Friday, June 29, 2012

Cowfish Crack & Kiddie Spa

On Wednesday, we *FINALLY* got to eat at The Cowfish! Brie apple cranberry turkey burger with sweet potato fries for me, teriyaki noodle bento box for Sis, & tuna roll sushi for Will - this menu is SOOO US! The only flaw was JB's absence. Hand-spun milkshakes [caramel espresso malt & grasshopper (choc w/ fresh mint)] also HEAVENLY! The kids had so much fun playing the video screen games inside the table top - we sat there for ages...

After lunch, we drove to my hometown to visit Grandmommy...but The Cowfish had obviously put crack in my kids' milkshakes. They were INSANE in the backseat on the way - they pretend baptized each other; Will pretend gave Annelise a horrific haircut that she was instructed to be upset over & pay for w/ a gift card; they tried to suck each other's fingers before we fussed stop; they made up nonsense nicknames for NASCAR drivers they don't like; they cackled with maniacal laughter... I was so torn - I love listening to them have fun together, but I was about to lose my mind over the constant decibel acceleration. :-D PS - they had the chocolate and were completely crazed; mom & I had the caramel espresso malt and we were about to fall asleep! What?! PPS - Nasty NASCAR nicknames: 29 = Kevin Milligo Bunhead and 2 = Brad Poopaloopy ;-)

Thursday, Annelise was treated to a spa day at Shug-A-Bug Kids Spa (pronounced "Sugar Bug" w/ the appropriate Southern accent, for my yankee friends. ;-)) thanks to LaLa. She *LOVELOVELOVES* getting to do stuff like this!!! (So far, the things she's most excited for in TX are Sugar & Spice and Sweet & Sassy.) She sits so still for and relishes every single service! (And has since she was just under 3 yrs old!!!) Yesterday, she got an up-do, chocolate facial, chocolate pedi, & mani:
Note: her mani motivated her to *NOT* suck her right index & middle fingers for the last 36 hours!!! :-O (First time she since she discovered them at two months old! I can't say whether or not she has caved as she sleeps tonight, but hey - baby steps. :-P)

Friday morning, we met up with one of my senior-year college roommates, Amanda, and her two boys to just hang out. We didn't care what we did, as long as the kids were entertained long enough to let us talk. A surprisingly simple splash pad worked:
Amanda & I share such a similar parenting style (loving, involved, but anti-coddling/helicopter parents: "You fell down? I'm sorry, Love. What do you want me to do about it? Shake it off. You're fine." :-D) and we had a ball catching up, conjuring inspiration, eating, & laughing together.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tremendous Tweetsie

We trekked up the NC mountains to Tweetsie Railroad today, just as we do at least once every summer. It's *our* family's "happiest place on earth!" :-) The weather was outstanding - mid 70's, not a cloud in the sky...

Will & Annelise were raring to go early this morning:

LaLa & Will rode up front in the engine first:

(We can only ride up front when Engine #190 is running, not #12; and there's only room for 2 VIP extras at a time, so Sis & I rode back in one of the coaches on our first run. We are SOOOO LUCKY that we get to do this! It's only b/c we're BFFs with the engineer; this is NOT a standard opportunity! :-))

Will helping our best buddy, Engineer Scott, shovel the coal that powers Tweetsie:

Annelise got to go up onstage to dance with the Tweetsie Cloggers.

Equestrienne Annelise:

Self-portrait 125 feet up in the sky while riding down the ski lift:

Annelise taking her turn driving the train with our best buddy, Engineer Scott:

Annelise getting to blow Tweetsie's whistle:

Another mandatory faux horse pic :-P

Will & Sis inside the Mouse Mine:

Will & Sis riding the Tweetsie Twister (a.k.a. the scrambler!)

