Monday, December 30, 2013

Loving On

- Coffee from Baltimore Coffee & Company. Maggie and I both got some for Christmas from Allen, and we're totally head-over-heels in love. So far we've tried "Frosty's Favorite," "North Pole," and "Santa's Elf," and we still have a package of "Starry Night" to break into. So, so good. Mm.

- This picture of the twins. Seriously, where did time go?!? Liz is still working and taking courses to get her massage therapy certification at the College of Southern Maryland (following in my footsteps with a VERY high GPA, lol) and Allen is also taking classes and was just hired at the local Japanese place, training to be assistant to the chef. :) I love em both so much and it's sort of killing me slowly to watch them be so grown up.

- Doctor Who. I know, I know, I know. But seriously.

- My new Vanilla Cedarwood candle from my friend Crisy. A-MA-zing!

- Being "on vacation" and staying over at my family's house for the past... um... week. *coughIswearI'mgoinghomesometimecough*

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lull (And A Randomizer)

It's been a crazy, crazy month. Especially this past week or so, where I had different jobs for different clients every day, sometimes multiple jobs a day, and all those last minute Christmas preparations, and - I'll admit it - my heart was desperate for some meaningful time with loved ones and family, so a lot of times when I should have been off accomplishing stuff, I was, instead, playing Hearts, watching movies, or otherwise hanging out with people.

A couple of times I kind of teetered close to the edge of "not okay" (this is historically the time of year when I struggle the most, even while on anti-depressants)... but by God's grace, I never actually slipped into depression, even though I kind of expected to.

But now the busy season is over! And there's the fun of New Year's to look forward to - which is going to be incredibly laid back this year, and involves a hotel reservation with a pool, giant Jacuzzi, a Starbucks next door, and a day off. Score! Plus, I have two full days with Abigail - can't wait for some Abby time! - and that always feels like a vacation. :)


- I've been staying at the big house ever since Christmas Eve, sleeping on Maggie's spare bed. It's sort of like being on vacation - huge bathroom, warm house, endless hot water, people all around - and I've definitely enjoyed the family time.

- I've also been working on cleaning/organizing my trailer, which kind of turned into a free for all during the holidays. It's awful. I'm going to be a better housekeeper in the coming year, I swear!

- I'm addicted to sushi, specifically the sushi at Asahi. It's ridiculous how much I've eaten there in the last month of so. I'm probably going to turn into a fish (for the record, my favorites so far are the "Under The Sea" roll - shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy tuna - and the "Hawaiian Islands" roll - California roll wrapped in salmon, then grilled).

- I got to watch the Doctor Who episode "Blink" this week. A.K.A., the weeping angels episode. My mind was totally blown, and I immediately downloaded it onto my tablet so I could show it to my sibs, who seemed a little more impressed than they were when I tried to describe Doctor Who to them. Then I discovered that I can stream episodes on my new smartphone fantastically, so I see a lot of watching in my future. :)

- I got a new phone - a smartphone!!! I'm totally in love. Lovelovelove. And my mom got one for Christmas, and I made the "mistake" of installing Words With Friends on it for her. ;) Don't worry - I'm winning! :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

From me, Zhiva, and Zinnia!
"Where is He that is born King? ... for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."
- Matthew 2:2

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Note To Myself

Remember -

~ Christmas Eve is not for shopping. You HATE shopping on Christmas Eve. There is NO such thing as "just ducking in" for ANYTHING, so do whatever you have to do - stay up all night, go out late, take a nap so you can plow through - but get it all done BEFORE Christmas Eve. (But if you absotively posilutely MUST go out... go to Prince Frederick. It's much, much less crazy than St. Mary's.)

~ There is no eggnog to be had for 100 square miles on Christmas Eve. Grab a half-gallon the day before.

~ Wrap the gifts already. You keep thinking there will be this magical moment when the house is clean, there are no more chores to do, Christmas music is wafting through the air, and you'll suddenly be struck with the urge to wrap presents. It's not gonna happen. Put it on the to-do list and get it done.

