Sunday, June 26, 2011

House Crashers.

Well, our lender scheduled the closing on our house for this coming Wednesday. HOWEVER, repairs/construction MUST be done before we can close. It is Sunday night as I write this, and not only is construction not done, but it hasn't even begun! SO FRUSTRATING. Supposedly they will be starting very soon, but I'm beginning to think their idea of "soon" and our idea of "soon" are two very different things.

So, as we have to be out of the guest house we are renting on Wednesday, yet have no house to go to, we are on to Plan B. That means tomorrow evening, we'll finish every last bit of packing (we're almost done), Tuesday evening we will pack it all into a U-Haul and take it to our storage unit and unpack it (or, if we're really lucky, the bank that owns the house will give us permission to store our stuff in one room of the house, but so far we're not having much luck with that). I'm taking off work on Wednesday and will spend much of that day getting the guest house cleaned and in top-top shape for the walk-through with our landlord.

So, where are we going, you ask? All I have to say is thank goodness for all of the wonderful people in our life. When you live 750 miles away from your family, it is truly a blessing to have friends that step into that family role. Gearry and I just got back from touring the house of a St. Andrew's friend who I worked with this year in the after-school program. She is 73 years young and best described as a hilarious, sweet, southern belle. She is a true islander, having lived on Wilmington Island her entire life. She has very graciously offered her house here on the island to us for the next couple of weeks, while we wait out the repairs of our new house. She doesn't spend much time there so we won't be much of an inconvenience, she is welcoming the puppies with open arms, and her house is an adorable cottage right on the water on our favorite part of the island -- win, win, win. It was amazing walking out on her dock with her tonight and being able to look across the marsh and see Skidaway Island, Wassaw Island, Cabbage Island, Little Tybee Island, and Tybee Island. Although I desperately wish we were moving into our house on Wednesday, I am definitely excited and thankful that we get to stay in such a wonderful home in the meantime. It also works out perfectly that we are not homeless because my good friend Katie from grad school is coming into town from Chicago to visit with us on Thursday and staying through the 4th of July... I am so glad we don't have to host her in a random hotel room somewhere, which is where we would be without such wonderful friends!

The house we are staying in does not have internet, so I will be online much less than normal for the indefinite future, for those of you who I regularly communicate with via e-mail, Facebook, etc. So, if I don't respond to you after Wednesday, I'm not ignoring you.

Monday, June 20, 2011


The last post said two out of three, but unless something goes terribly wrong in the next few days, it could now say three out of three. We got the house! I hesitate in saying that because although we had our offer accepted, we survived both the inspection and the FHA assessment, and the sellers have already accepted a bid from a contractor to do the necessary repairs (supposedly they are starting in the next couple of days), we have not yet closed and until we sign on the dotted line, anything could happen. Like I said, something would have to go very terribly wrong to not close, but I always worry about jinxing myself.

Now it is just an issue of timing. It is the 20th. We have to be out of our rental house on the 29th. That means that within the next 9 days all of the repairs need to be made AND the FHA needs to re-inspect AND we need to set up and hold our closing meeting. Yeah, that seems far-fetched to me too. The more likely scenario is that repairs will still be underway, but the selling bank will either allow us to move in early (best option) or at least move our belongings in to a room or the garage, and we and the puppies will crash with friends (next best option). The worst-case scenario is that they won't allow us or our stuff to move in, and we'll have to move everything into a storage unit and crash with friends. That, of course, means moving our stuff twice, so that gets a huge thumbs down. But we'll do what we have to do.

All of this uncertainty, of course, is making it a little difficult to do simple things, like pack. Are we packing tightly to fit it all in a storage unit? Or just throwing things in boxes and loose in our vehicles since it's just a cross-town move, versus a cross-country one like this time last year? What day will we be moving? Therefore, what we should we leave out? How many dishes should we leave out for the time being? Should we pack a suitcase or two of clothes if we'll be staying with friends or just put them all in boxes? It's getting late enough in the game that we're probably just going to have to buckle down, stick everything except a few changes of clothes in boxes, and hope for the best.

However, we are very excited about the fact that it's very likely within the next two or three weeks we will be homeowners -- although I suppose we are still homeowners since we own the condo in Bloomington, but a condo seems so different from a house. I can't wait to have a fenced yard to let the puppies run around in. I can't wait to siesta in our new hammock, a glass of iced tea in hand. I can't wait to be able to pull my car into the garage when it's raining. I can't wait to host our first dinner party or backyard BBQ. I can't wait to light a fire in the fireplace on a cool winter day and watch the Colts play. I can't wait to organize all my clothes in the ginormous walk-in closet. 

