Wednesday, January 30, 2008

February Travels

One of the obvious downsides of being a military family is the time spent away from your spouse. Luckily, we have not had to endure many extensive absences so far. However, Mike is now in a part of his training that will require him to be away for a few weeks. He'll be going out West to learn how to drop bombs. (Never imagined I'd say that.)

Without Mike here, this place just isn't home, so Abby Kate, Junah and I will be heading to Kentucky to stay with my family while he's gone.

It'd be nice to just hop on a plane and fly home, but the extra baggage and extra carry-ons (AK, Junah, diaper bag, purse, stroller) ... uh, impossible. So we will stuff the Escalade to the brim and cruise up I-65. For anyone that's not had the pleasure of driving 7+ hours in a car with a toddler, here's how I anticipate it going...

Minutes 1-10
AK: sweet baby coos, pointing out the window and naming things seen. Laughter.
Junah: quivering and whining. Wide, scared eyes. (Thinks he's headed to the groomer.)
Me: content

Minutes 10 - 30
AK: naming things, except louder and repeatedly. "house, hooooouse, HOOOOOOOOUSE, DOOOOOG! [screech, laugh, squeal] Eeeeeba deeba? OOOOOOOH!
Junah: looking for water and food
Me: laughing at Abby Kate, trying to feed Junah

Minutes 30 - 60
Junah: snoring
Me: agitated, inserting earplugs

Hours 2 - 4
AK: sleeping (hopefully)
Junah: snoring
Me: bliss!

Hours 4 - 4.5 (stop for gas)
AK: happy!
Junah: quivering, scared, senseless barking
Me: stressed. Quickly trying to pump gas, change AK, hold her while I go (tough), buy water, find a patch of grass for Junah, make AK's milk, feed her lunch. Get back on the road!

Hours 4.5 - 8
AK: a mix of talking, crying, laughing and silence.
Junah: snoring
Me: starving, tired, contemplating burning every last nursery rhyme CD there ever was.

Yep, can't wait. :)

I'm kidding, of course. Not about the the descriptions, they're honest. But I don't mind the drive. I'm dreading us not seeing Mike for so long, but I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and friends. They make Mike's absence SO much easier to bear! Hope to see a lot of you while I'm home. Please call me if you want to get together!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weekend in TX

We awoke to beautiful white snow falling on Saturday here in Meridian. Someone in my kickboxing class told me it snows only about every seven years here. Abby Kate was mesmerized as Mike held her on the front porch to watch it come down in huge chunks. A few minutes later, we were in the car and heading west, where the snow was no more.

Mike was off for the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, so we traveled to Texas for a stay with his family over the weekend. We had a nice visit, although very short. Thanks to CJ and Amber for letting us stay at your house again. :) Luke and Abby Kate had a ton of fun playing, eating and bathing together. We loved watching them interact.

Mike's parents' new home was recently completed and they were moving in the day we arrived. So we all pitched in to help them unpack and arrange a few things. Their house turned out beautifully, every inch!

Now we're back home and the snow is already gone. It's just as well. I only like it the first day anyway. After that it gets all dirty and ugly and slushy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Overnight in Birmingham

Sommer, Jolie, Sarah and me

In honor of my friend Sarah's 30th birthday, we (Sarah, Jolie, Sommer & I) packed the car up full of our overnight bags as well as a ton of guilty pleasures - such as candy, salty snacks, drinks and celebrity trash magazines - and headed to Birmingham, AL (a 2 hour drive). It was to be a fun-filled shopping/spa/dinner out kind of girls' trip. And that's exactly what it was - minus the spa. Too much shopping was in order for us to visit the spa, so we canceled our appointments and headed in the direction of big(ger*) city shopping. (*Comparably speaking, here, to what we have in the armpit of the nation that is Meridian.)

We looked like four kids at Disneyland, pointing in all different directions. "Look, Bebe! J.Crew! Arden B.! And ooh, Food Court!" Which is of course where we started. Then we shopped and shopped until we could no longer stand up straight. ha, ha. And we headed back to the awesome hotel that Jolie found for us... ever-so-conveniently connected to the looooovely mall.

We were very excited about the equally loooovely hotel. Jolie booked us on an all women's floor and we entered the room to find the most comfy beds, a huge, clean bathroom and a fully-stocked mini refrigerator. We opened it to find little shot bottles, candy bars, cokes, etc. So we started pulling stuff out to look at it. Each time we pulled out an item, we heard these little "click, click... clickclicks." Being the ignorant hill-jacks that we are, we failed to understand that you are charged every time you pull something out of the mini fridge, regardless if you consume it or not. "That'll be $79.99 for your stupidity, ladies." But Jolie quickly enlightened us and called the front desk to ask them to take it off our bill! Oops.

Dinner out was so fun. We headed to a Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed sitting out in the enclosed patio and listened to an awesome local cover band. We proceeded to be first out on the dance floor. Some might say, "what dance floor?" But we didn't say that. Our thought: large-ish space with no tables = dance floor!

