Friday, August 29, 2008

Requiem for an Era, Part 2

Yesterday was my going away party, and of course I cried. And not a pretty cry. There is no question that the hardest part of all of this is leaving my co-workers. I have spent more waking time with these people than almost anyone else on the planet. Because I have a big mouth and few boundaries, they know almost everything about me, and I know a lot about them. I don't know how it happened that I landed right after graduate school in such a fantastic place, but I'm so glad that I did.

I was going to write about the people I have worked with and what they mean to me, but after talking at my party and sending my good bye emails, I don't think I can take another emotional hit. So I'll just say this: I will miss my friends.

How could I not love the people that did this on my birthday?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Requiem for an Era, Part 1

Every fall on the first Wednesday of classes, the Walton College holds a Block Party. It's basically a back to school event. We have music and giveaways, and the faculty grill hot dogs. Because it's at lunch time right in the middle of campus, there are always hundreds of people there. Today, as I was standing in the middle of the Block Party eating my free food and people watching, I felt my first wave of sadness over my impending transition. Don't get me wrong, I know beyond a doubt that I've made the right decision. Still, the U of A has been such a huge part of my life for so long that it's like moving away from a good friend.

I have been on this campus for the first day of classes every semester for the last 14 years. I've shared it with over 50,000 students. I've watched two football coaches, three basketball coaches, and two baseball coaches come and go. I've met wide eyed 18 year olds who are excited but nervous about their college experience, gotten to know them and tried to help them, and then cried when I saw them walk across the stage at commencement. This campus gave me my husband, my education, my career and so many of my dearest friends. I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 14,000 hours in my office, working for the school that I love so much. The U of A is a part of who I am. And after Friday, for the first time in my adult life, I will be looking at it from the outside.

Tomorrow my office is holding a going away party for me. People keep asking me if I'm excited to be so close to staying at home, and oh, I am, I AM. I don't think I'll miss my schedule, or probably even most of the work I do. But I will miss the place. And the people...that's why the party will be so hard for me. It's another topic entirely--that's why this is only Part 1.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The best laid plans

How is it that I always prepare for one thing, and then get socked with another? Last week was supposed to be about the first week of kindergarten, preparing for Abby's first soccer game, and getting ready for my last week of work. Instead, it was about Abby and I both getting nasty sick. She had strep throat and missed two days of school (there goes her perfect attendance award), and I had some crazy throat/sinus thing that flat knocked me out. Friday afternoon she and I laid in bed together and alternated sleeping and complaining about how much our throats hurt. Which made them hurt more, but we couldn't help it. Fortunately for us antibiotics worked miracles, and we're doing much better.

Being out of commission for a couple of days put me in kind of a time warp, though, and all of a sudden I am a mere 5 days away from the end of my job. Tomorrow is my last Monday! Not my LAST Monday, but you know, my last Manic Monday, as coined by the Bangles in their same-named 80s megahit.

It's strange--everyone seems surprised that I will actually be busy at work this week. For some reason, it's assumed that I would just be sitting around watching everyone else do the mad scramble that is the first week of classes. I don't get it. They are paying me to work this week. Why on earth wouldn't I work? Besides, my co-workers would kill me, and even worse, cancel my going away party. And that would be disastrous--could they even get their deposit back on the band at this point?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Abby for President

Am I REALLY sitting here blogging about my daughter's first day of Kindergarten? Really? It just seems impossible.

Since reality doesn't seem to be going anywhere, here's a summary of our monumental morning:

We got up and ready as usual, albeit with a little more excitement than usual. Well, excitement on the part of Abby's mom and dad--Abby herself had to be dragged out of bed at 7 and only perked up when I put cookies in her lunch box. Matt ran E to day care early so that we could both take her in together. First, we did a little photo shoot in the front yard. Man, that girl loves to pose. She will be very irritated when she realizes that every morning of Kindergarten doesn't start with a modeling session.

Abby's school begins at 8 AM, and we were told that students could begin getting to class at 7:45. We live around the corner from her school, so we left at 7:35 to allow for school traffic.

That's like saying you put back an extra 10 cents a week to allow for rising gas prices. It was wildly insufficient. There were HUNDREDS of cars, all attempting to pour into the school parking lot. We sat in the car at the edge of the school for 15 minutes, waiting to get in and park. While we sat, we watched smart parents come out of their houses, walk their children to school and return home. I think one of them even washed her car while we were sitting there. We couldn't really be mad at the traffic, though, since it was all people doing exactly what we were doing.

