Tag Archives: vacation

Dear Addison: Five Months

Dear Addison,
Yesterday you turned five months old! And what a fun month it has been—chatting, gnawing, giggling, rolling. What a genius you are.

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On our Thanksgiving road trip you were superb, with only a 20 minute exception when you got hungry before we found a spot to stop. So many new faces to see and new arms holding you. But you just rolled with it. So perfectly mellow and content, you are a case study in flexibility. I’m taking notes.

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After teetering on your side for several days, you eventually learned how to roll all the way over this month! We react as if this is a miraculous feat of physics (and maybe considering your plumpness, it is). We are so very proud of you, but also forced to rewrite our entire Addison Care Manual. Mobility changes the whole game, and now we have to have one eye on you always or you’ll scoot yourself right under a table. Most likely to grind those gums on the wood.

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Teething has reared its ugly head and I want so badly to punch him in the knees and tell him to beat it for another six months. You don’t have to chew breast milk. But instead, on those days you are out of sorts and know no other way but tears, I rock you a little longer, we spend more time cuddled in the nursery behind a book, my computer waits while we explore the feel of palm branches in the backyard and I let you gnaw at my knuckles for as long as you like. I just want to take your pain away, little one. It doesn’t seem fair for you to feel it in your angelic innocence, especially when I adore that pink, gummy grin of yours. Forget shopping for bras or a prom dress, I can’t even handle you having one tooth.

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You have discovered your voice! Much like your awkward, jerky limbs, you don’t quite know how to control the power in those vocal chords. What tumbles from your little mouth is a raspy, intent growling of sorts. It’s clear you have something of utmost importance to relate to your toys–eyebrows furrowed, glare unmoving. We just don’t have the slightest clue what story you’re telling. When your dad and I hear you working it out in the back seat, we just laugh. You’re a pretty funny kid.

A robe collageIf I could have my way, sweet girl, I would never talk to you of evil and fear. But this week, more than any other moment, the whole world was faced with the realization that even precious babies cannot be shielded from these things. The evil will find its way in, at some time. And now that you are in my life and I am responsible for your safety and protection, that reality is a hard, hard truth to accept.

I cannot reconcile the absolute beauty and hope in your sweet face with the unspeakable horror that coexists in the world. My mama’s soul is so shaken.

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Your dad and I promise from the most profound depths of our hearts that we will protect you with all we have from the preying eye of this mad, mad world. But if there is ever a day that that is not enough, I plead with the One who is our only Comfort that He finds you in that moment. He is the infinite Love that I cannot give you, with arms wide enough to hold you when I cannot, blanketing you with a peace that transcends our understanding. I hope that I can help you find Him. There is nothing else more valuable to give you in this blink of a lifetime.

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I told someone recently that your dad and I didn’t decide to have you because we felt our lives were lacking. We didn’t think something was missing–we thought you would simply add to our happiness.

And oh how monumentally understated that expectation proves to be. You have added immeasurable joy, purpose and fulfillment to our lives. Your presence has filled to overflowing the deepest corners of my soul that I never even knew desired more than anything to be your mama. And maybe that is where I can rest in these days, in the embrace of gratitude that you are here. And you are well. And I have had five whole months of your glances and smiles and nuzzles and snores and tears and thighs. That is the light in this darkness. Every moment with you is pure light.

From My Whole Heart, 
Mama

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Charlotte, Day 4

After nearly losing our opposable thumbs in a maze of hybrid farm animals and carnivorous predators, we took it down a notch on Saturday and only risked our lives a couple dozen times.

We arrived at the U.S. National Whitewater Center a little before our whitewater rafting reservations at 11 a.m. It was freezing. And by freezing, I obviously mean it was like 50 degrees. But I was shivering enough to rent the inconspicuous, form-fitting splash jacket. They casually made me an offer to join the promotional models for special events, but I humbly declined. It just wouldn’t be fair for the girls who have been dreaming of modeling adventure sports paraphernalia since childhood.

