Thursday, January 29, 2009

Name ideas

I pondered baby names on the way home from work today.

No progress on the baby names, but I did decide that, if I ever have a pet pig, I would like to name him "Hammy" ...or "Hammie" for a girl pig. If I had both, I could call them Hammy and Spammie.

A 45-minute, country-road commute will cause you to produce such lofty thoughts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Nuff said

What I'm doing today:

What I feel like doing today:

But am I thankful for my job? Yes, ma'am! Back to work.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have reservations, will travel!

Amidst the Salad excitement, we temporarily put our trip planning on hold, but now it’s back and better than ever. We finally booked a hotel for our two nights in New York City!

Heeding some helpful advice from my new friend and personal travel agent, Jen, I went to and various other travel Web sites to look for hotel deals. I admit, it was a bit overwhelming at first (for most places near Lower Alabama, you just know where you’re going and you go there), but after a few hours browsing yesterday afternoon, Gunter and I narrowed the search to a hotel we both felt pretty good about. Here it is, in all its NOT-$700-per-night glory, unlike some others we saw.

It’s in Midtown Manhattan, across the street from Carnegie Hall and just a few blocks away from Central Park. An added convenience would be its proximity to a Starbucks if I were not avoiding caffeine. But don't worry...Jen just sent me an e-mail with a whole list of great places to eat! Woo-hoo! I'm ready to go now! Seriously, I think she's my NYC guardian angel.

Whew! So that’s a big item checked off my list. Now, I'll just take Jen's advice and work on a more detailed itinerary and the best ways to get everywhere.

We haven’t received any details from Liberty about the Israel part of the trip, so I, Planner Extraordinaire, have taken matters into my own hands. In other words, I’m searching the Internet and e-mailing lists of questions to everyone I know who has ever stepped foot in the Holy Land.

Soon, I will begin stockpiling trail mix in large quantities, so don’t be surprised if a vending machine near you is out from now until March.

I thought I’d need 12 days worth of maternity clothes by the time we left (weeks 15-17), but I think I’ll have to address what to pack closer to time. Apparently, you can’t call what I have a “pooch” quite yet, but maybe my Stowaway will be more obvious by then so I can play the pregnancy card as much as possible. For example (in my best Southern drawl), "Would you trade seats with me? That part of the plane is just too bumpy for a pregnant girl." Or how about, "Would you load my luggage, please? I'm not supposed to lift anything heavy on account of the Baby." Even better, "I need to sit in the front of the bus. You know how awful morning sickness can be."

They don't have to know that I've had no morning sickness, do they?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sense of adventure

I’ve worked in a new cubicle for several months now, and I still have no decoration, unless you count my boots, hardhat and various binders. I don’t look at the space often because I have my back to most of it all day. But I’ve decided it’s about time to make my “office” a little more appealing to the eyes.

As my first step toward that end, I was browsing for photos to put in frames when I realized how much fun the past few years have been. Even the times that were not so fun were full of life. The same feeling rushed over me that I get every year when that first feeling of spring graces a Lower Alabama morning.

And then I wondered, where has my sense of adventure gone? My thrill for everyday life? I guess it never completely disappeared, but it’s been sort of squeezed out of my mind during the past few weeks.

Does becoming accountable for another human life cause a girl to go from just that to being a “responsible adult” who hasn’t the time or the brainpower to think of anything other than that responsibility? Must insurance, daycare, breadwinning and preparation attach themselves to the soul and weigh it down like lead coats? As a child grows, must life begin to grow more serious?

Uh oh. I think my worry-wart personality has taken over.

The planner in me wants to know what life will be like after the baby is born. Right now, I want to be completely prepared for everything and know all there is to know about properly providing for and raising a child while fulfilling the roles of wife, ministry helper and all-around perfect woman.

HAHAHAHAHA I believe I have finally met my match…again.

Have I ever been able to predict life? No. Has everything always turned out okay, WONDERFUL even, by God’s hand? Yes.

What would I do if God had not provided a very non-worry-wart husband and examples of his faithfulness for this irrational girl to remember? I was never meant to clench my own burdens in one hand and joy in the other. You know what I’m getting at.

For every new experience and every uncharted stage, He makes life abundant. He is my great adventure and my happy ending.

At least for today, I'm ready to ride off into the sunset, though I'm sure He'll have to sweep me out of my fuddy-duddy mindset again before it's all over.

"...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend run-down

Today is one of those got-the-full-six-pack-but-not-the-plastic-thingy-to-hold-it-together kind of days. I’ll be out of town at a work conference the next few days, so today was about my best bet for getting a blog posted this week.

