Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Suggestions Please

I just read finished the last book on my list and need some new recommendations please!

Last night I completed The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and it was awesome. It isn't a new book at all (published in 1988) but for some reason it just wasn't ever on my radar screen. This book is in the very elite class of books that I immediately wanted to reread as soon as I finished (that does not happen every day, believe me). I hope that it has changed how I think about everyday life. Interested?

Emily, I loved The 13th Tale (and in fact, have enjoyed all of your suggestions). Does anyone have any other books that they can suggest? I need to read!


What do you get when you cross an inflatable gym (aka Bouncin' Bobs) with a slew of wound up kids on a day off of school?
Lots of owwweeeees

Jason was a being a fun Daddy and took the 3 kids to play at Bouncin' Bobs for a few hours of fun this past week. Unfortunately, we did not send Ava in any protective gear and she wound up all beat up! (This picture doesn't look as bad as it did initially. I think I literally gasped when she walked in the door). Now she keeps touching her little cheek, makes a pouty face and says, "I have an owwweee. Kiss it better?" Love that a little kiss makes everything better!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HOTlanta? I think not...

You may have heard about our freakish weather already but I'm here to tell you that it is true. Last week it snowed twice. Not the kind of "snow" we ususally get either, which is really an ice storm but stick to the ground, make a snowman, have a snowball fight kind of snow.
These pictures were taken before Jackson's first basketball game and when we returned we were pleasantly surprised to see how much had accumulated. The snowball fight was the highlight for Jackson.

It was so much fun to play outside with the kids and watch them sled down our hill. (This is the one and only time of year that we are happy that our front yard is a giant hill!)

True to Atlanta, everything we had planned for the weekend was cancelled including a scout caving expedition, math tournament and even church! On the upside, we had a wondefully relaxing weekend at home and really enjoyed the 4 day break. Hope you all did as well!

Victory Party

After the race I went back to the room and took an ice bath. Then Kate, Ava and I all laid down for a nap while the boys went out for some lunch. Amazingly, I was the first one awake from the nap and the girls slept for a total of 4 hours! (Maybe it had something to do with us waking them up at 5am and not getting to bed until 9pm for the previous 2 days). When Kate woke up she was so back to her normal happy self and was so excited to go to "the ball", as she called it.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's -Team in Training had an amazing "ball" (aka victory party) the night of the marathon. All 1,900 runners and family members were present for the celebration. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy were there for photo ops which was a huge plus in Kate's book! There was yummy food and dancing, dancing, dancing.

Quick story - After the race a guy came up to us to take our picture. He made mention of something about "my son". I quickly told him that she was my daughter, no big deal really but I didn't want Kate to feel bad. When we got to the party the same man came up to me and asked me if I remembered him. I actually didn't but he recounted the story and apologized again. He asked Kate if she'd go up and dance with him and she hopped right up to head to the dance floor. He told her not quite yet but he'd grab her later. Then he heads up to the stage where he begins to DJ the party. Turns out that he is the MC and travels all over the coutry to TNT races and DJ's the parties. He also photographs the race and puts a slide show together of those pics. Turns out that he took the BEST picture of us too. Here is a picture of the slide but we are working on getting the actual shot because it was so good.

Kate was itching to get to the dance floor so we headed out to get the party started. I so wish that I'd had my video camera to show you how that little girl was bouncing her hips and getting her groove on but a picture or two will have to suffice.
Here is a picture of the DJ showing off his "Kate button" which TNT made for our team to wear during the race.

The DJ asked Kate if she was ready for a dance and then brought her up onto the stage. It was cracking me up to watch this girl shake it and dance in front of thousands of people without batting an eye. Kids are so funny - sometimes they can be shy in the presence of a single person and other times not mind an audience of a thousand! Here the DJ was teaching Kate the cabbage patch. Hilarious!

Kate danced nearly the entire 2 hours. Only pausing for a character photo-op and then was back on the dance floor. One of the neatest moments (and one that I'll remember my entire life) was when the entire dance floor formed a huge circle and everyone was taking turns dancing in the center (high school flashbacks anyone). Anyway, Kate hopped out in the middle and strutted her stuff for a second when the DJ said "Group Hug". Everyone closed in tightly and my friends and I were right next to Kate, then the purple and green confetti shower started. This really was like a scene in a movie. I look down at Kate and see that her angelic face, surrounded by bodies in looking upward with a smile pure happiness at the confetti coming down. The DJ was playing the last song of the night, Simply the Best by Tina Turner. We were all singing and hugging with tears streaming down our faces after we saw Kate's reaction to the moment. It was magical. I am sure that I haven't conveyed the moment as I felt it but hope you could catch a glimpse of the magic.

