Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Blessing of Friendship

Before I ever started blogging, I read blogs. Back then, I didn't really know anyone personally that blogged. I had a few that I would read, but never imagined that I would ever read blogs written by people that I knew...or attempt to write one myself!

Nowadays, my google reader is brimming with blogs, many of which are written by people that I actually know. I have loved getting to know people better through the blog world. I feel so much more connected to people these days, even if they live miles and miles away.

One of my favorite bloggers happens to belong to an in real life friend. In fact, I think she was the first person that I actually knew that blogged.

Jennifer and I met in college. Other than my roommate, she was the first person that I met...and it happened before school even started...thank you sorority recruitment! While our paths didn't cross an awful lot, they crossed enough for me to know who she was...and I know that when I "grew up" I wanted to be just like her.

We weren't in the same sorority...sorry about that, Jennifer...but I always hoped that I would be able to impact my house the way she impacted hers. She knew what she stood for and lead by example. In fact, she still does, and I'm still trying to be like her!

Football season provided me a few opportunities to get together with Jennifer, her husband, little girl and precious family. I've loved seeing our friendship grow and develop.

All that to say, I realized a few weeks ago that she really doesn't live as far from me as I thought. December is a slower month for me work-wise, so I decided to take a day off and make the drive to visit her and her sweet little girl. We had a wonderful time catching up, sharing dreams and playing. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner!

Jennifer and I totally forgot to take a picture together that day...but we had the chance to see each other a few weeks ago when she came to Birmingham so I grabbed this one from her blog.

Waiting for our lunch...loved getting to play with Miss Charlotte!

Happy Graduation

December 11 was a big day for the Smith family.

My younger sister was all smiles because she was officially finished with college. My parents were even more excited because they had successfully put three children thorough college and they still have money to spend on themselves!

Congrats, of luck in finding that job!!

At one point during the 2 hour long ceremony, I was telling Emma Kate how everyone in her family graduated from The University of Alabama. She took one look at the stage and looked right at me and said "I'm going to go here, too." If that's the case, I can't wait for 2028!!

Friday, December 10, 2010


There are so many things I like about my current job. Most of the time I'm able to do it from home, and for me that quite often means lounge clothes and a blanket! If I'm not working from home, it means that I'm usually on a college campus meeting with some of the best clients in the world. The flexibility that the job offers is another thing that I wouldn't trade for anything.

But, every so often, I find myself craving an office. Dressing up. Going in at 8:30. Stopping by to say hello to coworkers on the way to the coffee pot. Meetings...yes, even the meetings.
A few times each year, I get to do all of those things, and the December meeting is my favorite of all. It's a time of celebrating all that happened and making projections for the next year.

I went up to Spartanburg a few weeks ago and I must say it may have been one of my favorite of the busiest, but one of my favorites.

I got to spend time with some of the best co-workers/friends, was showered with some fun gifts, sat in enough meetings to have me set for a few more months, and ate some delicious food!

With Lauren and this really the only picture I took all week??

In the "off time" I was able to do some outlet shopping and some relaxing in a hotel room...I absolutely LOVE hotel stays!! The week was pretty much exactly what I needed to cure the "lonely" blues.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Catching up on December

Since I still have not mastered the discipline of daily blogging...I present you with my week in review...the first week.

I was hopeful that when I awoke on Monday morning my voice would be back...negative. So, I spent pretty much the entire day not talking. It was definitely different. Seriously, I probably spoke 100 words...and the majority of those were because I had agreed to call out Spanish vocab for my cousin!

After a day of voice rest, I was finally able to make out some scratchy words on Tuesday...thank goodness, because I had a little one to entertain. I've realized that children typically like to be spoken to and played and the more high pitched the voice and goofy you act, the better. Little Miss Carrington is getting so big! We played games, sang and danced to Christmas music...then her teeth started killing her and she promptly decided that the best cure would be sleep. Smart kid!

Wednesday was super busy. My roommate and I were having people over that evening, so the house needed to be straightened. Then, I found out that I was going to need to make a trip to Tuscaloosa to pick up some packages that had been sent to my grandparents. The trip kind of threw a wrench in my schedule, but it did give me the chance to eat Bento for lunch...with Julia, nonetheless. Though short, the trip was a success.

