ready . . . break!

Miles and Otis moments before we left for Kansas …
Cute, but they're going on diets in 2013!
Our work schedules panned out this year, and we were blessed to take nine days to travel back to Kansas to visit our families. We flew from Nashville to KC and rented a car, and then we drove to Wichita. (Thanks to our Southwest Visa points, the roundtrip + 9 day rental car cost us $10!) Our awesome friend Kierston (who I grew up with and who recently moved here) checked in on Miles and Otis for us. I missed them! They were happy to snuggle with us when we got home.

Me and Nate outside the historical museum in downtown Wichita

Nate's immediate family is in Wichita … familiar stomping grounds to me because my grandparents used to live there, and my parents grew up there. We had a lot of fun hanging out and seeing movies and eating delicious food and napping and doing puzzles and playing dominoes. Fortunately we flew in Tuesday night, missing the Wednesday night snow that stranded my brother in the northeast for three extra days.

One afternoon we went downtown to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum where someone was playing Christmas songs on the tower bells. Some other people were there to listen too, and Nate's dad struck up a conversation with strangers. We love that about him.

Nate, Tofer, and Michael
One day, Nate's friend Michael drove down from Manhattan for the day. We watched the KU basketball game and took Tofer on a walk. Tofer is part Irish wolfhound, they think. Nate's sister, Hannah, adopted him, and he really is a great dog. He just doesn't know how to drop the ball after he fetches it!

Then we met up with my extended family at my grandparents' house just east of Wichita before looping around to Burlington for a few days. Both of my siblings were home and we did the traditional Christmas Eve meal, Christmas Eve church service, presents at Mom's, Christmas morning brunch at Dad's, presents, and relaxing. Nate watched football while I worked on some family tree leads from my dad.

Our flight on Thursday morning was at 6:05, so we drove up to KC Wednesday evening and stayed with two of our favorite friends, Sam and Anne (originally Kansans, but they lived in Nashville for a year and we love them). Anne made dinner, and then we went to The Roasterie for coffee (hot chocolate for me) and a few rounds of Mexican train dominoes. We had to get up at 3:30am, so we were in bed early.

KCI—even at 4:30am—was nuts. The line to check bags was loooong, and of course we were checking bags. In Nashville, if you've already printed your boarding pass (we had), there was an express line where you could just scan your pass to check your bags. But we got to KCI plenty early and made our flight with no problem. Two of our friends from our church here were on the flight. They come from the KC area.

When we got home, the house was 42 degrees. We made it a month without a heater, but we called someone the day we got back and had him give us an estimate. He installed a new furnace the next day. It is sooo good to have heat! You don't appreciate it enough until it's gone. So we got the new furnace Friday, and on Saturday it snowed. Didn't really stick until the sun went down, but it was beautiful: fat flakes dropping very slowly.

We had Thursday off to get settled back in, and I worked Friday. Me and two other coworkers (everyone else took vacation) so it was so quiet. I loved it. I worked today, too, and there were just a handful of us. I really do think we should institute no-talking days two or three times a month because productivity would sky-rocket.

Tonight—New Year's Eve—will be fun; I have tomorrow off as a holiday, so I can stay up. Nate and I are going out for thai and then going to see Les Miserables. It'll be fun. I had all these ambitions of entering 2013 with a completely organized house and meals all planned out and a budget I can keep track of … we are headed in the right direction on those things but I think my unpreparedness reflects the pace of our lives in 2012. Maybe one of my resolutions will be to do a better job blogging regularly! :) Happy new year!


this week.

So, this is how this week went down. Sunday, one of our sweet college students gave Nate and I a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. Yum! So Monday night was date night. Nate was finishing up some work in the kitchen from an afternoon project, and I saw something black on the cabinet/under it. It may have been small, but these eyes are trained to notice anything that does not belong in our house. Spider! We don't have spiders inside very often, and Miles and Otis are pretty good about taking care of crickets and flies and other occasional uninvited guests. But spiders are another story.

