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Homecoming on the Plains

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
We didn't go into our planning wanting to make sure we were back in Auburn for homecoming weekend, it just kind of happened that way with our schedules. It turned out really great though with the added parade and festivities and just lots of Auburn fans around making it feel like a big game weekend (minus obnoxious away team fans).

Kickoff was set for 3:00 pm which meant we had time to tailgate before and after the game. We all got to our tailgate spot about 10 in the morning and the boys immediately fired up the grill to make some bacon for breakfast and get the wings started for lunch. We had our TV and a dish so we could watch Gameday and other games on TV while we sat around and talked, and ate. Some nearby tailgating fans came over at one point to borrow our lighter. Thats when you know you have made it in the tailgating world...others come to you for help and supplies.

We had a yummy lunch of wings, fruit, cheese, dip, pasta salad and tons of desserts. Each girl just brought a side or two and the boys promised us they would handle the main course meats on the grill, and they did not let us down.

We decided at dinner the night before to create some kind of signature drink for the tailgate and ML came up with a concoction with Tang and pineapple juice. It was yummy and sweet and kind of tasted a lot like a mimosa. Best part was that it was orange, and became affectionately known as a "fuzzy aubie." 

There is not much just sitting and watching football on TV when you have an active toddler running around. We figured as much and had bought Perry a little football so we could run and play with him.

Our friend Meredith was in Auburn with Elliott and some of their church friends. She stopped by the tailgate for a few minutes to say hello and see P (and us). So happy to see her, however briefly.

We went into the game about 2 so we could see all the pregame festivities. It never gets old seeing the eagle fly out from the north endzone and make his circles around the stadium to get pregame started.

Perry did pretty spectacular during the game considering he had zero nap that afternoon. We tried a little during the tailgate to stroll him and see if he would go to sleep, but there was just too much activity going on for him to have any interest in napping and potentially missing something. We had a block of 9 seats all in a row in the lower deck north endzone, which gave some space and additional people for Perry to play with during the game. He spent most of the time in either mine or Andrew's lap playing with a shaker, eating snacks or watching the game.

He got a little squirmy right around halftime so Perry and I spent most of the third quarter across the street in the student center watching the game on TV, enjoying the air conditioning and letting him get some wiggles out. We went back into the stadium for the fourth quarter to celebrate the win with Andrew and our friends. I'm not sure about bigger games, but no one was patrolling the gates in the fourth quarter and we didn't even have to explain why we were coming back in. People were just walking in and out at will.

It was a great game. The weather was perfect and our tigers won pretty big over the LA Tech Bulldogs. We are now about done with the easy cupcake games for a while and will probably have much more stressful games ahead. It was nice in person to just be able to enjoy being there and watching the game without really worrying about whether we would pull out a win.

And God treated us with a beautiful orange and blue Auburn sunset to top of the evening. 

What a difference one year makes. Look at that little baby in the stands with us last year compared to the big toddler this year.



After the game we went back to the tailgate spot for dinner (steak fajitas on the grill) and Andrew strolled Perry for a few minutes before he fell fast asleep in the stroller. This allowed us to stay and hang out and watch a little more football on TV with everyone before going back to our hotel for the night. It was a near perfect Auburn weekend. I am so so glad we were well enough (minus some lingering sore throats) to go and experience it. It was a happy homecoming! Looking forward to another trip down on the plains in a few weeks. War Eagle!

We are getting smarter at this tailgate thing

Monday, September 29, 2014
We learned a ton during our first grown up tailgating experience last year; things to repeat and things to tweak a bit.

We earmarked this weekend a long time ago on our calendar to go to auburn, tailgate and go to the game. Auburn was playing LA Tech (cheaper tickets, less stressful game), it was homecoming and late enough in the season to hopefully not be sweltering hot.

We liked our spot near the library, but knew we wanted to scout and tape off campus parking places a little closer so we were not lugging equipment as far. As soon as other people start putting chairs and tape in parking places, we start doing the same. By the time we got to Auburn Friday afternoon, Travis and Mike had a great little patch of grass claimed by a shade tree and we're getting the tents raised. The official "this is our space don't take it" tape can get put out at 4 pm on Fridays. But there again if it is 3:47 and everyone else is doing just follow suit. We had the tents secured and lowered, tape out and 4 parking spots in the lot across the street acquired by 4:30 and were all set.

From there Andrew, Perry and I wandered downtown for a little shopping and some Toomers lemonade. Perry seemed to love his sippy cup full of the perfectly sour and sweet concoction.

Samford Hall was as beautiful as ever. Walking Samford lawn is one of my favorite things to do.  I wanted to get a family pic, but didn't really want to deal with taking P out of his stroller and finding a stranger to take the we got down on Perry's level and took a family selfie.