Will in the gondola in front of Sues & Sis, riding the ski lift solo for the first time:

Tilt-a-Whirl Sis:


Will driving the country fair cars:


Will driving the train for a 2nd time:

Will getting to help drive and also blow Tweetsie's whistle:

Very end of the day - Will, Engineer Scott, & Annelise:

Exhausted, dirty with soot, & a bit sun-kissed; but so satisfied that I can still fainty smell Tweetsie, and I have a double-dipped caramel chocolate candy apple in the fridge...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lightning Bug Delight

Saturday night was magical! My best friend, Wendy, and her son, Alex, came over to my parents' house to spend the night. My parents' backyard is gorgeous, and after dinner, we took the kids out to catch lightning bugs. I grew up doing this all the time, but neither Wendy nor I could ever remember seeing as many as were out there Saturday night... Glittering lights everywhere - it was like a real live fairyland!

We told the kids they could go to sleep with their catches beside their beds and that we'd come get them & set them free after they were asleep; but tenderhearted Will was so worried that his 15 lightning bugs were hungry. He convinced Annelise & Alex that they should all release theirs before going in for the night. :-)

Fly away free:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Annelise's Aerial Dance

Annelise took a summer intensive dance camp at Caroline Calouche & Co. this week, June 18-22. She went every day from 9 AM to 5 PM:
Contemporary Dance: 9 - 10:15
Aerial Dance: 10:30 - 12
Lunch: 12 - 1
Who's Who in Dance: 1:15 - 2:15
Ballet (MWF) & Jazz (TTh): 2:30 - 3:30
Rehearsal for Fri: 3:30 - 5:30

Sounds like five loooong dance days for a 6-year-old, but she LOVED it! She wasn't moody or exhausted at the end of each day; she was proud of what she'd learned, bursting with smiles, & ready for dinner. :-D

This is the aerial dance portion of her end-of-camp performance. Moves include: straddle back, harness, gazelle, peanut, cocoon, & skirt:

She's the middle girl on the lighter pink silks in the black leo & dark purple leggings. :-) The director is *crushed* that we don't live here; she said she was so impressed with Annelise's motor skills = proud (but not shocked ;-)) mama! ♥

Week in Review

This week, Annelise had a dance camp in downtown Charlotte...that just happened to be beside Amélie's French Bakery! Oh yeah, five glorious days in a row... ;-) Allow me to be ever so cruel and list some of what I ate: French macaroons in pistachio, lavender lemon, cinnamon chocolate, & salted caramel chocolate; fresh baguettes with blackberry jam; pear tart; honey bun; fresh baguette breakfast sandwich with egg, manchego, & tomato; fresh raspberry meringue lemon curd tart; and their super famous salted caramel brownie.

I will need to repost this when I get to Texas & make new friends, so their expectations of my housekeeping will be properly measured:

Here's Annelise on Tuesday in the striped pants & pink leo on the teal silks in back about the flip forward into an upside-down split! (Taken stealthily thr/ the tiny door window; too bad the girl in blue/pink wouldn't scoot over...)

I've been trying to keep up with my Zumba practice on my own. It is NOT easy. Doing it by yourself is *THE WORST*. The great value of Zumba classes for me is the smiling encouragement and being able to feed off of the energy of your friends. I still feel great physically doing it solo in my parents' bonus room, :-P ...but I miss having *anyone* to laugh with while jumping around. It's such a lonely reminder of what I've left behind... But I must keep it up, b/c 1) I don't want to lose any of the muscle or flexibility I've gained, and 2) I will blow up as big as a house with all this good food, if I don't keep it up! I was teaching 5 classes a week - I can't go down to just once or twice a week now.

On Wednesday, I scored THE MOST WONDERFUL Lilly Pulitzer Jubilee Coronado Cali shift at Divine Consign! I found this random pic online, but it just doesn't do the majesty of this gorgeous piece an ounce of justice. So excited!

On Thursday, we took Will to Discovery Place while Sis was at dance. [We looove kid-friendly science museums, and it was the first time I'd been there in about 20 years! (I think the last time was 8th grade?)]
Learning about physics on a bed of 5,000 nails:

Using Will's brute strength to hoist up a weight that, when dropped, would propel a tennis ball to the ceiling:

Friday, we went by my 100-year-old Grandmommy's old house. She's been in assisted living for exactly a year now, and this was the first time I'd been back inside. It was...bittersweet. I don't get down about that stuff - life goes on, and we're lucky enough to still have her & even went out to lunch w/ her when we were done :-) - but I certainly appreciated getting to look back a bit.