Of course, I won't get near them, which is one of the reasons I'm so glad to have Nate. :) He hates spiders too, but he loves me more than he hates them, I think. I directed him to the big bottle of bug spray under the sink. He squeezed the trigger and soaked that sucker … and soaked all the front of the cabinet and probably some of the utensils inside the cabinet, so we pulled those out to be cleaned.

It was just a big black scary spider and it made a dramatic drop to the floor in its final moments before turning over on its back and revealing … THE RED HOURGLASS OF DEATH! That there, folks, is a black widow spider. Neither of us had ever seen one in real life, but a quick Google search confirmed our suspicions. And apparently this is a female, because the males have orange markings on their backs and aren't as dangerous as the red-bellied females.

At this time, we were ready to just burn down the house and move to a new one, but we decided we kind of like having a house to live in, so we went on and enjoyed our evening at The Cheesecake Factory.

Tuesday I came home and got into bed with blankets, my coat, the space heater, and Odie. We still haven't fixed our furnace. Mostly because it's so stinkin' expensive. The space heaters keep us warm, and I'm perfectly comfortable at night with an electric blanket, it's the opening the bedroom door and stepping into 55 degrees on my way to the shower that is hard.

We are hoping to be able to make it through this winter so we have several months to build up a furnace fund. It's frustrating too because our neighbor's furnace is real close to ours and it looks like it's 30 years old! Our looks almost brand new, but the furnace guy said it was 11 years old. The home inspector in 2009 said he thought it was from 2005. So whatev. Fact is, there's a hole in the heat exchanger, and the heat is off.

Thursday I took a Family Care Day so I could be with Nate at Vanderbilt. He had another endoscopy scheduled for Thursday morning. For the last few months, he has been on high dose Prilosec for eosinophilic esophagitis. The bad news is that he is still regurgitating when he eats. The good news is that the photos of his esophagus look way better/normal than last time, so the meds have been helping. They did another biopsy and will wait for those results before deciding what to do next. His doctor said we might have to do an allergy test or some other kind of test to check out how his esophagus works when he swallows.  

The procedure went really fast, like 30 minutes or so. Nate was asleep in recovery when I went back, and as he woke up, he was pretty out of it. I think he was more out of it this time than last time. Last time, he woke up almost right away.

Ha! He will hate me for posting this, but this is the blank stare I got when I said, "Nate, look at me." He asked if he had oxygen in his mouth, and I told him no, it's in your nose. Then he proceeded to tell me about his great grandma Elsa who had oxygen that she carried around everywhere. And his great grandpa Jack who would draw letters and numbers with Nate using a yellow pencil. And Nate would sit on his lap.

Nate also told me he was going to audition for the TV show "Duck Dynasty." I said, "What's that?" And he said, "A beard show." OK, so we've never watched that show because we don't have cable but apparently the characters on the show have big beards, and the male nurse who took Nate back from the waiting room was talking to him about it.

The nurse got Nate to sit up and he slowly mumbled, "I need to work out more." The nurse said, "What?" And he said, "I need to work out more."

She was ready to take his IV out and asked what his favorite color was. "Orange," he said. "For the Denver Broncos." She said she didn't have any orange bandages, so he said blue. She also offered red. So he said, "Not blue, red." The nurse used red and blue bandages to wrap his arm, for KU.

My mom sent us an early Christmas gift: a cat condo! It has a platform on top with a ball attached by a spring. Miles plays with the ball and sharpens his claws, and Odie does that and also gets inside of it. (I think Miles would barely fit.) Otis was sleeping on Nate all day yesterday when Nate got home from Vanderbilt, and when I moved him so Nate could get up, he got in his house.

Just a few more days until we're off for Christmas vacation! This weekend I am planning on doing some crazy cleaning around the house. Like pulling everything out of the kitchen and cleaning like we are moving. I don't want to be overwhelmed by a messy house when we get home and start a new year.


odie the model.

