Saturday, April 1, 2006
We woke up and had a nice morning capped off by waffles. I thought we did anyway. After a while we went out to do some running around; went to the mall, got groceries and some other stuff from Wal-Mart, that sort of thing. We went by Circuit City while we were over on that side of town and picked up a memory card reader. I really needed something for the laptop.

After we got back we watched George Mason get taken apart by Florida. Midnight for Cinderella, as everyone was saying. They were down by a good little bit with three minutes left, but they were within a range that, if they were really lucky, they could have made a nice run. Instead, they gave up at that point. I’m not a successful men’s college basketball coach (or a coach of any kind, really) but I would have had my guys fouling sometime around that three minute mark. Instead they just sat there, which pissed off Amanda. I mean she was really mad about it! She was yelling at the TV and saying if they were giving up like that they didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. I can’t say I agreed with her, but it was fun watching her get worked up about a basketball game.

Sunday, April 2, 2006
I remembered to change the clock last night, but even though I corrected Amanda earlier in the day that it was “Spring forward, fall back,” I had set the clock back instead of forward before going to bed. Fortunately she pointed it out. Then, even though I set the time for the alarm, I forgot to turn it on until Amanda asked if I had. She almost didn’t ask. Good thing she did.

Amanda and I got up and went to the 8:30 service. We had Ben and Jessica over for waffles then did a bit of cleaning before Amanda’s dad got here to look at Brian’s house with us. We promised him lunch for his efforts, so we took him to Elizabeth’s Pizza and shared a pepperoni pie with him.

We got to Brian’s at about ten ’til three. We were pretty early so we took some time driving through the neighborhood. It’s a small one, so it didn’t really take This will hopefully be our new home! :: Zach Dotseymuch time. When we pulled up Brian was just heading inside from taking out the trash. He took us through the house while Angela, his wife, looked after Miranda, their baby. After that he took us outside and showed us around a bit. He did his best to point out all the negatives he could think of. We ended up out front where he left us to talk. Amanda and I went back through the house, giddy and making plans, while Brian and Phil talked.

All told we were probably there close to two hours. We decided that if we got it we’d put a door at the top of the stairs and turn the large open room into the bedroom with the other smaller (but still sizeable) room into my office, which is backwards of how Brian had it. If Amanda’s brother Michael were to move in with us for a while we figured we’d give him the front-facing room downstairs and the last room would be the guest room. We plotted out how we’d want the living room, what we’d do to maximize kitchen space (the only real downside to the house) and what colors we’d want where.

If it needs to be said, we really liked the house. After we were done looking around, Brian tried to keep thinking up negatives about the house, but really he just wanted to make sure we were informed and didn’t feel pressured into getting the house. He did say that they really liked the house. They’re moving closer to Angela’s family to help with the baby.

On the way back we all discussed it. Phil couldn’t find anything majorly wrong with the house. Amanda found out from her mom that they were going to help us with the closing costs, which is such a blessing. Apparently Karen and Phil have been planning on that since we started getting serious about looking at houses.

We’re so excited. I called Brian a little later and told him we really liked it and wanted to go ahead and get things started towards taking the house off their hands.

I think we’re getting a house!

Monday, April 3, 2006
Fortunately work wasn’t overly busy today. I was able to catch up on a number of things I wasn’t able to finish earlier and then met with Brian at Bear Rock to discuss the new joint venture he and Scott are going into. This was the most time I’ve actually spent with Brian (who said I look like a bank robber; I can only assume he means the suave George Clooney type of bank robber!), and I think it helped our working relationship. We got to see a little more about how each other’s minds work, which will be helpful going forward. We have a good bit in common too.

I picked up dinner on the way out of there for Amanda. She’s going to have Dave from work draw up a contract for us, her dad helped us find an appraiser and an inspector (both in one, actually). Earl, Amanda’s grandpa, called to say he had a guy who could help us out with an inspection as well. We’re so blessed to have such a helpful, loving family.

Oh, I also found out that I’m almost done with car payments on the Cutlass, which will help things out a lot. I found that out when I called Aunt Robbie (from whom I have been buying the car for the past few years) during the Florida-George Mason game the other day.

Speaking of basketball, I forgot about it for a good chunk of the first half, but Florida had UCLA beat the entire time. I don’t think it got any closer than 13 or 15 points the whole time I was watching. It was a pretty boring game, really, which was a let-down after all the close tournament games this year. Good for Florida though. I was pulling for them because UCLA has too many championships already.

Other than all that I’ve been playing some Stronghold lately. I played some of that then caught up on some My Space messages from Marci Piddington and Amanda Wade (both of whom I knew a little in high school- Marci also went to St. Matthews, but we never really knew each other) and Charlie Collicutt and Kris Saintsing from college. The internet is great for finding people and keeping in touch with them, even a little. I hear about how evil My Space is, and I know it’s such a trendy thing, but it’s been a nice tool for finding and keeping up with friends, family and people I hardly knew.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006 – Happy Birthday Sarah Denning
I slept pretty good last night and this morning. Usually I sleep only off and on after Amanda gets up and I finally get up myself around 8:00. This morning I didn’t even realize any time had passed by the time she kissed me good bye. I went back to sleep and woke up again at about a quarter after. I thought about going back to sleep some more but decided to go ahead and get up.

Today felt pretty productive. With the addition of sales people, I’ve had more time to focus on the support and some managing. I met with a lawyer client of ours to mostly end out the day. In between everything I worked on things for the loan, like lining up a guy for the appraisal and inspection, contacting a lawyer, getting questions answered and the like.

After work, Amanda and I met Chris (formerly Schoch) and Dave Mowbray. Chris, aside from being a friend of mine from high school, is Amanda’s boss and has some experience in real estate. She helped us out with the contract over dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Oh, I officially won the tournament pool I was in. Best $10 investment I ever made! Here is the acceptance speech I posted on the Yahoo fantasy sports site Banks used to set it up:

Well hot damn, folks! I’ve never won one of these before. Maybe I should ride my luck and go get one of those fancy new NC lotto tickets.