~ Don't sing at the Christmas Eve service. You'll actually enjoy the service!

~ And most importantly... If all your loved ones magically make it to town for Christmas Eve, and you're invited to go to dinner with everyone, go. By the end of the night, your heart will be happy no matter how frazzled you were at the beginning.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Love of Lately

It snowed last night - a beautiful, serene, peaceful kind of snow. I fell asleep watching it and it never occurred to me to worry about driving to work in it, which was good, because by the time I drove to work the roads were totally clear. Best of both worlds. :)
My front-porch d├ęcor. I found the plant stand on sale this fall for $6 after lusting after it for weeks; during the fall, it had a pumpkin on the shelf, a hanging basket of mums, and a burlap bow. Now it holds my lantern ($2 at the thrift store!), the beautiful boy Natalie made me last year, and a sprig of holly. :)
My Khy, opening his first "advent" gift. One of our traditions is that I send "twelve days of Christmas" gifts (this year I got to hand-deliver them!) - little things (crayons and coloring book, candy, modeling clay, a matchbox car, etc) leading up to the "big" gift on Christmas Day. :) My BFF is good about sending pictures capturing his smiles, and it totally makes my day.
I had the chance last week to hang out with one of my favorite "littles," C! On a whim I whipped up a batch of salt-clay dough and raided his mama's cookie cutter collection, and we made ornaments. :)
Earlier this week C's sister L had her class Christmas concert at a local nursing home, so I stopped in to watch and say hi! The class did SO WELL... and I want reindeer antlers, too!!!

Christmas Photo Shoot

Last week Abigail got a day off of school in anticipation of snow, sleet, and dangerous wintry conditions, which never truly materialized, so we packed a bag full of holiday clothes and headed over to my house to play with cousins and take her Christmas pictures. :)

She's growing up and changing so fast... :'( / :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Speeding Up, Slowing Down...

Lately, it feels like Thanksgiving was yesterday and Christmas is tomorrow. I knew this season was going to be busy, but lately I've just been feeling overwhelmed trying to balance the urgent with the important. Reconciling the fact that my sink is filled with dirty dishes with the fact that the kids want me to come play Hearts with them. Choosing between falling into bed comatose right now so I can wake up tomorrow somewhat rested, and getting that one more thing accomplished so that tomorrow isn't as crazy as today was. Trying to figure out where I can multi-task, and desperately craving some time to do nothing at all. So far I'm always halfway between success and failure on all fronts; the gifts are all wrapped (except three that I haven't even gotten yet), the Thank-You cards for the cast are all written (except for two that are labeled but still blank inside), decorations are put out (but the clutter on the kitchen table and the couch still hasn't been cleared off).

I'm trying hard to cut myself some slack, feed my soul, be strong and fearless and giving. Mostly I think it's working.


Our first cantata performance was last Sunday morning, and it was amazing. I was so proud of my cast and crew and how well everyone did, and I'm looking forward to this week's performance Sunday night. I've really enjoyed working with these folks, and I was officially asked last week if I'd be willing to do it again next year, so it looks like I'll get to do it again. :)

The last swim class of this year was on Wednesday, and now I have three weeks off! Three weeks in which to figure out what to do with the preschool program (I'm debating a couple of different ideas), study up on teaching higher levels (cuz it looks like I might get to expand my classes come the new year!) and enjoy having my evenings free. :) We promoted five kids on the last night of class - five kids!!! - and it was so much fun watching their faces when they realized all their hard work had paid off!
Not gonna lie - some kids I am so very glad promoted away from me, lol - but most of them I will totally miss, and was sad to see go. Especially my "O" (maybe six or seven?) who has struggled ever since the first class. He's so well behaved, and works so hard, and Maggie and I once said to each other sadly, "He's such a good student, but an awful swimmer!" I felt bad for him when his little sister promoted out of the class ahead of him, and he was clearly disappointed, but nowhere near ready to promote. Well... lately he'd been doing so much better, and on Wednesday he hopped in and did his ten bobs perfectly without stopping or pausing! And then he glided for five seconds, front and back, absolutely perfectly, so he ended up promoting two levels in one night. Seeing the difference in his skills now - how confidently he puts his face in the water, how strong his body is when he glides, how he lifts his head for a breath without flailing or stopping - just made my day. And he was giddy with happiness over being promoted, and gave me a huge hug. :)

