Category: atlanta friends

Catching up on life

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind.  A new marriage, lots and lots of birthdays and anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a dance event, a skiing trip in Colorado, huge amounts of interpersonal drama, and new jobs for both Michael and myself have proven to be just about all that I can handle.

It is ironic that, although I have been writing more than I ever have in my entire life, I think it’s the longest I’ve been silent on this blog since I started it.  Most of my time lately has been taken up writing for my new blog, forgingsignificance.com.  Right after the wedding I spent several weeks working on some quillwork for an artists’ market at my church, but since about mid-December I have officially taken the plunge and started working full-time toward becoming a freelance writer.

Since then, my days have consisted of lots of website tweaking and beating the pavement trying to submit articles to other sites.  I’ve consistently written at least twice a week on my own blog for several months now, as well as already had 3 articles accepted in other places.  Sometimes it’s frustrating and feels like I’m not making any progress; but then I remind myself that I’ve really only been at this a few weeks, and that helps puts things into perspective for me.

This post is just a brief summary, both for your sakes and mine, of what I’ve been doing the past few months.  Hopefully I’ll be able to write more regularly on here now that I’m in the swing of things :).

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Michael and I had the opportunity to go visit my New Jersey grandparents in October, just a few weeks after we were married.  I was so grateful that Michael had the chance to meet them both, but especially my grandfather, as he ended up passing away just a few weeks later.  We all miss him a lot.  He left quite a legacy.

I was able to do a few fall-specific things, like carve a pumpkin with Michael, meet my friend Sarah in Ellijay for their Apple Festival, and go to the Perry fair with my mom and younger siblings.  That was a really fun afternoon.  Perry is about half-way between Atlanta and Albany, so we met in the middle and made a day trip of it.  It’s hard to develop a relationship with your siblings when you live far away and they can’t drive and don’t have cell phones, so I’m always grateful for the opportunities that we do get.

I once again hosted a Christmas party this year, except this time I did 3 days in a row of Christmas parties!  We took this idea from a friend, and the thought was to try to incorporate as many people as possible, while also making an effort to focus on different aspects of the Christmas season.  So the first night was “celebrating friends,” which was basically my normal Christmas party.  I made dinner, we played games, decorated gingerbread cookies, etc.  One of the games was a new one – I wrapped little treats in saran wrap and made people unwrap the ball with oven mitts on.  It was actually a lot more fun than I expected!  You can read more about that here.

The other 2 nights were “celebrating others” and “celebrating God,” where we wrote letters to troops and did a lessons and carols service, respectively.  We had almost a completely different group every night, and it was really a lot of fun!  I was definitely tired by the end of day 3, though :).

One of the highlights of the last few months was New Year’s Eve.  Michael and I spontaneously decided to go to Birmingham for the night.  And it was really so much fun!  We hung out, played games, watched the ball drop, and enjoyed a great breakfast the next morning with people we love.  Nothing different from what usually happens when I go to Birmingham for NYE, but considering how much drama has been swirling around Michael and I lately, it was a welcome and much-needed respite.  You can read more about that trip here.

I also really enjoyed my birthday celebration a few days later.  It was a pretty low-key affair, but I was surrounded by some of my favorite people in the world (including my mother-in-law, who had just had knee surgery and could hardly walk!  It really meant a lot that she made the effort to come out.  I have great in-laws).  We had a potluck dinner and then went to downtown Atlanta to see the Christmas lights in Centennial Park.  The lights were gorgeous, and we even got a funnel cake!  I suppose that was my pseudo birthday cake, haha.

Several of my friends also brought gifts to the potluck, and as I opened them, I was overwhelmed by just how thoughtful they all were.  These people who had come to celebrate me together really cared about me.  I know it seems silly, as most people would say it’s obvious that I’m cared about…but when it feels like you’re being surrounded by selfish emotional drama on all sides, it’s easy to lose sight of that fact.  It was a wonderful night to be reminded that I’m cared for.

