a daily basis it takes me at least an hour to get ready including shower. Yuck.
8. I've had the horrible habit of nail biting since I came out of the womb. People say it's disgusting with good reason, but it really doesn't gross me out. I know.. it should...
That's all I have. I'm spending way too much time thinking about this!
Brandi at Excess Baggage
Jenn at First Comes Love Than Comes Marriage
High Heels at High Heels and Combat Boots
Katie at Loves of Life
New Girl at New Girl on Post
That's all I have time for *that takes a lot time to do!!* I'm just breaking all the rules today..
November 17, 2009
This is something I've wanted to do for SUCH a long time now, so when Brandi hosted a giveaway to get your blog a makeover, I signed up with pathetically high hopes. I never win anything - until last week :)
I was beyond excited when I got an email from Stephanie at Dirt and Lace Designs. She was great to work with... she has the patience of a saint and that is no exaggeration. I am the most indecisive person alive (it's a fact) and she kept her cool even when I changed my mind for the 500th time. I had no clue what I wanted when I started out, but she was great with helping me figure it out. In short - she's AMmazing!!
Soooo... tell me what you think! And if you're jealous of how fly my blog looks, check in with Brandi often... she promised to do another makeover giveaway soon!
November 16, 2009
I don't have any pictures yet that I promised to share. Hopefully tomorrow.
We had a very relaxing rest of the weekend. Almost lethargic actually, but hubs was so incredibly tired... he needed that! We watched football allll day long Saturday. I watched my Gamecocks ALMOOSTT beat the number one team in the country. Then watched Bama stay ahead at #2!
Sunday involved lots of coffee, Atlanta Bread Company, a tri-weekly trip to Walmart, and ended it off with a heart break from the end of the Patriots game...
I started my 5K training today.. woohooo! Oh, you thought I was starting it last week? Hmmphh.. I did. For a day. Then I skipped out of the gym for the rest of the week. I'm not ashamed. It just happened ok? I also started my 2nd week at the food bank. I'm still loving it and I believe they are loving me! I've already been told that I am not allowed to ever leave. The director also paid me the biggest compliment I believe I've ever received last week. We were talking about something and I said something along the lines of "I try and try to do it like that and it never quite works out for me" I believe we were talking about cooking. She told me she didn't believe me. She said I must not be really trying because she's pretty sure that I will accomplish anything I put my mind to in life. I really wish I could see myself the way others see me!
We had a verrry busy day there today and I.am.pooped. We fed 70 families today and they say this is nothing compared to how it's going to be in the next couple weeks. Incredible. As beat down as I feel right now, nothing beats the feeling of knowing we're putting food in so many people's mouths!
November 14, 2009
We finally got off of our rears around noon and headed out for OKC. Can I just say that I adore the fact that this city is an hour away from us! Unlike last time, I made sure to wear comfy shoes :)
We went straight to the Oklahoma City Memorial. I don't really know how to put into words how this place made me feel. It was very overwhelming. I don't remember much about this day (other than I was in Disney World at the time) so I learned a lot. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even know why the bombing took place or how McVeigh did it. I did take a few pictures outside, which I will post later, but they didn't allow cameras inside.
I was fighting back the tears from the moment it started. You walk out of that elevator and feel like you are there. There are pictures everywhere of what was going on that morning, I know what the weather was like and what the forecast was for the rest of the day, the background noises playing of what you may have heard as you walked into work that day... it put you right there at the scene. From there we walked through a few different exhibits into a room where we heard a recording of a meeting that was going on when the bomb went off. They had to record all these meetings and that tape was recovered. You hear them talking, hear the bomb go off, hear all the confusion and chaos that follows. It was awful. It broke my heart to think about what this city and everyone else who was affected went through... all because of two men. It made me think a lot about 9/11 and the Ft. Hood incident. It just pisses me off that people can be so selfish and careless. How can you NOT be concerned about taking even ONE person's life away from them... never mind hundreds or thousands. How does that NOT affect you? What is the difference between their hearts and minds and ours that doesn't give them that compassion?
From there we made the short drive to Bricktown, which I am in love with. We parked the car, walked around a bit, then stopped in this little bar (with all intentions of having 1 drink) called Tapwerks. It wasn't our fault that we stayed way longer than intended... over 100 beers on tap.. come on. AND they had sanitizer for the toilets!!! My kind of bar :) Our plan was to go to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar for dinner then head home. Imagine my surprise when hubs suggests we get a hotel room right in the heart of Bricktown so we could
Toby Keith's place was pretty cool. I was floored because they offer active duty soldiers a free meal. A big, fat cheeseburger and fries which Trey was going to order anyways. I stayed true to form and got a little emotional over that. It's hard enough to even get a military discount anywhere... here he got a free meal! You can only get it once, but still...
