The way to travel...

It's 10:25 pm (well, it was when I started this post - I got a little sidetracked between then and now though...) and we've been home from Georgia Tech for two hours already.  Team travel is the way to go.  Seriously.  If I could travel everywhere like we traveled this weekend, it'd be amazing and I'd be fat.

We had planned to drive to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech game, but when I mentioned our plans to Stan, one of the guys I work for, he made arrangements for us to be a part of the travel party and travel with the team to Georgia Tech.  Talk about the way to travel - it's like VIP treatment!  Stan hooked us up since he knew it would be way more convenient for us than driving, but also as a fun last hoorah before I leave. 

Apparently guys are a little less detail oriented than us girls because none of them...not Ryan, not Matt, not TJ...has ever mentioned the treatment they get on away trips before. 

It all started before we even departed from the airport.  We parked at general aviation, never even stepped foot in a terminal, just went through a single line of security set up specifically for our travel party.  Then we walked straight up to the airplane and boarded via the stairs.  It reminded me of the President boarding Air Force One...on a smaller, less important scale of course. :)   Before boarding the plane, we grabbed a food bag and chose between the sandwich, philly cheese steak and chicken fingers.  When I opened my bag of food on the plane, it was never-ending!

Then, when we arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson in ATL, one of the busiest airports in the world, we got off at a separate area - not a gate- where the charter buses had pulled right up next to the plane.  We had a police escort to the hotel and this may have been the craziest part of the whole thing.  We got on 285 during the middle of 6 lanes of stand-still traffic and the police just stopped the cars in all lanes and we made a beeline for the HOV.  Once there, I was like well that was cool, but what one in front of us can go anywhere and it might as well be a parking lot.  Cars weren't moving.  Well, with that police escort, cars pulled over out of the HOV lane and we went right on ahead.  When we reached our exit, the police blocked off the lanes again so all four buses could just dart over to the exit.  It was like the parting of the sea lol.  The cars in all lanes just stopped on the middle of the highway for us to cross. 

When we got to the Westin Peachtree Plaza, we got our room key and to the horror of my elevator phobia, our room was on the 36th floor. Juuust wonderful! Actually, these elevators weren't too bad and the view wasn't at all bad, so it was fun.  Seriously though, my second thought after Stan made arrangements for us to travel was "oh crap, the Westin is one TALL building - I sure hope we're not on a high floor".  And I was legitimately concerned about it until we got there.  Crazy and stupid, I know. :)

view from our room to the left - downtown Atlanta

...and view to the right - my beloved Georgia Dome, where the Falcons play! :) ...and CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, etc.
  Several of the parents greeted the team (my parents and Wes' parents who were staying at my parents' house included), so Matt and Wes came down and we all hung out for a couple hours before dinner time.  For dinner, Ryan and I went with a large group of athletics and campus administrators to Ray's in the City - delicious!  Then we hung out in the Sun Dial room afterwards until we headed to bed.

At Ray's in the City with Stan and Ramona

After a Starbucks breakfast in the hotel, we once again loaded the charter buses and headed to the stadium with our police escort.  We hit a couple of tailgates - one with some football alum guys and one with the player's families.  Then Ryan and I headed up to the AD's box for the first half of the game, which included...of course...more food!  We moved down to the stands for the second half to sit with my parents, Jamie and a couple of her friends.

Ryan and I in the visiting AD's suite

Duke Athletics ladies I'm going to MISS!!!  Cindy, Nina, and Ramona! ...and "Bubba King" in Nina's belly! :)

Matt and Banks' high five ritual before kickoff

and Egboh making a play!

After visiting with the players after the game, we loaded up and headed back to the airport. 

Mom, Dad, me, Ryan, Matt and Jamie + Summer and Jamie's friends Alysha and Elizabeth

Banks and Matt showing off their 'staches for no shave November.  Wes really has the best mustache going on, but he was already on the bus. 

