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Giraffes, zebras and elephants, oh my

Monday, March 31, 2014
The Opryland Hotel was great (minus some noisy neighbors that drove me crazy last night, but didn't seem to phase the baby). Where else can you go for a ride on a delta riverboat inside the hotel after breakfast.

The weather took a turn for the sunnier yesterday so we got to go visit the Nashville Zoo before heading back to Huntsville. This was Perry's first zoo experience. We knew he would love it because he is quite obsessed with all things animals right now. He did. He got to see real live elephants, and zebras and tigers (aka big kitty cats) and his favorite...the giraffes.

First stop was the petting zoo with lots of goats to meet.

The flamingos are so pretty and pink

Then it was on to bigger and more wild things like leopards and zebras

...and the giraffes...

and the elephants! Right as we walked up the zookeepers began feeding the elephants, driving around the habitat dropping hay and carrot slices all around to coax the elephants out of the back corner where they were all being antisocial. We got to see the elephants walk right in front of us and eat little carrot slices with their trunks. So cool!

The zoo also had a whole kangaroo enclosure...that you can walk through. get to go inside and watch kangaroos hop around you. Seriously cool.

I caught that last one in action, mid-hop.

It was such a fun day and a fun little family weekend getaway to Nashville. Now it is back to the real world. And Gina and Travis if you are reading this...we can't wait to see your pictures of all the African animals...actually living in Africa!

Nashville Shenanigans

Sunday, March 30, 2014
It has been a fun week of friends, fun and atleast a little bit of nerdy genetics this week in Nashville. The weather however has been horrible. This is the site that welcomed me to town...snow pouring late March.

The conference was at the brand new Music City Center. It was so nice, and enormous. It took up 5 city blocks!

We stayed just across the street at the Hilton Downtown. This was a good call since the weather was either snowing, raining or just plain cold. Ok, I have probably gotten my point across that we complained about the weather a lot this week. Theresa, Alexis, Whitney and I all bunked up together grad school style since only two of us had travel funding from work.

You can't attend a genetics conference and not come home with a new GeneDx zebra for your collection. We were super excited about these country star zebras. So cute! 

We also drank a lot of coffee. This was my favorite cup, from this little place called Coffee, Lunch Nashville. So pretty.

We got to do a little sightseeing one afternoon and took a toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA's Studio B (where Elvis and Dolly Parton recorded). As close as we live to Nashville we really don't get up here very often, and definitely don't often do touristy things.

So cool to think about everything that has gone down in this room, and at this piano.

We got courted by genetic testing companies with happy hours and all manner of swag. BTW, the newest and best swag on the market? A portable USB charger to charge phones and electronics on the go. 

The events were especially fun in Nashville where there are so many cool venues and entertainment options. At one event we even got free CDs for the up and coming music artist that was playing. Another highlight of every ACMG is the refreshments and diagnostic dilemma session. Essentially a bunch of genetics experts sit in a room and discuss difficult cases and ask for help and opinions. Although we don't have tons to offer from a diagnostic perspective in a room full of genetics is quite fun and informative to just be a fly on the wall.

Downtown Nashville and Broadway is quite the lively place. On multiple occasions we felt and acted like old people complaining about the loud music and shenanigans happening on the streets below our hotel room. Can you believe people were still playing music and running around at 11 pm on a wednesday night?!? It was pretty neat to see and experience it all though (and then go back and crawl into bed at a reasonable hour).

But the best part of the week was when this little guy and his dad drove up to meet me. Perry loved running up and down the massive hallways of Music City Center and waving at all the passing geneticists and genetic counselors.

And he finally got to meet a few more of my classmates. He loved the attention from so many girls!

