You Capture: The Feeling of Fall

In my front yard I have a huge oak tree. It's probably one of my favorite things about my house. I love when the leaves start to turn. That's really when I get my first feeling of fall.


I was so excited this week to see the first few yellow leaves. I know that in just a few weeks the whole tree will be full of bright fall colors. I love to sit on my front porch and watch the squirrel who lives in my tree hide nuts, then find nuts, and jump in the leaves. (He doesn't run. We're tight like that.)


But today as I was driving up my street, I saw that half of my tree was just gone. There are power lines that run through my tree, so I knew the electric company would trim it soon, but those bastards chopped half of my tree away. Including the my squirrel's nest. And now it looks like it may die. I took this picture with my phone. ( I'm going to take better ones tomorrow. I may be writing a very unhappy email to my electric company tomorrow.)


You see where you see sky? You're not suppose to. Now, instead of sitting and looking at my big beautiful tree full of colors and my squirrel hiding and finding nuts, I get to see sky and power lines. *sniff*

Want to see more You Captures? Head on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry!

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Half A Step Off

I began playing basketball when I was 12. I was the tallest on my team and was taught to play center and forward and loved every minute of it.

Just one year later, every one else grew, and I didn't. I went from being the tallest on the team to on of the shortest. I went from playing forward and center, to playing guard. The problem with that is that I wasn't a great ball handler. In fact, I'm not super athletic at all. I had to work very hard at playing basketball.

I ended up trying out for the school squad, made the team, but sat the bench during the 8th grade. In 10th grade, I had worked my way up to sixth man. (This means, you're the first sub in during a game.) I played a lot, and I loved it.

Then came varsity and back to riding the bench. My coach was convinced that I had no business playing basketball yet, instead of cutting me, she kept me on the team and would put me in the last minute of every game. Fun stuff, huh?

Let's skip to my senior year. I was the only senior on the team, was determined to make captain, and didn't. Not because my teammates didn't vote for me, but because the coach didn't want me to be a captain. I could have quit right then, but I didn't. I decided to stick it out. I earned some playing time by not playing in our Jrs versus Srs flag football game during homecoming week, but I still only average around 2 mins a game.

Then one day, we were playing the team that was known for the best player in the area. She was super quick, scored a lot of points, and was definitely on her way to playing college basketball. And within the first few minutes, she was well on her way to beating us herself. (This also caused our coach to throw her suit jacket on the floor much in Bobby Knight fashion. I'm convinced that the only reason she ever wore that jacket was so she could take it off and throw it.)

All of a sudden I hear, "April! Get in there for (I forget who)! And you got Shelley."

Do you want to take a guess at who Shelley was? You guessed it. The best player in the league. I'm not quick, and I'm short. This could end bad. I knew our coach had done that just to try to humiliate me. She had plenty of other talented players that could have handled this assignment.

In a split second, I decided I was not going to let this end poorly. I had a game plan. I knew she was quicker than me, so I played half a step off. What this means is that when guarding her, I backed up just a bit more than I would someone else I may guard so that I could keep up with her. Also, I learned quickly that I could anticipate her every move by just watching her eyes. (In basketball, you're taught to watch the ball on defense. Or at least I was.) As good as she was, she telegraphed her every move.

I held the best player in our league to just 5 points the whole time I guarded her in the first half. She was frustrated. To help matters, I matched her 5 points.

I would love to tell you that in the second half, I made the winning basket. The truth is once we got back in the game and had a chance to win, she pulled me, and I went back to my seat on the bench. We still lost that game, but it wasn't because SHE beat us. It was because THEY beat us, and that for me was a personal victory.

Life sometimes reminds me of that player. It can be quicker and taller and ready to kick my ass single-handed. Some days, it's going to score a career high on me. That's just going to happen. I can't predict when it will, but I can try to prepare myself.

There was a time in my life when I let life control me. I worried about where I was, where I had been, and where I was going. While I can be laid back, I like to know where I'm going. Where things are headed. Truth is, I still worry, but I'm learning to not let life control me. I have a game plan. I try to play half a step off. That way I can keep up and try to anticipate.

