Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

Destination: Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, SC
Total Miles: 230 miles
Total Cost: $90?

LPs, road trips, driving, the zoo, koala bears...just to name a few!

This past week, I was finally able to take the LPs on an adventure: We spent an entire day in Columbia, South Carolina at the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Accompanying us was a friend who has gone on excursions with us in the past.

While he had a legitimate claim of having never been to Riverbanks, the LPs claim was less credible (because I took them there a couple years ago and have an album of pictures AND a bumper sticker to prove it!).

I should have worn a helmet. Or braced myself better for the crazy day. Something.

And I should have known when I first woke up in the morning, walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and almost stepped on a baby palmetto bug (which, after the shock of seeing one, I obliterated with one of the kids' shoes), that it was going to be an eventful day.

But I forced the memory out of my mind, determining that it was going to be a pleasant road trip.


After rushing to get the kids out of bed so we could pick up Robert in a timely fashion, I finally had everyone in Mr. Darcy, and the road was rising up to meet us. THEN.....from the backseat, I hear the following:

Thomas: Oh no! Chenie! What do you have in your hair?!
Chenie: What is it? What is it?
Charles: Gross!
Thomas: It's a tick.
<insert my panicked: "IT'S A WHAT?!?!?!?!">
Thomas: That's definitely a tick. Chenie, hold still. I'm going to pick it off you.
Charles: You must have gotten it yesterday at my ballgame.
Chenie: I think I'm going to be sick...get it off me, get it off me, get it off me!
Thomas: I've got a napkin. Charles, hold her head still.
<insert my alarmed: "NO! DO NOT PICK IT OFF!!!">
Chenie: Then what are we supposed to do?!?!
<speed-dialing Mom...and turning around...>

So...after mom graciously removed the tick (including the head, which had me panicking), I text Robert to let him know we were, for the second time, heading his way.

Other than a rude lady in a mini-van, the rest of the ride was uneventful. (I was extremely thankful for the suggestion that we stop at Starbucks on the way.)

We parked by the Botanical Garden and enjoyed a beautiful stroll to the tram. On the way to the tram, we found a huge hill which the kids decided was perfect for rolling.

Next to the hill, we picked up the scent of some delicious wild
honeysuckles. The kids and I delved into the bushes and began siphoning nectar from the flowers. Which is about the time I realized that Robert had no clue what we were doing...he had never had honeysuckles! We taught him how to and ate honeysuckles together.

Eventually, we found the tram stop and headed to the zoo portion.

Lions, and tigers, and bears, OH MY! The first stop included some
big cats, bears, and monkeys.

Our favorite stops in the zoo were the Galapagos Tortoises (which live up to 200 years), the Simian (screaming-flying) monkeys, the awakened koala bear (a rare site, indeed...koalas sleep up to 20 hours a day!), the smaller tortoises, and the reptile/amphibian house.

For lunch, I had brought a picnic lunch. On the way back to the car (since we couldn't bring any food into the zoo), the LPs found a baby snake on the path. Robert chivalrously pushed it back into the mulch, while I prayed hard that it wasn't poisonous!

All in all, I think we all had a blast! I splurged a little and bought the kids Dippin' Dots for snacktime and Zaxby's for supper.

Thankfully, the ride home was fairly uneventful that Robert fell asleep while the kids watched a movie on my iPod.

I love road trips, but I love them even more when I have my favorite LPs adventuring with me!

(They even made up a song for road trips...that goes to the tune of the Little Einsteins' theme song)
We're going on a trip in our favorite Honda Fit
Zooming 'round the road: awesome LPs!
Climb aboard, get ready to explore!
There's so much to see, awesome LPs!
We're going on a mission, start the countdown!
5...4...3, 2, 1
Everyone to Darcy; rev it up now...vvvvrrrrmmm...
We're going on a trip in our favorite Honda Fit
Zooming 'round the road: awesome LPs!
Climb aboard, get ready to explore!
There's so much to see, awesome LPs!
Come on! Let's go! 
Awesome LPs...Yeah!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Four Exams and a Wedding

One year has passed since I received an email (followed by a letter) that altered my life.

No, I'm not referring to the letter containing the deed to Mr. Darcy...though that did arrive the same day and did impact me. My vehicle is a constant reminder to me that I am living debt free and loving it.

I am referring to the acceptance letter I received from Clemson University at the beginning of May 2012. An offer of acceptance into the full-time Family Nurse Practitioner Master's Program was presented to me, and I, barely cognizant  of the consequences, accepted.
The whirlwind that followed has been one of the most exciting adventures I have been on, to date. Whether it has been writing scores of pages or filling in every waking moment with clinical hours, my life has been anything but boring.

This semester found me working my fulltime NICU night-shift job while taking a fulltime credit load (including two clinical courses that required 90 hours of clinicals. Each.). When I wasn't working, I was at one of two doctors' offices learning. And when I wasn't at the offices, I was sleeping, in class, studying, or driving between those places.

Anti-social does not even begin to describe my life this semester.

But, I have a good report! By God's grace, I have passed all my classes and exams (still waiting to hear the official grades) and will be continuing in the program in two weeks with a summer class. Which means: one year from now, I will be graduating with my Master of Science!

This past week in particular has been an exciting one. Not only was I finishing up paperwork and exams for the semester but I was also Maid of Honor at my sister, Charity's, wedding. We had a blast preparing for the wedding this week.

She and her husband were married next to the Barn on the Enoree River where the reception was held. Even though it was overcast and very cold (the high on Saturday was 58F), the wedding went well, and the couple was sent off before the rain descended.

Still, if you had told me on April 30, 2012 that in 368 days I would be finishing my first year of graduate school and walking down the aisle at my sister's wedding, I would not have believed a word of it.

God works in mysterious ways!

There have been rough patches, especially with grad school...times where I have questioned the purpose of going back to school; times of seemingly insurmountable odds; times that I felt more alone and discouraged that I will admit to; and times where I wished I had turned down the offer and gone on with my travels.

But it is during those times that I am encouraged in Psalm 37. And it is during those times that I remember that my security is not in my schooling, in my job, in my friends and is in my relationship with God.

Now that it is summer, I will hopefully be able to take more road trips, but school comes first. And as I reflect on the last year, I am reminded of a Robert Frost poem we sang in high school.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.