At LAST we got a spot and headed into the school. We got to her room and some of the kids were already there, but not all. Abby went straight for her chair, threw on her nametag, slung her backpack on her chair and started coloring. Go on in, honey, don't be scared!

Abby knows several kids in her class, from our neighborhood, church, pre-school, and her busy social calendar. They were all thrilled to see her. She acted like the homecoming queen returning from spring break. Matt and I hung around for a few minutes, basically watching her ignore us and talking a little with her fabulous and unreasonably gorgeous teacher, Mrs. T. At one point, Abby flagged down the intern-teacher, but it was only to make sure that she, too, knew that Abby can spell Denny's. Finally I sensed that we were close to crossing the line from excited parents to stalkers, so I crouched down next to Abby to say goodbye. She waved without looking up, and when I asked for a hug, she reached over and patted my back. Matt took me by the hand and walked (dragged) me out. I held it together as we walked back through the halls, mainly because I didn't want anyone to laugh at me. They probably did anyway.

Matt picked her up after school, and her day was predictably wonderful. She volunteered to introduce the principal to her class when she came by since Abby had met her before, and she informed me that she wants to buy her lunch from now on because they have chocolate milk. She introduced all her friends to each other at recess and made sure that if anyone needs to know how to spell the name of a certain breakfast restaurant she's available to assist.

There was never really a question in my mind that Abby would love school, but it still floors me to watch her be so at ease and laid back. If Kindergarten had class officers, you know that girl would be going for president faster than some kids could say the word.

Here are some pictures from the big day:

The photo shoot:

She can't NOT dance sometimes:

So timid walking into a new place...

Mrs. T's class. Abby's in the center, already going to town on her coloring sheet:

We haven't forgotten about Ethan--here he is in post-bath lion form last night:

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I'm home! My grandmother's surgery went really well. She is one of the toughest people I have ever met, and one of the funniest too. We had a great time together watching the Olympics and Food Network. I got her hooked on beach volleyball and Paula Dean.

Tomorrow is Abby's first day of kindergarten. In order to avoid thinking about the implications of this fact, I am choosing to go to bed. It will be there when I wake up. Pictures and a recap tomorrow night, I promise!

PS. As for the Wii tournament that my dear husband planned while I was away--the bulb blew out on our tv, so he was without all week. Pity.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


This is Matt typing on Nancy's behalf. She is dictating. She left on Saturday to be with her grandmother, who is having gall bladder surgery on Wednesday. She went a little earlier than planned and did not have time to post. She is telling me to say that she will be back next weekend and will post then. While she is gone, I am planning a small Wii tournament:-)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What does a warthog know about life, anyway?

This morning AMEN (minus the E) went to Abby's new school for Kindergarten testing and orientation. The appointment had two purposes: to evaluate the kids to see where they stand educationally, and to give the parents school information. It went fantastically well. Abby had fun and said she knew pretty much everything they asked her, and we got all our questions answered. Afterwards, we walked through the school and visited with the principal, VP, and librarian. Abby told everyone we talked to that she knew how to spell CAT, DOG and DENNY'S. And she told the principal that we saw her in Target 4 months ago (this is true--the memory in that child's brain!) It won't take long for Abby to make her mark on that school.

A couple of people have asked me about how Ethan's bedtime routine is going. The answer is: horrible. We have tried to give him away twice, but each time the people bring him back after 1 night. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but he really is testing the limits of our sanity. We feel like there has been a tiny, almost invisible sliver of improvement over the last few nights, but nothing anyone but us would notice. Besides, E is really good at letting us think we've come up with a solution to one of his "stages" only to have him pull us right back down into the mires of failure.

For example, E has always fought having his teeth brushed. And I mean FOUGHT. But the child has got to learn good dental hygeine, and his breath was getting really rough. So I bought a fancy schmancy toothbrush that plays Hakuna Matata while you brush, and for a while he loved brushing his teeth. But now he hates it again, only it's worse this time around because we have to pin him down and jam the toothbrush in his mouth while a warthog and a weasel (or whatever Timon is) sing about their life philosophy. Oh, the irony of the words "It means no worries for the rest of your days" echoing off the bathroom walls as you torture your child just to get a basic task accomplished.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree

Scene: The AMEN car on the way home from soccer practice last night

Matt: So, Abby, tell me one thing you didn't like about soccer practice, and one thing you did like about soccer practice.

