Thursday, May 22, 2008

Graduation Day

Eleven years ago this week (May 19, 1997 to be exact) I graduated high school. Here is Lindsey, myself and Keeley on the night of of my high school graduation:
While I am thankful for the great education I received, I hated high school and was ready to get out. Shortly after graduation, I went to Wrightsville Beach, NC with my family. Great trip… but if I had realized they were starting to film Dawson’s Creek (one of my favorite TV shows in college and still one of my guilty pleasures) I probably would have appreciated it more. But I digress.

Also right after graduation, I went with Lindsey and her family to Disney World as a part of my graduation present and to help watch Lindsey and her sister Keeley. Here is a picture of Lindsey and Keeley 11 years ago (sorry for the pictures of pictures)
This past weekend it was time for someone else to graduate. Someone who has grown up too fast and makes me feel old. I can remember what I wore, what was said that day eleven years ago when I graduated and when Lindsey seemed so small… and now Lindsey has graduated.

This past Saturday night, a few of us came to her family’s home to celebrate the occasion and wish Lindsey well. I didn’t take many pictures but here is a self photo Lindsey took of us (she does that a lot... and they really aren't the most complimentary pictures of me). : What can I say... she's a spaz but I love her. :-)
After we ate she told me she had something she had to show me. In her room up on her mirror she had two photos of us – this one that she took with my purse camera a few months ago...

...and another one I wouldn’t show you if I could. :-) It had to be when she was two or three and I was 13 or 14. This is not the picture but it would have been around this same time frame. And trust me my hair was even worse in the one she had:
She laughed and said we have come a long way – her from no hair and me from really bad hair. I could not argue with that.

Then on Sunday afternoon the big day arrived. I ran out of the auditorium before the ceremony started to see where the graduates were lining up. Was Lindsey nervous? Of course not. She was too busy posing. Graduation went off without a hitch and after the ceremony we found a very happy graduate.

So congratulations to Lindsey who is off to face the world. I am very proud of the girl who I have known since she was nine months old, who endured my babysitting for years, who still shares a pew with my family at church and in some ways reminds me of me and that more outgoing person I sometimes wish I could be. No matter where life takes us, she will always hold a special place in my heart. This fall, life will be taking her to college in Mississippi and a whole new, exciting phase in her life will begin. I know she is going to do great things and enjoy every minute of it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm finally good for something

I am in my hometown this weekend and this evening my parents and I were headed to a high school graduation party for Lindsey. We were on a small country road, dad was driving, we came over a hill and blue lights. Dad got pulled over by a state trooper. Whoops!

I think I have mentioned on here before that in my former job I met and trained every state trooper who patrols in the state of Alabama and trained them to use a program for writing tickets. The trooper walked up to the window and told my dad he was going 54 in a 40 (whoops) and asked for his license and insurance. I was sitting in the passenger seat and got the insurance card out of the glove box.

The trooper didn't notice me or recognize me and I didn't say anything... hummm... what to do. The trooper went back to his car. Well I happened to notice that I had two current insurance cards in my hand and figured I must have handed him an expired insurance card.

So taking my chances that I would not get shot by the trooper, I got out of the car and walked back to his car to hand him a current insurance card. When I walked back to his car he said "What's your name? Don't I know you?"

I sweetly answered that I was Kerri and that I had trained him to use that program he was using to write the ticket and that that was my dad I was with. He kind of fumbled around and said "Oh well I'll cancel this out. Just give the license back to your dad." I told him I sure appreciated it and told him that that was not why I came back to his car but that I would be sure to give my dad a hard time about it.

It really wasn't why I went back to his car but it happened to work out in this case. :-) As the trooper pulled away he told my dad that his daughter had saved him tonight. I just smiled, waved and thanked him again.

When I called my brother to tell him what had happened he said "Well you are finally good for something." I guess I am... and I would have to say my dad owes me. :-)

Corporate Team Building

I'm a little behind with this post but I half wrote it last week and I wanted to finish it up and share some pictures. The week of May 5th was not your typical week. On Tuesday night a bunch of folks helped Gary and Katie finally move into their new house. Gary works in my group, attends church where I did in the last town that I lived in and just made the same move that I made a month or so ago. He commuted over an hour each way for about two years. I did it for about two weeks and I was tired of it. They had a time getting closed on their houses but they finally did and were able to finally move into the house they were buying on Tuesday night.
Then early on Wednesday our group at work made up of about 20 people, left for our corporate team building retreat. Having never worked for a large corporation this was a new concept for me. I was put on the planning committee for the trip a few weeks ago and so I had a pretty good idea of what all was going to happen on the trip.