I washed our bedding yesterday and when Nate and I went in to make the bed, Otis thought it'd be fun to play between the sheets. When he does this, don't wiggle your finger around or he will pounce on it and he will draw blood. Kid's got talons. Anyway, last night he decided he liked laying on his back and holding the sheet up with his paws. Exhibit A:

Yeah, he puts little holes in the sheets with his claws but there are more important things. I wanted to get a photo of him with his legs up like that, and when Nate lifted the sheet for me to snap a pic, I discovered the white sheet above and below made for some pretty nice lighting. So I did a little Odie photo shoot.



I spent some time Saturday scanning all the family photos my mom brought me over Thanksgiving. This photo is of my grandma, Flora Elizabeth "Bettie" McClain, her father William "Bill" McClain, and her sister Willa Irene McClain. I like the little cat at the bottom and its shadow on the steps. My grandma was born in 1925 and her sister died in 1938, so this photo is probably circa 1937.

I've really been enjoying digging into our family tree. Saturday evening I discovered a college acquaintance on the tree. (She married my fourth cousin, once removed.) I discovered that Nate is related to NBC anchor Jenna Wolfe (of the Wolfeld family … the maiden name of Nate's great grandmother). Her father's name is Wolfeld, so she must have just changed her name for TV.

I'm glad to have these photos digitally now, but I'll have to get a nice album for keeping the originals. Right now they're just in an envelope. If you're my Facebook friend, you can see all the photos in my "Family Photos" album.


thanksgiving week.

Back at work after a great 4-day weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday. Mom and Mark drove out to Nashville and we had a lot of fun. Mom brought me a lot of old family photos and some genealogy documents like funeral programs and obituaries. I need to sit down and scan all the photos, but here's one of my grandma, Flora "Bettie" Elizabeth McClain Richwine and her sister, Willa Irene McClain. My mom told me that my grandma had wet her pants in this photo! Haha. They grew up in Garden City, Kansas. I have a lot of photos of these two together.

Grandma Richwine and her sister Irene
Mark, me, and Mom hiking the Warner Woods loop
Thanksgiving day was beautiful! Like around 70 degrees. Around 10 a.m., we drove out to Percy Warner Park and hiked the Warner Woods loop (2.5 miles). The trees weren't as pretty as a couple of weeks ago, but it was still nice. I got hot and hiked in shorts! Loved this day. The following few days dropped into the 40s.

Nate took a panorama with his iPhone. As soon as he got past me the first time, I jumped into the last part of the photo. :) Twins!

Thanksgiving lunch/dinner
We were understandably hungry after hiking, so we came home for showers and football (watching, not playing!). I had started the ham in the slow cooker at 6:30 a.m. The ham we bought was too big, so we could only cook half. I also made candied yams, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, Hawaiian rolls, and we had corn and cranberry sauce. Yum.

Nate and me at Opryland hotel
Friday Nate had to work so Mom, Mark, and I went to Lynchburg, TN, for a distillery tour. It was really neat and interesting. Long drive down there (1.5 hours) but it was worth it. On Saturday, we went to Opry Mills and saw Lincoln. He's my favorite president, and not just because we share a birthday. Then we walked over to the Gaylord Opryland hotel and walked around. Nate had to go to work Saturday evening.

Sunday we went to church and then came home and put up the Christmas tree. Nate and I didn't put it up last year since we were in Kansas for Christmas. We'll be back in Kansas again this year, but I like the tree. Otis and Miles like it too. I mean they like eating it. And batting the little bells and knocking off bulbs. Then it was back to work Monday morning. Working hard for the next three weeks until Christmas vacation!


warner woods.

Nate's sister, Caitlin, and her husband, Andy, drove down from St. Louis last Friday evening to spend a weekend with us in Nashville. It was so much fun! The temps were in the 70s Saturday and Sunday. It was perfect. We started off our Saturday morning with turkey bacon, breakfast quesadillas, OJ, and coffee/tea. Then we drove out to Percy Warner Park and hiked our favorite 2.5-mile loop, Warner Woods Trail.

