Wednesday, April 30, 2014

About Last Weekend

The storms deterred me from writing about my weekend adventures from this past week; so, I'll write about it now. You know, in the spirit of blogging more regularly and keeping my Aunt Linda happy.

Friday night, Jackie and I had a girls night with our friend Caley and her now one-month old Cecilia. Caley's husband had gone out of town for the weekend and so I picked up a pizza, made some lemon bars and met Jackie over at Caley's for an old fashioned girls night. We met up around 6:00 p.m. and I think we finally left around 11:00 p.m. It was a fun night and we were able to catch up on any and everything.

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Leah at Chili's for breakfast. Yes, I realize this seems like a strange place to meet someone for breakfast, but Chili's was hosting a pancake fundraiser for Relay for Life and Leah had tickets. Her husband Paul was also out of town (the menfolks were all on a bro weekend getaway) and so she invited me to tag along with her. I was thankful for the invite. The breakfast was really yummy and the company was even better.

After breakfast I made a quick run to Target and then back home for some cleaning and laundry. Finally, around 5:00 p.m. I started on the yard work. I realize that some of you may find it strange that I like to do the yard work in the evening, but it's typically a lot cooler and the sun isn't blazing down like it would be in the middle of the day. So, to me, it's preferable.

It took me about two hours to get all the yard work done. I finally got a new gas can for the weedeater and was able to trim up around the house and the shed and the trees. Also, because I lowered the deck on the mower, it took longer to cut and bag the grass; but, when it was complete it looked really good. As much as I dread getting started on the yard work each week, I've got to say it's a very rewarding experience to be able to look out at your hard work and have it look nice a trim - for a day at least.

I also worked on a teeny tiny improvement project which I will write about later. I wasn't able to finish it on Saturday and then it has rained every day since and so I hope to finish it this coming up weekend.

Sunday was church and Sunday evening we had a softball game scheduled which got cancelled about an hour before we were supposed to play because it was raining and so now we have two games to make up at some point this season.

Other than these things, the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and watching some TV and just generally being lazy which is what I love most about the weekends. Hope yours was good too!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Running Around Town

The Pip and I survived the storms and I hope you did too. Tornadoes touched down in surrounding areas but thankfully nothing hit close. In fact, I don't think it ever really rained hard until after I went to bed.

I left work a little after 4:00 on Monday and as I was driving home, I decided to stop by The Home Depot to see if they had a battery powered lantern. My parents have one of these and it emits a lot of light and I figured if the power were to go out I might need some light source that would be strong enough to read by. I don't have a good flashlight, just some cheap ones that quite honestly don't give off a lot of light; thus the decision to make a last minute run to Home Depot.

As luck would have it, they had one lantern left and it was the same one my parents had so I grabbed it up and headed for the batteries only to discover that all the D batteries had been bought and there were no more. So, after I bought the lantern (and some lawn bags that I also needed), I went next door to Staples and thankfully, they still had batteries.

The rest of the evening was really kind of uneventful. There was a moment of about an hour or so where I was concerned that a tornado might come close and of course, the sirens are never comforting. I stood outside talking to my neighbor Jeff at one point while the sirens were going off. We're super safe like that.

Thanks to the glory of Twitter, I was able to clear some shows from the DVR while keeping a check on all that was going on with the weather via Twitter. At 9:00 p.m., I was beyond excited to see that Channel 48 had dropped weather coverage and was showing The Blacklist. However, that wasn't long-lived as the weatherman broke in mid-way. Thankfully, there is On Demand and I can catch up on it later. It was shortly after this that I went to bed for the night.

Tuesday, I had the day off from work. I had a dental appointment, and appointment with a new doctor, and an appointment with the chiropractor. I started the morning at the vet. Pip and I left home around 7:00 a.m. She needed a nail trim and I wanted to get her weight so I could get her heartworm medicine for the month of May. She weighed 52.2 pounds. That's probably the biggest gain she's had in a while.