I'm booking lots of jobs with various clients over the next two weeks. Part of me is amazingly grateful - I'm envisioning starting the new year with a renewed emergency fund and little more wiggle room in my budget - but the other part is kind of dreading the busyness of it all.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Five For Monday

1) I'm sorry if yesterday's post was a downer. It really wasn't meant to be, but this is why you shouldn't blog when your brain has gone into emergency shut-down, lol. My brain was still rebooting this morning, but after a salad for breakfast (whaaaat? Yeah, believe it or not, that's what I woke up craving!), a stiff cup of coffee, and a cup of tea, the fog is beginning to lift. It's a good thing, too - I need to be on my A-game today, because - wait for it -

2) I GO BACK TO TEACHING TODAY! :) I missed my kids and I'm really, really looking forward to go back. :) Today is going to be crazy, though, because Maggie and I have four preschoolers and two level 1's and the other teacher is absent. We'll have our hands full. But then Abigail is in our second class, and I have two semi-private lessons to teach, so it'll all turn out all right in the end.

3) I have a new client that I'm meeting with today, and she has a teensy-weensy baby girl that I'm super excited about getting to snuggle. And, not gonna lie, I'm also excited about picking up a little extra money this week. But, mostly about snuggling. :)

4) So yesterday was the first day of Advent. I've always wondered about Advent, when it started and what you were supposed to do and all that, but it only occurred to me today to Wikipedia it and actually find out. And it turns out that unless you're following strict liturgical laws (and, you know... I'm Baptist), the celebration of Advent is largely open for interpretation. Since I'm all about free and cheap this year (lol!) I signed up for a free daily Advent devotional that I can read on my phone. That sounded a lot cooler in my head. ;)

5) A friend sent me the link to this. It's pretty adorable. And don't even get me started on these - how did I not know about this?!?

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I am so fried tonight. My brain feels like it's shut down from a combination of sensory overload, multitasking, and general overwhelmed-ness. (That's not even a word, by the way. I think there's a real word that basically means the same thing, but I'm too tired to think of it.) Today was the first full dress rehearsal for the Christmas drama, and that meant that the cast, crew, choir, children's choir (yes, there's a children choir. I didn't know this until last week either.), and tech people (sound and lights) all came together like cogs in a machine. A machine that lurched and died and flooded and zoomed and eventually got to where it was going... but not without causing the drivers some heart attacks along the way.

Did I mention that today was an epic all-day event, starting just after church ended and ending as the evening service began?

I have faith (and know from experience) that on Friday, our final dress rehearsal, a lot of our issues will magically disappear, and those that don't will somehow iron themselves out before our first performance (on Sunday). And I'm not freaking out. But I sure would like a nap.

This week looks to be crazy-busy - Maggie and I go back to teaching swim in the evenings, I have a new client interview tomorrow afternoon and a job with said client on Thursday evening, and on Friday, of course, is our final dress rehearsal. Plus, I'm hoping to work in my tutoring job somewhere in there.