I got home with a few hours to spare before the party and made fast work of cleaning thanks to my Black Friday purchase of the Shark Steam Mop. I seriously loved it. So, if you have hardwood floors that need cleaning, let me know!

With the house decorated and straightened, all we needed were the guests...if you should call them that...because really the people that came over were much more like family. A few times a week, a group of us gets together for lunch/dinner. This week, we decided to wear some tacky Christmas regalia and enjoy fellowship. It is such a blessing to have a group of people to share life with.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

A few weeks ago my mom called to let me know that she and my dad would be coming up to Birmingham so he could attend a meeting. She has been really wanting to make a trip to visit her college roommate that lives in Boaz, so we decided to make that happen during this little business trip. My mom arrived late Wednesday night, so Thursday I took her to Boaz. We had a yummy lunch at Mill Street and even had a little time to spare for some shopping. I found a few Christmas gifts...and even picked up something for myself!

Thursday night was spent with two of my all time favorite groups of people...high school girls and little kids. My cousin and one of her friends came over to visit right before I had to leave to baby-sit. The plan was for them to arrive a little earlier, but Allison has NO sense of direction, and Libby wasn't helping too much. Nevertheless, I was happy to have them stop by, even if only for a few minutes. Thankfully, the family I was baby-sitting for lives within walking distance of me, so I didn't have to worry about being late. Baby-sitting is one of my favorite ways to spent my time, and the precious boys I got to play with last night are some of my favorite people in the world! True, John is a year old and Robert is four, but they are still some of my favorites! John has mastered saying my name in these past few weeks, and let me tell you, it's like music to my ears. On top of that, Robert has pretty much learned how to write and recognize every letter of the alphabet...lots of fun letter games!!

Friday, oh Friday. One of the things I miss most about working in an office is the people. I'll often find myself packing up my things and heading to a coffee shop just to have some interaction. Trips to the coffee shop are even better when Megan is able to join me. Friday was a success because we were able to land our favorite table, after minimal stalking. We worked hard all morning then I headed out to have lunch with one of my favorites. Anna and I officially met in college and would get together every few weeks for lunch or yogurt. Now that we both live in Birmingham, we have enjoyed adding the lunch date to our schedules again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekend in Review

I'm not a fan of the Iron Bowl being on a Friday...except for that it gives me two full days to recuperate after a loss before I have to get back to work on Monday. :)

The two days looked a little like this...

---Furniture shopping with my Aunt. Since I spend so much time over there it feels like I'm getting new furniture, too!

---Christmas festiveness at the Ingrams. Christmas china out. Wreaths hung. Christmas Village all out and lit up. Train assembled and one tree decorated.

---Football...specifically the Egg Bowl. We all rallied around our friend, Megan, in support of her one and only dawgs. The cow bell was rung and good times were had by all.

---Decorating at 203, part 1. I bought an artificial tree last year on SUPER sale after Christmas. It looks pretty good now, but I was a little worried for about 30 minutes when I realized there was a defect in one of the parts. Thankfully, there were boys at the house...and one of them had a drill. Tree crisis, averted.

---Rearranged some furniture, because that's just what Martha and I like to do at 1AM on a Sunday morning. :)

---Church. The first Sunday of Advent! Great message on hope.

---Yummy lunch at La Paz. The perfect cure to the Thanksgiving food overload is most definitely Mexican!

---Trip to Lowes to get fresh garland and lights.

---Decorating at 203, part 2. Garland hung. Mantle and tree decorated. House is starting to look and smell like Christmas!!

---Back to church for Hanging of the Greens.

---Bed because my voice was COMPLETELY gone.

Black Friday

I don't remember the exact item we were looking for, but last year my cousin Wayne and I decided to brave the Black Friday craziness and head to Wal-Mart. Yes, I know it's the place where people get trampled, but we had nothing better to do.

All for tradition, we decided that we would do the same thing again.