I CAN wait to strip wallpaper, paint every wall and ceiling and piece of trim in the 1816 square foot house, put up wainscoting, replace the flooring in 2/3 of the house, buy and install kitchen appliances, rip out the guest bathroom counter and mirror and install new ones... Yes, all of these things must be done right off the bat. Not because they're in such bad condition -- the house is in pretty great condition -- but because these are our non-negotiables as far as our personal taste/aesthetic preferences are concerned. It will be so much easier to do things like paint and wainscoting and flooring before we move in and situate all of our belongings. And, of course, we have to have appliances if we want to be able to eat! I suppose we could order take-in every day, but...

Gearry has gone back to the house a few times since our offer was accepted, for the inspection and just to nose around and take measurements and such, but I haven't been since we toured it and put in the offer. I am thinking I definitely need to venture down there one evening this week and take another look around, to make it seem more real. It still really hasn't hit me that we will be handing over a check for a crazy amount of money and moving into our place within days to weeks.

Ahhhhhh! So excited. So anxious, but so excited.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Out of Three...

The big THREE have been haunting me for quite awhile now -- I think of them almost every moment I am awake, unless I am gloriously distracted by some other matter, and even many times when I am asleep, having vivid dreams and nights of tossing & turning. These three big matters are HOUSE, CONDO, and JOB. Incredibly, after months of horrible anxiety and stress over the big three, within the last week's time two of the three have been resolved and, fortunately, in quite the best way possible.

I listed "house" first, but I'll actually get to that last, since it is the one that is still unresolved.

Let's start with "condo." As you probably know, Gearry and I have been carrying both our condo in Indiana and our rental house here in Savannah for almost a year now. That's a year of essentially throwing away money on a residence where no one was living -- Between mortgage, utilities, & HOA fees, I'm not even going to get into how much money, but it's certainly enough to make you want to cry a little. After almost a year of unfruitful activity on the real estate market, we finally made the decision a couple of weeks ago to pull the condo off the market and list it with a property management company in hopes of renting it out. Well, two weeks later... the new resident of our condo is signing her lease today! She is a middle-aged medical professional and sounds like she is going to be a great tenant and because Gearry and I are paying the property management company to take care of everything, we get the financial benefit of being the owners but not the headaches of being the landlords. She moves in next week! Rent is enough to cover all of our expenses plus a little extra for us to keep each month, so this is an amazing relief. If it goes well, we may just continue to keep the condo as an income property.

Alright, now on to "job." What I thought was a wasted day back in April spent navigating Savannah's horrible traffic to drop off resumes and cover letters at a few private schools around the area actually turned out to be a career-and-life-changing move. My resume caught the eye of an athletic director who was looking for a coach for their high school rowing program. Realizing I needed to teach there in order to coach there, he helped set up a couple of informal interviews with the school heads. From there, it was up to me. The whole process was scary but went very well, and after a couple of tense weeks of not knowing, I got a call last week offering me a full-time pre-k teaching job -- a dream. I also get to coach again, of course, and all of this at decidedly one of the top private schools in the area. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal situation, except that it means leaving the school I am at now, which I love, love, love. But I am sure that I will love this new school, and I will certainly love having my own classroom (finally!) and really feeling like I am getting going in this career that I have worked so hard for. I got to go and observe at the school the week before last and I loved the atmosphere and all of the people. I am nervous (eek!) but confident that it is the right role for me and so so so grateful to God for helping guide me to be in the right place at the right time with the right credentials.

OK, so that leaves "house." We've been renting a guest house on Talahi Island since Gearry moved here at the beginning of July, our original intentions of only staying for a few months until our condo sold gone with the wind. It didn't sell, of course, and we didn't leave the guest house, because it was a great deal and because we really wanted to have the condo taken care of before we purchased another home. Well, our lease runs out at the end of June on the guest house and when we found out pretty last minute that our two-month lease extension request was NOT being granted (long and bitterly-toned story), all of the sudden we were in super scramble mode. We HAD to start looking for a house, whether we were ready or not, whether the condo was sold or rented or not. Of all the thousands of houses for sale in Savannah, we found ONE -- yes, just one -- that was both in our price range and satisfied our many non-negotiable demands: by the water, two-car garage, mature trees, etc., etc. We offered on it on Thursday, received a counter back on Friday, countered later on Friday, and are currently waiting anxiously for a counter back today by 6:00 p.m. (It's 2:30 and still no word... I kind of feel like I want to throw up.) Both the house and the neighborhood are beautiful... One block from the marsh & river & marina, where we can launch our kayaks anytime we want. The house needs just some basic cosmetic work according to our tastes -- new paint colors mostly -- and is a perfect balance of being almost move-in ready yet having room for many little projects that we can do over the years. I really, really, really want this deal to go through and will be crushed if it doesn't, not to mention potentially homeless in about a month. I can't decide if because two out of three of the major things I have been most worried about have worked themselves out in the last week that this one will too, or if I've used up all of my good fortune.

