Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm Thankful For...

I'm thankful for California and all it's sunny warm weather, which I enjoyed thoroughly over Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm thankful for memories of climbing this crazy bridge at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park as a little girl and for my little family for humoring my need for a picture of us standing on top of it.

I'm thankful for my awesome oldest sister who hosted Thanksgiving at her house this year. You know, Ann, we never did lounge on the year. :)

I'm thankful for a family whose bonding activities include things like Cupcake Wars. Robyn and I made strawberry maple breakfast cupcakes, complete with bacon! Mom and Teanca made sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallows and pecans. Both were unique, but also surprisingly good!

I'm thankful for a holiday that's all about eating really yummy food. Lots of it...and being grateful, too.

I'm grateful for cutie-patootie nieces and nephews who can be friends with Will. Don't you just love his laughing face below?

I'm grateful for an awesome niece (bigger than the ones above) who loves to hold her cousin and give his mommy a break for awhile. By the end of the 5 days we were there, however, she told her mom, "Babies are a lot of work." So I've heard. :)

Most of all, I'm thankful for my dream of a life with my little family. I couldn't ask for more.

Oh, and I'm thankful for my bearded husband, who is now clean shaven again. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Southern Hospitality and My Gypsy Heart

My mom always says she has a little bit of a gypsy heart because she loves to travel to new places and she can't sit still for long. I inherited her sense of adventure and love of learning. I inherited this love of learning, and I spent a lot of time during my single years traveling to distant lands (and some close by) to experience the world outside of my own little universe.

Since having Will six months ago (that's right, he's six months old now...slow down, little man), we have been happily hibernating in our own little universe getting used to being a family of three, but my gypsy heart was getting antsy. Enter opportunity knocking...

Graham needed to do some continuing education to keep his CPA license, and his company decided to send him to Atlanta for a conference. Rather than leave Will and me at home for four days, he invited us to join him. So last week we packed up and crossed our fingers that Will would be a good little traveler.

I'm happy to report that the trip was a complete success. Here are some of the things my gypsy heart learned

Lesson #1: Georgia (at least Atlanta and the surrounding areas) is beautiful.

I don't know what I expected, but I had no idea how many trees there are in Atlanta. Anything that hadn't been cleared and developed was covered with dense, colorful deciduous trees. Even in downtown, trees popped out all over, like in the picture below. By the way, I have no idea what the significance of the building is; I just thought it was a pretty church.

Lesson #2: Atlanta has the largest aquarium in the world...and it's cool.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my time in Atlanta since Graham was going to be in a conference all day, and I had Will's nap times to worry about, but we managed some good activities, like the aquarium. They have whale sharks, a dolphin show, piranha feedings, and beluga whales. Will seemed intrigued by all the new things to look at, and I enjoyed wandering through the exhibits. In the pictures below, you can see the whale sharks (aptly named for their size, although they are not whales at all).

Lesson #3: Big cities are meant to be walked, not driven.

If you think it will be faster to drive than to walk to a "quick" lunch, you're probably wrong. It's only faster to drive anywhere within a couple of miles if you know there will be a place to park when you get there. The up-side if you walk: you get to take in the sights...and Will doesn't scream. :)

Lesson #4: Martin Luther King Junior was born and raised in Atlanta.

There is a nice walking tour of his childhood home, the church he preached at, and his burial site. How grateful I am for men and women like him who dream of a world better than the one we currently have and understand that peace can cause more change than violence.

Lesson #5: Southern hospitality is real, and southern food is yummy!

Below is a picture of the cheesy grits we had for breakfast on Saturday at a little coffee shop across from Grant Park. The night before, however, was the real treat where food is concerned. We went to a real southern restaurant about 25 min. from downtown where our conversation with our waitress went something like this:

Waitress: Hi, I'm Tahleea. What can I get for you, babies? (Written English can't do her accent justice.)

Graham: Well, we're from out of town and we want to experience some real Southern food. Any recommendations?

Waitress: Oh, babies, we got fried catfish, fried shrimp...pretty much any seafood as long as it's fried, that's Southern.

And so the evening went. We had fried green tomatoes and corn bites (deep fried balls of creamed corn) as appetizers, fried chicken and country fried steak for main entrees, and raspberry and peach cobblers for dessert. She even brought us one of their peach muffins just so we could try it. She took great care of us! All the ladies in the restaurant loved Will, and although he was tired and cranky he gave them big smiles. It was probably my favorite part of the trip.

Lesson #6: When you travel with a baby, you make lots of new friends.

Everywhere we went, people commented on Will and struck up conversations about him. I will admit I sometimes felt a little out of place with my baby in a Moby wrap in a hotel filled with suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying professionals, but it was fun anyway. Sitting at the cafe in the picture below, we met a nice couple who also have a six-month-old son, and we chatted for a good 10-15 minutes.

Lesson #7: If you spend most of the time on a trip with only yourself and a baby, you will have no photographic evidence that you were actually there. I only have one blurry picture of half my face from my phone. Oops. Oh well, I promise I went on the trip.

And, in other news, here's my six-month-old, 29-inches-long, 15-pounds-light boy. What a charmer! That smile has captured my heart.