This picture is majorly lacking TJ!!
 Again, we walked straight onto the plane after grabbing yet another heaping bag of food, which was followed by Dove ice cream bars that the flight attendants handed out once we were in the air.  And by 8:15 pm, we were back in our car, headed home! And with our days in Durham dwindling, we gained a much-needed free full day by being in Durham all day tomorrow instead of spending our day driving back. 

It was so fun to experience traveling with the team - to see what it's like from the player's perspective.  With Ryan, Matt, and TJ doing this on a regular basis, it's fun to see what game weekends are like to them!


The Move (and all the details!)

Well - it's official.  Official because it's now been posted to facebook...and everything becomes official at that point right?  So, for anyone who missed it on facebook...

We're moving to Atlanta!!!

In two and a half weeks! 

And I am just a mess of all kinds of emotions.  So excited yet SO sad! We're going to be close to both of our families, and the parts of our families that are not in Atlanta (TJ in Gainesville, FL, and Norrises in Tuscaloosa, AL will be 5 hours closer than they are now. TJ 5 hours away instead of 10 and Norrises 3 hours away instead of 8.  But Matt will go from being a couple minutes down the road to 5 hours away...until he graduates in May anyways.  At which point, he better move to Atlanta too because I've become quite attached to having him close-by. 

Ok, so here's the scoop.... So, first of all, we bought a house a couple months back, that I've mentioned in passing on here, but not given the details of yet.  How's that for crazy timing??  We've lived in it and become quite attached to our "first home" over the last couple of months, fully unpacked and decorated it and made it home.  And let me mention that I am NOT A FAN OF MOVING!  yuck!  It was my first ever big move in my entire life and it was not fun, so you can imagine my excitement at having to do it again in such a short amount of time! (any volunteers??? haha...i'm kidding.  kinda :))

So, we buy this house, then out of the blue...Ryan gets an email from a commercial real estate company in Atlanta saying that they are hiring for a position and had his resume on file and that they'd like to interview him.  First question we had was "where did they even get his resume?"  He did have a couple of contacts in that company, so looking back, we remembered that before he graduated and secured his job here, he had set up some meetings over Christmas break two years ago with some people in Atlanta just to network and one of the meetings that never worked out had asked for his resume to keep on file, so we assume that is where it came from.  So they still had it and I guess it got put in the stack of resumes when they started the hiring process for this position.  Both being from the Atlanta area and with that being where our families are, we had hoped to end up back there sometime down the road...although the longer we've been here in Durham, the more we were getting settled here.  So we weren't sure how serious we were about the position initially, but how do you turn down an interview like that, in our hometown and everything?  So, if for no other reason than networking for future opportunities, he went down to interview.  Long story short...three trips to Atlanta, and lots of prayer later, we felt that it was a really good opportunity for him and the direction we should go.

the house goes on the market and it's time to pack up everything I've just finished unpacking!
(can't you just feel my excitement??) ;p

And since everyone is asking what comes next for us, here is the plan for now...

Ryan starts his new job, working as an Industrial Broker for Jones Lang LaSalle in Atlanta, on December 1st.  We are both going to work until theWednesday before Thanksgiving, then we'll be here through that Saturday for the Duke/UNC football game - Matt's last college football game! - and then we'll move the next day on Sunday, he'll start work that Wednesday.  We're planning to live in Ryan's parents' basement right away to give us a little time to sell our house and scope out the areas that we could live.  The debate is between living in the city (and if so, what area...Buckhead, Vinings, Virginia Highlands have been recommended) or living outside the city in a suburb of Atlanta (Alpharetta, Marietta, Smyrna...??), but not as far out as our families because that would probably be way too much of a commute when you factor in rush hour traffic. 

I don't have a job lined up yet and have not quite started searching yet.  Between having a ton to wrap up here at work and feeling like I'm running out of time to finish it all and then not having any idea what area of Atlanta we'll be living yet and since the move is only a couple weeks away, I'm going to wait til we get there and see where we think we'll be living before starting to job search. 

