Friday, November 29, 2013

Now it's time for the best time of the year

Now that you stuffed yourselves to the gills from yesterday's feast, probably several different times in the day, it is official. Thanksgiving is over.

*Steps on soapbox for a moment.*
This does not mean that thankfulness should be forgotten. I guarantee that if you are reading this you have more than what you need to live and be happy so I hope that you remember this and give thanks everyday for what you have. I am constantly trying to remind myself of this so I figure the more I say, the more it will sink in.
*Steps off of soapbox*

Now that we have passed the Thanksgiving threshold, it is time to fully immerse yourself in the Christmas season. It's time for decorations, parties, gifts, and music. Yes, the music. Enjoy, if you will.

Josh Groban - O Holy Night

Carmen McRae - Baby, It's Cold Outside by theUnforgettablesTv

Throughout the season, I will be bringing you all things Christmas. It is my favorite time of year and you will learn just how much I love it this month so brace yourselves.

*This is a PSA brought to you by me, Whitney, in an effort to prepare you for the seasonal festivities to come. You can't say you weren't warned.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I am taking a break from blogging today to enjoy time with family and partake in the gorging of my belly. I hope you are having a wonderful day and remembering all of the things that you have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Things, they are a changin'

Yesterday I posted a certain picture on Instagram
and promised details to come, so here they come. Yesterday was my last day of work. Let me back up and tell the whole story, though.

I started this job, hired from a temp agency to come in and help when one of the owners was on maternity leave, in December 2008. There were 5 of us {not including the pregnant one that was out} crammed into a 700 square foot room. I am talking there was a desk every couple of feet against the walls and a couple in the center of the room. We were jam packed. Like sausages. I was hired on as a full-time employee in March 2009 and remained a staple in the office since. We have been housed in three different locations and have grown and shrunk and grown again to settle in to around 23 employees.

We were, first and foremost, government contractors. This means that most of our income comes from the government via projects we won. Of course, you can see where this is going. Recession, government shut-down, yada yada yada. Badda bing, badda boom lay-offs begin. I survived the first round and was assured that I would not suffer the same fate, but alas that was not to be.

On September 27th {and yes, Joy, the only reason I remember the date is because we came to your wedding the same day I found out}, I was pulled into my boss' office and informed that my job would be ending as of the end of November. Not only that, but as of October 15th, I was officially part-time and down to 20 hours a week. She cried. I didn't. I was probably in shock. I mean, I made less than anyone else at that entire establishment {which I know because I handled payroll along with a million other things} so I just always figured that I would be one of the last to go - if ever. 

I went to lunch with Craig and broke the news. He laughed nervously. I definitely did too. We had talked about me staying home with Canon on many occasions. We loved the idea of it, but for it to be forced on us when we weren't ready was just...well, who's ever ready for a change like that. However, we did make the decision to try it out for a while. So, now this is my first time saying it to you, internet. As of today, I am, officially, a stay-at-home-mom.

Reality: there have been many freak-out moments, by myself and by Craig, where the stress of the situation takes over and we break down wondering how was are going to handle this financially. It obviously isn't easy to go from two incomes to one, especially when you weren't expecting it. We are going to take it day by day and see what happens. We are trimming down our lifestyle and figuring out what is most important. It actually is pretty freeing - at least that is the way I am choosing to look at it.

This situation has given me a wonderful opportunity though. I am looking into expanding my love of photography into some extra moolah. I will bring you all the details when I figure it all out, but suffice it to say that I am excited that I now have, not only time, but motivation to move myself in the direction that I always wanted to go.

I chose to break this news after my official last day so there would be no weirdness at the office if a coworker happened to come upon this blog, so please friends don't be offended if I didn't tell you before. Also, not gonna lie, there is a little bit of a feeling of failure there so while I wasn't in love with my job, I was good at it and I know that. And I have never been laid off or fired before so I didn't know what it felt like until now. 

After five years of employment and multiple lateral promotions, I can officially say that I am no longer a valuable asset to my company and am now a more present mother and wife to my family.

No, this is not a jab at my former coworkers or bosses. It is, however, the song I have had in my head for the last two months.

Also, I am going to be DIY-ing like a crazy person for Christmas so get ready!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tiny Horses and Easy Living

I told you yesterday about being in Reform, AL for the weekend and wandering my grandparents' land in search of memories and inspiration. Later that same day, though, we decided to head to my cousin's house to visit her and her mini horses.

You got a glimpse of these tiny beauties already, if you follow my Instagram feed. Sandra, my cousin, has several miniature horses, a couple of regular-sized horses, a goat, and a dog that she cares for. She has invited us on several occasions to let Canon come ride the minis so we took her up on her offer during this trip.

There were several in the corral with Canon and Sandra and they were so excited that there was a little boy to play with that they ran up to him and were sniffing and "nippling" him - as Canon would say - or "nibbling" him - as everyone else explained to him.

Canon was so excited to get the chance to ride the horses, but had never actually ridden one before so the first trip proved a little interesting. He actually slid right off of it's back, in slow motion no less, and onto the ground. He didn't have very far to fall so it didn't hurt at all, but it made him wary none the less. I, being the caring and concerned mother, couldn't stop giggling long enough to take a video of the reaction, but trust me when I tell you that it was like watching a Charlie Chaplin film.  Priceless.

He did get back on, though, after Sandra explained to him how to hold on properly. Craig walked alongside him to ensure he didn't fall off again and he had a grand time, however nervous that he was. 