Friday night after Annelise's WONDERFUL end-of-camp performance, we went to dinner at Revolution Pizza. The pizza was obviously fab, but I was rendered incapable of backing off on the homemade potato chips w/ ranch! Gelato samples were as close to Italy as I've had in a long time, but I chose my dessert to go: salted caramel bacon brownie = awww, yeah!!! (Thank goodness I did another 19-song solo Zumba class this afternoon - that'll take care of about 1/5th of the calories...)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Original Father's Day Song

Watch out, Saturday Night Live - the *NEWEST* Garth & Kat have arrived:

Happy Father's Day!!! We can't wait to celebrate TOGETHER (& "snuggle you to death" :-D) in TEXAS in 2 weeks!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

South Georgia Zumba Sayonara

This past Tuesday evening was my very last Zumba class in south Georgia - so fitting that it was the original ministry time slot that launched everything else! My Zumba ladies broke my heart - they are all so crushed that it's over. I think the church just now understands what a big deal it was to offer two free Zumba classes. [It ended up being NO sacrifice to me, b/c it was something God told me to do; but there's no one to take over, b/c most instructors make at least $20 an hour or charge anywhere from $3-$12 per student per class.] I prayed & talked with my students and said in faith what I believe is true: "Our God is a God of provision. There is no way that He would let this Zumba ministry start, grow so big, and then not provide new openings to continue this health journey. For ALL of us." I shared with them the other Zumba class opportunities in the area and told them to pray for me, too, b/c it's not just them who are left with no more Zumba classes, as a result of this move. Several ladies tried two of the other places I suggested...and they hate them, b/c "they're not as good as my class." :-/ Double-edged sword - what an AWESOME compliment!!!!! But I don't want them to get discouraged & stop getting healthy! :-( So many of these women have lost TONS of weight, and one lady even got off her blood pressure meds, just by adding my class twice a week. Another lady showed me a pic of her from the week class started back in January, and my jaw dropped. I think she's lost 40 pounds. It makes me want to scream & jump for joy that God used my class as a tiny part in making these ladies' lives better...but I don't want them to give up now, either. I told them they all have a unique opportunity at these new places to request for the new teachers to pump up their intensity (I'm a pretty high impact instructor) if that's what's they're looking for, b/c we instructors want to meet our clients' needs. (When my classes asked for abs, I added an ab song; when they asked for a Top 40 hit, I added it.) It could be good for everyone! So pray for all my ladies, that they continue on their Zumba & health journeys, and that God sends me new classes in Texas ASAP, too!

On Thursday morning, I did Zumba at home (with my mom for the 1st time ever for a few songs! ♥ ) I've gotta stay on my game, even on forced hiatus...

Moving Out

This moving week was intense. It wasn't bad at all (except for 4 hours on Wed) but even though I was extremely prepared, it was still a big deal.

Annelise & I had cleaned that house from top to bottom. It was absolutely immaculate, which is quite a feat, if you know how much I hate cleaning. This pretty much sums up my philosophy, in general:

The only reason we got it so clean was that JB, Will, & Bonnie Blue were ALLL GONE! :-D

Last Sunday night, I packed us to live out of our airplane-carry-on-sized suitcases from the next day through NC to Texas (just over 3 weeks) so the movers could walk in & pack EVERYTHING w/o me saying, "Oops! Wait on this!" I even had some paper plates & plastic forks pulled aside with our suitcases. #genius ;-) I usually freak a little bit about packing for trips, triple checking that I have everything we need and going back & forth on how I can minimize the number of clothes while also maximizing fashion. :-D Sunday was maybe the most stress-free little pack job I've ever had! I felt good about the clothing choices, they all fit in our carry ons, and I was ready to go! [Note: thank goodness it's summer! Winter clothes are obnoxiously bulky! The same number of winter outfits would take up 5 times the space.]

