Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Four Hour Tour: Paddling the Flint River


I have a confession to make. This week (really this month) has been long and stressful and yesterday, Daniel and I were secretly hoping that it would rain and we would be able to cancel our canoe trip.

Horrible, I know, but life is just crazy. Daniel started working at a new location. Jack and I have been busy traveling to visit with family. And we have been in the process of preparing for Daniel's dad's wedding tomorrow. Life has been busy.

As much as we considered bailing on a trip we had planned, we are so thankful that it didn't rain. We really need some time to relax, cut up with friends and just be together. It was a much needed diversion from the chaos that is currently our life.

Fun Facts of the Day: 
Only one person fell out of their canoe. Though it wasn't a true fall. Paul got out into what he thought was two feet of water and was surprised and lost his footing when he realized it was deeper. I am sure his wife, Courtney, was thankful he didn't tip their canoe over when he fell in the water.

Kyle wins the award for the most random and sneakiest exit from a canoe. I don't think his wife, Karissa, even had a clue he was in the water until after it happened. Kudos, Kyle, for your mad skills at getting in and out of your boat.

Aaron did a fantastic job for being in a canoe for the first time. Most first-timers spend the entire trip zigzagging all over the river. Aaron only zigged and zagged a couple of times. We were impressed with his abilities, especially for his first time!

Many turtles were spotted, and then Allison went and spotted a 9-inch snake when we banked for lunch. I think there was a consensus that it was a water moccasin... time to get back in the boats!

At the end, four of our boats got snagged on a tree when we bottle necked. Fun times. Thankfully no one flipped their boat and we were able to get everyone unstuck.

It was a gorgeous day to be on the river. Like I said, we are so thankful it didn't rain and that we were able to spend some time with our friends.

Paddling Stats:
River: The Flint, on the east side of Huntsville, Alabama
We put in at Ryland Pike and took out at Little Cove Road
Outfitter: Northa Alabama Canoe and Kayak (NACK). 
This is our second time using this outfitter and we really like them.
Total miles paddled: 7.3 miles
Total time on the water: around 4 hours

We're looking forward to our next paddling trip.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday Funday

Things have been so crazy lately that we haven't had a chance to take Jack to the local Splash Pad in Scottsboro. After seeing how much he loved the fountains at Bridge Street in Huntsville, I thought Monday would be a great opportunity to introduce him to the Splash Pad.


I hate that Daniel didn't get to be a part of this first experience for Jack, but it was nice to have a local activity to take my mind off of the fact that Daniel is gone for the week. Of course, Jack had an absolute blast. I had to drag him away when it was time to go.

Monday, June 24, 2013

De Ja Vu

It is hard to believe that 3 years, 3 months and 26 days ago, Daniel and I were saying goodbye in a parking lot with no clear view of what our future might hold. We just knew that Daniel had a good job and we would be living in two different states until we sold our house. It was horrible.

Last night, I helped Daniel pack his stuff for the week. So much has changed but it was eerily similar to that day 3 years ago. I hate goodbyes, so I am hoping this particular week is the only week we do this. No more indefinite months of living a part. That's not good for anyone.

This time is easier because I know we are creating a short-term game plan that will involve us being together soon. It is different because we are only 2 hours apart instead of 6 and we don't have a renovation to finish (we are hoping to get our house on the market in the next couple of weeks). It is odd because now I have a little toddler to take care of and I can't sit around moping when Jack has no idea that anything is different. 

I am thankful that we live closer to family and that I can pop over to visit them when I need to.

This time around it is the same, but different. I definitely have everyone on my mind that is affected by this transition.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jack and Sophie

At 19.5 months, Jack and Sophie have a fairly decent relationship. Especially considering Sophie hated just about everyone when we got her. ESPECIALLY kids. She has really grown in this department. She still has her moments when Jack annoys her, but for the most part, they have a pretty good understanding of each other.

Every morning, Sophie comes into the nursery and waits until I get Jack up. Lately, I have been letting Jack pick out his own clothes for the day. While I help him get dressed, Soph wanders in and lets Jack pet her before we head downstairs.

Recently Jack has graduated from wanting to play in the dog food (we had to hide it in the laundry room) to wanting to actually try to feed Sophie – ie scooping out food and putting it in her food dish. He is actually pretty proficient at this task. He also likes to stick his hands (and feet) in her water bowl, so we are still working on that.

Sophie gets very concerned when Jack is crying and will come check on him. However, if she is trying to take a nap, she is not fond of him coming to check on her.

I hope that one day they are good pals. 

I am loving that Jack is becoming interested in helping us with little things around the house. Besides trying to feed Sophie, he also helps at laundry time by moving dry clothes from the dryer to the basket and putting wet clothes (that I hand him) into the dryer. He also helps me put away his clothes. He is becoming quite the little helper.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bittersweet -- The Beginning of the End

With new beginnings, you sometimes have to experience endings as well. We are in the midst of some of these types of endings. Tuesday was my last local group workout. Wednesday night I went down to Huntsville to celebrate with many of our friends at a baby shower. I am so thankful that I was able to go, but I am also a little sad that this may be the last shower we attend with this group.