The conference officially ended yesterday so Andrew, Perry and I went and checked into Opryland, our home for our final night in Nashville. We spent the evening wandering the hotel and doing some shopping at Opry Mills because you guessed was still cold. And raining. Today we are going to explore a little more before heading home.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Call him popeye

Monday, March 24, 2014
At dinner tonight Perry was offered a great many things. We were at piccadilly (and brought the average age of the patrons down a good many decades) so there was not a shortage of food to offer. Perry wanted nothing to do with the chopped steak, or the chicken fingers. No he wanted green beans...all of them...and okra. He ate them like they were made of candy.

I met up with Andrew and P at the mall after work because we needed to pick up Andrew's new glasses at lenscrafters. We were both in dire need for new glasses as of late. Andrew even more than me considering his previous pair were on their last leg being held together with super glue the last couple of weeks.

My bags are packed and I am headed to Nashville tomorrow morning for the remainder of the week for the American College of Medical Genetics meeting. Nerd alert I know. I am going to miss my boys but am excited for a week of genetics learning and being reunited with friends. Andrew and P are going to come up Saturday to meet me and we will spend some family time in Nashville for the remainder of the weekend. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can do some fun outdoor activities.

The conference wound up on top of Huntsville's spring break week. Normally not a big deal, but it has caused some childcare issues with our nanny and much of our family out of town this week. Not the best time for mommy to be gone too. But we are incredibly grateful for our amazing lifegroup that has stepped in to fill the gaps later on this week. Ross made the point in his sermon this weekend that you should have and should be a "2 am friend" (that person you can call on at 2 am if you need them). We are blessed beyond measure to have those kind of friends, that will spend their days and evenings hanging out with our little boy.

So if I am MIA for the next few days it is because the most interesting thing happening in my life is learning all about the natural history and etiology of rare genetic conditions. And I will spare you all those details. Now I had better go finish packing and shining my cowboy boots (just kidding).

Disney ABCs

Sunday, March 23, 2014
I like to listen to podcasts when I run. Call it multitasking at it's best. Lately I have been listening to Disney-related podcasts in the car and on runs which makes those tasks all the happier.

During a run last weekend I was listening to a podcast in which they were talking about creating photo books. Specifically they were talking about making small custom board books for young kids with pictures from a disney trip. This sparked a random but fun make our very own ABC book for Perry...Disney style.

When I got back to the house I went to work. Collecting all the pictures we have with various Disney characters from previous trips and figuring out a character that corresponds to each letter in the alphabet. Let me just tell you...there are some letters where it is pretty slim pickin's. We definitely didn't have our own photo for every single I did some googling and saving of some public domain graphics and images too.

I used PicMonkey to create a standard template for a vertical 4x6 photo and the text "A is for Ariel"...and so on. Essentially creating a full page image for each letter. I knew I was going to make a square book, so I made the images square. Like this:

Creating the images for each page was the most time consuming part of the process. But I got it all done in maybe an hour or so. It really wasn't too bad. After that all that was left was importing the images to a photo book site, dropping them in and clicking "order." I used the company AdoramaPix, because they have really nice thick (laminated feeling almost) pages and because the way they bind makes books lay flat. I did some research on actual board book printing companies, but the ones I saw were either over seas or had some significant restrictions to the layout and number of pages that I didn't want to have to work within. The printed book came in the mail today, not even a week after ordering. I am super happy with how it turned out.

It is not technically a "board book" but durable enough I am not nervous about Perry tearing the pages. Hopefully it will help him learn his ABCs and disney characters at the same time. And I love the fact that many of the photos are of our family. I think this cute little 6x6 book is going to hop it's way right into Perry's Easter basket in a couple weeks.

Say Cheese!

Saturday, March 22, 2014
Perry loves attention. That is a fact. I can think of multiple times just today that he stared at or waved at complete strangers until they made a fuss over him. No sense of "stranger danger" at all. We were in a restaurant once and a lady told us that she could tell that he feels exceedingly loved and secure to be so social. I'll take it. He is definitely a flirt and a ham. I love when I can catch his sweet and funny personality on camera. Just look at that face...

