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Thursday, October 30, 2008


I had great plans. One of them was to go to bed early tonight. The other was to produce an all-inclusive blog with pictures and funny stories, but its 11:00 and I've had a couple requests to update (from Mom and Lauren which I think probably make up half my audience) so here's what you get (I'll do pictures soon, though, cause they're really cute):

As you know, I've been doing research for FCRR. I've also been conducting a little research of my own. We've been at a middle school for the week and as much as I love middle schoolers, I miss my elementary kids. Here's why: stinky breath. I noticed one or two kids with foul breath and was thinking, maybe its the corner I'm sitting in, my own breath or a coincidence. But I've tested at least 10 more kids with this problem, eliminated all other variables and realized, hands down, middle schoolers STANK. I'm calling it puberty breath. I think I am going to bring mints in tomorrow, even though its our last day at this school.

Speaking of research, Ethan is done with his study!! No more eating buttered pasta for every meal! To celebrate, I've been trying to treat him to some variety. I thought I would share my 2 new favorite lunch ideas:

Taco salad (this one's good for brown-bagging)-
Chicken cooked with taco seasoning
Sour Cream
Chopped jalapenos
Tortilla chips
Romaine lettuce
Mix it all together. Mmmm

Grilled cheese-
So good.

I got a flu shot today. I hope it doesn't make me feel fluie.

I have been hearing a lot about this maternity/baby/kid consignment shop called Weecycle (cute name, huh?), so I decided to stop by on Laundry Day. What a success! I went in on my way home from work and less than $150 later, left with a pair of Gap maternity pants, clothes for C: pants, dress shirt, sweater vest, fleece snow suit looking thing and best of all, a Peg-Perego stroller that normally sells for over $300. This is why I took the stroller off our registry. Carver will be riding in an Italian luxury vehicle instead.

Right now he's riding in a balloon that's about to pop. That's what it feels like anyway. I think he's had a growth spurt, because all of a sudden pregnancy has gotten very uncomfortable. I would take stretch marks right now if it just meant my skin would actually stretch to fit him. The worst part is every time I think of how hard it is to breath, I get that Maroon 5 song in my head. Sleep has been rough too. I've gotten used to the leg cramps, but my hips have really started to hurt from laying on my side. Luckily, God knows how much I can handle. It seems that as the physical pain kicks in, my emotions have evened out.

We are off to Merritt Island for the weekend, so hopefully I will post some pictures while we are there!

PS- Did I get that stupid song in your head? Try this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rain Or Shine

I'll take either one. Friday I had the day off because Alachua County public schools officially celebrate UF's homecoming weekend with a holiday. Usually there's a parade, but I spent the day inside because it was raining. It was great. I was in a very crafty mood, so Natalie and I went to the craft store and then Caroline came over and we made these:

Buy Digital Prints

I took a break from crafting on Saturday for the Gator game. We killed Kentucky. Woowoo. Hopefully the Rays will follow suit.

The rain brought BEAUTIFUL chilly weather today. There is not a cloud in the sky. In fact, we are about to go hang our hammocks up, so I will leave you with today's craft:

Buy Digital Prints

Buy Digital Prints

Oh, and one final thought- a dream I had last night. My friend Amy's parents bought a pillow for their pet bird for $62,000. I was so upset that I started choking. Amy's parents don't even have a bird.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dad, I Liked What You Had To Say