And, of course, I'd kind of like to find some time in between all this busyness to hang Christmas lights. Sweep the floor. Make decorations. Snuggle with my girls. Have a holiday movie night with the kids. I guess I feel like the time is slipping through my fingers and I'm too tired to take advantage of the moments. :(

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankgiving in Pictures

Our Thanksgiving table. Our guests this year were Mom's college roomate and her husband, and some of my dad's students from the Naval Test Pilot School.
My favorite part - the pies! :) Dad's students were very proud that they'd located two pies "without egg or milk," since they knew about the food allergies. Both actually did contain milk & eggs (casein, etc) but we were touched at their efforts :))

Fellowshipping around the table

Telling animated stories and laughing :)

After barking at all the guests as they arrived, Oliver was all worn out. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Thankfulness List

I Am Thankful
... to be alive.
... to be warm.
... to be fed.
... to be loved.
... to be healthy.
... to be safe.
... to be single.
... to be unafraid.
... for my home.
... for full propane tanks.
... for electric hookups.
... for heated hoses.
... for warm socks.
... for homemade soup.
... for air conditioning units.
... for the color gray.
(and the color orange)
... for sunshine.
... for my friends.
... for my family.
... for friends who become family.
... for cars.
... for planes.
... for telephones.
... for text messages.
... for FaceTime and Skype.
... for the Postal Service.
... for the wonder that is the Internet.
... for Pinterest, too.
... for books.
... for coffee.
... for the children in my life.
(especially the children.)
... for the blessings of harvest.
(especially the pumpkins.)
... that I have the best BFF in the world.
... that God gave her an amazing husband
... and a beautiful, beautiful son.
... that her mother is here to celebrate Thanksgiving.
... that He answers prayer.
... that He provides for all our needs.
... that His grace is sufficient.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Bucket List 2013

Note: I've decided to break up my bucket lists into "holiday" (starting the week of Thanksgiving and running til New Year's Day) and "winter" (starting New Year's Day and running until it starts to feel like spring ;)).

1) Decorate!
2) Drink hot cocoa with marshmallows or whipped cream
3) Celebrate when 97.1 turns into the Christmas music station (and then permanently switch the car radio over, lol!)
4) Go to Ann Marie Garden In Lights
5) Make cinnamon-dough ornaments
6) Eat pumpkin pie
7) Take a late-night shopping trip
8) Sew stockings for Zinnia and Zhiva
9) Read the Christmas story
10) Read A Christmas Carol
11) Watch my favorite holiday movies
12) Send Advent gifts to Khy
13) Make a Christmas craft with Abigail
14) Do a random act of kindness
15) Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
16) Burn holiday candles
17) Make a "thankfulness list"
18) Write thank-you cards for the Christmas cantata cast
19) Pull out Christmas music (and add a new CD to the collection)
20) Take a shopping trip just for Christmas cards
21) Buy new PJ's
22) Eat a leftover turkey sandwich :)
23) Read How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Abby
24) Go to bed early
25) Start an ornament collection
26) Send Christmas cards
27) Take a holiday photo
28) Go hear live Christmas music

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Oh. My. Word.

The weekend is over. Thank goodness.

It was a really good weekend. A lot was accomplished. Money was made (thank God!). But I'm kind of exhausted, and I've been around people almost nonstop for three days, and I'm really just looking forward to crawling into my trailer, locking the door behind me, and savoring the peace and quiet. :)

But first, a recap:

The Vintage & Farm Sale up at Boondoggie Farm was yesterday. This was the first time I've gotten to work a show, although not, oddly enough, the first time I've sold there (since I was sick the last show, Maggie graciously sold for me along with her own table). It was a small show that was totally outdoors, but within forty minutes I'd sold half my stock, Maggie had sold one of her biggest pieces, and the day kept going well. I came home with only three cozies left, tons of ideas, and a custom order. Can't wait to show again next month!

As soon as the show ended, I helped pack up our stuff so I could RUN to my next event - babysitting for a new client! I was a teensy bit apprehensive about it since, although I was recommended to them by a friend, they seemed a little... distrustful? nervous? (Apparently they've had bad experiences with sitters before :( ). But the night went terrifically - the girls (ages 5 & 7) were well-behaved, and we played games, read books, and played all night. Both were bathed, brushed, and completely ready for bed by the time their parents got home, and not only did the parents bring me a dessert from the restaurant they went to (!) but they paid me time-and-a-half my hourly rate and texted me a little later to let me know how pleased they were and how much the girls liked me, and would I come back again in the future? I think we're going to have a great relationship after all. :)

Today I was in the nursery at church with four little ones, all boys! Usually we have more girls, so that was a switch for me. I enjoyed getting to interact with them and everyone was reasonably well-behaved, so that made the morning much easier. :) Then this afternoon we had Christmas cantata practice - only two Sundays and three Saturdays left before the Big Day! :) I'm totally confident now, as everyone seems to have their lines down pat and the acting is starting to reach a new level of realism. So excited to see the fruit of all our hard work finally paying off!