I’d like to thank God, the Academy, my beautiful wife and most of all the fans. Oh, and Mel Gibson. Mel, you’re truly an inspiration. Thank you folks, thank you so much. You don’t know how much this means!

(Cue music)

Duke and Maryland are playing the NCAA women’s championship game tonight, by the way. Go ACC, huh? Of course, it’d be nicer if I cared more. But at least Carolina didn’t make it, and it is Duke in the final game. Gotta take what I can get I suppose. Man, I really wish JJ and Sheldon could have capped off their careers with a championship win.

Actually, I just looked at the score and it was tied up with a three point shot by Maryland to force OT. I’m actually intrigued now. Okay, I watched the end of the game and Duke lost by three. Figures. That’s what I get for deciding to care.

I was pretty excited (having never won one of these before) and decided to e-mail just about everyone in my address book about that with a small note at the end telling everyone we’d found a house. I also did it, in part, to get in touch with a lot of people I haven’t talked to in some time. I’ve heard back so far from Aunt Robbie, Jason, Cousin Dave, Kelia (formerly Hester) Pless, Ed Stone, Sarah Denning (whose birthday I also mentioned in my e-mail) and Nikki Gajowski. I had a few little back and forth e-mails, mostly with Nikki. It’s good to catch up with people.

A lot of people have been asking for pictures of the house, and so far I’ve only been sending links to the picture you see on the April 2 entry above. So, without further ado, here are some more pictures….

Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Today was mostly taken up with a bunch of little support things, but I was finally able to get started on the big new project.

Brian told me today they’re going to have a lawyer go over the contract with them, as they were advised to do more than once. We of course have no problem with that, but hope it goes quickly so we can get things moving. That’s the only house news today.

Amanda and I met Ben and Jessica over at PT’s. Kim was called into work and Rob was out of town in Charlotte, so Paul and Kristen didn’t come out. We had a nice time though, just sitting outside and eating and talking. On the way back we stopped to get some gas and a dessert- a Klondike Bar for me and an ice cream Snickers for Amanda. The guy at the counter asked if I ever put the regular bars in the freezer. I told him I wasn’t sure if I did that with Snickers bars, but I did tell him I put Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls in the freezer. We both agreed they were very good that way. I only mention it because it was different.

The weather’s been nice lately. Well, for the most part. There was a pretty strong storm the night before last that blew in from Raleigh and Durham that knocked some small branches off one of the trees in the backyard and one in the backyard of the neighbor’s house, the one who died a few months back. Her family had been around lately.

In the news, some kids on the Duke lacrosse team raped a stripper last week, which has become national news. Allegedly, of course. There’s been a huge stink, particularly because the accused were white and the girl was black. The coach resigned, which I don’t think was necessary. Of course this makes Duke look real bad.

Coach Herb Sendek of NC State is leaving to go coach at Arizona. Eric Boateng, a freshman center at Duke, is leaving to play elsewhere, which is disappointing. He didn’t get much play this year, but he was pretty much assured it for next year.

I just heard that pay by touch is available at all of the Harris Teeter grocery stores in Wilmington. I suppose that’ll be more prevalent in a year. I’ll probably look back on this one day and laugh that it’s such a new and wondrous thing. I still remember the first time I saw self-checkout at a grocery store. I was with my dad a couple years ago at the Kroger in across from West Point on the Eno. We thought it was pretty cool and tried it out. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Thursday, April 6 , 2006
I forgot to do something yesterday. I forgot to make a note of the clock at 1:02 and 3 seconds (am or pm). The special note of it being that it was 01:02:03 on 04-05-06. Twice in a lifetime chance (if you’re not on military time) and I missed it. Ah well.

Not too much to report on today, except the problem they were having where Amanda works with the updated program just seems to be getting worse. Amanda was telling me about it at lunch while I made faces at a baby sitting in the booth behind her.

I met Brian at Bear Rock to go over some project planning strategies that I feel were pretty helpful. I picked up some dinner for Amanda again on the way out. She wasn’t feeling well this evening so I ran to the local Food Lion and got her some break & bake cookies.

Friday, April 7 , 2006
I was able to catch up on a lot of work today. I went over to Brian’s (our future) house today to look at a possible water spot. It looked fine to me and we even made a small hole to check on the other side of the drywall, but it seemed fine to me. I guess the inspector wil be able to say for sure. I hung out and talked to Brian for a few minutes before heading on back to home and work.

Amanda was very frustrated with work today. We had planned on going to a concert downtown, but she was just not in the mood. Instead we relaxed and watched some tv. I looked through some of the really old games I’ve got an put in Populous II or Populous The Beginning or some such. The original Populous was one of the games I played after school at Mum Mum and Pup Pup’s. I eventually got it for the Super Nintendo. The second one is really nothing like the first.

Saturday, April 8 , 2006
Amanda went out with her friend Amy (formerly Brower) Farmer today, along with another friend of Amy’s who lives here in town. Tiffany I think. They met at Ruby Tuesday at the mall and ate lunch whilst I took advantage of the beautiful weather and sat at the picnic table out back drinking water, eating peanuts and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and finishing Wicked. I’ve been putting of finishing the book until I could find a time to read the last 40 or so pages all together. It really kills the momentum of a book when you finish with just the last few pages. You don’t get to savor it.

After Amanda got back we did some cleaning then went through all of our clothes to get rid of some. Amanda got rid of three bags and a bunch of shoes, I got rid of one bag, including a few pairs of shoes. We went to a place downtown to donate our stuff, but nobody was there. The Azalea Festival was going on this week, and the roads leading back from downtown were ridiculously busy so that, on our path back to the Salvation Army (our second choice) near our house took us on a very windy, traffic-averting route. Despite the sign on the door indicating the situation should have been otherwise, there was nobody at the Salvation Army. Hence, we took the bags home and planned to drop them off at a church in Richlands tomorrow. Adam did come by after work (the nice day gave way to rain by that point) and took a few of the things from my bag.