I went to my doctor appointments and in between ran some errands to the post office, Wal-Mart, Publix, Five Guys (for some lunch), and the mall when I needed to kill some time before my final appointment of the day. I finally made it home around 2:00 p.m. It was an extremely productive day and I'm glad I ended up taking the whole day off. Sometimes you just need a day to get things done like doctor appointments and post office runs.

When I got home, I had about an hour before I needed to call in for a conference call for work. After the call, I watched some TV and took a mini-nap. My weight training class was cancelled for the night because more storms were expected. So far, though, all tornado watches have been cancelled and we've only had one line of rain come through. I'm doubtful the evening is going to hold much excitement.

So, that's how my Monday and Tuesday went. Hope yours went well too and that you and yours are safe and sound!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Start of the 2014 Tornado Season

I suppose I've been a wee bit lax on the blogging lately, or so says my Aunt Linda who told me at church yesterday that I needed to blog. So, here I am, putting pen to paper, or words to the computer screen as the case may be. What else is one to do when she is under the threat of severe storms and tornadoes? I have musings from the weekend to share with you; but, I've just now decided to share tornado stories instead because it just feels like the right thing to do. 

I shall first begin with my youth because growing up in Alabama, I've been dealing with tornadoes since I came into this world. I remember as a child when we were under the threat of a tornado warning that we would often be quarantined to the bathroom where, if I am remembering correctly, a mattress was sometimes pulled into the bathroom to be thrown on top of me and Justin should the tornado come close. There were also times when we took refuge at our church building and other times when we sought shelter from other church buildings in our community of Meridianville. 

I've heard more than my fair share of tornado sirens. One of the most memorable times was when I was no more than 12 years old and was at church camp, sound asleep when we were woken by a man with a thick country accent hollering out, "The SI-REENS are going off, The SI-REENS are going off, get to the shelter!" Y'all we were in the middle of nowhere and we were in our pajamas (likely a t-shirt and shorts) and probably bare feet, hiking down a muddy slippery hill in the pouring rain and lighting trying to get to the shelter at one of the buildings on the camp ground. The rest of the night was spent in a dirty spider web infested shelter with some people crying and everyone scared. Our youth minister at the time made us all a button that said "I survived the tornado retreat" and it had the year which was 1980 something. I want to say 1987, which would make me 10, but I honestly can't remember. It could have been 1991 for all I know. 

In November 1989, when I was 12, Huntsville was hit by a very bad tornado. It was a Wednesday night and I remember it like it was yesterday. The bad thing about this particular tornado was that a lot of people were driving home from work when it hit so there were people who were in cars instead of shelters and there were a lot of injuries and casualties and damage like I had never seen. The tornado hit on Airport Road in the Jones Valley area and I remember vividly being concerned about my Aunt Linda and Uncle Cecil who lived in that area of town. I was beyond relieved when I knew that they were okay. I remember this being the first time I had ever really been concerned that someone I know might be hurt by a tornado and was also the first time I remember being scared about the weather. I also remember that Marilyn Qualye (Dan's wife - he was Vice President at the time) came to town to survey the damage and the lover of politics in me just wanted to get a glimpse of the Veep's wife. 

There have been many more tornadoes since that November evening. One of the most memorable, and probably the one that most makes me laugh and I will never forget, happened the summer of 1994 when I was 17. I was living with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Cecil and my cousin Chris and his wife Amy (who was pregnant) and their daughter Alexandra were living there too. We were a big happy family. One night, my boyfriend Matthew was over and we were upstairs shooting pool and listening to music when the weather got bad. The next thing I know, Aunt Linda has come upstairs and gathered all of us to come and sit in her closet which was also under the stairs. She called Matthew's parents to let them know he would not be coming home any time soon. I don't remember how long we sat in the closet but I do remember us all being in there laughing and it's something I will never forget. 