Val, I love your blog!
I recall taking the three little Shepherd kids to Publix a few times, and wild times they were. Our gang of four would generate some (I guess you'd describe them as) "concerned" looks from fellow shoppers: Val and Nat would have cartwheel contests in the aisles, while Sammy laughed like crazy from his seat aboard the grocery cart. Every once in a while a little cartwheeling pink sneaker would smack into a pyramid of canned goods, sending 50 or so can cans spinning across the shiny Publix floor. No worries, though -- "Cleanup on Aisle Whatever" was always done with a smile. Publix service IS the best.
Love ya', VaVa & Carver & E!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Its our grocery store here in the South East. I love this place. Publix has amazing customer service, a great bakery, florist, deli, basically everything a girl could ask for. I proudly tote my reusable Publix bags around and would probably buy some stock if they didn't keep it for employees only. There's probably a name for stock like that, but I don't know it. Maybe I should just work there. Then I could get one of those bumper stickers that says "I heart Publix." Does anyone remember the old Publix on Dale Mabry and Neptune when it used to face South instead of East? Its so fancy now. I remember getting free kids cookies there every time we went. Hahaha... I just remembered how my brother, Sam and I would walk around and he would pretend to be blind and I would try to get him to guess what different items were by putting his hand on them. He would usually freak out half way through the store, convinced that I was going to put his hand in the live lobster tank.

Anyway, this is all to say I am not complaining about my beloved grocery when I tell you the following. I have always had a theory, but now I know its true. You may have had it too if you shop at the Publix on 34th and University. The scale is off. Today, I finally confirmed the thought I've had for the past 7 years. See, Ethan was weighed at the hospital today (for his study, don't worry, no emergencies) and I was weighed at the doctor's office and then we weighed ourselves at the store. Its exactly 5 pounds over. That's all.

I should probably be too embarrassed to share this on the Internet, but I have to. You know how people bring magazines to the bathroom? Well I brought my laptop. Give me a break, its the first time I've ever talked to you while in the bathroom. Unless I have on the phone. Sorry. Anyway, I wouldn't have shared except I have peed THREE times in the time it took me to write this blog: 11 minutes. Pregnancy- sheesh. Ethan is singing to himself in the other room (in his remarkable Eastern European accent) "my wife, she likes to poop...while on the interweb...thankful for her does not smell online."

Alright, got to go put the groceries away.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Great Weekend For Gainesville

Thursday Night: Mary's last night out as a bachlorette. We went to dinner and then played frisbee golf. Carver wanted to play too.

Friday: For EDEP (the afterschool program I work for) I teach a sign language club. Do I know sign language? No. But I have learned how to sign the words to High School Musical's "Breaking Free." Just wait for the kids' perfomance. You are going to be touched to say the least.

Friday Night: After a certain pregnant lady (I won't name names) took a lot of tears and minutes to get ready (still not happy with clothes that don't seem to fit right) we went to Mary & Steve's rehearsal dinner. It was a great time at Cafe' Gardens. Not only did Devon make some great chicken, but we got to sit with Chris, Brooke, Fr. Ron and Susie. Then Megan, Sam, Kari and Po came over. Po is moving back to Florida!

Saturday: Sleeping in is always fun. I am trying not to take these few last chances we get for granted. A lot of friends from in and out of town met at the park for lunch and some highly competitive (psyche) knock-out. Knock-out is a basketball game in which you try and get the person in front of you out by making a shot before them. Its pretty much the only basketball game I'm decent at and it was a lot of fun.

Saturday Night: Time for Steve and Mary's wedding! It was so beautiful! I really loved getting to see such close friends of ours get married in our church. Steve is one of Ethan's best friends in Gainesville and a frequenter of Stonerook household dinners. He brews beer with Ethan and our other friend Jon. He has a great sense of humor and loves it when I make fun of him. Especially about that one time we were playing Catch Phrase and the electronic piece that gives the word you are supposed to say clues for made it all the way around the room and he just read the word on the screen.
Mary is one of my best friends in Gainesville and used to be my team coordinator for Young Life. She is such a loyal friend with a huge heart. She is always up for a good time or just hanging out and making stuff together.
After the reception, some McDonalds ice cream and some hanging out at Shady Oaks, Dave, Hope and Kari spent the night.

Sunday: We woke up to gorgeous weather and decided to skip church and make a picnic breakfast. This basically meant a feast of blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon that we took downstairs to the picnic table. Then, Caroline, Hope and I went on the Parade of Homes. Will we ever be able to afford to buy a house?

