Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not a Drill

Bad weather is no stranger to Georgia. We have had to deal with strong storms, hurricanes, droughts, and the like before. Still, sometimes bad weather can be intimidating when it seems to directly threaten you and your loved ones.

We had such an example yesterday.

I was at school, hanging out between classes. It was sunny and beautiful outside, no sign of what was to come. Suddenly, a faculty member announced to the little atrium that we were under a tornado warning (seemed rather odd since, as I said, it was sunny outside) and that everyone needed to head to one of the rooms that has been set aside in case of a tornado. So we headed inside, and quickly the room filled up to have about fifty people, students and faculty, including some that had been in the middle of classes upstairs; everyone else on campus was likewise herded into one of the "bad weather rooms," as I'll call it. Everyone was checking the weather and calling friends and family to see where they were. The storm was about twenty or thirty minutes away, and hail and strong winds were reported, as well as some rotation, and at first it looked like it was going to pass over us. However, the storm appeared to veer northeast and to pass by us, so after 45 minutes of waiting, we were given the "all clear" and allowed to return to our normal business (which for me meant my Rome class). About thirty minutes later, we got a heavy downpour that lasted about three or five minutes, and the sun came out again.

I don't believe that any actual tornadoes were formed in the storm, but there was bad weather like hail and heavy rain in some places. Thankfully, we were all ok, and I don't think the damage was worse than your typical Georgia thunderstorm.

And, since it's been a while since I posted, here are some updates on Nathaniel:

- He is a giant. He's wearing clothes for size 18-24 months and is close in size to babies from that age group
- He is looking a lot like his daddy, especially in his expressions, but we still see Mandy occasionally pop out.
- He has an easygoing personality and is good at figuring things out. From the looks of things, he may turn out to be quite mischievous with those cheesy grins of his.
- He now has four teeth which means...
- He can now eat adult food. He no longer wants baby food. When we sit down for a meal, he wants to eat what we do. He loves eggs, meat, and vegetables, and he has a rather large appetite.
- He is definitely mobile. He started crawling back in February, and he has become quite the speed demon at it. Now, he has begun pulling himself up and can stand. We think he'll be walking before his first birthday
- He loves the family
- He is quite the little flirt with both the admirers when we go shipping or with the "lady friends" among his baby peers
- Enya puts him to sleep pretty well. I call it my secret weapon when he's fighting sleep, and I've successfully used it numerous times (though it has nearly put the others to sleep as well)

Back in February, Ben and Mandy moved from their apartment to a rental house in our neighborhood. They weren't looking to move, though when they saw a sign, they checked it out and got the place. It has been nice having them just down the street, which enables us to have meals together frequently and to babysit a lot more easily, and it has been a lot easier on them, as they are a lot closer to work and shopping, which helps driving-wise.

Seth has got a new job. For months, he had been debating where to go employment-wise when an opportunity providentially appeared. A guy from our church works for an A/C company, and his company was looking for new people to train to be installers. Seth applied for the job,but they delayed in getting back to him. After some persuasion from our church friend, they hired Seth, and he started last week. So far, he has been enjoying it, though it has made his hours more irregular and unpredictable.

For the last few years, Seth was part of a choir that a peer from our church started. This February, I joined the choir as first alto/mezzo-soprano, and I've really enjoyed it/ Unfortunately, because of Seth's new work hours, our attendance is likely to become more sporadic, though Seth and I still want to be involved to some extent.

I am also proud to announce that I am officially a college senior and have a graduation date: Fall 2016. It is taking a while because I am only taking three classes a semester (I did this on purpose to prevent a burn-out and to preserve my sanity). My only concern at this point is the upper-level world history classes, as one of them for next fall is in danger of being cancelled, which means that I may have to re-arrange my schedule to make room for another class in its stead, but we'll see what happens.

In addition to college, I have been teaching six children from church geography and have been since last fall. I have been enjoying it, though my only frustration is that the class was last-minute because no one expressed interest until two weeks before classes started, so I haven't been able to plan it out well. If I'm approached to teach again for the next school year, I'm going to make it clear that I can't do last-minute again, as it just makes things stressful. Nonetheless, the class has been going well and has taught me a lot about teaching.