Monday was a shockingly calm day: the movers showed up before 9 AM - so nice & very quiet! There were only two guys (ummm, we've always had a crew of 4 or 5...) but those two - Chris & Jeff - worked nonstop & got the entire upstairs packed, along with every single bedroom! Since we'd be a legal liability to help, we lounged on the couch, watched tons of Food Network, & ate kitchen scraps using only disposable dinnerware. I had my FB time while the kids each read another Magic Treehouse book in total silence. #goldstarforme

Tuesday's Joyce Meyer quote: "You need to be moving if you want God to show you which way to go." [How apropos! :-D]

My parents arrived (after visiting my stepdad's fam in FL) on Tuesday afternoon, which thrilled the cabin-fever-stricken kids. When the movers finished for the day, I went to teach my very last Zumba class in south Georgia, while they took the kids for a last blast at the Fun Park.

Wednesday was...the challenge. It started OK. Chris & Jeff had hired three extra local guys to help load, and they were sure they'd be done by 3 PM = awesome, as we were driving from south GA to Charlotte, NC (7 hours) that same afternoon, as soon as they finished. 3 PM came and went. We were all so restless & stir crazy, we thought we'd go mad. *Sigh* Everything was so fast & great until then - still sweet guys, but the extra men they hired to load were in nooo hurry... I adore south GA, but since there was no turning back, I was ready to GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD!!!

Finally, at almost 7 PM...


We got home to NC at 3 AM... (We *did* stop for an hour for dinner.) Thanks to GA for one last gift of gas for $3.02.

Everything was unloaded at our new house in Texas on Friday, and JB gave me a FaceTime tour! ♥ :-) It is...smaller. Smaller than any house we've had in the last decade :-/ but the slightly bigger option was $400 more a month, so we decided to bank that & forcibly downsize. It sounded good at the time... [Slightly less so now, looking at the delivery aftermath... :-P but JB assures me this was absolutely the right thing to do, so I am trusting him :-) ...and hoping he throws out & donates a ton more stuff before we get there! :-D]

Speaking of getting there: our plane tickets to Houston are secured - we fly from Charlotte here to our latest home on Monday afternoon, July 2nd!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Will Goes to Camp

Will is growing into *such* a boy: it's becoming harder & harder to get the details of his life that I don't personally witness out of him, w/o asking the most perfectly worded questions to elicit the info. It's like testing a hundred keys to figure out which one will open the treasure chest. :-P (It's not that he doesn't want to share; he's just growing a man brain! Argh! :-D ;-))

The Top Five Fave Things from Camp Kaleo According to Will:
1) Getting Jake Short¹ out in dodgeball
2) Jumping off a 10-foot high bridge² into a lake ten times
3) Buying snacks for $1 :-D
4) Eating snacks in bed
5) Swimming in the lake (better than the pool!)

¹Jake Short is a current Disney child star from the TV show A.N.T. Farm. It's a HUGE deal that he went to camp with our kids: Disney gave him one week off to visit his family, and he used over half of that time to come witness to our kids! We don't really watch any kid shows in our house other than Wild Kratts, but b/c of Jake, we have DVRed a few A.N.T. Farms.

² This bridge:

The only complaint Will lodged was against the mandatory swim test. (He thinks a little more highly of his swimming skills than the lifeguard on duty apparently did. :-D)

I asked if he remembered anything he learned from the group sessions: a man held up a golf ball, saying if he tossed it out in the group that it would touch maybe one or two people. Then he held up a giant beach ball, which would obviously touch a lot more - the point being, God wants our positive echo in life to be huge and touch many. :-)

I hadn't seen *ANY* pics of Will's time at camp until this morning. (Y'all know how much that KILLS me! Must work harder indoctrinating him with the importance of life documentation...) He climbed this awesome wall:

& didn't even mention it! I asked him today & he replied, "Oh, yeah. I did." :-P

I'm learning more as I ask him about OTHER people's pics on FB. :-D

Will went down this water slide ten times, too; but no pics of him - just Jake:

On the low ropes course - everyone has to get to the other side w/o touching the blue web, and only two people can use the same hole; after that, it's "closed" and you must use another:

(You can see Will's little head poking out from the back in the red shirt.) I asked where he went through: he was picked up and put through a hole at the top of that pic, right after this girl:

[Oh my heart - where's THAT pic?! I'm never allowing him to leave my presence for multiple days w/o his own camera ever again...]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Foot, Flags, Farewell

I'm even tiring myself of saying, "Today was so emotional," but yet again, it was!

