Thursday, September 30

I swear I'm not a hypochondriac

I'm a firm believer in Murphy's Law.  Now, this of course makes me seem a pessimist, which I used to be.  In college, I guess something stirred in me that made me realize the glass is indeed half full, not half empty (which is funny considering I've never had much motivation and determination in what my life holds for me.)  So I assume most people who believe in Murphy's Law are pessimists.  Which I am not.  Unless, a situation presents itself in which one bad thing happens with a series of other bad things.  Then it's just a free opportunity to be pessimistic. 

I work for the state, which lots of folks are jealous of because I get great state holidays, good vacation/sick leave and hella benefits.  Or, I did get hella benefits.  As of January 2011, our benefit options are changing.  I used to have no deductible, vision insurance, my dermatologist was covered in my plan (yeah, I still go to a dermatologist even though I'm 24--it sucks), and I only paid like $80 out of my paycheck every month for benefits.  It was awesome.  Now, I will have a $350 deductible, they'll take $110 out of my paycheck every month, I will no longer have vision insurance and my dermatologist is out of network.  So I've had to open up an account called flexible benefits to have an additional $12.50 taken out every month to pay for my vision visit and contacts.  Sooper.

Now I know  $125 a month isn't a lot of money to a lot of people, but to me it is.  Considering the fact that I make hardly anything per month, I have rent to pay, gas and groceries to buy, co-pays to pay (that are also increasing) and the possibility of having to meet a $350 deductible all while my car seems to break every other month which seems to always cost between $200-$400, plus having to pay for car insurance twice a year and owing my parents money, $125 is most definitely a lot of money per month.

So anyway....err, where was I going with this post?  Oh yeah, so benefits are going to be more expensive.  And guess who found out around the same time that her benefits were changing that she has to have surgery...yep, me. 

I have a genetic issue/disorder called spherocytosis.  Sounds fun...right?  So my blood cells are shaped weird (this is easier to describe in person because I can do a cool hand demonstration.)  Instead of being flat, discus type cells like you have, mine are shaped like spheres (thus the name spherocytosis.)  So as a result of this awesome disorder that has also plagued my mom, uncle Lonnie, cousin Lou, grandmother Sisi, and her sister (plus, I'm sure many others), I no longer have a spleen.  I had it removed the summer after my junior year of high school---[I love telling people I don't have a spleen and seeing their reactions.  I have been asked more than once if you can live without a spleen upon me telling them.  Uhhhh....definitely not?]--- Basically because of the way the blood cells are shaped they don't filter through your spleen correctly and somehow that affects the breakdown of billiruben in your blood.  I'd never heard of billiruben before I found out I had spherocytosis.  So yay, I had my spleen taken out.  People visited me in the hospital, I got cards and flowers and a stuffed pig named Spleeny from Build a Bear, and when I came home my friends had decorated my bedroom.  I was cured and happy.  HOORAY!

But guess what?  I wasn't cured.  So you know how I said that my mom, uncle, cousin, grandmother and great aunt all have/had spherocytosis?  Well, it doesn't only affect your spleen.  Somehow in the incorrect breakdown of billiruben process, the billiruben clumps to form gallstones.  Now, in the typical, happy, (usually obese) person that has gallstones, their stones are smooth, pebble like lumps of cholesterol.  For the poor, atypical, unhappy person (and I am not obese) who has spherocytosis, their gallstones are composed of billiruben and are shaped like know from the game ball and jacks.

Sounds pleasant and comfortable, yes?  Wrong.  For the past year and a half to two yeers I have been waking up around 3 or 4 am with the worst back pain ever due to a gallbladder attack.  I know that sounds wussy, but it's pain so bad that the only thing I can do is curl in a ball and wait it out, usually until 6 am when the pain dissipates.  Initially I didn't know what the heck was going on.  So after a while, I decided to google my symptoms and self diagnosed myself after reading the wikipedia article with gallstones (since I knew they run in my family.)  My mom has gallstones but they don't bother her.  My cousin had his gallbladder removed but not his spleen.  My uncle and grandmother had both removed and my great aunt died from a ruptured gallbladder.  YIKES (now granted, this was back the 1950s or so when medicine wasn't as great as it is now.)