For Wednesday through Friday, our group would be staying at Chateau Elan, about 45 minutes past Atlanta. I had never stayed there but I had passed it may times as my dad and I made our almost annual trip to Road Atlanta. The two are only about seven miles apart and many who come into town for the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta stay at Chateau Elan.

Anyways, we left early Wednesday headed towards the Atlanta area. We were scheduled to stop on the way for a tour of a facility our company owns. Well thanks to extremely heavy construction and traffic delays, we were about 1.5 hours late. We finally made it for an abbreviated tour. Then we were back on the road. We got hopelessly lost a few times in some back roads in Georgia but we finally made it to Chateau Elan (CE) about two hours behind schedule.

The first activity was a grape squeezing contest.
CE is centered around a winery and so our first activity carried out that theme. I was helping to set up this activity so once we got checked into the hotel it was off to the Publix to buy a ton of grapes. Since I was partially in charge of the activity and opted to take pictures, I did not have to participate. What we did is everyone paired off and each pair had to race to see who could fill their plastic wine glass the fastest. We had two rounds and the wine of each round had to compete in a squeeze off. Our winners were Gary (yes the same Gary who moved the night before) and David. Their "prize" was a Lucille Ball wig and half a set of I Love Lucy DVD's. There is apparently an episode of "I Love Lucy" where they go to Italy and squash grapes with their feet. The group watched this episode while we were setting up the activity. Don't the winners look thrilled? By the way we did not make them drink the nasty stuff.I have to admit, I had given Gary insider information and told him he did NOT want to win this activity but I guess his competitive side and his desire for the activity to be over got the better of him and David. I had also given this inside information to most of the people in the second round so it was a pretty apathetic group of participants in that round.

They threw grapes, ate grapes and basically made it obvious they did not want to win. Oh well... I can't say I blame them.

After we finished up with the grape squashing, we went to dinner and then we hung out for several hours in a lounge area at the hotel. Since it was a Wednesday night we were basically the only ones there and so a lot of pool was played and I got a chance to talk to a lot of folks from our office. It was nice to be able to relax with everyone and talk to them on an informal level. To prove I was on this trip, here is a picture that someone else took of our boss Holly and I attempting to play pool. We were not good but the guys we were playing scratched and we won.
Holly and I have a lot in common and I enjoyed getting to talk to her a lot over the trip. She's fun to hang out with and I enjoyed getting to know her better on this trip.
The next day we had breakfast followed by a number of team building activities. We played a game similar to musical chairs where we had to ask questions of each other. Then we played a game similar to Clue and our group ended up winning thanks to a bonus question and my knowledge of who started Chateau Elan and how they made their money. The only reason I knew is because it is the same people that started Road Atlanta. Here is our group presenting the Clue results.
Then it was outside to the "Ropes" course. I'm not sure why they call it that because there is no rope involved but basically you have to get your whole team across five stumps with only three boards to go between the five stumps. You have to work together and move the boards back and forth to get everyone there. We did a really good job at working together and getting it done. Here is a bunch of people from our group making their way across the course. That's my manger Sean on the left. There are four people in my "sub-group," Sean, Gary, myself and Andrew. Andrew is the guy in the dark blue shirt and jeans (sorry you are looking at the side of his head).

Sean had on some funny looking shoes and everyone was making fun of them. Holly kept whispering to me "take a picture of his shoes... make sure to get a good shot of his shoes." I was trying to do this subtly and not laugh at the instructions. He claims they are going to be all the rage this summer... Holly wanted to make sure we had something to make fun of him with later on. :-)

Here is me making my way across the boards. I did not fall or make a klutz out of myself.

Once we finished up with the activities it was off to lunch and then our wine making activity. I don't drink wine and know absolutely nothing about it. I didn't really expect to get much out of this activity but it was fun I suppose. I was in a group with Sean, Gary and Craig.

Here is a shot of another group. The girl in the white is Angela, the guy in the dark blue is Andrew again, the guy in the stripes is Clint and the back of the head with the ponytail belongs to Alex.
Two of the five stations in this activity had to do with smelling. I have zero sense of smell so I was completely useless in those. One of the stations had to do with mixing up your wine. I was completely useless in this activity as well (as was Gary... who also does not drink) so it turns out our group did pretty terrible. Our wine was compared to Kool Aid and our label was described as boring. Oh well...

