Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our EPIC Beach Trip - Part Deax

After our moving fiasco, we began preparing for our annual beach trip to NC.  We started the tradition last year, and intend to make it an annual thing :)

We rented a house with our good friends from college and each of us brought some others along - we ended up having 7 couples!  It was a BLAST.  I do not use the word "epic" much,  but this trip truly was a first in MANY ways!

First off, the house was AMAZEBALLS.  I don't even think I got a picture... (mainly because I am not a real estate agent) but I wish I would have.
The coolest part was that upon checking in, these "Turtle Patrol" people came to our door to let us know that there was a nest literally at the bottom of our stairs to the beach.  They expected them to hatch that week, and because there was a full moon, they were positive it would be in the next day or two.  I thought it was SO cool!
There were some annoying parts... we had to keep our light off at night on the back of the house so the turtles didn't mistake it for the moon - which is their guide of which was to run!
The "turtle patrol" came out every night and sat at the nest until about 10pm... waiting and watching. Now, these were some interesting people.  I tried talking to them a few times, but I think we may have been representing two different worlds... meaning, they didn't get ANY of my jokes and were SUPER serious.   If you know me, I am rarely serious.  It almost made me more silly to see how stoic they were!  Some people...

Anyhow, to our disappointment, two days had passed and they had not hatched.  It had been really cloudy too, so they think they may have missed the moon signal.  On Wednesday, we were all on the beach preparing for a wiffle ball game (yes, we played wiffle ball) and one of our friends yells... "Turtles are hatching!"
We look over and there they were!  All popping out of the nest!  We panicked!  They are not supposed to hatch during the day - their chances of survival drop to like zero.  We called the "turtle patrol" and they tell us to start collecting them and put them in a bucket.  The seagulls were in full swarm around us the entire time... trying to get to them!  It was so crazy!  We got a big bin and started putting them in there.  The plan was that later that night, the patrol would release them when it got dark.

It was such an awesome experience to see this!  I mean, I am pretty sure that will never happen again in my life :)

Bailey quite enjoyed it as well... I challenge her biology teacher to top that!  I literally learned more about sea turtles than any person should know.  Try me.  
They let the turtles go that night and let them finish hatching until Friday.  Then they came out and dug up the nest.  The are looking for info about how many hatched, how many eggs went unfertilized, etc.  There were a few "dead" ones... but when she opened the egg, she showed us how they simply did not develop properly.  Nature is so fascinating!  They take DNA samples and that is how they estimate how many sea turtles are left.  Apparently they are endangered.  This mother was believed to be 35 years old!  She was huge!

Some other highlights from out trip included a kitchen spoon rest that was so phallic that we could not get over WHY someone would invent something that looked like this!  I know, I am immature... but being silly keeps me young!

The boys caught some HUGE fish that we ate for dinner... that was fun!

I learned that I love paddle boarding and am a natural surfer :)  I tried it for the first time... got up, and rode a wave all the way in and stepped off the board!  We all cracked up!  The joke was how easy I made it look - I credit yoga for my impeccable balance!
But seriously, I am waiting for my endorsement from Roxy.

Lastly, we hired a photographer to do our family photos.  He did an awesome job!  A huge storm was rolling in and that made for some awesome lighting and dimension.

Here are some highlights!


We laughed a LOT about this sign... Molest?

They are hatching!

Friday they returned to remove all of the eggs  

Jeromy caught this right out front of the house!

Bailey and my best friends Heather's daughter Hannah

These guys...

Me and my love :)

Our view ahhhhhh

Bailey's serious model face...

her sweet modeling face... 

Loved the beach!

My best friends Ashleigh and Kyle joined us this year... twas fun!

Vacation Selfie

Phallic Spoon... I mean, really!?!?  Who invented this!?!?

Holly photobombed my selfie... LOL!

We ate a LOT of bacon

a little Can Jam action

Last Braves game of the season

First day of Pre-K!
First day of ballet.. we have BIG expectations since
Bailey's biological grandmother was a professional
ballroom dancer!  LOL!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To Hell and Back

I honestly could not decide whether or not to "share" our hell and back story.  It truly has been such a disaster that I have become a bit reclusive.  My recovery will be long... and is not over yet.  In the end, I am sharing this story for 3 reasons.
1.  So people will stop asking me where the hell I have been and why I have been acting so nuts.
2.  So I can look back, hopefully one day, and laugh my ass off.
3.  So I can share this link with the WORLD and express how poorly we were treated by a professional moving broker.