So in August, I finally went to the doctor and told her my concerns.  I HATE this activity, by the way.  When I list off symptoms to the doctor I feel like they think I'm a hypochondriac.  Which I'm not.  I just knew that this couldn't possibly be some random pain that had no validation.  So I told her, she looked skeptical, but told me she'd do some blood work to check my liver, kidneys, and thyroid....uhhh hello...Gallbladder!  And she scheduled an ultrasound two days later to see what I might be inflicted with.  I could tell she doubted me and my google diagnosis.  

I go to the ultrasound and the tech was really sweet...nothing like the bitchy ultrasound tech in Juno.  She's looking around and makes her way over to my gallbladder.  She tells me in confidence that my gallbladder is packed full of stones.  I wish I could import the images she took into my blog.  It looked kinda cool.  She checked my kidneys and liver.  I could tell she was searching after that, and I said "Oh, by the way, I don't have a spleen."  She looked relieved.  I think she was worried she was going to have to inform me I didn't have one.  That would've been a riot.

So after a whole week of waiting, the doctor finally called me back and said what I already knew, that I had gallstones (google diagnosis DOES work!)  She suggested surgery, but my mom wanted to know how high priority it was.  See, the tricky part here is that I needed to have the surgery before my new insurance kicked in (you were wondering why I ranted at the beginning about that, huh?) but I also had to wait long enough to build up enough leave at work that I didn't have to take leave without pay.  We made an appointment with a gastrointerologist (I've seen a large variety of doctors, including a hemotologist.)  Basically to sum-up, he said I'd most likely be fine to wait until November (which was my ideal solution.)  So I proceeded with an appointment with a surgeon.  I had to find a new one because my old surgeon, Dr. Peppers (no joke), is some sort of traveling laproscopic surgeon.  So anywho, we scheduled the surgery for November 8.  It'll be a blast.

See, Murphy's Law in action.

Today at work, we had a health screening.  Hooray-free!  So I go down there for my schedule appointment and sit and sit and sit as they ran 25 minutes behind.  Then went from station to station as they took my height, weight, blood pressure, and a bit of blood.  The lady who drew my blood told me I had tiny fingers...then once she pricked me she goes "ooh, but they sure do bleed."  I guess that's a compliment?  Right, so then you have to wait for your results.  

Turns out I'm the same height I've been since 5th or 6th grade, I'm not overweight according to my BMI.  My blood pressure is great, as was my glucose (which is impressive considering it was supposed to be a fasting test and I'd eaten part of a donut an hour before...whoops.)  My total cholesterol was great and my triglycerides were really low.  So low that the machine couldn't calculate a number because it was below 45.  Because the number was so low, they couldn't figure out my LDL cholesterol, but my HDL cholesterol is suuuuuuuuuper low.  Like, it should be at least 60, mine's 18.  And because of such, my total cholesterol to HDL ratio was 8.8.  It's supposed to be 4.  So guess what makes your HDL run low?  Lack of exercise, too much alcohol intake, and lack of fiber.  Swell.  I already struggle with trying to get enough fiber into my diet.  Even when I do, my HDL is still too low.  Fail.

This added to my attitude toward Murphy's Law today.  Of course I have all these dietary issues already, on top of my damn gallstones, and now my HDL sucks which leads to heart disease.  I wish there was a store like an auto body shop, but it was just a body shop where you could buy human parts to replace the parts that don't work to begin with. 

And don't worry, if you're worried that you can't live without your gallbladder, I assure you, you can!

Wednesday, September 29

Dinner with the Cummings

When the alarm went off yesterday morning for me to get up and walk, I snoozed it like I do most mornings.  This cold front we've had the past few days has made me extremely unmotivated to get out of bed (even more so than usual)-- plus I've just been exhausted lately.  The fact that I knew my work day would be positively boring didn't help matters.