We checked out the ads and made our list. The store opened at 5, but we decided that since the things we wanted were probably not their "high ticket" items, there wasn't much need in getting there much before then. We arrived a little after 5 and found our items without much trouble at all. The top find for me was this...

I've been wanting a Shark Steam Mop since the day I moved into my house. The hardwood floors are hard to clean and this makes the chore so much more fun!

We ended our morning of shopping with breakfast at Waffle House...another tradition. We had the same waitress as last year and everything. We didn't remember her, but she sure acted as if she remembered us. Too fun.

No pictures...but really, who wants to see me at 5AM pre-shower? Can't wait for next year to do it all again. Even if there's nothing to buy, I know we'll be out there!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In all things, give thanks

Over the past few days, I've been reminded of some of the things I am very thankful for. Here's a little glimpse into the Thanksgiving season...

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. We divide up the cooking and both families live in same city, so the celebrations are pretty laid back and the traveling is minimal. On Wednesday we picked up lunch from Zoes and ate with my mom's parents. After that, we headed over to my dad's mother's house for dinner---soup and sandwiches.

Good times are always had when this little one is around. Can't believe that EK is about to be 5! Seems like yesterday that she was born.

This is one of by far my favorite picture of EK with my grandparents...her great-grandparents.

On Thursday, I got up early and set to work baking the traditional coconut cake for the Ingram family Thanksgiving. I was pretty impressed with how it turned out...just like one Nannies or Ella would have made! We enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with all of the basics: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, squash casserole, salad and rolls. I sat at the kid table with the usual's going to be a sad day if I ever get promoted to the adult table! So thankful for family!

Friday morning the sun rose and there was only one thing on the mind of everyone in the family...the Iron Bowl. It was a little chilly, but thankfully the torrential downpour that was predicted earlier in the week did not occur. On the way to the stadium, I stopped by to see my freshman roomie at her tailgate. It's always fun when she's in town. Love her and her sweet family! So thankful for friendships that remain...even though we are miles apart!

Quick photo-op with some college friends

Cell service on gameday is never good. So, when I got a message right before kickoff I could hardly believe it. One of my sweet clients/turn friends spotted me when I was walking to my seat and came down to find me. I LOVE me some Caitlyn...even if she does cheer for the other team. So thankful for a job that I love and the fun people I am blessed to work with!

If you're an Alabama fan, the game started out better than any could have ever predicted. It was so much fun sitting with the family and cheering for a team that we all love so much. We have watched many, many games together through the's to many more! So thankful for the opportunity to watch Alabama pretty much every time they or lose...I LOVE The Crimson Tide!

Cheering on the Tide with the family


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet Home Atlanta

One of the best things about being a 26 year old single lady is the ability to use my vacation days the way I want to use them. I realized a few days ago that the end of the year will be here before I know it...and just as quickly, my vacation days for the year will pretty much vanish. No rollover. Not wanting them to go to waste, I decided that I would use the days to see some of my favorite people. After all, it is the season for thankfulness and giving.

I took my first vacation day today and made the drive to Atlanta. Atlanta was the first place I lived after graduating and some of my favorite memories involve the people that I met while living there.

When I lived in Atlanta, at least one day a week, I found myself baby-sitting some precious little girls. They weren't sisters, but they often acted as if they were. Their parents were in a church small group together and I was the lucky one that got to watch them each week. When I moved away, my worst fear was that they would forget who I was. Thankfully, their sweet moms have done their best to make sure that doesn't happen.

I loved spending my morning with Courtney and her precious girls E and L. Usually when I'm baby-sitting, I'm doing just that...taking care of the kids. Today was so special because I got to take care of the girls while Courtney ran to the store, but I also got to spend some time with Courtney. I loved being able to see her in mommy action. For as long as I've known her, she's been a FABULOUS mom, but seeing her in action with those two little ones just made my heart smile. She's the BEST! We laughed. We read books. We danced. We sang songs---complete with pretend microphones. It was a day that I hope I never forget!

at the New Yorker Deli

winding down before nap like this make me want to pack up my stuff and move right back to Atlanta!

