Tuesday, September 29, 2015

So September

To be honest, there are times when updating the blog is drudgery - a necessary discipline for myself to stick with something. Sometimes it's truly fun and done for the enjoyment of family and friends. And yet still other times... its simply therapeutic. It's a time of reflection and a sort of stake in the ground to say, "This where we've been and this is where we are going." Today, it's the latter as I look back on the last month of our lives. Boy has it been intense. Ha! I say this not to complain, but merely to let others know our life is not perfect or easy. Everyone has their own unique challenges and we are no exception.

At this particular juncture, our life is heavily focused on Allie's education. We knew this transition into formal schooling would not be easy and honestly, it has been really, REALLY hard. So many adjustments, so many skills to learn, so much to catch up on. At times it feels overwhelming, BUT day by day things are improving and Allie is finding her way. We are so proud of her and her desire to do well. We consistently have conversations about grit (and even watched a TED talk on how grit is the one consistent factor among successful people) and daily affirm that she can overcome these obstacles if she's willing to go the extra mile. This "extra mileage" includes math tutoring - at school before classes start each day and weekly private tutoring after school. We are so grateful for her tutor and how she is helping Allie see math in a whole new way!

I have also been heavily involved in her AP class (as previously mentioned) and even though it sometimes is stressful, I have really enjoyed learning the content with her. Human Geography (the study of people groups, culture, etc.) is quite fascinating and I love being able to talk with her about it and help her draw connections. Recently, she has been studying migration and had to do some research on where her ancestors originated. Thanks to my mom, I was actually able to uncover some really interesting family history of my own, including how my Great Great Grandmother's 5 Great Aunts (Catholic nuns) were martyred by guillotine during the French Revolution (in Orange, France) and later canonized in 1907! Outside of this colorful story, most of my family dates back to the American Revolution and colonial days. Mom also shared the obituary of a relative 7 generations back as well as the complete genealogy of my dad's side of the family (back to 1781) which included dates, census records, addresses, brief obits, etc. One thing that struck me about all this "old stuff" was the writing style. The way people put pen to paper and carefully,yet simply, articulated a depth of meaning was so beautiful and seems like a dying art. Yes, I know I am saying this on my blog where I overuse highly intellectual words such as "lol", "blast" and "anywho"! Ha! Oh how the era of emojis and text messages have caused grammatical amnesia and the art of writing to become like an endangered species. But I digress...

Outside of school hours, homework and tutoring, Allie's weekly activities are ramping up and include FCA (school affiliated christian club that meets on Saturday nights) and church youth group/discipleship (which has a 2 1/2 hr program Sunday night and breakfast club Tuesday morning before school). I know it might not seem like a lot, but Zach and I feel like we are running a chauffeur service! Ha!
I seriously have no idea how families manage sports - multiple games a week for multiple children??!!! I tip my organizational/time management hat to you!

One area I am personally on #thestrugglebus with is meal planning and prep. Being a full-time working parent is HARD especially when you commute 25 miles/1 hr each way to work and are gone from your home over 10 hrs a day. This is compounded by our dietary restrictions - some medical, some personal preference. Throwing some cheesy, carby, artificial ingredient-packed casserole in the crockpot before I leave in the morning is not an option so I am on the hunt for something that will help me accomplish our dietary goals while also sticking with my budget/schedule. It is surprisingly challenging! Prior to Allie living here, Zach and I had a much more flexible schedule in the evening. It didn't matter as much if we ate late or if I needed to swing by the grocery store after work. Now, our evenings need to run like clockwork so we can manage our responsibilities and maximize our family time. Although I would love the "hire a cook and maid" option, haha that isn't exactly practical for us. I also would like to streamline ingredients to cut costs since cooking fresh, healthy meals is not on the cheap. This is a journey for me and something I hope to master in the coming weeks and months to keep not only money in my pocket and time on the clock, but more importantly - my sanity!!!

So September... here's what's been happenin'!

Labor Day weekend was our first weekend without Allie since her move to GA. It's funny how what was once our normal (aka- her not being here consistently) just a few short weeks ago is now so strange! While she was reconnecting with family and friends in Alabama, Zach and I enjoyed the weekend together around the ATL.

Exploring the outdoors on nature trails in Suwanee.

(So this ghetto shirt Zach is wearing use to belong to my dad. He got it doing a half-marathon in Jacksonville, FL 30 years ago. The shirt bares the logo of my grandfather's career-long employer and also some glitter puff paint smudges accidentally added by my sister during her previous ownership of this garment. This is one of a few old tees Zach has that have been passed down in my family. Normally that would seem strange, but I actually love being reminded of so many things when I see them on him!)
Frequenting some favorite spots in town.