Yesterday, the Bellefonte engineers had a retirement party for two of their managers. It was also their last day to be onsite together at Bellefonte. Most of them will be at Watts Bar next week, but in different capacities and not necessarily working together.

Last night I went back to Huntsville for a girl's night. We meet periodically to visit and share the good and bad parts of our lives and to pray together. It is probably the last one that I will be able to attend since we will be going with Daniel (Lord willing) to stay wherever we can find temporary housing until our house sells. 

I have been so blessed by this group of girls. We really love our class at church and have been so blessed by meeting together in each others homes and grabbing lunch on Sundays after church. 

We have always found a place in life groups (in Cookeville, TN and also in Charlotte, NC) and have made some really good friends over the years, but this time we have felt the most connected in the shortest amount of time. We are hoping to still be around on Sundays until our house sells, but it is sad knowing we will be leaving such a good group of people. I can't say enough about them. If you ever move to Huntsville and want to become a part of a church family, we would say go to Mayfair CoC and find the Servants at Heart class. They make a big church feel small and welcoming.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

See Jack {early-mid May 2013}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack in the driver's seat. This is arguably his favorite thing to do.
{early May}

See Jack play with the seesaw at the park. 
He is one-and-a-half and already learning about levers.
{early May}

See Jack practice mastering pedaling his tricyle... and then get distracted.
{early May}

See Jack watch TV. I'm not sure how to describe what he is doing, but he has a thing with laying back on the couch and climbing up the coffee table with his feet.
{early May}

See Jack pop a toddler-size wheelie on his little rolling horse.
{mid May}

See Jack practice stacking his Legos for the first time. 
Just to be clear, he only does it with 2 Legos, but it is still a first.
{mid May}

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bittersweet -- The First Goodbye

Over the years I have learned the importance of surrounding yourself with groups of people that will fulfill different needs in your life. For me this includes being a part of a life group (or small group) at a church, participating in group exercise and having a couple of close girlfriends to confide in about life.

When we first moved to Hollywood, Alabama, I really only had one friend. She was the wife of one of Daniel's coworkers. We bonded through working out at the local rec center and we both took our first step towards running – I ran my first 5K with her and then we went on to train for a half marathon together. Sadly, she moved away just over a year ago. 

Working out was one of the few things that kept me sane when I first moved to Hollywood. It kept me from being lonely. It got me out of the house on a daily basis. And it helped me survive my first pregnancy – I even did a 60-minute kickboxing class the day I went into labor.

After Jack came along, I had a hard time getting back into the workout routine. Jack's naptimes and feedings seemed to always fall about the time my workouts would be, so I kind of dropped out of the group workout scene. This made me sad because I had trained with Desiree (of Inspired by Desire) and did Yoga with all of the retired ladies at the rec center for 1.5 years.

After 10 months of trying to jog when it wasn't too hot, I finally made it down to the Core Fitness studio in Scottsboro. Without daytime childcare, I really felt like I could only make it to evening classes when Daniel was available to hang out with Jack (they normally went to the park to walk or ride bikes). For the last 8 months, I have really enjoyed getting pushed to work hard by Betina. She really cares for her students and is not afraid to make you do tough things (which I appreciate). I would rather run two miles than do Zumba so I like it when she does things like make us do 50 burpees in class. I am not afraid to push myself.

One of the things I will be sad to leave (due to our impending move) is my weekly workouts. They are distraction from when life is crazy or for when I just need some time to myself. I know I will join a new gym wherever we move, but I have been really blessed by the women in Scottsboro, Alabama that I have been able to work out with over the last 3 years. Any time I have a "last experience" it always makes me a little sad. I can now check the "first goodbye" off of my list. Tonight was sad, but I have a feeling that when the time comes, the other goodbyes are going to be much harder.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

If you ever want to experience pure joy, then let a toddler to do something they have never done before. Especially if that something involves water.

After a lunch with friends at Cantina Laredo at Bridge Street, we wandered over to the fountain so that Jack could have a little fun in the water.

Never mind that we didn't have swimming trunks or a change of clothes.

Jack had a blast playing in the water and trying to drink from the spray.

And our friends had the chance to experience a little joy that a toddler can bring.

It is hard to believe that Jack has been around long enough for this to be our second father's day. This little guy blesses us tremendously each and every day. 

I am proud of Daniel for being such a good dad who is willing to do the not-so-fun things like change Jack's diapers, even on Father's Day.

I am also thankful for my dad and my father-in-law for being such great dads (and grandpas)!

Friday, June 14, 2013

We like to move it, move it.

Not really, but in order for Daniel to stay employed, a move is in our near future... 

If you live in the Tennessee Valley (anywhere from Knoxville down to the Huntsville area), you may have seen the news about Bellefonte on Wednesday.
"The Tennessee Valley Authority said [Wednesday], it will slow down work at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site near Scottsboro, cut 400 positions, and reassess the need for the plant's completion."
So how does this affect us? Here is the scoop from our perspective. Those affected by the cuts were given the following options: 1) stay at Bellefonte (they will be keeping some people onsite); 2) go to another TVA site; or 3) retire. In most cases the only option is really #2, so Daniel (and many of the others) are going to Watts Bar for the time being. 

