Monday, April 30, 2012

Journey to the capital: rain, Monticello, rain, rain, Williamsburg, rain

Last week, my coworkers and I had the pleasure of accompanying a whole herd of fifth graders and parents to our nation's glorious capital city. It was my third trip in three years, and this one was a true delight. Many people don't believe me when I tell them how fun it can be to travel with fifth graders, but it is! Their little brains just sop up everything they see, and I love getting to share our capital with them.

We had a blessedly well-timed day off on Friday (thank you, Lord!) before boarding the buses at 4:45 on Saturday morning.

{Waking at 2:45 AM is certainly not on my short list of favorite things to do.}

The bus trip took a little over 12 hours and seemed to fly by. Lots of folks to talk to, beautiful scenery, and my handy dandy word search book helped with that. 

It rained on and off while we drove, a theme that would repeat itself over and over (and over) during our trip. A little rain won't kill ya, but we sure were glad to see some sunshine later in the week!

After spending the night in Staunton, VA, Monticello was our destination early on Sunday morning. The day was cloudy and sprinkly, but it was never unbearable. Thanks again, Lord! 

{I wish they'd allow pictures inside. The details in the house are spectacular.}

{the branches of a beautiful Linden tree in the front yard}

{misty, foggy day}

{The garden is always my favorite spot to visit here. Look at all the green!}

{wet, wet, wet}

{lovely lookout in the garden}

Monticello is truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. You owe it to yourself to see it at least once in your lifetime. And if you go to Monticello without eating lunch at Michie Tavern, you've wasted your trip...might as well just pack it up and go home.

 They boast the best fried chicken I have ever, EVER put in my mouth. Merciful heavens. Enjoying a wonderful meal in a building that was built over 200 years ago is quite an experience.

{fried chicken, stewed tomatoes, black-eyed peas, green beans, mashed potatoes, peach cobbler, and apple cider...I look forward to this tastiness every year!}

Sunday we headed to Colonial Williamsburg. The rain was much heavier this day, so I didn't take my camera out much. I tried to make the few pictures I did take count!

Our guide's name was Yafeu, and he was absolutely fantastic. I know I probably just butchered the spelling of his name, but I'm giving myself a solid B+ for effort. He was a retired Air Force colonel and really, REALLY had a love for history and Williamsburg. We were sad to see him go at the end of the day.

{the joiner...he let one of the boys plane a piece of wood, which was a huge hit}

{apothecary shop...all of these beautiful jars and bottles date back to the colonial times}


{British flags are displayed all over Colonial Williamsburg.}

{These oxen are part of the Rare Breed Project at Williamsburg. They have been bred to have the exact same genes as oxen that were in Williamsburg during the colonial times...incredible. The one on the right decided to take care of some, um, business the very moment our whole group was standing there. See his puddle? The kids got the biggest kick out of that.}

{These sheep are also part of the Rare Breed Project. One boy said that, with all that wet wool, they looked like dirty mops :) }

{What would a visit to Williamsburg be without putting your teacher in the stocks?}

{I was told I looked too happy in the first picture, so this is my best "criminal face". Clearly I need to work on my game face before I take up a life of crime.}

We went on our ghost tour that night, and while it was COLD, there was no rain. Hallelujah! The kids were thoroughly jittery after the ghost tour; mission accomplished :) 

Next stop: Washington, D.C.!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

She said YES!!!

I. Am so. Excited. Reallyreallyreallyreallyreally excited :) My brother and his lovely girlfriend of three and a half years got ENGAGED yesterday! I was beyond honored to be asked to take pictures of the big moment. Bubba and I had been chatting over the phone about this for weeks, so I felt like I was prepared...until yesterday. Trying to figure out exactly where he wanted me to be without seeing the spot ahead of time was nerve-wracking. The texts were flying fast and furious while we tried to coordinate things without tipping off Olivia (who was right beside him). Bubba told me where to go, I had a hiding spot squared away, and my camera shot was all set up. This whole plan was riding on me being hidden because Olivia would surely be suspicious if she realized I was in town...and randomly at the same park they were. I thought we'd gotten everything figured out, but Olivia threw a kink into the plans...

Me: U here yet?
Bub: Come on and look out for us. Kinda hide I guess.
{Me: Kinda hide??? What the heck does that mean?}
Bub: She wanted to come the opposite way so we'll be coming at you head on. Get in position and look out. Hurry!
{Me: Sheer panic. Wait...what is "the opposite way"? Where will they be? Am I in the right spot? Am I going to miss it? Or worse, are they going to see me and the whole thing'll be ruined? Where do I go???}
Me: I see u! (unbeknownst to me at that moment, that couple with the dog I was looking at was NOT them)
Bub: Ok, here goes.
Me: (realizing my mistake) Wait, no! Not u! Not u!! Where are yall???

I didn't hear back from him and I felt sick. I was going to miss it. Either that or I was going to be spotted and ruin the whole surprise. Finally, I saw them come around the bend and, sure enough, I was directly in their line of sight. I frantically looked for a place to hide and, finding nothing suitable, had to lay flat on my belly in the dirt and mulch behind a tree. Excellent. 