Zach's favorite coffee shop in the ATL is Chattahoochee Coffee Company on the Westside of town. 
Not only does it have great beverages, it also has a unique interior and ambiance.
Friendly faces.
We also tried a new restaurant called True Food Kitchen in Buckhead. It's a health conscious restaurant based around anti-inflammatory, nutrient rich foods. The menu is full of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Dinner was good, but my favorite part of the meal was the flourless chocolate cake. :)

And speaking of new restaurants, I also went to Le` Fat with some coworkers the other day. This is a very unique Vietnamese restaurant that is designed like a French brasserie.

I had pho, but it was hard to say no to a bahn mi sandwich!
This month we also helped Zach's mom move across town. Zach's brother and his girlfriend came over from Alabama to help with the heavy lifting. :) It was a pretty labor-intensive day, but it was nice to see family even though our time together was brief!

We also had the privilege of being a part of the wedding festivities for two dear friends - Jon and Kayla.
Zach was a groomsmen and I was actually the wedding coordinator. I had never done this before, but I figured it would be pretty straight forward given hosting events is an element of my day job. In addition to wedding coordinator I wore a few additional hats including volunteer dry cleaner (steaming all the table linens prior to the event which took me about 20 hours. Yes I was crying then, but laughing now haha), floral arranger, and general day-of stylist.

I am not super great at delegating (falsely believing I am superwoman and can single handedly manage the impossible...oopsy) but none of this would have actually been possible without my right hand girl Katherine. She basically got roped into helping me because her husband/our friend Steve was also a groomsmen and she really didn't have anything else to do. HAHA Poor girl. But seriously... she was my absolute lifesaver that day and so servant-minded even though she's 20 weeks pregnant! She had every legit excuse to sit back and spend her day watching Hulu or something, but instead she slaved all day beside me and I am forever in her debt! I also can't post about this without profusely thanking Zach and my MIL who stepped in to save the day and coordinate delicate transport of the giant tablecloth pile. Zach, your continued patience and general Superman status has not gone unnoticed.

All in all, everything turned out well and was such a lovely time celebrating the union of our friends. My only real regret was NOT TAKING PHOTOS. I was so busy running around like a crazy person that I didn't get a single photo of our family or us with the bride and groom. :( :( :( :( :( :( Oh well. Such is life I guess, BUUUT I did get one, single, solitary photo of the cutest groomsmen... :)

The wedding was held about an hour outside of Atlanta at Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club. It was a beautiful equestrian center with classic rolling hills and black wooden fences stretching as far as the eye can see. The ceremony was held outside in the courtyard and the reception was immediately adjacent in the renovated stables.
Besides the beauty of the venue, my second favorite detail of the wedding was the donuts! At first, when I heard they were having donuts instead of cake I was pretty skeptical, but then I took a bite. So amazing! The flavors were inventive and a huge crowd pleaser. Plus, extra points for looking all super cutesy on the stands and trays.
These amazing pastries were from Revolution Doughnuts, a local donut shop in Decatur. Some noteworthy flavors include caramel bacon, orange pistachio, and classic cinnamon sugar. You should go get some.
We love you dearly Jon and Kayla and are so excited for you as you start your life together! Congrats!

And last, but not least- this past weekend. We had some much needed chill time at home. We watched a really fascinating documentary on the Exodus called Patterns of Evidence.
It's on Netflix so if you have a subscription you should totally watch it!

Allie and I also resurrected the "P Day" which we have not done in ages! (See previous P Days here and our very first P Day here.) It was really spur of the moment, but we kicked off the day with gluten free Pumpkin muffins (Trader Joe's brand).
Then drove into town listening to Pop music...

so we could enjoy a Pot o' tea at Dr. Bombay's (our favorite hang out, but especially on a rainy, dreary day like last Saturday was!).

After becoming totally inspired and practically giddy from the magic of all that is Dr. Bombay's, we Perused some shops (like her favorite bridal shop- Kelly's Closet), as well as Picked up some mini Pies from our local pie shop.

One chocolate chess for Al, and one classic apple for me/Z. :)

I also began a new bible study for working moms and I am really excited about it. Getting back in a group is long overdue and I look forward to getting to know some new people at Perimeter. I also am so grateful this group is meeting on Sunday morning! This is a huge benefit given I can just add it to my Sunday morning routine and avoid commuting to church on a week night after work. #winning

All in all, September has been a great month, but I am really looking forward to October! It's finally FALL! This weekend we head to the mountains for our annual fall getaway/apple picking trip, and later in the month Allie has her first chorus concert, Mom turns the big 6-0, and I have numerous work events to host. It's gonna be busy, but I hope and pray through all the excitement that I can truly savor every second spent with those I love!