So we had a great night - and it's only still Saturday :)
My Gamecocks are on.. sporting their camo. Highly unlikely we'll beat Florida, but you know I'm hopeful! For the first 3 minutes at least...
November 11, 2009
November 10, 2009
I was trained on the phones today at the food bank. I loved doing that, but did hear one story that just broke my heart. I don't want to get into the full story, but it was a mother who was trying her best just to be the mom we all want and expect to be. While telling me her story I could hear her voice start to crack as she fought the tears, but she lost all control as the flood gates opened. It was all could do not to sit there and cry with her.
I called my mom afterwards wanting to talk about it, but she couldn't talk at the moment. That is all. I still didn't cry at that moment but was pathetically pretty dern close. *don't feel bad mum. you clearly did nothing to bring that on... i blame it on my insanity* But she did call back 5 minutes later so all was good until....
I got home and watched the coverage on the Ft. Hood memorial. OH.My.God. I don't remember the last time I cried so hard. Between the last roll call and hearing the silence after every other soldier's name was called, hearing Taps being played, and seeing the families barely able to walk through their grief as they said their goodbyes... i couldn't contain myself. I just pray and pray for them.. that they are comforted as much as possible.
There have been other little things, but I already can't remember what they are. I'm sure they were very silly reasons. Off to go enjoy one of those Betty Crocker Warm Delight things. The chocolate fudge cookie one. With Vanilla Ice Cream on top. Full fledged fatty girl version of everything. Mmmhmmmm... judge me. I don't care.
I also cried when I tried bring all 10000 bags of groceries in by myself and one of the bags split.. the jar of spaghetti sauce crashes below and all of a sudden there's broken glass everywhere (I totally just rapped that like P.Diddy) and sauce splattered all over me.
November 9, 2009
We had a pretty low key weekend. Friday night's dinner was Steak, potato casserole* and a salad. And possibly peach cobbler for dessert :) We watched a movie and for the life of me I can't remember now what it was called or even what it was about! It wasn't that bad either... that's pretty sad!
Saturday we got up early and went on a
Sunday involved a pointless trip to Wichita Falls where we got NOTHING accomplished.
Now it's back to the grind for Trey. It's his last week of real training for BOLC II. We don't have much - or any - contact with each other this week, but I'm thankful it's a short one. He has Friday off to celebrate Veteran's Day :) Yay for 3-days!!!
* Potato Caserole
1-2lb bag of hashbrowns
6oz sour cream
1 can of cream of celery soup (I think I'll try cream of chicken next time)
5oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (hell yes this wifey freshly grated that cheese!)
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 cups crushed ritz crackers
1/2 cup margarine, melted
combine all casserole ingrediants and spoon into lightly greased casserole dish.
combine cracker crumbs and melted margarine and sprinkle over the top
Bake at 350 till bubble, about 40 minutes
November 5, 2009
I have to say that I'm glad he is alive. Everyone wants answers from him and I'm glad he's around to face the consequences of his horrible acts. I'm glad he wasn't able to take the cowardly way out.
November 4, 2009
My favorite dance - by far - of the night was Kathryn and Legacy's contemporary dance.. one of my favorite styles. This one was about her conquering her fear (him portraying the fear). It reminded me a lot of Mia Michaels' dance from last year about addiction. Here's the link. It's worth your time, promise. *I still haven't figured out how to embed videos. It never works for me*
My 2nd favorite would have to be Karen and Kevin's hip hop routine. It was pretty sick if I do say so myself. They were even put on the hot tamale train for it.. wooot wooooooot!
Molly and Nathan did a great job with the Bollywood.. that is quickly becoming a favorite also. I can't find a video for this one, so you are spared.
They are all so good this season, it's going to be heartbreaking to see a lot of them go. I was pretty pleased with the results last night though. If only the Phillies would hurry up and end baseball season, in their favor of course so we can get back to two shows a week... that would be lovely!
I walk in and meet with the director and we immediately start talking about football when I tell her I'm from SC. They've always lived in OK but her and her son are big Gamecock and SEC fans in general. Hmm.. sign number 1.