Thankfully, I ended up getting some great shots and Olivia never saw me until Bubba pointed me out. I am so thankful that he was able to totally surprise her. She had no clue whatsoever! What a special, precious moment in time! Completely worth the stress and my scratched up legs :)

{The only thing I heard during this moment was Olivia squealing, "Are you kidding me???"}

{She said yes!}

{She was completely floored. I'm so happy Bub was able to pull off a total surprise!}

{She couldn't stop was precious.}

{coming to help me brush the dirt off}

{calling her mom and surveying the goods}

{She literally couldn't stop giggling.}

{Love them!}

{Bub put SO much thought into that bling on her finger. Gorgeous!}

{It's not official until it's facebook official :) }

Looks like we've got a wedding to plan!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jam. Packed.

Many moons (or a month) ago, I had a killer weekend. We had Bubba's birthday lunch, Grandad took us cemetery hoppin', and we went to see the Blue Angels fly. I meant to post about the weekend right after it happened, but then I left my camera cord at the ol' homestead. And then the cord got lost in the mail. And then I ordered a new one. And then my old one and my new one both arrived in the mail. And then I was grumpy that I'd bought a new one. And then I got busy packing, and then I went away on a road trip for a week.

Life's been a bit busy lately, so the blog has just had to wait. Patience is a virtue, dear blog!

 {Love these two cool kids}

After Bub's birthday lunch, Grandad took Daddy, Cousin Jerry, Cousin Jerry's girlfriend Molly, and me out to China Grove and Pleasant Hill. We're all big family history buffs, so we were sopping up all the info Grandad could throw our way. It was a lovely, lovely afternoon spent with some of my favorite people.

{a "snake stick" is necessary this time of year...FYI, I'm the president of Grandad's fan club}

{love this shot of my dear grandaddy and my dear cousin}

We capped off the weekend at the Tuscaloosa Airshow. We got there early enough to watch lots of other demonstrations, and we had a blast. The highlight, of course, was the Blue Angels. Have you ever seen the Blue Angels fly? Completely thrilling and mind-boggling Watching planes fly directly at each other at 800 mph, flying within inches of each other, and performing such incredible tricks is truly an experience. Do yourself a favor and go see them if you ever have a chance!

{The pilot of the #6 jet is an Alabama native. Woohoo!}

{loved this shot}

Enjoy your weekend, friends! Get out there and live it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Resting and remembering

What. A. Week. More than three hours ago, I rolled into our little town with five other buses loaded down with fifth graders, parents, and teachers. We drove all night and we were beat, but it was so worth it. We just finished an amazing, memorable trip to Virginia and our nation's lovely capital. I was scared to say this too soon but now that the trip's over, I can come on out with it. This was hands-down the smoothest, most successful journey we've had in all three times I've gone. Our little Bus 3 family couldn't be beat, and I'm sad we won't all be together again. I've come to know and love D.C. over the last few years, and it's always exciting to get to share it with people. I'm off to rest up for a year, and then I'll hopefully be back for round 4!

As glad as I am to be home today, I can't help but remember that today marks the anniversary of the scariest day of my entire life. That day changed my life forever, and I can't believe a whole year has passed. April 27, 2011 will always be etched in my mind as the day the tornadoes came...the day I watched on TV as my hometown was devastated...the day we couldn't find my brother and his girlfriend for a sickeningly long time. I still can't watch footage of the tornado heading towards town, and I try to avoid thinking about that day. Thankfully, towns can be rebuilt, wounds heal, and life goes on. Praying for and remembering all those affected in those horrific tornadoes last year (and all the ones we've had so far this year).

Happy weekend, friends.

Be still, my heart

Thankful Thursday, from the bottom of my heart

Helicopters, chainsaws, and obliteration


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday, on a Thursday that feels like a Friday

Today I am thankful for...
  • the patience and grace the good Lord extends to me every minute of every day...I'm glad I don't have His job
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones...things have certainly been better, but merciful heavens...things could be so much worse
  • a day off tomorrow :)
  • my job, my lovely coworkers, and the darling little people I get to spend most of my waking hours with...I can't believe we've only got 23 more days together...not that we're counting or anything ;)
  • some fun events up ahead...I love having something to look forward to
  • a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, food in my fridge, clean running water whenever I want it, enough money to keep me afloat, a little car that gets me where I need to go in a delightfully fuel-efficient manner
  • a nice, comfy bed and warm showers
  • my dishwasher and washing machine...I like that they take on the dirty work so I don't have to
  • the complete peace and quiet when I walked to my car this morning...I had to stop for a moment and revel in it
  • a sweet, sincere apology from a kiddo today...truly put a smile on my face
  • the beautiful area where I live
  • the GooGoo Dolls and how happy I get when I hear one of their songs...they'll always hold a special place in my heart
  • a day off tomorrow :)
  • a fairly tidy little home
  • an update email train going around among the college friends...staying in the loop is a good thing!
  • a small bright spot in this situation today...humans are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for
  • really good walks
  • some rain and then some breathtakingly perfect weather this week
  • peace and contentment
  • reminders from the good Lord to let Him do the driving, and to plant myself firmly in the backseat!
  • finally getting to see Titanic and remembering what a fabulous movie it is...watching it as an adult (and I use that term, as always, loosely) was a whole different ballgame than when I was observations on it need their own post
  • 30 Rock and Up All Night...Thursday night NBC makes me happy, when I actually get a chance to watch it
  • supper club
  • a day off tomorrow :)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heavy, heavy heart