Let's start with this morning: I was packing Will for his very first sleep-away camp. (*gulp*) I was trying to stuff his sleeping bag, stuffed dog ("Soft Puppy"), and pillow all into the same bag. I was stomping it in with my feet and holding onto the end of the bed to balance myself; I didn't anticipate the soft bag so quickly rolling out from under me and, in my tumble, shoving my foot up under the sharp wooden edge of the bed:

Holy burning pain...
I iced, Advil-ed, & elevated; and since I knew there was no chance of bone or tendon damage (it's just a vicious stinging scrape & deep bruise) I wasn't going to give up going out for the Marine funeral or teaching my last Wednesday Zumba class at The Gym. I sucked it up!

LCpl Steve Sutton's funeral procession was breath-taking. [The vile hate-spewers from WBC who had threatened did *NOT* show, praise God!] It was so important for me as a parent to take the kids and explain why we were standing out there & what it all meant.

Teaching our children about true patriotism, community, & honor...

It was so moving. I could not believe how many Patriot Guard Riders were there accompanying the procession... Of course, I cried. It was such an honor for us to get to stand out there with our united community for this hero. We were just three of literally THOUSANDS...and that was powerful.

As soon as the procession was officially cleared, we flew over to the church to send Will off on his sleep-away camp adventure; he returns Saturday. He likes spend-the-nights with friends, but this is the first time he's EVER been away for more than one night w/o any family. I'm sure he's fine & hopefully not feeling lonely or homesick (*like I always did! eek!*) but pray for him, anyway, and then pray for my mama heart!!! This house is emptying out fast...and it's unnerving.

After Will's church bus pulled out of the parking lot for their two-hour drive to camp, Annelise & I ran home for me to get ready for Zumba. I wasn't sure how it was going to work with my foot; but this was my LAST Wednesday night class ever to teach at The Gym. I started class with an "I may have to stop & just direct" caveat, but GOD IS SO GOOD: He sent some amazing adrenaline to cover the whole thing! I taught full-out, no problem!!! It didn't hurt, again, until my very last cool-down stretch: quads, when I grabbed it to pull behind my back. It *does* still hurt now (esp. the stinging of the scrape), and I'm worried for the bruising tomorrow, but I'm still going to push through my last Thursday morning class...with, of course, more emotion! :-P :')

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Exit Measures

Today we spent our last full fun day with my precious BFF here, Laura, & her boys. (We don't leave for another week, but Will goes to sleep-away camp tomorrow, and we can't run around & play when the movers arrive Monday.) We went blueberry picking at the most precious blueberry patch ever! It's a small rural corner lot with about 30 bushes, and they charge an unbelievable $2.50 per GALLON BUCKET!!! The owner came out and chatted with us as we finished up: his father began the patch, but passed away from cancer. They keep it up as a labor of love in his memory and said they will never raise the price, "because that's what Daddy charged, and he told us to never raise it. We don't do this for the money." (Have I said before how much I will miss this sweet place?!)

Blueberry buddies!

After picking, Laura treated us to lunch at Riverfront Barbeque (mmmmm, barbeque baked potatoes = my fave!) and then she buzzed Will's hair back at her house. :-) We had the best afternoon, just talking & being. I love her relaxed company; she is such a blessing.

As we left, her youngest son cried, "Can we move to Exit with them, too!?!?!?!" :') [Exit = Texas :-D]

Tonight, I had a WONDERFUL Zumba class! I got a great confidence boost re: my teaching style & my class - so good to receive, going into a forced hiatus - and I was happy to pose with a few of my favorite, happiest ladies after we worked it:

I hated saying goodbye to one of them who can't come next week to the last class. :'(

Finally, to top off the day, Will set the building alarm off as we were leaving, bringing the police & everything in the middle of a frog-strangling rain storm! [Well, you know I just couldn't leave w/o saying goodbye to the Albany Police!!! :-D My friend Brandy's husband responded (what are the chances of THOSE kind of connections where we're going, you know?) and I'm glad I could give him a chuckle (& hopefully not an eye roll! :-P)] I. Am. Completely. Spent.