Fun times, fun times. Thanks to you gals for such a fantastic trip! And especially to Jolie for planning it all perfectly and then driving us. Sarah, I hope you had a great birthday!

I was so excited to see my little girl when we got back the next day. It was the longest time I'd spent away from her. I know she had fun with her daddy, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on her! She squealed and laughed when she saw me, which warmed my heart.

Friday, January 11, 2008

1st Lt. Wallace, a.k.a "Dah-dee!"

AK getting some extra Daddy love just before he left for work today.
(There's a Change of Command Ceremony, hence the dress blues. I love this uniform.)

I know Abby Kate will enjoy looking at pictures like these when she's older.

And I'm just as sure Daddy will be her hero.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thanks, Sarah!

I wanted to thank my dear friend, Sarah Kinser, for knitting this adorable sweater for Abby Kate. It was given to her when she was first born. And I love it because she's been able to wear it since she was very little and it still fits this winter. Sarah, you are very talented and I appreciate such a special and beautiful gift that we will keep forever. Thank you!!!

Since the holidays have passed, we've been busy trying to get back into our routine. Mike has flown a few times and is getting back into the groove of flight school. And I've been tackling a big handful of graphic design projects - which is a really great start to 2008 for my business. I'm hoping to add a few more clients this year, even if that means I have to work more at night (good thing all my favorite shows are posted online!).

Abby Kate is growing, walking and talking all over the place. She has so much personality and is the sweetest little girl. She still LOVES to "read" and be read to. She's now into climbing and feeding Junah. As soon as I lay his food out, she marches straight over there, scoops up two handfuls and feeds him every last morsel. I don't mind because she is entertained and Junah feels like a king. Need I say more?!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas in Kentucky

The trip to Kentucky for Christmas this year went by WAY too fast. We visited with so many friends and family while there. I felt blessed to have been able to spend at least a little time with so many people we hadn't seen in a long while. My mom's sister Ruth Ann, her two sons Matthew and Jonathan - along with their adorable families - traveled from North and South Carolina to spend the holiday with us. I hadn't seen them in a few years. It was great to catch up with them. And we also enjoyed seeing meeting up with several friends from high school and college while in town. And most importantly, we cherished our time spent with Mom, Dad, Brian, Carrie and William. We love you!! William and Abby Kate played together, shared toys and raced each other up and down the stairs. (William taught AK how to go down the steps on her belly.) We could hardly keep them away from the stairs without them throwing fits!

I explained the birth of Jesus to Abby Kate before laying her down on Christmas Eve, even if it was just practice for the year she'll actually understand. :)

She was spoiled with all kinds of toys and clothes for Christmas. She got two baby dolls and a little stroller to carry them in. She could care less about the dolls, but she LOVES that stroller. Even Junah let her push him around in it. Grami also got her her very own laptop (pink, of course) so she can practice her letters and sounds. Right now she's only interested in opening and shutting it, however. :)

Thanks to my family for a wonderful Christmas spent with you and for all the great gifts you gave us. Here are just a few photos from our week at home...

AK and Will burning rubber... er just sitting there... in their Jeep.

It was so great to see you, Sarah!! You look awesome and Ryan is a catch!

Yep, that's Lyndsey, incognito. I seriously like your hair dark, Lynds. And the purple thing will fade. See, you can't even tell in this pic. It was GREAT to see you!!! It was great to have met Brian finally!

Opening gifts = fun for all ages. I had to keep myself from playing with AK's dolls. :)

Climbing stairs = fun for babies only. They could do it for hours.

Love you, Mom! Thanks for everything!

Got to see both my grandmothers while we were in town. Always a blessing. This is my dad's mom.

All dressed up on Christmas Day.

We wished we'd had time to watch a movie at my aunt and uncle's house, as they have this awesome movie theater in their house! Especially since we haven't been to a theater since before AK was born. But she's more fun than movies anyway.

The Brooks family. It was SO great to see you all. It had been too long!

Getting 10 kids under the age of 3 to pose for a picture is quite the task. And, actually, it never happened. Thank you, Photoshop! You should see all the pictures I used to make this one. Babies everywhere! They are all so cute.

The Pollard family. Thank you for having us! The food was great and getting to spend time with all of you was even better.

And this is my other Mawmaw. I think somewhere in her heart she still knows us and remembers us even though it's hard to tell some days.

Jimmy Dan and Jennifer. Thanks for having us! We had a great time catching up (and boxing, haha). So good to see you!

My how things have changed in the last few years... look at all those babies! These are some of my high school friends and their newest additions. Thanks for having us over, Liz. I loved catching up with all of you.

My forever friend, Lyndsay. Can't wait for February! Working out together will be fun. It'll be like old times in dance class!

I love you, Mike and Abby Kate. Thanks most of all to you for a WONDERFUL holiday! I am so blessed to have you both.