People.  Christian and I are ordering T-Shirts so that we can mark this journey with a little humor... "I survived the move from HELL!" I will upload a pic as soon as they arrive :)

I really don't know where to start, but here goes.

We moved back to Atlanta in April and had been renting a loft.  I always wanted a loft but thought they were terrible investments... so, I thought if we are renting, let's try it!  That way I can scratch that off my bucket-list.  Well, let's just say we are glad that is over...  A family of 3 and a dog in 600 sq.ft. with paper thin walls is a recipe for disaster.  Our neighbors hated us - and we could have cared less.  To paint the picture, we were watching Frozen on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm and someone knocked on the door to tell us that our "TV is too loud and they are trying to make a phone call.."  What?!?  It is 3 in the afternoon... seriously, get a freaking life.

We house hunted for weeks and could not find a place that we loved but definitely had to get out of that loft... we finally found a place and we are here.

Once we set our closing, it was time to set up the move from Iowa.  We decided to work with a moving broker (first mistake).  We arranged to have them arrive in Iowa and pack on the 19 and 20th and load the truck the 21st and 22nd.  Then delivery could be set for the 24th.

We closed on our Atlanta home Friday the 18th.  After closing we rushed back to the loft to get all of our stuff and drop it at the house before I headed to the airport for Iowa.  While carrying a box outside, the door began to close on me and in an effort to catch it, I reached out and slammed my thumb COMPLETELY backwards in the door.  I almost fainted and threw up.  I was crying... like a baby.  Bailey was confused and Christian was no where to be found.  I just stood in the hallway, bent over, crying!  My entire hand was trembling and my thumb was turning blue.  Worst.

Moving on from that, we get to the house with our things and it is POURING down rain!  Seriously.  We are rushing to get stuff in the house because I have to be on a flight in like 3 hours.  Christian races me to the airport, broken thumb and all and we part.  He and Bailey head to the new house, and I to Iowa.  When I finally sat down in the airport this wave of emotion just hit me.  I couldn't decide if I was happy, sad, in pain, or suicidal.  It was weird.  I think people would call that just being plain overwhelmed.  I was happy that we finally had a house and were out of the loft.  I was sad that I was leaving Bailey and Christian behind and wasn't getting to fully basque in the joy of purchasing a new home.  I was in pain because I thought my thumb was going to fall off, and I was suicidal because... well, I don't know... I think that is the entire thing about it.
Oh, and my flight got delayed... of course...

I finally arrived in Iowa.  This trip was supposed to be easy.  I was really only there to oversee the packing and moving and make sure that they got everything on the truck.  I had made plans to see all of my friends while there and was starting to feel kind of excited about getting away :)

But, the problems were already rolling in.

Wednesday prior, I had called the movers to CONFIRM their arrival on Saturday.  I didn't want to waste a flight if they weren't going to be there.  They never called back and I called again, Thursday and Friday morning.  FINALLY, Friday, while I am in the airport, I get a call.  They tell me that the movers will not be there until Sunday to begin packing.  That annoyed me because I would have loved to stay at home with my family in my new home Friday!  Ugh!  Anyhow, it was done.
I called one of my girlfriends in Iowa and we planned to have a spa day Saturday and go for drinks.  After our spa we are sitting in the restaurant and I get the first phone call from the movers.

This guy seriously had mental issues.  He could hardly talk and sounded like he was sleeping in the phone...  anyhow, he said that they are done with their other move and that they wanted to get started on mine that night.  We agreed that I would meet them at the house at 5.

An hour late, the finally arrive.  I answer the door.  Standing in front of me are 2 "boys".  One, covered in tattoos, wearing a wifebeater and flip flops with a cigarette behind his earl.  The other, same outfit, but two-crossed eyes and spoke NO English.  They had NO uniforms, they were driving essentially and UNMARKED truck, and their paperwork was not specific to their company... just generic stuff.
I immediately call Christian and he is like, just get their info and call the broker and confirm that they are who they say there are.  I do and they say it is fine.  I told our broker that I didn't really think they appeared very professional but they insisted that they were legit.

The bigger guy spoke some type of Russian... I later discovered he was Bosnian and the little guy was Afghani - both from St. Louis.  Seriously.  More on that later...

That night they brought some supplies and worked for an hour or so and said that they would return they next day after they unloaded their previous truck that was supposed to unload that day BUT the storage facility was closed on Sunday (poor planning).  They figured we would meet again around noon.  Well, Sunday, 4 pm and nothing.  I call and the "half-sleeping" driver answers and says that they are on the way... I am now worried because I have a flight out Wednesday at 6am... they were supposed to be DONE packing Sunday, but haven't even started.