Sunday, April 9 , 2006
We slept in a little today since we were planning on going to Richlands anyway. So we got up, went to Richlands then headed straight on to Greenville in the Karenmobile with Karen and Phil. Phil’s sister’s family was there when we pulled up to the assisted living home where his aunt, Grandma Bowlin, currently resides. We talked with them; Ona, Peter, Stanton and William, for a bit. Stanton’s my age and William is I think a year younger than Amanda. We haven’t seen them in probably two years, which is a shame since they’re pretty easy to get along with.

We all went in and talked with Mrs. Bowlin for a minute (I hung back, feeling a little awkward about it, and since she doesn’t really know me anyway) and her son, Paul, arrived with his wife, Linda, and their kids Jessica and Wesley. They’re both much younger, and have what I’d call Mercer eyes. I’m not 100% sure how that is, since I’m not sure in which way Mrs. Bowlin is Phil’s aunt. But they definitely have Mercer eyes.

We all went out to a BBQ place for lunch. Amanda and I mostly talked with Stanton and WIlliam and watched Wesley cut up and in other ways decimate his French fries. After a bit we went back to the home and sat around, appropos, in a sitting room. I’d brought the laptop in case people wanted to see the pictures of the house, and of course it came up so they did. The biggest interaction Ihad with Mrs. Bowlin was when I showed her the pictures on the laptop.

Monday, April 10 , 2006
The weather, rather, the house, was cold for most of the day even though it was nice outside. I even had the heaters on for quite a while. Amanda was pretty stressed after work. I wanted to go for a walk because it was nice out and at first she wasn’t going to go, but she ended up deciding to. So we had a nice walk around with neighborhood with Bruce. I was a little disappointed that the Chihuahuas didn’t spill out of the Chihuahua house- one that we pass on the walk out from which a gaggle or the tiny dogs usually emerges out to bark greetings at their kin on the other side of the fence at the end of the leash in my or Amanda’s hand.

Phil was in town doing an appraisal nearby and stopped in at the house for a few minutes. He’d called before coming by, but I was on the phone. He checked his e-mail, we chatted a bit, then he was on his way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I wasn’t feeling great this afternoon, which was the result of either breakfast or lunch. It kind of messed with my ability to get work done, and I don’t think I’m 100% better even yet.

After work we planned on going to Wal-Mart and Buffalo Wild Wings, the ones over on the college side of town. We took our time getting out there though, so we didn’t do Wally World and as a result, we’re a little low on supplies over here. We went over to Brian’s (our future) home to go over the contract with him and Angela; get it all signed and taken care of. Brian and I got to talking shop to the point that Angela had to remind us (well, she said it to Brian, but I had to be reminded too) that Amanda was trying to get home in time for American Idol.

They were doing Queen songs tonight, which I thought was going to be extremely interesting. I may be crucified by some of my friends for saying this, but last year, Constantine Maroulis did a terrific job with Bohemian Rhapsody (apologies to my particular friend who thinks he butchered it, but you know how high a regard I hold Queen, and I think he knocked it out) but most Queen songs are beyond the ability of most people. I mean, how do you emulate Freddy Mercury?

It was a mixed night. I think Bucky did well with Fat Bottomed Girls, which is one I thought he’d be good with as soon as I heard the first chords of the song in the video package with the band. Ace got bad reviews from the judges for his rendition of We Will Rock You, but I thought it was interesting. Kellie didn’t pull off Bohemian Rhapsody in part because of her country twang and in part because of the choppy arrangement. I agreed with Simon that Chris did alright, but could have really shined if he’d picked a song that people knew; I thought he’d have done really well with Another One Bites the Dust, which, oddly, nobody sang. Katherine didn’t do too well with Who Wants to Live Forever, but the judges liked it. Elliot picked Somebody to Love, which I thought would be a good choice for either him or Taylor, and he did okay with parts of it, though I felt uneasy about it at first. Taylor did the best of the night with Crazy Little Thing Called Love, bringing back the energy he hasn’t shown in the past few weeks, even if his kick at the mic stand missed on the first shot. Paris did well too with Show Must Go On, better at least than she has lately, although I didn’t think it was spectacular.

I think my least favorite performances tonight were Kellie or Katherine, although I feel like I should be more down on Ace’s performance. I guess I just want to give him points for originality, but I have a feeling that he will be the one going home. I liked that he opened up a little finally tonight, got a little looser and moved away from the boy band pop he’s been doing (although he did pop up We Will Rock You). Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

In the news, Iran announced that they’ve developed enriched uranium or some such. Basically, they now have nuclear power. The Duke lacrosse team’s DNA samples were reported yesterday, and nobody’s DNA matches anything from the stripper who reported the incident. Photos have surfaced from when she first got to the house that show she was already a little bruised and banged up. The DA has decided to go ahead with the prosecution solely on testimony, although there’s speculation that he’s only doing it because of the big racial issue in the case and he’s a white male running against a white woman and a black man in the next election. I guess we’ll see.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Bucky ended up leaving, even though I thought his Fat Bottomed Girls was one of the best performances of the night, and he probably showed the most improvement of any of the contestants. Amanda was pretty upset. She figured he wouldn’t win it all, but he’s a North Carolina boy and if all the NC people (Chris and Kellie should be around for a while longer yet) had made it a couple more weeks, a full half of the American Idol contestants would be North Carolina natives.

Anyway, enough about that show. Group was good tonight. Paul and Kim ended up not coming, which we found out about two hoursbefore we were all going to get together. We met everyone else at the Port City Java at Lumina Station. Amanda and I got there early and walked around a little bit, but apparently just about every shop there closes early.

We had a really good meeting. The discussion was about recommitting to the whole thing and we were all in agreement about it. There are just too many times when people skip out, and we hated having this discussion without Paul and Kim, but Amanda and I have been talking about having it for some time. I think things will get better. We even agreed to let everyone know if Wednesday night wasn’t going to work for someone so we could change the night we get together. I’m hopeful.