So, yeah, it's been busy for all of us between Nathaniel, college, church weddings, teaching, and every day life (hence the lack of posts). I will try to post more often with little tidbits and anecdotes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Little Guy

And he is here! Baby boy Castle arrived on July 11th after a grueling 58 hour-long labor.

The big story begins in the wee morning hours of July 9th when Mandy began having contractions. Around 7 AM or so, Mandy and Ben came down to our house (it had been agreed on beforehand that if Mandy went into labor that she would stay at our place until it was time to go to the hospital because we're so close to the hospital and they're far away). We were all excited and so began making Mandy comfy with some fruit in between contractions, and Ben turned on some Pixar movies. They visited the doctor, who said Mandy was still in early labor, so they sent her back here. By the evening, the contractions were becoming more intense, and after midnight they were very strong. Finally, Ben took Mandy to the hospital to see how far along she was; there was no difference from earlier that day, which had been the same for the past few weeks. However, the hospital did admit Mandy, so Mom followed her over there while Mandy's friends Kathryn and Bethany went there for encouragement.

Thursday was a tough day. Mandy was in a lot of pain, which impacted all of us emotionally, and her progress went extremely slow. Her doctor was very cool-headed but at the time did not want a C-section since both Mandy and Nathaniel were fine. However, Mandy was soon exhausted because she had been up for longer than 24 hours, so that evening they gave her an epidural, enabling her and Ben and the labor crew (Mom, Kathryn, and Bethany) to get some much-needed rest.

Friday was the big day. A good night of sleep helped everyone. Mom and Dad went to the hospital in the morning and learned Mandy was at nine centimeters. Excited, Dad picked me up from the house, so we spent some time in the room with a sleeping Mandy, laughing at Kathryn's stories. Hours passed, but there was no progress. Finally, by 1 PM, the doctor said that since Mandy was not advancing at all, they would have to deliver via c-section. Ben's mom Kelly arrived shortly before the surgery began, and we all went to sit in the family waiting room. As the hour wore on, we grew more nervous because Ben had not yet come to tell us if everything had gone well. Kathryn then distracted us with a game, which helped.

Then Ben walked in, and everyone screamed. Nathaniel had safely arrived!

As it turned out, it was very providential that the boy had been delivered via c-section. When the doctor was doing the surgery, he saw (and pointed out to Ben) that the cord was tightly wrapped around Nathaniel's neck... twice. It had not been tight enough to interfere with his vitals, but a normal birth would have been very dangerous for him. We were very thankful that Mandy's labor had permanently stalled and that the baby had not been born normally.

The three grandparents first went in to meet the little guy, then the rest of us followed them into the recovery room. Mandy was tired but nursing the hungry boy while we admired him. People trickled out, and soon it was just the family. We fetched some crushed ice from Zaxby's for Mandy then returned to the recovery room to find her out like a light. Dad and I watched as the nurses gave Nathaniel his first bath (which he did not like) then inserted an IV and took some blood for a test.

Now, there is something that did happen during Mandy's labor. Sometime on Thursday, Mandy had a low fever of around 101, so the doctor put her on some antibiotics, which brought her fever down. However, the doctor and nurses were concerned that there might have been an infection, so they put Nathaniel on antibiotics for a few days and did daily blood tests. We believe he might have been fighting something off, but he recovered quickly and has been doing excellently ever since then.

Ben and Mandy had originally hoped to leave on Monday, but the pediatrician was still concerned about a possible infection, so the three had to stay in the hospital for four days. Finally, on the 15th they were given a clean bill of health and were allowed to go home, where they had adjusted splendidly. Nathaniel had his first visit to the pediatrician yesterday and was reported as being excellent.

So... what does the little guy look like? Well, you can find my pictures on facebook. Needless to say, he has his mama's face but his daddy's long fingers, torso, and toes. He is a big baby (he was born 9 pounds), and newborn clothes are a bit snug on him, so we expect that very shortly he will be out of those. He is very active and easy-going, and he has already been trying to lift his head. He loves to snuggle and is also proving to be a very smiley baby (I'm expecting him to be like his mama; Mandy was a very smiley baby).