She tells me that their biggest need for help right now is in the clerical area. Hello, I'm your girl. That's MY area. When she showed me all the paperwork, files that need to be kept up with, and data entry that needs to be done everyday - my heart started fluttering. Sign number 2. I am going to learn every bit of how everything works first though because I'm curious like that.. and that way I'll be able to jump in and help in other areas when needed.
This was a HUGE eye opener for me today. I thought they could only give away non-perishable items.. but they do the whole shabang. They feed, on average, 50 families a day and that only rises as the holidays get closer. They also will take furniture, clothing... anything. She doesn't want to turn anything down that people want to give because you just never know what someone might need. Some of their customers are sleeping on the floor every night.
My heart could just NOT be anymore content and full than it is right now. It's so sad to see the conditions some people are living in and I'm extremely thankful that I can make a difference in some of their lives. I think this opportunity is really going to make me see how much I have to be thankful for. We're all so quick to want more and more, but never really stopping to remember that we're lucky to even have the income to have a roof over our heads. I can't wait to start there... which is Monday by the way... I'm sure you'll here all about it!
On another note - I may try and do a 5K next month. One of the volunteers is heading it up I guess and told me briefly about it. I've been doing more running than usual, so I'm thinking about kicking up the training for it and giving it a shot... what do you runners think? A little over a month enough time to get ready?
November 3, 2009
I've always had a huge spot in my heart for families that are less fortunate and can't afford to put a meal on the table every night and for the homeless. I know there are those out there that give people in that category a bad name, but not all the homeless are out there begging for money so they can buy alcohol or drugs. Not all of them got there because they did horrible things in life. You never know what hand someone has been dealt in life, and really, most of us are only one paycheck away from being out in the streets. Scary thought.
I've been looking around for different places where I could possibly volunteer for awhile now and yesterday I contacted the local food bank out here. The Executive Director got back in touch with me today and we are meeting tomorrow morning to see where I'd fit best. I'm really really excited about this. I've always known I wanted to be able do something like this and am very thankful that I have the time now. I'm just hoping it goes well and they'll have something for me to do... anything... wish me luck!
November 2, 2009
Friday night Trey got home a little later than usual, so dinner was just about done when he got home. I did forget to pick up our weekend stash of beer and wine (I know right... how could I?) so he went back out and picked some up for us before dinner - my hero in more ways than one.
I made Chile Rellenos Chicken and I L-O-V-E-D it. Again, I got this recipe from somewhere out here in blog land and can't remember where. I'm really gonna have to make note of who I'm stealing it from when I do that! At least that way I can give whoever it is proper credit
*side note - I'm hearing what I believe is the tornado siren outside right now. But the skies are a perfect blue. I've never heard one before so I'm not sure what it sounds like... but I have no idea what else that could possibly be. Ehh.. if this post stops mid sentence, please know I've lived a good life and have no regrets*
Anywho... here's the recipe:
Chiles Rellenos Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves(4-6 ounces each)
1 lime, cut in half crosswise
1 egg white
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 cup finely crushed nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips ( I have yet to find these, I just use regular plan tortilla chips, although you could use lime flavored ones as well)
1/2 can whole green chilies, drained and cut into strips
2 tablespoons shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 Teaspoon snipped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place one chicken breast half in resealable plastic food storage bag; seal bag. Lightly flatten chicken to even thickness using flat side of a meat tenderizer. Repeat with remaining chicken breast. Discard plastic bag. Sometimes I skip this step completely and just use chicken tenders instead of breasts.
2. Juice lime halves into small bowl. Add egg white and garlic;whisk until frothy.
3. Place tortilla chips in another resealable plastic food storage bag and finely crush. Place crushed chips in a shallow dish. Dip chicken into egg mixture and then into chips, coating completely. Discard any remaining chips. Place chicken in a pan.
4. Bake 20-22 mins or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Arrange chile strips over chicken;sprinkle with cheese. Bake 2-3 mins or just until cheese melts. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with salsa, if desired.
After enjoying that deliciousness, we watched Slumdog Millionaire for the first time! We were a little late with that one, I know, but it was a great movie!