My heart is so heavy and so sad this evening. There's a student at our school and her family who are in desperate need of your prayers tonight, and please keep 'em coming. And then keep 'em coming some more. I know the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and it's all, eventually, for good. I often just don't understand the purpose of bad things that happen to people. If you're a praying person, please put in a special one for this young lady and her family.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4

Monday, April 16, 2012

Your warm fuzzy for the day

I really, really need to go to bed but I want to share this first. I am in no way, shape, or form a supporter of University of Alabama athletics. I'm an Auburn gal to the core. However, this is pure sweetness no matter where your loyalties lie. Seeing this darling girl get to feel like a princess made me need a hanky...

There is still so much good in our broken world. Happy new week, friends.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

White Wine Sangria

I had supper last night with a bunch of wonderful girls, and tacos were on the menu. I wanted to make some sangria because let's face it, girls love sangria. At least this girl does! I found a new "recipe" on Pinterest and decided to try it out. In the most literal sense, I believe what I made is not actually sangria. However, it tasted amazing, was a huge hit, tasted amazing, looked pretty, and tasted amazing. What's not to love?

White Wine Sangria
1 bottle (750 mL) white wine...I used Pinot Grigio, but I think Sauvignon Blanc would be great, too
3 cans Fresca...I could only fit two cans in the pitcher I used, but it turned out fine
any variety of fresh fruit...I used two tangelos, one lime, and a container of raspberries

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Done! Doesn't get much easier than that! I mixed everything together in the pitcher and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. I like for the ingredients to get to know each other for a while; everybody's happier that way. The Fresca wasn't real fizzy after sitting out but it didn't affect the taste. If you want a fizzier drink, you could let the fruit soak in the wine for a while and pour the Fresca in at the end.

Most important step: You absolutely must eat the fruit when the pitcher is empty. That's an order. The boozy fruit is the best part, and don't you forget it!

Easy, tasty, fun, and pretty...that's my kinda beverage :)

original recipe:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter, a week later

Funny story (that's not really funny). A few weekends ago, I left my camera cord and charger at the ol' homestead. I asked my mom to mail it to me so that I could upload my pictures from the weekend. She mailed it the next day, and then it fell off the face of the planet. Absolutely disappeared. I have a big trip coming up, and I really needed to be able to charge my camera. I finally acknowledged that my package had been lost in the mail, admitted defeat, and ordered a replacement. $50 later, my new cord and charger shipped. The exact same day, the package from my mom arrived. Just my luck, folks! It took TEN stinkin' days to travel a grand total of 40 miles. As frustrated as I was, I'm just glad to be back in business. And I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new charger, because who doesn't need two camera chargers?! Ugh. Anyway, now I'm finally able to share the pictures that have been stuck on my camera.

Easter is hands-down my favorite holiday. I love having such a lovely day of celebration after the somberness of Lent. Going to church on Easter Sunday always lifts my spirits, makes me smile, and makes me glad to be alive. There's such hope and promise, the music is lovely, and everyone seems to be in a celebratory mood. What a glorious day indeed!

This year, I was blessed to spend the whole weekend with my family. Saturday was spent planting "the farm"...aka, the little garden we've got big hopes for this year.

{cantaloupe, okra, jalapenos, cucumbers, scary hot peppers)

{Atkinson and Sweet Million tomatoes, and two black & white farmhands...our tomatoes have been "blighted" the last few years, so we're trying them in pots this year. We'll see!}

We also dyed Easter eggs Saturday. I don't think you ever get too old to dye eggs, and we look forward to it every year. This year, we decided to use Kool-Aid...thank you, Pinterest. It worked really well. Just mix a packet of Kool-Aid with one cup of water; no vinegar needed. Our eggs turned out a bit speckled when they dried, but overall they looked great. We think we've started a new tradition!

{It's cool to not wear makeup when you dye eggs. Did you know?}

{We dyed a few eggs using a kit, just for kicks and giggles. Those are the shiny ones, and the rest are our Kool-Aid eggs.}

Easter Sunday was spent going to church, cooking a lovely lunch, and enjoying time with family. I'm very thankful that Uncle Robert was able to join us. He and Mimi were in a storytelling mood, and I loved hearing them recall funny moments from their childhood. They seemed to have quite an assortment of weirdo relatives; they had us all in stitches with their stories.

Happy Easter! He is risen!