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Beach, Boogie Boards, Brew and Buddies!

6 Sep

Our trip to Tybee Beach is now a week behind us but the memories are still as bright as our smiles were while we were there.

The Beach
Bean has always been our brave one when it comes to battling the waves. Nate, well, let’s just put it this way, when we told him we were going back to the beach, we didn’t get excitement and joy like we did from Nia – no – Nate actually started to cry a bit and said, “I don’t want to go!” We calmed him, assuring him that he could just chill on the sand.

As we walked out to the ocean for the first time this trip, we were prepared for the freak out fest – but he didn’t. In fact, the next day, he was running and playing in the calm low tide salt water pools – checking out a ton of tiny hermit crabs and throwing his Spiderman Scuba guy all over the water. All that helped him face the waves. He pumped himself up as he headed farther and farther out, “Natey, McNatey, you’re goin’ far now. Natey, McNatey, you’re doin’ it now.” And he did. By the time we were ready to leave for home, he was cruisin’ his newly purchased boogie board, just like his big sis.

Boogie Boards
Bean is a boogie boarding princess. She seriously could not get enough of surfing the waves. That also meant Andrew was exhausted because he was the one who helped her fight her way farther than Nate – or even I – would venture. (This all made my mom very nervous. Nate and I as well. Peas in a stress pod, us three.) Nia looked so grown up, smiling the whole time, as each wave she caught carried her closer to shore. She didn’t want to stop. I love her spirit, energy and bravery. Last year, a jellyfish got her good but you would never know it. I hope she always holds that strength – and carefree beach attitude – with her.

Brew Fest
During our time near Savannah, we also got to very much enjoy the annual Savannah Craft Brew Fest. We had tickets numbered 30 and 31. That’s how excited we were for this fest. Since Andrew’s been brewing his own beer and always appreciates a good brew, this was something he was really looking forward to. I was just ear to ear happy to be there with him on a date and with good friends and his sis surrounding us while we all sipped and laughed. (Thanks to Honey for spending the afternoon solo at the beach with the kiddos!)

As for Andrew’s favorite flavor, he says Cigar City’s Cubano Espresso and the Wild Heaven Brewing Co.’s Invocation Belgian Ale were at the top. He said the taste for both was unexpectedly good. He also enjoyed a cigar – that I actually kind of forced him to buy because he mentioned that one might be nice to have but then did his whole “neither here nor there” stance. Why not? It’s just one brew fest afternoon, after all.

My favorite sips would have to be either the Woodchuck Fall Limited Release Hard Cider or the Lagunitas Brewing Co.’s IPA. I mostly enjoyed just being there with some of my favorite people, across from beautiful downtown Savannah. A gorgeous view, brew and, yes, buds.

It made my heart so happy to see former co-workers and my old boss at WSAV. I’m not going to lie – I teared up a little seeing that newsroom that I spent so much of my life in. Heck, both of my babies were nurtured in my belly in that place – complete with the food from the fast food joints nearby it. It was so great getting to see them and they made me feel right at home. Great memories there. Where I grew up.

Our trip to Tybee wouldn’t be complete without our fix of seeing our dear friends, the Heidels. I wish we could have spent more time together but I’m so very thankful to have the brew fest hours and Sunday beach time with them. Miss Camille is such a sweetie and it was so fun watching her bury her dinosaurs in the sand. We were also spoiled to share in Ginger’s leftover football fixins. Can you say stuffed mushrooms? Buffalo chicken awesomeness? Even without that food and the constant great conversation we share, they are all always loved and missed like family.

We also got super lucky to see our good friend Paul and Matt, Shirley and Avery Fischer. We always cherish our time with Paul and my mom loved to have him as a porch buddy, enjoying an ocean view and excellent conversation. Meanwhile, Nia and Avery were picking up right where they left off a year ago. They were born to be buds and it’s even more awesome that we parents like each other too!

Beach time near Savannah also means getting to hug and squeeze our nieces, Ellanor and Magdalene. They got to sleep over and it was a blast! I love how the four cousins play so well together. They had some short beach time and spent a lot of condo time drawing pictures and chomping on popcorn. They couldn’t be happier!