We went on a ski trip 2 weekends ago – Michael’s first time!  It was bitterly cold, but a lot of fun.  Even though I’ve been skiing several times before, I actually ended up being a lot more sore than he was.  I think I was so scared from how fast I thought I was going that every muscle in my entire body ended up tensing up, lol.  But we both made it through the day in one piece, so I count that as a victory! 🙂

All that aside, Michael and I have been trying to focus on taking care of ourselves and getting into a regular schedule.  We’ve become connected with a small group at church that focuses on outreach to internationals in Atlanta.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them.  I’ve also started part-time work teaching a beginner ESL class twice a week.  It’s quite a challenge when you have Spanish, Chinese, AND Russian speakers, and there’s no telling how many people will actually show up!

Now that things are starting to calm down a bit, I’m hoping to be able to update both blogs.  But for the most regular updates, be sure to head over to my new site (forgingsignificance.com) and sign up for my newsletter!  I always post there on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Just what the doctor ordered

Although I’ve been blessed to have been able to spend a good bit of time with some dear friends this summer, there are several of them I wish I could have spent more time with.  One of them is Elizabeth.  Between school and then work and church and being super popular with lots of people making demands on her time, she is a tough one to pin down sometimes.  But ironically enough, it seems to have actually gotten a bit easier since she got a new boyfriend.  Caleb and Michael have several times taken the initiative to plan double dates and outings and such, which means I’ve gotten to spend more time than usual with my lovely friend Elizabeth (oh yeah, and Caleb and Michael, too :]).

Two of my favorite such outings were going to the High Museum and visiting Helen for the day.  The High was supposed to be a surprise for me and Elizabeth – the only thing I knew was the date, and that I should dress up.  But it turned out that Caleb told Elizabeth all about it, so the only one who was surprised was me.  And boy oh boy, did the three of them enjoy the fact that I was left in the dark.  They were definitely enjoying teasing me, lol.  But it was worth it.  The High was having an exhibit on classic cars, which was why we went that night.  Knowing that I used to race, they chose that activity really solely because they thought that it would interest me – I felt very loved :).

After leaving the museum, we came across an interactive exhibit set up outside the museum entrance.  It was basically just a bunch of hammocks hanging under the stars – using them was encouraged.  It took a few minutes to snag 2 hammocks near each other, but we finally did, and stayed there in various amalgamations of people until the museum staff finally kicked us out.

My other favorite outing, as I mentioned earlier, was a day trip to Helen.  Elizabeth and I had so much fun with the boys at the High, that we decided to plan our own date.  This one was also supposed to be a surprise, but they are pretty insightful and had mostly figured it all out by the time we left.  But it was still fun.  She and I had packed stuff for a big picnic, which we ate upon arrival to Helen, which is about an hour and a half away from Atlanta.  After that, we rented some inner tubes and floated down the river.  It was pretty crowded, since it was Labor Day weekend, but we were able to navigate pretty well, especially considering the fact that we had decided against renting poles for steering.  I found that tying myself together with another inner tube made navigating the river exponentially easier – when one person got stuck on a rock, the other one usually bounced off of them and then pulled them free.  I only got stuck badly enough that I had to stand up to get off of the rock 3 or 4 times.

In the middle of the river, there was also a couple of big water slides, at which we took a fun detour for a while.  We started off racing each other down, but when Michael was going so fast that he slammed into the pool at the bottom and scraped himself up pretty badly, we decided to calm down a little bit and go at a more relaxed pace.

Once we finished the tubing course, we went back to the town and walked around for a bit.  I didn’t want to bring my camera on the river, so the only pictures that I have from the entire day are from when we were walking around the city center.  Helen is a very picturesque town – it’s supposed to be a facsimile of a traditional German town.  It’s incredibly touristy and I would hate to live in it, but to visit for a few hours was actually a lot of fun.  They have lots of little candy and artisan and gift stores that you could browse for hours if you wanted to.  My shopping limit is much less than that, so I only lasted about an hour before I was ready to head back home.  But it was a very nice day.  I was particularly grateful for the fact that, despite all of the driving to get there, I was actually able to rest and re-charge a bit on the river.  I had been going so hard for so long at that point, that some rejuvenation time was really just what the doctor ordered.  Getting to do it with people I love was just the icing on the cake :).