Here is (from L to R) Gary, Craig and Sean at the wine mixing station. I thought Sean was going to sling wine all over the room... but it all worked out.

Once we finished with the wine making it was time for free time. A bunch of the guys and one of the girls played golf. Holly and some others went to the spa. Since I'm not a golfer and I don't really do the spa thing, I decided to wander around and take some pictures of the beautiful resort and then take a nap before dinner.

Here is the outside of the winery. There was some driving event there that day and so there were lots of fancy cars around... hence the red Ferrari in the background.
Here is a cool stained glass window inside the winery.

Here is the vineyard. I guess at this time of year there are teeny tiny grapes... at least in Georgia. Beats me... I know squat about wine and grapes.
Here is the inside of the hotel/inn. It was a really nice place and I enjoyed our trip there.

Thursday night we all met for dinner but everyone was tired and turned in early after their busy afternoon and the late night the night before.

We all met back Friday morning for breakfast and then a guest speaker and then we were on our way home. We got caught in some construction traffic on the way back but were home by 2 or so and then off for the rest of the afternoon. It was a great trip and I enjoyed getting to know some of the folks on our team better in a beautiful setting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peer Pressure

I have never had a problem with peer pressure... until I moved. I moved into a nice, small, well established neighborhood with lots of perfectly manicured lawns. Somehow it didn't quite occur to me that they don't stay that way by magic.

My next door neighbor's boyfriend has graciously offered to mow my yard when he mows my neighbor's yard if they can borrow my lawn mower. Since I already have a lawn mower that I don't want to use and she does not have one, I am perfectly fine with that arrangement. When I got home from work today, I had a note from my next door neighbor's boyfriend asking when he could borrow the lawn mower.

I was out of town most of last week and the weekend and my yard was obviously looking pretty rough. My next door neighbor's yard had all of the weeds pulled, all of the leaves picked up and looked great. Personally I would think it could wait another week or so to be mowed, and yet they are asking me when they can borrow the lawn mower. Guilt. Peer pressure. All feelings coming over me at that point.

As I looked at my yard, I spotted leaves, pollen thingies (what are those little brown curly things called anyways?), sticks, weeds approaching one foot in height and even a giant mushroom. My grass was the same height as hers thanks to my dad mowing both of our lawns a week or so ago but my yard still looked pathetic. So tonight I spent two hours using this awesome leaf vacuum (who knows what it is really called) that Leslie gave me to pick up all of the errant stuff in the yard and trying to make it look at least close to as good as my neighbor's yard. I even planted some bulbs that I bought on clearance last week (hopefully it wasn't too late in the season to plant them). It was a lot of effort... and now my arms are sore. If only it would stay that way it would be worth it. Unfortunately, most of the stuff will be back within a couple of days.

Maybe I can transform my yard to a rock garden instead. This is way too much work. But then again, moving again is WAY too much trouble so I guess I'll get used to the yard work.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My House - P.S.

I meant to include this in the last post but I forgot to add it before I posted.

As I pulled away from my house for the last time on Wednesday afternoon, I passed Josh's house (two doors down from mine). I was very surprised to see Josh's car there and the garage door up. He still owns the house but he lives about four hours away now and just happened to be in town to take care of a few things. I pulled in the driveway and walked in the garage door as I have done so many times before. We talked for a few minutes and he showed me the pictures of the house he and Stacy will be buying at the end of May in North Carolina.

It wasn't a particularly meaningful conversation... but it struck me as memorable. Josh and I were there together the very first day in that neighborhood, back in May of 2003... tromping through lots... checking out houses under construction... filling our flip flops with dirt and mud and eventually rinsing them out in the cleanest puddle we could find. And now as I left the neighborhood for possibly the last time (at least for the last time as a home owner), he was the last person I saw there.

A lot has happened to both of us since May of 2003. I have moved an hour or so away and this summer he and his wife (my former roommate) will be moving about eight hours away. I am going to miss having a neighbor who I can just walk down the street and walk in the house any time I want. But life moves on and we are all better off to move along with it. Digging in your heels and staying in the past never got anyone anywhere.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My House

I become attached to unusual things… not just to people and animals, but to things like clothing and apparently my house. Yesterday was a hard day for me. Yesterday I had to give up my house… my first house. I guess it was the final step in the move and transition I decided I was ready to make back in November.

