c'est une fille...

Welcome to the world, MaKinlee Mae Carpenter - Two proud parents, Aaron’s cousin, Alicia, and her husband Brandon welcomed a healthy 8 lb. 4 oz. baby girl on Tuesday morning. The new parents couldn’t have been more excited!
We stopped by the hospital yesterday to visit the newest addition to the family, and she is precious. A perfect little doll. We’re so happy for you ‘three’!


happy campsite.

...and we're back from a little weekend in the wilderness!

Julie (graduated year ahead of me, & we now work together) and her boyfriend, Jay, were planning a weekend trip to the great outdoors & asked us lil' campers to join in on the fun. We met up with another OU genetic counseling alum, Christine, and her husband, Bill, for a couple nights down at Lake Murray. We had such a fun weekend just hanging out and exploring our outdoorsy-sides.

It's about a 2 hr. ride south of the city, plus and extra half hour to find that perfect campsite - you know, the proper checklist of firepit, charcoal grill, picnic table, flat grass and tree coverage, and proximity to both the lake and bathrooms. We all had to work on Friday, so we didn't get the party started until pretty late the first night...

...but, we got the tents up & fire crackling in no time. We had plenty of hot dogs, burgers, & s'mores to keep us quite satisfied all weekend. That Backpacking & Camping class at Baylor sure came in handy. ;) Yes, it's a real class. Yes, we took it. (in fact it met a core requirement) Yes, your final exam is how well you load your backpack for the end of the semester overnight trip. what a great education, I'll say.

our 5-star suites...
from our tents [not our bridges] we could hear Andy making some very bad decisions.
Julie & Jay were our seasoned breakfast chefs - who delivered a very non-continental spread of pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, toast... Aaron said he's not going camping again without them.These early birds were...up using their worms.
A real angler herself.
I'd say we found a great campsite in the dark...because in the morning, we discovered this was our frontyard. Can you see how clear the water is?
We could see the fish, just had trouble getting them interested in us.
the six 'rowdy' screamin' campers who earned a late night visit from Officer Friendly.
now, when I say screamin', I don't mean yellin'. we don't know him, and he doesn't know us. I don't know if you have any weapons, but....there's been some complaints of wood chopping. Oh, now come on. No, you already admitted it. instead of being a murky, muddy lake, it was actually more rocky. there were scuba divers out enjoying the 15 ft. visibility. I've never seen a lake so clear.
just more landscape shots for ya. the weather was so perfect- we managed to swim during the day, & it was cool enough at night to still be warmed by the campfire. Our 'activity' for the day.
I've already been checking out craiglist to get Aaron & I one of these. They're so much fun!
The great Kayak Races of '08.
the view from my seat. ...see, this new little camera is being put to good use. My SLR doesn't like to swim.

it was a very good thing we weren't depending on the fish for dinner.us happy campers just before the sunset... one of the great things about camping, no rush. no agenda. no one ever knew what time it was. even preparing each meal is a great activity. and sure, it definitely takes some effort. but, well worth it.

cheers kiddos to weekend well played. shower up & have a good start to the week -


a fair september saturday...

You've all seen the local commercials...the Oklahoma State Fair rolled into town last week, & we Chaloners just couldn't let it get away without a little saturday sampling.

and Sunday stomach-aches.

Corn dogs. Roasted corn. Cinnamon rolls. Root beer jugs. Indian tacos. Fried Mashed Potatoes. Chicken on a stick. Crazy Taters. ... seriously. Sarah & Cody joined us after we'd been there for a whole three hours, we were all suprised that the only thing we'd actually done was go to the car exhibit & EAT.

Clearly nothing is off-limits. If it'll go in a fryer -or- on a stick (or, the best - Both!), they'll serve it up @ the OK State Fair.

They don't teach this kind of stuff at Baylor, do they Melody?
This is why you go. Ridiculous exhibits like this. 2 years ago we were captivated by "Snake Woman" - the head of a beautiful woman, with the body of an ugly snake! This year, they'd accomplished another miracle of science, Spider Girl. Poor thing. no, really.

What do people actually do with these if they win?

I'm not fooled into thinking that vegetables bathed in butter are any better than those fried tickets to an angioplasty. But, I had to double-dip with the roasted corn. Worth the price of admission, my friend.


Summer book club.

