Back in October, a group of friends that we know through the Konickis were here for our annual "Hive" reunion. The chaos that this reunion has become thanks to the addition of quite a few little munchkins only adds to the fun!
Then during the week of Thanksgiving our family flew up to Tuscaloosa where we spent the week with Keith's family. We hardly ever get to spend more than 3 or 4 consecutive days there, so it was really nice to have a whole week with them. The kids LOVED entertaining everyone, playing hide-n-seek with their Auntie M (Keith's sister, Marian), cuddling and throwing the ball with Granddaddy, running around the yard with Max (Grandmama's dog), and enjoying all of the amazingly wonderful food that Grandmama prepared! The whole family was there, which means I got to see my preggo sis-in-law... I still can't believe that this time next year there'll be another cousin! Yea! Kristie and Scot find out if they're having a boy or girl on Christmas Eve-Eve... I can't wait to hear the news! As is the tradition in the Donald family, we went over to Keith's Papa and Grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Nearly every one of his cousins was there, so it was great to catch up with them too. Two of Keith's cousins have had babies in the past couple of months, and we got to meet Emmi, the one who wasn't too young to be there (the other was only a few days old). The big dinner is really a very nice tradition, and a great way to keep in touch with his side of the family (in addition to facebook, of course... haha!).
While in Tuscaloosa, I took advantage of the many babysitters and did quite a bit of shopping with my sisters-in-law, tailgated with my best Computer Science buddies from my college days, and even got to go hang out with my brother! I love that my in-laws live near UA so that I can go back to visit the campus, but it's so hard for me to believe that I haven't been a student there for over 10 years now! I love that when I do see my old buddies, even if I haven't seen them for years, it's like we never lost touch. Keith and I took the kids to walk around the campus one beautiful day while school was still in session, and I happened to catch one of my old Communications professors who's now a mighty provost at UA! Again, crazy that I've only seen him like 3 times since graduation and we can catch up like I'm still in one of his classes. He was the professor to persuaded me to get a double-minor in Communications, and was the professor for 4 of my 8 Communications classes plus the sponsor for the couple of Communications-related clubs that I was in, so I was closer to him than most professors. I went from feeling young and like I was still in school on that day to super-old on the night that Keith and I went to the strip to meet my brother and future sis-in-law at a club after midnight! It wasn't midnight when we got there, but after standing in the cold rain for half-an-hour, it was midnight by the time that we got in. When I was walking from our far away parking spot (that campus has NO parking anymore... especially on the UA/UA game weekend) to the club all dressed up and heading out late at night, I actually felt kinda young. But then, we got in line and overheard the band inside playing a cover of Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and heard the girls in front of us saying that they couldn't go to this other club because you had to be 21 to get in, and I put together that those girls weren't even alive when the song was at the top of the charts! THAT made me feel old!
In addition to seeing my brother and Renee, I got to see my dad and my sister, Jason, and Kelson before the end of the week. We met them (and Kyle and Renee) in Birmingham for lunch, and fortunately they stuck us in a back room by ourselves (I'm wondering if someone called ahead to warn them that the Kolumbus' were coming?!) so the kids got to get down to run around and play together (and by "kids", I mean my dad too!). It was a quick visit, but it had been SO long since I'd seen them so it was a much needed one! I can't wait to see them all again at Christmas!
Then when we arrived back home in Melbourne, my mom was there to pick us up at the airport! She drove down to watch the kids for me this week, so over the course of 1 week, we got to see every one of our immediate family members and their families! Annabelle has been asking to see Grammy for months now, so she's been so happy to see her. I'm going to need to find some time to hang out with Grammy too, because, again, I've been taking full advantage of having a babysitter so I haven't been home (or even really available when I am home).
Keith's 4th annual Spring conference was this week in Hollywood, FL. After getting me and the kids back home, getting them all settled, getting Grammy all caught up on everyone's schedules and habits, avoiding unpacking (it's still in the suitcase now... 5 days after we returned from Alabama), and taking care of some of my owner-builder duties, I headed down to Hollywood (ALONE!) to meet up with Keith (he flew straight there from Alabama) and spend a couple of days enjoying some adults-only time! It was REALLY strange to not have to keep my eyes and ears on someone else the whole time. I get to go out shopping and stuff without the kids occasionally, but having a couple of days without having to worry about taking care of anyone else but me (and sometimes Keith) was really strange! This was my first overnight away from both kids, and I took full advantage of my childless time! I slept in (remember, 9am is "sleeping in" for me now), I spent a day at a pretty freakin' awesome art show, I got to spend time catching up with our many friends from around the world, I went to the South Beach shopping strip, I shopped some more, I lounged by the pool, I ate breakfast in peace (and I didn't have to share it with anyone!), I ate my other meals with adults, I got to watch one of the keynotes (all 2 hours of it!), I drank cosmos, I drank appletinis, I drank wine, I ate out at restaurants, I hung out at the bar, and I just got to be an adult without constantly being "Mommy". While I LOVE my "Mommy" role, it was great to have a break from it. This conference is one that I never miss because it's not just a conference, it's a reunion of all of the people at Keith's company who have become our friends over the years and I can't imagine not seeing them. Their company has grown so big that I probably don't even know a majority of them now, but the people who have been there from the beginning, and the spouses of those people, are really like a special subset of the group and have a special bond that makes it really nice when we are able to get together again. If Sally, Jill (and you too, Ben), and Bieke & Erwin had just been there, the week would have been totally complete!
Driving back to Melbourne tonight, I realized how happy it has made me to recently see so many of the special people in my life who I so rarely see. This month is just going to get better in that respect too when I get to spend more time with our families over the holidays, will get to see one of my favorite Jills and FINALLY meet her little Carter, and I will even get to attend an informal reunion with my high school friends. Friends and family really are good for the soul!
P.S. One super-bonus about seeing these people after not seeing them for so long was seeing the expressions on their faces and hearing "Wow... you look great!" so many times! That made me feel so wonderful and motivated to get myself back on track with respect to exercising! :)