I finally hoisted myself out of bed and scrambled to shower, dress, and pack my lunch as I do most days.  It sucks even more that while I'm hustling to get ready to get out the door by 7:30 because I know that the traffic will be exponentially worse the longer it takes me, M is lying in bed, all warm and snug with the peaceful ihome playing calming music.  I have to turn the lamp on to get ready in the mornings, and it makes me feel a little better that the light is probably disturbing his dream-filled slumber.

So anyway, I get out the door, make it to work, and sit here waiting until 4:30 arrives so that I can run to the store to buy dessert to take to dinner at Katie and Joel's.  I sit. And sit.  And sit some more.  The day draaaaaggggs by.  I think it's because it (the day, of course) knew that I was looking forward to seeing my best friend.  The only fun and brain stimulating thing that happened yesterday at work was that Qiana brought her nearly 6-month old daughter, Ava, to work.  Playing with, holding, and watching Ava wasted a good hour of my day. 

4:30 finally arrived and I booked my butt down the stairs, out the door, and across the parking lot at my usual 20 mph.  It has been so refreshing these past few days to get in my car and not immediately break into a sweat thanks to the greenhouse effect.

I expected traffic to be horrendous as it often is on my way home (especially since I assumed it (again, the traffic) would know that I was looking forward to dinner with Katie and Joel.  It wasn't so bad, though, and I managed to get to Kroger before 4:50 (I like to set goals for myself in traffic to see if I can be at so-and-so place before so-and-so time...makes traffic seem much happier, I guess?)  I head to the bakery department hoping to pic up some cheesecake slices or a chocolate log/cake type dessert.  Well, Kroger was extremely disappointing with their baked goods selection.  I could've bought cookies or a birthday cake, but cookies seemed rather lame and a cake too extravagant (I should've gone to Publix!).  So I headed to the frozen foods section to see if they had anything good over there.  Eh, not so much.  I settled on Klondikes, which I knew weren't the best match for lasagna, but what can you do? 

I paid and booked it home in an effort to be home by 5:15...and 'cause I had to pee.   I got home and let Sally out, fed her, and rested on the couch while I waited for two my favorite evening things: M's arrival home and Jeopardy.  Not sure which is more exciting...hmm. Conveniently, M arrived home right when Jeopardy was starting giving me the opportunity to beat him, like usual. 

After Jeopardy, we got in the car and set M's GPS on his phone to Katie and Joel's address.  M's GPS is obnoxious.  Mine, Albert is his name, is much less annoying, but we took M' car, so what can you do?

It was very exciting to see Katie and Joel.  It had only been a couple weeks, but it's so refreshing.  They're so much fun to hang out with!  The lack of wedding planning stress is so evident in their spirits.  I think they're just glad to have that over with and be married and living together.  Katie made lasagna and I could tell she was stressed about it.  The package said to cook until the center was 160 degrees and she was adamant that is be so.  We also had some delicious bread and caesar salad....accompanied with great conversation and delicious Klondikes (how do you eat your Klondike?  They're messy little fellas.)  We stayed for a couple hours and then M and I (who typically go to bed between 9 and 9:30) got tired and headed home.  It was so great to spend time with them, though!  I can tell how happy they are!  Plus, their apartment is suuuuuper cute!

I don't really know what the point of this story is except that when you're looking forward to something, the day always drags by.  It seems that even when I'm not looking forward to something, they day drags by anyway. 

Monday, September 27

Weekend in Review

M used to work at the Adventure Science Center, but recently grew tired of his job because of a dissatisfaction with authority ineffectiveness.  I felt so bad for him as he would complain about the team that used to exist within the walls and who no longer got along.  He would describe a lack of energy and fun.  A science center is supposed to be just that--fun.  He used to love his job as their IT guy, but as he lost his assistant in a budget cut, all work seemed to fall on him, all the time.  We'd be at home or out with friends on a weekend or even during the week and his phone would ring.  He'd spend up to an hour or so trying to figure out what was wrong and trying to fix it.  So after a couple months of job searching, applying and interviewing, M has a new job with Concept Technology.  He seems very satisfied with his new appointment and his new co-workers.  I can see a significant improvement in his job spirit. 