Sunday Night: Young Life kickball game. It was supposed to be glow-in-the-dark, but was mostly dark. I guess when The Gators don't play football for the weekend, Gator fans fill their weekend with games like frisbee golf, knock-out and kickball.

I better go before this turns into one of those nights I take my contacts out while falling asleep on the couch and throw them at Ethan so he'll put them up for me.

Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Space Travel

Hopefully the fact that you are still reading my blog means you are entertained by either stories about pregnancy or funny little kids, cause that's all I've got tonight.

An oldie but a goodie that I heard on the basketball court (try and add a little sing-song tone):
"Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider."
And then, "Mrs. Valerie, ain't that true? Tell Rosny that's true."
Why yes, it is very factual that while girls go to college to continue their education, yet somehow miss out on basic grammar, boys usually travel to some other planet where their IQs actually go down. Yes.

And then today, while testing 4th graders, I felt like the little kid with giggles. One sweet boy was sitting with his legs "criss cross apple sauce" as politically correct teachers like to call "Indian style" these days when he farted. He just kept on reading like a mature person while I bit my pen to keep from laughing.

Then a girl innocently read "Tidy Island" as "Titty Island." What kind of show does she think we're running here?

Good thing my work day ended early for a doctor's appointment, otherwise my giggles might have turned into chants about Jupiter and cooties.

It turns out Carver and I are healthy as can be. I've gained 2 pounds since last visit (4 weeks ago). That makes 17 pounds total. Sounds good to me. My doctor also told me that at this point, 28 weeks through 32 weeks is when I will feel him move the most. Then he starts getting too big to move around a lot. Now my doctor's visits will start to be every 3 weeks.

She also said I need to get a flu shot, drink lots of water and not eat too much at once (or else blegghhhhh-that's vomit). I have definitely noticed being more tired lately, but that's about all that's changed.

Ok, get ready for the serious part. I have been thinking a lot about my friends and family that fall somewhere on the spectrum of not being able to get pregnant to having difficult pregnancies to having premature babies with health problems. Watching Baby Mama probably contributed to this deep thought. If you've never seen the movie, its very funny. Tina Fey can't get pregnant so Amy Poller becomes her surrogate mother.

But seriously, that God chose Ethan and I to be parents already makes me feel so honored and in awe. That my baby and I have been so healthy amazes me. I just want to throw this out there: I do not take it for granted. Every day I think about how lucky and blessed I am. A lady at church who I've never really talked to before even came up to me and commented on how easy my pregnancy has seemed. I'm not exactly sure how she knew it has been without hiccups, but she is so right. She must have gone to college to get more knowledge.

Then, my guidance counselor friend, Amanda and I were talking about the kids at her high school and how so many of them get pregnant on accident. And Natalie counsels moms all the time that didn't really intend on becoming moms. I know I'm not the first one to struggle with this, but I just don't get it.

There is a healthy, playful 5th grade boy that I tested this week. We'll call him "Justice." Justice came to school last year for the first time knowing only the names of a few letters. Justice now knows about as many sight words as he can count on his fingers. Where are this delightful young man's parents??? All this makes me want to weep, adopt all the kids I can get my hands on, hug all the young moms Natalie and Amanda work with, hug all the moms who are trying to get pregnant and can't and just cry for it all. Most of all, it makes me want to fall to my knees and cry thanks for Carver and his health.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quiet Minds

This Sunday a handlebar mustache-less friend of mine that is also a priest at our church talked about peace and having a quiet mind. It made me think of my two biggest distractions, financial worries and writing in my blog. I wish that my last comment was a little more impressive, like "...the two things I always think about, saving the environment and promoting adult literacy." Oh well.

So, this friend of mine apparently has many talents because he also teaches high school. He gave his kids a challenge for extra credit. It had three very unattainable components. He thought in order to eliminate the distractions of everyday life (including blood-sugar surges) they should eat beans and rice for every meal, stop using or watching TV/video games/iPods/etc. and practice not thinking about anything. I think he gave them this challenge mostly to mess with them. Oh the joys of teaching.