The upside of glitchy software

My dear friend Elizabeth recently celebrated a birthday.  Many months earlier, she had mentioned that she had never been to an aquarium; her birthday also happened to fall on a Sunday this year, which is a very convenient day for planning things, since most people don’t have to work.  So our church small group planned an outing together to go celebrate her birthday at the Georgia Aquarium.  For a first experience, that’s a great aquarium to go to – it’s actually the largest in the world…for now, at least.  But for all of our best intentions, this outing almost never happened.

We got there around 3:15 on Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately, however, no one had thought about the fact that it was Labor day weekend.  The place was PACKED.  Seeing the huge swirling mass of people as I was parking, I almost turned around and retreated before I ever even made it to the aquarium doors.  But Elizabeth is a dear friend of mine, and so I soldiered on.  When the group of us who were going finally found each other at the ticketing booths, we realized that there was another problem.  The Georgia Aquarium sells tickets for specific entry windows.  Usually there aren’t enough people there for it to matter; you can just walk up and buy tickets for whatever time slot you happen to arrive within.  But by the time we got there, all of the tickets were sold out until 7:00 pm.  Almost 4 hours away.  To make matters somewhat worse, between season passes and guest passes and some people buying tickets in advance, everyone was actually able to get in at 3:00 except for 2 people, Matt and Aaron.  As we stood there at the self-ticketing kiosk, trying to figure out what to do, Aaron started absently tapping the “buy tickets” button over and over again.  All of a sudden, the 3:00-4:00 time window showed up as available!  But then the next time he tapped it, it had disappeared again.  We quickly seized our chance.  Aaron and Matt whipped out their credit cards, and kept tapping the screen until the 3:00 window showed up again.  It had to be quick, you see, because we didn’t want the system to figure out that we were gaming it and started behaving properly again :).  So yeah, hooray for glitchy software!  Without it, the stories and pictures below never would have happened.

The aquarium itself was pretty cool – being the largest in the world, I knew it would be.  I had been there several years ago and enjoyed it both times; but honestly, I find the cost of admission prohibitively expensive, and normally would rather spend my time and money elsewhere.  BUT, this time was different.  Michael’s dad works at the aquarium, and it just so happens that he was there at the same time we were.  So all of a sudden Michael comes up to us and asks, “do you want a behind-the-scenes tour?”  His dad had just randomly decided to take us all “behind the curtain,” as it were; so we tagged along behind him as he showed us all of the inner workings of the aquarium.

It was really one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen.  We got to see the enormous whale tanks from above, and where they cultivate coral for their exhibits, and the machines that they use to simulate waves, and the rows upon rows of water pumps and sand filtration systems that are constantly running, and the in-house animal hospital that they take the fish to when they need a doc.  It was definitely one of those things where I sort of knew that a lot of stuff must happen behind the scenes in order to bring about the polished finished product, but I had no idea of the enormity of the effort until I actually saw it for myself.  Despite the crowds, it was a really awesome day.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And to think, it was all thanks to a glitchy ticketing system! 🙂

Introducing Lauren Fenner, MS

I am now the proud owner of a Master’s of Science Degree from Georgia Institute of Technology.  Although I am very happy for and truly proud of my accomplishment, I decided, against the opinions of many, to not walk at the graduation ceremony.  I did do all of the other celebratory  things for graduates – I went to a graduation banquet at church, a reception for everyone in my major at school, and also an awards ceremony for an award that I received for high scholastic achievement while at Georgia Tech.  But I simply wasn’t invested in the school enough to make me want to walk.  Unlike at Berry, where I was looking forward to it for weeks, the thought of walking at Georgia Tech just sounded tedious to me.  I hope that I will not regret my decision in 15 years, but at this point it is a moot point.  At least I haven’t regretted my decision up to now :).

So instead of walking, I decided that I would throw a party to celebrate the other graduates in my life.  I knew quite a few people graduating this semester, so I got a bunch of mutual friends together to celebrate their accomplishment.  It wasn’t a super well thought out party, since it was coming on the end of a crazy few weeks of writing papers and doing interviews, some of which were in other cities.  So I was pretty tired and didn’t have much time to plan it.  But the group was fun, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

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That was the last party of the semester.  Or so I thought.  But my friends had other plans.  I thought that I was going to my friend Elizabeth’s house last Saturday night just for a regular sleepover.  But she and Michael had actually been scheming for weeks to throw a surprise graduation party of my own.  I’ve gotta say, I was pretty impressed…I didn’t have a clue until I walked in the house and saw decorations hanging everywhere.  They had gotten almost everyone from my house church to come, and even Chris and Julia made an appearance for a little bit!  Needless to say, I was blown away.  They had games, and food, and brought the ping-pong table out, and even started a fire in the back yard once the sun went down.  It was an amazing evening, made even more special by the fact that these people I love so dearly had worked so hard to make it a surprise.