So anyway, Friday night we went to Melrose Pub for drinks as a going away party with his former co-workers.  It was nice to finally meet his boss and the CEO who I had heard many stories about but never had the chance to meet.  I was thrilled.  So after drinks and folks started to dissipate, M and I recreated our first date (which started at Melrose Pub) and went across the street to Athens for some Greek food.  After dinner we went home, fed and let out our Sally-dog and passed out around 9 (how lame are we?)

Saturday we got up, cooked some delicious bacon and eggs (with a side of pumpkin bread, of course) and I went to get my ears lowered.  After the haircut, I went home to spend two hours yelling at the Tennessee Volunteers because they forgot how to play football against UAB.  They managed to pull off a win after a very stressful 4th quarter and OT.  I mean, seriously? OT against UAB?  I was pissed.  And uberly embarrassed to be a Vol.

Once the game was over, we went to my parents house.  My mom went to Ireland/London for 2 weeks and I hadn't seen her since she got back, plus she was out of town on my birthday.   So we got to my parents house, where blood bleeds crimson, and Alabama was loosing to Arkansas.  Eventually the tension in the house eased a bit once Alabama got the lead, but for a while I was starting to regret scheduling my birthday dinner after a Bama football game.  Mom had some swag from Ireland for M and I.  She got me a purple Trinity College sweatshirt (which I requested, the purple color was a surprise).  She brought M a metal (I'm gonna guess stainless steel) Guinness pint glass avec handle (it comes in pints?!?). 

I also got my birthday present from my parents--two tickets to see my all time favorite musical at TPAC--Les Miserables.  Brother got me a mum (which I thought was a shrub) and an itunes gift card.  M and I are going to buy some potting soil to plant my mum.

After the game ended, we drove to downtown Franklin to The Red Pony for dinner.  Our service was exceptional (our waiter knew the menu backwards and forwards) and our food was even better.  Dad brought a couple of bottles of wine (because he is obsessed with wine) so we didn't try any drinks from the menu.  We all started out with a salad (brother and I had caesar, M had a watermelon/lettuce type salad, and mom had a wedge) while dad opted for fried green tomatoes.  M and brother had the ahi tuna and said it was delectable.  I had the "Red Pony BLT" which was bacon (one of my all time favorite things), lobster, tomatoes over a corn stuff ravioli.  It was delicious!  Mom had shrimp and grits and dad had tenderloin.  We opted for dessert, of course, and ordered a creme brulee (because my mom's obsessed) and the Boca Negra Napoleon.  I'm not sure what happened, but our waiter also brought us a peach cobbler.  All three were divine.  I would definitely recommend Red Pony for a nice dinner occasion. 

Sunday was fairly low-key.  M and I got up and cooked breakfast.  We watched a British teen dramedy that M likes called Skins on Netflix.  After a couple episodes, we went over to our friends Brittany and Jimmy's to watch some NFL football.  They have a two year old, so I spent the majority of my time playing with him.  He's so adorable.  He loves "hi" and "buhbye."  He now knows his alphabet, so we spent at least 30 minutes drawing letters on a magna-doodle and waiting for him to tell us what letter it is.  After some chili and a delicious ice cream birthday cake from sweet friends, M and I went home and watched another episode of Skins, which freaked me out and made me a little paranoid, so I made M tell me some happy stories before bedtime.

The end.  Back to the work week.  Tonight-laundry.  :(

Friday, September 24

Pumpkin Bread

The pumpkin bread turned out to be a huge success.  Now, only two people have consumed it, but considering person 1 (myself) had never made it before, and person 2 (M) said "this is way better than my mom made," that means huge success. 

This was the recipe I used:
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
2) In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended (my desired KitchenAid Stand Mixer would've come in handy, here).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.  Pour into the prepared pans.
3) Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven.  Loaves are done when toothpick comes out clean.

M and I have been eating it like it's going out of style.  We're halfway through loaf one, and I'm taking loaf two to my parents when we go on Saturday to watch Alabama smother Arkansas and go out to a belated birthday dinner since my mom was in Ireland last week, and we couldn't celebrate.

Thursday, September 23

End of an era approaching...