I’m also so thankful my mom said yes to the stress-inducing layover flights (in rough weather no less). She loved sitting on the porch and watching the kids enjoy the ocean from her beach chair under the umbrella (when she wasn’t worried about their safety!). She also knows how to souvenir shop and braved a plate of crusty critters with me. (We laughed and gagged the whole way through.) I couldn’t ask for a cooler, more caring mom. Thanks, Lady. I love you lots.

Hope to see you next year, Tybee – with all the perks!

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Out of My Shell

14 Jun

Hi there.

I like to think of myself as a friendly person. I think I’m pretty nice to people and seem to be able to carry on conversations fairly easy with acquaintances. What I often have a difficult time with is follow-up. Continuing the connection. Letting new people in.

For example, I will often exchange phone numbers with other moms I meet. Moms who seem like nice, fun ladies but I’ll never know for sure because I never dial their digits. It’s often awkward to run into them down the road – both of us knowing I basically stood them up but never speaking of it. There is usually a repeat mention of trying again to get together. That doesn’t happen.

It’s not because I don’t want it to, because I do. I’ve had maybe two super close girl friends since we moved here. Sadly, one moved away with her fun family (thank goodness for facebook) and the other is still, thankfully, living next door to us with her wonderful family. I just miss having a few good friends to hang out with, rely on and share stories not suitable for PG-rated blogs or Facebook. I just don’t go there either because I’m not very trusting or something is just off…until now.

I’ve met some ladies who make it impossible for me to stay in my shell. They are so welcoming and we have so much in common that it’s impossible for me to be a lazy mommy loner. Our families have bonded over tee-ball, baseball camp, the Gwinnett Braves, swimming, ice cream, some church and many email/facebook chats.

I’m so thankful for them and the comfort and fun they’ve brought to our lives. I say all of our lives because what’s even more great about these mom friendships is that our husbands and children like each other too. When that happens, you put their phone numbers on speed dial and buy extra snacks/adult beverages to have in the house – just in case of spontaneous play-dates.

In Memory

30 May

Capt. Mike MacKinnon - Photo courtesy: USMA

I met him as we were checking out at the Target near our home in Savannah. He had his children with him and Andrew was really happy to see him. Andrew had served in Iraq with him in 2003 and they were members of The Long Gray Line (they both shared the experience of attending and graduating from West Point – he graduated in 1997, Andrew in 1998).

His name is Mike MacKinnon. Andrew told me how Mike would always watch “The Simpsons” with his children. That it was a special thing. Now, it’s hard for Andrew to watch the show and not think about Mike – and how he can no longer watch it with his kids.

Captain Mike MacKinnon was 30 years old when he was killed during his second tour of duty in Iraq. He died due to an IED. He died the year after I met him in that Target aisle. He left a legacy behind him with the people he met, led and served with – Andrew was just one of them. He took the picture below of Andrew. So very true to Andrew and I’m sure they all had a good laugh about it.

It is captioned: "Andy asleep"

Andrew doesn’t like to talk about Mike’s death – or the deaths of his other friends from the Army. But there are days – like Memorial Day – when he will share a memory with me or share that he’s thinking about them with others. I didn’t know them well at all – but I know that they – and those who miss them the most – will always be remembered.

Priority Check

3 Mar

This blog post is a slap in the face for myself. Well, maybe more of a glass of cold water in my face. Less painful but still serves the purpose – I need to reset my priorities.

Far too often, I lose sight of what really matters. I start worrying about superficial things. Things out of my control. I obsess about something someone said. Whether something bad is going to happen. I spend too much time and energy focusing on inanimate objects. My car needs washed. The shower needs scrubbed. The to-do list grows. I forgot to pay a bill. Those pieces of paper with post-its that I get at work…

Water. Face.

I’m not saying that I shouldn’t care about those things – I just need to take my care level down a notch or 20. I need to remember what matters most. As a toddler Nia would say, “My peoples.” Family. Friends. I think of them and the rest is tamed with a more relaxed mind and heart.

Towel for my face, please. That’s better.