What happened next was one of the best moments of the entire weekend. We headed back towards the library and the car but stopped to see all the parade floats and band that were congregating along Mell Street waiting on the parade to start. Then we spotted Aubie, just standing by himself next to a firetruck that he was going to be riding momentarily during the parade. So we walked over and Perry went straight for him and got oh about 5 minutes of just personal interaction time. It was ah-mazing. 

Aubie sat down on the ground and let Perry pet his tail, gave high-fives, blew kisses, and taught him to shake the shaker. There is a precious 15 second video clip that I posted onto instagram and facebook today of part of their interactions where they communicated about the truck that was apparently driving up the road. We really do have the best, most lovable, mascot ever. Perry was not afraid of the giant cat one bit. Hoping this bodes really well for us and Disney characters here soon.

While we had some undivided Aubie time, I had to jump in for a picture too. : )

Once we had our fill, and our hearts were filled with sweet memories and pictures and video, we bid Aubie farewell but said we would see him again the next day and help him cheer our tigers on to victory. Then we went and met up with Gina, Travis, ML and Michael for dinner at the Brick Oven in Opelika and had a group grocery shopping outing to get food and drinks for the tailgate the next day. About 8:30 we made it to our hotel in Opelika and were all quickly asleep so we would be ready for a fun, but full, gameday.

Cruella and her 2 dalmatians

While we are at Disney World soon and our whole little family is going to be participating in the Tower of Terror 10-miler Weekend. Andrew and I are running in the 10 Miler and Perry (with mommy in tow) is running in the Kids Races 100 meter dash. The 10 Miler is a night run, starting at 10 pm. We are so thrilled that Gary and Ann are able to come with us and make it a big family trip. And they are going to spend a fun night with all three kiddos in our room, so that Emily, Matt, Andrew and I can all run. Meanwhile Perry, Ben and Kate are all running in the Kids Races that morning.

RunDisney knows how to put on a fun race and after party and we can't wait to see what all is in store. Part of the fun of running a Disney race is planning race costumes, and seeing all the creative costumes others put together. Since it is Tower of Terror (aka creepy) themed, I am running as the villain Cruella DeVil. I asked the sweet lady on Etsy who made my Cinderella tutu for the princess half to design and make a Cruella tutu. It turned out super cute.

My two boys are going to coordinate and run as dalmatians. Only need 99 more for a complete set. I just painted black spots on white shirts for both P and A and ordered an ear/tail set off of Amazon. Any bets on how long we can convince Perry to keep the puppy dog ears on his head? I am thinking not long. I have had Perry's done for a while now but just finished Andrew's tonight. There are just a few more black dots on Daddy's shirt.

I think we are now all set to run (or run/walk or whatever we wind up doing to finish). I can't wait to see it all put together. And see all the other costumes people have dreamt up!

Auburn Bound

Friday, September 26, 2014
It is a very good day. Or as Perry's shirt says, "best day ever."

We have all been sick this week. First Perry, then Andrew, then me. It's been just super fun. We were really worried and sad that this virus was going to keep us from Auburn this weekend. But we woke up today feeling pretty good. Still some lingering sore throat but no more fever for anyone and we have our energy back. So we packed our bags and car and are headed for Auburn.

We are sad we aren't going to get to stay with GG this trip. We just don't want to take any chances of lingering germs with her. Thankfully we have another trip planned for next month so we will get to see her then.

We can't wait to be back on the plains with a full fledged toddler this time. I'm sure there will be lots of stories and pictures to tell afterwards. I am thinking some tailgating and Toomers lemonade are just what we need.

War Eagle and Happy Friday!

Mousekatools for a Disney Vacation

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
We are in serious disney trip preparation mode around our house these days. One of the little extra magical things we are going to do for this trip is "mousekatools" for Perry each day.

Perry is super into all things Disney Junior these days. His favorite shows are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  At the clubhouse, Mickey and his pals have a helper named "Toodles" who they can call on to bring them tools to help them out in their adventures. It is super cute to hear Perry say "Oh Toodles" right along with the show.

I thought it would be cute to let Perry get little gifts or "tools" from Toodles each day of our trip. Little things that he might need in the parks or things to help keep him entertained on transportation and in lines. It is our own kind of preschool variation on "Tinkerbell gifts" that I have heard a lot about people doing for their kids on Disney World trips.

I printed some Toodles images onto cardstock and attached them to a plain yellow bag. This is where Toodles will deposit his tools for Perry each day. We are going to take full advantage of the fact that Perry is still little enough that we don't have to sneak around and really hide that we are the ones putting the gifts in the bag.