I am addicted to Harry Potter. 

Now, this is no secret if you know me well.  I am not ashamed of my obsession and I admit it proudly.  Some people, like M, don't really understand why Harry Potter is important.  I am sad for these people.

About eleven or so years ago, I was in seventh grade. My childhood best friend, Amy, was a year younger than me.  I went over to her house one afternoon and she told me she was reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  She informed me it was about wizards and this school called Hogwarts.  Now, since Amy is a year younger than me, I regarded this piece of literature as juvenile and something that was totally below me.  I went on with my life forgetting about such childish lit.

Important note: my mom is a bibliphile.  There's a bookshelf in my parents' living room that covers an entire wall, and the only thing taking up space on that bookshelf besides books, is a TV.

My brother worked at an educational toy store in high school called Zany Brainy.  When I was in seventh grade, he was a junior.  He came home with the first three books of the Harry Potter series, and he, my mom and my dad all proceeded to read them.  This was a problem because I had deemed Harry Potter as juvenile, but now three individuals who were older than me, two adults, were reading this series.  I didn't cave, though, I would not read something so stupid.  Nope. Nope. Nope.

My family has this silly...I mean super silly, Christmas tradition started by my dad, who is a silly man.  Instead of normal gift tags that read "To: Ingrid, From: Drew" we write gift tags that read like this "To: The Tennessee Volunteer, From: The Crimson Tide" or "To: Our Delta Gamma Girl, From: The Source of Your Sorority Dues."  It's weird and until last year was the norm (it died because it gets harder and harder to come up with creative ideas.)  So anyway, in seventh grade when my whole family had read Harry Potter, and I thought it was the stupidest thing ever written because, yes, I judge books by their cover, my parents wrote a gift tag to me that read, "To the Muggle, From [something Hogwarts/HP related that I can no longer remember]."  Now remember, seventh graders are hormonal and finicky.  I asked what a muggle was, and when I was denied the truth, I got really upset and pitched a fit.  My parents and brother's responses were "if you'd read Harry Potter, you'd learn what a muggle is."

I'm not a bandwagon girl.  I try really, really hard to dislike whatever is popular.  Just 'cause.  For instance, I hate the following things just because they're popular: American Idol, Justin Beaver (and I know that's not his name, but it sounds like beaver),  Twilight (or I did until I was really bored and needed something to read), Lady Gaga (I just don't her popularity), Glee (mostly because all the characters are cocky and I hate cocky), and Ugg boots (they must be called Ugg because they're ugggggggly!)  That's just to name a few.  So not only did I think Harry Potter was weird, I also didn't want to read it because it was popular.

But after relentlessly hearing "you'll have to read HP to learn what a muggle is," I cracked.  I finally sat down and started reading HP and the Sorcerer's Stone.

I also hate admitting when I'm wrong.  Guess what?  I was wrong about how childish and stupid Harry Potter was.  I flew through the first three books.  The third became my favorite almost instantly.  How did JK Rowling intertwine her story line so well?  It was pure genius!  I hit a snag when I finished the Prisoner of Azkaban, though.  The fourth book wasn't out yet!  What would I do?

I grew up with Harry Potter.  Or rather, I matured with Harry Potter since I was a teenager by the time I started reading it.  I felt at home within the pages of Hogwarts and other various locales.  I felt like I was friends with Harry, Ron and Hermione.  I waited eagerly for each addition to be released.  I attended midnight parties at Barnes and Noble and midnight film premieres when they came out in theatres.  The final book installment was released on July 21, 2007.  This was also the day my big sister in Delta Gamma set as her wedding date (I was kind of annoyed, but I made do with the situation-even though she should've known the book release might interfere with bridesmaid duties).  I pre-ordered my book from Amazon to be delivered that day.  I called my mom that afternoon before the ceremony started and asked if it had arrived.  She told me yes, and maliciously she told me she had read the last chapter so she knew who lived and who died.  I went ape-shi*!  I told her she was forbidden from telling me anything and that as soon as I got home, I would be barricading my self in my room to read.