Yes, some days, I'm going to lose the game. In fact, I may lose a lot, but as long as I can have small personal victories in life, like I did that day on the court, I think I'll be just fine. No. I know I will.

Just play half a step off. ;o)

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What's Going On?

I know it's been almost a week since I've posted. What the heck?

Thing is that I just don't really have anything to talk about at just this second, which is weird because usually I have a ton to talk about.

Well, okay, maybe not a TON, and I know my posts can be short, but usually I can find SOMETHING to talk about.

I mean, I could tell you about how my dad bought my nephew yet a new not-so-cheap toy today. WTF? I walked into my parents' house today and said, "Is it Christmas?"

I could also tell you how grumpy the little dude was today and how my brother went down to the family room to take a nap instead of taking care of his kid.

Okay fine, I took a tiny nap, too, but once it was apparent that my nephew wasn't going to let me sleep, I got up and played with him, while his daddy (my brother) napped.

I love, love, love that my nephew is talking more now. I can actually understand half of his wants and needs now, as opposed to just guessing and guessing wrong.

His favorite words are, "Up." "Down." "Mommy." "Grandpa." "Peace." (I know, right?) and "Tractor."

He can also form the tiny sentence, "What's that?"

Whoa, this ended up being the most random post all about my nephew, huh? Dang, I didn't mean for that.

What do you all write about when you don't have anything to write about? Any questions you have for me? I'll be happy to answer them!

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Meeting Elmo - Sort of.

Since before he could walk, my nephew has LOVED Elmo. The kid can spot an Elmo from a mile away. Since Elmo is NOT Barney, I'm fine with this. (Like I have much say in the matter anyway.)

But, when my mom told me yesterday morning we were going to meet Elmo, and I had to come to take pictures, my palms got a little sweaty. I don't like mascots. They annoy me, and I don't like them touching me.

True story: So, I forget why, but in Chicago, I was sent by two girls who shall remain nameless, (Hi Roomies!) to go and see what was going on in the Energizer suite. So, they gave me the suite number and off I take. I arrive on the floor and the sound of a beating drum should have clued me in, but no, I turn the corner anyway and there was a 6.5 ft Energizer Bunny. I almost died right then and there.

Back to yesterday: Our local civic center was having this Kid Festival. You show up, there are all kinds of activities and TONS AND TONS of mascots walking around. This is a nightmare for me, but we NEED Clay's picture with Elmo, right? Hmph.

And of COURSE there is a line to see Elmo. Fine. I can handle this. All of a sudden cheers from the kids, Elmo has arrived and this is what I see:


Are you freaking kidding me?! Is that not the scariest Elmo you have ever seen in your life? I wouldn't wish that Elmo on anyone's child. For real. And did you know that Elmo wears Nikes? I'm just sayin'. And Clay didn't like Elmo either. Trust me folks, he's not smiling in this picture.

I have to admit, I'm more than a little disappointed that whomever put this little shindig on couldn't fork out a little more money to get a better Elmo than that. I know Clay was too young to get it, but I heard one kid who was old say, "that's NOT Elmo." I wanted to give that kid a high five. Instead, they had Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers. Don't get me wrong, I've met Mr. McFeely before and he's a super nice guy, but no one cared that he was on stage. These kids came to meet Elmo.

Clay did; however, enjoy petting this owl and alligator:


In fact, he wanted to give that alligator a kiss. That's my boy.

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Inspiration


I know that I've receive awards on blogs before, and I love that some of you have liked what I've had to say enough to give me awards. But I'm terrible at passing them along. I know this, and I'm very sorry for this. It isn't that I don't want to pass the award, it's just that I never can DECIDE who to pass them to. I'm terribly indecisive, and so many of you have touched my life in so many ways, that it doesn't fair to choose just some of you for an award, but not others.

That said, this week, Christie gave me an Inspirational Blogger Award this week. An award that she created herself. She also passed it to Brooke, who also gave me kudos in her "acceptance post".