To say we're thrilled about Nathaniel is a bit of an understatement. We have fallen in love with holding him, snuggling with him, and squealing over the precious pictures that Mandy sends us. He is indeed a precious gift from God, and we are very thankful for him and for his safe delivery.

Before I end this post, I wish to thank certain people (who will likely never read this blog) who were involved in the labor/delivery process. First, Kathryn and Bethany for being such a solid support to Mandy, for helping her on the labor ball, rubbing essential oils on her, and for coaching her during contractions. They were amazing, and we are so thankful for their support. Second, to the Howland family. While Ben and Mandy spent several days away from home, they took care of Ben and Mandy's patio garden, cleaned the house, got the mail, etc... And also to all those who were praying for Mandy during the difficult labor. Without everyone, we would not have been able to get through this. This time has been very humbling for us as we recognize the Lord's goodness to us in sending us a loving church body and family, and I pray that it would make all of us more thankful in recognizing his great faithfulness to us despite our weak, sinful natures. The Lord be praised!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Still Here

Yes, I'm still here. Life has kept us busy, but otherwise nothing huge has happened. Now, we're just waiting for the little guy to arrive, which hopefully will be this week. Other than that, life has been pretty ordinary. Summer has arrived and is rather hot, which means the battle of the bugs has resumed once more. Mom and I are prepping for college classes in the fall, and she's also prepping for some tutoring/teaching for the homeschoolers, which I may potentially be doing but am not sure of yet. Seth has moved out and has adjusted well to living on his own, though we still see him frequently and he is still in the process of moving his stuff out.

My next post will be about the arrival of the newest member of our family, which will hopefully be soon because all of us are impatiently waiting to meet him.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Is Spring Here Yet?

Life around here still remains crazy. Not least of all the weather, which is still alternating between winter temps and spring temps. Buds and flowers are beginning to appear, so hopefully warmer weather is coming soon.

A few weeks ago, over my spring break, Mom, Dad, Mandy, and myself traveled to Arizona. We spent two days driving out there (and more than half of that was across Texas), spent three days in Arizona, then spent another two days driving back. It meant many long hours in the car and a few days of fast food, but we had a good visit with Grandma and Tom. We relaxed at their house, had dinner with Uncle Jack and Judy, went swimming, visited Casa Grande ruins, and a few of us went on a little hike to see some desert ecology. God protected us on our long road trip and brought us back safely. He also protected Seth and Ben. While we were gone, there was a particularly windy day that blew down several big branches in our yard and a few trees in our neighborhood; thankfully, the branches didn't break the powerlines or do any serious damage, and Seth and Ben cleaned it up before we got home. It was Seth's first time spending a week by himself, and he did well though he did miss us.

Speaking of Seth, he has moved out. A friend at church asked him to help with a sub-lease on a rental home, so Seth agreed to take it on for the next six months. After that, Seth may move back home or pick up the lease in full. He's moved out some of his stuff, and we've been helping him figure out what he will do be doing for meals and the like. It is weird not to have Seth here and for it to be only the three of us.

School is still keeping me busy. I didn't have a lot of time to read over spring break, so I'm playing a bit of catch-up for "Heart of Darkness," a book that I really dislike. I'm also preparing to sign up for my fall classes, which is proving tricky because there's not a lot of upper-level classes that I need and because I want to take a few upper level classes at the time so that I don't get burned out or have an insanely huge homework load.

Well, I should probably get some reading done so I have less to do tomorrow. I just wanted to write a quick update.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ice-pocalypse and Earthquake

For anyone who knows the South, they know that every few years we get a snow that will shut down the state for a day or so. However, having [b]two[/b] storms in one winter is pretty much unheard of, even for Georgia's crazy weather.