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Oh, I suppose before I wrap up that I should also give an update on the job hunt.  I’ve been diligently, sometimes frantically looking for a job all semester.  I’ve gotten pretty far in the interview process with several companies – including Apple flying me all the way out to their regional headquarters in Houston – but so far, nothing has panned out.  But I will be leaving for a month-long trip to Peru next week, so I’ve kinda stopped looking for right now.  At this point, the priority is to just enjoy my time while I’m over there.  Trying to juggle the interviews with classwork made life supremely stressful over the past few months, especially the Apple interview in Houston, but I tried to look at it as good interviewing practice, at the very least.  Plus I got to have dinner with my dear friend Sarah while I was in Houston, and still managed to pull off all A’s – a surprising feat, considering the fact that one of my classes alone required hundreds of pages of reading and about 15 hours of time every week, plus nearly 100 pages of written work over the course of the semester.  Despite the fact that I’ll be leaving for Peru without a job offer, I’ve got quite a peace about it all.  I consider this semester a huge success, and am looking forward to getting back in the job hunt when I return :).

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So wonderful getting to see Sarah! Even if it was just for a few hours 🙂

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That big circle above the road is a street sign!! I was in a super swanky area of town…

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My hotel room

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The view from my balcony

 

Birthday surprises

I left for Atlanta right after New Year’s day, on January second.  Grammie needed to get to the airport, so I decided to take the airport shuttle from Columbus to Atlanta with her, so I could spend some time with her one-on-one.  This also happened, however, to be the day before my birthday.  And I must admit…I was having a bit of a pity party on the way up to Atlanta.  Here I was, the day before my birthday, going away from family and not going towards friends.  School didn’t start for another 4 days; most of my friends were still out of town.  I didn’t even bother trying to plan anything; I just assumed that my birthday was going to go by unnoticed.  At least I’d get to see Elizabeth – she had already said that she would pick me up from the airport after the shuttle dropped me off.

So she picked me up, we got to my house, and she sent me up the stairs with my stuff, saying she’d be right behind me.  I still didn’t suspect a thing.  I heard her coming up the stairs behind me.  And all of a sudden the footsteps separated, and I realized that there was more than one person coming into my house.  Elizabeth had made a little mini surprise party for me!  She had contacted all of my friends to see who was in town – in the end it was only 2 people, but that didn’t really matter :).  So after I went up the stairs, she snuck in Matt and Courtney with her.  They had a cake, and sang to me, and it was just a lovely surprise.  Elizabeth even managed somehow to hide clues to a little scavenger hunt to lead me to a little birthday present – all while I was right there in the house!!  Either I was really out of it, or she’s reallyyyyyy good.  Maybe a little bit of both :).  Either way, it was a huge surprise…totally blessed the socks off of me!

The curveballs continued into the night and the next day.  That night I went dancing, and got to have a special birthday dance.  You can check it out in the video below.  The next day, my actual birthday, was full of little gestures in unexpected places that just meant so much to me.  Chris and Julia treated me to lunch.  A dance friend of mine met up with me to give me a scarf that he had bought for my birthday.  Several friends surprised me with a birthday dinner – which meant even more because the guy who had organized it, Michael, had lots of family stuff going on that would have given him plenty of excuses to not bother with making someone else feel special on her birthday.

L-R: Michael, Jonathan, Jessica, little Nicholas, and Matt

Then that evening Alan, the founder of Wicked Westie, took all of the volunteers to Andretti indoor racing.  It was his way of saying thank you for the help that we give him.  Andretti doesn’t just have indoor racing, though – it has a rock wall, ropes course, and an arcade, as well.  And we did it all.  It was such a blast.  I didn’t get back until almost 1:00 am, but it was totally worth it.  A perfect way to end my birthday – racing go-karts with my dancing friends :).