We shall see...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Life -- from birth to death -- is a learning experience, as well as a growing experience. If we ever stop growing, stop trying to improve ourselves, at least in little ways, then what's the point?

One of biggest faults has always been my inability to say "no" -- to pretty much anything -- either due to obligation, guilt, or just plain feeling like a bad/disappointing/fill-in-your-own-negative-adjective person. It never hurts to think about others, but it does hurt to only think about others and forget that sometimes you really do have to put yourself first, for the betterment of everyone.

One way in which I've been trying to grow as a person, therefore, is to say "no" when I know that "no" is what needs to be said. I've been working on this for a long time, and I feel like I am finally making some progress. I say this because today I had a meeting with one of our school administrators and I said actually said "no" to something that I would have typically said "yes" to, not because it was the right decision for me but because I would usually feel bad about saying "no." And I did, of course, feel bad. But I did say "no" and that in itself is progress.

I was offered the position of director for our school's summer camp program. Director. As in, totally in charge. I was floored and honored to have been thought of for this position, especially since I have only been at the school for such a short amount of time, but after a week of rolling the idea around in my brain and my heart, I knew this was not the time in my life to accept it, for a variety of reasons. We compromised and I agreed to take on the role of lead teacher or an asst./co-directorship type position, which I am ecstatic about. I get to spend the entire summer with my 3, 4, and 5 year olds (whom you all know I love) teaching lessons, doing fun camp activities, taking field trips, playing outside, going swimming, etc., without the challenges brought on by being the Head Fred, the one in charge of all of the staff and responsible for payroll, scheduling, training, etc. Put me in front of any classroom and I am comfortable, ready to go, eager; put me in the principal's chair, and I start getting cold sweats. That's kind of the difference here. I know I can do a great job in this role and I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend the summer with my kiddos, before hopefully returning to the school again in the fall with a full-time position. Fingers crossed!

I like growing.

I also have a meeting later this afternoon with a teacher for whom I am doing a paternity leave for, starting either this week or next (depending on when the baby decides to come, of course!). The leave is only two weeks -- 5th and 6th grade -- and based on the plans he has created for me should hopefully go smoothly. Looking back to August, when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the after school program and substitute position, it's almost laughable that one of my concerns was that I wouldn't be able to say busy enough. Ha! They are keeping me very busy, and I love it.

Gearry returned from Atlanta yesterday, where he was attending the American Culinary Federation regional conference and student culinary competition. His kids (well, some of them are older than me, so I guess I can't call them kids... students) did a great job, coming in second place overall. Of course, this was a big bummer because that means that they cannot advance to the national competition in Dallas in July. Finishing second in the region (the entire southeastern United States) is nothing to cry about, but I can understand their disappointment. However, the knowledge bowl team did take the gold medal and will be advancing to nationals, so it will be nice to have some representation in Dallas, where they will hopefully walk away with another gold.

It was so great to have Gearry back. As he was only gone for 4 days and I missed him terribly, it made me wonder how I made it through the 30 days without him this summer! When your husband is also your best friend, it's like a double whammy. Yesterday was National Margarita Day (don't ask me why I know this), so we celebrated the occassion and his return with dinner and margaritas at Jalapenos.

In other blog-worthy news, Gearry and I registered last night for the Tybee Beach Run 5K, to be held on Saturday, March 26th. Mom has been doing a lot of running and has been hinting at wanting to do a 5K race for some time now. Because that was the weekend she and Dad will be in town visiting, we invited her to join us and she said yes!! So, Gearry, Mom, and I will all be running the 5K together, and words can't describe how awesome I feel about that. It's kind of a neat run because it's actually held on the beach, on the hard-packed sand at low-tide. I do a little barefoot running from time to time on the beach and I think I may give this race a go barefoot. I haven't done any 5K races in several years since I've been focusing on triathlons and half-marathons, so it will be kind of fun to do a race that is so short and can really just be hit hard start to finish.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Your Life is Like a Nicholas Sparks Novel"

The title of this post comes from a comment that was left on one of my Facebook status updates recently by a former teacher colleague of mine, who was joking about de-friending me because she is jealous when reading about all of the neat things that a life in this little part of the world affords. This comment was particularly striking to me for two reasons: 1) Because it often does feel like I am living in a Nicholas Sparks novel and 2) Because it just as often feels like exactly the opposite.