I have quite the substantial library fine. Go get a library card if you don't have one. & to think, I was trying to cut down on my Amazon orders? but, really, their free shipping on orders over $25 [nothing short of fantastic] has really filled my bookshelves.
I thought I'd share some of my recent summer reads... there were many, a friend to the jobless, of course. Our motivations to read are so versatile. You can tell this by the look on your friend's face after book-name-dropping Confessions of a Shopaholic or asking what they thought about The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca ?
I would say I'm 80% a part of the entertainment-escapism-relaxation crowd. & 20% of the more non-fiction, teach me something, lets explore our spirituality crowd. I think the ratio may shift a little as I get further away from the dissuasion of 'required reading' which quickly filled up that 20%.
My books find me near the end of the day - almost always with candles & a warm bath...[I'm certain I won't be able to keep up this tradition forever, but for now, I'll endulge.] ...So, I'm usually looking for a sweet story, a triumph overcome, and always a witty (but with as little pretentious-cynicism as necessary) look at life...

Memory Keeper's Daughter - by Kim Edwards
I have to say, the genetic counselor in me probably initially drew me to the subject. It's a story of a baby born with Down syndrome, and the journey of several families involved in a momentary decision that profoundly affected all of them for the rest of their lives. It demonstrated a joy for these children, and the challenges that families face from any angle. It stirs within those universal feelings and wonder of whether decisions we make are for good or for harm, and how they will effect those we love.
Middlesex - by Jeffrey Eugenides
You know, this also probably stemmed from a genetic counselors curiosity. I really enjoyed this book, and I'd say it comes highly recommended. It a narrative of a boy born a genetic condition resulting in ambiguous gender at birth - and his psychological identity struggle being rasied female...but, really it's even more than that. You'll have to see for yourself. After I finished, I was even more suprised to learn that Jeffrey Eugenides was the author of Virgin Suicides. Loved the movie, but haven't read it.
Bonk - by Mary Roach
a very sexy subject... it's a non-fiction exploration into the science of sex. there's plenty to learn, and plenty that will furrow your eyebrows. She's a fun author to read, a essay/documentary style - this is the third book I've read by her. No, they aren't all on the same subject matter. My favorite is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. give it a shot.
On Chesil Beach - by Ian McEwan
I grabbed this one on the sure enjoyment of his other book-turned-movie Atonement. It's a short read - literally, 2 evenings. Kind of left me wanting more, but not in that great-book-that-leaves-you-wanting-more way...more in that, did-the-plot-ever-really-get-going-kind-of way? There were pieces that I enjoyed, but I'd say skip this one.
Running with Scissors - by Augusten Burroughs.

I guess he could be considered my 'headliner' for the summer. I also went through Dry, and Magical Thinking, and Possible Side Effects--all by Augusten Burroughs. I will tell you to check out his series...but some of you probably wont really get into it. This is one of those books that you recommend to some of your friends, and maybe not to others. I, obviously, thoroughly enjoyed his writing. He reads very stream-of-consciousness, personal, day-to-day. The storyline, his story (maybe with a few liberties taken?) is a bit untraditional - a memoir of a boy caught in a disturbing childhood, from leaving the home of his insane mother to moving in with the even crazier family of her psychiatrist and coming to realize he's gay. A bit unorthodox, if you will. The later novels in the series explore his battle with alcoholism and other struggles.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
C'mon, when's the last time you got lost in a fairytale? A fantasy reminder of prince charming and happily ever afters. This one came recommended by Tiffany - were your archives not erased, I would link to your passionate post about this story. Ladies, you know you're interested.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

I've already forgotten the plot line of this book...which doesn't bode well for this one, does it? But you all know I have a terrible memory. I don't really remember much about the Dark Knight movie either, but it sure rocked.

Then we Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

I enjoyed it at first, but it never quite picked up. It's a look into your quintessential work dynamic. It intrigued me as someone compared it to a narrative similar to my favorite TV comedy, The Office. I must heartily disagree, and say it was borderline depressing. or maybe, I don't enjoy the cynical, I'm-smarter-than-you-are writing style as I did in my Chuck Palaniuk days. I didn't finish it...I'm definitely not one of those people who has to finish a book. Why waste all that time?
Behaving Like Adults by Anna Maxted

Chick-lit, I believe is what they call this? She's got a handful of witty lines, and can keep the plot rolling for a while. I'd say it's a easy beach read... but, just that. This is as "new release" as the metropolitan library system gets. I'd pick up another of hers, when I pay my fine.