We left the evening on such a high that I think rivaled the marathon. It was very touching to see Kate having so much fun and living in the moment. My teammates were so wonderful with Kate and made her feel so special. We are going to miss them so much. Love you guys!

Friday, January 18, 2008


This entry will appropriately be "marathon" in length, as I have so many fun things to report about this past week! I have been putting off this entry because I knew how long it would take and today I finally stopped procrastinating. Here goes...

My teammates and I left in the early morning on Friday the 11th and arrived at our Disney resort in time to pick up our race packets. (Here is a picture of Angela and I at the expo.) After we left the expo, we headed to our team meeting -which was like a giant pep talk-and served to remind us of the reason that we all embarked on this journey in the first place. It was a real tear jerker and I can say that there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

After the meeting we all went back to our rooms and got ready for the TNT pasta party. This too was amazing! We were transported on buses to Epcot center where we were brought in to the park from an access road. As we turned the corner to walk into the banquet hall both sides of the walkway were lined with nearly a hundred mentors, coaches, team captains and TNT staff cheering at the top of their lungs for us, the runners. I will have a hard time describing the exact scene but believe me when I say that it was powerful and we all felt like rock stars.
During the entire dinner there were screens which scrolled through every team hero across the country - both the honored team heroes and heroes in memory were recognized. Several people at my table couldn't stop the tears from falling as we saw the "in memory of" slides.

We also heard from a national TNT representative and heard what we'd all been waiting to hear --- that the 1,900 TNT runners raised 5.6 million dollars for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society from this race alone! How amazing is that!!

By this point in the trip I had a major headache (no doubt from all of the crying) so we went back to the resort where I met the family (who had just arrived from their 8 hour drive) and we all promptly went to sleep. The next morning we were up bright and early at 5:30 am so that we could head to the park and cheer on our teammates that were running the half marathon. They were amazing and inspiring and I am so proud of them! Here is a picture a few of our closest friends at mile 8 on their run. They were so excited to see Kate standing on the side of the road cheering them on.

After a celebratory/carbo load dinner on Saturday night I tried to get to sleep early. I had to do this because we had to be up at 2 am in order to catch the 3am bus to Disney. Is that crazy or what? Disney makes the teams be on site by 4am so that we can be ushered to the start line in an orderly fashion. By the time 6am rolled around we were pumped and ready to get the show on the road!

Here is a shot of my teammate, Maria, and I running in the race. You can tell both by the darkness and our smiles that we had only gone 4 miles so far! There were 18,000 runners in a relatively small area so it was kind of frustrating to not ever be able to spread out and get our groove. We averaged a 12 minute mile for the first 4 miles because there were so many people everywhere!

One of my best friends, Sue and her husband Chris, popped in and ran with us from miles 13-17. That was an awesome time to have some new company and to have another person to do all of the talking for us! This picture was taken at mile 13 and although we were still feeling good, Miss Kate wasn't -as you can tell from this picture. (Don't worry, after the marathon we all took a nice long nap and she was up and at 'em for the victory party.)

About mile 21 I started to feel pretty tired but never once felt like I wouldn't make it. I don't remember much of those last 2 miles because I just kept thinking about how glad I would be to stop running :)

My friends had arranged to pass Kate off to me at the finish line and despite the serious threats from the Disney staff, they did it and Kate, Maria and I ran the last 100 yards of the race together. I thought I'd start bawling when we finished but I don't think I had the energy for that in that moment.

The finish line was a zoo and by the time I found Jason I was ready for a good cry though. I felt so lucky to be surrounded by my parents, the Hatches, Maria and her family, Kristine, Angela, Whitney and all of our TNT friends and supporters. It was overwhelming but wonderful!
Holy smokes, that was a novel in and of itself and I haven't even gotten to the victory party which may have even been better than the marathon! I'll get to that tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ready, Set, Go....

While the marathon isn't for another 4 days I have exactly 1 day left to get my entire family ready to go out of town. Usually I manage this by staying up all night but I think that might not be conducive to actually completing the marathon. In an effort to be more productive, I have made an extensive to do list for today and am working feverishly to get things checked off during normal awake hours. Updating blog...check.
So this will be my last post for a week as we travel to Disney for the marathon and then play in the parks for the next 4 days. I can't wait!
PS-Please say a special prayer on Sunday morning for me - I could use all the help I can get. :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy Early MLK Day?