Of course, there is also the tornado from 2010 that hit on my street which you can read about here. Then three years ago this past Sunday was the large tornado outbreak that caused us to be without power for a week. We've had a few other small incidents since then, but I think today has been the scariest since 2011. There have been lots of tornado outbreaks close by and apparently it is supposed to be like this for the rest of the night. So, please pray we will all stay safe and that the storms will pass over with little damage to our homes and our loved ones. Tornado season 2014 is upon us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Lovely Easter Weekend

After my grand Friday night, I didn't do much else the rest of the weekend which was exactly as I had planned. On Saturday, I did some laundry and a little cleaning at finally around 4:30 p.m., I managed to pull myself off the couch and mow the grass and trim some shrubs in the backyard. I also wanted to go to Publix to get a few things that were on sale since the sale paper was ending that day and then at the 11th hour, I decided I wanted to peruse Belk for a new dress for Easter. So, after the yard work was complete, I jumped in the shower and headed to the mall. 

I arrived at Belk close to 7:00 p.m. and gave myself an hour. As luck would have it, that was more than enough time and I bought two dresses, a new top and a new pair of jeans which were desperately needed since my favorite jeans are so worn they are about to have a hole in them. I managed to get back to the car and pull out of the parking lot by 8:10 p.m. and was rather proud of myself. 

My next stop was Publix and I had a goal of getting in and out as quickly as possible because I wanted to be back home by 9:00 p.m. so that I wouldn't be out and about at all hours of the night. Once again, my goal was accomplished and I managed to get the few things on my list plus a few extras and was home by 9:00 p.m. 

Easter Sunday was a cornucopia of pastel colors as men, women and children were all decked out for Easter. There were seersucker suits and jackets and pink pants and bow ties and all manner of spring colored dresses. It was like a giant Easter egg. We didn't have class or an evening service on Easter, but the morning service lasted about an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes so I'm sure there were folks young and old alike who were anxious to get out of the pew. 

I had mentioned previously that I had turned my dad down for cooking Easter lunch. I had no desire to spend all weekend in the kitchen cooking only to have the food devoured in 30 minutes and be stuck cleaning dishes. My favorite Aunt Linda also invited me over, but they were eating at 1:00 p.m. and I was already hungry and also didn't want to spend all afternoon away from home. I had a few other invitations as well, but ended up with Jackie and her family, which included one of my favorite people, Little Mickey. I have no doubt the rest of my family is mad at me for going to lunch with Jackie's family instead of cooking for or eating with them. All I can do is apologize. I just wanted something quick and easy and we went to Chili's and it was just that. We had a nice time visiting and I was home before 1:00 p.m. and I changed into pajamas and didn't leave the house for the rest of the day. It was just what I wanted and definitely what I needed. I am thankful for the rest and relaxation - it was the best Easter gift of all! 

Apparently I've unknowingly begun an Easter tradition of sorts of having a Call the Midwife marathon. Last year on Easter I had a bit of a stomach bug and stayed home all day and watched the entire first season of Call the Midwife online and then the first episode of season two when it came on Easter evening. This year, I had the first three episodes of season three on the DVR as I had not yet had a chance to watch them. So, I watched them Sunday afternoon and then watched the fourth episode when it came on that evening. It's been an intense season and the last episode was a heart-breaker. It apparently made a lasting impression on me because I ended up dreaming about it that evening. 

So, that sums up the rest of my Easter weekend. It was great. I was able to just have some time to myself and take care of things for myself and not have to be anywhere at any time and it was much needed and an all-around great weekend. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Five Points Farm and Food Trucks on Friday

This past Friday, I had grand plans of heading out to Hazel Green High School for the first round of the state baseball playoffs. My cousin, Jon Mark, is an assistant baseball coach and the team made the playoffs for the first time in 20 years or something crazy like that. Plus, I did go to school at Hazel Green from fourth through 11th grades so it's also kind of like supporting my home team.