I can't stop staring at this photo. Isn't it great? Nate vs. wild. No filters or editing done, just the pure beauty of a fall forest captured by Andy's iPhone 5 and the rough ruggedness of my bearded husband.

I captured this out of the sunroof of Nate's car. We assumed most of the leaves would be off the trees by now, but the scenic drive through the woods was stunning. We saw a deer and lots of squirrels and chipmunks.

Starting up the trail. Andy took this photo.

Another view on the scenic drive.

Caitlin and Andy got here Friday around 9 p.m. We made a fire in our fire pit in the backyard and made s'mores. We collected sticks and branches from the yard and bought two 4-hour logs at Walmart. We started the first log and went inside and came back out, and the second log was gone! Completely disappeared. We looked everywhere and couldn't find it. I think our neighbor's wolf-dog snuck over and carried it off. Boo. I love the fire pit. We don't use it as much as we should.

We packed so much into Saturday including walking down Bransford Avenue where the Berry Hill community was having a little Christmas fair. We watched a Home Depot demonstration and each scored a free 2-pack of compact fluorescent bulbs. We took Andy and Caitlin to the Cat Shoppe, and then we went to The Smiling Elephant for dinner and enjoyed Nashville's best Thai food. Then we went to the movies and saw Argo. I fell asleep during part of the movie but I got most of it and it was good. I can't wait until Lincoln comes out next week! (Mom, if you're reading this, don't watch it and we can go see it when you're in town.)

The rain moved in last night and so did the colder temps. We're still hanging in the 50s but the temperatures are dropping and we'll welcome in winter with the rest of the country. I am thankful for electric blankets! 



I haven't blogged in a few days and I thought, What has happened it the last few days? So I turned to my photo stream/Instagram/Facebook, and all I found are pictures of cats. :) I've been working hard at work so I can relax during my holiday vacations. I've been cleaning the house. Nate's sister and her husband are coming to visit this weekend. Here are some photos from the past week.

Looks like someone had an afternoon snack. I got down on the floor to take this photo, and both cats came over to check out what I was doing. Otis stood right there and made this photo so much better.

This is not posed! Ah, I almost melt at the cuteness when this happens. I was working on the couch when Otis got up and laid down next to Miles, snuggled up to him, and Miles didn't mind. Cuuute!

Uh, no. Not a third cat. But our neighbors across the street has about 14 cats. Outdoor cats. They hang out in their driveway. Looks like a whole litter or two … totally irresponsible if you ask me. They seem to be fed. Most of them run away from me when I walk toward them, but last night I went out to change the bulb on the porch light, and this little guy begged me to pet him. I did, and he purred and purred and purred.

No way are we going to get a third cat in this little house, but I was tempted to catnap him and get him neutered. He eventually went off down the sidewalk which I was glad because if he had just sat on our porch all night it would have put my cat-loving, sympathetic heart in a tough spot.

When I came in, Miles and Otis reminded me, "Mom, we're cute! We don't need a third cat! We're already more cute than you can handle."


grande non-fat awake tea latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup and no foam.

Last night we got together at the home of a couple from our church. They have a beautiful property south of Nashville in the country. Five acres and a nice house with a wrap-around porch. They host the middle school and high school groups often, and they are excellent hosts. We got together with the college community group for a fall party.

They had decided costumes would be mandatory. I googled "last minute costumes" and decided I would tape some lines on a black shirt with a fork and be a "fork in the road." But when I went to the hall closet to look for masking tape, I saw Nate's hat and apron. Brilliant! I'll be Nate!

I went to the attic to find some construction paper to make a beard, and I found a sheet of brown foam, my fancy-cut scissors, and some brown string. So I fashioned myself a Nate-beard. I already have glasses that are kind of like his, so I put on my khakis, his work shirt, apron, and hat, and wah-lah!

