I feel like I was very busy once again with work today, although unfortunately today I didn’t get everything finished up that I wanted to.

After work Amanda’s grandparents came by and took us to dinner.  They were in town and generally we meet for lunch, but I didn’t have a car today and Amanda was driving the Hot Box so she didn’t want to return to work all sweaty, so we did dinner instead.  Earl wanted to go to Carolina BBQ because it has a buffet, but Amanda convinced him not to go there.  He also suggested Golden Corral (see a theme there?) but we ended up going to O’Charlie’s.  I’ll give you a single guess as to who chose that!

We ate there and had a good time, mostly catching up on family and such.  Well, mostly a good time.  Amanda’s Aunt Susan, married to her mom’s Uncle Ralph, apparently has a throat cancer so we’ll have to remember to keep her in our prayers.

Our waitress was a nice country girl.  I couldn’t help but ask where she was from and I wasn’t surprised when she said Albemarle.  She sounded just like Kelly Pickler and Amanda and I though it was cute the way she said things, like sweet tea, pronounced swate tay.  I mean, Amanda has an accent, but you really couldn’t help buy notice this girl’s.

We got back home and said good byes.  Amanda watered the plants then we started to watch last night’s Ghost Hunters.  It was a pretty decent one with an old mill where you could hear footsteps and the guys claimed to feel a tugging on their pants when after suggesting the ghost do that.  Then they went to the original governor’s mansion or some such of New Jersey, where Ben Franklin’s son, William Franklin, had lived.  It was such a cool old house, and the upstairs looked like it was being used as an office but a lot of the rest was in a bit of disrepair, mostly looking like it just needed a good painting.  There was a very obvious voice on that one.  Usually you don’t hear the EVPs until they’re playing back recordings, but this one you could hear as they were recording.  It was pretty cool.

While that was on, Dave Narron dropped off the Jetta.  It will be significantly less expensive than if we’d taken it to the dealership, but it will still be a pretty penny.  I just did the budget for the month to make sure that we’ll be able to pay him right away without messing up any of the bills we have going out, and we will. 

Money is such a pain, you know?  I mean, I had a good month last month, which means my commission this month will be really good, but then things like this seem to always come up.  We’re always taken care of and aside from the TV, which we should easily be able to pay off in time, we don’t have any real debt.  But it’s such a pain looking forward to having a bit extra then having to use it for things you don’t want to use it for.  Like that economic stimulus check we got from the government (which, coincidentally I had two people tell me they hadn’t gotten yet)- we were going to sit on it and think about what to do- invest it or get something we’ve been wanting to get, and we ended up spending most of it on new tires.  We didn’t want to buy new tires. 

I mean, I’ve been trying to save up since before my birthday to buy a new lens for my camera so I’d be able to go to some Duke games next season and I have no idea if I’ll be able to.  $800 over a few months in order to sit on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium should be pretty easy to do, right?  Well, not when you’ve got less income due to surgery, need to replace four tires on a car, need to give standard 40,000 mile maintenance on a car and get the air conditioning in another car fixed.

It’s just so freaking frustrating.  And yet I need to remember that we’re blessed.  Amanda and I have been through tougher financial times, and it’s not like we can’t go out and do things when we want to.  Ever since we moved to Wilmington things have been better for us and we can’t help but see God’s hand in it.  When we first started going to Port City Community Church there was a series about money.  It wasn’t all about making you feel like you had to give to the church- Mike Ashcraft always stressed that- but we did start giving 10%, and there were times when we had no idea how we’d get through a week or pay all of our bills in a month, and yet we did.  A lot of times money seemed to come to us just when we needed it- people would buy a bunch of pictures from a wedding from a couple months back, or Aunt Robbie would write off the last few car payments, or my parents would say we could stop paying them back some money I owed them.

My point is that I’m whining about not getting everything I want, but we more than get by so there’s really not much to complain about.  We don’t live on the beach or have a boat and I don’t drive a four door Wrangler, but we stay entertained and happy and are provided for.