The Raw Sharks Texts by Stephen Hall

This book is....very very different. But, it was quite fun to read. I took a chance on one of the Barnes & Noble "our staff recommends". It's a science fiction story that... well, it's really difficult to adequately summarize. So, hang on, I'm going to copy + paste: "Eric Sanderson is jolted awake one morning to discover that he does not know who he is or where he is. All that he has to cling to is a series of letters and packages—which he is warned not to open—signed “with regret and hope” from the First Eric Sanderson. Attacked in his own home by a force he cannot see and memories he cannot ignore—including those of a perfect love now lost—Eric tears open the parcels and discovers he is being relentlessly pursued by a shark that may exist only in his mind that stalks him through the flows and streams of language and human interaction. Hunting the answers as he is hunted, Eric is led on a journey that will either bring the First Eric Sanderson back to life or destroy both Eric Sandersons forever."
You'll definitely have to read several of the pages more than once. If you take a chance, let me know. I gave it to my brother to explore, it'll be interesting to hear what someone else takes from it.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
A very capturing read, almost a little too heavy for a leisurely bath-time paperback. I enjoyed the historical narratives entwined with existential philosophy. I'm getting tired, so I'm going to 'insert' another little synopsis for you here. Set in 1968 Prague, the novel details the circumstances of life for artists and intellectuals in Communist Czechoslovakia in the wake of the invasion by the USSR. The book centers on the idea that existence is full of unbearable lightness, because each of us has only one life to live: Therefore, each life is, ultimately, insignificant; every decision, ultimately, does not matter. Since decisions do not matter, they are light, they don't make us suffer: they do not bind, yet simultaneously, the insignificance of our decisions — our lives, our being — is unbearably light, hence, the unbearable lightness of being. Because of the subject, some critics labeled this novel modernist, while others see it as a celebratory post-modern explosion of narrative craft... see what I mean?

What's on deck?
I'm just wrapping up Sex God by Rob Bell. A picture of the ties between, you guessed it, Sex and God and Heaven and Relationships, the joys and the wounds, the inseparable seams that connect them all. I'd like to pick up his book Velvet Elvis next.
oh, yes, and I did read Confessions of a Shopaholic. but, I think that's pretty self explanatory, no? ....and, no, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca is on the bookshelf in our study, but clearly, it belongs to Aaron.
At Tiffany's suggestion, I think I'll give the Twilight series a shot.
but, I'm always looking for something new [to fill up that Amazon cart]...any ideas?


all a bit of silliness really...

Game Night = wiki's vs. twitters.

just an easy, breezy weekend with my boys...


as the storm blows on...out of control...

Oklahoma City is officially welcoming the NBA...

Say hello to the O-K-C Thunder!

10,000 season tickets have sold in the first three days since announcing the team's move to the midwest... I'm sure Aaron & I will grace the cheap seats a time or two this season. Regardless of the sport, who doesn't have fun going to a game? They're holding try-outs for the dance team this week, too bad I just found a job. darn.
Aaron's feelings on our new team name: "the OKC thunder, we sound menacing...but pose no actual physical threat."

We're gonna hear a lot of Garth Brooks & a lot of AC/DC.


I stumbled upon you and gracefully basked in your rays...

the lazy days of summer are nearing their end...

an irreversible tradition is set within us from childhood--that the summer months will bring a carefree, easy-going, lemonade & backporch swing kind of day... Regardless of how hard you try, you must concede that this feeling is not easily broken. Routines are happily interrupted, errands become a lower priority, the rules become stretched, you bring out the backyard (or balcony-) grill, and enjoy the sunshine until past 9 pm... fireflies in the mason jar. Can we just hold on to this breezy, simple feeling?

then followed that beautiful season... Summer....filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood. - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowSummer's not even my favorite season, and it evokes such endearment.

It's as if we're little solar-powered creatures, and summertime provides just enough of a 'recharge' to keep us ticking all year long. It's lively...it's refreshing. I would say we summer-ed well this year, clearly marked by going through 7 bottles of sunscreen. and the lingering smiles on our faces...

But then, my friends, we only have this on deck. Not a bad line up, Lord.
...delicious autumn! my very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -- George Eliot


special event coming up?