So I was going to give up blogging for the week. Keep in mind that this sermon was Sunday and today is, well, Monday. I was thinking about leaving some funny note about how I will be gone for the week eating beans and rice, but then I thought only one or two people would get it and it wouldn't even be that funny. So I decided not to leave you in anticipation. What would you do for a whole week of not knowing about my life??? But I am going to try to give over silly and not so silly worries to God.

On a totally different note, Carver has been moving A LOT. Not really more frequently, just more like an elephant that's trying to fit in a Smart Car. I seriously don't think my uterus can get any bigger. It now goes from, you know, where uteri start to 3 inches above my belly button. So sometimes it just feels like Carver/Elephant is doing nice little flips in me/Smart Car, but sometimes it feels like his appendages are denting my exterior. He must have his Aunt Natalie's razor sharp elbows. Mostly I don't mind the internal bumps. Its a really cool reminder that he is healthy and growing. However, every now and then, its a little awkward. The lady at the deli counter in Publix looked puzzled at my "woohoew" and my flinch. She probably thinks I peed my pants. Which I may have. A little.

Here are some other things I like to let myself get distracted thinking about:
Redecorating our living room
How I wish I could read the Harry Potter series for the first time again (Dan, you're so close!)
Becoming an ultrasound technician
Crafts to make
What's for dinner
Creative ways to make extra income
When is Sweet Dreams going to have Spicy Mayan Chocolate again?
Cloth vs. biodegradable disposable diapers
Going to NC
How my belly button is a good 1in. off center
Friends I want to visit
Getting to bed earlier (although last night I pulled a 7:50!!!)

Good night.
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm Not Sure

If it was partly due to the overflow of hormones in my body, or just true Gator spirit, but I definitely cried tears of joy when Brandon Spikes ran that interception back for a touchdown in the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Octoberfest 2008

Well, this is annoying.

I am not a perfectionist. Actually, I'm pretty type B. But I hate when things are unorganized or hanging over my head. I will waste an hour just trying to think of some insignificant thing I was going to say or do just so I won't have to think about it anymore.

All that to say, I found myself checking my blog history and found an unfinished draft! Ugh. I had 2 choices, delete or post. There is no way I could let some draft hang out there in cyberspace and not do anything with it. I really hate to post this out of chronological order, but it was too special to delete, so forget my craziness and enjoy:

Hammond drop in day was a hit this year, as usual. They are such great hosts and everyone had a swell time! We ate great food, including genuine crepes made by the Hammonds' French roommate. We also played a lot of games and a lot of music. Plus, it was the first year the Gators won on this momentous weekend. I wouldn't know much about that, though, I took a nap.
Sleepy Group Shot

Visiting Uncle Sammy

Danny & Travis

Tent City

Stonerooks & Hammonds

One of the games we played is called Buckwild. I should tell you how to play because its really fun. You need at least 2 teams of 2 people each (3 teams or more is probably best). Each person writes 5 nouns on a scrap sheet of paper. These nouns can be whatever your little heart desires, as long as they're not proper. Mix up the folded papers in a bowl or hat. Then, each pair takes turns trying to get their partner to guess the nouns on the paper they randomly pull from the hat. You get 30 seconds to name all 5 nouns, in order twice. First, the actor can use words, but not motions to get the guesser to name the nouns. Then the actor can use motions, but not words. It sounds easy enough, but 30 seconds goes by quickly.

We should play sometime.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Promised Them, Here They Are

A few treasures for the elementary school story chest...

I have been working for the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR). Its great. Last week I was at Littlewood testing K-2nd grade on vocabulary. We had large cards with pictures (not photographs) of different objects, scenes and "workers;" for example, a refrigerator, the desert and a veterinarian. I pulled students out of class, one at a time and asked them to tell me what was on the card. Here are a few kids' funny interpretations:

Me: "What type of nut is this?" (Holding a picture of cashews)
Kid: Confidently declares, "a peach."