The original plan was to visit with Katie and her precious girls EK and H, but a stomach bug decided to work it's way through their house, so we decided to put that visit off until the next time I come. Katie did send me a picture of EK after she heard that I wouldn't be able to come though.

One of the other pros to going to Atlanta today was getting to see Sara. Sara was one of the first people that I met when I moved to Atlanta. We had some great times when we were interns. It's amazing that they didn't fire us before the summer was over...and that they hired me. We've both moved on from that job, but thankfully the friendship has only deepened. While we haven't seen each other in over a year, the second I walked in the door, we picked up right where we left off. Good conversations. Good laughs. Good hugs.

typical Sara

This trip was extra fun because Sara had a special guest visiting for Thanksgiving. After hearing about Anthony for so long, it was great to get to finally meet him. We bonded over being the middle child...and shared common tastes in beverages. It really was perfect.

I wrapped up my trip with a quick Christen visit---can't believe we didn't get a picture, friend! Christen and I lived together for a year in Atlanta, and I honestly don't know what I would have done without her. In so many ways, we are at the same place in life and it was great to be able to catch up on each other's latest news.

All in all, I'd say this vacation day was a success. These last few months have been crazy with work and time spent with good friends...and precious little ones...was exactly what I needed. Getting to see them in one of my old "hometowns" made it even more special.

Now I just have to decide where my next trip will be. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tutoring Session: The Breakdown

A study session with my cousin typically consists me calling out lots of facts and her trying to remember them. She has a pretty good memory, so it works fairly well.

That all changed tonight. Her friends are home from college and so they decided to come over to participate in the calling out.

The group...Caitlin, Allison, Julia and Aaron...they look sweet and innocent enough here

but don't you be fooled...this is more what times with them are like

It didn't take me long to realize that not all caller-outers are created equal. In this case, we have a few different different options:

Julia Blackerby. The kid was an anatomy whiz back in the day and for that reason, she can't handle any mistakes. She spent most of her time pacing the floor huffing and puffing when she didn't the answer wasn't called out immediately and yelling at Allison for any mistakes. Despite Allison's objections that she doesn't respond well to yelling, Julia just couldn't seem to adapt. Julia and studying with Allison can pretty much be summed up with this picture:

Aaron Adams. The only guy of the bunch who insisted that he cared about Allison's performance was promoted to caller-outer after Julia was stripped of her position. His demeanor was much different. Calm. Cool. Relaxed. He read the questions slowly and did his best to explain the answers.

Caitlin Holt. The kid is happy to be anywhere. Laid back. Easy going. While she didn't call out the material, she was always the first one to stick up for Allison when Julia started yelling. She was also excellent at thinking up different ways to memorize some of the harder to remember facts.

Me. The daughter of two educators, I've grown up around teaching. While classroom teaching isn't for me, I have really come to love tutoring. From the beginning I realized that Allison thrives in an encouraging atmosphere. So, I call out the facts, circle what she misses and praise what she gets correct. Pretty simple, but highly effective.

In the end, we determined that while Julia is great at many things, tutoring is not one of them, and she will no longer be invited over for study sessions. Aaron, however, would be a great second option if I'm not available.

Tuscaloosa and a Surprise

One of the things I love most about my job is the flexibility that it offers. I have goals. I have things to accomplish, but as long as I get them done, I can mix work life with my personal life. It's perfect, and I'm so thankful for my job.

Today I needed to make a trip to Tuscaloosa to drop some things off to one of my clients. For the record..I hate the word client. After working with these people and talking to them for so long, they feel more like friends. Anyway, I decided that if I was going to make a trip down there, I might as well make it count. So, I made plans to have lunch with a friend. Bento, no less...and the friend wasn't just anyone, it was the one and only Margaret Ila. To say we laughed the majority of the time would be quite the understatement.

I dropped her off at work and then headed over to meet Sarah Beth to get a key to her house. She's been holed up at the school for weeks studying. I don't know how she does it. After weeks of asking her if there was anything I could do to help, she finally thought of something...the room needed cleaning. Room cleaning may sound odd to most people, but it is in fact one of my favorite things. You know you're true friends when someone lets you clean their room!