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I would like to describe our raft guide to you so that you fully appreciate how radical this dude was. But I know I won’t do him justice. When he stumbled into the pavilion before our safety talk, I thought he was with a group of rafters and had gotten misplaced. He looked lost, physically, mentally, sober-ly. His face was deep brown, weathered from what seemed like too much sun damage than could be possible for his age, and partially hidden by reflective Oakleys. Unwashed hair poked out in every direction from a carelessly worn beanie.

And then, the clock struck 11, and it was this very guy who got up in front of the group and presented the information that would possibly save our lives. It was hard to take him seriously with the surfer dialect and hilarious explanations: “If you fall out of the boat, just lean back on your life jacket, and you’ll have your own little personal raft trip.”

I didn’t want my own personal little raft trip. I wanted a raft trip in a raft with as little contact with water as possible. I pitied the group that got stuck with this guide. They were certainly in for a wild ride.

As it turns out, yes, yes we were. As two orphans, we were added to a corporate group who, surprise surprise, landed in Captain Dan’s boat. But Captain Dan? Was totally gnarly. Because the river was manmade, the rafts go through a couple of stretches of the same rapids several times during a trip. Captain Dan was hilarious in his questionable sobriety, unmatched in his ability to guide our raft directly into the biggest rapids creating the hugest splash of your life, and even pretty knowledgeable in helping us feel safe and in good hands. It was hella fun. If you ever go rafting in Charlotte, ride with Captain Dan. Compared to our party boat—seriously, after every run through a rapid, we would high-five with our paddles and yell, “Yay rafting!” It’s the Cap’n’s catchphrsae—all the other rafters looked depressed and envious of our rock star group. (Source)

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Included with rafting tickets is access to the rest of the activities at the center. We wobbled and dangled above a ravine on two ropes courses and ziplined through the jungle. Totally average day, whatevs. Oh, and the center rescinded that modeling offer for some reason.

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I was exhausted from planning a whole five-day excursion (#firstworldproblems), so I gave the task of finding a restaurant for our last dinner to Clayton.

Fast forward to a few hours later and we are decked out in our fancy pants ensembles and walking up to a sports bar where a couple was exiting wearing sports team sweatshirts, jeans and tennis shoes. We could see the 58 flat-screen televisions through the front door. We pretended like this was what we were expecting and hoping for, but a few steps before going inside, Clayton pulled the plug, and I didn’t stop him.

We made quite a few attempts to find a suitable restaurant that was open. Since we’d taken (another) nap after our Day O’ Adventure, it was late. We went Uptown, thinking places there would be open later. Wrong. It was after 10 p.m. and we still hadn’t found a place to eat and were wandering aimlessly through the city. Not speaking, obvi. We finally settled on Mimosa’s, paid about three times more than we were planning for dinner, decided McFlurry’s were the only thing that could salvage this night, and went to bed.

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Aftermath

We headed home on Sunday. I picked Bryson up on Monday and let him take the tour of forbidden upholstery since I felt so guilty for leaving him. And I am still finding food pellets in my car. All in all, exactly what we pictured. Or something.      

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Charlotte, Day 3

No one could have predicted where this day would end up. Maybe Tim Burton.

We had to redeem ourselves on the food front, so we began the day with breakfast at Terrace Café. THANK YOU, LESLEY. I had banana pancakes. Swear. But you’ll never know for sure.

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They also have a heavenly creation called red velvet waffles, which I am certain would be worth the 11-hour round trip to try.

We were fat and happy heading to uptown Charlotte. Yes, they are too cool to call it Downtown. By the end of the trip, I had finally stopped sputtering, “Let’s go downt—er, upt—dow—UPTOWN!” It was classier than most downtowns I’ve seen, with clean streets and a less-than-average number of vagabonds, so Uptown it is. I love me a long stroll through big city streets. It is the exact opposite of tackling a trail in the woods to the top of a mountain overlook, but no less invigorating for me. I feel alive with energy and motion and purpose. Even though our only purpose was to burn off a few hundred calories from breakfast and remember where we parked.

