Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Great Loss

As I write this, I am completely devastated. I can't speak, so I thought this would be the best way to express my feelings. My major professor from graduate school, and one of the most influential people in my life, passed away last Friday at his home. I missed the services.

George Folkerts was an incredible person. His passion for nature, conservation, biology and field biology will never be matched. He taught me so many things... about science, and about myself. There are memories that I have forever in my mind of class trips we took, singing by the campfire and hiking, standing with our arms outstretched around a huge tulip tree in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness, and George lecturing us on the "real world." His message was simple - the pursuit of knowledge is the most important thing in life, and untouched areas of nature are the "real world."

George was the only person that I ever met who could believe so much in God and evolution at the same time. He made me stand with leeches attached to my legs in the middle of a North Carolina swamp, and he told me I better not cry, that they wouldn't hurt me. He made me realize that I could overcome my fears in the pursuit of knowledge, and I will take that lesson with me always.

I got to see George about two months ago. He met Hays and me at his favorite place in Auburn, Buffalo's. Our visit was short. We had plans to go into the field this spring. He looked good. I am SO glad that I had that last visit with him.

George had a wonderful, full life. I cannot even describe to you all how many lives he touched, how much valuable conservation work that he did, and how many smiles he put on people's faces each day. I know that I would not be the person I am today had I not known George. He was a wonderful teacher, and an even better friend.

This picture is from the first day of our three week journey in the Southern Appalachians.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deck The Halls With Tacky Sweaters

So sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I was SO sick last week with the most terrible cold! I missed two days of work, and I try so hard not to miss! The cold could have been exacerbated by the party that I went to last Saturday night. Sarah and Heather hosted a great tacky christmas sweater party!

I have to give props to a certain thrift store here in the Ham, right near my neighborhood! The Briarwood Thrift Store was so well organized, they had all of their Christmas finest hanging together in the ladies section, so I didn't even have to search for the tackiness, it was all right there. Hays found a lovely sweater and turtleneck very easily as well. SO if you need clothes for certain themed parties, the Briarwood Thrift Store is a great place to go, and proceeds benefit the school! Here are some pics from the party:

I cannot explain how hard I laughed when I saw Trey. He looked like Dwight Schrute ready for an "Office" Christmas party.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My friend Beth

I have officially received my first online threat to be disowned. Apparently sometimes when you mention people as part of a group, but don't mention them by name, they get offended. Well, my dear cuz/friend Beth, this is for you.

Let me explain Beth to everyone. Beth may be the shortest person that I know. She is also very unique. She moved to New York, and once she moved up there she developed this funny accent. Every once in a while she comes home and asks "What is a grit?" And I have to say "Beth, you lived in the South for 21 years. You know that they are gritS, with an 'S.' Now stop acting too cool for everyone." Just kidding, Beth never acts cool.

In all seriousness, one of the best qualities about Beth is that she did move to NYC and get a big fancy job where she works all of the time, but she is still one of the most down to earth people I know. She was nice enough to bring all five of us "Gadsden Girls" to NYC on her ticket, and lead us all around, even though I am sure we were embarrasing tourists. And she is SO smart. Smarter than anyone I know.

Another interesting fact: Beth and I became friends in second grade. One day she ran up to me in our second grade classroom and said "Meredith, we are cousins!" I said "What?" Turns out our grandmothers are first cousins, so we are third cousins.

Beth, I hope you enjoyed this. Please don't disown me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My girls

We all have friends from different places in our lives. For example, we make friends in elementary school - high school, then we go off to college and make new friends. Most of us don't keep up with many of our old friends, but some of us do.

When I sit and think about my different friends, I realize that if I could divinde my life into "eras," they would be in this order:

The Gadsden Era

The Undergraduate Era (divided into two periods, The Freshman-Junior Period and then That Period During Which I Lost My Mind)

That Period During Which My Mind Was Really Gone

The Jessica, Corrie, and Loren Era (my mind found itself)

The Post-College Era

I think that is really wonderful that we manage to find people that we need during each different stage. For example, I had a great group of friends when I was in Gadsden that helped me stay grounded and remember who I am. We had a tight group, and we each had our own different tastes and little roles within the group. Now we weren't perfect, we got into stupid high school fights, but over the years we have become a type of family. Sometimes, our friends, like my Gadsden friends for me, stay with us and stay important to us throughout the years, and sometimes they don't, which is okay too.