Oh, we also found out that we needed an FHA addendum with our contract, so I picked up copies of that and Amanda and I swung by Brian and Angela’s (our future) house to get those signed. We’ve set a closing date- Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Well, I think my boss, Scott, had his second daughter today. We never heard anything, so hopefully the old adage that “no news is good news” holds. Fortunately today wasn’t overly busy, which allowed me to run around and drop off the contract for our house off at Brian and Angela’s attorney (along with a good faith check), our mortgage company and the attorney referred to us by Ben and Jessica. The lady I talked to there had nothing but good to say regarding Patrick Moore and Dover Mortgage (of our mortgage company, obviously). She also gave us one more form to fill out, well, one for us and one for the Gibsons, but at least this one is informational and not a legal one.

So anyway, a chunk of my day was spent running around, but fortunately, like I said, it wasn’t overly busy. Bruce wanted to go outside shortly before I left and wouldn’t come in, so I was going to leave him in the backyard. He started trying to get through the fence when he saw I was leaving, so I brought him along. Brian and I were standing in the front yard of his (our future) house and saw Bruce in the car, so I pulled him out and let him take a look at his future home. He didn’t get to go in yet- Brian said his Chihuahuas don’t much like other dogs. He and Angela both said, of course, that Bruce is a very pretty dog.

We had chicken and noodles for dinner, along with some green beans. Amanda’s old schoolmate, Tiffany, referred some wedding photog business my way. Her dad’s fiancée’s son’s wedding, early June. I really need to work on my photography site.

Friday, April 14, 2006
Ava Michelle Hendrix was born yesterday. Scott sent pictures and she looks a lot like him I think. Congratulations to the new (second time veteran) mom and dad, as well as the new big sister and all the rest of the family.

I worked in the morning, answering and brushing up on a number of tickets. I got two work related phone calls all day. On top of that, Joey Palieri, a friend of mine from back in the Marketing days, was in town and came by. Amanda was off work today and she went out with Jessica to do girly things. Joey hung around and played Halo while I did some work. After I finished up, Joey and I walked around downtown a bit. We went to one place for lunch (forget the name of it, but it’s right on Water Street) and waited probably close to ten minutes after being seated before deciding to leave. In that time nobody even greeted us, much less took our drink orders. So for lunch we got some hot dogs from a stand near Market Street.

We got back and played a little co-op Halo 2. Amanda eventually came home. She and Jessica had gone shopping and walked on the beach. The house next to Anna and Barry’s is being torn down (for another house to be built) and Anna had been given permission to raid whatever she wanted from what was left there. The girls got a bunch of flowers and other plants. Amanda mentioned how great it would be to be able to pull up the hardwood floors before the place gets wrecked, but I don’t think we’ll have a chance to do that. There are some doors on the house though that we may get. It’d be nice to have some history (the house was built in the ’30’s) co-opted into our house to be.

Joey went to get a friend of his, Mike, then came back to our place. Amanda took a shower while they were gone then we all headed over to Dockside for dinner. I think we had to wait close to an hour, but the weather was nice and I think we hit it off with Mike pretty well, so the conversation was good. The parking attendant asked me to get him a G&T. We actually really lucked out in finding a spot there. The parking lot was full but somebody pulled out right as we were backing out of the parking lot (which is very narrow- and it’s a good thing we were backing out because another car was trying to get out too, and there’s no way we could have gotten around each other).

I’ve often thought it’d be nice to have a motorcycle, especially in this town, and Joey just so happens to sell motorcycle parts and knows a thing or two about them. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get him to help me get one.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 – Happy 29th Anniversary to Jerry and Rhonda Dotsey!
What a full day we had today. It started off with a call from Phil saying he was in town and could come get Bruce. (With the day we had planned Bruce would have been by himself all day, which isn’t so bad for him, but isn’t so good for whatever he’d decide to pee on.) I’d been up for a few minutes and Phil said he’d be coming in around 10:00. (He had some business to attend to down here anyway, and Amanda had called the house the night before to see if anyone could meet us to pick up and watch the puppy.)

As soon as he got Bruce we headed out to Ben and Jessica’s. Amanda stopped at the Shipyard Port City Java to pick up muffins and something to drink. She forgot to get me a water, so after giving her a hard time about it I went in to get one myself, but there was a line by then and I didn’t feel like waiting inline to get a free cup of water, so we drove to the the Eckerds down the street and Shipyard and College. There I got an orange juice and corrected the cashier about the amount she gave me back (a small matter of about twelve cents, which was actually in my favor anyway). From there we went on to see the Lambeths.

I should mention in here that I called my parents to wish them a happy 29th anniversary while we were on the way to the PCJ. My dad said he’d just gotten off the phone with Baba and Pap (my remaining grandparents) and that they were doing well. I updated him on the house situation and told him he should mark the weekend of the 6th of May for coming to help us move, if he was so inclined. He also said Erin was thinking more about moving back here from St. Thomas, where she’s been for, geez, a couple years now I guess. Andra had asked them to come down to Gastonia for Easter, but they’d decided to spend their anniversary weekend together instead. My mom was out riding horses with some friends and my dad said there were a bunch of trailers parked out on the lawn. Amanda had guessed that my parents were spending their anniversary with my mom riding and my dad golfing. She was half right anyway.

So we got to Ben and Jessica’s around 11:00. The ladies planted the stuff Jessica got from Anna and Barry’s neighbor’s house while I removed wood around the screens on their back porch and Ben removed nails and staples. All in all it was productive and it felt good to do some work like that. Of course, it probably feels better doing other people’s work and leaving than it does to do your own and have to stay where the work in progress resides. Guess I’ll find out soon.

We ate some lunch after the girls finished planting and Ben and I removed all the old screens and hammered in or removed all the nails. Everyone took showers then we sat around for a little while until we left to go to Rob Peterson’s parents’ house. They were throwing a birthday party for his mom which involved a bit of a pig pickin’. They live in Jacksonville and Jessica appreciated seeing a nicer side of the town than what she sees every day on the way in to work.