They get there late Sunday afternoon and pack some more.  They both wear headphones and and rap out loud the ENTIRE time.  I seriously wanted to FREAK out.  So unprofessional.  As they are leaving, the one guy says to me... "They said that you only had 8 dish pack boxes but I packed 28 today..."

To clarify - we are paying them to pack and load.  They charge by the box BUT each box is a different rate... for instance, a "dish pack" box is like 40 bucks because the boxes are sturdier and they require more work and stuffing... Plain large boxes full of random stuff are only like $12.

So, this guy is telling me that he has packed 28 boxes of "dishes" at $40 each... when the estimate was 8 boxes... My head starts spinning.
I begin arguing... "those aren't all dishes in there... you can't just put forks in a dish-pack box and call it a dish pack..."  We go in circles to no avail... He leaves and I start looking at my contract.  It said 8 dish packs, and like 20 small boxes... hmmmm... What is a small box?  I look at the "dish-packs" that he did and the boxes all read "small".  I call the broker and am like, "hey, these guys are using the wrong boxes... they are just putting my stuff in small boxes and calling them dish packs!"  The broker tells me that I "don't have to pay for work that they don't do" so I begin taking pictures and documenting... jeez.

Monday rolls around and my guys never showed up... no real reason, they got caught up unloading that other truck... I call the broker, their dispatcher, EVERYONE.  No one can offer me any solution.  So now, it is Monday night and I have a flight out Wednesday and there is NO WAY they are going to pack and load 4000 sq. ft. of house in one day.  They tell me that it is possible, and I like an IDIOT believe them.  I tell them to be at the house at 5am.  I told them that they needed to pull an entire day of work to meet their deadline - they agreed.

Tuesday, 5am.  Not there yet.  8 am - still not there.  I call the broker, they call the driver, he calls me.  I ask him why he was late... he tells me "he overslept" but would be there around 11.  I am FURIOUS.  I call Christian and he tells me to fire them.  If the BROKER is not going to work on our behalf, then I have to work on my own.  So, I call the drivers back and tell him nicely, "hey, look, don't worry about coming today - you guys are fired and I am going to move on with another company."  The guy yells in the phone "FUCK YOU BITCH!"
Are you kidding me?  I am paying you $14,000 and you are telling me FUCK YOU?!?!?!?  OMG.  I just hung up and didn't even respond.  I begin crying, call the broker, call Christian, call everyone.  My chest was sinking and I literally thought I was going to faint. I run inside and puke... for 2 strait days.  I was seriously so angry and stressed that I couldn't eat and my stomach was a MESS!

Long story short - I had to change my flight and the broker promised me a different company.  This time, I get 3 Bosnians all over the age of 60 - again from St. Louis.  They do the most HORRIBLE job of packing my stuff but I had reached a point that I just wanted to leave... I didn't care what happened... I should have held that thought...

They leave Wednesday and say that they will begin driving to Atlanta and will deliver Friday.  Friday comes and SURPRISE!  my stuff is not here... I call the movers and ask where they are and they say "St. Louis".  What?!?!?  He tells me that the truck that they loaded full of my stuff was UNREGISTERED and they couldn't drive to GA until they get the registration.
My head starts spinning... I begin crying and panicking.  The realization hit me... EVERYTHING THAT I OWN IS ON A UNREGISTERED TRUCK SOMEWHERE IN ST. LOUIS.  I come to the understanding that I will NEVER see my stuff again.
I cry more.  Christian comes home and we just stare at each other... I told him,
"I don't care about furniture, clothes, toys or any of that.  I just want all of Bailey's adoption paperwork.  That stuff is IRREPLACEABLE.

I call the broker - they are no help.  I just sulk.

Shockingly, they arrive Sunday... half of our stuff was scratched or dented, but hey... it is here and ALL of my important paperwork made it without a scratch :)

It wasn't over though... the broker still claimed that we owed the first moving company for the work that they completed prior to me firing them.  I told him that was fine - but I knew I would dispute it.
The catch is, in order for the movers to unload the truck, you have to pay the bill in full.  So, here I am in my driveway with a bill that I DISAGREE with and am FORCED to pay it.  In essence, they take your freight "hostage" until they get your money.
The issue with payment was this.  They said I still had to pay for what work company one did BUT that they couldn't split the invoice SO I had to pay the FULL amount to the second company and they would kick back a portion to the first company... Does that sound right to you? HELL NO.  Christian is furious because this has FRAUD written all over it.  The irony here is that Christian is a FRAUD INVESTIGATOR and FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT.  But what are we to do?  So we pay it...

