Thursday, April 28, 2011

TN Twisters

Yesterday we were hit with the worst storm in TN's history as they are calling it at this point.  I think to call it a storm is an understatement - it was a series of tornadoes that came about 3 hours apart from 3pm to around midnight.  There are more than 80,000 people without power in my county alone and fortunately, I am one of the ones that still has power....and a house!  I did a walk around the house this morning and I feel blessed to say I don't think I had any damage.  The latest tolls report that 194 people have been killed in TN and surrounding states.  The pictures and images are enough to give you chills.  At lunch I ran down to Cleveland to go by my old house - that area of Cleveland is where one of the tornadoes touched down late last night.  The school beside my old neighborhood had the roof ripped off and trees are laying around everywhere.  Seeing the damage around those streets was just heartbreaking.  Power lines are everywhere, humongous old trees are laying across roofs, it's truly a mess. 

They sent everybody home about an hour early from work yesterday because they thought the storm was supposed to hit around 6pm so they wanted to make sure we were all home in plenty of time.  Well, I don't know where they were getting their information from, but as soon as I got in the car and turned on the radio, the first storm was already heading towards Chattanooga.  Once I got on the interstate I was going about 90 (along with everyone else) towards Ooltewah to get to the house.  I got to 3 miles from my exit and the Super Cell (as I later learned it was called) passed overhead.  I honestly thought that was it for me.  At the time I didn't know if it was a tornado or what was coming at me.  Everything was solid white, almost like intense fog, hail was coming down, rain was coming sideways, incredibly high winds and traffic was just completely stopped on the interstate.  After a few minutes the hail stopped and traffic was moving some and I made it off the exit and floored it the rest of the way to the house.  The rest of the evening was spent pacing the living room, watching the news, texting and calling with friends in the area and talking with worried people at home.

See full size image
This is what a supercell looks like... apparently, it's a thunderstorm that is characterized by the presence of a deep, continusouly-rotating updraft.  Of the 4 types of thunderstorms, supercells are the overall least common and have the potential to be the most severe.  They are often isolated from other thunderstorms and can dominate the local climate up to 20 miles away. 

As I drove to work this morning I couldn't help but think that my 2 guardian angels must have been working overtime last night to keep me (and the furbabies) safe.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hoppy Easter

Where is the year going?  I swear it seems to be flying by.. the older I get the faster time seems to be going.  Easter has come and gone and we survived our first of many holidays without my grandpas.  It seems so hard to believe that just a year ago we had gone to the Greenbrier for lunch and Pa was there with us.  I think that's when I really started to notice how much trouble he was having with walking.  Usually he'd be the one walking us around checking out everything but last year he just sat and waited for us to walk around after we ate.  If you knew my Pa Paw you know how unlike him that was.  When I get sad I just have to remind myself of how many good memories I am so fortunate to have of time spent with my family.   
Easter 2010 at The Greenbrier
It seemed like such a quick trip home this time.  I was off work Good Friday but Adam was in a class in AL so I had to wait for him to get back before we could leave for home.  We got to Princeton around 9:00 Friday evening with Henderson in tow.  Saturday I got to play with Miss Abbie some her puppy Jackson.  He has already grown so much since Christmas when she got him!!  He sure is one feisty lil pup.  Dad took mom, Adam, Gran and me to lunch in Pearisburg, VA at a Mexican place he discovered.  It was really good and had a nice view of the mountains out the back. 

Even Henderson got in the spirit of Easter and modeled Abbie's bunny ears for us!

Sunday morning it was up and out to church for Easter service.  We had both grandma's with us so that made it really nice.  It was so different not having the grandpa's around ... it was like the elephant in the room just having the knowledge of them being gone.   

We had an excellent dinner at Granny's house - who doesn't love home cookin'?!  Then had a fun time playing with Abbie - we ran around in the yard, hid Easter eggs and then colored our own! 

Here's some pictures from Easter Sunday.. didn't Adam and I match nicely?!  He is such a good sport!  (Just don't buy him a pink polo!)  The tie he wore was one of my Grandpa Panashys, I think he'd be pleased that Adam is a sharp dresser just like he was :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scrapbook Mojo

Now that I'm somewhat settled in my new house I'm trying to get my "scrapbook mojo" back!  It seems like if I go a while without doing anything "creative" it takes me FOREVER to get back into the swing of it.  Once I get going though, watch out! :-)  For several months in LA, I was working just on my trip to Europe.  Did I mention that I took over 1000 pictures while I was there?!?  Plus, I keep all the ticket stubs, plane tickets, papers of info, etc to add in with the pictures so I have the history of everything and whatnot.  Well, on that book I have done Milan, Asolo, Cinque Terra, more Asolo, Florence, Pisa and Lucca.  I had to take a break after that because I was getting burnt out on Europe and history!!  But that alone has already filled up more than 4 12X12 scrapbooks!  So, I decided to switch to something "easier" and more playful.. the cat's scrapbook!  (I warned you I was a crazy cat lady.)  Last night I finally started to get back into their pictures and made a little progress! 