After growing up in landlocked (but truly wonderful in its own way) Indiana, venturing to the ocean maybe once or twice a year once I was old enough to realize how much I enjoyed it, living here has met all my wildest expectations. Waking up on a beautiful Saturday morning, packing a stack of library books and a small cooler and a beach chair, and driving over the marsh to Tybee for a day of reading and relaxing on the sand is as good as it sounds. Listening to the sounds of reggae pouring from a distant restaurant while walking along the shoreline under the light of a full moon, hand-in-hand with my husband, on a random Friday night after a really difficult week at work, is as good as it sounds. Biking to a park on the other side of the island for a tennis date, followed by a pit stop for frozen yogurt, is as good as it sounds.

However, that is not every day. That is not necessarily the norm. Life is still life, no matter where it is lived. Life is hard. It is good -- I am too optimistic to say that the core of it is not -- but it is undoubtedly hard, filled with mountains and valleys of elation and sadness and dullness. The beach, the marsh, the gorgeous streets of downtown Savannah; they're all amazing, perhaps healing even, but they do not take away the realities of life. Grocery shopping. Standing in line for hours at the BMV. Fighting traffic just to get somewhere you do not really want to go -- the doctor, the dentist, the funeral home. Carrying the living expenses of two resiences and spending every day with that haunting the back of your mind. Waking up to a blaring alarm clock way too early on a cold, rainy morning. The happiness that comes with the arrival of a paycheck, only to be followed by the let down when the vast majority of that check goes to bills, the rest into the bank for a rainy day. Not enough time; too much to do.

These are the angsty parts of any Nicholas Sparks novel, not the beach-walking, kissing-in-the-moonlight parts, and they are the norm.

But I am happy to live all of those moments -- the hard, the easy, the good, the bad, the mundane, the exciting -- here in this place, where the winter sunshine feels like this is how it should be; where breathing in warm, salty air can make a lot of problems disappear for the moment; where family and friends are missed terribly but a whole lot of "self" has been discovered in that process. Here, in my own Nicholas Sparks novel.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Wow... I knew it had been awhile since I posted (Hey, life gets crazy sometimes!) but I had no idea it had been since before Thanksgiving. Yikes! Let me present you with a super brief monthly regurgitation of life and my anticipations for the near future.


The end of November was marked most notedly by our trip to Indiana for Thanksgiving, Gearry's first time back in the Hoosier State since June and mine since the end of July. Although we debated over making the trip since we only had four days and couldn't fly because of the dogs, we decided we missed everyone too much and decided that it was worth 24 hours of driving to spend essentially three days with family and friends. I can't remember many of the details of the trip at this point, but I know there was lots of good food, lots of complaining about the cold weather, and lots of good quality time with family. Well, as much as you can fit into three days, anyway. The trip was pretty exhausting and the drive back monumentally long and traffic-jammed, but all-in-all it was worth it.


That time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break always seems incredibly short, especially for teachers and students since winter break tends to be pretty lengthy. The beginning of December flew by, me keeping very busy at St. Andrew's and Gearry keeping very busy at the Culinary Institute. Before long, it was time to once again jump in the car and head back to Indiana for winter break. This time, however, we were jumping into our new car, which made the trip slightly more exciting. Just a few days before we left we decided to finally chuck Gearry's Cobalt, which had seen its better days as a commuter car for his long commutes from Lake Monroe to French Lick every day. We purchased our first "grown up" car, a new Subaru Forester. We've both always loved Subarus and it was really easy for us to agree upon a car. I have to admit, the 750 mile or so trip back to Indiana was much more pleasurable in a vehicle with so much more room! It will be great to have this spring and beyond for all the outdoor activities we enjoy, like camping, kayaking, beach-bumming, etc.

I LOVE that Gearry and I are both now on academic schedules, so that we could have a nice, long, relaxing visit instead of the rushed experience at Thanksgiving. We were in Indiana from December 18th - December 29th. Even in this length of time it was surprisingly difficult to fit in all we wanted to do and all the people we wanted to see, but I think we found a nice balance of going & doing and staying & relaxing. We stayed with Gearry's parents for the first half of the trip and mine for the second half. We enjoyed seeing the Christmas snow, but had to keep ourselves from complaining about the cold too much this time around ;) A wonderful time was had with family and friends and our departure date came too soon.

We wanted to make it back to Georgia for New Year's Eve so that we could celebrate the New Year with fireworks on the beach at Tybee. Curled up in a blanket watching the fireworks explode off the pier, with the waves crashing between the fireworks' booms, was the perfect way to send out 2010 and welcome 2011, a year in which we are hoping for a lot beyond our control.


January was puncuated for me by lots of sickness. I don't have the world's best immunity system, but working with such young children every day this year has completely reaked havoc on my body. I love it, and I love them, but man I have endured cold after cold after cold!