The first game was set for 5:00 p.m. and I planned on leaving work at 3:00 p.m. so I could go home and let Pippa run around for a while and then head out to the baseball game. However, as is often the case when I make plans, I got held up and wasn't able to leave work until around 4:30 p.m. At that point, I was tired and I knew I would be late for the game and I wasn't looking forward to a long drive out to the Green and so I made the decision that was best for me which was to just stay in town and not go to the baseball game. Thankfully, the team didn't need me and they won two games that night and advanced to the second round - awesome!

Instead of going to the game, I ended up hanging out with my dear friends Paul and Leah. They live at the Five Points Farm which I think I have mentioned a time or two before. Their goat, Luna, was pregnant, and as luck would have it, she had her kid on Friday. The little guy was promptly named Oscar and he is as cute as a button and seriously, what is more relaxing after a long week than hanging out with cute newborn baby animals? So, after I got home and let Pip run around for a while, I headed over to Paul and Leah's and met Oscar who is absolutely adorable.

I had been texting with Leah earlier that day and she had told me that she and Paul were planning to hit up Huntsville's first Food Truck Friday and so I basically invited myself to tag along with them on the adventure. Thankfully, they were cool with it. So, we headed to the Food Truck rally along with every other person in Huntsville, Seriously, there were certainly thousands of people there. All of the lines were incredibly long and after walking around for w bit, we decided to get in the shortest line which was the Food Fighters line.

When we got about 10 people away from the window, we discovered they had run out of brisket and we were all extremely disappointed. In the meantime, our friends Jonathan and Caley were wandering around and having no luck choosing a food truck line because they were all so long. Paul and Leah and I were the next in line to order when Jonathan and Caley asked us if we wanted to just go some where and eat and so, after standing in line for an hour and a half and being the next to order, we left the line and went to Big Ed's Pizza.

Big Ed's is a Huntsville staple and yet I had never been there. Caley and I split a white pizza and each had a salad and everyone else had a calzone. The pizza and salad was so good. The company was even better. It ended up being such a fun night despite the fact that the food trucks were a total bust for us. We decided that next month we should get there super early so we can be guaranteed to get food and not wait in line. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'm very blessed to have such great friends and I'm thankful for the all the times we get to spend together.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bible Study Review: Restless by Jennie Allen

Y'all - I am so blessed to share with you today a review of the newest Bible study from Jennie Allen. It's called Restless and it came out earlier this year. It is such a fantastic study and I hope that my Monday night Bible study group might pick it for a study in the future because I think everyone can benefit from it.

The Restless study is the same format as the Chase study by Jennie Allen which I reviewed last year. The set comes with a DVD, a study guide, a leader guide and a set of discussion cards. There are eight sessions to the study and each session begins with a DVD session that lasts between 20 and 25 minutes. Each session deals with a different aspect of feeling restless in our lives. The eight sessions are: Restless, God's Story, Gifts, Suffering, Place, People, Passions, Mystery.

I love the DVD sessions. I feel like they are real and I think we learn the most and can relate the best to something that is real. I think a lot of time in church and Bible study people try to sugar coat things and pretend everything is perfect. Instead, we should be able to share with one another the messiness of life and not be judged because we are keeping it real.

The study guide is extremely thought provoking and uses a lot of scripture, which I like. The questions are geared towards opening up discussion in a group but they also allow the reader to take a deep look at what's underneath. These are not what I would call surface questions or a surface discussion. Again, it is very real and provokes real discussion and I just feel like this study is a great tool to help you get to know the people in your study group on a deeper level which will enable us to help each other through the circumstances of life.

The discussion cards are also great. There are 105 cards, 12-13 cards for each session and are designed for use with the DVD. They are designed for each person in the group to randomly grab a card and then feel comfortable enough to discuss the question on the card with the group. I love cards like this because each answer is different and personal and again, helps you get to know the people in your study group.

The leader guide is a great tool as well, helping the leader better prepare for leading a group. There are extra questions and prompts for discussion, but if your group is like mine, then prompts are probably not needed. Still, it's a great tool for preparing to lead the group for the study.