Here's some pictures of the first part of the book (these were done while I was still in LA), enjoy!

Check out this funny little video... this is what sleeping with Mason is like!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

California Adventures

3 California Observations:
(1)  Speed limits are optional
(2)  There's not any billboards
(3)  Just because it's on the West Coast and sunny doesn't mean it's going to be warm and sun tannin' weather!

Ever come back from a trip and then need another trip to recover from it?? That's exactly how Mom and I felt after we got back from California Thursday morning.  We crammed SO much into a short amount of time but we had a lot of fun and got to see and do so so much!  We flew out last Friday ... very early flight.. left the house in TN at 4:30am for a 5 something flight from Chattanooga to Atlanta.  We landed in San Diego around 10am and were not the least bit happy to discover my bag had things missing (the side was open and items falling out) when it came around the baggage carousel.  We spent the next hour in line at the Delta baggage claim to get all that somewhat settled.  From there, we picked up our rental car and headed out to Coronado.  Very beautiful little place!  Everyone calls it an island but it's really a peninsula.  Pretty neat because you can actually see Tijuana, Mexico from there as well.  We walked along the beach for a little bit and then explored the Hotel del Coronado before having lunch at the outside grill.  Apparently it's like $400/night there..!  Mom and I thought it seemed a lot like a West Coast Greenbrier.   

At the Hotel Del Coronado

Gettin' some sand between our toes!
San Diego coast line from Coronado Landing

After we checked out Coronado, we decided to go by the Visitor's Center and get some information.  I had read about a 59-mile scenic drive that was supposed to have beautiful views and take you thru a lot of the local areas so we were interested in doing that.  Well, turns out the scenic drive took HOURS to do and at last count the 59-miles were closer to 80 but we saw some beautiful views, houses, rainbows and points of interest along the way.  By 9pm we were ready to find the hotel.  Friday and Saturday night we stayed in Old Town at the Marriott.  The hotel was in a perfect location, away from the downtown San Diego traffic, near tons of restaurants and right by the interstate exit.  Once we got checked in we were ready to crash.  The 3-hour time difference was starting to catch up, especially once we added in the very early hour we had gotten up to make it to the airport.  We ended up ordering pizza and calling it a night.

Saturday it was up and out early to make it to Anaheim to go to DISNEYLAND!!!  I was super excited to find out that we were going to be about 90 miles from Disneyland.  I've been to Disney World 3 times at 3 different times in life (4, 16 and 20) so I was really excited to see the original Disney park in CA.  Disneyland is MUCH smaller than Disney World.  There's only 2 parks - California Adventure and then their version of Magic Kingdom.  We just went to the Magic Kingdom park.  We got there around 9am and left around 10pm.  VERY long dog at Disney.  It was really crowded, apparently it was right in the middle of Spring Break - so we spent about 80% of the day waiting in lines.  I did get a special "Birthday" button so that made it a little entertaining.  We were hoping it would be warmer since we were off the water but Disney was still pretty cool.  The sun was out but it was windy and cool so we had to wear our sweaters all day.

We got SO sleepy driving back to the hotel.  About halfway back I had to have a "power nap" and we needed gas anyway so we exited.  After a 20-minute snooze and gas it was back on the road.  True story.. I had on a halter top under my sweater and the tie around my neck was starting to hurt so I had untied it while I was driving.  When I went in to pay for the gas I forgot the shirt was untied and almost flashed the little guy working the register!  Thank goodness my sweater was a wrap!!!!

Our favorites:
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion
  • "It's a Small World"
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
The flops:
  • Captain EO starring Michael Jackson
  • Innoventions   
  • Storybook Canal    

In line at the Haunted Mansion

 Sunday we weren't in a big hurry to get up that's for sure.  We debated over whether to go to the Zoo at  Balboa Park or the Wild Animal  Safari Park about 30 minutes outside San Diego.  Someone told us the Zoo was all on hills so that helped with the decision, especially after we had been on our feet all day at Disney.  So up and out Sunday to the Safari Park.  It was a little warmer on Sunday so it was nice to get a little bit of sun!!  We had a good time walking around the Park and seeing all the animals.  They had a couple different things we hadn't seen before and there were lots of babies!!!  