After I finished, I decided to go ahead and make my way back home so that I could finish up my work day from home. I'm so glad I did that because I hadn't been home for 15 minutes and I got a knock on the door. I wasn't expecting anyone, so I thought it must be a package from the office. I went to the door and much to my surprise, Julia was standing there with a smile on her face and a fun birthday treat in her hand. She's in her first semester of college at Alabama and just got home for Thanksgiving break. It's always fun to be remembered on your birthday, but I think it's even more fun when you're surprised!

Since the "recap the day" style blogging is new for me, I haven't quite mastered taking pictures to go along with the events, but I did remember to snap one with Julia before she left.

I'm wrapping up the day with my family. My aunt, uncle and cousins live about 10 minutes away and invited me over for dinner. My aunt cooks and I clean. It's the perfect combo. Now it's time to call out some anatomy to Allison and call it a night.

26 is still looking good...and I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to make it look even better!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's My Birthday

It's true, I wasn't so much looking forward to my most recent birthday, but now that the day has come and gone, I can say it was perfect...and the days leading up to it were fabulous as well.

My mom came up on Friday to celebrate. Such a fun little surprise! We got lunch at one of my favorite local places, ran some errands and did a little shopping. Nothing like shopping with your mom when you're birthday is near! We finished up in just enough time to make it to a pep rally for my cousin's team. My mom hadn't gotten to see her cheer all year, so it was perfect. We had a little family birthday party at dinner that night..complete with my favorite Friday Special for dinner and a cake. Then we donned our green and gold and made our way to the stadium to cheer on the Spartans. They won, so we are now headed to the semi-finals next week!

Saturday was another wonderful day. Most of it was spent watching football and napping. Then, that evening I joined some friends at Sips n Strokes for painting. It was by far the most difficult painting I've ever done there...even the instructor said it was a hard one! Mine looked a bit different from the "original" but I'm still pretty impressed...and I bet my mom will still love it! She doesn't know how to read the blog, so I don't have to worry about her finding out before Christmas!

with Meredith, Erin and Laura...pretty impressed with our results

Painting is a long process, so it was almost 10:30 before I made it home...quite a bit past my typical bed time...but since I was up, I decided that I might as well enjoy the last 90 minutes of 25. I'm so glad that I did, because right before midnight, Sarah Beth video chatted me. Since we were video chatting when the day changed to November 21, she was the first person to tell me Happy Birthday on the official day.

Having a birthday on a Sunday meant that I got to spend my birthday lunch with my "Birmingham family." While none of us have any blood relation, we get together for meals a couple of times a week and they are by far some of my favorite people. I can't imagine any better way to celebrate. I chose Cracker Barrel for the big event. Nothing super fancy, but definitely delicious. I was also hopeful that I was picking a place that did not sing Happy Birthday, but I was incorrect about that. I was serenaded by Tony and the gang...I'm pretty sure my roommate got that on video, but I'm hoping it never makes an appearance. It definitely won't be published on the blog!

Many thanks to all who showered me with love and sweet birthday wishes. If this year is anything like the past few days, it's going to be one that I never forget!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Did Someone Say Birthday???

In the past few days I've gotten lots of little messages alluding to a birthday. My birthday, to be exact.

Voicemails with countdowns. Emails with request for gift ideas. Text messages asking for my latest mailing address.

Try as I have to keep my birthday under wraps, it is coming and in just a matter of days I will turn the big 2-6.

I don't know why, but this is the first birthday that I haven't really looked forward to. Something about it just seems so old. 25 was great...right in the mid twenties. 26, not so much.

Regardless, the big day will be here before I know it and instead of pouting about I have been doing for pretty much the past 2 months...I am going to embrace it.

I'm going to do by best to be a more regular blogger during year 26. I'll be focusing less on the words, and trying harder to document the days. Then maybe, a year from today, if I'm bemoaning the coming of 27, I can look back on all the goodness that 26 brought and smile.

Gameday...or something like that

I had been looking forward to last Saturday for months. Alabama vs Mississippi State. Friends would be coming in from all over. Some to cheer for the Tide...some the Dogs...and others as neutral bystanders to enjoy Tuscaloosa in all it's glory. I went to bed Friday night with much anticipation of the day that I was sure I would remember for quite some time.

