Friday, December 21, 2012

Walking down memory lane

Greg and I recently celebrated 17 years of marriage.  And by 'celebrate', I really mean on Sunday we turned to each other and said, "Oh, I think it's our anniversary today."  Wedding anniversaries are not exactly the center of the universe in December.  But, the week before, we actually did commemorate and even 'celebrate' a bit.

Greg travels frequently for business and in the last 5 years, has had the privilege of going back to Chapel Hill, NC once a year.  I always say that he needs to take me with him, and this time, he did!  Because my parents are here this winter, I had babysitters, so I boarded the plane and headed back after 16 years away.

The first time I went to Chapel Hill, I flew out to meet Greg for a weekend in 1995.  We were engaged, and he had already started grad school at UNC.  I was still in Utah.  When I got off the plane, he met me with a red rose in hand.  17+ years later, in 2012, I got off the plane to see Greg standing there holding a red rose.  I burst out laughing.  It was cheesy and sweet and just hilarious all at the same time.  I had actually forgotten all about the rose, so I was impressed with his efforts toward romance.

Our first stop from the airport was Allen and Son's BBQ on the outskirts of town.  My, how I had missed real Carolina BBQ.  It was HEAVENLY and just as I remembered. Lived up to every hope and expectation.

Driving around was so much fun!  I couldn't believe how many memories came flooding back.  After lunch, we had to go grab dessert on Franklin St at the Yogurt Pump, the site of so many 'splurges' on date night, in our first year of marriage.

We next paid tribute to the passing of the Burrito Bunker, home of the $1.50 HUGE burrito that gave us so much cheap joy back in the day.

Walking down Franklin St, used to be the main activity of our date nights.  As we 'walked down memory lane', and shopped for UNC souvenirs for our kids, I laughed at this great t-shirt:

I hope you can read it; if not: "I don't often hate, but when I do... I prefer to hate Duke." HA HA HA!

Then it was off to walk around the beautiful campus of UNC Chapel Hill.  The Old Well:

As we walked around, I recalled what campus looked like the day after Hurricane Fran, in 1996.  It was COVERED in downed trees and leaves.

Greg, paying tribute to his alma mater:

And then a moment of silence at the site of the theft of his beloved mountain bike.  He still gets sad when he thinks of it.

Walking through the campus arboretum, home of so many memories.

Oh, how I love those camellias!

Apparently, Greg used to love them, too:

After walking around campus and the LDS institute, we drove over to our first apartment:

Then, to Greg's last bachelor pad:

 And as long as we were at it, my old office:

That night, we had dinner at 411 West, the amazing restaurant where Greg first took me when I came for my first visit 17 years ago.  It was as charming and delicious as I remembered. Also, we shopped at our favorite old stores, including A Southern Season, and stocked up on goodies for everyone back home.

The next morning, we attended church.  Greg was the first person to ever speak at the pulpit in this brand new church back in 1995.  I was surprised to find how dated it looked!  In my mind, it was still a brand new building, but now, mauve isn't so brand new...

That night, we had dinner with three of Greg's old buddies from grad school.  It was a blast and again a funny thing to find time doesn't stand still!  It was so strange to see everyone stride in with families!!  

The next morning, we drove around again, and visited Duke Forest, where we used to so often hike.

And even though we prefer to hate Duke, we still drove over to see the beautiful Duke chapel again.

It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend, and I am completely blessed to have spent the last 17 years with such an amazing best friend.  We have the best time together and I adore him.

And that's the truth.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I'm Back!

Oh, I am a bad blogger.  I just have NOT felt it.  But here I am with some updates on our exciting life.

I will just give it to you (mostly) in Instagram photos, 'cause that pretty much keeps up with all things Tallmadge

In September, Ethan turned 15!  Gracie left him this sweet little breakfast surprise.

We went to his favorite park and had his favorite food and he got his favorite present (another new watch).  The boy is nothing, if not consistent.

 In October, we enjoyed watching General Conference for two days and ate WAY too much food.

That weekend, we also had family pictures taken.  As you can see, it wasn't all serious.  Grace had fun clowning around when we weren't saying "CHEESE!!" Christmas cards are forthcoming...