I think it turned out cute. And best part is the simple gift bag lays flat and does not have to come home with us at the end of the trip.

As I began the packing process for the trip the other night I collected together Perry's Mousekatools for day one, a Jake coloring book and crayons, his official ears and his autograph book. Tools for other days are not nearly as elaborate; mostly little toys, snacks, glowsticks, etc from the dollar store or dollar section at Target. They always have a plethora of inexpensive Disney related merchandise.

Perry...Toodles (aka your mommy and daddy) is here to help you have an amazing Disney trip.

NSGC, N'awlins Style

Monday, September 22, 2014
I took a little blogger break the past couple days while I have been at the annual genetic counselors meeting in New Orleans. I always intent to keep blogging while away on work trips, but it just doesn't happen.

We have been excited for this years NSGC ever since we got word it was going to be in New Orleans and knew it would be a really fun trip, on top of being educational and professionally important. Alexis and Kristen both got to go to NSGC this year and we had a great time catching up and learning and playing together.

Genetic testing companies are clearly doing pretty well for themselves, and know that genetic counselors are a good audience they need to court to get their tests ordered...this is a combination for some pretty amazing after hours parties. And while competition among companies drives test costs down for consumers, it drives party fun way up for us. I am pretty sure I paid for about 2 meals the whole time. French Quarter was quite fun and a spectacle of sights and sounds. It was really interesting to wander around at different times of the day. It is a totally different place at 2 pm versus 11 pm versus 6 am. And FYI Bourbon Street does not smell good at 6 am...jogging down it on an early morning run was not the best idea in hindsight.

Running past the park and cathedral was quite lovely though.

There were a lot of beignets eaten over the course of four days. More than I would like to admit. And made the running we did all too important. But you can't go to New Orleans and not make a pilgrimage to Cafe du Monde.

The exhibit booths at the conference were also filled with information about genetic tests, resources for patients, and New Orleans specific swag. Like king (cup)cakes with babies on top. And photo booths with masks and beads. And of course the token GeneDx zebra appropriately themed wearing a mardi gras mask.

Yes, I took home 9 zebras to share with friends back at work. The zebras have quite the cult following.

Our graduate school program director, Nancy, was at the meeting and we were super happy to take a couple hours one afternoon to catch up with her over coffee and cookies. Even years out of grad school she is still like family, and still affectionately calls us her "sorority class" because we all were and still are so close. We caught up on life and work and started plotting activities with her for a five year class reunion trip back in Greensboro next year. 

Food was amazing in New Orleans. Much of our eating was directed by sponsored parties and events, but there were a couple of lunches where we got to go explore and find cool restaurants on our own. The shrimp omelet below was from the Ruby Slipper Cafe named after the Wizard of Oz and the idea that "there is no place like home" and the rebuilding after hurricane Katrina. Their food was super yummy.

Thursday night we went to a happy hour which wound up being our favorite of the sponsored events. They really went all out with amazing food, caricature artists, tarot card readers and all the beads and masks you could wish for.

I had an enlightening discussion with the tarot card reader that ultimately resulted in her deciding that my cards meant that we are going to have a good vacation soon. Thanks for that earth shattering revelation. :)

Alexis, Kristen and I also had a group caricature done.

Auburn was playing Thursday night so I missed most of the game but a few other fellow Auburn grad GCs petitioned for a TV to be turned to the game at the sponsored annual genetic counselor appreciation party later that night. So we saw got to see the end. War Eagle! So excited to be in Auburn next weekend and see our Tigers play in person.

Friday morning came early after a late Thursday night, but I got up anyways and did a 2.2 mile run to benefit the 22q Deletion Syndrome Foundation. After the race what was served? Beignets and coffee...only in New Orleans.

Friday night we went to a "Party Gras" event in the French Quarter sponsored by another company. They had a jazz band, photo props and lots to eat and drink. They even had a dessert station where they were making fresh bananas foster for dessert...with flames and all.

It was a super fun couple of days. We learned a lot too, but I will not bore you with genetics facts and knowledge. It is amazing though how much the landscape of genetics has changed over the past 5 years since I have been out of school. We have moved so quickly from testing a single gene to sequencing 20,000 genes in one ordered test. It is awesome to get to be on the front lines of seeing that transition happen though.

The worst part of the week was knowing that I had a sick little boy at home. Perry got a fever starting Thursday night and we just today confirmed that he has a bad case of hand, foot and mouth disease. So that made for some stress for me in New Orleans and for Andrew on the home front as we got him evaluated and child care issues taken care of.

It was a fun trip to New Orleans, getting to wander these sights each day and night.

But I was sure glad to get home to my boys.

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