Don't we look alike? Okay, you kind of have to blur your eyes … Nate was at work until 6:30 so he showed up to the party late, but he liked my costume. :) I wore the beard all night because it was warm and we were outside at the fire pit. Except when I would talk with the college kids, they all kept looking at me funny. They said they couldn't take me seriously with a beard.


peek a boo.

One of Odie's favorite spots in the house. Between the shower curtain and the liner.


oldies but goodies.

Alice Carr Pitcher (my great-grandmother) and me in the early 1990s
October 19?! How is this month already almost over? Fall has come to Nashville and the leaves are bursting with orange and red and yellow. It's beautiful, but I know this means it will soon be too cold for my liking and I will have to scrape my windows in the morning before I go to work, and it will be dark too early.

I woke up this morning after snoozing my alarm a few times. Our neighbor Kevin's dog (which is half wolf, half dog) was in our backyard barking. There is a big gap in the wire fence, but we don't mind if he runs around in our backyard. And it seemed all the dogs in the neighborhood were barking. I walked into the living room and saw blue lights flashing on the walls. The police were outside and their headlights lit up the house of our neighbor Margaret across the street. I was worried about her, but there wasn't an ambulance. They went in and out of the house and came in SUVs and black T-shirts that said POLICE on the back. They were still there when I left for work; I had a little trouble getting out of the driveway. Not sure what's going on there.

I did a little research online and found out that Margaret is 80. Her husband was an Army veteran, and he died in 1996. She has five kids and lots of grandkids, and I think she is the first and only owner of her house. She is from Nashville. It's amazing what you can find on the Internet! She is really a sweet lady; I should sit down with her and hear her story sometime. Her son lives nearby and is over there most of the time helping her out. She likes to walk her dog up and down the street, and she (I'm not making this up) mows her own yard! It's a little fenced in front yard, but she gets out there with a push mower! She must like to do it because I know Kevin or her son would do it for her.

Yesterday I was moving stuff to the attic and found a photocopy of a photo I used for a project in high school. It's a photo of me and my great-grandma Alice Carr Pitcher. We called her Granny. I was 7 when she died, so I don't remember a whole lot, but I have memories of her house in Garden City. I found the obituary for my great-grandfather, Alice's husband, Allen Guy Pitcher. It appeared in the March 14, 1960 edition of the Garden City Telegram. Again, it's amazing what you can find on the Internet!

I had a two-week free trial of ancestry.com which is probably why I haven't blogged at all. Genealogy is my new hobby and it's really hard not to do it all the time! But my trial ended and it's like $80 for 6 months of access to all the old records and census data. You can find a lot in free records and cemeteries, but those records are really helpful. So I'm trying to take a break so I can get other stuff done I need to do.

Let's see … what else is new? Nate is scheduled to have another endoscopy in December. They put him on high-dose Prilosec, but it's not helping. He still regurgitates after every meal, and now even his pills come up which he says tastes really gross. Poor guy.



Otis being his cute self

Nate had four days in a row off, and I took Friday off to make it a three-day weekend. What a great and relaxing weekend! Thursday night we saw Trouble with the Curve. Clint Eastwood is in this movie. It has mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. I found a Groupon deal for a local movie theater and saved us $8.50.

Friday I made breakfast quesadillas and then we went to Percy Warner Park. We found a scenic drive and then did a little hiking. The leaves are just starting to change. The first couple weeks in October are usually our peak.

Nate had class all day Saturday, but Saturday evening we went to a bonfire/dinner with about 50 friends from our church. It was a lot of fun! Next weekend we're heading to East Tennessee for a wedding.



The last couple of weeks were a blur. Here are some photos of what's been going on with the Joneses.

The weather in Nashville has been great lately. Mid-70s. Miles and Otis were begging to go outside, so I let them out. They stay on the concrete at the side of the house and I watch them so they don't run off. All they do when they go out is try to eat grass and weeds, which usually results in their puking up grass in the house.

