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Our First Brave Blogista … Bethany Actually

It’s an immense pleasure to share with you a rather well-known blogista for this first feature. Many of you already know and love Bethany Actually. If you haven’t met her yet, then sit back because you’re in for a treat. She’s been described as an angel, not to mention pottery painter extraordinaire. In my blogging world, Bethany is my big sister. She was my sounding board while Hubs was in police academy and I had to be a semi-single parent. If I ever misspell something in a blog post, then I can count on Bethany to catch it and e-mail me! And when my Bridoodle was born, Bethany Actually sent me a fabulous care package that contained a hand-crocheted baby blanket. She’s a wonderful friend and I really look up to her. Please put your hands together for our first celebrity blogista …. Bethany Actually!

bethany-annalie-beach

Troy and I have been married for 13 years. We were married 9 days before my 21st birthday. Our daughter, Annalie is 4 1/2 years old and keeps me on my toes every day.

I’m seriously considering formal homeschooling starting next fall, which I am sure will be like adding a full-time job to my life. I don’t do any kind of organized lessons now, but I do consciously integrate reading and math lessons into our daily lives whenever I can. When we’re baking a cake, I talk to Annalie about how 1/2 plus 1/2 equals one; when I’m using the automated postal center at the Post Office, I let her read the ZIP code off the package and enter it into the machine; when she asks me what a word is, I encourage her to sound it out if I think she’s capable of it. Stuff like that. Even if most of it isn’t sticking, it’s building the foundation for later when it will stick.

cookingwithannalie

When I was a senior in high school, I went on a weekend trip to St. Louis with four of my friends. Our class’s senior trip to Chicago was cancelled, and the five of us had the money, and we somehow talked our parents into letting us go, my mom into letting us use her car, and the hotel into letting us stay in a room even though three of us were under 18. We crammed ourselves into the car, took turns on the 8-hour drive from Omaha to St. Louis, saw the arch, went to the free (and ultra-cool) science museum, played a lot of cards (speed and rummy) and just goofed around. We didn’t drink or do drugs or have sex (two guys and three girls). We ended the trip by driving four hours over to Springfield to visit my best friend Heather and her family. Heather’s mom Jane invited us to stay the night at their house, bless her heart, so we spent our last night of our “senior trip” crashed on couches and sleeping bags there.

Also of note, it was on this trip that I started crocheting again. My aunt had taught me to crochet when I was 5 or 6, and I made a baby blanket for a cousin born when I was 11. Erin (whose wedding cake I would later make) was one of the friends on that trip, and she had brought along yarn and hooks to make hats. She loaned me one of her hooks and some yarn, and I made my first hat on that trip. I made a couple more hats, and the following fall when Erin and I were roommates in our college dorm, we made little hat ornaments to give to all our floor-mates as Christmas gifts. Also, I crocheted an enormous red, black and green blanket for my dad that Christmas. I’ve been crocheting ever since and now sell a lot of my work in my Etsy shop.

annalie-stocking

I graduated from North High School in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1993. After that, I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln because I won a National Merit Scholarship to that school and thought I had to go there.

<boring explanation of National Merit Scholar selection process that sounds like I am bragging but really ends up showing you how naive I was>

National Merit Scholar finalists are determined by PSAT scores from 10th grade. Then in 11th grade you have to fill out an application, write an essay, and take the SAT. When you take the SAT you have to enter a school code where you want them to send your test scores, and if you get a scholarship that will be the school the scholarship is for. I had no idea where I wanted to go to college at the time, so I just entered a school I knew I could get into. Plus I never thought I’d actually win a National Merit Scholarship. So when I did win a scholarship, I just shrugged and said, I guess I’m going to UNL. What no one, including my crappy guidance counselor, bothered explaining to me was that as a National Merit Scholar I could have gotten a full-ride scholarship at almost any university in the country. Sheesh. Not that I’m bitter or anything…

</boring explanation>

Actually, I am not bitter. I got to have one of my best friends as a roommate freshman year, when we lived on Smith 3 with some truly awesome ladies. Sophomore and junior years I worked as an RA and loved it. I met Troy when I was a sophomore; we were RA’s in the same residence hall and started dating towards the end of that year. AND I could go home on weekends and do laundry since it was only an hour away from my parents’ house.

troy-annalie-bethany-pumpkins

In the middle of my junior year, I quit school so I could marry Troy and move with him to San Diego. The following fall I transferred to San Diego State University. I took classes there full-time and then part-time for four semesters before dropping out. The parking situation there was so stressful, it gave me nightmares and stomach aches. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but it’s the truth. I was so relieved to not have to worry about school any more. I do plan on going back to school and getting my degree one day (probably in English) but I’m in no hurry.