Me: "What type of writing is this?" (Pointing to a word written in italics)
Kid: "Human writing."

Me: "What is this volcano doing?" (We're going for the word erupting here)
Kid: "Spreading his lava."

Me: "What type of worker is this?" (Holding a picture of a detective)
Kid: "A metal detector."

The funniest part of the whole week was a story that a very energetic, very freckled 2nd grade boy told me. He came bouncing out of his classroom to the picnic table where I was set up and announced that he has a new kitten. I asked him a couple things about his new kitten, like it's name and when he got it. He said he got the new kitten when Tangerine, his old cat died. Then he told me the following story without taking a breath:

"You see when my old cat Tangerine was alive she used to hang out in the dryer and my mom has this friend that might be my stepdad well that probably will be my stepdad well that might not be my stepdad and they talk on the phone a lot and then my mom went into the laundry room and then my mom was on the phone and then my mom turned on the dryer but she didn't know she was in there and then I found Tangerine in the dryer but she had thrown up all over the clothes but my mom said it wasn't throw up that she just bled out of her mouth over all the clothes but then my mom wasn't there right when it happened and so I went inside cause Tangerine was asleep and wouldn't wake up but my mom and her friend were upstairs and I called up to tell her Tangerine won't wake up but she said she was dead. Now my grandma's back yard is a funeral."

I only say it was the funniest story because this cute little boy was not upset in the least. If he was sad about Tangerine, I would have felt really bad. I like cats, but let's be honest, it was pretty hilarious.

6 Minutes And Its Gonna Be A Good Day

This is how mornings have been going at 384 Maguire Village Apt. 6:

6:30- Alarm goes off.
6:40- The snooze goes off and I groan, "Hey Ethan, we gotta get up." (roll over)
6:45- Ethan calls to me through a mouth full of toothpaste, "Honey, you really have to get out of bed." Then he goes to the kitchen to make my breakfast and lunch.
6:55- We leave and my arms are full of all the things I didn't do to get ready: makeup, bagel, vitamins, watch...

Then we stumble to the car and say our first coherent words of the day to each other as I drive him to Shands to eat his B-6 deficient breakfast and pick up his lunch. I wait in the car, eat my bagel and put on my makeup. Then some lady comes and tells me I need to move- can't park here. Oh wait, I'm sleeping and that's just a dream.

Ethan gets back in the car with his to-go box of sawdust and we have an actual conversation on the way downtown to his office. I just want to take this moment to throw a shout out to whoever turned the stop signs on 2nd Ave into yield signs. Anyway, the sky is always pretty behind Dragonfly and the Hippodrome and I really like that part of the drive.

I don't know how (probably those nifty traffic circles), but we got downtown a little early today and a combination of things inspired my next move. One, I've been craving sweet potato pie. Two, Megan works at the downtown Starbucks. Three, it seemed like a day for a treat. So, at 7:40 I decide to go buy myself a Chai Latte. Megan wasn't there, but Sarah Ladd's friend Avani was working and she gave me my drink for free! Thanks Avani! At 7:46, having spent a few extra minutes with E and about to embark on some nutmeg/allspice/clove tastiness, I get back in the car feeling pretty good about today!

BTW- Wondering how I get dressed so quickly? Here's my secret tip: gain 11 pounds in 4 weeks so only a handful of shirts fit you, subtract the ones that are dirty, combine with one of your 3 elastic-waisted bottoms that fit. Ta dah!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Namesake 2

I was looking through some old pictures and thought I would share with you how baby Carver James Stonerook is getting his name. Well, actually, I don't know much about our last name, except that Ethan's family is German (right, E?), but we'll do first and middle.

Carver's Gap is a section of the Appalachian Trail on the North Carolina/Tennessee border that we have hiked several times. Its such a beautiful, awe-inspiring part of the country, but mostly we love the amazing experiences we've had there.

These are from our most recent trip in June.

"Baby's first hiking trip (kind of)"

These are from "Thunderdome," the trip we took in November, 2007.