Growing up, we never moved. I mean literally never moved. My parents still live in the same house that I came home from the hospital to. So moving is a big deal to me. But given that I now work and live over an hour away, it was not realistic to think I would keep my first house forever. And given the state of the housing market, I know I should be happy to sell my house and not sad. But that house will always be special to me. I know that now that I don’t live there, the memories come with me… but so many things in my mind are tied up with that house.

This is the neighborhood that my friend Josh and I picked out when we were finishing graduate school. He bought the house two doors down from the lot that I bought. This is the house that my dad helped me alter to get in all of the features that I wanted including the corner fireplace in the den, the bay window in the breakfast room, the raised ceiling in the foyer… and so many other features.
This is the house that I went out to almost every day during construction to check on the progress. This is the house that Leslie helped me to pick out everything from the brick color to the flooring, to the light fixtures and the paint color. This is the house where we had my impromptu 25th birthday party shortly after I moved.

This is the house where folks from my church tried to “take over” the neighborhood. Not only did Josh have his house, another couple bought the house next door to Josh and recently another lady from church moved across the street with her two little girls. It was cool to have so many people so close that you knew. This is the neighborhood with the cool lake… a lake we would walk around and the lake that Winston pulled me flat on my face one day when we were out for a run.

This is the house where my first dog Winston ate the apple tree that we planted when I moved in… that’s right he chewed the tree in half. It survived.

This is the house where I used the whirlpool, garden bathtub to wash dogs… and that I can count on one hand the number of baths I took in it.

This is the house where I found out that Winston had died. This is the house that I brought Brun home to.
This is the house where with the help of friends and families I learned to love Brun while never forgetting Winston. This is the house where Andrew came and played with my camera and took crazy pictures of Brun... ... and I took crazy pictures of both of them.
This is the house where Stacy and I played chase with both of my dogs inside and in the back yard.

This is the house where Stacy was my roommate for almost four years. This is the house where I found out Stacy and Josh had gotten engaged while in Italy. This is the house where I decided all people should elope instead of try to plan a wedding… well I decided that years ago but Stacy’s wedding planning only reinforced it. This is the house where Stacy and I had standing “dates” to watch Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill. This is the house where Stacy took care of a very sick Winston while we were in Australia. This is the house where Leslie, Leslie’s mom, my brother and others took care of Brun when I was in Alaska.

This is the house with the greatest master bedroom closet ever. A closet where both of my dogs liked to hide behind the clothes. This is the house with the shower where Winston would like to lay and hang out.
This is the house that has an ink stain in the master bedroom from where Winston ate a pen in the middle of the night. The new owners can deal with that. :-) This is the house where the fridge was covered in pictures but not ever filled with much real food (drinks and snacks – yes, real food – no).
This is the house with the curtains that my mom and Leslie made for the breakfast room. These are the curtains where we had three options for months because we could not decide which option looked best. This is the house with the cool pass through between the kitchen and the great room that allowed you to watch TV while cooking or doing dishes in the kitchen.

This is the house where we had hurricane parties. This is the house where you were quite likely to find someone sleeping on the couch on any given weekend (and sometimes weekdays). This is the house where we had a wedding shower for Stacy. This is the house where we had a baby showers for Leslie, Toolman and CRB.

This is the house where I invited people over for my gourmet dinner of spaghetti (which is about the only thing I can cook) and hamburgers (if Josh came down the street to cook). This is the house where it kind of snowed a couple of times.

This is the house where race banners from many American Lemans series races hung in the garage. This is the house where Josh mowed the grass and where his lawn mower blew up in my front yard one day… leaving a black spot I never thought would disappear. This I the house where Stacy, Toolman, my brother and I all nearly electrocuted ourselves before calling an electrician to fix the crazy wiring problem.

This is the house where almost no cell phone signal worked. This is the house where my stop on the tacky light Christmas tour came to be.

This is the house where I watched many a NASCAR races while eating my take out Chinese on Sunday afternoons. This is the house where I spent too many nights and weekends reading e-mail and working.

So I have walked through this house for probably the last time. I know that the memories and hundreds of pictures come with me… but I will always love and miss that house. I like my new house and the new life I am beginning… but over the years I became attached to that house and it’s not easy to say goodbye. I know it is an inanimate object and all of the belongings have already been moved out… but it’s hard to think that someone else is going to be making their own memories in that house, taking their own pictures and living their life there. No matter what, it will always be my house.