Amanda, of course, has been close to me throughout my life, but she is not the only one. There was Laura T, who I was close to for a while, but I have NO idea where she is now. Then there was Fran, who I am lucky enough to see at work almost every day. Catherine, who taught me SO many things and took care of me (since I had lost my mind and all). I don't get to see her as often as I like, but when we talk it is like nothing has changed.

Then there are those friends who mark a turning point for you. Jessica, Corrie and Loren are those girls for me. We lived together when I was in my last year of school and without them, I would not be the person that I am today. When we moved in, I knew Jessica, and not Corrie and Loren, but we all became friends so FAST! We had SO much fun those months that we lived together, and they helped me through a lot of things. Their actions may have been simple or common sense to them, but they were meaningful and profound to me. Of course, it was during that year that I met my wonderful husband, too!

Then I moved to the town where I am now and I made some more friends, and got closer to some that were just aquaintances. I have been lucky enough to become close to some of Hays' friends' wives and girlfriends. I have some great girlfriends from work, and they are very special, too!

I feel so lucky when I think about the friends that I have. I probably don't tell them enough, because I am not good at remembering to send cards, letters, or emails. I hope they all read this and know how important they are to me.

If I can give any advice to anyone, try to stay close to your friends and help them when they need you. You never know when you will need them!

This was the Jessica, Corrie and Loren Era, on Halloween. Were we "Simply Irresistable" or what?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Poll!

Notice the poll that I posted! I will be asking for your opinions from now on, on various issues and photos. The first one is obviously my brother's new hat! He is a very handsome, stylish guy! I wanted pictures of him in his other hats, to see which one everyone liked best, but Sandi asked him and he said "No way." So this will have to do.

It's a ....

GIRL!!! My best friend Amanda found out Friday that her soon to be arriving bundle of joy is, in fact, a girl!!! So, Alyson, I hate to say it, but I TOLD YOU SO. My neice has a name, and it is Emily Renee. Congrats Amanda and Benji!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hays' Mom

I just wanted to let everyone know that Hays' mom, Cindy, fell and broke her right wrist a few weeks ago, and is having surgery today. It is such an inconvenience for her, she does everything with her right hand and is still having complications from when she broke her other wrist a few years ago. Please be praying for a speedy recovery!

Sick Baby

Well, this is a picture of Daisy on Sunday. She did NOT feel good. She didn't eat or poop all day long, and she was so needy and sad. She wouldn't even eat her treats from Petco that smell like cookies and people food! Sunday night, she slept under the bed and I could hear her stomach making awful noises! I was so worried about her all day yesterday, but she ate two treats yesterday afternoon and two bowls of food last night, and was very excited about her treat this morning, so I think she is definitely feeling better now!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Day with Hays' Clan!

Well, after Thursday, we came to Birmingham of Friday and did it all over again with some of Hays' side of the family. It was a great time as always, and the kids, Carter and Camden, were as cute as ever and the stars of the show! Carter looked so cute in his football shirt, and Cam had on his Thanksgiving turkey attire! They were introduced to Lincoln logs, and they were hilarious! They definitely used them more as drumsticks and things to chew on, but it was still really precious. Cute little Cam hates to change clothes, and when it was time to change him he screamed, but then he was fine afterwards! Carter with his Lincloln Logs and football shirt...
Cam telling us what's up!

Thanksgiving day with the McCools

Well, Thanksgiving this year was as fun and crazy as always! It started with a discussion about who was going to sit at which table, and since we don't have any little kids in our family any more it's hard to decide! We decided that we were going to squeeze everyone in at one table, and it was worth it, we had a great time. I will have to say that after eating, I was so uncomfortable that I could only lay down. That can't be healthy! The dogchildren were all tormented by the smell of turkey, which some got and some didn't (Hays is so strict, but I think my mom doesn't care about his rules, she says she and Daisy have "secrets"). My brother made an obscene gesture at the table and had to think fast when my uncle pointed it out to my 91 year old grandmother and he had to explain it. He decided to call it the microphone and she believed him! He also got a some new hats to keep his head warm in the oh so cold Dothan weather. I am adding a picture of one.