After he rode the little horses, we decided to walk around and see her other animals and land. We toured the garden, picked up pecans that had fallen off of their trees, picked a couple of HUGE pears, and explored the storm cellar. Living in Florida, we can't have storm cellars - they would be filled with water in no time, but there is imperative to own one.

Besides one tiny window, a few chairs, a kerosene lamp, and some canned vegetables, the cellar was pretty empty. I guess you don't want too much getting in your way if you have to hustle down there quickly whilst avoiding a tornado. I can tell you that walking out of the cellar and into daylight - even without a storm having gone through - was extremely eerie so I can only imagine riding out a tornado in there and walking out afterwards to survey the damage. I would liken the feeling to something post-apocalyptic but that hasn't happened yet so I can't say with certainty.

We had a wonderful time relaxing with family and seeing the sites. If you ever need to just get away for a while, I can't think of a better place than in the country. The way of life is slower, as is the cell connectivity. No work emails hounding you or thoughts of bills...just exploring the land and drinking sweet syrup sweet tea. Sounds heavenly? It pretty much is.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memories in the strangest places

Some scientists say that the sense of smell is the strongest link to memories that we have. It is truly amazing how memories come flooding back just at the smell of a perfume or a food. Last weekend we decided to visit my grandmother in Reform, AL, and while there Craig and I took the time to walk the grounds and enjoy each other's company.

My grandparents have a shed beside their house where they stored so many treasures that you could stock an antique store. Of course, there is plenty of junk as well, but you don't have to look hard to find an interesting piece that holds a storied past.

I am dying to find out why there are stocks in the shed. Dad, were you guys punished in them if you didn't behave as children? ;)

My grandfather worked for Westinghouse for years so there are many Westinghouse products throughout the house and, apparently, in the shed as well.

We then stepped into his workshop and that's when the memories flooded. It was strange, though, because there weren't specific memories. It just smelled like him. I can't explain it. He didn't smell like a woodshed so it doesn't really make sense, but there was something about the workshop's smell that made me smile and cry at the same time. It made me miss him so much, even though I really didn't spend any time in there with him while he was alive. It is truly amazing how the mind works and how just one simple smell can bring back so many emotions.

After taking that trip down memory lane, we decided to take a walk across the land to take advantage of the fresh air and cooler temperatures.

We had a shadow, Bo, during our walk. Bo originally belonged to my cousin and his family, but my grandmother adopted him when they moved out of the area. He loves company and stayed under our feet the entire time we were walking.

I noticed a spider web that still held the morning dew and found the way it glistened so beautiful...

...until I came so close to seeing it's owner and designer and quickly left him to his bidding.

I love visiting this area, of course because of my grandmother, but also because the beauty of the land amazes me every time we are there. There is always something new and interesting to witness and capture in photographs. I hope you don't mind me sharing my finds each time we go. I mean, we are there once a month so it stands to reason that I will continually have something new to share. I am going to go ahead and say "you're welcome" and hope that you said "thank you" for this.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Superhero Saves the Day!

You "met" my best friend, Paige, yesterday in my 32 for 32 post. Now you will learn all about the baby shower we threw for her to welcome her second child into this world.

Paige is a lot like me in terms of, well everything, but that includes how we feel about super sweet baby boy stuff. It's not really our thing. See, when I found out that I was having a boy, there were many people who wanted him to have the soft and sweet baby outfits and the sugary sweet decorations that went along with that type of "true southern" feeling. I, on the other hand, wanted him to be a super cool little dude that liked to play air guitar and wanted to jump off of things yelling "arrrgh". Or something like that. The point is, I didn't want that picture perfect southern-style for him. Even as an infant, he wore funny t-shirt onesies or polo-style collars and dressed like the rockin' boy he is.

Paige is the same way. Sweet boy's nursery even has a superhero theme, complete with black and gray walls. She and her musician husband definitely did not want the styles and feelings of the typical southern baby shower to celebrate what will be their awesome little dude. So we, who were hosting the shower, decided that this party should have a superhero-theme so that people would shower them with gifts that they would really appreciate and love.

In the age of Pinterest, it is so easy to get ideas for parties, and we created a secret board to bring us hosts together on the same page. That small gesture proved invaluable because this little shin-dig was a huge success. We had amazing food - with themed names of course, superhero decor that they can use in his nursery and hospital door, and a photo-booth with superhero props. Check it out!

These cookies were so sinful that I was waiting for lightning to strike us all down for eating them.

This was painted by one of the talented hostesses, Kelly, who also happens to be Paige's sister-in-law.

All of Paige's flower girls from her wedding. They were just babies then.

The hostesses with the mostesses...and the baby of honor - in his mother.

Admittedly, the pictures didn't turn out how I had hoped, but I was having too much fun to really take my time and get the shots I needed. The sign of a great party, though, right? The fact that I didn't even take time to take pictures. Go us!

Paige is like most pregnant women - she doesn't feel beautiful when she is pregnant because she just doesn't feel good. I am sure that you will all disagree with her though. She is radiant, so I convinced her to let me take some pictures of her while we were there. We didn't get too many because she was getting pretty tired, but we intend to go full-out once baby boy makes his debut.

Big sister loves her brother already.

I can't wait to meet this little dude...I mean, I was really hoping he was going to grace us with his presence on my birthday but that didn't happen. It's cool, I forgive him anyway.

I am so happy that we got a chance to shower his precious mother with time and gifts that will help their family in the months to come. Join me in praying for a safe delivery and a happy family very before I leave to go out of town for Thanksgiving. I mean it.