Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama, Part 2

Khy, all ready for church!

We woke up Sunday morning and got ready for church. I love Robin's church... it's full of great folks who have ALWAYS made me feel welcome. The preaching is good and the music terrific. Anyway...

Hanging out in the church nursery. :)

After the service, Robin's dad took us all out to a local restaurant to celebrate her birthday with her brother, Jesse, and his wife, Kathy. I regrettably forgot to pull out my camera, so I have no photos from that lovely meal. :)

After lunch, Robin's mom offered to watch Khy while he napped, and Robin, Rachel, and I ducked up to Green Mountain in Madison to enjoy the scenery.

The twisty, windy road up to the mountain top.

The entrance to the part. Rachel poses for the camera. :)
There are beautiful nature trails running through the part, but we chose the one that led to the covered bridge.

I was enthralled with the beautiful lake... It reminded me of a story I had written several years ago that took place near a lake. It was actually kind of eerie, in a positive, "have I wandered into my imagination?" kind of way. :)

There's this adorable little "seat" formed by the tree, so Rachel took advantage of it. Though not half as cute, I also tried it out. :)

A little footbridge on the way to the covered bridge.

The covered bridge overlooking the lake.

I didn't know this about my best friend, but apparently she is a little nuts about turtles. :) There were about 15 turtles of various sizes who kept diving and resurfacing and following each other around, and just generally being cute, and every three seconds Robin would call "Look!" in a very excited voice. I'd run to the side of the bridge to look out, and there would be... a turtle. As she said... "I really like the turtles!"

Rachel took a moment to reflect.

"Look - turtles!" :)

The beautiful view from the bridge window.

Rachel takes a moment to capture just the right picture. Rachel is a true photographer - we will walk past the same thing, she will pause to take a picture, and the picture will reveal a completely different aspect than I saw.

Literally "hanging out!"

We went back for the evening service at church, where they honored the graduating seniors, Rachel among them. Afterwards was a reception, where I got to snuggle some more with Khy (lol, I crammed the next two or three months worth of holding into this weekend!). Afterwards, Robin's mom took Khy home to put him to bed, and Rachel, Robin, and I went to a late showing of Letters to Juliet. Which I also loved and was actually pretty impressed by. :) I love seeing movies on vacation, because months afterwards, when you see the movie again, it brings back all those good memories of the places and people you love. :)

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama, Part 1

I'm home today, but oh, it was so hard to come home! It's always hard to come home and be away from Robin, but this trip was just so especially fun, and Khy so especially cute, and he's growing up so fast... it kind of broke my heart because I knew that the next time I saw him he'd probably be crawling (or walking - the little guy is practically doing backflips already!!!). They grow up so fast and it kills me to be so far away. I guess I am a little upset today. :(

Anyway... as I said, it was a terrific trip and I'm alway amazed at how much we manage to cram in to these weekends!

On Saturday, I arrived at the airport in plenty of time for my flight, and then they announced that my 8 AM flight was going to be delayed for an hour and 45 minutes. I only had a 50 minute layover in Tennessee, so I went to the Delta desk to ask if they could arrange another connection for me. I handed the agent my boarding pass, and she told me I wasn't on the 8 AM flight. ???? She said my flight - the 8 AM flight - had been rescheduled for 6 AM, so I'd missed it. However, the 10 AM flight had also been rescheduled for 8 AM, so she said she'd put me on that. But it was still going to be delayed for an hour and 45 minutes, so I was still going to miss my connection, I pointed out. (I realized later that since the 10AM-turned-8AM-turned-9:45AM flight was going to Atlanta, instead of Tennessee, I was actually going to miss my connecting flight no matter how late my flight was delayed, but neither the agent nor I actually realized this. Although I have an excuse, since she hadn't handed me my new boarding pass and I had no way of knowing that I was going to Atlanta instead of Tennessee). This seemed to puzzle her. She finally booked me on a flight that left for Huntsville at the same time my original connection would have taken off. I thought that this was stupid, since mathematically, there was no way I was going to make this flight. Anyway, the agent said there really wasn't much I could do about it, I "might make the connection" and if not then get the agent there to help me. Okay...

The flight was delayed EXACTLY 50 minutes; we touched down, I grabbed my bag and ran. There were about 5-8 of us on the flight who had extremely tight connections, and we flew down the entire length of the Atlanta airport trailing our bags. This airport is big - you can take a bus from one end to the other. I ran it and pulled up just as the flight pushed back from the gate. The agent there was extremely nice - he felt really bad for me and said they'd waited for us as long as they could. :(

I called Robin to tell her not to come get me, as I had missed my flight. My best friend is getting pretty used to this routine, sadly. I went to the Delta help desk and the agent there found me a seat on a 1:40PM flight to Huntsville. Originally all she could find was a 4:30PM flight, but I started babbling on about how how it was my best friend's birthday, we had plans and were going to go to a music festival that night which would be impossible if I didn't land until 4:30, etc, etc, and either through pity or whatever, she put me on the 1:40 instead. Because I picked up an hour, I landed at 1:40, still almost three hours later than my original flight but WAY better than 4:30.

