After Lena’s birthday bash, we had just a short time left in North Carolina so we tried to squeeze in as much time visiting friends as we could. Just a couple weeks before moving to England, our good friends, Will and Laura, brought home their new baby boy to their recently purchased home. We were excited to get some one-on-one time with Asher and to see all the updates they’d accomplished in making their house a home. Asher is a chunky little butter ball and in my opinion, looks just like his mama. He was a gracious host, happy to share his toys and his dog, Toby, with a very eager Lena. It was fun to see our friends in their new role as parents and judging by the perma-smile on Asher’s face, they’re doing a great job. No surprise there, though, as both Will and Laura have a gift and a passion for kids. We actually met them volunteering with our church youth group and it’s been inspiring to watch them invest in and make amazing impacts on the lives of many youth in our community.
At the top of our to-do list for our trip to the Tarheel state was a date night at our favorite restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. This place. Glory! The menu is constantly changing based upon what’s in season and what sort of delicacies the chef picks up at the local farmers market. Much of the food is organic and free range and primarily locally grown. It’s become so successful, in fact, that they’re currently filming a PBS series about the restaurant called “A Chef’s Life.” The night of our dinner date, the camera crews were on hand getting glamour shots of the food heading from the oven to the table. For unknown reasons, they didn’t choose to highlight our very posh and classy table of four. Perhaps the look of maniacal giddiness in my eyes steered them away. It was my first dinner in months without a toddler to wrangle and I was excited.
Before we left, Melissa was feeling extra pregnant thanks to some lower back pain. Luckily, our future midwife/masseuse Miss Lena was on hand to offer some relief. I took that time to convince Jason to dress up in his skinny jeans long enough to snap a picture. You can see his displeasure in the entire event but seriously, the man has legs made for skinnies. There are women who kill themselves in the gym trying to achieve this look and he just pulls it off so effortlessly. As soon as the picture was taken, he ran away to collect what was left of his pride and changed into his regular jeans.
Since I am incredibly selective about who I will trust to watch after my little munchkin, I called the best person I could think of to entertain Lena while we were out to eat: Nanny Anna. If there was a way to measure how much I love Lena and then compare it to how much Anna loves Lena, there’s a strong possibility she would beat me out. For the first year of Lena’s life, this girl was my sanity. She would come over almost every day to check on us, give me someone to talk to, let our dogs out, help me change massive diaper blow outs, and eat our weight in sweet potato chips. Anytime Jason had to travel for work, she was there to keep me company, spend the night and cook me meals. Truly, you will never find a more loyal and loving friend than Anna.
Take all that goodness and add in the rest of her family and you’ve pretty much hit the jackpot. I should also mention they lived just three blocks down and a tobacco field away from us in North Carolina. So on the days when Anna didn’t come to our house, I could usually be found at theirs. Many days, I’d ride with Anna to pick up her little sister Macie, who is far prettier, more mature, and street smart than I can ever hope to be. Unfortunately for Macie, the school pick ups usually involved loud music, honking and obnoxious dancing in front of most of her classmates. In an attempt to apologize, I would help her with her homework projects – even going so far as to make a cake in the shape of a cell at one point.
These two girls are the product of Leigh Ann and Marshall who also have taken our little family in as if we were their own. Anyone who’s ever visited their house knows they are going to leave in a better mood because it’s just non stop laughing. Leigh Ann will inevitably pee her pants and usually, it’s at Marshall’s expense. The poor man is outnumbered by females 3 to 1 and has endured everything from being video taped while snoring to having his toenails painted hot pink during flip flop season. Luckily, he’s a good sport plus no matter how upset he gets, you could never be mad after you hear Leigh Ann start laughing – it’s contagious. She is Southern through and through and I’ve learned some great phrases from her – my blossom is blinkin’, I like to have dieeeed, and my turtle ain’t snappin’ no more. I’ll let you figure out the meanings!
We have so many ridiculous memories with this family and it was really special to get to spend some extra time with them. We even managed to surprise them with our visit thanks to the sneaky help of Anna’s boyfriend, Jason. It’s nearly impossible to keep a secret from this group of investigators so I was really impressed that we pulled it off. Plus, when we arrived, he was cooking dinner for the family while they watched tv. I think it goes without saying that you need to lock this one down, Anna!