I got Otis and Miles to the vet for their annual shots, rabies and something else. My Instagram was overloaded with cat photos, so I made Miles and Otis their own account: miles_and_otis if you want to follow them. I captioned this photo: "Mom says we're going to the v-e-t. We don't know how to spell, but these boxes look fun!"

They handled it pretty well. Otis meowed the whole way time we were in the car but they took the shots like champs and it was all over in a few minutes. Otis (1.5 years old) weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs. (I think it's mostly muscle because he is not fat and he runs around the house a lot.) Miles was 14 lbs. He's pretty sedentary and loves to eat.

Last Friday, Nate had an endoscopy at Vanderbilt. This is a photo of Nate when he is drugged up on sedation meds. (They worked! He doesn't remember the procedure at all.) This is the stare he gave me when I came to see him in recovery. He said, "Who are you?" I said, "Honey, I'm your wife!" "I know, I'm just kidding." But he says now he doesn't remember that conversation. I asked him what year it is and he paused and then said, "2014." "No, honey, it's 2012." "Yeah, but our credit card expires in 2014."

Nate's been having regurgitation issues every time he eats, and the endoscopy showed his esophagus is abnormal. Instead of being a smooth, round tunnel it is more a half-circle shape and has esophageal furrowing. Nate's doctor said she suspects eosinophilic esophagitis, but the biopsy will confirm. We should hear back this week. She sent us home with photos of what she found and a prescription for high-dose Prilosec. Eosinophilic esophagitis is like a build-up of white blood cells, and could be caused by a food allergy. We might have to see a specialist to see where to go from here.

Last night, Otis fell asleep on me when I was laying on the couch. What a cutie. He is so snuggly.



We had a "Fall Festival" afternoon at work. Jeff bought 12 live goldfish* for his ping-pong toss. I helped Trudy run the "Pumpkin Shoot" booth. She had a bucket set up in her office with a board across it. Her son had drilled five holes in the board, and we had golf tees set in them. On the tees, we balanced orange ping pong balls Trudy had decorated to look like jack-o-lantern's. Players had to stand behind a masking tape line at her office door and use a water gun to shoot the "pumpkins" off the tees. There were lots of prizes (candy), popcorn, and I even won $1 at the "Let's Make a Deal!" booth. Fun times at LW High.

*After the festival, the goldfish went to good homes.


mr. j

I've been cutting Nate's hair since before we were married. (So, like two years.) We have tried out some cheapo razors and have always been understandably disappointed with how fast they wear out and how they pull Nate's hair more often than actually cut it, but I came across a great Amazon deal for a Wahl 20-piece hair clipper set. Typically $40.99, on sale for $19.89. And it's amazing! Really heavy and durable, and the guards are color-coded, so no more squinting to find the #2. We couldn't get Nate's hair and beard trimmed at a barber for $20.

So this week, he decided it was time for a trim. Er, maybe a shave rather. I didn't use a guard and took everything off the top. Only after first giving him a mohawk (a very crooked one!) and some gnarley sideburns. I like when it's cooler outside and we can cut his hair on the side porch because indoors gets pretty messy. He trimmed up his own beard. I tell him it's getting too long when he comes home from working late and kisses me goodnight and I nearly suffocate.

I know, I know. I'm a cat photographer lady. I just can't help it because my iPhone is so accessible and every evening I look over and oh my goodness, he is soooo cute right now! Honey, look at Otis! Look how cute he is. I have to take a picture! This photo is from last night. He was bathing himself on the couch and then looked up and stared at me like this for five minutes. I'm not even exaggerating. Miles can be cute too but he is all black so it's very hard to get a good picture of him. He kind of blends into everything.

Well, yesterday morning Nate called me at work and said his car wouldn't start. I went home and picked him up and he was late to work. Ah, the unreliability of a 20-year-old car. I'm ready to sell it and move on. But we found a local mechanic who does remote work, so he can come look at it for a small fee and if we want him to fix it, he waives that fee. So if it's a small problem, we'll fix it. If it's too expensive, we're only out the small fee.