Like the previous storm, people knew in advance that it was coming. But this one was predicted to be different: more ice, less snow. A day in advance, the governor declared a state of emergency, and people began stocking up early. On Tuesday the rain would start to fall (the temps were in the mid 30's) but was more like sleet. GGC closed down early, and people quickly hunkered down. On Wednesday, we had a mixture of ice, show, and rain all day. Everything was white, but it was mostly frozen ice. So no snowman or snowball fights this time (though further north there was more snow). Still, Wednesday we were content to sit at home and relax. We had a surprise visit from Ben's former roommate John, who walked a few miles, and we spent the afternoon playing Monopoly with him before he returned home before the weather turned worse. Thursday, the roads were still icy, so we stayed home again. However, because things were beginning to melt, Ben and Mandy did venture out to get some buns for hot dogs (the store shelves were pretty empty. They ended up buying sandwich rolls instead). That night, a few of us tried to use Seth's boogie board to try sledding/ snow-boarding, with some funny results (thankfully no one was hurt). By Friday, the roads were largely clear, so we were able to leave the house. School, much to my surprise, was closed again, so I pretty much only had one day of school that week (and our schedule was thrown off-kilter again... for the second time).

We're thankful that this time people knew to stay off the roads, so there wasn't another transportation disaster like last month. We're also thankful that we didn't lose our power or that the ice didn't cause a lot of damage (ice around here can be very dangerous). Also, we are thankful that we had enough food to last us most of the week without us going out. We had enough for the six of us (and for John for one afternoon), and Mandy even made gluten-free cupcakes one afternoon (which were eagerly devoured by everyone. They were delicious!). Also, even though we were squeezed, Mandy and Ben spent most of the week at our house because of the roads, and we weren't sick of each other by Friday (when they went home); I guess it's because we're used to living in small quarters anyway, but I'm thankful that things went so smoothly.

On Friday, we had a surprise. Mom, Dad, and myself were sitting in the living room and watching a movie (technically I was on my laptop with my headphones on, occasionally glancing up at the screen because I'd seen the film before) while Seth was in his room. Around 10:23, Seth saw that his bed was shaking like crazy while the rest of us did not notice anything out of the ordinary. Within two minutes, people on facebook were talking about feeling an earthquake. The quake was a 4.4 and came from South Carolina while people as far south as Atlanta could feel it. Not everyone felt the quake, but quite a few people (like Seth and Uncle Josh's family) did notice it. Mom and I are bummed that we did not feel it, as such things aren't overly common in Georgia (even though we do have a faultline running through half of the state and which runs not terribly far from where we live).

So, needless to say, things are rather exciting around here. I must say, there's rarely a dull moment being a Cunningham and living in Georgia :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Snow-pocalypse" 2014

You've probably heard on the news about a snowstorm hitting the South earlier this week and wrecking all kinds of havoc there. I can tell you, it is true.

For the past month or so, we've had some very cold temps (a high of 28 degrees during the day is NOT normal down here) but no snow. By last Sunday or so, we knew that some snow was heading our way, but the temps outside were in the 50s (which is tropical compared to the last few months). Monday was another beautiful day, but everyone at school was buzzing with the approaching snowstorm. One of the English faculty even called it the "snow-pocalypse," which my Medieval teacher borrowed in class.

Tuesday came cold and cloudy. I had no school that day so I sat in my room and did homework, constantly looking out the window for any sign of the promised snow. The snow flurries came about two hours earlier than predicted, and they grew thicker. Mandy came down to spend the afternoon with me and Mom while her hubby was teaching. Now around this time, things started getting a bit treacherous. When we went to the store, we noticed a lot of cars on the road, which Mandy speculated was from people leaving work and school early. Ben's afternoon classes were cancelled, but traffic and snow led to it taking him about four hours to make a journey that normally would have been about forty-five minutes to our house. Seth also took well over an hour to make a journey of similar length, as he left work early too.

Now I've seen on facebook some northerners wondering why the South tends to lock up when it snows. The problem is this: when the snow first started falling, the temps were not below freezing though the snow was sticking. As the temp began to drop, things began to freeze, and that is when the roads are dangerous. Because snow is rare down here, Georgians don't know how to drive on snow or ice, and they are unprepared too (few plows, few tire chains, no salt, etc...), which doesn't help. So, when people in Atlanta started leaving the city to go home early, things quickly got out of control as snow continued to fall and the temp continued to drop.

