Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Road Tripping-- Part 2.

In case you need a refresher from where I left off with this story, you can check it out here!

Sunday morning, we got up early (again) and, after a Starbucks run, hit the road.  As we're driving to Atlanta (our first destination of the day), we see signs for Talladega.  Neither one of us had realized that we'd be driving right by it, but of course we stopped!  We couldn't get all the way to the track, but we DID go to the gift shop.  Priorities.

After that unexpected detour, we were back on our merry way to Atlanta.  The first place we went was the Centennial Olympic Park, which is a huge outdoor park in downtown.  

It was built by the Olympic Committee for the 1996 games and is also where the bombing was on July 27, 1996.  It's a beautiful park with fountains, monuments, reflecting pools, and more.

After we walked through the park, we went to the World of Coca-Cola (which is directly across the street).  And, I've got to admit that this place was not as exciting as I had hoped.  I was hoping for more of a museum feel, and this was like a theater production-- not enough substance, too much flash.  There was some cool stuff though.

Coke bottles decorated by international artists

The vault where the "secret recipe" is stored

There was also the world's smallest bottling factory, where they actually do bottle Coke and a tasting room where you can try all sorts of products made by Coca-Cola from around the world.  There were kiosks with drink fountains for each continent.  (Side note: If any of you ever go there, don't follow Donny's example and try to drink them all.  You WILL get a sugar headache and feel yucky the rest of the day.)

After we FINALLY made it out of the World of Coca-Cola and their giant gift shop, we walked through downtown and ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (which, by the way, is the restaurant where Donny and I had our first date in Dallas). 

We had planned on going to Turner Field and doing a tour (since the Braves were out of town, we couldn't go to a game), but by that time neither one of us really felt like sightseeing anymore.  So, we left Atlanta, and a mere five hours later, we were home!  And SO GLAD to be there.  

And now he's been here in NC for almost three weeks.  I can't hardly believe it's been that long.  We've been SO BUSY getting stuff done for the wedding, hanging out with friends, visiting with my family, and more.  I've loved every minute of having him here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Club Friday-- Open.

GoodReads Synopsis-- "From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography.

Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.  And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.

Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked number one.

In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, all the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a U.S. Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand, then delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.

With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power."

My Thoughts:  I absolutely loved this memoir.   I only remembered Agassi slightly-- he was a huge public figure when I was growing up, and I remember seeing his face on tv and in the newspapers.  But, I never really remember watching him play tennis, so everything in this book was new to me.  His story was both incredibly sad and yet wonderfully uplifting.  I love autobiographies because you can really get into the head of the subject.  Andre was unbelievably candid and honest.   I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Road Tripping-- Part 1.

Almost impossible to believe, but it was almost two whole weeks ago that I flew to Dallas to drive back to NC with Donny.  My dad drove me to the airport where I boarded a plane that was clearly not built recently...

The flight felt like it took FOREVER (which did at least give me a chance to read 250+ pages in my book), but I finally landed at Love Field, where the lovely Julie picked me up. We drove to Taco Cabana, where we found with Donny with our transportation for the next 72 hours along with his mom and a bunch of our other friends.  

Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to stick around and hang out for too long because we still had a 3+ hour drive ahead of us Friday night to Shreveport, LA.  So, we bid farewell to our Texas peeps (minus Monica and Rachel, who couldn't be bothered to join us went to Memphis to visit Elvis instead...) and hit the road.  We got to Shreveport at almost midnight, where we promptly checked into the hotel and went to SLEEP.  

Saturday got a little more interesting.  We got up early and made a quick stop (and by quick, I mean maybe 15 minutes) at the Horseshoe casino on the river.  We went in with $20 and left with $0.04, so clearly we aren't making a career change to professional gamblers.

The Million Dollar Wall

I really wanted to gamble on a riverboat.  The Horseshoe was one that was suggested to us.  However, it is NOT a riverboat.  You can see in this picture that it's on the water, but it's NOT a boat.  It's permanently attached to the building.  Oh well-- I guess it was close enough.

Our original itinerary had us taking our sweet time on Saturday to get to Birmingham (where we had a reservation for Saturday night).  We were going to stop in Vicksburg, MS, Jackson, MS, and Tuscaloosa, AL and wander around for a bit.  Then Sunday we were going to go to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute museum, which doesn't open until 1pm on Sundays, before coming home.  However, we got out of Shreveport more than an hour earlier than I had planned, and the weather was rainy and dreary.  Plus, we didn't really want to stick around in Birmingham that long on Sunday since it would put us getting home after midnight.  So, we basically threw out my entire itinerary for the weekend and were in a hurry to get to get to Birmingham with time to before the museum closed at 5 on Saturday so we didn't have to stay in Birmingham all day on Sunday.

We did still stop briefly in Vicksburg, MS at the Mississippi River.  It was cool to see and to cross such a huge American landmark.