Here’s the weekend run-down:

Beginning of my eating guilt trip. Though I’ve been eating pretty much nonstop for the past week, at least I mostly stuck to foods that were halfway nutritional. Until lunch with good friends from Opp...unless, of course, you consider beef, bread, fries and ice cream “nutritional.” Friday night, had a wonderful supper with parents, Dear Grandmother and Aunt Pam. The shrimp might as well have fallen from Heaven.

Is it common for food to taste this good during the first trimester? I sure hope my first and second trimesters didn’t get flip-flopped. If they did, I’m in for a rude awakening in a few weeks.

Gunter served as sightreading judge for all-state band tryouts in Andalusia. I started out hiding behind his partition with a good book and a bag of Cheerios but ended up as a runner (no actual running required) for his room. It brought me back to the old days when we tried out for all-state band, though I’ve never seen it from the judges’ side. I remembered how nervous I was standing in line in the crowded concrete-block hallways. How we listened through the doors as others played before us. The thrill of beating the cocky boy beside me in line. Ah, memories.

Mexican food with Gunter’s sister and stepmom for lunch.

Saturday evening, we made a quick trip to Granny and PawPaw’s house in Dothan to see my first cousin and her family who had just returned to the States from Japan. Sarah is only 6 months younger than I am, so we used to play together a lot when we were little. Six months younger than me, and now she has a husband, two sweet little girls and a house. It made me so happy to see how her life is turning out.

Hers is my Filipino side of the family, so it’s always fun to be around that bunch of women.

Supper: Southern/Filipino homecooking.

Church, and then Mellow Mushroom. Salad’s got to have his or her share of cheese, olives and crust, right? I tried to balance out the feta cheese with spinach and tomato sauce. At home, I attempted to watch “Mama Mia” while doing laundry but had to turn it off not even halfway through to keep from going crazy. I don’t make laundry a habit on Sunday afternoon, but my ox was in a ditch…a ditch piled high with laundry on every side.

Sunday night: choir practice, discipleship, church, Ramen noodles and a microwaved sweet potato. Strangely felt like the healthiest thing I’d had all weekend. Tried to watch one of my Muppet movies while finishing laundry since “Mama Mia” didn’t work out. We both fell asleep on the couch. Missed the last rinse cycle and the answer to the great mystery of where Gonzo really came from.

More exciting commentary as the week progresses.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The real story

I’m going to write this post as if none of you know this already, though most of you do.

If it seems as though my blog has been lacking lately (as though it were the picture of brilliance before), there’s a good reason. My mind has been on things that I didn’t think I should put on the Internet yet, but it’s the real story of what’s going on in my life right now. So unless you want to keep reading about candle packaging, I’d better come clean.

Introducing Baby Akridge at 7 weeks.

For fun, let’s call him or her “Salad.” No particular reason. Gunter and I have just always talked about what a humorous name that would be for a child, along with Lasagna and some others I can’t remember.

The ultrasound was taken a little over a week ago, and I read that Salad (as in singular) has changed a lot since then. He or she was a mere 7 millimeters long last week, but has now grown to about the size of a kidney bean.

Which makes me wonder…where is all that extra food going? Seriously, I’ve never seen a kidney bean require so much sustenance. Unless, all those snacks aren’t going to the kidney bean…

Anyway, we first found out about Salad on December 21. I didn’t believe either test. Didn’t believe the doctor’s test the next day, either. I wasn’t sick or abnormally tired. I thought maybe I was just having some sort of weird hormonal glitch.

Gunter was thrilled from day one, but I wouldn’t let myself get excited until I was sure there actually was a baby in there. When I saw the ultrasound, and the doctor assured me that this was a baby and not a tapeworm, I finally realized I was pregnant.

Blessing upon blessing.

Salad is due August 25.

To say that the family is excited would be an understatement. “Giddy” is how I might describe a few of them. (If you know them, there’s no need for me to call any names.) Salad will be the first grandchild for my parents and Gunter’s dad’s family, and the first great-grandchild on my maternal grandparents’ side.

Actually, many people have been excited for us, and it means so much.

So now you know why it’s been a little tough to scrape up something to write about lately. I’ve had plenty to write about, but I wouldn’t let myself.

Please feel free to share your good advice about how to take care of Salad or what I might expect! No horror stories, please. I’m a big enough worry-wart already.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Boomerang Effect

When you see the object above, what do you think of?

a) A funny clothes hanger without the hook thing
b) Crocodile Dundee
c) A fun-filled Outback vacation
d) VBS 2009

If you answered d), you must be one of the outstanding individuals ready to take on Boomerang Express this summer. If d) was not your answer, chances are it will be by the time school starts back in the fall.