Ladies, thank you so much for thinking of me when you think about who inspires you. Christie, you are one of my heroes. Seriously, you make me want to want to do triathlons. (Nope. Not getting roped in yet.) Brooke, it has been a real pleasure helping you get to your goal weight. You are THE BEST student a person can ask for, and you've helped me learn even more by teaching you. You both are awesome and inspire me to be a healthier and better person each and every day.

It's funny where we find inspiration. It can be something as simple as a picture someone takes, or a sentence one writes (or an entire blog post), or just the way person treats you in every day life.

For so many of us, the things that inspire us, help build us into what we are today. If I had never watched the Biggest Loser, I wouldn't have been inspired by Jillian Michaels and the others on that show. I may never have been inspired to change my life physically and may never have lost 62 lbs. If I had never signed up for MySpace (I KNOW.), then I may never have re-connected with Jessie. I may never have been inspired to fix my soul.

And as funny as this sounds, even our bad experiences can inspire us. If I hadn't gotten mixed up with the wrong people in my early 20's, then, I may never have been inspired to not be like them.

With every thing I do now, every way I am is the cause of some sort of inspiration. When I think of that, I think of how very lucky that I am.

Now, comes to the part where I have to decide who inspires me, right? I seriously can't. I know that I've met some of you face to face and many I haven't, but really, if we've spent any time getting to know each other, you are my friend, and every single one of you inspires me in some way. Every single one of you has touched my life in some way. You all make me a better person, and I honestly, can't thank you enough.

Also, I'd like to thank the Academy. ;o)

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You Capture: Macro

Yeah, I know I've pretty much sucked here lately and not done my You Capture assignment. And honestly, I wasn't going to participate this week. I feel horrible that I can't comment on everyone else's posts because of scheduling, but I'll try. I promise.

Anyway, I love noses. I don't now why, I just do. So, I decided to wake up all of my animals last night and take pictures of their noses. They were all mad, but I like what I got. Enjoy!

Kelci was pretty much over it by this time.


Now I realize this is more of a head shot, but I was shooting blind since his cage is so small. (Picture my camera in HIS cage, him HISSING, and me taking a zillion shots to get this one. Yeah.) Oh, this is Neville, by the way.


Cagney's Cagney. She's a diva.


This is pretty much Bayleigh's "I hate you" look. But doesn't she have the cutest nose?!




Wanna see more You Captures? Head on over to Beth's place!

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Dirty Dancing

While it makes me sad to hear of Patrick Swayze's passing, I'm not normally one to blog about celebrities or to give them tributes on my blog. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that he was my favorite. Because he wasn't. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how shitty cancer is. Because we all know it is.

I'm going to tell you about the first time I saw Dirty Dancing. It's a funny little story, and I'm sure that Mr. Swayze would get a kick out of it.

Let's rewind to the late 1980's. We were at my grandparents' house for the weekend. We did that often back then. My mom and my aunt decided that they wanted to see Dirty Dancing, and the theater in town was playing it.

Problem. My brother and I had to go, too. (How long ago was that movie released? I'm 31, my brother's 27. Let's think...how old were we? Right.) I'm not sure what they were thinking a movie called Dirty Dancing was going to be about, but they called the theater and found that there was no nudity, it was PG-13, so how bad could it be? Right?

So, my mom and aunt load my brother up with popcorn and candy (the perfect bribe for taking a kid to a non-cartoon movie), picked our seats in the theater with duct tape covering the holes in the seats, and we were going to watch Dirty Dancing.

All was going great, and then...

Baby follows what's his name to where all of the employees are hanging out. Know which scene, right?

So, all of a sudden right in front of me was a bunch of people, well, um, dirty dancing. My mom and aunt gasped, my mouth dropped to my seat, my brother yelled "EW GROSS!" and hids his face in the seat...

Oh, the questions that my brother asked after that movie, then declared HE was never getting married or kissing a girl or none of that gross stuff. RIGHT.

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Psst...

So, I'm headed to a tailgate bright and early in the morning to watch the Virginia Tech Hokies take on Marshall!! And all I can say is THANK GOODNESS football season is HERE!!


What you may not know is that I didn't always love the Hokies. Wanna know how I became a Hokie? Visit over here!!

Peace!

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Groomed

Before:

(looks like a muppet, no?)