Restless is a really great Bible study. One of the questions in the summary on the study book describes it best, "What would happen if God got bigger than your fear and insecurity, and you spent the rest of your life running after his purposes for you?" This study will help you towards your goal of feeling secure and comfortable about your Christianity and  your place in God's kingdom. If you feel restless and are looking for a way to help overcome it, this study is for you and I would encourage you to try it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter's Here and a Strained Voice

It's been a busy week and I'm more than ready for the weekend. How about the rest of you? It's Easter weekend and I'm sure a lot of you have big plans. I think there are quite a few people at work who are taking Friday off or leaving early. I don't have any big plans myself so it will probably just be a regular day. 

My dad asked me last weekend if I wanted to do a big lunch. My answer was no. Hopefully he was okay with my answer. To be honest, this weekend is the first in a sweet forever that I have had absolutely nothing planned and I just wanted to keep it that way. I have a lot of things I need to get done around the house and a lot of TV to catch up on and I just don't want to be obligated to anyone or anything. In other words, I plan on thoroughly enjoying some me time. 

We've had a cold streak of weather here and I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to put away my coat for the winter. Hopefully the cold winter will make for a cooler summer and we won't have to suffer too many 100 degree days. 

I have been meaning to write about The Pip and her voice. I briefly mentioned that when I picked her up from the vet she was very hoarse and could hardly bark at all. Since then, I have taken her back to the vet and she has been on steroids and an antibiotic for a couple of weeks now. Her voice still isn't fully restored and I'm beginning to think it never will be. I'm inclined to thin she must bark a lot when I first leave in the morning and therefore it strains her voice more. Apparently she barked from the moment I left her at the kennel until I picked her up, thus the hoarseness, Hopefully she will be much better soon. 

I hope you all have a very happy Easter and that the Easter Bunny brings you lots of delicious treats! Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday Service Day and a Softball Win

This past Sunday was our church's second all-church service day. Once again, our class headed out to New Hope to help the people at the New Hope church of Christ. The church there is a very small congregation and we are happy to help them make an impact on the community they live in.

After church service, we all met up for lunch at a Mexican restaurant and then headed out to the church. Our service this time was an Easter egg hunt for the children of the community. It took us an hour or so to get set up and soon after the children started coming. Unfortunately, there was at least one, maybe two other egg hunts going on at the same time in the community; so, we didn't have as large of a turnout as we would have liked. Still, we had about 30 or so kids and hopefully we all made a positive impact on them and their families.

The egg hunt ended at 3:00 p.m. and Jackie and I left soon after it was over. I dropped her off at her house and then headed home. I was rather tired and ended up napping for about an hour before watching the rest of The Masters.

Sunday evening, our softball team had a game, and we earned our first "W" of the season by a score of 15-9. It was so much fun and the hour flies by. I didn't make any outstanding plays. In fact, I struck out and walked, but I still had fun and that's what it's all about. I'm really looking forward to our next game on the 27th.

When the game was over, I gave my friend Josh a ride home and then went home myself. After taking a hot relaxing bath, I managed to get in one show before calling it a night. It was another fun filled weekend day spent with great friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Show on Saturday

Saturday was yet another busy weekend day. It seems all my weekend days are jammed full of activity and have been for a while now.

Saturday morning I actually went in to work for a couple of hours. I had some things I wanted to finish up and longed for some quiet time in which to accomplish those things. So, I went in around 6:00 a.m. on Saturday and left a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. I got a lot accomplished in that time. The quiet was exactly what I needed - no distractions.

I had a hair appointment at 8:00 a.m. so that was the next activity on the agenda. I love going to my salon. The guy that cuts my hair has been my hairdresser for years and I've known him since I was a small child. So, we know a lot of the same people and it's always good to catch up with him. He's also hilarious and always makes me laugh and he gives good hugs. So, I guess it goes without saying that I enjoyed my hour or so at the salon.