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week. I'm looking forward to spending time with friends and family, and kicking off the Christmas season! :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sympathetic Pain

Disclaimer: This is a vent.

There's really only one way to say it: Abby's having a rough adjustment to kindergarten.

It's not that she's overwhelmed by the materials they're learning (if anything, I think she's a little puzzled about why people keep asking her to trace and copy N's and 4's and asking what sound the letter E makes, when she's known all that for at least a year) but she's just not down with the program. The days are too long. The slides are too big. There's not time for naps. She misses mommy (and, I suspect, the cousins and friends that have been a big part of her life up til now).

I know, I know. Apparently, these are pretty normal complaints from the kindergarten-going crowd, and it could be worse. But it still feels wrong. I was all prepared to soldier through my sad feelings when I was sure she was gonna love school and I was the one who dreaded dropping her off each morning. I was unprepared for what it would feel like if we both sat in the parking lot each morning, both wishing we could say, "Forget this - let's go on a Starbucks date together, then see what the cousins are up to... explore the marine museum... play games... make art... say 'I love you' a hundred times."

Yesterday, as we were sitting in the school parking lot waiting for the drop-off doors to open, she began concocting a plan in which, instead of dropping her off, I kidnapped her and took her home to spend the day with me, then returned her to the school parking lot right before mommy got there so it would look like business as usual. This morning, she told me very earnestly that she was going to come to live with me in my trailer, if I wouldn't make her go to school (there was, she pointed out, plenty of room in my bed, and she'd help take care of Zhiva and Zinnia).

And even though I smile and tell her she's such a silly goose... part of my heart breaks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

(Another) Randomizer

1. Right after we got back from Alabama, Crisy texted me to ask if she could drop some clothes off for me. I was kind of dubious, since Cris and I are not the same size (at all. not even close.), but when I got home I was amazed to see a couple big bags full of clothes, almost all of which fit me beautifully! (Turns out, they weren't her clothes, she was just passing them on. :)) And they were gorgeous! Cute cardis and adorable tops and some dresses that almost made me wish for summer again. I had so much fun trying everything on and mixing up new outfits - I've been wanting to shop for new clothes so badly, but it's totally just not in the budget right now, what with winter coming on and the holidays approaching. And this was like having my own private shopping spree. I was totally blessed and wasted no time in telling her so. Oh! And did I mention that, included in that big pile of clothes, was a top I'd been yearning for just recently?!? Yup. It's official. Crisy is God's messenger. :)

2. Speaking of holidays... OhmygoshwillChristmasnevercome? CanIdecorateyet? IsthatChristmasmusicIhear? (I know, I know. Some folks hate people like me, who can barely force ourselves to survive Halloween before we start decking the halls and trimming the tree.) I had originally scheduled my 2013 Holiday Bucket List to start on November 24th (the week of Thanksgiving), but folks, I'm thinking I'm not going to survive till then. Wrapping Christmas presents to schlep to Alabama dissolved what little self-control I have left. And also, I'm such a Christmas softie. Lately I find myself thinking about going to shop at Michael's or Ollie's because they're already playing Christmas music. And don't even get me started on the Christmas room at Wal-Mart - apparently how tired and broke I am, no visit to WM is complete without a spin through the decorated trees.

3. In a true case of "When it rains, it pours," I have three babysitting jobs this week and two next week. Yay! :) One is with a new family, so I'm excited about getting to know the girls and hopefully adding them onto my "regulars" list. Also hoping that as the holidays get closer, people will need me more!

