Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Amicalola Falls

  Last year in November, when I wasn't blogging very much, Michael and I took a trip with his family to Amicalola Falls in North Georgia. He was very excited because that is where the beginning of the Appalachian Trail starts. I don't remember when Michael really got into wanting to hike the AT, but maybe that started about 6 months before this trip? He was watching a lot of videos on YouTube of hikers who would document their trek from Georgia to Maine, if they went the whole way. And we enjoyed a date to see A Walk in the Woods at the theater at Artegon last September. I miss our $5 Tuesday movie dates there.

  I wanted to post these because there are a lot of good pictures of me and Michael together. I feel like I don't get to see him as often these days, since he is still working every single day! He has been doing that for at least five months now: three days a week at Universal and four days a week at VAMP. And when I do see him, we're just running errands together. He has been asking me since the beginning of the year to get time off from work so we could go on a camping trip. I wasn't able to request time off most of this year because I was in Teletype training, but on Monday I was able to get five days off approved during the last week of September. However, today he found out that VAMP is going to officially open and have classes begin on September 26th, the day after we were planning to leave for our trip.

  I feel so bad for Michael. He has been working so hard and when he finally gets a bright light of time off for a trip he's been wanting to take for over a year, it gets smashed so suddenly. I'm really hoping something will post-pone the opening and the trip will work out. He is so happy being in that environment. After that trip, he was seriously wanting us to move up there. He talked about how he would be a park ranger so he could spend all his time on the trail and how we would raise our kids. I always want him to be that happy. He is usually pretty happy, but that was very happy. You can tell from his amazing smiles in these pictures ~ all taken on my iPhone 5s. These first 13 pictures were taken one of the days when we hiked the smaller trails around the cabin and lodge. We walked the 604 steps down to the waterfall and back up. Phew our legs were burning, but it was worth it for the beautiful views we had! 
  ^^ In front of our cabin we stayed in. It was a cute 3 bedroom place.
 The last evening, I told Michael that I wanted to do a 10-minute photo shoot. And I'm glad I did because we got some really pretty pictures. We both just looked really good! ;) He also took a handful of pictures wearing his wolf Spirithood, but I don't have those posted here.
 ^^ That arch is the official start of the approach trail, at the bottom of the mountain where the gift shop is. But since we already walked down the waterfall and back up, we started along a different trail that was about 1/2 mile closer, near our cabin. We left at 8AM one morning and hiked 8.5 miles to Springer Mountain, which is the official beginning of the Appalachian Trail, if you're heading North. Some people choose hike the 2,200 miles heading South, starting at Mount Katahdin in Maine. That day we made it to Springer Mountain around 11:30 (which was incredible timing considering the signs said it would take 8 hours for beginners to get one way). We stayed for about 30 minutes and had lunch before heading back. It was fun for most of the time. Michael did a great job distracting me from my complaints by talking about skinny pioneer babies- my three favorite topics.
  ^^ The view from Springer Mountain. It was crazy being on one mountain, then pointing at another saying we were just there! Below is a special picture that Parker took for me. In October of last year I started getting really serious about wanting us to have a baby. It wasn't just another phase anymore. Michael told me on this trip that if I made it all the way to Springer Mountain, then we could start trying for a baby on New Years Eve. I quickly turned away and began sprinting- enough to get a good laugh out of him. So since I made it, this was us making the deal official. There's my big smile!
  Tonight Alana was suggesting that Michael and I spend the night at Lake Louisa State Park over a weekend if we can't make the 5 day trip that he wants. I found some very pretty portrait photos from there. (You can see my favorites on Shutterlife. If Michael and I ever want a "real" photographer to take our picture, I want to contact them! Miriam has already offered to take maternity pictures of me/us in the future. The second favorites I found are from Best Photography FL.) This November we are going to stay in a different cabin (a cabin mansion from the pictures his mom showed us!) in another part of North Georgia. I'll have to bring the Canon then.