My next stop was Publix for my weekly grocery trip. This was actually the first "big" trip that I had since returning from vacation so there were more than a few items on the list. Thanks to the help of my coupons, however, my bill was less than I expected it to be. I don't think I've mentioned it, but they are opening a new Publix in downtown Huntsville that's probably two or three miles from my house and I am thrilled! It will even have a drive-thru pharmacy! All I know is I must soon get a basket my bike so I can take it to the store when I need to pick up just a few small items. I'm very excited and also anxious to see if this new Publix will become "my" Publix because I'm very loyal to the one on Whitesburg. Time will only tell.

After I got home and unloaded all the groceries, I was able to lie down and nap for all of an hour before I had to shower and dress and go pick up my mom. She had bought us tickets for a show at Merrimack Hall called "California Dreaming". I had read about the show earlier in the week and then she emailed and asked if I would go with her and so I said yes. The show was  basically a musical revue of songs from the 1960s and since we both love music from the 1960s, it was right up our alley.

We arrived a few minutes late, but still made it and that;s the most important thing. The show was pretty good. They sang a lot of great songs that both Mother and I like and I was tapping my foot on more than one occasion. The only "over the top" part was the one guy pretending to play the guitar to Jimmy Hendrix's  "Star Spangled Banner". It was a bit much. Other than that, I enjoyed the show. I think I was the youngest person there, but still had a good time. I think Mother did as well.

I took Mother back home after the show and then went home myself and spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening being lazy and trying to clear out some things on the DVR. I'm afraid my DVR might explode soon it's got so much stuff on it. I'm still very behind on my shows from being on vacation and I refuse to delete season three of Homeland so I'm at an impasse. I'm hoping to catch up on a lot of shows this coming up weekend.

Saturday was a busy but fun day. A big thanks to my mamma for taking me out on the town!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The First Pitch

I'm sure you all are just dying to know how the first pitch went and I'm here to tell you that it went great. In case you didn't know, I threw out the first pitch at the Huntsville Stars game last Thursday night. I won a contest on Twitter back in March and had been anxiously awaiting April 10 ever since I found out.

I had let all my friends know about the big night and some of my family as well and was hoping for a big crowd at The Joe. I wasn't exactly sure how far 60 feet was but figured it had to be shorter than the length of my backyard. I throw ball with The Pip sometimes and know I can throw the distance of the backyard; so, I thought I would be okay but was still nervous about making a complete fool of myself.

Jackie and the kids met me at the stadium around 5:30 (the game started at 6:30) so that we could throw the ball around some before going in. After about three throws she determined that I was going to have no problem at all and so we packed up our balls and gloves and went on in to the stadium.

One by one my friends started trickling in. I was also surprised by my cousin Brittany, her husband Bob Robert and of course, the famous Sydney. I didn't know they knew about the big night and so it was a really nice surprise to see them there and it was very special that they thought to come out.

At 6:00 I went down to the third base dugout and reported for first pitch duty. There was also a guy that came down and he was throwing the first pitch as well. I guess they do a girl and a guy. I'm not sure what time it was when we took the field, but they announced us over the loudspeakers and I was up first. I heard all my friends cheering and could see them all sitting in the upper deck. I threw a really great first pitch. It was straight over the plate and into the catcher's mitt. I was very pleased that I didn't make a fool of myself. The guy went after me and he tried to showboat and threw it straight into the dirt and it bounced past the pitcher. I wanted to laugh and heckle him, but was a good sport and didn't give him a hard time.

After my five seconds of fame was up, I went to sit with my friends and was so thankful they were there supporting me. Sadly, my parents, brother and some of my cousins got there right after it was over; but, they made the effort to get there and show their support and I appreciate it. Some of my friends got there late as well. In all, I think there were about 30 or so people who came out to cheer me on and I felt really loved. I really appreciate all of you who came out. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Most everyone stayed for the game, and people left in shifts. By the time the eighth inning rolled around, Jackie and the kids, Erika, my cousin Alexandra and Indigo and her friend Paul and I were were the only ones left. It was such a fun evening and the weather was great as well. I don't think we could have asked for a better night at the ballpark. I had such a nice time that I think I will go to another game at some point this season. I had not been to a Stars game in close to 20 years, but it's a really fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening or an afternoon.