L-R: Doria, Hannah, Cherylyn, and me

L-R: Stefanie, Jennifer, Nichole, me, and Christopher

That’s me! 🙂

The whole gang

So that’s the story of how my dull birthday turned into the best one of my life.  It was humbling to see how well God wants to take care of me, if only I’ll stop planning everything and leave it up to Him.  Even in silly little things like celebrating one’s birthday.  I had lots of surprises this year for my birthday.  But the biggest surprise shouldn’t have been one at all.  The biggest surprise was just how blessed I am to have the people I do in my life.  People who give selflessly, who constantly put others ahead of themselves.  People who are willing to put my needs ahead of their own.  It shouldn’t have surprised me…but it did, nonetheless.  It really was quite humbling.  I’m so undeservedly blessed!

Fried tomatoes and hidden corn

It’s incredible how quickly time flies by.  It seems like updated this only a few days ago, but lo and behold, the time stamps tell me that it was nearly 2 months ago.  Yikes.  Well, if the craziness of my life can be reflected by the number of tabs I have open on my computer (actually a pretty accurate measure), it’s no wonder it’s taken me so long to sit down and write for pleasure.  Last week I hit an all-time record of 62 tabs open simultaneously.  Don’t judge, haha :).

What an eventful few weeks I’ve had!  I was surprised twice, by both my mother AND my father, with unexpected visits in Atlanta.  Dad was just in the area for work that day, so we had dinner together before he headed back down south.  And Mom actually stayed the night with me!  We went to a play, and made fried green tomatoes together, and just talked and laughed.  It was incredible.  I rarely get to spend one-on-one time with mom without other people or activities distracting us, and I treasure that weekend very much.

My first time trying fried green tomatoes.  They were super yummy!  We made them because we were going to watch the movie that night…

…but we ended up going into town to see a play instead! 🙂

Last weekend I went to a big dance event, the Atlanta Swing Classic.  It was such a blast!  I entered the competition and made alternate for finals.  It was a little disappointing since I was hoping to make finals outright, but also rather encouraging since I had mostly terrible partners, but still managed to do pretty well.  I went to lots of workshops, met lots of new people, yada yada yada….the usual excitement that can be found at one of these events :).  This time I also picked up a few of the pro dancers from the airport, so I was able to get some one-on-one time with them, which was awesome.  I so wish that I could afford to go to more dance events!  If you’re stymied for Christmas or birthday ideas, donations to my travel and dance fund are always appreciated!! 😉

I’ve also spent some time getting to know my dance community outside of actual dance events.  I went to a birthday dinner a few weeks ago, and just last weekend a handful of dancers went to a corn maze, about an hour north of the city.  They were both so much fun!  It’s incredible to feel not just like I know these people through dance, and we’re very friendly to each other when we see each other once a week, but rather that I’m actually a part of a community.  It’s also a novel experience, for sure, but wonderful.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world – or even, shockingly enough, for the chance to see the whole world :).

Not a dance friend, but still a friend…Sunny came over one night and we made a Korean meal 🙂

This was the map of the corn maze!!  It took us forever to figure it out, but once we did we rocked it!!

If you’ve never been to a corn maze before, though….take heed.  Don’t wear heels.  I had never been, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  In my mind, I was thinking, “It’s going to be cold…you need to wear something that will keep your feet warm.”  Unfortunately, the only high-topped shoes I own are 3.5 inch heeled boots.  So I traipsed around the entire maze in those things.  Hahaha.  I felt somewhat foolish…but also a bit fierce.  Mostly I just felt pain, though…especially the next day :).  Consider yourself warned!!

I had 2 other big trips within the past few weeks, but I think that those merit their own entry, so keep an eye out for more to come soon!

Kayaks and killer bees

I’m not very good at relaxing and not having packed schedules.  But I’m realizing that it’s a skill well worth developing.  Every now and then, a few days of nothing could be just what the doctor ordered. 

That’s what I did this past weekend.  I came up to Atlanta Thursday afternoon, my only objective being that I wanted to go dancing.  It was the 4th anniversary party of Wicked Westie, and I really wanted to be there for this one.  In years past, I had always been out of the country and never able to make it; since I was so close, I figured this was the best chance I may get!  So I went, and it was fun; albeit swelteringly hot and suffocatingly packed.  But I’m still really happy that I went. 