The big thing in January was Gearry's trip to Charleston with his culinary team for their American Culinary Federation state competition. I was ecstatic when Gearry texted me to let me know that they won! Next weekend they will be heading to the U.S. regional competition in Atlanta where they will compete against teams from 6 states (including Gearry's alma mater, Sullivan University). They are, of course, hoping to avenge their title from last year and head to nationals, which will be held in Dallas.


Last weekend was the Tybee Half-Marathon, which I've been anticipating since the fall. I was so excited that Gearry could actually go with me, since there have been very few athletic events (rowing, running, triathlons, etc.) that he has gotten to go to and support me. I felt pretty strong at the outset and for the first few miles, but my nasty knee problems started kicking in around mile 6, and by miles 8-9 I was in excruciating pain. Luckily I pushed through the pain and the monsoon rain and even shaved 3 minutes off my last half-marathon finish time, but I can't even describe the knee pain. I felt pretty good endurance/fitness-wise, so that gives me hope that if I can eventually get my knee issues hammered out, I may eventually be able to do a full marathon. Right now, though, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with halfs! Next one will be the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in early November. I think I have even convinced Gearry to do this one with me!

In other life news, things are pretty good in general -- we really don't have anything to complain about in the whole scheme of things -- but we find ourselves increasingly frustrated by our housing situation and are continually hoping and praying that things change for the better soon. We still have not sold our condo and, therefore, are still in housing limbo and still paying for two different places to live, only one of which is actually being lived in. We're wasting a ton of money and we are missing out on tons of great deals here and we are starting to go crazy living in this one-bedroom guest house. It feels like we've taken a huge step backward in the housing sense, and we hate the uncertainty of having no idea what's going to happen and when. It doesn't feel like we can get truly settled here because we are in a temporary space. Our lease runs through June, so if the condo hasn't sold by then... I don't know.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Savannah, Ya'll!

Wednesday started out as a trying yet good day, made up of 7 hours of 4th graders followed immediately by 3 hours of 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Overall, it was a pretty good work day when 6:00 finally rolled around and I breathed a big sigh relief on the way home.

The only thing putting a damper on my evening was that Gearry would be spending the evening attending the Extreme party fundraiser at Grayson Stadium while I hung out by myself at home. I was originally supposed to go with him, but he found out at the last minute that I could not attend on his college's sponsorship ticket because of how it was funded. Which I was disappointed by, since his chef had asked me to go in his place, but I totally understood. Makes sense.

Gearry was just heading out the door when I got home from work. I told him to have fun and settled down in front of the television with a sandwich and a bowl of soup. No more than I had slurped the last slurp and taken the last bite, the phone rang. To my surprise, it was Gearry, who had just arrived at the extravaganza a few minutes before to find that a couple of people who were supposed to attend could not and had called me upon the suggestion of the president of his college to see if I would like to come. Of course, being ever-so-cautious, I asked him, "Couldn't you get in trouble?" To which he replied, "Umm, Stace, the president told me to call and ask you. I don't think I'm going to get in trouble."

Well, duh.

Cue the quickest shower-dress-makeup-hair job of my life and zooming to the stadium in my little yellow car, arriving just in time for everything to get started. What followed was one of the best nights of my life. So. Much. Fun. The group from Gearry's college were absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed that long and that hard in a really long time, if ever. It was wonderful getting to know his president and other members of the faculty and staff. We spent the night eating and drinking and mingling, and it was wonderful to feel so much like a member of the Savannah community -- I'm even starting to recognize people that I have seen at other events or around town. As there was lots of filming going on for Extreme Makeover, we also spent a lot of time filming.

It was a very neat, up-close perspective on "reality TV." For those of you who really know me, you know how much I love my reality television! But I always take it with a grain of salt in assuming that parts of it are probably real, parts of it pseudo-real, and many parts of it completely constructed for the camera. Filming for Extreme Makeover is much the same way. The event we were at was real -- all of the people there had paid $100 or more a ticket to be there to support the endeavor -- but very little of the filming was spontaneous. To get what they needed for telivision, scenes had to be set up, of course. For instance, while Paul filmed one of his hand-held camera message-to-the-family-on-vacation scenes, we all crowded around him and cheered on command. Over. And over. And over. With breaks for him to check the script. And to adjust cameras. We also took part in filming a scene just outside the stadium, where Paula Deen, her husband, her two sons, and her brother talked with one of the Extreme designers and told everyone of a very large food donation to Savannah food pantrys, capped off by Paula tossing a ham football-style to the designer.

Together with the president, Gearry talked to Paula for a moment -- basic introductions -- and later to her son Jamie for a little bit.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening was after filming this scene. Our little group stood around and talked and laughed for so long that it was just us and the crew standing in the stadium parking lot, as the crew dismantled lights and cords and cameras and such around us. Paula's husband came out and told us goodnight and got into his Jeep next to us to leave. We were just wondering where Paula was -- and joking that she was probably in a chauffered car while he drove himself -- when an SUV drove by, the back window rolled down just enough to reveal a poofy head of white hair. We waved and received back a festive, "Goodnight, ya'll!" as the SUV rolled away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Trolleys Go Round and Round.