After the Safari Park, we finished up our scenic drive and had dinner in Old Town at a really good Italian restaurant.  We switched hotels to the Marriott Marina right down on the water in the heart of San Diego.  We even got upgraded to a better room on a higher floor because it was my BIRTHDAY!!!  The hotel was beautiful and so close to everything.  

Monday morning I had to get ready to go to the SHRM Staffing & Selection Conference since that was the whole reason for the trip.  Plus, Monday was my 25th BIRTHDAY!!!!  The Conference was at the Hyatt which was the hotel right next to the Marriott so it was only about a 10-minute walk which was nice.  Monday was a short day at the Conference but I really enjoyed the sessions and speakers.

For dinner, Mom and I walked down tot he Gaslamp Quarter.  There were SO many places to choose from!!  It was a very unique area with hotels, shopping and restaurants everywhere.  We walked around the Hard Rock Hotel and bought some stuff at the gift shop before heading down the street to the Cafe for my birthday dinner.   

 Tuesday was a full day at the conference.  Another great day of sessions and speakers.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend because it gives you such a different perspective on what companies are doing to attract and retain the best talent out there right now.  Not to mention the impact that Social Media is now playing into companies recruiting strategies.  I have a lot of great ideas and opportunities I think we can apply at work. 

Tuesday night we walked down to the Seaport Village - another area full of restaurants and shops and right by the San Diego Bay.  We had dinner at a local place that overlooked hundreds of fancy private beautiful yachts.  Unfortunately, dinner there was not good at all for either of us.  You win some you lose some!  Our free Ben & Jerry's ice cream made up for it :)

Wednesday was the last day of the Conference and the General Session Speaker was the co-founder of HGTV!  She was such a great speaker and it was really awesome to hear about the start up and structure of HGTV - one of my all time favorite channels.  Who knew they were headquartered right down the street in Knoxville?!?!

After the conference ended, Mom and I scurried back to the airport to catch our flight back to TN.  We had a great trip and it was nice to get away together for a few days.  I'm glad she was able to go with me especially since it was my birthday - who wants to be alone on their birthday???

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yep.. that's right.. today I turn 25 years old!  How did this happen?!?  Wasn't it just yesterday that Chip turned 10 and me 8 and we were going out to a snazzy dinner at the Char to celebrate?! The thought of actually turning a quarter of a century old really just has me baffled.  I think about all of my friends and the people that I know and the various stages people are in life at "25" and it's so all over the place!  I know people that are engaged, married, with kids, with SEVERAL kids, divorced, happily single, anxiously awaiting something bright and new, still in school, just starting their first "real" jobs and on and on it goes!

Celebrating "25" Disneyland style

2006: Just turned 20!
 So as I think about the last 25 years, I have to stop and take a minute to recognize how blessed and fortunate I am.  I have a wonderful family who has always stood by me and are always so proud of everything I've done - from my 16+ years of dance classes to my fierce independence that  I was born with and everything in between.  I have amazing friends who make me laugh and smile and feel like a kid(D) every time we get together.  We can go days, weeks and sometimes months without getting to catch up and still manage to talk like it was only yesterday that we were hanging out.  I have a sweet, gentle, kind, romantic, affectionate, smart, good-lookin', kid & animal loving, one-of-a-kind, TN movin' boyfriend that I wouldn't trade for all the black cats in the world.  

So, to sum it all up, I am one lucky chick.  I look forward to living out the rest of my century and adding to my wonderful collection of memories.  Here's 25 memories to celebrate the first 1/4 of my century:
  1. Getting to go to Australia with my family when I was 12
  2. Watching the sunset at the beach with Adam
  3. Spending the summer in Europe
  4. The feeling I had when my parents left me at the dorm for the first time at WVU
  5. Our last family vacation to Hawaii when Chip graduated high school
  6. Getting lost in Pittsburgh and my grandma yelling at Mom & me to call 911
  7. My last dance recital
  8. Spending time with my PaPaw
  9. Our treeless treehouse
  10. Chip and I running away to the backyard when we were little
  11. Summer nights playing hide and seek in the neighborhood
  12. Driving alone for the first time
  13. Crazy Beanie Baby collecting days
  14. Joint birthday parties with Chip - swimming, skating, sleepovers
  15. My black cats - Daytona, Chaz, Mason & Trixie
  16. Experiencing the devastation of suicide, loss of loved ones and friends passing away too soon
  17. Holding Abbie for the first time
  18. Being a Princess in the Forest Festival
  19. WVU Football
  20. Ski adventures at Winterplace
  21. Donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths
  22. Having a stomach bug while interviewing at Olin in TN and the HORRIFIC plane ride back to Pittsburgh
  23. Road trips with Adam
  24. Buying my first house
  25. Spending my 25th birthday in San Diego with mom!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Exciting News!!