The first pitch was a great experience and I'm so glad it went well. It may not be the major league, but it was still a lot of fun and a night I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Washed Out and Visiting

I'm continuing with stories from the weekend today because it was an all around busy weekend and I don't want to leave anything out. 

Sunday was more or less routine, I went to church, lunch, the grocery store and then back to church. The difference was Sunday night when we had our second softball game scheduled. I was so excited to play, especially since I missed the first game. In fact, everyone on the team was excited and looking forward to earning our first win. 

On the way to church Sunday evening, it started to rain. We were scheduled to play our game at 8:00 p.m. and some of us were going to meet up at 6:30 to get in some practice before the game. A few of us showed up and tossed balls to warm up and then about an hour before the game was supposed to start, they called it off. We were all so disappointed and had to reign in our excitement for another week. Our next game is this coming Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Monday it was back to work and then Monday evening Jackie and I took dinner to our friends Jonathan and Caley. Well, actually just to Caley since Jonathan went to watch the basketball game with friends. They are the proud parents of their first child, Cecilia Grace, who was born on March 18. Jackie and I met her for the first time on Monday night and were so excited to spend some time with that sweet baby and her parents. My intention was to leave around 7:00, but we talked so long it was more like 8:00 before I left their house. They only live two miles away though so I wasn't too late getting home. It was a great way to kick off the week. 

On another note, I want to remind everyone that Thursday night I am throwing out the first pitch at the Huntsville Stars game. I would love for you to come out and heckle me or cheer me on or whatever and then stay to watch the game. It's sure to be a fun night and I'm really looking forward to it!

Thanks to Jackie for the photo of me and Baby FowWow!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saturday Ended with the Symphony

My busy weekend continued Saturday with a day full of activity. I woke up Saturday morning and did some laundry and some TV watching. My dad had borrowed my lawnmower earlier in the week and brought it back Saturday morning a little before 10:00 a.m.

I managed to pull myself off the couch and start on the yard work about 10:30. The grass was really very high and was in desperate need of a trimming. I figured it would be a beast to cut and in fact it was. I finished up the yard work a little after noon and was so glad to have it looking normal again. I didn't cut it as short as I would have liked because it was so high, but it was a vast improvement from what it had been previously.

After I finished up the yard work, Jackie came by and picked me up and we went to the batting cages at Southern Adventures. I don't think I've mentioned it, but Jackie and I and some of our friends from church and a few other friends have formed a softball team and are playing in the co-ed league on Sunday nights. The first game was on March 30 and I missed it because I was traveling back from Hawaii. The team lost by two runs but everyone was really pleased with how the team played. So, since I haven't swung a bat in about 20 years or so, we hit up the batting cages so I could get in some swings (and hopefully hits).

I swung at the air a good five or six times before finally making contact with the ball. I got in a few good hits and admittedly was very pleased with my hitting. When you haven't hit a ball in 20 years, any hit is a good hit. Jackie's step-dad dropped her kids off with us and after we were done hitting, we stopped by the store to pick up some Easter trinkets to put into plastic eggs for our service project next week. We got all the eggs stuffed and then Jackie and the kids headed home and the Pip and I took a nap.

Saturday evening, I went to the symphony. It was my first trip to the symphony this year and the last concert of the season. The night was titled Two Fifths on the Fifth and featured Beethoven's Fifth in the first half and after intermission they played Prokofiev's Fifth. Prokoviev's I was not familiar with, but it was powerful, particularly at the end. Beethoven's Fifth has been one of my favorites since I was a child. I used to own it on cassette tape and pretty much wore it out. So, it probably goes without saying that I loved, loved, loved the first half of the program.