The rest of the weekend, though, was what I truly needed – no structure.  I slept in Friday morning, visited a few friends over the course of the next two days, and generally was just able to recharge a bit.  On Friday night, I went on a moonlight kayak ride with some friends from Wicked Westie – so much fun!  We started while it was still light, so we got to see the whole spectrum – from full daylight, to a vibrant sunset, and culminating in a beautiful moonlit night.  I’d never done anything like that, and I really enjoyed it.  We were on the water for just over 2 hours; my body was definitely feeling it the next day!
Aside from the random attack of the killer bee, it was a lovely weekend.  That bee, though…I swear it was something straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  I was sitting in a little park reading, minding my own business, when all of a sudden a bee flew in my face.  I absentmindedly swatted it away and didn’t think anything of it.  And then I suddenly realized that my ear felt a bit weird.  That little monster had lodged himself in my ear!!  And man, by that point he was mad.  If you had been there, you would have been laughing at me.  I’m sure I looked completely insane.  I was running around, violently shaking my head to get him out of my hair, swatting madly at the air, trying to fend off his persistent attacks.  Judging from the throbbing ear that I’m still suffering from where he stung me, I would say that the bee definitely won that round.  But I eventually killed him, so I won the war, hehehe. 

Random story, I know, but I thought it was worth sharing.  Thank goodness I’m not allergic to bee stings!!  I wish I had some pictures to show you, but this weekend my camera was on vacation, too :).

People who dance

People who dance have an aura about them that is found among few other people.  They have the ability to walk into a crowded room and be instant friends with everyone there.  In fact, people who dance don’t even need to share the same language – they can have whole conversations with each other without ever uttering a word. 

People who dance stay up all night, not to welcome the sun, but rather because they simply can’t go to bed when there’s good music playing.  People who dance simply can’t let a good song go without moving their feet.  And so they stay in hotels, even when they live in the same city, just so that they can get a few more songs in without having to drive home. 
People who dance are often called obsessed by people who don’t.  But people who dance prefer the term passionate.  People who dance are passionate about life, passionate about their friends and family, and passionate about dance.  People who dance spend inordinate amounts of money and time pursuing their passion.  They take private lessons, go to workshops, and travel to distant cities, all for the sake of exercising their twinkling toes.
People who dance refuse to let their lives pass them by while they sit on the sidelines and watch.  They have chosen to be active participants in this thing that we call life.  This I know…because I am one of those people.
So anyway, I went to a dance weekend (Grand Nationals Dance Competition) in Atlanta a few weeks ago…check out some pictures below!  I probably averaged about 13 hours of dancing every day – it was great!!  Highlights would definitely be meeting awesome people from around the world (and getting to spend more time with my friends from Atlanta!), and entering the Jack and Jill competition.  I was the first alternate for making finals – missed it by one point.  Dang.  Buttttt….Kellese Key, one of the pro instructors, complimented me the next day, saying that she remembered me from the competition and that I had done really well.  That was enough for me!  I can place in finals next time… 😉