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Beyond that, the day was wide open. For serious, my agenda read “Explore?” So we did. We explored the lobby of Discovery Place to contemplate an Imax movie. When I was in tears just reading about the real-life Lion King-esque flick, we opted out. We explored the front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building, and then we explored ourselves away from it after seeing it would cut out a big chunk of my Oktoberfest fund. We explored Smoothie King, only to spend $10 to realize they did not have a public bathroom. We explored the Epicenter, which is a little like stumbling on a sorority sister on an early Sunday morning trying to get back to her sorority house, stilettos in hand, eyeliner smudged, morals abandoned. I’m sure she looks a lot better in the moonlight, when construction crews aren’t set up in the center and store managers are not screaming for security guards to escort the panhandler out of the area.

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Then it was on to bigger and better and smellier fun. Mocking my pumpkin patch suggestion, Clayton went a different direction and scouted out the Lazy 5 Ranch. I don’t even know how to describe the nuttiness and squeals that ensued, so just take a look.

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You pay for buckets of food at the front and drive through the ranch feeding the animals. Well, my husband feeds the animals and I shriek and duck and point and hyperventilate.

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The birds. The damn angry birds. They were the very first animals that we spotted, they were outrageously ballsy with their deathly sharp beaks all up in my car, completely selfish with the food bucket and thoroughly ruined me for the rest of the drive.

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You weren’t supposed to feed anything with horns. Apparently, the Horned Ones didn’t get the FYI.

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The llamas f’ing RAN NEXT TO YOUR CAR chomping out of the bucket.

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And Clayton fed the zebra. Yes, the same mammal prowling around the African Serengeti, with ancestors who have survived attacks from lions and tigers and water buffalo, the virtual horse on exceptional steroids with a much better stylist. That zebra. The one the pamphlet (I am a stickler for pamphlets) said Do. Not. Feed. Or. You. Will. Be. Mauled. And. We. Will. Still. Close. At. 5PM. And. Leave. You. To. Your. Fate.

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Boy, was this exciting. And longer than expected. Just when you thought you were heading toward the entrance, the road would loop back around toward some other food-crazed herd of something or other. My bladder was not up for such an afternoon on the brink of death or serious injury to the hands and forearms, especially not squeezed into skinny jeans whilst carbo loading. This story is going to take an awkward turn here. We could not floor it to the end of the tour because some SUV with 13 kids who didn’t even have food buckets were taking their sweet time meandering along the course. That’s when things got real. That’s the moment my husband will visualize any time he sees a farm or llama or bucket of feed pellets. Because our empty bucket turned into a portable bathroom in the backseat of my car smack dab in the middle of the Lazy 5 Ranch. With God and all manner of farm animals watching. Heaven help my husband, I don’t know if there’s a way to get back from that moment.

He will tell you no, there is absolutely no way. I think he’s being a bit dramatic.

Not that you’re interested or still reading or still my friend or claiming me as a family member by this point, but we also embarrassed ourselves on a hay slide and washed our hands a bunch of times after the drive-through petting fiasco was over.

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We stopped for dinner when we got back to Charlotte, and Clayton weirdly chose to sit across from me rather than his normal spot next to me. He said it had something to do with cleansing his chi. Should I be worried?

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Charlotte, Days 1 and 2

Wednesday

After running the 19 errands we saved for the day of our departure, Clayton and I (sans Mr. Bryson) left for Charlotte Wednesday afternoon. We made the difficult decision to pass on picking up poop for 20% of our vacation. We both agreed that, for some reason, the drive there and the drive home were the longest five and a half hours ever. Trips to Florida have felt shorter. Weird. But the view was fantastic the whole way, with bright pops of fall color itching to burst into a full fiery blaze.