Here are some more pictures from the day.

Mom getting the appetizers ready...

The crowded table... notice the piano bench?!

Family Picture!

Sweet baby Chloe and Hays in his PJ's!

Ferocious Beast Chloe!

Birthday Bowling for Lulu and Maggie!

We went to the good ol' Riverview lanes to celebrate Laura Lou and Maggie's birthdays and had a great time. I have to say that I talked a lot of unnecessary trash about my bowling skills. I need some serious practice!

They have started a $1 bowling night where it is only $1 per person per game. It used to be kind of expensive, but $1 per game is a steal!

Friday, November 16, 2007


I am so excited that it is the last day of school before Thanksgiving! I think the thing that I am the most thankful for right now is the fact that I have a whole week before I have to go back. Hays and I will be traveling to Gadsden for the holiday, so I don't know how much blogging will be accomplished. I hope that everyone has safe travels over the week and weekend.

After Thanksgiving, Hays and I will be headed down to Auburn for the game day festivities. We don't have tickets, but hopefully we will have a good time and we will get to see some good friends that we haven't seen in a while.

Daisy has been acting SO needy lately! She is always under our feet and is snuggling up on one of our laps, constantly flipping over for unlimited belly rubs. Maybe it is because it has gotten cold and she needs the warmth. She has no idea that soon we will be going to Granny and Granddad's house and she will get lots and lots of turkey (aka dog crack). In this picture we are playing her favorite game, known in our house as "the crackhead game," because she acts so jacked up when she plays it! Doesn't she look crazy?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Date Night

Lately (well, since the school year started) Hays and I have been having trouble making time for each other. We spend lots of time at home together, yes, but not really "quality time." Most of it involves me watching recorded episodes of "Oprah" and "The Hills" or "The Bachelor," and Hays playing Wii. While I think it is COMPLETELY important that Hays and I indulge in some time for ourselves, no matter how trivial it may seem, we have kind of gotten out of that habit of trying to make an effort to spend some time with each other. We both devote so much time and energy to our jobs that when we get home we just want to relax!

Because of this, Hays came up with the idea of Date Night. We have decided that once a week, no matter what, we are going to catch up with each other and spend some of that much needed quality time together! Our first date is tomorrow night, and I am so excited.

I was watching one of those DVR'd Oprah episodes yesterday and Oprah was showing great love stories. I think the thing that struck me about every story was that people talk about how they really WORK at keeping their relationship alive and showing each other how much they care, and that it is in the "little things" that happen each day. I feel like so many people expect magic and for everything to fall into place, and it doesn't. It is real work, and it is so worth it for what you get in return.

The picture in this post is our very first date (taken by Laura G), and every time I see it I remember how excited I was to go on that date and how lucky I felt to be out with such a great man! And the amazing thing is, he is so much more wonderful than I ever imagined.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The National Peanut Festival

Well, the Peanut Festival was all I expected it to be and MORE! As soon as we got to Dothan, we threw Daisy in Alan and Sandi's house and left to go straight to the festivities. As we drove up, there were MANY flashing lights on the rides and attractions and Alan almost wrecked because he got so excited. We met up with several people who are friends with Alan and Sandi, and they were SO nice. We had trouble deciding if we should eat first or ride rides. We were all starving, and there was so much food, but lots of the rides spun around pretty fast and we were scared we would either eat and be sick or not eat then be too sick to eat. So we decided to get a snack so that we wouldn't be hungry and then ride the rides!

I have to say that these were the best "pop up rides" that I have ever been on. Hays wasn't feeling good (I think he was faking), so I had to ride most of the rides with Alan and Sandi. The first one was a little iffy, it was fun, but if it had lasted longer I definitely would have gotten sick. It was like a pendulum where the end spins around. The second one was called the "Ring of Fire" and it was just a big loop that went around, but stopped at the top to let you hang upside down. This one was the one I wanted to do most, but it was so scary! I got on with Alan and right off the bat, the bar across my legs was not tight enough! It was tight on Alan, but not me, so I was completely convinced that I was falling out of this ride almost the whole time. I had on gloves and my hands kept slipping from the bar I was holding and I thought I was going to fall... then I realized when the ride was almost over that we were basically in a cage and there was no way I could have fallen out, but it sure felt like I was coming out of my seat, so my brother was trying to hold me in the whole time.