After:


Any questions?

(Note: I don't normally let her fur get that out of control, but well you know. Shit happens.)

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Me on Hugs

It's clear to me after my last post that I need to clarify something about my feelings on hugs.

Yes. I'm not a huge hugger. I don't like people that I don't know touching me. In fact, if I'm feeling uncomfortable, and someone I don't know touches me, and you're paying close enough attention, you can see me cringe.

Part of this is from something that happened to me a very long time ago, and I do not wish to discuss that, but also, I come from a family that is not overly affectionate. Hugs often come with pats on the back. And not only that, we're not huge on telling each other how we feel. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I know of my dad telling me he loves me.

Please don't go saying, "that's so sad." I know. But that's just how we are. That's how they were raised, so it is what it is. I know they love me. And with them, that's enough.

But, I recently discovered how much I love hugs. How much I love saying, "I love you." How much I need it. But to force something like that on my family feels weird and just wrong. So, I've turned to my friends for that.

If I have spent any amount of time talking to you, and if we have become friends, hugs are a requirement. In fact, I love them so much, I give huge hugs. Especially if I know we're not going to see each other for a while. And don't be surprised if I throw out an "I love you." I realize that is a huge request to lay upon my friends, and I pray they don't mind.

So, that is me on hugs. Now, can I get a hug?

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Because I'm Alive

I'm sitting here on my front porch this amazingly beautiful Sunday morning, and I've been reminded of something...

My great, great aunt Jack (short for Jacqueline). Aunt Jack used to scare me somewhat. Some of you who have met me may have noticed that I can be a bit reserved. Aunt Jack required hugs, which was a bummer to me because I wasn't keen on hugs. (Hugs are something I've only recently discovered that I love.)

Now, of course, I wish I had hugged her more.

See, Aunt Jack had lupus. She lost a leg and an eye to that horrible disease. She was constantly sick, but every morning, she would say, "I'm alive, and that's what matters." She seriously, had the best attitude. I never saw her upset. There was always a smile on her face, even if she was lying on a hospital bed.

Why don't more of us take this attitude? I'm the first to admit I'm guilty of complaining and getting down when life seems to take a dump on me. And isn't that kind of sad?

I mean seriously. No matter what happens in our lives, no matter how hard life seems to get, we are ALIVE. And life is such a beautiful thing. Why do we waste energy worrying with the bad stuff, when there are so many good things surrounding us. There are so many things we should be enjoying, loving, and experiencing.

I know that it's going to be hard not to focus on the bad things in life. I don't know about you, but the bad things always seem to run in groups, usually 3's. When the bad things happen one right after the other, it's so hard not to throw your hands in the air and say, "screw it." But I'm making a promise to myself and you to try. Because I'm alive.

So, as I sit here on my front porch, feeling the wind against my face, listening to my wind chimes and the dog barking down the street, and watching a morning dove scuttle around my yard, I'm going to enjoy life today.

And Aunt Jack would be proud.

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200 Game?

It all started with, "Hey April! Can you bowl for us just for one night? We'll buy your beer!"

Five years later, I'm still bowling.

I'd like to say that I'm a good bowler, but I'm not. There are a few reasons for this. A lot of bowling is mental. For the longest time, the slightest movement in the corner of my eye would cause me to lose concentration. Or, I'd stand to long before my approach and I would think about it too much. Or I would rush my approach.

Another problem I have is that I tend to be backwards footed. Let me explain. I'm naturally left-handed. I play sports right-handed. So, I throw the ball right-handed. I should end my approach on my left foot, but I usually don't. I end on my right foot.

So, for five years, I've had BAD games, I've had okay games, and I've had a few good games. It's stressful for a competitive girl like myself.

Last winter, some friends from the league and I bowled in the City/County tournament here in Roanoke. I just went out and had fun, and ended up taking third in singles. Talk about a big horseshoe up my ass.

Last week, fall/winter league season started again. I noticed halfway through game 2 that I wasn't bowling backwards footed, got excited and screwed myself up. Back to backwards footed bowling.

Then we get to last night.

