Sunday, August 5, 2007

Blond Girl Update 4.1

Technically, this is my third update blog post. I'm not labeling them by the number of updates, but by elapsed time. That's why this one is 4.1 - 4 weeks, 1 day.

Before I give my update, I have to tell a little story about this morning. I’m sure it’s a social commentary; I’m just not sure that I want to interpret it, so I’ll let you make your own interpretation. In any case, it made me laugh. On our way to church, I saw a woman dressed up, carrying a bible, and walking down the street. Since I was about 3 blocks away, the logical assumption was that she was heading for our church. I slowed down, lowered the window, and asked her if she would like a ride – which she thankfully accepted.

It took me a moment to move my stuff and for her to get in. During that time, three cars came up behind me. Now, I probably should have pulled over instead of stopping in the drive lane, but there weren’t any cars when I saw her and I was stopped for all of 90 seconds. One car stopped behind me and waited patiently for the few seconds it took her to get in the car. The other two cars zoomed around me – and one woman gave me a dirty look as she went.

The car that waited went on its way. The other two cars? You guessed it – they turned into our church parking lot!

On to the update: Needless to say, it's been an eventful week - both for Minnesota and for our little family.

Last Saturday, I took Sweet Girl to the Como Park Zoo to have a fun day with her friend Snow White. There is a new amusement park area at the zoo called "ComoTown", which the girls enjoyed immensely. We spent time going back and forth from the zoo, to the amusement park, and back to the zoo. Snow’s Mom and Dad showed me a picnic area that has been at Como for years, which I never even knew about. In the end, this day cost a lot less than the trip I took to the Minnesota Zoo with Sweet Girl a couple of weeks ago and we had a LOT more fun. I know I rarely show pictures of Sweet Girl, but I’ll bend this time. Here she is on the driving course. Kiddie car driving, that is, not golf driving!

Hello all!

Speaking of driving, on Wednesday, the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, which has been a "miraculous tragedy". I wasn't even aware it had occurred at first; we were sitting in the living room watching TV and working on the computer when the phone rang. It was my sister MaryJane, in Phoenix, calling to be sure we were all OK. It didn't take long for my mom to do a quick round of the entire family to ensure that we were all safe. Our biggest concern was my niece, who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota and who is in the process of setting up housekeeping on campus. Thankfully, she was nowhere near the area. Although truly horrible, it has been amazing how low the actual fatality list is. So far, it appears that no one from The Big Company was on the bridge at the time, an amazing fact when you consider that we have something like 9 to 10 thousand people employed downtown. I spoke with one coworker who had just gone over the bridge on the way home when he felt a rumble and looked back to see an empty road – no cars behind him. He had missed the collapse by about two minutes. I spoke with another coworker, a fellow trainee in my class, who found out that one of the victims worked at his previous employer. It is odd; when I look at the news, the whole event feels a bit removed from me, like it couldn't possibly be local. But then it is stories like that, which give national newsprint a personal meaning. Throughout the week, I received phone calls and emails from friends and family to be sure we were safe; I appreciated that people were thinking of us.

The rest of the week was pretty calm. Training is going well, though there is SO much to learn! Our first leg of training is complete; next week the rest of my training class gets to start phone lab and answer real brokerage trading calls. I won't get to do that yet; I still have to take the NASD Series 63 test. I will be sequestered all next week, from Monday to Thursday, in a private room studying for the test, which I will take on Friday. I have to pass it to keep my job. I'm not worried about passing it; the average pass rate is in the 90 percentile, and it deals with the regulatory element, which is my strongest area of NASD studies. I'm not happy, however, about missing the phone time. That's a week away from all the stuff I've spent the last month learning. If you care to pray for me, please feel free to pray that I'll pass my test and retain all my practical customer service training. Thanks!

This weekend has been pretty good so far, if not a bit tiring. Yesterday, Sweet Girl and I went to Valley Fair amusement park with Snow’s Mom and Snow White. As I've said before, one of my chief motives for Sweet Girl's time in MN has been to give her as much time with Snow White as we can muster up. Later this week, their family is heading off on vacation, so it was important to get in one last big fun time - and it was the The Big Company annual picnic, anyway. We had fun a lot of fun, but it was disappointing that it rained, rained and RAINED all day! Of course, we weren't planning on rain; we were planning on sunshine! At first the rain was pretty mild, so I bought myself a baseball hat to protect my glasses from the rain. It’s cute, but it does have “Wild Thing” emblazoned across the front. That’s not a big deal in Minnesota where most people will know that it refers to a huge roller coaster, but I’m thinking it might be a bit funnier in Champaign where no one will have a frame of reference…they’ll just think that I am referring to myself! When the rain got really bad, we bought rain ponchos for everyone. The park was out of children's size, so in a fit of desperation, we bought the girls these big yellow ponchos and cut them down to size.

Undeterred by the rain, the girls ran all over the park, eager to experience every pint-size delight – in fact, they rode the kiddie-coaster (The Mild Thing). That was fine with me; I'm not sure I would have had the stomach to keep up with them if they were in their pre-teens and wanted us to accompany them on all the huge coasters. I'm telling you, some of those rides are just not right. There is one called the Rip-Tide. It has these lockdown chairs mounted on a big arm. The arm goes around and around in a big circle, twirling the rider forward and backwards and upside down - all while running a water fountain at varying heights and force. At any time, the rider is upside down, locked into their chair with water being sprayed at them full force. There are two empty Riptide seats outside of the ride line; we took pictures of all of us in the seats. To be honest, that is the closest I ever want to get to such a diabolical ride! If you want to see this ride in action, you can click this link: Riptide.

I'm not the only one who had a busy week, however. Back in Champaign, Champs got the fun of dealing with new carpet. Last weekend, he moved all the furniture in our house out to the garage, kitchen and family room by himself to prepare all the bedrooms and living room for the carpet layers. I wasn't too happy that he had to do it alone, but he's strong - and armed with a couple of furniture dollies, he got it done. The new carpet was laid on Monday and he says it looks really good. He lived in limbo all week and just got all the rooms reassembled this weekend with some help from a friend from work and our next-door neighbor. I can't wait to see how it all looks! I have to admit that it is hard for me not to have been there to help; but I guess I'm doing my part being here for now.

All in all, it's been a good week. A bit busy, a bit mundane. Some happy, some sad. Both Sweet Girl and I are missing Champs something fierce and I can't wait for November when we will all be together again permanently. For now, though, we continue to thank God for his faithfulness to our family and His protection. I'm counting the moments until August 18, when Sweet Girl and I will go home to see Champs and be together for a long weekend. I am not looking forward to August 20, when I will drive back to Minnesota without Sweet Girl to continue my training. Oh well, as I am fond of saying, "it is what it is".

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