We kicked off September with an awesome evening at a local park to watch this incredible 80s/90s band called Blue Monday. It was awesome to rock out to some of our favorite hits from our youth. The next day, we went to visit GG and Dadaw, which is always very special to spend time with them! Since it was Labor Day weekend, we planned for a fun Catawba River float with the Whitcombs and Farrells. The weather was perfect, so we packed a picnic lunch and began our three-hour adventure down the river along with tons of other floaters who were having an equally good time! This has become one of our favorite summer traditions as we love just kicking back, playing some jams, laughing, and splashing! That evening, we went to our neighbors’ house (Tiffany and Jon) for some appetizers and cocktails on their back porch. They recently moved into the neighborhood, all the way from New York City, and it is their first house (they also didn’t own cars in the city), so lots of exciting things and new experiences for them. Trent enjoyed a neuromuscular massage from my therapist, Mireya, as well. She is incredible and can literally look at your body while you’re standing in front of her and tell you exactly what kind of work you need done. Definitely a talent!
I got together with my Triple B’s group of girlfriends for the most amazing weekend in Bald Head Island, just off the coast of North Carolina. This is a very special place where only golf carts are allowed and it’s super duper bougie. We rented the most amazing home that fit our group perfectly. After we got off the ferry, we got settled in our house and went out for a celebratory cocktail to kick things off. We headed back to the house that evening for some delicious Italian food that Melissa had so lovingly prepared for us and just relaxed the rest of the evening. The next morning, after a quick workout, we surprised the group with an organized scavenger hunt that Melissa and I had prepared, complete with plenty of embarrassing activities that only this group would be none too shy to do. We randomly selected teams and the adventure began. From sneaking our way into the private golf club to the slightly more casual swim club, our missions ranged from collecting chicken bones, standing on something we should not be on, singing to random strangers, wearing a pair of extremely large granny panties and bald caps, to getting a picture with a lifeguard, lying on a par-three hole with the flag next to us, and taking a picture next to the house that we almost burnt down a few years ago, it was beyond incredible and absolutely hilarious. My stomach hurt from all the laughter. This crew is always down to do crazy things. We definitely did our share of trespassing that day. When the scavenger hunt was over, we all met up at a restaurant called Jailhouse and reminisced over all the hilarious experiences that we had. We captured the entire day on our Marco Polo app and made promises to each other that we would not watch the videos until we got back to the house until later that afternoon. Once we recapped the hilarity of the day, we enjoyed a very beautiful afternoon on the beach (that was actually supposed to be completely rained out!). We cleaned up at the house, and then made our way to Jule’s for dinner and some wild karaoke. Check out the video. The next day, we did some shopping and touring about the island, and wrapped the day up with some dancing, dinner, and games back at the house. Yet another incredible day in the books. I love this group so much!
While I was gone, Trent ventured up to Raleigh with the kids for the NC State vs. Charleston Southern football game. They had an amazing time rooting on the Wolfpack, who have had such a great season this year! Hanleigh had her curriculum night at middle school, so this was a great chance for me to understand exactly what she will be learning about in sixth grade. I spent an evening with my fabulous female neighbors to celebrate Michelle’s birthday. I love seeing all these women come together to honor someone as great as her! Hanleigh tried out for a theater production of Madagascar, Jr. and made the ensemble, so she will be in many scenes which involve singing, dancing, and much more. This is the first play of this type that she has been involved in and she has about seven hours of practice per week. I love seeing how excited she gets about theater and performing. Definitely a girl after my own heart!
We ventured up to Raleigh for another football game, this time against Texas Tech, where we cooked meatball sliders for the tailgating crew. And another Wolfpack win in the books! Christel celebrated her 60th birthday. Happy birthday to the best stepmom ever! Trent enjoyed a nice dinner at Del Frisco’s with one of his workout friends, and Hanleigh attended her first Cotillion class alongside three of her best friends. She said she was extremely nervous for this and after the first class, they were laughing at how awkward all the boys were. I told her to get used to that because that’s just how they are in middle school. I’m glad she’s taking it with some of her friends, though. Just like I told Brayden when she took it, these are great life skills that will take her far in socializing and being respectful to others.