I was bowling pretty good for me, and I was doing good at not bowling backwards footed. I'm sure I still look weird because it's just not natural for me to step first with my right foot, but whatever works, right?

Side note: I don't consider myself a very superstitious person. Except when it comes to sports. (I may or may not have not changed my socks when we were on a winning streak in varsity basketball. I know, right?!)

Last night, I tried something right before I started my first frame of the third game. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is, that's the superstitious part. By the fifth frame, I had something like a 123. (Usually I do good to end with a 123.) This new little trick was working! By the ninth frame I had a 170.

One of my teammates says, "Hey, April, if you strike out in the tenth, you'll get a 200!"

Shit. Enter NERVES, BRAIN, THINKING TOO MUCH. I walked away from the lane trying to calm myself down. April, you can do this. You bowled a 183 at the tournament, even if it was at a different alley. I told myself.

I walk up to the lane when it was my turn on the tenth frame. I completely forgot about my new "little thing" that I had done the whole game. I approach, throw the ball, and it swings left. I knock one pin down. There went my 200 game. I ended with a 179.

I've decided this season, I WILL get a 200 game. I'm going to do it. And you'll know it because you'll hear me shout for joy no matter where you are. I promise. :o)

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Weigh-In Wednesday: Shrink For Good

Shrink for Good with the Sisterhood!
Psst...hey, you! Did you hear? We started a new challenge over at the Sisterhood! Shrink For Good! Have you joined us yet? You should! We're losing weight AND doing some good! Go check it out!

So, we weighed on Sunday and I weighed 144.6. Today, I weighed 144.2. So, since Sunday, I lost 0.4, but unfortunately I'm up since last week. UGH.

Unfortunately, I had to stop the Chalean Extreme program. While doing bicep curls with 10lb weights, I felt a sharp pain in my elbow. So, rather than push through it, I decided to let it heal. Since this was the second time that I've had to go off schedule of the program, I decided to stop and hopefully, I can try it again sometime in the future. Another thing, I'm working on building my dog, Kelci's endurance so we can start jogging together, so right now, I'm doing more walking than running. So, I know this is why I'm up some. I just need to work harder. I will work harder.

For the challenge, I'm trying Weight Watchers. I'm not going to lie. I'm a tiny bit frustrated. I've been a calorie counter for so long that I just kind of know how many calories the foods that I eat have in them. If I don't know, I'm pretty damn good at guessing. (Ask Christy. She witnessed this in Chicago at the McDonald's booth!) So, the only time now that I really write my calories down is if I'm unsure on how many calories I'm eating in a day. So, first, not knowing in my head how many points something has and two, having to write it down every day is just a little bit frustrating for me.

Having said that, I'm going to stick with it. I said I will, so I will. And who knows, maybe I'll start to learn how many points foods have in them!

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When I was three...

So, Thea wrote this post here, and I left a comment, and she suggested that I just copy and paste my comment here on my blog.

My comment was: When I was three, I knocked my front tooth out. It hurt. The End.

But knowing you folks the way I do, I know that wouldn't be enough for you, so, here's the story of how I knocked out my front tooth.

When I was three, my parents had the living room furniture arranged so that I could put my left hand on the arm of the couch, my right hand on the arm of the chair, lift my feet up and swing myself back and forth.

I remember I did this a lot.

One evening, I was swinging myself on the arms of the couch and the chair, and I'll give you one guess as to what happened next.

Yep. My hand slipped, I fell forward, and landed face first. It hurt. I wailed. I'm not sure which parent got to me first, but the next then I remember, my mom is putting a wet cloth in my mouth and calling the dentist's emergency line. My dad is on his hands and knees looking for my tooth.

Per the dentist's orders, we put my tooth in milk, and headed to his office at 8 p.m.

The dentist decided that since it was a baby tooth, and I would be getting a permanent tooth in a few years, there was no need to put the tooth back. So, we drove home, with my mouth packed full of gauze.

It's funny how even at that age, a child can be self conscious because the first picture my mom had taken of me after that, I refused to smile.

I was six before I had two front teeth again. By the time it came in, I was so used to only having one front tooth that two felt weird.

And really, that is The End.

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