Saturday morning we got up early and went to Atlanta Bread Company for breakfast. Thank God there's one of those right down the street. Nothing beats a 1/2 of chicken pesto panini sandwich and a hot bowl of potato soup. Not for breakfast of course. I had the cinnamon crisp bagel (to die for) for breakfast and a hot cup of coffee of course. After that we set out for OKC. Went to the Capitol Building first. It was interesting and I'm glad we went to see it, but we didn't stay long. I was surprised that NO ONE was there. In Columbia there are always people there, walking around, taking pictures, etc all the time. It was at this point when I realized I had made the awful mistake of wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time on a day that was supposed to be full of walking around. WHEN WILL I EVER LEARN??? We headed straight to Walmart for some hopeful relief. 6 blister bandaids later and we were still no good.
We did make it to lunch and met the Perpetual Newlyweds. Can't say enough about them... we had a great time chatting it up for a couple of hours... even if they aren't SEC fans.. no one's perfect right?? ;) Mr. Newlywed is leaving tonight for Basic, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers! Sadly, we made the trip back home after that. I just was not being a trooper with my feet all blistered up. Fortunately, Trey has a 3-day coming up so we're planning on spending a couple of nights there to get in everything we want to see.
We got home in just enough time to see Carolina get their asses handed to them by Tennessee. Lots of bad words were said during that mess of a game. My FIL was quite happy with that game... grrrrr! And we had NO trick-or-treaters!! Good, because I didn't buy candy anyway. I am not the grinch who stole Halloween, I just didn't expect to be home.
Sunday was a lazy, and pretty boring day to be honest! The only thing worth mentioning is that we went to see Law Abiding Citizen ~ LOVED IT. Run, don't' walk, to your closest movie theater and see this one. My heart was pounding almost the entire time.
The weather is beautiful here today (I think I'm in the clear with the tornado... the "siren" stopped a few minutes ago), so I think I'll get out there and enjoy it before the cold stuff gets here and stays here!
October 30, 2009
I'm SOOO excited to get there. Why so excited you ask? I'm going to meet a blogging buddy!! Our husbands are coming along for the meet. They are actually a big reason we're meeting this weekend. Her husband has courageously signed up for the Army and is leaving for Basic this Monday. He's taking the OCS route as well, so it'll be nice for them to talk about it since Trey went through it all recently. We've been emailing all week, making arrangements to get together. I have to laugh at ourselves because it totally feels like you're setting up a blind date. "Let's meet here at this time... I'll be the girl wearing the cute and sassy sweater dress get up... here's my cell in case anything changes". I'm sure we'll have a great time - I'll let you know next week :)
It hit me yesterday that I've been a little selfish on my blog posts. Talking all about me and not so much about Trey. A few people in his family read this I think (ahem.. I hope) if they haven't gotten tired of just hearing about me all the time ;) and my mum is still a loyal reader and I'm sure she'd like to hear a bit about her son-in-law too... I never update anyone on how HE'S doing. Me me me!
Well, if I had gotten to this yesterday, I would have told you he's doing marvelous. He's thoroughly enjoying his life right now. Come on.. you all know he played Army every day of his childhood... now he's getting paid to do the same. *please forgive me lack of knowledge when it comes to the technical terms of anything... you'll have to live with my girly version* Earlier in the week he was all amped up. They spent the first part basically living a video game. They were pretending they were in tanks overseas, but the game made them feel like they were really there. The first day he "killed a bad guy". The second day he died. He was blown up by an IED. It's the 2nd time he's died in two weeks. I don't remember how he died last week. I talk light-heartedly about this, but you know me.... it's got my mind going in overdrive. All I can say is that I'm glad it's not for real and I hope they are learning lessons.
He got home last night and was still feeling pretty damn Hooah. They are doing combatitives yesterday and today. That means they are spending two days doing nothing but fighting each other. Not my idea of a good time, but soldiers will be soldiers. He came home feeling pretty BA. Thennn.... he woke up this morning. To say he is a little sore is a bit of an understatement. I think he realized he is not 22 anymore... and his punching bag partner is. I have a feeling I'll be doing a little pampering tonight (get your minds out of the gutter).
That's about it for him. I'll be sure to do that more often. I know anyone that is interested could just call him, but lets face it, it's much more interesting from my point of view.
I have a busy day ahead of me! Have an appointment to take care of these monstrous eyebrows. Going to payless to take advantage of a special code I have to get 1/2 off on a pair of boots. Oh you want half off too?? Text "oprahshow" to 242424 and you can get it as well. Just for today so hurry. Your welcome. Need to pick up a bottle of wine. I read in a magazine this week that 1 or 2 glasses of red wine a day will help you fend off any colds coming your way. Need to protect my health! Then it's back home to do my wifely duties. Got laundry to do. Gotta clean the bathroom, straighten up in general, vacuum, sweep, mop the kitchen and bathroom floors, and make some dinner. I know, I know ~ I'm pretty awesome.