After that, we were pretty much running for Birmingham.  We wanted to get there by 4:15 or 4:30 so we could actually spend some time in the museum.   We parked outside the museum about 4:40.  The lady at the ticket window didn't particularly want to let us in at all.  But she went to ask someone and when she came back asked if we had a "donation."  So, we gave her some cash and went in.

The security guard inside was great and told us a lot about the place and life in Birmingham during the movement.  We had to basically run through the museum, which was disappointing because what we did get to see was amazing.   

After we left the museum, we walked across the street to 16th Street Baptist Church, which was bombed in 1963.  The church now has been restored and looks beautiful.  

Across the street from both the church and the museum is the Kelly Ingram Park.  There's a lot of civil rights memorials, fountains, plaques, etc.  So, we walked over there to look around and were almost immediately approached by a man who wanted to be our "tour guide" through the park and tell us about his experiences in the movement.  He appeared to be homeless, and Donny said he smelled alcohol.  (I couldn't say myself since he put himself between the man and me to keep him away from me.)  Once we told this guy that we didn't have any cash, only credit cards, he quickly found some other people to talk to.

We considered driving all the way to Atlanta on Saturday night, but since our reservation was non-refundable, we had to stick around.  Our reservation was through a website ( that is like a marketplace for people who want to rent out their apartments, entire homes, or empty rooms in their home.  I hadn't been able to find a cheap regular hotel in Birmingham (which is baffling to me after having been there...), so we found a room in a woman's house in a nice neighborhood for a good price.  So, we stayed at her place-- her sister and brother in law were there when we got there.  They were super nice and, as it turned out, were from NC too!  After a very tiring day, it wasn't long after getting to the house that we decided to hit the hay...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Road Trip Essentials.

I've never done a huge road trip before.  The furthest I've driven was to Orlando with my family when I was in the fifth grade and again for our senior trip in high school.  And that drive is only about 9-10 hours.  Texas to NC is at least 18, but we're doing it in 2+ days.  So, I need to get prepared.

So far, I've got on my list:

Entertainment-- I've gotten a 30 day free trial of Rhapsody, so we pretty much have any music known to man, and Donny activated his satellite radio.  And of course we both have iPods.  So, I think we're all set.  Although perhaps I should get a book of quizzes or relationship games for us to play as we drive.  Donny will LOVE it!!  ;)

Snacks-- After doing the Advocare 24 day challenge (more on that to come...), my body will not let me eat crap anymore. If I eat fast food or anything greasy, I know I'll get sick. So, I need to bring my own decent food for the road.

Sunscreen-- I burn easily.  Even in a car, those sun rays find me!!

A pillow-- Donny plans to do all the driving even though I offered to help.  So, I may want a little nap with a pillow here or there.

Comfy Clothes-- This is my first trip to Texas where I haven't taken a dress, and it feels really weird.  Instead, my bag is full of sweats and lounge clothes.  

Sunglasses-- Duh.

Camera-- To document our adventure!!  

Anything else I need to remember??  Any road trip tips?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wedding Wednesday-- First Dance Song.

One of our biggest discussions has been what our first dance song will be.  There are a lot of songs that remind me of Donny or that mean something to us.  But none that we've really claimed as "ours."  So, that left us with a wide open space for a song.  And we finally landed on one!  While I don't want to reveal what the final decision is, here were some of the finalists.  :)

White Dress-- Ben Rector

Our Song-- Ron Pope

Just the Way You Are-- Billy Joel

You're My Home-- Billy Joel

Have I Told You Lately-- Rod Stewart

Everything-- Michael Buble

Wonderful Tonight-- Eric Clapton

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Road Trip!

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm flying to Dallas on Friday for my last trip there of the year!  And, it's going to be a SUPER quick one.  Donny is going to pick me up at (1) Love Field, we'll make a quick stop at Taco Cabana (if you're surprised, you haven't been reading this blog very long), and then we'll be on our way!

Originally, we were going to leave on Saturday morning.  But we decided that it would be a good idea to get a head start on the driving and leave Friday night.  This way, we'll have more time to stop and do some sightseeing along the way and make it more of an actual "road trip" instead of a "hurry up and get home" trip.  Friday night will be spent in (2) Shreveport, Louisiana.  I'm so excited to gamble on a riverboat!  I've never been on a riverboat that I remember, and I've also never gambled in a casino.

From Shreveport, we'll drive through Louisiana and Mississippi.  I want to stop at the Mississippi River and Vicksburg-- the site of a major Civil War battle.  I've never been to Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama, so everything is going to be new!  (And interestingly, Donny has never been to Georgia or South Carolina-- our other two states.  Ha!)  We're planning on spending Saturday night in (3) Birmingham, Alabama.