Good things are happening around here!  Adam got a job here!!!!  Wahoo!! Not only is it a job, it's the job he has wanted since he graduated with his Chemical Engineering degree 4 years ago.  I'm so happy for him (and us) and so proud of my wonderful boyfriend.  We aren't sure about the timing of when he will actually be moving but we can work through all that, right now we are just SO happy to know we only have to do the TN/LA thing for a short while!

Monday, April 4, 2011

"If you want to see the sunshine you have to weather the storm."

This weekend was such a welcome after everything that’s been going on.  Adam came up on Wednesday evening because he had an interview here Thursday and Friday (yah!) so we got to see each other for a few extra days in addition to the weekend.  We had lots to do to get ready for the weekend because we were having company!!!  Adam’s sister Jess and her 2 girls and his brother Jon and fiancĂ© were flying to FL and decided to have a stop over with us Friday night.  I put Adam to work putting together a couple bar stools before they got here which look great in the kitchen!  We hit up the grocery store Thursday evening and got a ton of food because Adam thought everyone was staying until Sunday but we quickly found out that wasn’t the case (after we had stocked the pantry).  Oh well, more food for us! 

We picked everyone up at the airport around 7pm and came back to the house.  I had decided to start dinner before we left for the airport and it was ready by the time we got back.  Timing worked out perfect because they ended up getting in about an hour later than we thought they would and were hungry when they arrived.  I had made a big pot of my Grandma Panashy’s Macaroni and Tomato soup and it seemed to be a hit.  Well, for everyone but his nieces and I think it was too spicy for them so they had tacos.  We could barely keep his nieces at the table because they LOVED playing with Mason and snuggling with Henderson.  Mason hasn’t gotten that much exercise in a while.  He definitely slept good Friday night.  We had a good time entertaining our guests and just hanging out at the house.  Brooklyn and Sidney got to be the first ones to make something in my scrapbook room too.  They each wanted to make a card with my Cricut and Cuddlebug.  They said my scrapbook room looked like Michaels haha 

Saturday morning we made eggs, bacon and toast and then headed downtown to the Chattanooga Aquarium.  The Aquarium was fun and brought back good memories for Adam and me.  That’s where we went on our first date when he came to see me for the first time in TN in 2009.  It was funny because the whole time we were at the aquarium I was looking for the penguins and we NEVER saw them.  We went thru the whole building and nothing!  A couple weeks later I was talking to someone at work and told them how disappointed I was that they had penguins on their advertisements but then there weren’t any at the aquarium.. she was like, “Wait – did you go in BOTH buildings?”  So, alas, Adam and I had missed the whole second building of sea creatures the first time we went.

Adam and me with his niece Sidney

Big ol' crab!

Hello Mr. Otter

Some of the Grays :-)
After the aquarium we had to head back to the airport because they wanted to take off close to noon to continue on to Florida.  Adam and I headed back home and he surprised me with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for my birthday (it’s next week but we won’t get to see each other).  It was so yummy and the perfect treat for the rest of the weekend. 

Happy early Birthday to me!
 Last weekend when I was in Princeton, mom gave me here Wii!  Adam hooked it up and we spent a couple hours playing Mario Kart and Wii Fit.  Oh, and we had a couple battles with Wii Sports.  (I beat him in bowling and baseball and then to get even he knocked me out in boxing.)      

Sunday morning we decided to head over to one of the TN State Parks for a little hiking with Henderson.  At the exit there’s a sign for Harrison Bay State Park so I’d wanted to check it out.  It was probably 15 miles off the exit and really pretty – especially Sunday when it was gorgeous weather anyway.  We had about a 4-mile hike to the bottom of the trail and back.  Henderson was so funny jumping over the tree stumps and wading out into the water.  We were the only ones on the trail which made it even better, especially for Henderson who isn’t a big fan of strangers. 

Beautiful day with my sunshine :)

Part of the late at Harrison Bay State Park

My boys

Jump, Henderson!

After Harrison Bay, Adam wanted to show me a lake he had found while hiking the new trails at the new Volkswagon Plant so we headed over there for some more physical fitness fun.  Two miles later we were walked out and headed back home for some more Wii madness.

I made tacos for lunch (luckily we had more than enough since we had bought enough for 8!) and we spent the rest of the afternoon just lounging and hanging out with our critters.

Bad Mason.. no matter what I do he won't stop climbing :-(

Got my stick!  Let's go!

Double Trouble

Princess Trixie