Because the highway was looking too treacherous, Mandy and Ben opted to spend the night with us instead of taking the risk. We went outside for a little snowball fight then built a litle snowman (which Ben called "Winston Churchill" because it had a stick cigar in its mouth). It was a bit tense, though, looking at the news of people being stranded on the highways (we knew a couple of people who were in that situation), and it was a relief when things began to clear up on Wednesday. However, it was still icy and the temps still remained close to freezing so not much had a chance to melt. Thankfully, Ben and Mandy safely made it home on Wednesday afternoon, and friends and family also made it home on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because of icy roads, most schools (including GGC) were closed down, so that gave me a day off from school.

Today, things warmed up, and some of the snow has melted while most roads are clear for safe travel (except for a few icy patches here and there). The temps are supposed to go up, so the snow will probably be gone by Saturday.

So, needless to say, it has been an interesting few days. And it will be even more interesting when we figure out school schedules because we lost a few days.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas 2013

We had an excellent Christmas this year.

The festivities began, as usual, with visiting Grandpa Mike's the Saturday before Christmas. We had a good time, but it got a little tense towards the end when a debate turned not-so-friendly. Thankfully, there are no hard feelings.

Then on Christmas Eve, we got together at Uncle Jason's. We had plenty of food and conversation before we opened up the presents. Because there are so many grandkids, this year the older ones participated in a Secret Santa gift swap. Then the fun of annual White Elephant gifts began. We had rusty horse shoes, an enormous tacky Christmas sweater, a Left Behind tape, and a Fez among the gifts. During a lull in the conversation, it was decided that we would have some singing. So Uncle Jason brought out a speaker, hooked it up to an iPad, and then used karaoke on youtube for the lyrics. I sang first, doing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." We also heard "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and then a hilarious and memorable performance of "Jingle Bell Rock" by Uncle Josh (he's quite the performer, and everyone was nearly crying by the end of it). After several hours of fun, we then went home. Mandy and Ben followed us, and they spent the night with us, wanting to open presents with us and spend Christmas Day with us.

On Christmas morning, I again was reluctantly dragged out of my bed by Mandy so that we could open presents. I was pleased with the gifts that I bought everyone and am very happy with what I received, which included some history books (perfect for a geek like me), musical CDs, and clothes. Then Ben's mom Kelly arrived, and we had breakfast. I had my own Udi's gluten-free cinnamon roll and a crust-free sausage quiche while Mom made homemade cinnamon rolls with bacon (she got the idea from a guy at church) and normal quiche. After breakfast, we opened Kelly's presents and then settled in for a nice, relaxing Christmas day. This included games on the Wii, Boggle, a movie quote game, plenty of food, a British version of monopoly (complete with British accents and some rather intense competition from Ben and Kelly), a game of Sorry, some napping, a movie, and plenty of chocolate (which someone later learned was not a good idea). It was a good day, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The day afterwards, Ben and Mandy came back down and spent the entire day with us again. In fact, there were quite a few days where they would come over and hang out for several hours. We enjoyed being with them, and we're thankful that they enjoy being with us.

After Christmas, Dad decided to replace the tile in our kitchen. This meant removing the fridge, the dishwasher, and the stove all out of their positions and being unable to use the dishwasher or the stove for a few days. It was tricky, but we managed it. Mom even showed off her skills by making fish tacos and slaw without using the stove or oven. Our new tile is gorgeous, and Dad did a good job on it. We also replaced our dishwasher with a new one, which is far quieter than our previous one (which sounded like a rocket about to take off and which forced us to turn up the TV really loud just to be able to hear anything).

Now Christmas has ended, and we are more or less back on a normal schedule. I started school back this week and am taking three classes: World History 2, a Medieval class, and a Modern European history. It is strange to be in two upper-level classes where I don't know anyone but everyone seems to know each other, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It is nice, though, because this semester three people from church are attending and I see two of them whenever I go to class (our first classes of the day are right next to each other). I'm looking forward to more of the classes, especially the Medieval one.

Oh, and a brief note. This week we saw the coldest weather in Georgia for several years. The temperature dropped to a high of twenty five degrees with a low in the single-digits (we were all bundled up inside the house. Mom made a box for Jayne and Pooky outside, which both really liked). Yeah, brr.... but we made it. Forty-five degrees, which is normal, feels balmy after the temps earlier this week. On the plus side, the cold killed the bugs, so hopefully summer will be relatively bug-free (at least, as much as the South can be).