Speaking of being entertained, The Happening is coming out tomorrow.  Amanda and I have been fans of everything else by M. Night Shyamalan (though I still haven’t seen all of Lady in the Water), so we’re hoping this one is good too but reviews thus far haven’t been too great.  It’s at about 20% on rottentomatoes.com but there are only about twenty reviews posted.  Still, that doesn’t bode well.  Not that critics are always right, but 20% really is low.  The problem, from what I’ve read so far, is that it starts out good then goes off in ways that are unbelievable or unnatural.  And I’m not talking about the usual M. Night Shyamalan unnatural, but just not realistic for the characters.  We’ll probably go see it regardless.  We want it to be good.

I hadn’t talked to my baby sister in a while, so I called her house this evening.  Josh Sawyer, her husband, answered and I talked to him for a bit before talking to Andra.  She quickly gave the phone to Jackson.  I’m blown away every time I talk to him by how much more he’s developed.  The main thing he told me today was that he was going to come to my house, then said, "Is that cool?"  What three year old says, "Is that cool?"  That’s just so… cool.  I told him, "Heck yes that’s cool!"  He was also talking about sharing his food with me and asking me about things I like, like telling me he likes pizza and asking if I liked pizza.

Amanda’s feelings were hurt a bit because I asked if he wanted to talk to her and handed the phone to her, but he had handed the phone back to his mom.  He used to like her a lot but in the last while he hasn’t talked to her much on the phone and didn’t pay her much mind last time we saw him, which was in March when they were all here for my birthday.  To his credit on that one, there were quite a few people around.

I sometimes wonder what my parents will be like when Amanda and I have kids.  Everyone (myself included of course) loves Jackson so much and he gets lots of attention because he’s the first grandbaby, but Andra will have the second, too, and if it comes to seeing us with one baby versus their baby daughter with two kids (Jackson not being a baby anymore), why would they pick to come see us?  I wonder if they’ll make trips to Wilmington just to pick up my kids and take them for a few days like they go to Gastonia and do with Jackson.  It’s great that Amanda’s got a lot of family within an hour of us, but I want some of my family too, you know?  Adam and Renee are here in town, but they plan on moving at some point.

I know I got almost two years of my parents all to myself, but that was two years.  Sometimes I feel like I didn’t get as much attention as everyone else growing up, and I’m fine with that.  Erin demanded attention, Adam needed it with all the stuff he went through, and Andra was the baby.  I was low maintenance (at least I think I was) and never really got in trouble at all.  I don’t know, maybe I didn’t even care to have much attention- I don’t remember feeling the lack or need of it growing up, but I do want my kids to have it.

Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m preemptively a bit jealous of my little sister and her kids.

North Carolina Wildfire | Zach Dotsey In the news, there’s a wildfire that’s been burning since June 1, although I didn’t know about it until today.  Scratch that- I’d heard murmurs of it, but today it got to be big news.  It’s 62 square miles in three counties here in North Carolina and has burned up over 39,000 acres.  It was started by lightning and it’s in the big chunk of far eastern North Carolina between the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds- north of here, I think heading east although the smoke is affecting areas are far away as Winston-Salem, about 200 miles away.  You can see all the smoke in satellite photos like the one here.

I talked to my friend Jason Revill, who lives in Durham, and he said it was hazy outside.  Someone who lives in Smithfield posted on the Duke message board, when discussing the fires, that his smoke alarm had gone off today.  There are health warnings being issued in the Triangle, Code Red, which means you should avoid being outside as much as possible.  Jason skipped exercising a the pool today because of it.

Looks like a big thick chunk of smoke is over Portsmouth Island, where I’ve gone fishing with Amanda’s dad, Phil Mercer, his buddy Danny, along with Ben and Andrew Lambeth and Michael.

Amanda and I plan to have dinner tomorrow night at the Macaroni Grill with Polly and Dave Clawson.  I don’t think we’ll get to meet Michael’s Lizzy for a while yet.

Zach Dotsey