4. Next week, Maggie and I are going to have our own table at a craft/vintage fair nearby! Maggie's been working on some refurbished pieces to sell, and I'm working on my collection of coffee cozies, as well as some gift tags, a couple of adorable message boards, and whatever else I can come up with this week to sell. Again, I'm really hoping to make a good chunk of change, as this will probably be one of our last, if not the last, craft fair we do this year.

5. Even though the weather has been pretty gorgeous, we've had some legitimately cold nights, enough that I feel like I got a decent taste of what wintertime in the trailer will feel like. It's cold. There's just no two ways around it, a trailer is colder than a stick-n-brick house. But, the good news is that even on the coldest days, so far the sunshine seems to heat everything up to a pretty liveable (if coolish) temperature by noon. And so far, I haven't woken up cold - my little sleeping compartment filled with my huge fleece blanket, down comforter, and second comforter keeps me toasty and warm! (Don't feel sorry for me - in some ways, this is my dream come true: I like to snuggle under a ton of blankets, and it's finally cool enough to do so comfortably!) In fact, one night I experimented with turning off the heat and just running the electric space heater for the girls, and we all stayed quite comfortable throughout the night. Nice to know, since I'm really trying to conserve as much propane as possible!
When I'm not sleeping, I'm wearing more clothes than I have in a long time - sweats, sweaters, long sleeve shirts, socks, etc. For someone who usually lounges year-round in tank tops, this has been a little bit of an adjustment, but really not too bad.

6. Speaking of cold weather... today dawned warm and sunny, and Maggie and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day to head off on an adventure after church. We drove up to beautiful Chesapeake Beach to have a picnic lunch on the piers, walk all around the boardwalk, and explore Nice 'N Fleazy Antiques, where we stumbled into their book room and spent the next half-hour squealing in delight with each new find. I love old books! We tickled the proprietors, who, it turns out, were watching us and found our reactions hysterical. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013


1) I had a few extremely, shall we say, hormonal days this week. I was tired from our totally-worth it trip. I had a horrible, awful, very bad, no good (and awful to boot!) day. I was struggling with a migraine for a couple of days. (Did I mention how bone-weary tired I have been this week?) None of those things should have impacted me as much as they did, but all combined kind of wrecked me. I'm not really a crier, but I told Maggie as we drove home Wednesday that all I wanted was to go home, hide in my trailer, and have a really good cry. Last night went much, much better, but I was still feeling weepy and strung out, so Maggie treated me to ice cream and a movie - "Barefoot In The Park." I laughed hysterically, felt much better, and woke up this morning feeling like my old self. :)

2) The girls are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. First it was my hoodie, which got nibbled on while I leaned against their cage to watch a movie...

... then it was one of the pillows on my sofa, which was left accidentally within grabbing distance.

Not to mention the cord to the blinds, which Zinnia gleefully shorted by eight inches. Or the half-dozen balls of yarn I've lost to Zhiva, who has a passion for yarn like I do. I'm not mad, because really it's the fault of the humans who stupidly absentmindedly leave things within grabbing distance, but really - it's amazing how destructive they can be in so short a time.
Despite this, they continue to be my babies. :) I should post pictures because they've gotten quite big since the last picts I took!
3) After doing a bunch of research into winterizing my trailer (have I talked about this already? Somehow I feel like I have) I have decided that instead of spending $150 on a heated hose, I'm going to make my own with $6 worth of foam insulation, some heat tape, and, of course, duct tape. :) I'm also going to buy a couple of space heaters and switch to using them instead of my propane-based heating system. I've heard this runs a bit cooler, but as I prefer cooler temps this shouldn't be a problem, especially at night, where I'm really more concerned about the girls staying warm than myself. Hopefully this will keep my propane costs down!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad (and awful to boot!) Day

I was going to write about how yesterday, after getting only a few hour's sleep, I went to teach swim (with Maggie, who is temporarily a full-time coach with me! Yay!) and had two kids added to my already-big class that included not only three toddlers but three full-size kids (not a good mix, and one I will probably put my foot down on doing again).