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I agreed to teach our association's kindergarten VBS clinic. If you know me, you understand what is so humorous about that statement. Because, if you know me, you know how little I know about kindergartners or teaching them...much less teaching other people how to teach them! In light of my lack of expertise, coupled with all I have going on this spring/summer, I started to decline the offer to help.

But then, I thought back to this very month 21 years ago, when I gave Jesus my heart at the age of almost five. Teaching is far from my "spiritual gift," and I don't know much about 5-year-olds, but I can bring one thing to the table -- a living example to these teachers of why what they're about to do is so important.
And I'm just one of many.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Creative packaging

I got a candle as a gift a few weeks ago. At first glance, it seemed to be an ordinary votive candle, candy cane scented. But oh, as I read the package, I realized that I held in my hands so much more than an ordinary votive.

In fact, it's called a "15-hour Superior Votive." "Experience the Difference," says the Tyler Candle Company of Tyler, Texas. Let me tell you, these people are proud of their candles.

Tyler has created the "ultimate aroma experience" to ensure "maximum fragrance saturation" using, of course, "the finest quality waxes and opulent fragrance oils available." Please just humor me as I type the text from another panel of the package (emphasis mine):

"When burning our candles, the lead-free wicks will develop a black fragrance mushroom while more condensed fragrances will develop a silver white ash. This is caused by the high volume of fragrance oils which have made our candles so popular. The wick serves as a straw when burning, pulling the oil through the wax and into the air as it burns. This fragrance mushroom is a constant reminder of our dedication to a superior quality candle."

Fragrance mushroom, huh? They warn: "Be advised -- Our candles are sooo fabulous you will want more!" Notice the use of triple "ooo"s.

Wow, all this time I thought I just had a nice little Christmas candle. I had no idea that Tyler had totally reinvented the candle to provide me with the ultimate aroma experience.

The descriptiveness and drama cracked me up. If you're a nerd like me, fascinated by creative marketing, you might like this Web site. But note this disclaimer: sometimes featured packaging might be for questionable products or might contain questionable language.

Tyler Candle Company could learn a few things about "less is more." But hey, their packaging couldn't have been too bad. I just posted practically the whole thing on the Internet for free.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Warden.

TROY University lost a jewel this weekend, and many others lost a true friend and teacher…the kind that sought his students' success, gave of himself and pushed us to be more than we thought we could.

Mr. Warden was the print journalism professor and adviser to the Tropolitan, TROY’s student newspaper. I liked him from the beginning. He treated us not as students to be looked down upon, but as peers he couldn’t wait to empower. His witty sense of humor, wealth of knowledge about every subject imaginable and obvious care was enough to draw students to him, but that was only scratching the surface.

Though he left this Earth so suddenly, I can’t help but say “thank you” one more time to a professor who made a habit of detecting the least bit of potential and putting it on stage like the next new sensation.

That’s what happened to me. One minute, I was memorizing my AP Stylebook piece by piece in preparation for his next quiz, just your average print journalism student. The next, I was meeting with him about being the next editor of the Trop. I never even saw it coming. I spent the second semester of my junior year learning the ropes, and by the next fall, I began one of my most significant and most difficult learning experiences.

I remember the first Trop page I attempted to lay out. Mr. Warden and I were both just getting our feet wet in InDesign. Of course, neither of us realized every text box we drew had a stroke around it until we saw the printed page…We laughingly referred to it as, “the page o’ boxes.”

Then there was that certain editorial column…the first time I got chewed up and down by an administrator. I cried my eyes out, and Mr. Warden stood up for this clueless college student who was most likely in the wrong.

Oh, and those tiring evenings we called “Trop night.” Stress levels were high, fatigue set in, but when the pizza or McDonald’s arrived, so did the fun for all the students with their noses to the computer screens, praying the “spinning pinwheel of doom” would not pay a visit.

Trop vs. TSU-TV games, cookouts, assignments, and red marks on spreads taped to office walls. So much encouragement, instruction and ideas passed from him to us during those years. He believed in us and refused to let our many mistakes get in the way of the potential he saw. I never witnessed the end of his patience.

Many of us kept in touch with Mr. Warden after graduation. I remember the shock and honor that washed over me when he asked me to speak at the annual journalism symposium just a year later. His faith in me stretched beyond college and helped further my career. I gladly wrote a letter of recommendation for him when he was up for tenure. Even when his reputation was at stake, he seemed to have no doubt we would accomplish what he asked.

It’s far too difficult to say “goodbye” to Christopher Warden. So instead, I’ll join with countless others and just say “thank you.” You are missed already.