The wedding was in a small town in West Tennessee, so after the ceremony, and spending the night Saturday night (which was agony knowing my book was sitting on my bed an hour and a half away.....)I hurried home on Sunday and did as I warned my mom.  I had intentionally asked off work for Sunday so that I could spend the day reading.  Eventually, I finished the book.  And that was the end of my Harry Potter life as a I knew it.  I knew the end.  There were no more secrets; nothing more I didn't know.  My heart broke a little.  I helped a tad that I had a couple more movies to look forward to.

When they announced that HP and the Deathly Hallows would be made into two movies, I was a little bit angry.  How dare they exploit the greatest story of all time, just to make a little bit more money!  However, the previous six movies have left out key important events, so I am hopeful that by making two movies, they'll be able to include the essential aspects of the story.

M and I went to the beach in June.  I needed some beach-lit but didn't have anything appealing (plus, half my stuff was packed up for my move two weeks later) so I went to my stand-by.  Harry Potter.  I've read them countless times (with the exception of the Deathly Hallows, which I've only read twice, soon to be thrice.)  I packed Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets and since the beach in June, I have read my way through the series.  Again.  It never gets old.  I decided I wanted to get through it all in it's entirety so I can truly appreciate the movies (and criticize what they royally screw up.)  My co-worker is reading my copy of DH to her 8 year old right now, and when she's done, I'll have enough time to read it and have a week or two to spare before the release of the movie.

The new trailer for the seventh (and eighth) movie came out yesterday and it gave me goosebumps.  I think I'm too engrossed in this story.  Like it's true or possible or something.  I encourage you to watch the trailer if you're a fan.  It's going to be divine!

Wednesday, September 22


Fall is my favorite season, hands down.  There are many reasons for this:

1) The smells.  Fall smells like fall.  This seems like an obvious observation (M likes my obvious observations), but when you step outside on a crisp, clear autumn day it smells like leaves, clean air, and fire.  And I live in the burbs.  The scent of burning leaves wafts your way as it's a comfortable enough temperature to be outside in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt.  It's heaven.

2) This brings me to my next point, the weather.  I HATE summer.  When I was little I liked summer to an extent.  You get to go to the beach, to the pool, play with your neighbor friends, and you don't have to sit in class.  Then when you get older, you no longer get to spend every day at the pool because you have a summer job where you work 5 out of 7 days a week and therefore can't lay at the pool all day, every day.  So then, summer just becomes boring and for some reason when you get older, you notice that it's HOT.  Not hot like, fine I'll sit in the shade hot.  No, hot like, I just sweated out the two huge glasses of water that I just drank, hot.  I don't like to be hot.  I also don't like to be cold.  Thus the perfection of fall.  It's not too hot to be in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt, but it also cools down enough at night to wear a hoodie and sit by the bonfire that M builds in the back yard.  Or the bonfire that you build while camping.

3) Camping.  I love to camp.  Always have and I hope I always will.  Now, camping to me is not loading up a backpack with tent, sleeping bag, food supplies and hiking out to the middle of nowhere to set up a campsite that's never existed before.  But camping to me is also not renting a cabin in the woods or parking your RV next to the electrical hook-up so you can get satellite TV (c'mon people.)  Hiking to me is staying in a pre-made campsite in a state or national park that has water access to help you cook on the fire you build in the pre-made fire pit.  It would be nice if it had a bathhouse with running water, but I am perfectly ok with a latrine (hole in the ground with a toilet seat).  So anyway, camping incorporates part 1 and 2 of why fall rocks (the smells and the wonderful temperature).  Plus, you get to cook delicious food over and open fire and guess what that means? S'mores!