We had a nice time and Rob and Kristen kept thanking us for coming out. We played some volleyball in the neighbors yard with a bunch of the younger kids. Amanda’s forearm is swollen from hitting the ball so much. It would have been nice to play an actual game, but we had a good time nonetheless. This one little kid, Tristan, I kept picking him up so he could throw the ball over the net. He kept wanting a turn to serve, so whenever we had to give the ball back to the other side, I told him that could be his turn.

We ate, talked to people, ate some more and finally left around 8:00. I drove us back from Ben and Jessica’s and we watched this past week’s episode of South Park on returning. There was a bit in it about Comedy Central censoring an image of the prophet Mohammad, and I wonder somewhat as to whether it was a joke or they actually were censored. If they were it was nice of the network to let the show take a jab at them in the process.

Amanda went to bed after that and now I’m sitting here, pondering waiting up another hour so I can eat a Sweet Tart from the roll that has been sitting on the little table next to the TV to tempt me for the duration of Lent. I’m thinking I’ll probably just go to bed, since were going to the 8:30 service at church tomorrow. Besides, I suppose I should go to bed so the Easter Bunny can come.

Sunday, April 16, 2006 – Happy Easter!
Okay, I ended up waiting until midnight then eating a few Sweet Tarts. The first one out of the package was a sweet little lemon flavored yellow deal. In my defense, I was also looking for pictures to update my profile with. Hmm. That’s really not much of a defense.

We went to the 8:30 service at church as usual today. Amanda and I got there 15 minutes early, but even at that point we had a hard time finding four seats together (since we usually sit with Ben and Jessica and our regular places were taken). I can’t imagine what the 10:30 service must have been like.

Amanda and I went on home after that and had some waffles for breakfast and celebrated the Risen Lord by watching the last couple episodes of Scrubs that were on the DVR. We watched a little more tv, then, being bored with that, decided to go ahead on to Richlands instead of waiting longer and going straight to Beulaville. I think mainly Amanda wanted to see Bruce, who jumped in the car when we pulled up the driveway. He stank from playing outside and probably rolling on dead frogs and other sundry nastiness, but we were both happy to see our puppy.

Karen was the only person home; Michael was out practicing with the band he’s joined up with and Phil was doing some work. Amanda and her momma did some planty things while I stretched out on the recliner for a little snoozer.

We headed over to the Lemonses, Amanda’s grandparents’ house, at about 4:00. Michael was already there and Phil arrived shortly after. While Michael and I were playing Ghost Recon 3 or whatever on the Xbox 360, the Frazelles arrived, followed by Michael’s girlfriend, Sarah. Before that, I sat around talking politics with Amanda’s mom and grandfather. When it came to the immigration topic, I think we all agreed that it’d be impossible to truck eleven million people out of the country and that the first thing that needs to be done is to plug up the border.

Anyway, dinner was really good. I had a number of biscuits and a couple apple dumplings that Amanda’s grandma made. They went over real well. After dinner we all sat around and watched some TV and talked. We ended up leaving around 9:00 I think. I didn’t feel my phone in my pocket, so Amanda and I had a moment of dread that we’d have to turn back after getting to I-40 already, but it turns out that I had (as I thought) left it at home.

Monday, April 17, 2006
I decided, yet again, to start jogging again yesterday. It should last until it rains at least. I tend to do pretty good with it until I miss a day or two to rain. Gets me off my flow. Anyway, I got up early and jogged over to Northern Blvd, up to the top of the neighborhood at Washington, walked half a block and then jogged over to Southern then halfway back down to Harrison before finishing off with a cool-down walk.

I took care of a few house-buying-related things and stopped by Scott’s house to pick up my first ever subpoena. It has to do with a client of ours and a lawsuit they are in with another company. I really can’t be of any help, since I already looked for the things they want a few months ago on behalf of our client. Shouldn’t be a big deal.

More importantly I got to see little Ava Michelle. When I stopped by Scott’s, his mother-in-law and sister-in-law were in the living room and the little four day old was lying on her grandma’s lap.

There was a pretty intense storm for a little while just after Amanda got home. Hail, winds, thunder and lightning plus tornado warnings. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
So I was planning on running today, but I think I pushed myself a little too far yesterday considering how much I haven’t run in a while. At 11:00 PM I’m still really sore. So I did some stretches and figured I’d rest up today. Last night’s rain brought a little bit of cold with it, but the sun was warm again by the afternoon.

The internet was down for most of the day, but I was able to stay busy with phone calls for most of the afternoon.

Amanda and I met Rob and Kristen at Buffalo Wild Wings then met up with Ben and Jessica (Paul and Kim had company tonight) at the Saltshaker to look at books and such. We decided to meet there again next week as we couldn’t decide on what to get before the place closed.

I talked to Andra, who will be coming to town this weekend for a wedding, which is a shame since we will be out of town at a wedding. Andra, Josh and Jackson will probably be staying here this weekend. I returned a call from Adam after getting home. He was excited because he had called Surf 98.3 and qualified for a contest or some such. He talked to the DJ for a bit and parts of his conversation were recut and used on air.

We watched American Idol after we got home. We heard they were doing Rod Stewart songs, which we thought would be nice, but we were a little disappointed when it came out that they were doing songs from his collection of remakes. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Everyone did pretty well except for little Kellie Pickler. She didn’t do bad, but everyone else did really well. Amanda and I decided that Chris and Taylor were going to be safe. At this point, anybody could go home although it’s been at the point where you hate to see anyone have to go.

There was a reference to a Taylor Hicks impersonation on this week’s Saturday Night Live tonight on Idol so Amanda decided to watch that before turning in. How much of a compliment is that for him? Taylor had a pretty good sense of humor about it, and it was a pretty good impersonation. (It was on during the Weekend Update segment.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I did jog again today. Same route as before, but this time my right knee was really hurting, so I jogged all the way up to Washington, walked that, then jogged back down Southern. I passed a few groups of kids waiting on the bus, and one of them said Bruce was cute. Oh yeah, I brought Bruce with me today. Last time I tried jogging with him he’d stop every few feet and it just wasn’t very productive, but he did really well this time. We stopped at one point for him to talk to another dog.