It has been almost 2 months, the broker refuses to call me back, they have ignored all of my emails, and have not reimbursed me yet for funds PROMISED.

Christian said the other night, "I never thought it would be so hard to find someone to pack a box, put it on a truck, and drive it to another city."  Quote of the year!

People, my health has severely deteriorated during the past few months.  I am not lying.  I have put on at LEAST 10 pounds.  I grind my teeth at night.  I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest half of the time.

A part of me wants to just let it go.  I feel like my body deserves to be free from this stress... but the fighter in me wants JUSTICE!  I want what is owed to me.  I am so conflicted.

There are MANY more details that I am leaving out. These people are nuts... so... we are currently seeking out a good attorney.  If you have any recommendations, we would love to hear them.

Oh, and as for the Bosnians.  Here is a little fact:
Outside of the city of Sarajevo - the capital of Bosnia, St. Louis has the highest concentration of Bosnians in the world.

Aside from that, we are finally in our home and back in our favorite city :)  All is well that ends well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Remain Present

I can't.  I can't read another story of a person leaving their child in the car while they go in the store, or to a friends house, or to work.  I can't.  Is it just me or is this same story in the news everyday?  The obvious reaction is to wonder what the HELL is wrong with them!?!?  But, if we can all be honest... I think we really know.

We are rarely PRESENT.  We are rarely actively listening, focusing, hearing, thinking, or for that matter praying.
Our society has become so overwhelmed with work, emails, social networking, words with friends, texting, news, you name it that we forget things like... our child is still in the car.  Can you blame these people?

I know that there were days early on when I had Bailey that I was so tired from being up all night.  My job was emailing me wanting to know when I was returning, social workers were calling every 10 minutes, friends and family were stopping by, groceries needed to be bought and we were out of diapers and formula.  A trip to the store required an act of God.  I can remember pulling out of the parking space and slamming the brakes to turn around - Did I even get Bailey out of the cart?? Of course I had but I didn't even remember doing it!  We just DO things without even knowing we do them.  Haven't you ever been driving along and all of the sudden you think - Did I run a red light?  I don't even remember looking at the light?  Chances are you looked and it was green... but the same remains... our minds are so clogged.

I remember this verse from a bible study I did once,

"Remember the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds."

When I read the news of this Georgia father who pulled up at work last week totally forgetting that his child was in the back seat and went into work all day only returning to find him dead, I just hurt.
It was a terrible mistake.  Apparently, it was not normal for him to take him - his wife normally did.  And in this world of schedules and deadlines he just did what he always does... got in the car, drove to work, got out, locked the door... like robot.
I know we can all sit around and argue how ridiculous that was, but we won't get anywhere.

Many times as a mom, I feel like some days I hardly spend any one on one time with Bailey.  Some days it is all work and no play.  Chores, errands, phone calls, repeat.  Last year, I had had enough and started making a conscious decision to focus more.
Laundry can wait, dishes can wait, we can always order in dinner if I don't get to the store.  I just need to be more present with her.  And not just Bailey but Christian too... and the dog... and God.

Sometimes, I feel so discombobulated that I can't even pray without distraction... Some nights I get in bed, lay down and almost fall asleep and then realize that I hadn't even said a prayer the entire day!  So I start... "God, thank you for all that you have given us and all of our graces..." then it happens... I start thinking of something else and my mind wanders... a half hour later I snap out of it and realize I completely aborted the prayer and started stressing!  It is really almost comical...
I remember telling my sister I do that and she told me to stop saving my prayers for the night.  Pray all day.  In the car, in the shower, walking, wherever!  If you do it that way, you will get it all in.

I just think that we can all learn from this terrible story in the news.  Be present.  Be present with your kids, your spouse, your pet, and your God.

Today I am renewing last year's vow to be more present... this life can wait.  I vow to understand the condition of all in my flock and to give them the attention they need and deserve.

Friday, June 13, 2014

This Life...

While I recently visited Charlotte my sister was showing me all the houses in her neighborhood where friends had lived but moved.  Then she said, "We're the only people who haven't gone anywhere!"  

My sister and I are a perfect combination of my mom and dad but it is clear who is more like the other.