We went camping a lot when I was young.  My brother was a boy scout, and I was a girl scout, so we went often with our troops, but also as a family.  This is another reason I love camping, it reminds me of all the wonderful memories I have while camping with my family. <gee, this is going to be a long post>  We've been all over the state of Tennessee as well as some other places in neighboring states.  Apparently when I was really young, we went to a campground near Tuscaloosa and my parents set to work setting up the tent, (now, mind you, I don't remember this story because I was only 2 or 3) and when my parents were done they looked up to find that I had vanished.  Don't worry, this isn't a missing child story; how else would I know this story if my own parents hadn't told me.  So they start wandering around the campground looking for me.  They discover that I have made new friends at another campsite, and was celebrating their birthday by eating their cake.  Fun times.  
Another time we went camping in the Great Smokey Mountains, and while we were driving through the park, a bear (I would assume brown bear) came up to our car, which looked a little something like this:

and LICKED our window.  I guess it should've been a terrifying experience, but I remember it fondly, because I thought the bear was cool.  One time we went camping at Big South Fork and sometime around bedtime the bottom dropped out.  At the time, we had a boxy minivan with wood paneling ('cause we always had cool cars, apparently), so my mom, brother and I slept in the van while my poor, noble, chivalrous father slept in the tent. Funny the things you remember.  On the same trip, my brother and I lost our Nerf football on the roof of the bath-house :(

4) Football.  I know this should've been reason #1 that I love fall, but I don't pre-think the blog, I just type and type.  This is why it seems there's no rhyme or reason to anything I write.  I bleed orange.  As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I am proud to be a Tennessee Volunteer.  Now, my team has not been the best in recent years and I still love them, but I have learned over the past few football seasons to enjoy watching games with which I have no affiliation.  Let's rewind.  My parents are from Alabama (as are every one of my relatives except my brother) and both went to the University of Alabama.  My dad does not bleed orange.  My dad bleeds Crimson.  Not only does my dad bleed Crimson, he loves Bama and the Crimson Tide so much, that my brother's middle name is Bryant.  After Bear Bryant (this is no joke.)  On Saturdays growing up from September thru December, the TV was set to football, all day long.  This was reason enough to hate football, and especially Alabama.  I didn't want to watch football and I couldn't understand why my dad needed to watch ALLLLL the other games.  Wasn't he content enough just to watch Bama play?  As I've grown up and deviated from family in all their Crimson glory (my brother followed my parents' path and went to Alabama), I've learned to appreciate all football games instead of just watching the Vols.  Now this is especially true within the SEC.  I would watch an SEC football game over any other given the opportunity, but I would obviously watch a UT game over any other SEC game.  

Now, the dynamics of football season have changed a bit for me this year.  I have always celebrated the 3rd Saturday in October with pride (although, for the past couple years, including this one, the game's on the 4th Saturday), but this year, I will start a new tradition, because M is a die hard fan and graduate of Vanderbilt.  I gotta say, if I'm gonna date a guy from any other SEC school, I'd definitely pick Vandy.  Afterall, it's the only private school in the SEC.  So now, I've got two rivalries in my family with which to contend.  And unfortunately, I think UT might lose to both Bama (obviously) and Vandy. 

 There is, of course, a heirarchy.  UT>Bama>Vandy.

5) Food.  The final reason on my "why I love fall list."  It incorporates points 1-4 as well.  There are so many wonderful foods you get to eat in the fall.  S'mores, while camping.  Chili (M makes really good Chili).  Thanksgiving food (turkey and stuffing, yuuuum.  Tailgating food!  Who doesn't love some grilled burgers, chips and dip, cookies, pigs in a blanket, sausage balls, and beer or firefly with lemonade before noon!? The whole reason I'm typing this post, though, is because of Pumpkin Bread!  I'm making pumpkin bread tonight for the first time.  I do not like pumpkin pie (bleeeech, disgusting consistency), but pumpkin bread is divine and I've been having cravings for about two months.  So yesterday I fought the horrible rush-hour traffic to make my way over to Publix where I stocked up on every kind of ground, autumn-y spice they had, well maybe not every kind, but I got ground nutmeg, ginger, clove and cinnamon.  I also had to buy some loaf pans (because, like I said, I've never made this before).  My recipe makes three loaves, so I'll be able to freeze some!  By the time I got home after sitting in traffic, I was simply not in the mood to start on the bread (if I had my Kitchenaid stand mixer, like I was longing for in last post, I might've been more motivated).  Instead, I've decided there's no better way to kick-off fall than a wonderful, southern, delicious treat!
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