It was a really eventful day and it ended with a great nigh. I'm so glad I was able to enjoy an evening out with such great music.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Night at the Circus

This past Friday was a night I have been looking forward to since February - our annual night out at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. My dad was kind enough to go down to the Civic Center the day the tickets went on sale and picked up four tickets for us and we basically split the expense. Circus tickets are getting expensive, y'all!

As it turns out, Justin was unable to go, so Erika was kind enough to tag along with the Parkers for a night of fun "under the big top". My parents were running late at dinner and so Erika and I went on ahead without them so we could participate in the pre-show fun that takes place on the floor of the arena. We had a big time trying on costumes, posing on the motorcycle and one of the "Circle of Death" riders and getting circus tattoos. At one point a man and his wife with their baby tried to cut line in front of me and Erika but I put him in his place and told him there was a line to pose with the motorcycle and that we were next. I guess it was rude, but hey, there's an order to these things.

The show started right on time and I really think it was one of the best circuses we have seen in a while. One of the first things was the Globe of Steel, or as I like to call it, the Circle of Death. I know I mention this every time I blog about the circus, but it is seriously one of my favorite things the circus does. I yelled and cheered for the guys (and gal) on the motorcycle and loved every minute of it.

Other acts throughout the evening were the big cats, the elephants, horses, dogs, and even a kangaroo. The clowns, as always, were very entertaining, and the trapeze was a crowd pleaser again this year. All of the acts in this years circus were absolutely fabulous. I honestly don't think there was moment I didn't enjoy. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, it's truly the Greatest Show on Earth!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Last Day on the Island and the Long Journey Home

I'm posting this a little late seeing as how I've been home for a couple of days, but better late than never, right?

On Saturday we woke up early, showered, dressed, ate breakfast and left the cruise ship, all before 8:15 a.m. We got a cab to the rental cars at the airport and picked up one we had reserved for the day.

Our first stop was the Dole Plantation. We got there a little before 9:30 only to realize they opened at 9:30 so I guess you could say we had good timing. We took the train tour, wandered around the store and ate some pineapple. Well, I actually had pineapple ice cream with pineapple pieces on top. We also watched a pineapple demonstration on how to cut a pineapple. I should have videoed it because I probably won't remember how to do it.

After leaving the Dole Plantation, we headed to the North Shore. We didn't have any firm plans for the day so we just did a lot of driving around and stopped to look at the beach a few times. We also stopped at a shrimp truck and had some lunch which I thought was quite tasty.

Our next stop was the Punchbowl National Cemetery where some of the victims of Pearl Harbor are buried. We spent a while there and then made our last stop of the night which was for dinner. After dinner, we dropped off the car and took the trolley to the airport.

Our flight left Honolulu at 9:40 p.m. Hawaiian time and we arrived at LAX at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time. Our flight to Nashville was scheduled to leave at 10:00 a.m. and we were supposed to arrive in Nashville a little before 4:00 p.m. Our flight, however, was delayed until 11:30 a.m. and then it was delayed until 12:15 p.m. and then they had us change gates and terminals. After changing terminals, we discovered there were no pilots for our flight because the pilots had hit their FAA limit. Long story short, we finally left LA around 1:00 p.m. and were flown to Salt Lake City where we changed pilots.

We arrived to lots and lots of snow in Salt Lake City. We were there close to an hour between the changing of the pilots, refueling and deicing of the plane. Long story short, we finally landed in Nashville at 8:45 p.m. By the time we got out luggage, got to our car, hit the road, picked up some food and got home, it was midnight and we had been awake for about 37 hours with the exception of a few naps here and there.

Monday I spent the day doing laundry, cleaning the house and then picking up Pippa who is extremely hoarse because I imagine she barked constantly while I was gone. I think she has some separation anxiety. She has been by my side and has been rather calm since getting home. She must be resting her voice because she hasn't tried to bark much since getting home.

Now I'm catching up on work, catching up with people and attempting to get over the jet lag. It was a great trip, but there's no place like home.