Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home Sweet Home

We are getting settled, here in swamp country. Slowly, things are starting to fall into place. I started a new job this week, working PRN at Tulane Hospital. I will work at least 40 hrs/week, though, for the first month. Starting work has been quite an adjustment, and a bit stressful - but things seem better at the end of the week. (As opposed to the beginning of the week, when I had a nervous breakdown over doing a pediatric craniotomy on my second day at a new hospital!) We are hopeful that I will soon be working PRN at Ochsner Hospital as well. And the really good news is . . . I finally have health insurance!
Last weekend, before I started work, I persuaded Mathew to go to Lowes with me and buy some plants for the front "yard" (if you can call it a yard). We spent Sunday afternoon planting monkey grass in front of the iron fence, and gardenias behind the fence. There are three gardenias, on each end and in the middle. There are potted flowering plants between them.

Gardening is harder work than I thought! We have been diligently watering our new plants - we certainly do not want them to die after all that work!

Carly's new car - a 2007 Honda Accord. We had to get rid of her old 97 Acura before the transmission dropped out! We really like the new car, except the gas mileage is not what was advertised. But it has tan leather interior, XM radio, 6 CD changer, and sunroof.

Our new bicycles - Mongoose mountain bikes.

Our living room at Audubon Trace - one wall is all mirrored.

Frankie has such a rough life! Smushed between the pillows!

Our new lamp! (Matt was not as in love with it as I was)

Our bedroom . . .

Our guest room . . . awaiting some company! And, I must point out the deluxe ceiling fans, that my father installed. Way to go Dad! They look great!

Baltimore Visit August 20-24

What a lucky aunt I am! When my sister had to go to California for work, and her husband's, Connor's, babysitter became deathly ill . . . I made the trip to Baltimore to take care of my favorite nephew, Noah! What a cutie! He is such a bundle of energy, always into something, and never bored. We (or rather, Noah) would wake up bright and early, usually around 6 am, to eat and play with some toys. Then, back down to sleep, usually until mid morning when he'd wake up to eat a gourmet breakfast of some kind of mashed up fruit, oatmeal and milk. Yum! More playing . . . a walk in the stroller . . . more playing . . . a nap here or there . . . more eating . . . and you guessed it, more playing! Playtime was VERY important. Here are a few pictures from my week with Noah.

This picture was taken when Jackie returned on Friday - boy, was Noah happy to see her!

Fun in the stroller . . . Noah says "Yo, what's up? I got my toys - what's you got?"

Always smiling . . . as a matter of fact, I think the only time he wasn't smiling was when he was crying. Go figure.

Here, Noah is trying to persuade Aunt Carly to donate her new camera to the Noah Toy Fund. Now, if Aunt Carly would just let him get a hold of the camera's strap!

Ah . . . found Aunt Carly's cell phone. She didn't really need that little piece that sticks off the top of the phone, did she?

Dinner time . . . very important. What you see here is not drool, this is applesauce covering his face, clothes, hands, fingers, and toes.

And of course, back to the most important time of the day . . . playtime!

Noah and I had so much fun together! I miss him - wished we lived closer! I made it back to NOLA on Friday, August 24th, just in time for Matt's birthday! Matt turned 31 years old on August 25th. To celebrate, we bought bicycles (Mongoose mountain bikes) . . . and had a fabulous dinner at Brigsten's that evening.

Monday, September 3, 2007

our own slice of paradise

Hermitage Bay, Antigua . . . truly a slice of paradise! Where do I even begin? Words cannot describe the astounding beauty of this place, and pictures don't do it justice. (I must apologize for the large number of pictures on this posting, but I took over 600! It was hard to decide which ones to put on here!)

We stayed at two different resorts during our honeymoon. The first was Hermitage Bay, which is what you see in the pictures. The second resort was called Carlisle Bay, and after three nights there, we decided to return to Hermitage Bay. The first four nights at Hermitage we stayed in a Hillside Cottage, with this amazing view.