We had a little visitor for several days in our backyard.  Our dog, Maggie, has barked her head off nonstop for weeks.  It's a regular animal menagerie at our house.

Derick turned 15 at the end of October.  We celebrated at a yummy burger joint with authentic Idaho fries!

And even after 15 years, Derick isn't quite sure how to blow out the candles, but he sure did know how to dive into the German chocolate cake.

We celebrated Halloween.  Grace and her friend, Amy, successfully bobbed for apples.

Derick did too, with a little help.

Greg and I were Facebook and Instagram for Halloween.

The kids were a conglomeration of stuff.  I am pretty sure that this year was the least effort I've ever made.  Grace and her dad covered her wagon, to accessorize her pioneer costume, and that was the extent of it.

My friend, Lindsay, invited me to play golf for the first time.  Her husband is the golf pro at a resort and I have to say, I had a blast.  I could get into that.  If it were always free.

Election Day was met with much anxiety and anticipation.

It is such an honor and privilege to vote.

Sadly, things did not go according to plan.  I am still stunned.

Gracie had her big 4th grade program at school.  It was darling.  Especially when they sang a tribute to all of their former teachers with "All My Exes Live in Texas".  I almost missed it, though.  I was on my way out the door to a dinner party, when I checked my email and saw a last minute reminder saying the kids needed to be at the school in 10 minutes. I asked Grace about it and she gasped in recollection! As we ran around, collecting a 'cowboy' costume, I texted my friend and asked how I had never heard of this program.  She said it was announced in an email about the PTA meeting (the program was piggy-backed on).  Well, I never read past "PTA Meeting", and totally dismissed it.  HA!  It was even funnier to me when I sat down and saw that all the decorations had been made by yours truly.  When I volunteer, I do all the work and don't ask questions.  Chalk this one up to another of my mother of the year moments.

And while we're on the subject of stellar mothering, I present to you: my mother.  The stand-in, when I am failing to be mother of the year.  My parents are here for the winter.  They pulled their RV down here a couple of weeks ago, and we are loving it.  Especially when I realized that the night of "Young Women in Excellence" at church was also the same night as my Volunteer Advisory Board meeting at Cook Children's Hospital.  Our meetings are only quarterly, so when we have one, I have to be there.  Greg was out of town.  It was a recipe for disaster, but fortunately, my parents are here and stepped in.  HURRAY!  And let's face it, Jane would rather be hanging with Grandma, anyway.

Thanksgiving was a blast.  We had my parents and the sister missionaries over and our neighbor, Todd.  Later, Katri and her family came as well as her dad and the elders for dessert.  It was a beautiful day and lots of fun. But, MAN!  I ate too much.

Thanksgiving was also Jane's 13th birthday!  Yep, I now have three teenagers.  Super crazy town.

This weekend, Greg, Jane and my mom are in New York, helping clean up after Hurricane Sandy.  I saw this video, and just knew my girl had to go.  After finding super cheap airfare and using hotel points, it was on!  They have been working hard and making wonderful memories.

And that is us for now.  I decorated for Christmas all weekend and enjoyed just chilling out.  Bring on Christmas!

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm 40 and I know it.

(Disclaimer: I know this post is long.  For the 5 of you who read this blog, thanks for sticking with it. HA HA! I don't post enough to break this down into multiple entries, so here it is!)

Ok, it happened.  I finally hit the big one.  Actually, I'm pretty ready and excited about it.

We celebrated by taking a little weekend trip.  Actually, we were celebrating Greg's cousin's wedding.  

But, I did turn 40 while I was out of state, so I'm calling it a birthday trip, anyway.

Thursday, we flew into Boston.  The rental car company was actually out of cars!!! Isn't that crazy? They kept trying to assure people that the cars were on their way.  The office was PACKED with angry customers. We ended up calling Hotwire, cancelling our reservation, and walking to Avis.