Sunday, we're going to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  As y'all probably know, Birmingham was an incredibly important site during the Civil Rights movement.  Donny is fascinated by that part of American history, so we're going to the museum.  I'm pretty excited about it too.  It doesn't open until after lunch, so we'll have all morning to kick around Birmingham and see the city.

After we leave there, I imagine that we will both be ready to get home.  But, not without a quick stop in Atlanta.  I'd love to go to some sights in Atlanta, but we may not be there for more than just dinner.  I'd also like to meet up with a friend of mine from law school, but I don't know if we'll be able to work that out.  We shall see.  Then, it'll be time to make the last 5-6 hour leg of the drive and get (4) HOME!  According to my itinerary, we'll be home by 2am on Sunday night (Oh, and if you think I haven't had an hour-by-hour itinerary of this trip since May, you'd be very wrong...).  At which point, I plan on walking in the door and crashing.

I'm so excited for this trip!!  Are there any places between Texas and North Carolina on I-20 we need to stop??  How about food recommendations along the way-- especially in Shreveport, Birmingham, and Atlanta??

Monday, September 3, 2012

Last Days as a Party of One.

This week marks my last five (four and a half, really) days of living alone.  On Friday afternoon, I fly to Dallas, and Donny and I will immediately turn around and drive back to NC.

I seriously could not be more excited that Donny and I are FINALLY going to be in the same state.  In fact, I'm pretty excited about a lot of things:

-No more air travel this year (except the honeymoon, obviously)
-No more having to ask another attorney to cover my court cases
-No more crying myself to sleep because I miss him so much and he's so far away
-Real live dates where he comes and picks me up and takes me home
-Someone to go to sporting events with me
-Hugs and kisses more than once a month or every six weeks
-Watching fall tv premieres together
-Watching the Yankees win the World Series together...

But I'm also kind of nervous.  I've lived alone since I graduated college.  So, I've had seven years to get pretty set in my ways.  Even though we've been together for a year, we haven't been physically in the same place for more than four or five days at a time.  Sometimes being in a long distance relationship feels as if you aren't in a "real" relationship since you're still almost entirely independent.  

In fact, it's been years since I've had a boyfriend with whom I spent all my time.  And this time it's not just a boyfriend but someone who will be my husband in two months.  It's going to be a major adjustment for us both.  (Of course, I can only imagine how it will be for him leaving everything he knows and moving halfway across the country.)  There are several things I'm going to miss:

-Alone time-- I'm a girl who looooves her alone time.
-Impromptu Chipotle/movie dates with girlfriends
-Family time-- Obviously I'm still going to see my family, but it will be different
-Not cleaning up my dishes immediately and no one knowing
-Not having to be accountable to anyone but me
-Going to Texas-- I've started to consider it my second home, and I'm going to miss being there and seeing my friends so often
-Sleeping in my own bed and being at my own house (I'm staying with Emily before the wedding while Donny lives in my house)

There's so much that's going to change, and yes it makes me pretty anxious.  But every change and sacrifice is worth it so that I can see this handsome face every single day.  There's nothing I wouldn't give for that.  :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Social-- Adios, Summer!

... And good riddance! Y'all, I do not like summer. Since I'm not in school anymore, the only thing summer means to me is that it's hot. And I do NOT do hot weather. (Hence, why I'm not moving to Texas. Just kidding! Sorta...)

To celebrate the end of summer, I'm linking up with Ashley and Neely for Sunday Social!

Sunday Social

1. What was your favorite trip/vacation/activity this summer?  My trip to Dallas for Donny's birthday the first weekend of August!  I surprised him (kind of...) by showing up a day earlier than he thought I would.  We hung out with friends, had Sunday brunch at Texas de Brazil, had our wedding shower, and just enjoyed being together.

A close second was my trip to DC with Emily.  It was a totally impromptu decision to go, and we had an amazing time.

2. What was your favorite outfit look of the summer/clothing item?  This summer, I've made a concerted effort to try to branch out into bright colors.  And I've really enjoyed them.

My favorite item though was the dress I wore to our wedding shower.  I love it!

3. What is one thing you wish you had gotten to do this summer?  Go to the beach.  I usually go at least once every summer, but I didn't this year.  Emily and I went to DC instead, and I went to Dallas.  BUT, I am going to the beach at the end of September for my bachelorette weekend!

4. What was your favorite song of the summer?  Hmm... I don't really have one.  I listened to NEEDTOBREATHE a lot.  And Adele.  Just this past week, I've really gotten into Ben Rector, who I love.

5. What was your favorite movie/tv show of the summer?  Bachelor Pad!!  Y'all this is a crapstorm of crazy, and I love it.  I don't know why though because I spend a significant portion of the show wanting to slap people... But I can't stop watching.  I'm pretty sad that Michael Stagliano is gone-- there's no one left to do the hilarious commentary of the challenges.

Bye bye, summer!!