The hillside cottage was incredible, with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, ceiling fans, wrap around deck, our own private plunge (infinity) pool, LCD TV, iPod docking station, white linens . . . and on and on. It was so luxurious, and yet you still felt like you were living at the beach in close touch with the natural environment. Everything was included here - our food, drinks (including alcohol), water sports. Our days were a mix of relaxation and adventure . . . a perfect honeymoon. No worries. It was simply romantic and secluded.

The beach was beautiful, as well. There was a reef right by the shore where Matt and I snorkeled. We saw lots of exotic fish - blue, yellow, pink fish. Unfortunately, there was also a large number of jellyfish, but we were able to keep our distance from them. Some afternoons, we would just lounge on the beach, reading, and having pina coladas served to us. What a life!

Our hillside cottage was No. 39, which was at the very top of all the cottages. The hike was enough to get winded, but the view was worth it!

At the end of the day, we would go up to our cottage, and get for ready dinner. This entailed a nice glass of wine, before and after the shower, as well as getting all gussied up! I would curl my hair and put on a nice skirt or dress. We'd sit around the pool, talking, drinking, and wishing our time here would never end - then, we'd meander down to the beachside restaurant and eat some of the best food we've ever tasted. Every dinner was incredible - fish (mahi mahi, tuna, tilapia), steak (filet), chicken, pork - we loved the food here!

A view from one of the hillside cottages . . . it was just exquisite!

Our last night at Hermitage (after our three nights at Carlisle Bay), we stayed in a beach side cottage . . . which we loved, as well. The main difference was that this cottage did not have the plunge pool. But it was right on the beach, with the ocean a short distance away.

Here is our room in the beach side cottage. Like the hillside cottage, there are no glass windows - they are all screened in with wooden slats. At night, we would close most of the windows and turn on our ceiling fan with the air conditioning on low. It was perfect - a cool breeze while we were sleeping.

Our last night, we sat on our deck, looking out at the ocean, drinking Carib beers and listening to our iPod music ("Jackie's gift"). It was so serene, so peaceful, and we didn't want it to ever end. We watched the most stunning sunset . . .

Our last meal at Hermitage Bay . . .

We will never forget this place, or the incredible time we had here. We reminisce about Hermitage a lot, wishing we were back there, sipping on pina coladas and watching amazing sunsets. If only . . . .

Our New Blog

Well, everyone else is doing it - why not us? We want to blog-it-up, too!

Matt and I have started the most amazing life together - down in Louisiana swamp country. That's right folks - we're livin' the most humid, muggy boggin' place in the US! We live in a little oasis amidst the bog, called Audubon Trace. And, hey, we bought perty flowerin' plants for the front porch! So we are lookin' good!

Let's see . . . it all started about 6 weeks ago, in a little village called Charlotte, NC, in a little bung-a-low called the fabulous Van Landingham Estate . . . on July 21st, 2007 . . .

When we tied the big knot in that most fabulous of estates, we did it up right. We rented out the entire place for Friday and Saturday night. The following were our very distinguished guests at the estate: Sally and Shelton Raynor (parents of the groom), Thomas and Denise Akulis (parents of the bride), Rebecca and David Fort (sister and brother-in-law of the groom), Jackie and Connor and Noah Bates (sister and brother-in-law and nephew of the bride), Cooper and Andrea Harrell (groomsman and his wife), Chris and Ann Lam (groomsman and his wife), Mick and Elaine and John Green Gay (groomsman and his wife and new son), Christina Kilbourne and James Little (bridesmaid and her guest), and Sharon and Wayne Neff (grandparents of the bride). What a list! And of course, I can't leave out my other bridesmaid . . . Miss Cheyanne Nash from Stallings, NC.
The wedding was perfect - beautiful dresses, exquisite flowers, southern belle fans, bumpin' music, and delicious food. Really, I was surprised everything went so smoothly - without one hitch! The tent outside the estate was magical, with strands of white twinkle lights, two goregous chandliers with candles, fans, and eight round tables with floor-length white brocade table clothes. Could you ask for anything more?