This morning Perry and I had to run some errands and decided to stop by the botanical gardens for some play time while we were out. The weather was a nice "not too hot, not too cold" temperature and the gardens were totally empty. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. We played and played.

I broke out the good camera and played around a little bit with lenses and manual mode. I really need some more practice before I would ever trust myself to be in manual to capture something important. I also need to be better about keeping my nice camera with me more and stop relying on the iPhone for all my photography needs.

Perry didn't quite know what to think about the chess set that was literally life size for him. We got to sit by the lake for a while and Perry got a chance to meet and talk about some real ducks. Andrew and I took him downtown a few nights ago to feed the ducks (and geese) and he loved it. Although he got sad whenever we started strolling again and left the ducks behind. I think he has got the concept that ducks are real animals and not just rubber things he plays with in the bath. And for now I think we are ok with a goose being a "duck", for simplicity sake. 

The botanical garden was starting a sand sculpture project today. Apparently by the end of the week this pile of sand will be transformed into a work of art. Hopefully we can see the finished product via social media later this week. Any guesses of what it is?

SAHM Friday

Friday, March 21, 2014
I am beyond blessed to have a job and boss that allows me to work just 4 days a week. Don't get me wrong, it is challenging to miss a day at work each week and I often struggle to get everything done (and probably would feel the same way even if I had a full 40 hours to get things done in). But I wouldn't trade my stay-at-home-mommy (SAHM) day for anything. SAHM days means jammies until 10 am if we want to. And mickey mouse clubhouse on the TV. And lots of giggles and playtime.

Today was extra special because grandma and a couple of her friends came over to visit. Perry had a great time showing off and playing with our visitors. After they left it was lunch and nap time and then Perry and I ran some errands and went to see granna and granddaddy for a little while before dinner. Granddaddy started a new chemo plan today and so it was really great to get to see him.

I failed epically at taking pictures...probably because I was too busy chasing after a 14 month old little boy. This is all I got, during lunch. He looked really cute in his monogrammed "P" outfit though.

We don't have much planned for the weekend, except Andrew having to work. Actually our agenda is wide open, which is pretty awesome. I am sure we will come up with something fun to do.

Hello Spring

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Happy first day of Spring!

Someone needs to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with the weather about that fact and the fact that the entire 10 day forecast is below 70 degrees. Regardless, there are pockets of time in the late afternoon when it does feel a little "spring-ish" outside. And that plus daylight savings time equals the ability to actually get some running in after I get home from work which is awesome.

Let me take a moment and brag a little on my sweet husband. Yesterday I was at work and Andrew had the day off with P. While I was at work I got a text from Andrew with a preview of what he had planned for the evening.

He had bought the movie Frozen on DVD (and Blu-ray and digital copy...which will come in quite handy on a plane flight next month). I wonder what percent of the population already owns a copy of the movie that just came out this week. Based on social media...I would bet that percentage is high. It is sooo good though.

Andrew had also bought a couple slices of cookie cake for dessert. Now that is speaking my love language.

When I left work, Andrew was headed to the grocery store with P to get supplies for dinner. I was able to make it home in time to go out for a run in the almost-springlike weather while they were gone. Earlier this year, Andrew made a New Years Resolution to cook more on his days off during the week. Last night he made an awesome dinner of baked salmon, mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was was really good and incredibly sweet of him.

Perry loved dinner too. Well except the salmon. We tried and then gave up and heated him some chicken nuggets. He did love the I will call that a parenting win.

After dinner we went for a family walk around the neighborhood (because hey it was still daylight outside), bathed Perry and put him to bed before nestling in with our cookie cake and movie.

It seriously was a perfect evening. I am so grateful when we can have fun family nights during the week because Andrew has to work every other weekend which cuts into weekend family time.

Another bonus is the fact that I have a little tupperware of leftover salmon, potatoes and asparagus in the fridge for lunch today. Sadly no more cookie cake...we ate all of that last night.

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