Well, Christmas has come and gone and then New Year's too, yet yesterday I still had a stack of cards on my table that were mocking me from a distance. They taunted me as if to say, "What will you do now that you've procrastinated the holidays away - what will become of us and what shall you call us?" I needed a new plan and a new name for those pesky newsletters too. I was debating calling them "The cards formerly known as Christmas cards" or %^ but think that I have settled on Happy Early Martin Luther King Day or maybe even Happy (Very Early) Valentines Day.
In any case, pretend not to notice that everything that adorns the card has Merry Christmas somewhere on it or think of it as a belated Christmas present from us to you! :)
The reason for my tardiness you ask? I am ill. I might have a medical condition requiring medication because I am completely unable to tear myself away from a good book. The promise of reading it the next day holds little comfort and I find myself completly engrossed until I have turned the last page (just ask Jason who was begging me to turn out the light at 1:30am). So, over the last 2 weeks I have read the 3 wonderful books I got for Christmas and have not been able to stop myself. Check out my reviews to the side for latest, but only after you've completed everything on your "to do" list!
1. Book of a Thousand Days
2. The Accidental Mother
3. The Thirteenth Tale

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Southern Tale

Preface - to my "Southern" friends who may read this, don't take offense. You are the furthest thing from the Southerners I refer to in this tale.
The day after Christmas the Palmers and our family braved the 1 hr 45 min drive to beautiful Callaway Gardens for a look at the lights. You all have done something similar in the past (probably just not driven nearly 2 hours to do so). We arrived early and were able to get in for a look at the butterfly house. That was thoroughly enjoyable for Kate and Jackson as they were able to put their new digital cameras to use and filled up their memory cards. I'll post a few of their best shots later.
After the butterflies we set off for the main event. When we arrived, we discovered that there were 2 options for viewing the lights. You could either drive the course in the comfort of your own car or (as we were told at the entrance gate) the preferred method was to board one of the many trolleys and be wisked away through the magical wonderland. Hmmmm... Well, we weren't going to miss out on the magic so we parked our car and headed for the trolley. The Palmers were not tempted by promises of grandeur and opted for their own warmer means of transportation. I wonder, did they know something we didn't?
From afar, the setting was a tranquil scene but as we drew closer to the gates the picture came in to focus. Front and center were half-a-dozen Carnival trailers selling fried dough, brats and any other greasy food you can imagine, a bouncy slide, sling-shot ride and booths full of trinkets. Jason mused, "Are we at the state fair or a Christmas light display"? Still we pressed on to wait for a trolley. As we stood in line, Jason and I looked around and then found each other's smiling faces. One look and we knew that the other person was thinking the exact same thing- we were not in Kansas anymore if you know what I mean.
We live in Atlanta, which contrary to popular belief, it is not really the South. Atlanta is a large city comprised of mostly transplants with varied backgrounds. Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain Georgia, is the south though! One man's quote (please pronounce with a Southern red-neck accent) "almost lost my chaw ", there were several child beatings seen but not one set of full teeth spotted.
Nevertheless, we boarded that trolley and caroled our way through the beautiful light and music display. The kids were positively mesmerized by the production but I was mostly in awe of the man sitting directly in front of me who videotaped the entire hour long ride! What? With camcorder in hand and his head bobbing in front of which ever way I leaned with Ava, he was feverishly zooming in and out, and bouncing from side to side in the trolley capturing every light in sight. Seriously folks, is he really going to put that tape in his player and re-live the magical experience that was the 2007 lights display at Callaway Gardens?
Come one, come all for a visit - don't be shy, y'all. If you come in the summer we'll take you to Six Flags or one of a dozen other venues for a true southern experience.

Thrashers Game

Last week we went to see my first professional hockey game with 4 friends! Although I know relatively little about the sport I throughly enjoyed the experience (must be that competitive streak in me). Our team lost, and sadly there weren't any fights but we still had a blast and are definitely going to hit another game this season!

Ben and Sarah are those generous souls who treated us to the game and patiently explained what was happening the entire time. (What a perk it was going with 2 hockey fans, one of which was raised in Canada). I pretty much got it by the end and could even describe icing now. Thanks guys and when can we go again?