It is SO time for homemade ice cream...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cheer Reunion

The half of my cheerleading squad I coached this last fall who has stayed close in touch has been talking about getting together for a mini cheer reunion at Swirl (our fave fro yo place) for months. Our moving announcement was the ultimate catalyst that FINALLY forced us to set a date! :-D It was this evening...

Four of my girls - Sis, Kadie Grace, Abigail, & Sally:

A lapful o' cheer:

With my cheerleader, Sally:

Football & bus-riding buddies - Will & Sally's brother, Tyler:

They all made me want to cry-happy, saying over again how much the girls loved me, how wonderful I was with them, and how they are crushed we won't be able to reunite our squad this fall. :') [*ego-stroke-o-rama!*] The girls (& two brothers :-P) were THE CUTEST: they even remembered & performed (to the Swirl patrons' dismay? :-D) a few of our cheers! We four moms were really impressed!

Coaching cheer last fall truly blessed me beyond measure. I'm so thankful I connected with these families, and even though it breaks my heart that our kids won't continue to grow up together, I again thank God for Facebook!!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Emotional Brink

Lest anyone think we are such pro moving robots that nothing gets to us, let me welcome you to my emotional precipice.

JB & Bonnie Blue Beagle are now in Texas; they left at 6 AM today (Saturday morning.) I really thought I'd be happy for my & the kids' extra week & a half here, but we already miss them and the house just feels weird now... I'm glad to have 6 more Zumba classes to teach and that Will gets to go to his church camp this coming week (his 1st sleep away camp Wed-Sat!!! :-O we signed up back in April,) but it will be a relief when my mom & the movers arrive to get this show on the road. Dragging it out is emotional torture to me.

Today feels dramatically lonely. Everything ended all at once a week ago: beloved baseball, dance, school - the fun things that gave our schedule purpose. Most people here have now left town for vacay or the beach; it's unnervingly quiet & boring - makes me wish even more so that we could just get on with it, too.

This is also the first time we've ever been home w/o Bonnie Blue here. It might sound silly, but she is the most constant thing in my daily life; when JB's at work and the kids are at school, it's me & her. I can't stop looking for her around the house; I never actively realized how much focus she actually draws. I've never been apart from her for more than two weeks, (& that 2 week trip was to Italy NINE years ago! :-P) It's easy to text, talk, & check in w/ JB, so this next month apart may be the hardest b/c of Bonnie B! :-D

It didn't help the stress level that JB & I spent our last two days together putting out unnecessary fires. Money is crazy tight this month, since we have to make essentially three house payments (last GA, first TX, & TX security deposit) all at once, and we are bending over backwards to make sure all of our ducks are in a row. Too bad the two real estate agents we're dealing w/ in TX didn't bother to take the same initiative: they questioned us THREE separate times Thurs & Fri as to how we were handling payments (insinuating we were in the wrong) when, not only were we correct, but *we* had to point out how *they* were misreading the contract & had never given us certain information. How are these people employed??? I always knew my mom was a wonderful Realtor, but I took for granted *HOW* amazing until dealing with this level of mediocrity. I have been sorely disappointed expecting her standards to be the norm.

Throw in some problems with our water here in our GA house, on top of me freaking over $$$, move-in logistics, the general sadness of the things we love being over, friends here gone on vacay, ending my Zumba practice, Will getting ready to be gone for 4 days w/ no family for the first time ever, and not getting to see either the love of my life or my most constant companion for the next month? Yeah, this is me on the brink...

[PS - on the brink is NOT the same as jumping off the cliff. :-D My random tears may fall into the crevasse, but then I step back from the edge, pray for God to keep carrying me through, thank Him that we are fortunate enough to get to make these transitions & that I have this love to miss in the first place, and go back to trying to eat out our fridge & freezer! :-) Gingersnaps in June? Why, of course! I'll bake the leftover dough from the freezer & crumble it into the homemade vanilla ice cream I'm making to use up our milk. :-P (Me? An emotional eater? ;-))]