Baby Ashlyn

  This past weekend was very nice. Friday was good for alone time and cutting out 300 heart shapes from scrapbook paper to use on plain envelopes, while watching Limitless (the TV show). On Saturday Alana came over around 1pm to make bead bracelets, and I did some cleaning before she arrived. We rode to Publix and sampled the deli meats and I got some amazing Italian mozzarella cheese! Then Mia arrived around 6:30 and the three of us took these lovely pictures together since Mia and Alana hadn't seen each other since my wedding, over 5 years ago! We had dinner at House Blend Cafe and watched Parks and Recreation until Michael got home, then Alana left.

  Mia spent the night and on Sunday we drove to Sarasota to see Tonia and Jay and their baby, Ashlyn Elena. She was just over 2 months old in these pictures, born June 23rd at 1:57am, weighing 7 pounds, 1 ounce and measuring 20 inches. That baby looks like a doll and was so good about not fussing. She only cried when Tonia put suntan lotion on her before we went to the pool later in the day. They both gave me lots of tips for my future baby, including how amazing zip-up onesies are for helping baby sleep through the night, where to buy diapers in bulk, and what to use to prevent stretch marks.
  I liked the little set up on Tonia's table. And this picture of her parents from before they got married. Tonia's younger sister, Kendall, looks so much like their mom here.
   We had lunch on a dock at Casey Key. I ordered the black bean burger, which tasted like it had rice and corn in the patty too! Yum. We shared parenthood horror stories and heard more about Mia's trips to China last year.
   These pictures are ones that Tonia sent us the morning Ashlyn was born. I edited these three, printed them out and mailed them back to her with a handmade scrapbook card! Even though I didn't take those pictures in the hospital, it's always nice to see "my work" displayed by someone else.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Arms Family Museum

  Along with wanting to find a yummy place for pizza, which we did, I mentioned that I also wanted to get ice cream. I have heard pistachio ice cream is really good, although I have never tried it because it sounds weird. Pistachios in general are wonderful and I could eat a bag of those each day. (But I don't because they are expensive.) Aunt Paula said Handel's has the best homemade ice cream in her area, so we went there on Thursday, August 18th. They had so many flavors to chose from, except pistachio! At least not at that location, or on that day. I found it on under their flavors online.
  Mommy got the one called Spouse like a House. That was my original choice, but I ended up copying Jordyn and ordered the one that had buckeyes (little peanut butter balls with chocolate around them). We were in Ohio after all! Jessica got strawberry cheesecake and James got the free baby cone. I could only eat about half of mine. It was so rich- and this was "one scoop".
  We drove back over to the Arms Museum, which was only two buildings down from the Butler Art Institute. We had tried to go there the day before, but both buildings closed at 4pm. I think that worked out better though because James tended to get pretty antsy each day after about 30 minutes.  I get it- being in a place where you can't touch anything, makes you want to touch it more!!
  I was only able to get pictures of the outside because the tour guide woman said we weren't allowed to take pictures inside. I later wondered if that had to do with a flash. I never use the flash on the Canon. I would have taken a lot of pictures though. Oh well. The inside was really pretty and I would have liked to stay there if it was a hotel. I think Michael would have liked it too. Here are two pictures that I found from this website:
  I bought a postcard for a dollar of the first picture because that was my favorite room, aside from the porch with stone walls. The house also had really pretty stairs with a knight's coat of armor standing in the corner. Jordyn liked pointing out all of the pretty dishes that were displayed. My favorite were the glasses with peacock feather designs on them. I also bought a pack of mailing cards that had a drawing of the front of the building. I'm a sucker for cards. I have so many!

  A few other fun parts about the trip, to wrap up these ten posts, were when I was tired of playing "pizza" with James, and Jordyn had been spending enough time on my phone making photo collages. So I said, "No more TV and phone stuff for now. Let's pretend we're Amish." Suddenly James exclaimed, "Yaaay!" and the three of us went for a walk. I thought we were making a simple large square in the neighborhood, but towards the end we got lost. Jordyn found the way back to the house with her superb navigational skills, and we gave her a triple hug. One night Uncle Larry lit fire lanterns like in Rapunzel and we watched them fly up into the sky until they burned out, then we roasted marshmallows. We also watched Miracles from Heaven and Santa Clause 3. The end!