I sat in an airport cafe for awhile, reading a magazine and drinking really bad iced coffee, and then went to board for my final flight.

At D.C. I actually took the trouble of putting my bag into one of those "check it, or check it" bins, because even though it's an overnight bag, it's soft-sided (I have my eye on a hard case for my next bag) and I tend to overstuff it. It fit, no problems, and I hadn't had any issues on the flight down, but it either shifted from being carried on its side or this airplane was smaller, because I would not fit into the overhead bin. Not even close. The steward watched me as I lifted it up and then couldn't get it into the bin, and when I turned around to ask "What now?" he snatched my bag from me and started ranting about "all you who don't bother to check your bags and then expect us to fix it for you, blah blah blahblahblah." And he basically disappeared with my bag. I was a little stunned. I expected him to bring me a pink valet tag, and he never did, so when I got off the plane I asked the other stewardess where to pick up my bag.
"They'll bring them to the top of the ramp," she said. So I went to the top of the ramp and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I went back to the agent. "Are you sure they'll be here?" I asked.
"Oh, they'll take them around the corner," she tells me. I'm ticked now. "You said they'd bring them HERE!" I pointed out.

"Well... here around the corner."


By the time I made it around the corner, the bags had come and gone, and my bag had gone to unclaimed baggage, which was exactly what I DIDN'T want to happen. Since unclaimed baggage is beyond security anyway, I decided to go ahead and find Robin and then my bag.
So I start walking towards baggage claim and as I come down the stairs I see a crowd of people, holding a "Welcome" sign. This is cute., I think. And then...everyone sees me and starts yelling "Welcome to Alabama, Sarah!" and giving me hugs... except I don't actually know any of them. :) Turns out a family from Robin's church was also at the airport to pick up their daughter, so they decided to help welcome me, too! It was quite a surprise.

We had planned on going to see the new treehouse exhibit, and then we were going to meet Robin's brother, Jesse, for a music festival, but by the time I got in, we were all so hot and tired that a girl's night in with a movie and snacks sounded 100 times better. :)
We stopped for lunch at Chick-fil-a, then stopped in at the grocery store to pick up diapers and snacks (lol, I can't honestly say that I saw THAT combination in our future!).
Poor Rachel had graduated the night before, and then gone to a late graduation party, so she was pretty exhausted. :)
At home, I got to hang out with Khy, who was a little leery of me at first but warmed up fast, and watch episodes of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? I think we disturbed Khy a little bit with our hysterical laughter. :)

Mrs. Shaffer cooked the most scrumptious lasagna for dinner... Seriously, I thought I was going to die! Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes and it's the one thing I can't really get out in town, and can't make at home because of the food allergies of my family. Since Robin's birthday was on Friday, we celebrated at dinner and had some delicious cake. :)
Robin's dad - now "Grandpa!" - lights the candles on Robin's birthday cake.
Khy wants some birthday cake, too!
"Aunt" Rachel, who is photographing the event, takes a moment to play with Khy.
The birthday girl blows out her candles!

I got to snuggle more with Khy after dinner, then when he went down for the night, Robin and I curled up on the couch to watch The Blind Side. I was really poised to hate this movie, and the first few minutes did grate on me just a bit, but I have to say that I'm actually a fan now. Definitely a great movie!

We rolled into bed around midnight, excited about the next day. :)

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things Pile Up*

*Yet another obscure literary reference. Anyone got it yet? :)

On Saturday, I am zipping out to Alabama for a long weekend to celebrate my best friend's birthday. Which is actually on Friday, the twenty-first, but do you know how EXPENSIVE it is to fly on a Friday? Seriously, I think I saved about $100 by flying out Saturday morning instead of Friday night. I am sad that I won't get to spend the actual day with her, but still excited about the chance to see her and Khy - who, I am told, is sitting up now and playing with the rattle I sent! When Robin and I talk on the phone, I can almost always hear him cooing or laughing in the background. Makes me want to hold him so bad!

So anyway, in order to make it to Alabama this weekend, I have the usual packing/laundry/etc to get done, but I also want to get some cleaning done so I can come home to a fairly clean/organized space and have clean clothes to wear. I also need to pick up Robin's gift (I have it picked out but haven't actually bought it yet) and wrap it, and write out the card (which I have bought) and wrap a graduation gift for her sister (and also my friend) Rachel, who is graduating on Friday (something else I'm sad to miss).