The day did in fact provide me with memories, but sadly not ones that I was thinking. I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little under the weather. A bit nauseous, but missing a day of tailgating and cheering on my team were too much to bear, so I poured myself some gatorade and began the drive to Tuscaloosa.

Sadly, I didn't get better on the trip down...I started feeling my afternoon of tailgating was reduced to a single picture with some friends.

My afternoon and evening were spent napping and casually watching games. Not even a cheer. Despite the big win for my team, I was just too weak to even clap.

Yes, November 13 is definitely a day to remember...but sadly, not for the reasons that I had originally hoped.

Many thanks to this cutie for risking her room being invaded by the germies and letting me crash. I probably would have died on the quad had it not been for you, Jules!

And many thanks to Caitlin for swinging by to keep me company during the final minutes!

Happy Birthday Martha!

For as long as I can remember, November has been my favorite month. Typically by that time, the south has cooled enough so that you can wear your "winter" clothes, the leaves are changing colors in full force and in my book the holiday season officially begins.

This year November began with a bang because my sweet roomie celebrated a birthday...her 25th birthday to be exact.

When your birthday is at the beginning of the month, it makes it harder to celebrate all we improvised and celebrated for her birthday week.

Martha's request for her actual birthday was tennis and yogurt. Some of us hadn't picked up a racquet in years, but we still had a great time. The weather was perfect and the company even better.

The week was capped off with a dinner out, Happybakes cupcakes and a little laid back fun at Dram.

I sure hope Martha enjoyed celebrating her day as much as we enjoyed celebrating it with you.

with the birthday girl

the one and only megan...the woman behind the party planning

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vacant Lot No More

There is a lot in my neighborhood that has been vacant for almost a year. The buzz was that the owners of the house adjacent had purchased the lot in order to add onto their house.

A few weeks ago, I was leaving my house and noticed someone in the lot measuring, so I was hopeful that the building process would soon begin.

Then, last week, I woke up to this:

Yes, friends. That would be a mock cemetery less than 100 feet from my house. Complete with columns, lights, coffins, bodies and sound effects. It brought spectators from miles around.

Now the question is...will the lot house a winter wonderland for Christmas?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The New Team

One of the things I loved most about my hometown was the way everything pretty much revolved around the school...specifically, the sport teams. Since graduating from high school, I've lived in a few different places and I've always hoped to be able to find a team to cheer for. I found it when I moved to Birmingham.

I have two cousins that go to Mountain Brook. One cheers and the other plays football. Friday nights feel complete again now that football is in the mix.

At the beginning of the year I got out the schedule and filled up my calendar with all of the games. I circled one as a MUST NOT MISS---Mountain Brook vs. Hoover. I hoped it would be a game, but I'll be honest, the main reason for the importance was because of two sweet girls---Emily and Molly. I met these two a little over a year ago when I moved to Birmingham and started attending a Sunday School class that their parents taught.

Isn't Emily precious? So glad I was able to find her!

Molly was the first person I saw after walking in the gate. Perfect way to start the night!

Homecoming at UA

When it was announced that The University of Alabama homecoming game would kickoff at 8:00 PM, I was not a happy camper. I've been a faithful attender to all of the Alabama games this season, but I was iffy on making the trip down because I didn't want to have to drive home so late. The only problem was all of the family was going to be in town and the trip was kind of mandatory. Thankfully, the driving crisis was averted when my cousin, Allison, and her friends, Laine, Anne and Libby figured out I needed riding partners. With four high school girls in tow, I knew I wouldn't have any trouble staying up on the drive home!

I'm so glad it worked out to go. I loved being able to see campus decorated in its homecoming finest. Add to that a Bama win and getting to see family and was pretty much a perfect day.

The first of the fast-food stops of the trip. The CFA Cow was the highlight of this stop. The highlight of the Wendy's stop: Anne ordering the Double Baconator.

Look who I found on my way to the strip. :) Love these two chickadees. Don't love how the sun totally messed up the picture.

Cousin picture. Probably my favorite of the two of us.