This week we're sharing my car, so that meant Nate getting up super early with me to take me to work. (He didn't have to work until 10:30.) But he works until 6, and I get off at 3, so I'm taking the bus home. I like the bus, but at $1.70 for one way, it's not cost-effective compared to driving. But it's convenient when we need it, and I like the people.

I'm excited for September. I start a Bible study this month at church on Tuesdays (Tim Keller's Romans study) and we have our first Women's Immanuel Theology Group (ITG). Also this month, Nate gets an endoscopy! At Vanderbilt. He is not excited about it, but he regurgitates every time he eats so something is definitely wrong. They think possibly it's esophageal stricture, when the esophagus gets too narrow due to scar tissue buildup or something. If that's the case, they can stretch it out with a balloon thing. I told him not to worry. I'll be there, and at least it's not a colonoscopy. But wait, the thought of a tube with a camera on it getting shoved down your throat … uh, yeah. Sorry, honey, a colonoscopy might be better. He'll be fine though. After my EP study, we know now you have to be very vocal and demanding when you need pain meds. He'll do great.



Nate and I walked around Belmont for a bit yesterday evening. We had an Instagram photo competition. We each posted two photos to Instagram, and the photo with the most "likes" was the winner. Here are some of the photos I took. The iPhone camera is amazing.

Nate taking a photo of a lion statue.

It had rained in the afternoon and the raindrops still sat on the plants.

Pretty purple.

My first entry into our InstaCompetition. This was the winner.

The lighting was great around 6 p.m. So much detail in this picture.
This was my second entry. Belmont has a beautiful campus.

Nate's in class all day and then works the closing shift tonight. Boo. I'm getting stuff done around the house (cleaning/laundry) and working on my family tree. It's cloudy with a chance of rain. Hurray for three-day weekends!



Midweek. Nate is fortunately working mostly days this week, so we can carpool. I've been helping him with his Hebrew homework, and he has aced his first two quizzes. The first week was the aleph bet, and this week was about a dozen vocabulary words. Next week … 60 vocab words. I can't read Hebrew, but I remember some of the vocab because of word association. Like the Hebrew word that sounds like "men" means "from" (like men are from Mars) and the word that sounds like "baa" means "he came" (baa -> shepherds -> shepherds came to see Jesus). From learning Spanish, I know that's not a good method for learning a new language because you're just translating words in your head but it helps me quiz Nate.

We had some nice weather last week. Low- to mid-80s. Three afternoons, I went to the zoo to get some walking in. I took this photo from behind handprint-covered glass so it's a little foggy but this meerkat was smiling at me. Then he, like his little friend, tucked his head between his feet and took a nap.

The flamingos are one of my favorites at the zoo because they are so interesting and weird. They are getting really used to their exhibit so they come real close to where the people are. They squawk really loud and stand on one leg and fight with each other. Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland croquet.

We got a makeover on our floor at work. This wall is outside my office. You have to understand, people around here do not like change. But I love the new paint. Not all the walls got painted, but some are green, some are teal, some are orange, and in the lobby there is one wall covered in black chalkboard paint. I love it. You can definitely tell you are in the Kids Ministry area when you get off the elevators.

Nate took this photo of Otis and Miles. Not sure why Miles looks like such an old man in this photo. He's three years old. Otis is 1.5 years. In the next month or two, they're going to the vet to get their annual shots. Otis has been really into chasing these little plastic balls with bells inside. He picks them up in his mouth and plays fetch. You throw it, he chases it down and brings it back. I think that is why he is so much skinnier than Miles. Miles doesn't get much exercise.

I've been spending almost all of my free time in the last week or so working on my family tree. Researching and using whatever free tools I can access on ancestry.com.  I have 1,044 people in my tree right now, which includes Nate's side too. It's hard to put in data, especially when people have 13 kids, and their kids each have 8 or so kids, and people get married more than once and have more kids. I'm mapping out anyone I can find who is related. Sometimes I skip the siblings and stick to the main lines but I will get there eventually.
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