After checking into our hotel, we changed and headed to the North Davidson district, or NoDa if you are in the know. We aren’t. It’s a funky arts district with lots of male skinny jeans and Converse. Sure, I wanted to see some dudes in jeans tighter than mine, but the real ulterior motive was Amelie’s, a 24-hour French bakery and café. I woofed down pizza like an appetizer and cleansed my palate with beer at our dinner restaurant.

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For the first time in our entire marriage, Clayton made a better culinary decision than I did. While my coffee something-something was delish, his chocolate blah-blah-blah with chocolate mousse and chocolate cake topped with chocolate was superb.

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Good thing he’s a dessert lightweight and I saved my spoon after finishing my piece in 11 seconds. And then we fell into a sugar coma and barely made it back to the hotel.

Thursday

My initial vision for this seasonal jaunt to Charlotte–admittedly not a huge tourist destination–was to see how many different types of Oktoberfest it would take to outgrow my pants. The activities I trained for were lifting, gulping, repeating. And maybe shopping for new pants.

Our first full day in Charlotte completely turned that plan on its head and set a whole new adventure-themed tone for the trip. I only agreed because the new agenda included naps. Lots and lots of naps. After not grabbing a $9 cup of oatmeal at our hotel (“we serve breakfast” and “we offer complimentary breakfast” are two very different things), we picked up some fuel and headed to Crowder’s Mountain, a little over 30 miles outside the city. I was starting to feel a cold coming on, so I actually made one serious immunity-boosting decision this trip.

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The woman stationed at the visitor center had it much worse than I did. I think she was hung over, had the flu and had just broken up with her boyfriend and he was claiming custody of the pick-up truck. Girlfriend was rough. So because she was a little short with us, my husband decided to turn on the charm and make her earn her $5.75 an hour. He asked useless question after question that I could have answered with one glance at the informational pamphlet. Clayton doesn’t really believe in senseless tasks on vacation, like reading signs or spending money. It’s okay, though, because I don’t believe in showering.

After his badgering and the woman’s quitting her job in tears, we set out on our two-mile hike along the Pinnacle Trail, marked with a cute orange circle. This will be important later. The brochure estimated that this hike would take about 40 minutes. If you stop to take 328 pictures, I’d suggest allowing a bit more time.

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Unsurprisingly, my husband blew right past the “Trail Ends Here, Death Ahead” sign and scurried up the boulders probably meant to discourage scurrying. Verdict? Good call, husband. The view on top of those rocks was stunning, and I could have stood there until it was time to go home on Sunday. The weather was cool and breezy and crystal clear atop acres of fall-ready foliage.  

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It sounds so hokey to talk about being rejuvenated by nature. But my goodness nature is so rejuvenating. Standing on top of a mountain drinking in fall air is near medicinal in its heartwarming healing of the mind and soul.

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We finally decided to scramble on down to normal life. On our hike back, Clayton and I started discussing some pretty intense topics. Like The Future. The Noa’s horizon is both charged with excitement and steeped with stress. There are lots of question marks looming over a lot of areas of our life. All that to say, I finally looked up from my focused, fast walking to notice the marker on the tree in front of us was a white triangle. We did not want the white triangle. We are hard core orange circle people. So around we turned to find our precious orange circle, bucking that 40 minute timeframe again and ensuring that no, I would not be able to hold my pee until making it back to the visitor center. There was a squatting behind a tree situation because I have a bladder the size of a honey roasted peanut. That is one way to lighten the mood of any heavy conversation, trust me.    

We made a pit stop on the way back at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. It was early, so the place was empty, which we sort of like in our crotchety old age. Plus, we were in mountain hikin’ clothes with quite the accompanying stench. We enjoyed our samplers and, shock of the century, I went with their Oktoberfest. It was a nice cool down from the strenuous hiking, serious convo’ing and public peeing.

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Then we went back to the hotel and slept for two hours. We should write a how-to book for partying this hard.