There are a ton of unknowns at this point - not having a clue where we'll live...not even what town, not having a job lined up is kinda scary, and then of course... finding a church, making new friends, finding a new "community".  While it sounds like we're just "moving home", we will actually likely be 45 minutes or more, depending on where we land, from our Gainesville/Buford community, where all our family and friends are, so while we'll be much much closer to them than we're used to being, we'll still be far enough away that we can't just stop in and visit on the way home from work or do dinner on last minute notice.  So, we'll definitely be starting over in the sense that we'll be finding a new church and new "community" of friends closer to Atlanta, wherever we end up living.  That's the part I'm most sad about leaving here - we've found such awesome community and close-knit friends here that live right around us and moving there all of our friends will end up being a good distance away.  It'll be such a tease to live in Buford for a little bit so close to everyone just to move farthur away soon after.  But we know that the Lord has guided and directed our steps our whole lives and throughout our marriage so far and we know he will continue to guide and direct us in this situation as well.  So, we're moving to Atlanta and just trusting Him to provide all of our needs and enjoying the peace of knowing that He is in control and He has a plan (Jeremiah of my all-time favorites!).

In light of moving away, I thought I'd do a series of posts on things that I love most about Durham. For those of you who have never been here, it'll be an introduction to all our favorite spots, people, things we'll miss, etc... but for me and Ryan, it'll be a good way to record and remember all of our favorite things about Durham that we can look back on.  I'm holding myself to actually blogging about this one, so y'all hold me to it too! :)

And for all of you who have been asking "when are you going to put pics of the new house on the blog?", they're coming!  The house is one of the things we'll miss about Durham, so there will be a post about it. 

Also, to all of our friends in Gainesville/Buford - we're excited about seeing you in December!  And to our friends in Atlanta - we're excited about hanging out and having y'all show us around! :)


Tuscaloosa Trip

Well, as usual, we've been busy! So busy that I can't even hardly get my pictures loaded onto the computer, much less into a blog post. So I apologize for the lack of updates. But blog posts are not as fun without pictures, so when I'm not caught up on pictures, then I just don't blog.  A quick recap: lots of traveling, lots of football, lots of house projects, lots of big decisions (more on that later) and lots of work!  That pretty much sums it up!

A quick recap of our football weekends lately...

We went to Tuscaloosa for the Florida/Bama game a few weeks back and stayed with Ryan's sister Rachel and her family and had a lot of fun with them. I hate to brag, but I'm pretty sure our nephew and nieces are the cutest kids in existence. I mean, just look at them...


And seeing Ryan with those sweet little girls just melts my heart. It has me convinced that he's going to be a really good dad one day (not that I ever doubted that). And I thought it was so cute - but surprising - when Jeff (bro-in-law) asked if we want a girl first or a boy first whenever we have kids (Jeff always asks us random life questions like this lol) and without hesitation, Ryan said "a girl". [I had no idea that he even had a preference]. Needless to say, I think those cute little nieces have won over his heart. :)

They just love him!  Samuel loves Ryan too, but in more of a play with me outside, rough and tumble, guy-to-guy kind of way. The girls though, they just love on him and snuggle up with him.  Ellie Kate in the picture above (top right) kept fighting falling asleep but finally just conked out laying on him.

We had lunch with Samuel at school and played lots of legos throughout the weekend!  

The girls had a dance party after they got all dressed up in their gameday attire.  So cute - check out all of Abigail's moves and facial expressions lol!

But then when she realizes she's the center of attention, her classic "shy face" comes out...