I dated a guy during high school, but we broke up at the end of my freshman year of college and I was very happy to see the end of that overly-dramatic relationship. A few months later I started working as an RA and met Troy. He had been engaged but his fiancee had realized she wasn’t cut out to be a Navy wife and broke it off. We became friends; later we became good friends; and eventually people started asking us if we were dating. We thought maybe we should take that as a hint that we should be dating. A few months later we were engaged, and a year later we were married. Troy is still my best friend and the person who can make me laugh more than anyone else. Being a Navy wife isn’t always a picnic, but I’d rather be married to Troy in the Navy than not be married to Troy at all. Also, Troy told me before we were even dating that if his wife ever told him she couldn’t stand it anymore, he would get out of the Navy because his family would always come first. So far, the Navy has been remarkably good to us and we don’t have any immediate plans to get out.

annalie-braids-fountain

When we moved to San Diego, I got a job as an AVID tutor at a middle school. I worked there for three years and loved it. In Virginia I worked in an extended-care program at a small Lutheran school, and would have happily continued working there if we had not moved to Arizona. Not long after we arrived in Arizona I found out I was pregnant with Annalie. Since then I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and have loved every minute of it….well, 99% of the minutes.

Gramaw Debbie

My mom is great, thanks for asking! She’s sitting on the other end of the couch (we’re watching Prince Caspian), since she and my dad have been here for Christmas. She makes a really delicious tuna salad sandwich:

Drain a can of tuna. Dump in a bowl and add a generous tablespoon or two (to taste) of Miracle Whip, a teaspoon or so of mustard, and a spoonful of sweet pickle relish. Chop up a dill pickle and a stalk of celery and add that. Finely chop about 1/4 c. red onion (or white or yellow or even green onion, as you like) and a boiled egg. Stir it all up, adding more Miracle Whip or mustard if you need to, or even a splash of dill pickle juice. Spread generously on whole wheat bread, top with lettuce, cheese, or whatever you like.

screen shot of bethanyactually.com

My current blog has been around since October 2007. I write about whatever we’re doing in our daily lives—cooking, crafting, going to the beach, traveling, whatever funny things Annalie is saying—and I post some of the many photos I take every day. The online friends who read and comment are wonderful, and they make blogging more fun, but the audience I have in mind when I write and take photos are the friends and family who live far away and don’t get to see us very often.

I actually have been blogging, after a fashion, since 1997! I used to have a personal website on the free webspace our ISP allotted to us, which I coded myself by hand. I also kept up additional sites whenever Troy went on long deployments, with information about what ports he’d visited, photos he’d sent me, emails he had written, etc. I maintained that personal site for seven years, until Annalie was about four months old. At that point I realized I wasn’t going to have the time to keep up the site the way I wanted to, so I took it down and put photos on a photo-sharing website instead. I figured someday when I had more time I would have a website again.

groupofbloggersandkids

Around that same time, I was introduced to the world of blogs. The Trixie Update (still exists, but basically on hiatus), The Reign of Ellen (no longer exists), and Dooce were the first blogs I read on a regular basis. Through Ellen I was introduced to Secret Agent Josephine, whose real name is Brenda and who has become one of my closest friends. Around the same time I started posting photos on Flickr, and somehow found the 7 Days self-portrait group, which is loads of fun (as Cindy knows) and the Color Me Happy Swaparooni (where Cindy and I first met!) and loved the community there. Through Flickr and Brenda I met many other bloggers and was nudged into starting my own blog.

And that’s how bethany actually was born.

annalie-snowballs-yell

Annalie has really been into making up stories lately. She’ll be playing with her toys, making them “talk” to each other or telling them stories about when they were babies. Today we were sitting at the table and Annalie was sort of talking to herself under her breath, and I heard her say, “They build a house in your brain, and there’s a fence…” and then she got even quieter and I couldn’t make out what she said after that. The things that go on in her head! She never fails to surprise me.

11 Responses

  1. I often forget that Bethany arrived in my computer via 7 Days. It just seems like she and I have been in the same gang for ever.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bethany’s interview! How fun! I feel like I know her a lot better now.

    I just sent my stuff off to you. It should be in your inbox.

  3. Bethany says Hi! Great interview!

  4. I so pink puffy heart Bethany, but this line made my eyes tear a little…

    “but I’d rather be married to Troy in the Navy than not be married to Troy at all”

    especially because I know that it isn’t a sacrifice to her to say that…it’s probably not something she even thinks about often.

  5. oops, hit submit too soon.

    And I wanted to say hi to citystreams as well…I am in several Flickr groups with her but didn’t realize it…lol! I’ll be frequenting more often now!

  6. Bethany is actually one of my favorite bloggers! :)
    (And now that I’m surprised that you have a blog, too, I think I’ll have to use some of ALL OF MY FREE TIME, HA! and stalk some other 7 dayers to see who else is blogging.)

  7. I love Bethany, thanks for featuring her. She really is an extraordinary individual!

  8. I was Bethany’s social director in Maryland for 3 years (wait…how did she not even mention MD in the interview?) and now faithfully read her blog so I thought I wouldn’t read anything new in this interview. Wrong! Learned more and can’t wait to see if the tuna recipe works with chicken!

  9. Rebekah – I don’t know how I managed to not mention Maryland. Oversight? :-) In case you’re wondering about the social director thing, Bekah is a good friend of mine. I always told her she was my social director because pretty much every social thing I got involved in while we lived in Maryland was because of her!

  10. Lovely interview! I’ve seen Bethany sprinkled about the blog world for some time now but never faithfully followed her blog! This is a mistake that I intend to rectify immediately. :)

    And I miss The Reign of Ellen. She was The Coolest.

  11. Sam – I miss the Reign of Ellen too! That was a great blog.

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