Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January visit to Little Rock

Nathan and his buddy Ben decided to head to the cabin for the weekend for a little duck hunting action. Ben's dad and Nathan's dad joined the crew, so I decided to pack up and head to DeDe's! Nothing like a fun weekend away (especially while Daddy is gone). We had an action filled weekend that went waaaay too quickly. Let's just jump in (no pun intended).

We started the fun by taking Alex to the McCain mall to brave the Spider Jump adventure. Deb has a friend that owns Spider Jump, so we thought it would be a blast to watch Alex. But noooo, peer pressure strikes and I am suddenly wearing a harness in the middle of the mall! Are you kidding me?! At least I don't live there and no one knows me...and let's face it, if you know me, you know I was allll over the idea. Here are a few pics from our Spider Jump adventure:

I am locked and loaded

"Whoa, this is higher and harder than I expected"

Back flip -1

Back flip - 2

Back flip - 3...double back flip!

Love this pic because you can see Alex and I jumping at the same time

Look at my brave lil peanut

Beautiful and graceful "le frog jump, elegant"

Alex attempts a flip and as you can see is all smiles

Big jumps

Happy girl
A few key points to note:
1. While we were gone, Pops stayed home with Carson. It was awesome to have solo Alex time. While we were at the mall, my cell phone rings and it's Pops. He says, "I am calling to inform you that we have a situation on our hands. Did you know Carson can climb out of his pack-n-play? I was sitting at my desk and all the sudden I saw a blur running by the door." AHH! He's such a two year old toot. I love it!
2. Um yeah, I was NOT okay after the Spider Jump! I was soooo sore. They said jumping was the equivalent of a 2 hour cardio session. My abs and arms were killing me the next day. I am not 18 anymore (and yes Deb, I am leaving that part of the story out. When you dish on the pup I will share my story. HA!)
Back at home, Pops enjoyed time with his princess while Deb & I had a GNO.
This is their happy place. Can't tell who is having more fun...

Alex makes Pops smile in a way that I've never seen. It's beautiful. It reminds me so so much of my Boompa.

After a long night of Alex boot camp, Pops is a fried puppy. Sweet Alex tucked him in with her lovies and gankie.

Deb & I are dressed and ready for a night out (this was my thank you gift for watching the kids in Atlanta.) We went to Bravo for dinner and saw The King's Speech. FUN! Dinner was perfection.

Darby women represent

Doesn't she look so grown up here? I can't believe she is about to be 6! 6 going on 16!

Alex was incredibly independent and well minded on this trip. She spent hours in DeDe's office on the computer and doing arts and crafts.

Score! USA Pizza makes gluten free love. Yes!!!

DeDe and Alex at lunch

The girls at lunch
After lunch, we braved it and decided to head to Chuck E. Cheese. As sad or crazy as this sounds, Carson had never been before (I think he went once as a baby) but this was his first "real" time to experience the Chuck. He was in awe. Flashing lights, spinning toys and numbers everywhere = heaven for our special little guy.
Alex tried hard to earn tickets. I hit 100 tickets on a game and that made me "super cool" in Alex's eyes. I felt honored.

Alex is all about using the assets she has. Whatever it takes!

Sweet Carson was overwhelmed but loved riding the rides. He is almost 2 1/2 years old.

Carson scoping out the ticket grabbing machine

I don't know if he was a "record breaker" at Chuck E. Cheese as his t-shirt suggests, but he certainly is a heart breaker. Cuteness!
We had so much fun as always. Sigh, can we come back again soon? Thanks for making what could have been a lonely and hard weekend a super fun one with memories galore!

While Mommy was away DeDe came to play

Here are the pics DeDe took while I was in Atlanta for the work conference. As you will see, she was a trooper and pretty much stayed home the entire time I was gone. Carson's chin was in the early healing phase and we didn't want to risk stitches, so I really appreciated everyone staying tucked in for a few days. The kids seem to be most happy at home, so it was a win-win.

Snow bunny, day one

Snow bunny, day 2

So clearly, we aren't prepared for "real" winter weather in Texas. May need to invest in some better clothes next year!

Alex was in heaven making snow ice cream

Our little snow angel

Bubble bath queen

Carson's favorite chill spot

Alex braving the pit at gymnastics class

Attempting the high bar solo

Fun times in the puppy tent. I love this picture of our kids playing together.

"Can anyone see me?!"

"Workin' on my bikini body"

Macy was soooo happy there was a new puppy in town

Carson + iPhone = Happy 2 year old!

Thanks again for the wonderful week. The kids had the best time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mel goes to "Cold-Lanta"

I know Atlanta is known as "Hot-lanta" but it certainly did not live up to it's name on this trip! I was invited by the Ciena marketing team to join the "All Hands Marketing Meeting" that Ciena hosts annually. The purpose of the trip is for a few select vendors to give a presentation about their company and how they have contributed to Ciena's success and it also gave many Ciena executives the opportunity to give presentations in their area of expertise.

After all of the hospitals, drama and chin busting here at home, I was ready for a breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong, I never want to be away from my fam, but it was time for Mommy to be an adult for a couple of days :) Fortunately, DeDe was able to come in from Little Rock to help watch the kids while I was gone. They ended up shortening and delaying the conference by a day, so I was only gone for 2 days instead of 3 full days. A special thank you to my Mom for taking the reins on Thursday and helping with the kiddos. YaYa and DeDe - thank you for always being there for me! I can't live without you!

Once DeDe arrived, so did the snow, sleet and ice. School was cancelled and the Atlanta airport was shut down entirely. I honestly didn't think there was any way I would actually make the flight. They were cancelling flights left and right and when I went to bed on Monday night, I knew I wasn't going to go most likely. I went ahead and packed up just in case, but needless to say, I was disappointed. I really was looking forward to connecting with my team members and learning more about Ciena.

Sure enough, I get the call from Cory that we are a go! I was shocked but prepared and very excited! The flight was smooth, but all of us were amazed that they flew in the snowy and icy conditions. In fact, the weather was so bad that the entire Boston group was unable to attend. 30% of the expected attendees were unable to join due to the weather. Crazy!

After we landed we picked up the rental car (it was me and three other men that I work with). We all looked at each other and realized, "Oh NO - we have to drive to the hotel!" The drive was about 15 miles from the airport, but it felt like an hour. There were cars sliding all over the road. The guys joked with the "prayer warrior" (me) so I made sure and sent a few prayers of protection over our car. Fortunately, we made it unscathed.

We stayed at the "W" - Midtown. The hotel was awesome. I was incredibly happy to be there. We had a wonderful dinner at the "City Kitchen" and enjoyed good ole' southern comfort food. The fried chicken was off the chain! The company was great and I had an awesome night. The next day was a non-stop meeting day. I hit the rack super early that night and we worked the next day and made it home safely by Thursday night. DeDe had to leave early to make it back in time to meet up with Andrea and the boys, so I was really happy YaYa was able to step in and help with those last few hours of childcare. Fortunately, everyone did great at home! I was so relieved and came back a better version of myself. It was a great little getaway.
Here are a few horrible cell phone pics:

The weather was delightful
View from my hotel window

My awesome room

The chandelier in the main lobby

The "hidden seating area" - we all came back after dinner and hung here for about an hour and chatted. It was a really cool vibe.
Good times in Hot-cold-lanta! I hope they ask me to come again next time.