Valentine Views

15 Feb

Nia's Pile of Sweet Sayings

I can’t believe I’m just now realizing how Valentine’s Day brings out some interesting opinions and reactions in people – even at a young age. There are those who are anti-“Hallmark” holiday. Those who do just enough to swoon their significant other. Those who may go overboard. And those who are encouraged to participate. I suppose that last category can apply to adults too but I’m thinking about it more related to kids.

Like many young kids, both Nia and Nate had valentine exchanges at school. They were given a list of all the children in their class to make sure no one was left out. I always enjoyed doing these exchanges as a kid and remember all the fun and creativity that went into the boxes for collecting the treasures. I remember how extravagant some of the boxes were. I have a memory of one child’s being not a box at all but a mini-Love Boat. (Mine was always a shoe box covered in construction paper with hand-drawn crooked hearts and predictable love messages on it.)

They don’t ask us to create boxes like that now – just have the kids write out their card of choice to all the other children. Some people add to that with candy, scrapbook-type elegance or even individual goody bags. Others don’t give any valentine at all. It made me wonder if their parents just didn’t take the time to do it with them or maybe they can’t afford such a treat-type thing or maybe the child/parent just didn’t want to buy into the “Hallmark” holiday. Whatever the reason, for future V-Days, I plan to donate a few boxes of blank cards to the classroom so that all kids can participate if they’d like. After all, soon enough the exchange won’t be mandated so that even the little mean Johnny/Suzy gets a Be Mine card. It will be more strategic. Where only a someone special is wished Be Mine. Picking and choosing a Valentine. What age does that start?

It seems Nia is already creeping toward that. While writing hers out, she was so concerned about running out of the standard “Happy Valentine’s Day” cards and having to give a non-BFF a BFF card. Nate wanted to make sure all of his friends would like the card they got. He was worried about giving the girls a Buzz or Woody character card because, “they’re girls.” When I told him that they will love to get any card he gives them, he relaxed a bit but still made every effort to give them either the cowgirl, Jessie, or the horse, Bullseye.


Nate's Love Wishes

I suppose I remember reading into my mandatory valentines some when I was a kid. Is so-and-so really “head over heels” for me?! He must be! I mean, he picked this card just to give to me, right?!

Glad I kept that all to myself. That would have been embarrassing to admit out loud.

And then she started screaming, “Peanut Butter Crackers!”

15 Mar

Ever hear two little girls, ages 4 and 5, talk on the phone?  Nia’s friend Nicole calls her every couple of days just to make sure her favorite colors are still pink, purple and blue and if she’s changed her mind about who her favorite princess is.  It is a riot.  Tonight, I actually got some of the conversation (if you can call it that!) on camera and thought you might like to watch Nia act all grown up and stuff.  She even told Nate to go away because he was being too noisy!

After I stopped the camera, Andrew and I really cracked up.  Nicole asked Nia what she did at school today and  I told her to tell Nicole what she had for a snack.  Although Nicole had started talking about something else, Nia just started yelling “Peanut Butter Crackers!”  She kept yelling it because she thought Nicole’s “what’s?” meant she couldn’t hear what Nia was saying but really Nicole had no idea why Nia was shouting “Peanut Butter Crackers!” at her.

I think I’m going to try that next time I get an unwanted phone call. “Hello?” “Hello Ms. Va-yez?” “Peanut Butter Crackers!”  “Ah, yes, is Ms. Va-lez there?”  “Peanut! Butter! Crackers!”

Yep.  Sounds like a plan.

Girls’ Night

25 Feb

Dinner for one at a trendy restaurant in Buckhead-Atlanta – $47 (two glasses of Sangria and tip included)

A glass of wine, a Coke for the designated driver and the tip at the Ritz Carlton (also in Buckhead-Atlanta) – $20

Times I feared for my life while being driven in an SUV by a girl I hardly knew – 3 (but it made for some laughs!)

Number of movies we all knew the lines to – 9

Hours I spent away from my family – 7 and a half

Fun I had while sharing a night out with the girls – Tons

How much I appreciate and love Andrew for being so cool about my night out with the girls – Immeasurable
(He even did all the dishes and put them away!)

*Thanks to my neighbor, Allison, for thinking of me and liking me enough to invite me along with her buddies!

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