I took the puppies downtown this morning for a walk around Forsyth Park. Other than our typical twice-daily walks around the block, they hadn't been anywhere in awhile and I was sensing their boredom (although, really, dogs must either not know any different or just be bored almost all of the time). I guess it's nice to have new trees to pee on and new other dogs to smell from time to time.

But this typical walk around the park ended up being one of those life moments for me -- a moment of realization that this is all real, that this is my life, that this is normal. 75 degrees and sunny in mid-November is normal. Hoards of tourists -- on foot, in tour buses, on trolleys -- pointing and clicking and aw-ing at all the things around you when you're just walking your dogs is normal. Breath-taking architecture and a strange feeling of incredibly fascinating and yet often incredibly tragic history around every block is normal.

I've had a few of those moments -- Oprah calls them "a-ha moments," I believe -- since I moved here three and a half months ago, but something about today's perfect weather and the realization that it's not going to disappear and start snowing in a few weeks and my good mood after a great weekend outdoors with Gearry and my anticipation of getting to see family next week when we return to Indiana for Thanksgiving and the sun coming through the live oaks with all of their Spanish moss and kids and dogs playing in the park and a hot cup of coffee all added up for a massive "a-ha." This is where I live. Not temporarily, but likely for a long time.

Despite the surroundings, life is not all rainbows and butterflies -- the stresses of work, financial goals, trying desperately to sell our condo, "meaning of life" type stuff is still here -- but I never expected any different. What I didn't expect was feeling so satisfied with a decision that was so hard to make.

I miss family and friends more than I can attempt to put into words here, but every time Gearry and I are able to do something we love together, I remember why we made this decision, and I am thankful.

On Friday, Gearry and I had had a couple of neat experiences. Extreme Makeover Home Edition is here building and filming in town and the Culinary Institute elected to make and donate food for the crew and volunteers on Friday evening. Gearry worked hard all day Thursday making the food, finished it up on Friday, and was nice enough to let me tag along for the delivery on Friday night. It only took us about five minutes to drop everything off and since it was already dark we didn't see much other than lots of volunteers, tents, and production equipment -- in other words, no Ty Pennington sightings -- but it was kind of a cool experience nonetheless.

After the drop-off, we had to swing by the Telfair Museum "Arty Party" fundraiser on Telfair Square. Now, originally before the Extreme Makeover thing got scheduled, we were supposed to attend the Arty Party (courtesy of Gearry's school, at $100 a ticket) but instead we just had to swing by to help Chef Jean move a sugar sculpture he created for the event from one of the tents to inside the museum. However, when we arrived Chef Jean had decided to keep the sculpture where it was in the main tent and so we just ended up socializing for a bit. Since we technically didn't have tickets -- we never actually received them since Gearry got re-assigned to the Extreme Makeover delivery duty instead -- I didn't feel comfortable sticking around for long. Although we blended right in, the guilty conscious part of me was waiting for a security guard to ask to see our tickets the whole time. Nevertheless, it was a neat experience being part of the sights and sounds of the festival, if only for 30 minutes.

On Saturday, there were more "neat" things to be enjoyed. Breakfast at Sunrise on Tybee was delicious (our first time out to breakfast since the move... We used to go out to breakfast in Bloomington at least every other week) and was followed by a walk on the beach, during which we happened upon a little surfing competition hosted by an area surf club. The waves are pretty decent right now for the east coast (nothing like west coast, of course) and it was especially neat seeing the younger kids go at it, so we nestled ourselves in the sand with our cups of coffee and watched for awhile. It re-inspired me to want to learn to surf (watching "Blue Crush" for the thousandth time also does the trick). Later in the afternoon, we took a bike ride around Wilmington Island just to explore some neighborhoods we hadn't been in and check out some houses for sale. We found a couple in our price range that we are currently salivating over, but we can't do anything until our condo sells, so it was a fun and yet incredibly frustrating venture. Incredibly. Frustrating.

On Sunday, it was another perfect weather day with flat water conditions, which meant kayaking was in order. We rode our bikes to my school head's house, where our kayaks are kept, and enjoyed a few hours of paddling around, with more salivating over all of the houses and intricate private docks and boats -- and a couple of "alligator" scares, of course, also known as marsh reeds and/or wood floating in the water.