I did a little running around for house stuff this afternoon, but for the most part I was catching up on yesterday’s lack of internet service. Other than that Amanda and I caught up on some tv. I really need to watch the Sopranos episodes I’ve got saved- they’re taking up a lot of space.

My buddy Joel Freeman called this evening and while I was talking to him Amanda shooed me out of the house to go pick up some Red Baron pizzas from the store. She said it’s easier to get me to go to the store when I’m on the phone. It’s just harder for me to argue back when I’m talking to someone already.

Ace finally got voted off American Idol. He’s been at the bottom a lot, but he actually, I thought, did his best this week. At this point though, anybody could get voted off. He, Chris and Paris were the bottom three, which was a bit of a surprise. I actually expected that Kellie might be the one going home, but I think she’s got a big enough fan base to keep her there for a while. Chris being in the bottom was a shocker. He did What a Wonderful World last night- a big departure from his alternative rock songs, but still did terrific with it. One of the best, in my opinion. Paris did well too and was finally starting to deliver more on the promise she showed early on, but I thought her song was a little boring. She sang it great, it was just a little boring to me.

Thursday, April 20 , 2006
I jogged today and my knee, once again, started hurting on the latter part of Northern. Guess I’m getting old. I walked a little further on Washington than before, but I pushed myself a little further coming back down Southern to make up for it. My knee didn’t hurt as bad on the last stretch, so I guess the extra walking did some good.

Friday, April 21, 2006
I skipped the jog in favor of packing today. We left around noon to head to Rougemont. Our neighbors were leaving tonight. Actually, they are the son and daughter-in-law of our deceased neighbor, Ms. Vera Lee. They’ve been around for a few weeks now painting the house and just generally fixing it up. Anyway, I had asked him if he would mind bringing the trash can in, since the trash usually comes late on Friday afternoons and we didn’t want to leave our receptacle outside all weekend. It came early, and when Amanda got home she asked why I had put the can behind the fence (as we usually leave it on the outside of the fence), so I went over and thanked him. I’ll miss their dog. They have a little minpin that they let run around. She never goes far from the house, but she would often come over after I’d pulled into the driveway to see what was going on. I think her name was Daisy or some such.

Anyway, I was able to get a lot done this morning, including picking out clothes and getting things ready for the trip so that, by the time Amanda came home at noon, we were pretty much ready. We did stop by The Men’s Warehouse and the mall to see if we could find any light gray or khaki suits in my size (since all I have is a black one) and they did not. Stupid short genes.

So we grabbed some Chick-Fil-A on the way out of the mall and were on our way to merry Rougemont after a pit stop at Target. Amanda drove. We got to the house in just about enough time for me to say hi to Mom and figure out the shortest route to Oxford via Mapquest, although I had to trick it with my directions. If I put in the addresses of my parents’ house and the church where Jon and Denise are getting married, it told me to either go all the way back through Durham and get on 85 or t go all the way up to Roxboro and take 158. I found that I could go up Rougemont Road to Moriah and come out on 158 halfway between Roxboro and Oxford in the grand town of Berea, which I had never heard of before.

We got to the church about fifteen or twenty minutes early and talked to Marcy and Terry, two of Amanda’s (mom’s) cousins. Jon, Denise and everyone else got there and they went through with the rehearsal. It was a good practice for me, as I got to figure out which lenses I wanted to use at what stages and where I should be at which points.

After that we went to Bobby and Patsy’s (Amanda’s great aunt and uncle) for some dinner. They have a nice place out there in a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. Amanda and I sat at a table with Marcy and discussed such things as My Space, American Idol and romantic evenings without kids. We hung around and chatted with people until about 9:00 then headed home. Instead of trying to get lost on dark backroads, we took I-85 back home, which took a bit longer. Once there we talked with my parents for a bit.

I finished Son of a Witch on the way to Rougemont, by the way.

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Mom had eggs and pancakes for us for breakfast. It started off raining and storming today, and while it let up some, it pretty much rained most of the day. It wasn’t as bad as when Amanda and I got married though. It made me think of the similarities between the circumstances of Jon and Denise’s wedding and mine and Amanda’s. We both proposed to our ladies on the Labor Day beach trip, we both got married roughly the same time of year (the end of April for them, the beginning of May for us) and it rained on our wedding days.

The ceremony may have been nice; I don’t know. I was too busy ducking and dodging and moving around to get pictures. I’ve decided if I do more of these I’ll definitely want a second camera and/or a second shooter. We were able to get a lot of the bride and bridesmaids pictures done before the wedding, but they took a little too long and I was unable to finish up the groom and groomsmen pictures until after the ceremony. And by that time I had people (Tripp, Jonathan and… Denise’s younger son) complaining about how long the pictures were taking.

We went out to the farm house after that for the reception. Michael came with Sarah and had missed the ceremony. They’d been to a formal at Chapel Hill the night before. Jon and Denise had hung a few of the engagement photos I took of them on a wall and I was asked about them by a number of people. Lacking actual business cards, I did hand out a scrap of paper with my contact info on it to one guy. I think he was the preacher. I thought the pictures they had printed turned out nice.

The reception mostly took place in a long open barn/shed, and I thought it was nice. There was pig and other food; good country catering. In all, I ended up taking somewhere around 550 pictures. Amanda and I stayed until about 8 or 9:00 I think, then headed back to the Rouge. We decided to take the back roads and got tripped up because apparently there is more than one Moriah Road and more than one Rougemont Road within a few miles of each other, which I think is completely retarded. So there we were driving around Oxford/Berea/Rougemont with the gas light on, in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of stupidly-labeled roads. But we got back okay. The oddest part was when we found ourselves passing a Baptist church with a Jewish name outside of which a fox had been run over. We both remembered passing it on the way in, in the same direction, and had to turn around. I still don’t know how we went from going in one direction on 158 to going the complete opposite.