We drove over to Beacon Hill and met my blog friend, Jessica.  It was SO SO fun to have lunch with her and crazy Camden.  Greg is such a great sport.  He actually enjoyed hanging out with us and entertaining the wild 3 year-old.  LOVE him.  And I LOVE Jessica.  I really had such a great time.  It's so fun to meet blog friends in real life.

After lunch, we tore ourselves away from amazing conversation and hit the road to head up north.  On our way to Maine, we passed through New Hampshire, thus bringing my state total to 41.  Greg beats me big time, though.  He is only missing Rhode Island, Alaska, and North Dakota. 

After checking in and freshening up, we went over to Jabe's house for the rehearsal dinner/lobster bake.  Jabe is the groom, and Greg's cousin, with whom we stayed in Southern France last year.  His real name is John, but Greg's dad is also John and when we was little, he earned his nickname and it has stuck.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Greg's family.  Truly.  I am so happy whenever we are together.  His grandma looked beautiful.  She is so amazing.  At 103, she got to the wedding by riding in a car for 8 hours but was still gracious and lovely.  We enjoyed catching up with cousins and aunts and uncles, but of course, the main dish kind of stole the show.  When Greg's uncle insisted we eat seconds because there was too much lobster, I didn't hesitate.

Cousin Stephanie and me, eating to our heart's content!

The next morning, we had breakfast with some of the family down in the hotel lobby, and then hit the road.  We drove the scenic route from Portland to Kennebunkport, and it was just beautiful.  The last two times we've gone to Maine, it has been the north, which is very forested and rocky.  Southern Maine was very different, with more sandy beaches.  The homes and flowers had me dazzled.


We checked in at the Kennebunkport resort, where the wedding took place later that afternoon, and walked downtown to check things out.

Below is the Republican Headquarters next to the Democratic Headquarters. Very Hatfield/McCoy.

Of course, we had a wonderful lunch.  Greg's not a big seafood guy, so he found some yummy mac and cheese with truffles, but I couldn't resist a lobster roll.

If Greg doesn't love lobster, it's not because he's shunning Maine's famous foods.  He more than makes up for it with his love for blueberries.  Here he is waiting for his blueberry ice cream.


We got back to the hotel to find wedding preparations in crazy, last-minute mode.  We were immediately recruited.


With 20 minutes to spare, we ran to our room and changed.  We weren't too worried, because even though the wedding started at 3, the mother of the groom was still running around giving us direction, so we figured they couldn't start without her, at least!

Sure enough, we had plenty of time to chat with each other, while we waited for the main event.

The groom, walking Grammy down the aisle.

Man, it was perfect weather, but BRIGHT!  Good thing Greg brought more than one pair of shades.  I forgot mine!

Greg gave one of the readings at the wedding.  It was a bit nerve-wracking for him, as he is very familiar with the KJV Bible (Practically memorized. No, I'm not kidding!), and the reading was NIV. But, he did a great job!

Linda, the bride, is from the Czeck Republic, so there was a translator for the family, who came to the US for the first time!

The wedding was just beautiful, and Jabe was beaming the whole time, looking at his beautiful bride.

After the wedding, we all filed onto the patio for cocktails.

Oh man, was that divine.  The scallops, the blueberry brie, the blueberry goat cheese.  Ah, I can still taste it all.

Our favorite Aunties and Grammy!

Then, into the ballroom for dinner.  Greg said the blessing on the food and did a great job.  I don't know if it was something he said, or just an amazing chef, but WOW, was dinner amazing. Ok, pretty sure it was the chef.  But, Greg did do a wonderful job saying grace.

Three little Tallmadges all in a row!

Anne, enjoying her beloved blueberry martini.

First Dance

Civilized Cake Cutting 101.

Little Will, the ring-bearer, stole the show.  When his mama married, Jane was the cute toddler dancing all night.  This time, it was his turn.  SO cute!

Mother and son.

We had so so much fun.  The DJ was wonderful.  Sister of the groom, Rachael, insisted we all do the Macarana.  Hello! Haven't done that in at least 15 years.  We were laughing our heads off!! 

Somehow, Anne and I ended up in front, which was insane!

Now, I don't mind being 40, but DUDE! My knees were killing me after that silly dance!