Have a great weekend!
October 29, 2009
Ta-da!! The sweater dress. With leggings. Uh huh... so not anything I would normally wear (God forbid I break out of my daily wear of jeans, sweater, and Sperry's). But I've been eyeing these on other people for months and have been loving it. The one I got is cream colored, but I couldn't find that one online.
Think I'll be donning this get-up for our day trip to OKC this weekend... perfect for the nice fallish day we're supposed to have.
October 28, 2009
So anyway - I'm going to try my best to be a lazy bum today and get some rest. I always feel way too guilty to allow myself to do that, but I'm under strict orders.
I was at the hospital twice yesterday. First outing was for my eye appointment and it's a good thing I thoroughly enjoy laughing at myself. I may or may not have asked more than one person where the "Optomology" department was and finally got an answer after the 2nd person finally told me she wasn't sure, but am I sure I wasn't looking for the Optometry dept? Umm yes thanks. Is Optomology even a word?
Appointment goes great. I take the elevator down to the first floor, go out the rotating door, and can't find my car ANYWHERE. After walking around the parking lot for a solid 5 minutes, I realize I must not have come out the same place I came in. Go back in the hospital and even though I was on the right floor, I couldn't find the right exit anywhere... swear it disappeared Harry Potter style. So I walked around like a straight up loon for another good 10 minutes before I finally found my parking lot. 10,000 parking lots... who knew!
Dear Santa, please bring me keyless entry for my car this year so I can always find it in the crazy parking lots. They Hundai likes to play hide-and-go seek.
After using spell check, I'm pretty positive that Optomology does NOT exist... in case you were wondering :)
October 26, 2009
If I move there I may have a little bit of an inferiority complex. Next to all those leggy, blond hair, thin women - my 5'2" brunette self would stand out like a sore thumb! But to enjoy this lifestyle, I think I could hang!
- Cobblestone streets - Charming canals
- They think it's crazy that American people focus so much on getting married and that it's shameful that young girls grow up fantasizing about it. They put more stress on the actual marriage, not getting married. As it should be, they value relationships, not where you are in that relationship.
- 1/3 of the population ride bikes everywhere... even to the grocery store. Exercise? Fresh air? Wind blowing in my face? Yes please!
- If you lose your job, the government helps you find a new one and pays up to 90% of your salary for 4 years. Therefore there is no homelessness, no poverty, women are much more self-sufficient. They don't need a man to take care of them. (so you're with him because you're happy, not because they feel stuck, which we see happen a lot here)
- No fears... no fear of being homeless, no fear of losing your job and therefore losing your house.
Everyone makes just about the same amount of money... no middle class. Everyone taxed the same. People choose careers based on what they want to do, not how much money they'll make
- Free education from preschool and up. You actually get paid to go to a university. They call it education support.
- 1 year paid maternity leave.
- Free health care... They like their people to be healthy and well educated!
- They do pay the highest income tax in the world.. but they are okay with that. They clearly get a lot out of it.
- They live with only the bare necessities. Small, cozy homes. Very clean because they don't have a lot. One quote I loved hearing from a husband and wife on the show was: "less space, less things, more life" I love that! Makes you think about what's really important... spending time with the people you love and less time thinking about what you don't have.
- They spend a lot of time with their families. It's just about mandatory for everyone to leave their jobs between 4 and 5 - on their bikes mind you and always stop by the market on the way home for fresh bread and produce.
- It's the norm to leave your children unattended. One couple had their 1 month old twins sleeping outside in the yard unwatched. Want to enjoy a nice lunch with your husband with no screaming, whiny kids at a nice cafe? Ehh.. just leave them outside. "No one wants to steal your babies", they say. They don't even think of child molesters.
One more interesting tidbit that got me thinking: They are known as the happiest people on earth, but also the least religious! That I have no answers for.
October 23, 2009
It's funny - I'm not working and still look forward to Friday all week. Why you ask? Why wish my weeks away still? I get to spend a couple days with the hubster after not seeing him all week! I have to say... keeps the marriage exciting!