But we made it home. We sat up and talked to my parents and, after they went to bed, looked over some of the pictures and threw out a bunch of the obvious bad ones. (I also decided I need to spring for a wide angle lens with a low f-stop.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006
Mom and Dad had breakfast waiting for us again. This time it was eggs, hash browns, bacon and toast. We talked for a few hours before Dad headed out to golf with his buddy, Larry Boots. When we left Mom was about to go riding. She’s up to five horses now. She’s got a good thing going though; she trains them a bit then buys/sells some more to make sure she gets one to suit her exact needs. She’s even making a little profit in the process. Right now she has Fitch, Mandy (named after Amanda!), Red, and, uh, two others. I didn’t realize this but she sold Leksis a while back.

I just realized that we didn’t see any sign of Scruffy the whole weekend except for some fur Mom had shaved off of her. This could possibly be attributed to the storms though.

Amanda drove us home (I told her I’d drive to and from Oxford if she’d take the Wilmington trips) and I napped sometime after Raleigh. When I woke up I asked where we were, to which Amanda smart-assedly replied, “In Raleigh,” which I knew was not true. We were about fifteen miles outside of Wilmington. She was just bitter at my napping on the way back. I tell ya though, that photography gig was tiring.

On the way into town we stopped by Lowe’s to look at paint. It’s hard to believe that, if everything goes like it’s supposed to, we’ll be in our own house by this time two weeks from now.

Rob and Kristen had parked in our driveway for the weekend so they wouldn’t have to drive all the way out to another friends’ house to park it an hour out of the way for their trip to Florida. Ben and Jessica also went out of town this weekend, going to visit his mom in Winston-Salem. She and his step-dad are moving to India for a while. Exciting! I’d love to go visit with them when they get a chance to go.

I spent a good portion of the night converting some of the Raw images from the wedding into optimized jpgs while we caught up on crime shows on the DVR. The phone kept ringing last night too; the work phone that is. I finally answered it and apparently some voting contest had given our toll free number as the number to vote for something or someone.

Monday, April 24, 2006
Back to the grindstone! This morning was pretty busy but by the afternoon I was able to catch up. I went to the grocery store after Amanda got home to get some stuff for some taco Hamburger Helper. I talked to my oldest friend, Jason Revill, on the way there and back. He had just gotten in Friday from Jaime Arnold’s wedding cruise. He said they had a good time. Amanda made dinner. We ate, watched TV and did other married people things.

I’ve had Total Eclipse of the Heart in my head. I think it was on the radio yesterday, although it started out the regular version and went into the techno version. Anyway, the phrase “Turn around, Bright Eyes,” keeps going through my head, and for the last 24 hours, I’ve been wracking my brain with a reference to a movie where some one calls someone Bright Eyes. I finally realized it was Planet of the Apes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Work started off slow enough for me to ease into, but it ended up getting busy, capped off by a meeting to end the day from 3:00 on. It was with an artist I’ve talked to off and on for a while now. I think it went well, and she was very personable.

Amanda and I ordered the usual Buffalo Wild Wings then settled down to watch some tv. We’re actually caught up on everything that we both watch on the DVR, which seems amazing. Idol was somewhat boring tonight, being themed on love songs. Amanda and I thought Katherine McPhee did well, but the judges panned her. Elliott did very well but I think we both liked Chris the best tonight. Taylor did alright, but it wasn’t our favorite of his performances. Paris just didn’t wow me and Kellie just didn’t seem to sing with much heart.

Jim Wagoner, who is doing our appraisal and inspection, called today to tell me about a few minor issues with the house and said he should have the appraisal done early tomorrow. We started the packing today. All but the bigger framed things are off the walls and in a box. The DVDs are packed up too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 – Happy Birthday, Charlie Collicutt
Kellie Pickler didn’t make it. She and Paris (the youngest two who are left) were the bottom two. We weren’t really surprised; the last couple weeks were off for her, but she was an early favorite for me and Amanda. She talked so long at the end of the show that they didn’t even get to show her sing her last song. You could tell she was really nervous though, and I thought she was going to cry but she held together very well.

I was on the phone a lot today, which is sort of a good sign. I picked up my check today, which was a pretty good one.

We met with Ben and Jessica Lambeth and Paul and Kim Ayars tonight. Kristen Barriner met me and Amanda for dinner at the cafe in the Saltshaker. We looked at books again and I think we came to a decision for what to study next. I was looking at a few books that really interested me, particularly some Christian Apologetics.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 – Happy Birthday, Rhonda Dotsey (Mom)
It was particularly rainy today. Actually, it has been since last night with some lightning and all. While I was doing some driving around I had a lot of big puddles splashed up on the windshield. Okay, so I went out of the way to hit a couple of them. I remember back when I used to take Kelly Runkle home after school there was this one nice big puddle at the bottom of a hill in Black Horse Run that I’d always speed up to make sure I’d hit it. I mean, I never did that with particularly large puddles, nothing that would make me hydroplane (although I did hydroplane into a ditch once, but I was being very careful that night), just enough to kick up a little water.

Amanda had lunch at Ruby Tuesday with some of the people from work, so I ate then went out to a meet a defense attorney. I like saying that, but really it was just a client of ours. I’ve met with him a number of times. He’s a pretty sharp, charismatic guy. Not a lot else going on. I lined up our cable service to be hooked up at the new house. Internet and TV are going to be Saturday, phone on Monday. The inspection was mailed out to us today and the appraisal was going to be sent out either tonight or tomorrow morning. We’re getting a little nervous with the paperwork that still needs to come in before next Friday. Actually, once the appraisal goes out I think the only thing that needs to be done is a paper trail for the closing costs money.