The best ride was the "Mega Drop." It was a big free fall. Hays even rode this one! Sandi had stopped riding, but we talked her into doing this one with us and she loved it too! It's funny how scared some people are of the rides. Most of the guys didn't even want to do it, but we talked them into it, and they loved it.

After the rides, we went to experience some lovely fried creations. The first was a corn dog from "the corn dog man." It was definitely the best corn dog I've ever tasted. Then we tried the thing that I was the most excited about... a FRIED SNICKERS! It was SO good! Very rich, but yummy. Hays and I shared both of these, by the way, to cut some of the fat content! Hays also had fried oreos, but I tried them and I liked the Snickers better.

When we got back to the house, Daisy was very upset. I am pretty sure that after the way we put her in the house and left, she thought we were gone for good. She was shaking and wouldn't come out of her crate. I finally coaxed her out and put her in the bed, and she calmed down after a good long belly rub.

There are NO pictures from the Peanut Festival, I was scared my camera would get broken on the rides so I didn't take it in. I will put up more pictures soon though!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A new experience in culture...

This weekend we are heading down to Dothan to see family and go to the 2007 National Peanut Festival. It should be an exciting array of fried food, pop-up rides, wranglers, and of course, PEANUTS! I will be sure to put pictures up when we return!

Monday, November 5, 2007


This past weekend was SO much fun. First of all, my brother and his wife (Alan and Sandi) came to Birmingham to stay with us on Friday night and watch my girls in their last halftime performance of the year. The seniors were SO sad. :(

Saturday we all drove to Gadsden to throw my mother a surprise 60th birthday party. We were so nervous that it wouldn't go well, but it was awesome!

First, my godparents took Mom and Dad out to lunch so we could get in the house to get ready, then Carmela, my godmother called to let me know they were gone. We were off! I was crazy, my uncle said, acting like a "wedding planner," but I was so nervous that they would get back and we wouldn't be done. Our family was there - My aunt and uncle, grandmother, granddad, Alan, Sandi, Hays, me, and all of the dogchildren, too! The plan was to have everything ready when she got home and let my mom think that we were the only surprise! We hid our cars, of course, and she came in, and we yelled Surprise! and I think we scared her a little, but she was surprised. We had all the food set up in the dining room, and I wouldn't let her in there... so she knew something else was up! Then, one by one, her friends began to arrive, and she was so shocked! They brought gifts, sang to mom, and then the family stayed for a long time. I think she enjoyed it!
The picture is of the family after the long day and several glasses of wine! Sandi's hair is growing back beautifully!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I am going to be an aunt!

Okay, so TECHNICALLY I am not becoming an aunt. But it sure feels like I am. This is Peanut. Peanut is a fetus, belonging to my friend Amanda and her husband Benji. I don't know what sex Peanut is yet, but in my heart I feel like Peanut is female. Alyson, don't fight me on this. If I am wrong, you can say you told me so.

Let me explain why I feel so much like I am becoming an aunt.

I met Amanda in elementary school. As soon as we were in the same 5th grade class, we became inseperable. We even dressed alike, on purpose, and lied to people about it. WE WERE JUST THAT MUCH ALIKE. From 5th grade on we have been friends. But not the kind of friends that call each other up and go do something together every once in a while because you are bored. We were the kind of friends that were so involved in each other's lives that you couldn't do something without the other knowing about it. EVER. It really annoyed our parents, I think.

Amanda had the good fortune to have a sister, but I didn't have a true sister until my brother married Sandi. Amanda was my SISTER, in every sense of the word. We lived together in college, for all but one year out of the five that we were at the same school at the same time. To quote Amanda's wedding toast, "there is nothing in my life that she hasn't been a part of."