I have to take a quick minuto to toot this little horn of mine. Tonight when Trey does get home, he'll be sitting down to a nice plate of spaghetti - with sauce made FROM SCRATCH. This is a big big accomplishment for me. It's been festering in the crock pot since 11 and my house smells heavenly. Not only that, but he'll have some fresh french bread. And on the side some of that oil-spice-dipping stuff that I made as well. And you know... salad from the bag :) I'm hollarin' for myself in true Mary Murphy style and put myself on the Hot Tamale Train.. hoot hooooot!
Also, I started a new book tonight that my little Librarian friend suggested to me (I got a library card from the library seconds away from my pad. It's smaller than said pad. It's like a little miniature house... so cute) Anyways... the book... It's called The Gift by Richard Paul Evans and it is nothing short of incredible. I started it last night in bed and couldn't put it down. I'm 1/2 way through. Strongly suggest it to any of y'all out there!
Enjoy your weekend ~ and ROLL TIDE!!
October 21, 2009
Oh hello! You see the way this thing is looking at me out of that eye??
I believe we're going back this Saturday as long as we make it home by 3ish for the Bama game!
October 20, 2009
The rules for this one are simple; just share five things you are obsessed with, and then pass the award on to five of the most fabulous blogs you read!
Here are my latest obsessions:
1. Starbucks - I've always had a little soft spot for this place, but since I've moved to Lawton it's been my saving grace. An expensive obsession? Maybe, but I love going there to meet up with a friend, hang out with hubs (yes, I was blessed with a husband who likes coffee and coffee shops even more so than I), or just to go by myself to get out of the house with a book.
2. Lists - I've turned into a compulsive list maker over the past two weeks. I get so much more done and get it done one thing at a time when I have my lists. I think it's curing my little case of ADD actually. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing stuff during my days and the feeling I get when I cross stuff off the list - Priceless!
3. My camera - it's nothing too fancy, and I am by no means a pro (or anywhere near it), but I've been taking pictures of everything out here. I love showing people back home what I'm doing out here. Which reminds me - I have a post to do about the hiking we did over the weekend. Pics to come tomorrow hopefully.
4. My laptop - I'm stretching to find 5 things I'm obsessive with but this is always one of them. More specifically the internet I guess. Allows me to keep in touch with so many people that I normally wouldn't just by phone. Between facebook, blogging, and plain ol' email - I think we're all set!
5. The Gym - I live for my gym time in the mornings now. I didn't go but once last week and I'm pretty sure that's what caused the slight funk I was in (of which I don't think I blogged about). I'm back to it this week and feel great! It's the one thing I know I'll be able to do every day for myself.
Passing this one on to:
Jessica at The Dent's Deal. Another one of my IRL friends that just started up a blog. She's only done one post, but I know it'll be just as fabulous as she is :)
October 19, 2009
Friday night I made homemade sloppy joes and used ground turkey burger instead of ground beef. They were delish!! I'm like 99% sure I got this recipe from Charlotte's blog, but I can't for the life of me find where she posted it up so I'm not completely sure. At any rate... here it is.. It made enough for us to have leftovers all weekend!
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
12 parker house rolls
Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add ground turkey, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon - about 7 to 10 minutes. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a splash of red wine vinegar and season it once more before serving on parker rolls (or any large whole wheat buns).
I'm pretty positive that I'll never use regular ol' sloppy joe mix out of the can ever again!
Saturday night we had a couple friends over for the Bama/Carolina game (of which I had lots of mixed feelings over and can't say that I'm terribly disappointed that Carolina lost. Please no hate mail) so I just made some munchies. A dip made with ground sausage, package of cream cheese, and rotel and then a buffalo chicken pizza.
Sunday night I made Shepperd's Pie. My grandmother used to make this when her and my grandfather visited and I loved it! This one was made a little differently... let's just say I'm a little overly excited to have it for leftovers tonight. Here's the recipe for this one:
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1lb lean ground beef
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced (I used two)
1 cup of corn
1 cup of tomatoes, diced
2 potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 2-qt casserole dish with cooking spray
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in oil for 5 min, stirring frequently. Stir in the ground beef and basil, and cook and stir for 5 more minutes. Mix in the garlic, corn, and tomatoes, and simmer for 5 min. Transfer beef mixture to prepared dish.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes, egg, and water. Spread evenly over meat mixture.
4. Bake in a preheated over for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown on top (I had to do much longer for some reason) Sprinkle with cheese and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Although it wasn't even close to being cold here, that was a great meal to eat after watching the Pats play a full football game and kicking some serious ass... in the SNOW!!!! Snow.. in October... I have a feeling it's going to be a long winter for some of us!