I tried calling Mom a few times to wish her a happy birthday (Amanda and I gave her a present this past weekend when we were home; a painted horse, [or are they called painted ponies?] statue) but never got up with her. I talked to Adam, who said he’d gotten in touch with her a couple times today. I did get up with Dad, who said Mom was still out riding at a little after 8:00. I think they were going to go out. Dad got the confirmation for a new job, which is exciting.

I can’t believe both of my parents are 50 now. I mean, most people can’t believe that I, as a 28-year-old, have parents who are so young, and when people see my parents, particularly my mom, they have a hard time believing they’re as old as they are (not that 50’s all that old). I’ve just always been used to the idea that my parents were pretty young. Oh well; time moves on and you get older. The alternative to getting older is being dead though, so I guess there’s something to be said for aging.

Friday, April 28, 2006
I had a meeting with a client early today (I usually schedule that for the afternoons) which I think went pretty well. Turns out we know a few of the same people and they have realistic budget expectations, unlike a number of people I meet with. Of course, it helps that they’ve been involved in having a website before.

I met with my boss, Scott, after that. He was at the Port City Java near Buffalo Wild Wings, and the clients’ office was literally one or two parking lots away from there. I called him when I was leaving there and told him I’d see him in thirty seconds. I don’t think I was far off. We were going to meet with Otis Johnson, who is doing maybe 90% of our sales now, but Otis couldn’t make it. That’s a busy, busy man. Scott and I discussed a few things about the direction things are going, how to handle a few projects going forward, that sort of thing. It really is exciting being involved with a company at the stage it’s at the way I am.

Amanda and I ate lunch (Manhattan Bagels- the guy in there asked where we’d been, I talked to him, he tossed me my bagels and wished us luck the with the house) outside at the picnic table her dad made for her birthday last year. It was still cold inside from the cold front, but it felt really nice out. In the late afternoon, I had to do some scrambling to make sure our mortgage company had gotten our appraisal to get things moving forward. I set up a time to sign all the paperwork next Friday (Nancy, the lady at the attorney’s office, said something about making sure the house was ours that very day, which made me smile all giddy-like). After work Amanda and I did a bunch more packing, but there’s still a lot left to do. I plan on cleaning the yard up a bit tomorrow; it’s supposed to rain on Sunday and the next couple days after that.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006 – Happy Birthday David Cherryholmes
Amanda went to get bagels while I finished showering and such and then started hauling sticks from the side yard to the curb. After eating I grabbed some gloves and a tarp and the process went a lot quicker. We had a huge pile of sticks and branches sitting on one side of the fence for a very long time. With the tarp I was able to get them all at once. I felt kind of proud, buying my very first tarp, just like I did walking into the hardware store where I bought it and the gloves and actually looking at tools and thinking of things to do with them. Or maybe buying something from a hardware store right before getting your first house instills a modicum of machismo.

Amanda did a crapload of packing while I did a crapload of raking. I also trimmed the hedges and the trees. I didn’t really touch the backyard though. While that was going on, Amanda got a call from her mom and turned on ESPN. Mario Williams, who played for NC State, was the first pick in this year’s NFL draft. The big deal though is that Mario also went to Richlands High School. I don’t think he was there when Amanda went there, but I think Michael knew him to a small degree, and a roommate of Amanda’s went out with him. I expect the Richlands High School football field will be renamed and that we’ll watch a couple Texas games this season.

Amanda helped me get the leaves up and the yard looks very nice, if I do say so myself. Brian had asked for a copy of the house inspection, and we’d been mailed two copies so Amanda and I headed over there to drop a copy off. We went by Sonic after that for lunch. We ate there and the girls in the car next to us saw Bruce and wanted to check him out. When we got back to the house I helped clean the kitchen then we did some more packing. Ben and Jessica came over a little later and we ordered Good Night, and Good Luck on the cable box. I think we all liked it. I didn’t expect it to end when it did; it was rather short, but I think it’s probably a move that should be shown in journalism classes at the very least.

Sunday, April 30, 2006
We went to church this morning, then went to Manhattan Bagels with Ben and Jessica Lambeth for breakfast. They went on home to mow then lawn and fertilize (the lawn) while Amanda and I gathered some boxes from Manhattan and then went to Wally World to get a few things. Since we were there and we were talking about house stuff, we went on over to Lowe’s. We mainly wanted to price wall paneling for the kitchen and maybe the bathrooms, which turned out to to be really very expensive, so we’ll probably do that. Beats the hell out of taking down the wallpaper.

Anyway, we got a little carried away looking at things. Tiling, cabinets, fans, doors, bathroom accoutrements, you name it. We actually had a really fun time doing it. I called Mom to tell her that, as bored as I’d be when she and Dad would take us to stores like that when we were little, I totally understood now. Andra was there. She and Josh and Jackson were visiting for the weekend and told me they’d gotten a Chihuahua puppy, which they’ll possibly name Willis.

Once back I balanced the checkbook and we did a very little bit more packing. There’s really not much left but blankets and little things here and there. I’ve got my computer stuff to pack up, but I don’t want to do that until Thursday. We’re pretty much ready to go.

Amanda played the Saturday Night Live that was recorded last night, which was a collection of TV Funhouse skits; their animated shorts. Bruce and I took a nap on the couch and Amanda went to the store to get things to make some potato soup. It was good. The potatoes could have been cooked just a little bit longer, but I liked it and had second helpings.

We watched a little more television then spent some time contemplating tomorrow’s two-year anniversary before Amanda headed off to bed. I caught up on some Boston Legal episodes and am now watching something about ancient clocks or some such.

One thing that was on the news while Amanda was going to sleep had to do with a big Latino boycott coming up tomorrow to protest cracking down on illegal immigration. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that nobody really has any issues with Latinos in general, it’s just the ones that come over illegally. I don’t think there’s any way we can round up the estimated eleven million (11,000,000!) illegal immigrants in this country, but if they want to do something about it the first thing that needs to be done is to plug up the leak. Deporting illegals without shoring up the borders is like dumping buckets of water out of a boat that has the bow broken off. Ain’t gonna make a difference.