While I tend to favor the look of my mom, I have the attitude and behavior of my dad.   My sister looks more like my dad, but her demeanor is all my mom.  She is calm, wise, thoughtful, and nurturing.  I am for lack of a better word a spaz, quick to speak, a little more selfish, and not nearly as patient.  If you knew my mom - you know that my sister is just like her.  If you know my dad, you see where I get my fire from!  I also think birth order has a lot to do with it... I'm just sayin'

As I get older, more and more I go to my sister for help and guidance.  She is such a woman of faith and the closest thing to a mom that I have.  She always takes careful consideration before responding to my questions, often telling me that she is going to "have to pray about it first".  My sister is nearly 15 years older than me... when we were young, it was a bigger deal.  But as we get older, the gap kind of closes more and more.  When I lost my mom, I was only 28.  I was not a mom yet, and really was still finding my independence.  I now know why God gave me a sister that was so much older... he knew that I was going to need that later.  She is such a great reference with everything dealing with kids, friends, psycho friends, parents, psycho parents, and so on...

When I first told her that I was moving back to Atlanta, she was happy to have us back in the South, but worried about me going back to Atlanta.  She worried that I would get caught up with old friends who really don't have my best interests at heart.  She hates that we love living in the city and how fast paced it is.  She really would like to see me settle down in the suburbs and be the leader of the PTA... please.

But we are different.  She said that they had never moved because she did it once 15 years ago and it was so awful that she swore that she would never do it again!  I can relate to that... moving SUCKS.  It is one thing to move across town, it is another to move across the country... and to do it twice in 2 years!  

The move to Iowa was pretty easy... but this return has almost killed me.

Some days I wake up and don't even want to get out of bed.  I know the minute I put my feet on the floor, it is going to be a long day.  Letting the dog out every couple hours, managing Bailey in this crazy city, house hunting, working with lenders, Christian being out of the country, wondering why the hell our house in Iowa isn't selling... ahhhh!

I think it has also been hard because my expectations may have been a little off when I moved back.  I suppose it isn't realistic to think that you can leave for two years and return like you never left :(

Either way, we love being back.  This city is such a big part of my life!  This was the first city I lived in as an actual adult... that paid my own bills!!  Bailey was born here... and the Braves are here.  I mean, it doesn't get better than that!

I just think that I may be suffering from a little situational depression... not that I am not happy, but because I think stress is fogging my lenses.  One day our house in Iowa will sell, we won't be paying two mortgages, I will have a yard for Otto, and Bailey will have all her favorite things and a room... with walls... and a door :) Then I will be able to fully grasp being back home in the South!

At the end of the day - I think I secretly do love it though.  Stress that is.  If I didn't, I wouldn't do it to myself all the time!  I would be like my sister, and be content in the same place.  But I am a free spirit... I just go wherever the wind takes me and I kind of like the excitement.  My friends tell me that if they were me, they would be in a mental institution and that they think I am great at handling all these things... I suppose it is true :)

I love following Joyce Meyer on Facebook. She has the best little one-liners... these spoke to me...

The more you hurry, the more mistakes you make. 
Slow down, breathe and learn to be led by God, not driven by impatience. 

God loves you too much to leave you in a mess. 
He has a plan for you that far exceeds anything you may recognize.

Despite all of that... we are still having a great time!  Here are some "moments" from our last couple weeks :)

My best friend Megan's son Manning - presh

Megan and I destroyed these chocolates... it was like eating art...
I am not sure if we felt more guilty because we ate a bunch of chocolate, or because
they were so pretty???

I missed this place while in Iowa!  I go here everyday now...

Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park

Family Selfie

this girl.  LOVE her!

she is DEFINITELY a cabana girl... no getting wet for her...

went to visit Christian's parents while he is in Brazil... his
dad is great on the guitar :)

Leaving Winston-Salem

Charlotte to see my family and mooch off my sister and her pool

Me, Sadie - my sister's youngest, and B

My sister's son has 2 hammocks hanging from his ceiling... why?
I have no idea... I don't have boys...
Bailey loved it though!

Playing on the trampoline with Sadie... and yes
we bought a slip n' slide (in the background)

Bailey woke up every morning and went strait outside to jump... she's a trip!

Breakfast with mom :)

First swim lesson!!!


Brunch :)

Since Christian is in Rio - we went to have lunch and go see Rio 2
So fun!
Had to hit up Little Five Points... Bailey found some shoes she liked...

While house hunting I saw Ms. Lawrence from RHOA!
Leaving church of all places...

Me and one of my besties Ashleigh... we are not normal
and we like it that way...

This is cheering me up!  World Cup 2014!

Got bored at the hair salon last night and took some online quizzes...
apparently I need to move to Brazil and become a writer :)

But not anytime soon... I am staying put for a while!!!!