Abby: Okay, I did NOT like getting all hot and sweaty.

Matt: Well, that makes sense. So what's one thing you did like?

Abby: The breaks.

That's my girl!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Putting on the heat

Okay, this is a somewhat indelicate topic, so if you're sensitive to such things you'd best move on.

On Saturday, a bunch of girls who had been at the conference came to my house for lunch. Since Marla and I are both about to be MOKs (Moms Of Kindergarteners) and several of the other ladies there are moms of older kids, the talk naturally turned to school and the issues that would concern any mom: separation anxiety, bullying, lice.

Yes, lice. It's one thing about elementary school that never changes, I guess. Almost every mom there whose kids have been in school have had to deal with it. One of them pointed out that girls tend to get it less because girls often have their hair blow dryed, and apparently this greatly reduces the occurance of lice, or the outbreak, or whatever word you use.

So I posed a question. If lice is truly an epidemic in schools everywhere, and if heat from a hair dryer has proven to be a strong deterrent, then why doesn't every school just install giant, undustrial size salon blow dryers--you know, the kind that you usually sit under--at each entrance? As kids come in each morning, they could just stand under the dryer for 20 seconds or so. Lots of schools make every child go through a metal detector--how would this be different? And the expense would be negligible, especially considering the savings in medicine and nursing needs for the school.

Everyone laughed--oh, that silly Nancy, always with the crazy schemes. But really--this would WORK! I think I might mention it at Kindergarten orientation.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

War--and peace

Looking back, I can honestly say that while I did have fun playing paintball on Friday, I wouldn't be sad if I knew that I would never, ever play again. I got really lucky--I only got hit twice. Once was on my helmet and once was on my tennis shoe, so I never even had any pain. Others were not so lucky though. Some nasty welps were appearing on a few folks. Way to sacrifice your body for the team, guys! Our team did great--we not only won, but we did it with style. If you're going to play at war, you might as well look the part!

Here are a few pictures of the outing:

Our team. Do we look tough or WHAT? We went all out, painted on tattoos and all.

Commando AMEN. Do I look intimidating? I actually did shoot one person during the game--I was so proud of myself!

Me, my boss Karen, and my friend Autumn doing a little Charlie's Angels tribute. This was after 2 hours of playing in the heat, and I promise you, however stinky and sweaty we look, the reality was worse. Like my ink?

The rest of my weekend was spent in a dramatically different fashion. I went to a simulcast of a Living Proof Live event. LPL is a women's conference held 10 times a year in different cities. The speaker is Beth Moore, who is one of the most hysterical, genuine, brilliant humans I've ever witnessed and an extraordinary Bible teacher. The actual conference was held in Louisville KY with 8900 attendees, but there were 70,000 (!!!) women watching all over the world. Any time I study from Beth's work I get inspired, and this weekend was no exception. She is known for her direct talk, and in the conference she kept encouraging women to "just DO the thing!" I love that. I always seem to have a million excuses why I can't do whatever I'm thinking I'm supposed to be doing, or maybe just not right now, or maybe just not quite that way. Well, now I'm going to quit making excuses and JUST DO THE THING. Woo hoo! Good thing I didn't hear that message and get all hyped up BEFORE paintball--it could have been a different game altogether!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pray for me. Pray for ALL of us.

In 10 minutes, I am leaving my house to join my coworkers for what will be my last staff retreat. Each year, we have a retreat in which my boss Karen pulls out all the stops. Last year, she let me plan it, and I think it was a lot of fun, but this year the ball was back in her court.

Guess what we're doing?

We're playing paintball.

Against another advising center.


I am terrified. I have never played before, but I've had it confirmed by many people that getting hit by a paintball leaves a welp. The high today is 95, with 85% humidity and a heat index of 100%. Pain and heat are two things I avoid if at all possible, and today I get a double dose. However, this is my last chance to be a part of this team that I love so much, so I have decided to make the best of it. I announced to the office that my motto for the day is: Bruises fade, but glory lasts FOREVER.

If I make it out alive, I'll post again soon.