Amanda has been there for me through good times and BAD, and through one particular relationship she stood by my side (looking at me like I was stupid most of the time, which I was, but that is neither here nor there), and each time I fell she picked me up over and over again, even though I kept going down further each time.

She has always been my conscience, the angel on my shoulder. The inside voice that I hate to hear when I know I should listen.
When Amanda told me she was pregnant I started crying. I felt so many things at that second that it was the only emotion to come out. I felt so excited,happy, and only about 2% jealous. I also thought about that baby and how much I hope it looks like Amanda and not Benji. Sorry Beej, but I know you hope so too!
So that is why I feel like an aunt.
By the way, in the picture, my neice is sucking her thumb. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Umm, can you say SCARED?

Okay, I am officially scared of the whole baby phenomenon. Today we are having a baby shower at work. The woman had her baby at the very beginning of the year, so she already knows what she needs, and requested diapers. Yesterday Hays and I took our weekly trip to the grocery store, so I left him in the "manly" hygiene section and went to the scary foreign land known as "the baby aisle" to pick up some diapers. After FINALLY finding the right size, I looked at the price. TEN DOLLARS? For diapers? Oh my gosh!

When I found Hays again, I asked him (because he is a financial advisor and I thought he would be able to tell me the cost of diapers for a month) how long a pack of 40 diapers would last. This was the conversation.
Me: How long will a package of 40 diapers last
Hays: I don't know.

Me: Well, how many times do you think you would have to change a diaper during the day?
Hays: I don't know, like three?

Me: A baby goes to the bathroom a lot more than three times a day!
Hays: (Completely serious) But you don't have to change their diaper every time they go.

This gave me a whole new reason to be scared!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Why blog?

In the quest to figure out what my friends are up to, I have been reading their blogs. These friends seem to have such an eloquent and funny way of expressing their thoughts, and I love hearing about what is going on in their very different worlds. Good job, Stewart and Laura! So, I thought I would join the in the fun and tell people about all the things that are going on in the "Latimer World."

I feel like so much has happened this year, but when I talk to my friends and they ask "what are you doing?" or "what's new?" I always reply with the standard answers "nothing new" or "same old stuff, just work." It must seem SO boring! I, however, do not view my life as boring. Let's take today for example, with a little background information to explain:

I am a teacher (high school Biology) and for the past three years I have been blessed with Honors students. The kind of students who soak up every bit of information that is given to them and they can't WAIT to spout it back to you. This year, I have a few general classes, but only one this semester. I have to tell you that I was dreading this class, and they have given me quite a few tough days in this first nine weeks. Today was a different story. I was grading tests this morning, and the first one I graded belonged to a young guy who I'll call "Joe." Joe failed Biology last year, and Joe and I have had a few "come to Jesus" moments in class. During our last one in the hallway, I stopped and listened, REALLY listened to what he was saying. I don't know how many people have really listened to this kid in his 16 years, but I have a feeling that it hasn't been the norm for him. So Joe and I came to an understanding that if he would try and do his work and really make an effort in class, I would listen to him, and give him the benefit of the doubt from now on. Since that day, he has been a different kid. He has been awake every day in class, taking notes, being respectful, and giving me his attention. In turn, I have been encouraging him at each step, even when there has been little or no improvement. Today, his work paid off! I finished grading his test, and he made a B! He has not passed a test yet in my class, and today he made a B! I was so excited to tell him when he got to my classroom today, and the look on his face is worth all of the stress, anger, and frustration that this class has put me through.

Sometimes I wonder why I became a teacher. It is so much work, a truly thankless job. Why do I do it, when most days kids sigh, complain, and roll their eyes when I have high expectations? Today I was reminded again of why God put me in this place. I am truly blessed to be here, and it is in the little things that I realize that this job is worth all of the stress and lost sleep. I thank God for the Joes of the world that remind me why I am here.

Other things I am thankful for today:
1. My wonderful, patient, understanding, selfless husband.
2. My sister-in-law Sandi, who has to be the strongest person I know. She recently had a VERY good CT scan and is improving every day, fighing cancer with beauty, grace, and humor.
3. My dancers, who help fill my mind with endless "girl drama" and give me a sense of pride that is impossible to put into words. I can't wait to watch them perform TWICE today!