So, I was asked to spread the word... and this is a handy personal outlet. Not to mention, I've had 53 visitors in the last 24 hours ?! [Strange considering I could count the number of friends/family that I know come by here on two hands. and my regular 'commenters' are at a grand total of six!] But, hey, here's some publicity, bro. ;)
So, I thought I should share with everyone about the recently developed Second Bakery Productions. Founded my brother Trae, specializing in film/video production for nearly every medium. He definitely has a passion for this art, but I'll just let you go to his website to read all about it!


birthday weekend...

Here sits a 'quarter-centurian' back to report on a lovely birthday weekend at the lake...
25. I've been sitting on the twenty-something couch long enough to leave a butt print... but not quite ready to get up. Happily situated in my mid-twenties now. Someone I work with said that 26 was the age when she no longer felt old. I was quite perplexed by this, until I started to understand where she was coming from... At least in my profession, the early-twenties is a time of hard work & discipline, and a quite a few sacrifices... a handful of boring weekends and weeknights buried in the books. so, now, I've arrived at my 'destination' if you will. Although I will continue to grow in my field, it all comes at different pace - the pendulum of work-play being shifted to more of my control...spending my spare time exploring people and interests, rather than memorizing the cranial nerves. ...sooo....drag that pendulum way over on the fun side, and let's hit the hot springs...

Our first evening on the lake. Just before a delicious meal and a rousing effort from the Yugoslavian, German, & Jamaican water-basketball teams.

our view from the lakehouse.

Who me?

I probably took 10 pictures, with Emma looking curiously at the camera every time...

The happy family.

Brithday mornin' just cruising around Lake Hamilton in the boat.

I don't think any of the pictures capture how beautiful this place was. The Ozark Mountains don't really get too much attention do they? Quite a refreshing landscape.Trae & Logan spotted this rocketship and had to have it, just another toy to add to the 'drag-me-behind-the-boat-try-not-to-get-hurt' collection. 2 people in the rocketship = scary. Dad said we flew up nearly 6 feet once he picked up speed. It's probably the wings? Bouncing around in this and the ski boat + riding our bikes = a dangerous combination for some sore bodies. Something quite hilarious about seeing a grown man in a kid's rocketship.
Showing off her midriff. Look out, Da-da.

They cooked a delicious birthday dinner & suprised me with a yummy chocolate fudge cake! Presents-time! uh-mazing.
J'adorable.Hey, wait just a minute... Ahh, cover your eyes Aunt Jae, he's coming after us with that big flashy thing again. ...Oh hey, I think I know that guy! Peg-Leg Pete gearing up for some mini-golf.
Money shot. Cheeseburger pose. woo, spring break!
High 'stakes' wagering on this golf game. Too bad we tied. :/ my boys.
...drink up me hearties yo ho.

One car headed back East the next morning, but Aaron & I decided to stick around and check out the springs. Have you heard of the famous bathhouses that line the streets in this city? I was not familiar with this historic practice. Until the advent of modern medicine in the late 1940's, visitors from around the world flocked to the natural hot springs to bathe in its healing thermal waters. Historic 'Bathhouse row' was built atop the tunnel of mineral springs to provide a luxurious setting for therapeutic and relaxing baths. And all this time, I thought the 'hot spring' was just a warm muddy hole. There are still bathhouses in operation today. This, obviously, not being one of them. They had one of the largest ones that had been preserved open to tour. To me, I'm far too modest and possibly too germaphobe to ever consider this. There were photos of people scrubbing each other, wrapping each other in warm towels...can't imagine why community bathing is no longer as popular.
But, you can see how fancy? Marble benches, elaborate statues, stained glass ceilings.

We spent the afternoon walking around the historic downtown and then rode up to the top of the mountains in the National Park. always living on the edge...

the more time we spend in the great outdoors, the more Aaron & I are starting question our city-folk status.

well, the birthday just keeps on going... they surprised me at work on Tuesday with some birthday goodies! We still have a dinner to celebrate with the Chaloner's coming up, and Aaron & his parents gave me the new Olympus 1010! I had been wanting a smaller point-and-shoot camera that I could take where my SLR couldn't really go. & it is awesome. I'd say I'm all set, photography-wise. It has so many new modes [the crazier ones being things like behind glass, documents, fireworks, underwater] I'm not sure what sensor-shift image stabilization or face detection software is, but it sounds like something I'd need working for the CIA.

...Thanks to all for a memorable 25th!