And because that's just not enough to keep me busy... The end of year open house/graduation ceremony for the co-op (where I teach) is on Friday, and three students are graduating, all of whom I've taught in one capacity or another (either through co-op or the church's summer teen drama program). I have actually been really on the ball about this - I have the cards all written out and the gifts wrapped. But I also have to set up a display for both my classes and put together a scrapbook of sorts to show off our final projects. Also, my film class is trying to show the short we've worked on all semester, and I'm having issues with getting all the different parts of it sent to me in time. :(

In other words, it's going to be a crazy next few days! :)

Since I'm going to be out of town for three days, I told myself very sternly at the beginning of the week that I needed to jog every day. And then, of course, my treadmill died. And rather than being stymied, I Wii Fit-ed to make up the difference in time and discovered some new features. And when I found out that I just can't do my full time on the Wii (it really truly kills my hip), I pulled out our old stationary bike and began working on that. So now I have a weird mini-circuit in our basement: treadmill, bike, Wii Fit Strength program, treadmill, bike, Wii Fit Strenth program. I can't actually say that I like that as much as I like the treadmill, but it works. Anyway, today I absolutely do not want to go do any of it. I totally want to curl up in bed and watch Bones or Stargate. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Uh-Oh... We've Been Discovered!

One of the things I love the most about my job (nanny to my almost-2-year-old cousin, Abigail, for those of you who don't know) is that every day I get to spend time in an incredible house - seriously, this house is like something out of House Beautiful without the fuss-factor. It's part art-gallery, part museum, and all warm, nurturing space. :)

One of my favorite spaces is the incredible nursery Natalie has created for Abigail. I remember peeking into this nursery a few weeks before Abigail was born, and feeling the love that had gone into creating this space for the purpose of welcoming a new life. At this point we didn't know if we were going to welcome an Abigail or a Sawyer (although I was POSITIVE it was a girl, lol!) so it's been fun to see the pink gradually appear in Abster's room and wardrobe.

Last week, Abby's nursery was featured by the Low Tide, High Style blog, and I thought y'all might enjoy a peek as well! The photographs are beautiful, although I'm so sad the photographer failed to take a decent picture of Abby's "ACB" banner that Natalie handcrafted for her... to me, this seems like a GRIEVOUS oversight, since I feel like it's one of the most special parts of the room, but I guess I'm a little prejudiced. :)

In other news, there is no other news. :) Everything is going well which is boring but pleasant. Abigail threw her binky in the toilet this morning, and I completely freaked out (inwardly - outwardly I think I was pretty composed because I didn't want her to associate any kind of drama with the act) and texted my best friend for support as I fished it out with salad tongs (don't worry, they went into the dishwasher post haste!). I am now praying that Khy throws his binky into the toilet at the very first opportunity so she can share this traumatic moment.

Abigail did incredibly well at gymnastics today - I was pretty amazed since she is still recovering from her little run with bronchitis, but she probably did more today than she has in the last few sessions combined! She even asked to jump into the "pit" (big hole in the floor filled with foam cubes) and didn't look scared once - in fact, she "saved" me and gave me a big hug when I got "buried"!

This was my last gymnastics session with her... from this point forward, I get three day weekends and her mommy or daddy will be taking her. I get teary just thinking about it! I already miss her terribly by mid-Saturday... I don't know how I'll survive three whole days without my partner in crime. Last week when she was sick and with mommy it was hard. I may have to crash a gymnastics session once in a while to keep from getting too lonesome.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Things Break Down*

*(There is an obscure literary reference in this title... a student of mine began throwing out obscure literary references in class one week, with meaningful glances at me to see if I could name them. So far, I've named them all and stumped him once. :))

Last week, right in the middle of my run (the part where I'm about to get a second wind and feel like somebody pumped me full of lightning, to be exact), my treadmill died. I tried to fix it, to no avail. I got my dad to look at it, and he worked on it and got it running again, saying something about the thing having an internal circuit breaker to deal with static buildup (???). I didn't care - it was working again.

A few days later, the same thing happens. I reset it the way he shows me, but every six minutes afterwards it needs resetting. This is a little annoying, since I have to pause and jump down every six minutes, but okay.

Yesterday the thing died at six minutes and refused to be reset. I am annoyed. I tried substituting the Wii Fit, but the Fit seems to bug my hip (long story, but I sprained my back last month and while my back has healed up, my hip seems to be stubbornly refusing to heal).

I tried a mat routine yesterday (i.e. jogging in place, light weights, some step aerobics, etc) and kind of hated it. So today I went outside to run. Yes, that's how desperate I am. I went outside and dealt with the pollen, the gravel (which inevitably finds its way inside my shoe), the bugs, and the possibility of snakes (which we regularly find stretched across the road). It worked, but it was not satisfying in the way my treadmill is. :(

I don't know what I'm going to do today... I am going out with a friend from co-op tonight, and technically it is time for a rest day (I have been taking a day off every 4-5 days), so I'm contemplating taking a rest day today (especially since my hip is killing me today). I can't wait for dad to get home and fix my treadmill!

In other news...

Co-op ended today! I'm a bit sad about this - I love teaching - but on the other hand, I am looking forward to summer, and doing some traveling on the weekends, and directing the teen drama program at camp, and hanging out at the pool with the kids and Abigail on the afternoons. I love the cycle of seasons - I like marking the passing of time. :) I'm also looking forward to working on next year's curriculum over the summer! Should be a good year!