Trent and the girls ventured up to Raleigh for another game, against University of Connecticut, while I made my way down to Marco Island for our annual customer conference. This is the first conference we hosted in person in three years and I was definitely excited to go back to one of my favorite hotels and see my co-workers. The plan was for Trent to fly down after the conference was over, so that we could spend an awesome weekend together, hang out with Joe and Leslie, and enjoy some fun in the sun. The first part of the conference went well until mother nature had other plans—Hurricane Ian. I’ve seen my share of hurricanes over the years, whether sleeping in a garden tub in a bathroom with no windows during Hurricane Hugo (1989) or partying with friends in a townhome during Hurricane Fran (1996), but I’ve never witnessed one from the coast. This was entirely different. Once the main portion of our conference had concluded, we were supposed to wrap things up with a closing reception. That quickly shifted gears to become more of an announcement about the choice to remain at the hotel or relocate to an elementary school. Knowing that we were in a building that was FEMA certified to handle up to category five winds, everyone chose to remain there. This was the right choice. This was on a Tuesday evening. However, to see an ocean that is typically a quarter of a mile away from the hotel slowly approach throughout the day and breach the pool and hotel grounds is a bit unnerving to say the least. The winds were just two miles an hour shy of being category five winds, which was crazy to see and hear what sounded like a freight train for many hours. As expected, the hotel lost power, but had generators that provided enough electricity to supply lighting to the common areas and hallways. The hotel rooms had no power or hot water, and there was no cell service, wi-fi, or ability to reach anyone. At that point, what became normal practice was to seek out coworkers to hang out with and take your mind off of what was going on outside the windows. They were offering yoga and the gym was open at the beginning of the day, so I took advantage of that. Then, it became a matter of hanging out in the bar, just staring outside, witnessing pop-up poker games that were lit up by a spotlight as if it was on a mobster movie, navigating the stairwells guided by your phone’s flashlight, strategically figuring out how much battery you had left on your cell phone and how best to conserve it, taking a freezing cold shower, etc. But, my most fond memory was making lemonade out of lemons (figuratively speaking, of course) by locating my wireless speaker, gathering a bunch of co-workers and friends in the 10-foot area between the outside of the hotel and the lobby (near the revolving door) to play some awesome jams and dance for over an hour nonstop! As customers and other employees would try to make their way inside or outside, we would shout and jump and laugh and encourage them to show us their best dance moves before they were allowed to pass. It was so incredibly fun and a great way to take our minds off of a stressful situation. Once I was able to make contact with Trent (who clearly was not coming down anymore due to the destruction and the fact that the Fort Myers airport was closed) and Leslie on Thursday, I was much more relieved. I was pretty uneasy until then because I had no real plan in terms of where I was going once the storm passed. Leslie and Joe came and scooped me up from the hotel around 3:00 p.m. and we came back to their house and just sat and watched the reports of the damage. I think it was then that I was able to exhale and just got really emotional witnessing everything that had happened. I think I realized at that time that all of the fun I was having at the hotel, while it was definitely a fabulous time, was also a coping mechanism to get me through a stressful situation until it passed. Once I was at their house, I did a lot of crying. I cried because I was safe, because the week did not go as I had thought it would, because my heart went out to everyone who lost their homes, because I was thankful to be at my best friend’s house, etc. While at Leslie’s, we were able to visit some of her clients’ homes and sadly, witness the destruction that the storm caused. Many of these homes will have to be gutted down to the studs, but while we were there, we were able to rescue their art off the walls. If it had remained there, it would have been ruined by the humidity, heat, and mold. So, I guess that was our good deed. We were also able to enjoy some great quality time together including going for a run, eating dinner at their local golf club, and just relaxing.
While I was down there, my grandfather, Dadaw, was rapidly declining in terms of his health. At 92 years of age, his red blood cell production was not sustainable and he was extremely weak and non-communicative. I was able to call him while in Naples and talk to him on the phone while he listened. I told him how much I love him, how proud of him I am, and how lucky this world was to be blessed by his presence. It was bittersweet knowing I could not be there to tell him all this in person, but I know that he heard me because Aunt Patty told me he had not moved his hand all day and that when I was talking to him he was moving his hand the whole time. This was very touching. He is an incredible man.
In other exciting news, we found out that Brayden’s high school field hockey team was officially recognized as a sanctioned (vs. club) sport! Her coach had been vying for this for so many years and it’s nice to see them finally get the recognition that they deserve. Field hockey is incredible and this will give them access to more funding and school resources, such as activity buses to transport them to games!
- Mom: “Oh, I have to ask…are there any cute boys in any of your classes?”
- Hanleigh: “No, there aren’t any. And besides, I’m not interested in dating. It’s too much work. And, they are all short.”