This is only part of the group that went!

These are from my first time on the trail in November, 2004.

And this is where his middle name comes from, The James'.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Working With Difficult People

I do. One person in particular. I have worked with this person in the past and thought that I never would again, but what do you know? I do. I'm not very good at it. I let this person get under my skin because it is very easy to do that. I don't speak highly of this person when they are not around. I could tell you all of the things they do and you would understand why. You would laugh and cringe and I'm sure you would relate because there are difficult people all over this place. I have been struggling with being nicer to this person for a while and I can tell you I'm not making too much of an effort.

I would like to share with you what I think God thinks about it. This is what Jesus said (in Matthew 5:43):

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
(I think by this He meant He gives everyone a fair chance. Any thought?)
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

There are so many people in my life that are easy to love. I have the best family and friends. I have a husband who washed my feet when I got home from work last night. I have a community of people here in Gainesville that care about me and pray for me and tell me I look cute pregnant. I walked outside today and was greeted by more beautiful weather than I could ever ask for. Actually, I don't think there has been a time in my life when I have been happier than I am today.

Would it be so hard to love this person? To pray for them? To greet them? Would it be so hard to be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect?


I started thinking about what it meant to be perfect. At first, I got frustrated with the ending of this passage. What kind of encouragement is that?? "Oh, hey, Val. Jesus here. Don't worry, all you have to do to this enemy of yours is be perfect like I am." Thanks Jesus.

But I know Him better than that. He has given me a way. He said all I have to do is ask, and I will be perfect, as He is. Whiter than snow.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MOES Thursday

Its always a good time. No one knows exactly when the tradition started, but we do know what to do every Thursday at 6:30. Eat some burritos. Our dear pals Sam and Megan always attend.

And Danny too.

And there are several that aren't quite regulars, but let's just say if we were a church, we wouldn't have them fill out the perforated visitor slip and put in the offering plate. Let me give you some examples: Katy and David, every resident of Shady Oaks (past and present), Natalie and Dan, Lindsay of course, and probably some more great people that I'm forgetting. So, if you ever want to make a guest appearance, we'll consider it your audition for "regular" status. I hope you do. Plus, everyone watches The Office at our place afterwards. Unless there is a Vice Presidential debate on TV, in which case the boys will watch football and the girls will sort through baby clothes, proud citizens that we are.

Well, I forgot all the other exciting things that I was going to tell you about today, so I'll just give you a couple future posts to look forward to. This week I have been saving up all my good elementary kid stories on the back of a school map. Get ready! Also, I'm sure I will have pictures to share after we get back in town Sunday. We are going to Tallahassee to stay with our friends, Adam and Casey Hammond. Don't worry, they're Gators. But Adam goes to medical school at FSU and Casey is becoming a nurse. They have an open house every October and it is so much fun! Here are some pictures from last year:

As you can see, there is usually quite a showing, so we are bringing the Aero Bed. Thanks Mom! Basically we eat a lot of food, hang out, watch the Gator game, play yard games and get to see the best little brother in the world! Hi Sam!

Alright, this fat-footed lady needs some sleep. Thanks for reading my blog!

BTW- MOES is a Southwest Grill just in case you live somewhere like Nebraska and are confused by my title.

PS- BTW means By The Way just in case you are out of the abbreviation loop.

PPS- I keep meaning to fill you in on Ethan's whole not eating thing. He's selling his body to science. He's doing a clinical research study and can't eat food outside of what they give him at the hospital. He doesn't get the vitamin B6 which is in pretty much anything with color. So just think about everything you eat all day, subtract all the things that aren't beige and that's what he gets. I think eating a menu of pasta with butter, bagels and jell-o is pretty painful for a person who normally daydreams about food as much as I consider my next blog (I'm getting addicted). I hope the new car/new bike/Ikea fund/diapers will be worth it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Hats

Ok, time to go make 10 pounds of Ronda's Cuban black beans for church supper!