Weekends rock, but throughout the week we are generally quite boring -- work is taxing and it gets dark really early, so other than a short run or bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood in the evenings, most of our time is spent making dinner, watching a bit of television, and then turning in early. This week, however, I am looking forward to Wednesday, on which we're attending the Extreme Extravaganza at Grayson Stadium, a fundaiser to pay off the mortgage of the Extreme Makeover family. Gearry's school is a sponsor, so they invited us to attend (another $100 a person event free of charge). It will be my first in-person Paula Deen sighting, as she is scheduled to be there, and should be a good time with live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and lots of food, including ice cream from Leopolds... yum!

And then, a week from Wednesday... INDIANA! Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Whew! I'm tired. Having family in to visit is WONDERFUL (you're all welcome, anytime) but the change in usual schedule can definitely be taxing. Although I am glad to get back to a more "normal" schedule, I would love for them to have stayed longer if they could. We got to do a lot of fun stuff and showing them around to our favorite spots and restaurants and knowing which streets to tell them to turn on (some of the time) and little things like that made Savannah feel much more like home. Here's a little rundown of our four days of fun...


When I left for work on Thursday afternoon, Mom & Dad were only 25 miles outside of Savannah, but I couldn't wait around any longer without being late, so I had to head in and know that when I returned home they would be here. Gearry had also arrived home by the time I did, and Bailey and Zoey were already being fully spoiled, chewing on new rawhide bones when I walked in the door. It was so great to see Mom & Dad! I couldn't believe it had been almost three months. They also brought with them a huge pan of persimmon pudding courtesy of my fabulous Aunt Cheryl :)

After a quick shower, we jumped in the car and headed to Tybee for a sunset beach walk and dinner at North Beach Grill. Dinner happened -- and was fabulous -- but the beach walk was short-lived thanks to the ridiculous number of sand gnats that had randomly decided to show up in the last day or two. The gnats down here are legendary, but they really hadn't been bad until the day before my parents arrived. They were so thick on the North Beach that our beach walk lasted maybe a whole 10 minutes before we gave up, in spite of the amazing show that a pod of dolphins was putting on for us not 20 yards off the shore.

Fortunately, the screened walls at North Beach Grill, along with a fan our server brought us to circulate the air by our table, kept 95% of the gnats at bay and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and Gearry and I enjoyed being able to toss back an extra cold one since Dad was driving.

On our way home, we decided to cruise down to the south side of the island and visit the pier. With the full moon, it provded some amazing views.


On Friday morning, Gearry headed into work and Dad spent some quality time with the dogs while Mom and I headed to the McQueen's Island trail to run. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and perfect 70's running temps. We did some run-walk intervals and happened to run into my co-Sundowner's teacher at St. Andrew's, who was there getting in her morning run, so it was nice to be able to introduce my mom.

Gearry got held up a little later at work than expected (he is usually off around 11:00 a.m. on Fridays) and I had to go to work for a few hours, so Mom & Dad took off for some solo-exploring on Friday afternoon. That evening, I arrived home from work to some of the best smells you can ever imagine coming out of the kitchen. Gearry had been hard to work creating a masterpiece of a dinner. For me, there was eggplant parmesan (amazing) and for everyone else there was an organic roasted chicken with fresh thyme, olive oil, and honey. Mom and Dad raved about the chicken and Gearry said it was the best he ever made, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it probably tasted pretty good. We also enjoyed a sauteed medley of squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and garlic, as well as some really good homemade sweet potato mash. Yum, yum, yum.

After cleaning up from dinner, we drove downtown for our much anticipated Blue Orb Ghost Tour. The 9:00 p.m. walking tour started in Calhoun Square and took us to five different locations within that 4-5 block apparently very haunted section of the city (although apparently all of Savannah qualifies as very haunted). We saw and got to hear some interesting stories about 432 Abercorn (a mansion on Calhoun Square that hasn't been lived in for over 30 years), the Espy House (on the other side of Calhoun Square, also not lived in for quite some time), Calhoun Square itself (the documented site of the buried bodies of nearly 1,000 slaves), the Mercer-Williams House (made especially famous by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"), and the old Candler Hospital (where we learned there is a morgue tunnel that was used during the horrible yellow fever epidemic that stretches all the way underground to the other side of Forsyth Park). I didn't find anything on the tour particularly scary, but that kind of stuff generally doesn't scare me. It was more interesting than scary and a neat way to see a gorgeous part of the city, walking around under the full moon.