And how the other coach (who, THANK GOD, is not the normal coach) decided to have her class of really big kids right next to us - read: lots of splashing and big waves mixed with already-unsteady-on-their-feet tots - and because I don't really know her at all, I didn't really feet comfortable asking her to move.

And how one of my tiny tots leaned over to get a toy and was swooshed off his feet by a wave from said big kids, and went head-over-heels under the water.

And how I rescued him immediately, and he seemed fine and not really that traumatized, but ten minutes later started crying and wouldn't stop sobbing on my shoulder.

And how his parents declined to comfort him or pull him out, so I taught - and I use the word taught very loosely here, because very little teaching/learning went on yesterday - holding him on my hip, and because of this, I couldn't really teach my other two students, both of whom were disturbed by the crying and who started asking ten minutes in if they could go get their towels.

And how one of the kids is an angel and I felt AWFUL that she wasn't really having any fun.

And how the other kid is a BRAT and I wish his parents would, well, be better parents. (His older brother is becoming the bane of every coach who's had him.)

And how I'm pretty sure none of the parents (except the parents of my angel-child) were very happy with me, although I'm not sure what I could have/should have done differently.

And how, because I was so wrapped up in trying to keep everyone from drowning and all, that I basically stuck Mags with all the level 1's, including three brand new students who had no clue what was going on and hadn't had any boundaries set at all.

And how, in the second class, I was jumped on by one of my shall-we-say-less-than-exemplary kids, who we're pretty sure has some form of autism (I do not say this lightly or flippantly - she "stims," has really extreme reactions, has trouble making eye contact, etc), jumped on my neck twice, and, after the first time when I explained that she hurt me and she needed to wait her turn, did it again and laughed.

And how I came home and had a good cry and made myself biscuits and gravy and wished I was back in Alabama.

I was going to write about that... but instead, I think I'll go make a cup of coffee, fold my laundry, and make something lovely in the crockpot.


*Thanks to Bean, who realized yesterday that I was truly, genuinely upset by the events of the evening, and called this morning to make sure I was over it. (I'm not - yet - but I will be). :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

On Family, Foliage, and Fun

I write from one of my favorite places - the beautiful city of Huntsville, Alabama - surrounded by some of my favorite people - my BFF, my favorite-est little boy, and my friend Crisy. Joe will be home from work soon. Although we only got in Friday night and, due to scheduling conflicts with work (inser very sad face), will be back on the road in just a few hours zipping back to Maryland... right now, everything is right in the world.

This has been an amazing trip, starting with our early-start road trip.

Four hours (1/3rd of the way!) into the drive, making out first gas stop/driver change. I drove first so she could catch some ZZZ's after running shift the night before, but Cris and I talked the entire first four hours instead! But apparently she got a "whole four hours of sleep" so she'd be good for, like, days. In contrast, I took two naps on the way down LOL!
In the interest of saving Crisy's reputation, I want to clarify that I made her pose for this picture, and that we were going less than 20 MPH on a very straight back road in Tennessee. ;)
I love road trips pretty much no matter where they end or how long they take, and this one was full of great music, open road, beautiful sunshine, funny signs, and incredible, incredible fall foliage. Seriously, if you want to soak up the last of the autumnal goodness, I highly recommend a road trip that carries you through the countryside of Virginia, skirts the Smoky mountains, and descends into the valleys of Tennessee before depositing you gently on the doorstep of people who love you. Good for the soul.

We pulled into Reb and Joe's driveway just after eight PM and wasted no time in admiring their new apartment, which has truly become a home since they tied the knot this past April. Joe arrived home soon after, Khy was put to bed, and the adults crashed in the living room with episodes of Gilligan's Island playing in the background while we got all caught up on each other's lives. :)

The next morning, Crisy and I slept in a bit, then we all piled into the car to take Joe some coffee at work, do a quick bit of shopping, and eat an early lunch at one of my favoritest places, Mellow Mushroom.