Finals Week Highlights

I’m done!  I have officially finished my first year of graduate school!  Let me tell you what, it was quite a ride!  But the last week or so or classes I didn’t really actually have much schoolwork to do – I’m happy to report that the mind-numbing amount of work I did before finals week finally paid off, and my finals week was quite relaxing.  So I made up for some lost time, doing all of the things that I had neglected to do throughout the course of the semester.  Here are some of the highlights:
I went camping with my dad the weekend before finals.  I think the two of us had two very different experiences.  For me, I had a blast – I really enjoy camping, but hadn’t been in years, so it was a nice change, and great spending some quality time with my dad.  But my dad’s perspective, however, was that there was a hole in the tent over his head.  Poor man.  It poured most of the night, and add to that the fact that he didn’t have a water-repellant sleeping bag, but rather one that absorbed all of that excess moisture in the air, and he had quite a rough night that evening.  We ended up waking up really early in the morning and just heading back – at least then he was dry, even if he wasn’t well-rested!
I also got to see a musical performance of The Mask of Zorro with my friend Amy.  To psych myself up for it, I watched the movie the night before, which was excellent.  But the musical just blew me away.  It had beautiful singing, and energetic dancing, and pithy humor, and sonorous Spanish, incredible costumes…it really had everything.  I was left breathless on more than one occasion.  I’m definitely getting the Georgia Tech student art pass next year!
My friends Jonathan and Jessica invited me to see a double feature at one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.  We brought food and chairs and got there early to just talk and hang out – Jess and I did our nails, lol.  I had never been to a drive-in theater before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even despite the threat of rain that drove us into our cars for a while.  But even then, they play the sound through a radio station, so we could still enjoy the movie just fine :).
Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do some dancing, too.  I caught the last bit of the Thursday night dance after Zorro ended, and that was a lot of fun.  I almost didn’t go, but in the end I’m very glad that I did.  But even better than the dance on Thursday, was the workshop on Saturday.  Now, I had been to dance workshops before – they’re always good and I learn a lot, but there’s nothing really that unique about them.  This one, however, was different.  It was called “The Art of the Steal,” and was specifically tailored to teach people how to steal someone else’s partner in the middle of a dance without disrupting the flow of the music or the dancers.  So there was a lot of group partnering instead of pairs, and weird rotations, and all in all everyone just had a grand time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a heck of a lot.  
My last night in Atlanta, I went out to dinner with Jonathan and Jessica and some friends of theirs to celebrate his graduation from Tech.  The place we went to was called Buca di Beppo, and their trademark thing is that they take all of their guests through the kitchen before seating them – way cool!! Anyway, I got back to Albany just in time on Sunday to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration with the family.  I was glad I made it back for that.  And now I’m in Albany for the summer!  For now, at least.  Who knows where I’ll be in a couple of weeks! 🙂

Old friends and new family

A few weeks ago, my family came up to Atlanta for a very special occasion.  A dear family friend of ours, a lady from our old church who we’ve known for years and years, was……you guessed it…..getting married!!  Seems to be popular these days, lol.  Tamara and I always had a special relationship.  When I was in middle school, I would always tell her that she was my “favorite adult.”  I think she thought I was joking, but I meant it in all seriousness.  On the other hand, I was one of the few kids who, in Tamara’s words, “didn’t scare her.”  I’m assuming that’s a compliment.  Hahaha.

Anyway, Tamara got married a little bit north of Atlanta, so my family came up and stayed with me, and then we all went up to the wedding together.  It was wonderful, but also soooooooo weird.  There were all of these people from my old church that I hadn’t seen in eons.  It was a blast from the past, for sure.  But I so enjoyed catching up with them.  I was really grateful that I got to go.  And of course, the wedding was lovely.  I’m sure it doesn’t come as a shock to hear that I caught the bouquet – again!  This is the fifth bouquet I’ve caught in the last year, and the fourth one in a row!  Really makes me question the validity of the assumption that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next one to get married….lol ;).

But anyway, back to the wedding…I was particularly impressed by the fact that Tamara made her own cake – and it was beautiful! I always love weddings….especially when I particularly love the people getting married! 😉  Plus, bonus points, Tamara has moved to the outskirts of Atlanta with her new husband, so I’m gonna get to see much more of her in the future!! 🙂

Tamara made this – isn’t it beautiful??

My baby brothers!!  Not so baby anymore….

I made Josh dance with me.  It was a hard-fought battle.  Lol

Spending time with my family while they were here for the wedding was also quite a treat.  It was a brief visit, but good.  We all camped out on the floor of my apartment – definitely a bonding experience! 🙂  And Chris and Julia got to come by briefly, along with their newest addition, a little kitten named Moose.  As you can see below, it seems that everyone has fallen in love with baby Moose.

This semester has been one of extremes.  Heartache and excitement, pain and wonder, stress and joy, despair and triumph.  But through it all, the Lord and the wonderful family and friends that He was given me have brought me through it all.  I can’t say that I’ve been strong throughout it all…but in our weaknesses He is strong, and God has certainly not failed me in that regard.  I’ll have one more update from school, and then I’ll be moving on to the next exciting chapter of my life!  I’m super excited to see what He teaches me :).