Saturday started with a delicious, traditional Gearry-and-Stacey Saturday morning breakfast, including pancakes and scrambled eggs with onions, mushroom, and garlic. We had to pack in enough calories for an action-packed day of playing tourists ;)

Our day started at Ft. Pulaski, which is a five minute drive from our house, about halfway between here and Tybee Island. The fort is a national monument, as well as a mini-national park, with lots of hiking trails, a museum, the fort itself, and tons of history. Since Ft. Pulaski prides itself on being dog-friendly (they are allowed everywhere except in the museum), we took Bailey and Zoey along for the excursion. We had a blast exploring the fort, which was extremely well-kept and impressive for a number of reasons, from the number of cannons to the ocean and river views from the top. When we had fully exhausted the inside of the fort, we hiked the Cockspur Lighthouse Trail, a 1.5 mile out-and-back trail around the north and east sides of the fort all the way to, of course, Cockspur Lighthouse.

The weather could not have been more perfect on Saturday and we sat on a bench for a long time by the lighthouse, just soaking up the breeze and the sun. Finally, though, we decided to get going so that we would have time to take a little break before continuing our day of exploration in town that evening.

After some light lunch at home and a little college football, it was nearly evening and time to head downtown. We made a quick jaunt to River Street to pick up a bag for Aunt Veneita, then climbed back up those infamous stairs and visited Moon River Brewing Company for dinner. I've heard lots of good things about Moon River and even though it's located right on the tourist stretch of Bay Street, it's pretty popular with locals, which always bodes well. It did not disappoint. I was OK with the 45 minute wait, as it meant 45 minutes of sitting outside, watching the day turn into night, drinking their delicious hand-crafted wheat. Dinner was really good, trumped only by the amazing brews. Gearry and I both agree that their sweet potato wheat, which had just finished brewing the day before, was by the far the best beer we've ever had, period. It kicked the butts of all other really good beer I've had before (sorry, Upland). It is, of course, seasonal, so we're probably going to be frequent fliers at Moon River for the next couple of months to take advantage!

After dinner, we took the ferry across the Savannah River to the Westin on Hutchinson Island, where we literally just sat on an outdoor sofa, feet propped up, and watched the lights of River Street and beyond on the other side of the river, before heading back to Talahi.


We had planned for Sunday to be a "beach day," so wouldn't you know it that it was the one day the whole weekend that was cloudy, with a storm front rolling through, and -- dare I say it -- a bit chilly (really it was still in the upper 70s, but that storm changed things a bit!). It ended up being a different kind of beach day, with sweatshirts rather than bikinis, but it was beautiful nonetheless. We spent a few hours holding down our chairs, walking way out into the inlet since it was low-tide, reading, amd just staring off into the distance.

On Sunday evening, we got to watch the Packers kick Favre and the Vikings' butt (yay!) and make homemade BBQ pizza. Gearry had to get up early Monday morning for work, so he had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad when he went to bed. I know he was sad, but for both of us saying goodbye was made a lot easier because we know that we'll see them again in less than a month for Thanksgiving and for almost two weeks in December.


On Monday, Mom, Dad, and I made one last quick trip into town to eat lunch by the river, take a couple of daytime pictures of some houses from the ghost tour, and just spend our last couple of hours together. They got on the road around 2:30.

Who's next for a visit? :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


The above picture was just too adorable not to put it front and center of this post. I snapped it shortly after sunrise, as Gearry and the dogs and I sat on the beach on Jekyll Island watching the world wake up for the day. This weekend's camping trip to Jekyll Island was MUCH better than the first, since I did not feel like I was going to keel over this time around. We enjoyed lots of beach-sitting-beer-drinking-open-fire-cooking-exploring-picture-taking-book-reading fun, and the experience reminded me how much things have changed in a good way -- This time last year, Gearry was still putting in 90+ hour weeks, with no hope of a weekend off, and we were lucky to see each other a day or maybe two a week.

The weekend was very bittersweet however, as on Saturday afternoon while eating lunch around the campfire I got a call from Josh, who wanted to talk about some awful news he'd just gotten, that one of his best friends from high school had passed away. It was a shocking and tragic death, and it was hard to hear how much pain my brother was in, and then imagine if he was hurting that much, how much were his friend's parents and brother and other family hurting? He hadn't spoken much to the friend in a couple of years, but in high school they were inseparable, and it's just an all-around horrible situation. Events like this make me question a lot of things, yet make me grateful for my own family and friends.

Thankfully, the end of this week brings an opportunity to spend some much-needed time with family, as Mom and Dad are spending their fall break here with us in Savannah. They are set to arrive on Thursday evening and stay through Monday afternoon. I have to work on Friday from 3:00-6:00 p.m., and Gearry on Friday from 8:00-11:00 a.m.,  but other than that we should be able to spend the whole time with them. We're looking forward to showing them around our new homebase, eating at North Beach Grill, enjoying some beach time, visiting Ft. Pulaski, and going on a night time walking ghost tour, among other things. It makes me happy to know that even though they'll only be staying for a few days, I will get to see them in less than a month after that for Thanksgiving (4 days in Indiana) and then less than a month after that for Christmas (10-12 days in Indiana).