In our half-asleep stupor, we ended up at a restaurant for dinner that was terrible and whose fish tacos made me dry heave by smell alone. It’s such a shame considering the three million great eateries in Charlotte, but whaddayagonnado? With no froyo shops open at 11, sleep some more, that’s what.

Pre-Recap Recap

We’re back from a whirlwind trip to Charlotte, and I’m already knee deep in a crazy work week and a nasty cold, which may or may not have been exacerbated by buckets of freezing cold water repeatedly drenching me in a whitewater rafting extravaganza.

Once I upload the seventy billion photos stored on three different devices and edit out my sickface with some crafty filler light, I’m hoping I have time to write all about our adventure-filled jaunt. Because you really need to know why there are pellets of llama food on my floorboards and why I almost walked back to Newport News from Charlotte at 10 p.m. because we couldn’t find a restaurant for dinner.

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Charlotte Bound

When Clayton and I were discussing the idea of moving out of Florida, for some reason Charlotte seemed like the ideal location. Neither of us had ever been there, but we were inexplicably drawn to it. Unfortch, Charlotte was not drawn to us and there were no jobs available for a sweet-talking, fresh-faced orthopedic physician assistant. Charlotte’s loss, of course.

But we’re giving the charming gal a second chance, just for a long weekend. The hopes of relocating there have since vanished for the one of us who doesn’t hold a license to dispense painkillers, so we will only be passing through and not house hunting, Clayton.

Thanks to lots of recommendations from a friend, the tentative itinerary that I like to make before a big trip is already chock full. My nerd quotient is similarly through the roof.

I am most looking forward to:

  • Amelie’s, a 24-hour bakery. Yes. I said twenty-four-hour. Should I stop this list here? I could. But I won’t.
  • Whitewater rafting and a whole host of other injury-prone sports during a cold front
  • Subsequent pneumonia
  • Running in a new city. I know, it’s a sickness. Don’t worry, I think I’m weird, too.
  • Spending more than 45 minutes at a time with my husband. Until we find ourselves lost in a strange city. Then it’s going to get hairy.

 And a few other surprises that you’ll just have to sit tight and wait for. This is your chance for redemption, Charlotte. Better step up yo game, gurl.

I didn’t die, and other recent victories.

It’s been a little crazynuts around here lately. We spent the weekend in Atlanta, which meant I spent last week reorganizing my suitcase to fit the vat of valium required to get my butt on an airplane. It had been nearly two years since I’d flown, and let’s just say I don’t handle it well. The time in between flying only served to make my horrid visions more vivid and help me cross the line from nervous passenger to restrained psycho kicking and screaming as her husband forces her into her seat.

But I gotta say, a little prescribed relaxing magic eased the worst of things, and we had a safe, uneventful trip. And, just maybe, when I had absorbed the full dose of my happy meds, I said aloud that the view really was beautiful.

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Redheads in the Fam. Who knew?!

We made the trek because one of Clayton’s cousins was getting married. Clayton’s family is weird and can’t name every fourth cousin they have and don’t spend half of their vacation walking through cemeteries telling stories of great great grandfathers in front of their graves. (Seriously, don’t ever take a trip to Tennessee with my family.) So that meant we got to see people he hadn’t seen in years and even meet a few cousins for the first time. When one of his cutesy cousins photo bombed a picture of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, I was in love and was certain that I’d stumbled into the right second family. And when us Noa’s were taking a little too long prepping for our glamour shots, we got this treat.

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Even my non-blood relatives are adorbs. And the Noa’s made a fine showing, if I do say so myself. The five of us held it down for the other nine that didn’t make it. Yes…nine, including other siblings, wives, fiancés and babies. People seriously have to choose an event venue based on whether or not the Noa’s will be attending.  

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Sports Bra to Sports Bar

Saturday was our only full day in Atlanta, and do you know how we kicked it off? No, you don’t, but I’m going to brag about it because it actually happened: my husband and I ran. Together. Without one single threat of separation or a custody battle over Bryson. ‘Twas spectacular. And that little speed demon pushed me to run the fastest 3 miles I’ve ever done. Made it a little more difficult to pull off those four-inch heels later, but so, so worth it.