The last two days have been a flourish of phone calls and decisions about our future being made on the fly. To be honest, the news was not completely unexpected, but it is still a lot to process. We knew there would be a big announcement on Wednesday and that the changes could be swift, but we are still wrapping our minds around the fact that Daniel will start his training next week and then will go to Watts Bar the week after that.

We have a house to sell and are sad at the possibility of leaving all of the friends we have made. We were just starting to feel settled and now we will be starting over. Again. We know that moving on is the right thing at this time, but it is still sad and a little unsettling. Long-term, Daniel has some time to decide where he wants to be within the TVA organization (location and career-wise). Given the circumstance, it is actually a really good opportunity for him to find something he enjoys doing. And with a company this large, he can always move on to working somewhere else, doing something different if he has the mind to do so.

Mostly, we are incredibly grateful that Daniel still has a job and that TVA is taking care of a lot of the details. In 2009, we weren't so lucky when Daniel went through a layoff with another company, and subsequent 12 months of unemployment which led to us living apart for 5 months. That was a really stressful period in our lives. This time around should be a much easier transition, but that doesn't make it easy.

As soon as we can, we will get our house on the market and start the process of finding a new, temporary residence in Tennessee (most likely somewhere between Chattanooga and Knoxville). We aren't sure where we will be long term, so we are going to take our time making decisions like buying a new house. Please keep us in your prayers as we make this transition.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

See Jack {early May}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack having fun at the park.
This was one of his first times to go down the slide unassisted. He now can do this with ease.
{early May}

See Jack have fun with a couple of boxes.
He just needs a steering wheel and he would be content all day long.
{early May}

See Jack flip through one of our old photo albums, looking for pictures of his daddy.
{early May}

See Jack play on the furniture. This is a habit we are trying to break. 
Thankfully he has only fallen off twice.
{early May}

See Jack use a fork. More like, see me try to persuade Jack to use the fork for the camera. He has been using utensils for a couple of months. Trying to catch it on camera is not so easy.
{early May}

See Jack climb into his jumper. And get stuck.
{early May}

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jack is 19 Months

Jack is now closer to 2 years old than 1 year. Crazy.

A few things I want to remember from the past month...

Jack finally figured out how to climb out through our doggy door on the porch. Thankfully it is just a game to him and he hasn't tried to escape down the stairs into the yard yet.

We have a kiddie pool set up on the non-screened end of our porch (we haven't added water yet) and he enjoys having some autonomy to wander to the other end of the porch to play.

Jack has also become quite the helper this month. While transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer, I hand Jack the wet clothes and he is delighted to put them in the dryer.

While he loves spending time with his Daddy (especially in the garage), it is sweet that he wants to be where I am, too, helping me when he can.

Our cars continue to be a favorite pastime for our little guy. He will sit in the cars for up to 30 minutes at a time and gets very upset when we take him inside. He insists on having the keys in hand and wants to push all of the levers and buttons.

Words and Phrases: I think we can officially claim that Jack has his first phrase down. It goes like this: "Uh-Oh. Where? Fo (his word for Sophie)?" Or sometimes this: "Uh-Oh. Where? Truck (or tractor)?" Or "Uh-Oh. Where? Daddy?" It is his way of 1) realizing something (or someone) is missing and 2) asking where that thing is. He uses a variation of this phrase all the time. It is so precious.

Other new words include: uh-oh, where, one, bike, fruit, hay, bottle, milk (was ma), snack, daddy (used to be dada), dog, bird, read, choo-choo, potty, chair, up, down, more, all done, and outside (he has graduated from saying "side" to denote both inside and outside). I believe he currently has about 60+ words in his growing vocabulary. He is also starting to get names down. They are a bit awkward but this past weekend he really tried to say Izzy, Levi, Emily and Grammy. He doesn't quite have them, but he is close.

Really, at this point Jack has become a little parrot and will repeat almost anything we say. You can read about other words in his vocabulary here and here.

Teeth: Jack cut his first molars – two on top and one on the bottom. He is now up to 9 teeth.

Firsts: This month we took Jack on his first bike ride...

and to his first concert. He loved both experiences.

He also attended his first Princess Party. Though he did not dress as a princess (as can be seen by the Ghostbusters t-shirt he was wearing).

Jack also experienced his first time playing with the water hose. He was beside himself with excitement when we sprayed him while Daniel washed our cars. It continues to amaze me how the joy that Jack has from each new experience is so contagious. I never thought I would have so much fun running through the spray of a garden hose at age 32.

Height and Weight: Jack had a growth spurt this month and can now reach the handles on all of our doors. He has not yet mastered turning them to open a door, but he can grasp them and pull a door shut behind him. I believe that it is time to start tracking his measurements on a door frame. I have no idea how much he weighs, but I am carrying him around less as he is pretty chunky.

We are so very blessed to have this little guy in our lives.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...