After the reception, we all went down to the waterfront to have a s'more's roasting party.  Such a blast!!

In the morning, Anne, Ellen, Greg and I all headed out on a bike ride around Kennebunkport.

A mile up the road from the hotel, was the Bush's home: Walker Point.

At one point, several cars pulled up and people got out, but there were no presidents, past or present.  Just Secret Service.  They were probably waiting for 41, but we didn't hang around to see.

Greg with his aunties.

After our ride, we gorged ourselves at breakfast with the family.  Can you tell I enjoyed the food this weekend?  Maybe that's the new theme of my 40's.  Eating.

After breakfast, we went back into town with some of our family and then came back and sat on the porch with assorted aunties and Grammy.  After a wonderful conversation, we said our goodbyes and hit the road.  We drove down the coast and enjoyed all the beautiful sea-side towns in Southern Maine and Northern Massachusetts.

York, ME:

Watching them making famous Maine Salt-water taffy.

Greg had to snap a shot of the red clay courts.  He's played on grass and green clay, but never red.  He was dying that he didn't have a racket.  Or a partner.

That night, we had dinner in Rockport, MA.  Of course, it was lobster for me! Had to say goodbye to my 30's in style.

That night, we slept in Salam, MA.  I woke up Sunday as a 40 year-old.  I don't feel old and I'm not old, but I loved to call my mom and tease her that she has a 40 year-old child, so she must be old.

It seems a bit macabre to spend one's birthday in a creepy witch town, but Salem wasn't creepy and I was feeling a bit macabre, so it was all good.  I got some bad news from a friend, which sort of cast a pallor over the day.  Plus, right as we were entering the Salem Witch Museum, Greg checked his email to see that American had cancelled our flight.  Stupid airlines.

Just your average, every-day witches hanging out in Salem:

Now, having a degree in English Lit, I am always keen on visiting famous literary sites.  I've been to Green Gables, seen where my beloved Gone With The Wind was written, and visited the graves of Wordsworth, Washington Irving, Louisa Mae Alcott and Hemingway (which happens to be next to my great-grandparents). I've seen the home where Keats died and visited Oscar Wilde's Dublin townhouse, Jane Austen's English cottage and Emerson's New England mansion. I've even hung out in the pub where James Joyce wrote Ulysses and toured the "murder" mansion from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".  But I'm a bit naughty sometimes when I tour these sacred spots.  See, I'm an illegal photo-taker.  They say no photos, but how can I resist taking a picture of the desks where "Little Women" and "Pride and Prejudice" were written?  Deviating from literary circles, I even snapped a contraband photo of Mozart's piano-forte last year.  So, it should come as no shock to see this photo:

The desk where Hawthorne wrote "The Scarlet Letter".  I know, sue me.  Having been to his home in Concord years ago and visiting his grave, it was fun to now visit his birthplace and tour the "House of the Seven Gables".

It was beautiful and so old.  Built over 300 years ago, it made me feel pretty young by comparison!

Greg was able to secure us seats on a US Airways flight home.  It was earlier than our original flight, so we had to hurry to our last sight.  When we explained, the tour guide fit us in early and gave us an abbreviated tour.  SO SWEET!

It was perhaps the coolest spot we had seen all day in old Salem.  The 300 + year-old home where old Rebecca Nurse lived and was arrested, being charged as a witch in 1692. It was eerie and amazing that it is still standing.

On the property is a replica of the meeting house where they held the trials.  It was built for a movie set and was super interesting and cool

Getting a glimpse of the realities of history, gave me a sobering gratitude for my life, even with the occasional glum things that surround me.  I have the BEST husband in the world and he gave me a pretty awesome extended family.  Not to mention, some pretty cool kids who were babysat all weekend by my pretty amazing in-laws.  

Our flight reschedule gave us a lay-over in Charlotte, which meant I was in North Carolina on my birthday again. It had been over 15 years. My best birthday treat of the day was some Carolina BBQ I bought before I boarded the plane.  A taste of heaven.

Ah, yes.  I would end this marathon post with more food. Food, folks and fun.  What better present could a girl ask for?