After we cleaned up, it was time to spend another of many fall weekends hunkered down at a sports bar for three hours. Hallelujah for the arrival of Sam Adams’ Octoberfest. Running faster equates to triple the calories burned, right? Which equates to negating three hours of downing pints, right? I thought so.

My boy wouldn’t be my boy without a diehard love of random teams throughout the U.S., so we were there to watch the Auburn game. Apparently, Hotlanta is somewhat of an Auburn haven, so the bar had a raffle to win tickets to a game. Welp, guess who won? Matt Hall!!! Who has absolutely no relation to the Noa’s whatsoever. But guess who dipped out early and was not present to claim his prize? Matt Hall!!! So then guess whose name they called.

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Mama Noa herself. Who proceeded to excitedly call family and tell them she won tickets to see “The Auburns.” It couldn’t have been cuter.

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Clayton wasn’t exactly supportive. Enraged with envy would be more accurate.

But Auburn won in last-second, breath-holding fashion, I actually showered and dressed in adult clothes in my size, and he got to witness my stellar dance moves, all on the same day. So boyfriend needs to deal.

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Yes, I’m still talking about 1. My Florida trip and 2. My birthday. Build a bridge, dude.

My visits to Florida usually follow a predictable pattern of catching up with family and friends. Every day I see an aunt or cousin or former co-worker or someone who once joined me in singing along passionately to Boyz II Men’s “Water Runs Dry” is like medicine for my soul. We are social creatures, and settling onto a couch or at a kitchen table or into a pedicure chair or at a table in a frozen yogurt shop across from someone who knows me wakes up a part of my heart that rarely sees the light here in Virginia.

It’s a week (or three, whatevs) spent without the pretense or awkward silences or facades of fresh friendships and lets me relax into years-old inside jokes and nicknames and stories meant to be told and retold and retold and…

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by these comforts during the happiest week of the year: birthday week, of course. And I gotta say, the folks in my life are pros at being awesome and making me feel extra special, even if I’m not carrying a human inside my innards.

To express just how lucky I felt, I tried to pay it forward (or back again?) with thank you cards. I had to execute a quick turn around because my stash of thank you cards are in blinding highlighter hues, really only appropriate for summer or a three-year old’s birthday party. When they were all signed and sealed, they were so adorbs chillin’ on the counter that I thought twice about actually mailing them.

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I hope you got yours this week. And, if you didn’t, just assume it’s still serving as the stomping ground for Ol’ Elephanté and accept my sincerest thanks from the deeply personal venue of my internet blog. And rest assured I did not return your gift and use the cash for two-a-day caramel macchiatos.

xoxo, for always.

Here is just a little sampling of everything that warranted a grateful shock to the senses in the mailbox.

Bday Gifts

Three’s Company

It was sayonara to the southernmost non-Southern state yesterday, and I returned to Virginia last night.

How else would we commemorate something?

Sunday night, we celebrated/mourned addict-style and introduced my curious mother and father to the world of pay-by-weight frozen yogurt shops. I was slightly disappointed with my $5.89 performance and realized I really thrive on the competition element involved when Clayton accompanies me. If my bucket of yogurt does not cost at least 40% more than his, I’ve utterly failed. Without the comparison, the motivation for topping delirium just wasn’t there.

But I still gave it a pretty good whirl. And, after a little pep talk, the folks got the hang of it. I wondered aloud what the heck my mom was waiting for with the Land O’ Chocolate laid out before her and she looked at me sheepishly and responded, “I’m trying to be healthy.” Ha, I say to that. And then I remember something like physically placing my mom’s hand on the spoon stuck in the Snickers bowl. I genuinely believe opting for fro-yo over ice cream builds up a credit of 1500 healthy points to begin with. Then it’s a virtual free-for-all just to break even. You seem confused. Maybe I’ll explain it all in a pamphlet or something.