We got to sit outside where Khy could run around the fenced-in patio (which was completely empty of patrons except for us!) and enjoy our pizza. :) Then (feeling a little guilty over the pizza LOL) we headed up to Green Mountain Park to explore!

I love Green Mountain! The first time I was here was in the spring of 2010, right after Khy was born; I had flown down to meet my little guy for the first time, and at some point during the weekend, Reb's mom volunteered to watch him for a bit so we girls could get out of the house. We drove up to Green Mountain and had a great time walking the trails and taking pictures.

At Green Mountain Park in 2010
Same tree, grown-up Khy :)

This time, it was great to be able to bring Khy with us and hike with him!

Hiking the trails

Enjoying the beautiful lake!

BFF and favorite boy :)

I made Crisy scale this fallen tree so that I could get a picture 
I told her she looked great, and to look out over the lake radiating confidence.
#fail ;)
We came home, cleaned up, and started preparing for a "big night in." :) Khy went over to nanny's for a sleepover (thanks Lynn!) and Joe started grilling steak, while Reb made mashed potatoes, pasta salad, and mushrooms.

I was allowed to touch the mushrooms for approximately five seconds before Joe flipped out and very politely took over. ;)
Crisy was smarter - she didn't even try lol!

Joe the chef 

Reb and I wanted to go to the hot tub, and (since neither Crisy nor I had brought swimsuits) I was willing to sacrifice my extra shorts and tank top to the cause, but we thought we'd go check that it was open before changing. It was... and we ended up soaking in our street clothes. ;) 
The next day we all slept in, then Reb went to get Khy, Joe started breakfast (french toast, cinnamon rolls, and leftover steak) while Crisy and I hung out and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Joe had to leave for work :( and shortly after he left, we all piled into the car to explore some more - this time in Big Spring Park, another one of my favorite places!

Originally we were just gonna walk around, but the fall colors were so beautiful that we ended up having a mini photo shoot, complete with a lot of leaf throwing!

Thoroughly tired, we dropped Crisy off at Joe's work she could get a new phone, and Reb and I took Khy to run at McDonalds, then we headed home to meet Reb's family, who swung by to say hi on their way home from church!

The day before we left, I had driven all around town trying to hunt down some stuffed ham, and managed to find some! With the help of a cooler, it made the long trip with us, and I was able to deliver it safely into their hands. :) I loved getting to see everybody, including Reb's younger brother (who now towers over me!) and sister (who I remember as a tiny tot!) who are practically all grown up now. :)

We spent a lazy afternoon napping, swapping pictures, and generally enjoying each other's company. :) Joe got off work that evening, and pretty soon it was time for Crisy and I to pack up and start our long drive home.

Although I was kind of leery of it at first, we've done it a few times now and I've discovered I LOVE driving through the night. The roads are less crowded, there's a peacefulness about it, and time really does seem to go faster. I got to nap first, then - armed with a couple of CD's worth of RadioLab episodes - I drove for awhile.

The sun was just coming up as we reached the scenic overpass in Virginia, only a few hours from home! Despite the FREEZING temperature, we hopped out to take pictures and enjoy the panoramic views!


Sadly, a few hours later out trip came to an end. :( It was a great time, though, and I look forward to more of these little weekend getaways in the future! I love getting to see how happy my BFF is with her awesome husband, and how quickly my Khy-bear is growing. I think the status I posted on Facebook during the weekend just about sums it up:

I was going to post something I was thankful for each day in November, but in between traveling I've missed the first two days! It occurs to me however, that I could have posted the same thing these past two days and it would be just as true: I am so, so grateful for the 'created family' that God has given me, those special people whose lives at one point became tangled with mine, and who decided to leave them that way. Our friendship has become a sort of web, drawing in others and holding us all secure.. Family isn't just a blood thing - sometimes it's a soul thing, too, and I'm thankful to be a part of this one.