When game time finally rolled around, we headed over to campus and had dinner at the Alpha Chi house (Rachel's sorority) beside the stadium.  I love that tradition and wish UGA did the same thing!  Sorority row at Alabama lines the stadium and on game day, each house hosts a catered meal for all the current girls and their families and guests as well as all of the alumni and their family and guests.  So it's a good way to bump into all kinds of people you went to school with that you might not normally keep in touch with and gives you an excuse to reconnect with all kinds of people.  They just all bump into each other on game days and keep in so much better touch that way.  We saw a lot of the Woods' family friends at the sorority house - I didn't realize they/we had so many Alabama Alpha Chi ties, but being the outsider, I actually knew a lot of people at the house.  Ryan's pastor's wife was one and they were there, a friend of Ryan's and my family from high school is a current one so we saw her there, Jeff's sister was one, so his parents were there, Rachel and Ryan's cousin is a freshman Alpha Chi, so she and Ryan's aunt and uncle were there.  It was so much fun! 

After eating at the house, we went our separate ways.  Us Florida folks over to catch the team getting off the bus and the Bama ones continued visiting at the house.  I was so excited to see TJ - for the first time since he came to Durham for Matt's birthday in July - but goodness gracious, I had to shove like 5 girls off of him to just hug his neck.  As soon as he got off the bus, he spotted us and headed our way.  When he got over to us, this girl standing in front of us thought he was coming for her, so she grabbed him as soon as he was in reaching distance and gave him a big hug...and then I think she realized "oh and sister...that's probably who he was reaching out for" haha.  Then another girl was like "TJ, can I have a kiss?" and when he was reaching over the first girl to hug mom, she just jumps in there and plants one on his cheek.  {Really people?  I'm amazed at how girls are these days....right in front of the kids parents...WHILE he's in the middle of hugging his mother, she asks for a kiss?} As soon as TJ walked away, he texted me and said "who were those girls y'all let in front of you?" LOL.  I know he's cute, but the protective big sister in me came to the surface and I just wanted to be like "back off!"

Another awesome thing about the sorority house is that it is RIGHT. BESIDE. the stadium and Alpha Chi happens to be right by the player family gate for the opposing team too.  So when we were in line, a security lady told me I couldn't bring my zoom lens in.  To say I was annoyed was an understatement - I mean people were taking shuttles to campus from their cars parked miles away...what would I do with the thing if we were parked really far away?  Anyways...beside the point... so I ran over to the Alpha Chi house where Ryan's family was still hanging out and was going to leave it there, but ended up just shoving it down in the bottom of Martha's bag underneath her sweater to sneak it in.  Rebellious I know - but no other stadium has had a problem with it and I really wanted my pictures.  Anyways, I ran it to her and got back in line before we had even reached the ticket table. 

The BAD thing about Alabama though is that they stick their opposing team's family in their newest nosebleed addition of the stadium where you can't even make out the numbers on the players jerseys.  I'm not even kidding either - literally could not tell what their numbers were.  So even with the zoom lens zoomed in all the way, and when the team was at the closest end of the football field, this was as good as the pictures got. 

TJ's #45 in at full back on the right with Trey Burton in at QB.

Clearing the way for Trey...

I can't remember since this was a few weeks ago, but I don't think the ref called it a TD. :(

Gotta include a pic of TJ lined up behind John (Brantley) too.  Now if they'd just put Sam (Robey) in at Center instead of Pouncey, then all three roommates would be lined up behind each other.  Sam at Center, John at QB, TJ at FB. 

Every time I see this picture (taken by Tim Casey), I think it would be such a cool shot if they were all three in at the same time.  It would be the roomie line-up.

Since our trip to Tuscaloosa, we've also been to GA/FL two weekends ago, which was a crazy trip.  We went from Durham to Ponte Vedra, FL to see TJ at the hotel on Friday night, then we went to Jacksonville for the night, then we went to Gainesville after the game to spend Sunday morning with him and get to see his, John's, and Sam's house that we haven't seen in the last year they've lived there, and then BACK to Durham.  All in 48 hours.  Then this past Saturday was a fun Duke win against UVA followed by a shrimp boil with the Banks...and no driving!!  All of which I "plan" to blog about, but am behind on pictures with, so we'll see if it really happens or not :)

And as someone signed their email to me today...

"Happy Hump Day" everyone!