The drive. Oh, the drive.

Sucks. That’s what that drive does. Thankfully, when I have clear skies I can stay on the “happy-to-be-scootin’ along” side of the spectrum, which is far, far away from the “OMG-I’m-just-going-to-pull-over-at-this-truck-stop-and-see-if-they’ll-give-me-a-room-for-the-night-and-how-much-they-charge-for-dogs” end of the spectrum. Trust me, those showers are not for the faint of heart.

The only notable incident involved a chicken sandwich and honey mustard situation. Good thing I decided to sit alone in Zaxby’s and eat lunch safely stationary and within arm’s reach of an endless supply of napkins. Or, I was driving with my pinky nail at 70 mph trying to dislodge dripping honey mustard from in between my wedding band and engagement ring. Yeah, it was definitely one of those two scenarios. Still, it didn’t impress the passengers very much.

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“We’re back. In Newport News. Again.”

“At least we’re out of the car.”

If you can name where I borrowed the major themes of that quote, we should be BFFsies if we’re not already.

You should also know that my husband is more thoughtful than yours and he crafted a welcome home sign for me out of expertly selected printer paper, ink pens and highlighters. There were also flowers, in addition to a feast for dinner and brownies for dessert. So, for serious, your husband probably needs to take a class or something.

P8222135It was extremely helpful in reminding me that we are here. In this moment, we exist in this space, in this city. We can dream and plan and connive and search, but today we live here. I don’t have to call it home, but I must submit to feeling at home with my husband, wherever that might be. The future waits, but I have to see what is in front of me today. And if I’m honest with myself, I’ve got a pretty sweet view.

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I’ll just say it: I’m an anxious mom. There is a list of Brysonified situations that make me incredibly nervous, and many of them involve other dogs. It seem like classic parental worry—I envision the absolute worst possible scenario and convince myself that is what is about to happen.

But, most of the time, my big galumph proves me so irrationally wrong and Clayton has yet another reason to roll his eyes at me and casually leave a prescription for more Valium taped to the refrigerator. It’s a delicate balance, our marriage.

I have a standing appointment on my trips to Tampa with my triathlete gazelle of a friend. I thought moving 800 miles away would diminish just a portion of my runner’s envy towards her, but no such luck. Anyway, her and her athletic domination got a puppy a few months ago, and she invited Bryson to join us on our lunch date this week. Enter maternal terror. I had nightmares of Bryson pinning this poor lab puppy to the ground and going for the jugular. And then I’d owe my friend whatever six-digit figure they’re charging for lab puppies these days.

But that made no sense. Bryson isn’t perfect, but he’s also never targeted a puppy’s jugular.

After a few days of internal battling, I just couldn’t stand to think of Bryson missing out on such a fun (i.e. energy-draining) afternoon, provided it didn’t turn into a bloodbath, nor could I deal with Clayton’s likely paternal response to his boy turning down out a sweet piece of girlpuppy tail.

Off we went to either seal the deal of this prearranged canine friendship or thoroughly destroy a perfectly good human relationship with doggy slaughter. In my head, it was a toss up.

In real life? Straight up, hard core puppy love. With beating hearts and chirping birds and slobbery pink tongue kisses in floppy ears. Hands down, one of the most adorable moments of my weird dog’s life. And, yet again, people got to look at me like, “And you thought what was going to happen, crazy lady?” And then I’m all, “Oh-my-gosh-look-at-those-wittle-puppy-faces-with-all-those-sweet-wittle-kisses-you’re-so-silly-huh-what-a-good-baby-yes-you-are-oh-such-a-wittle-doll-puppy,” etc., etc., etc.

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Yes, they are holding hands as she kisses his ear. Heavenly doggy romance – 1. Absurd fears – 0.

I wonder if she’d feel the same way about him if she watched him step in that giant pile of crap and then track it through my parents’ kitchen, down the hallway and into the bathtub. I know my feelings have changed slightly.