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Paparazzi

Yesterday I spent the morning hiding in some bushes, taking pictures of my friend Matt proposing to my friend Amber. Despite feeling like a stalker army crawling across a field and lying on the ground with my zoom lens peeking through the shrubs, it was so fun to have been a part of such a personal and special moment.

And who can complain when these are the bushes you’re hiding in???

You can see some of the photos I took on my Flickr page. Congratulations to Amber and Matt!!

 

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Recents

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This week has been my first week of the fall semester. While I didn’t have too much of a break for the summer, with summer school and my job, there’s just something about June, July, and August that makes life feel slow and carefree. To my surprise, I was ready to get into the swing of things and to tackle everything with full force. My life for the next few months will consist of a whole lot of this:

That’s a head set if you can’t tell. Or a Brittany Spears mic, as I like to call it.

Since becoming an adult, I have learned quite a few things about myself. One of those things is that the more things I have to fit into a day, the more I actually get done. I know that sounds strange, but what it really comes down to is structure. I didn’t always know this about myself, but apparently I need quite a bit of structure. I don’t do very well with a work from home job and online classes (this has been my life for the last year or so). I tend to find things to do around the house instead of working on a project on my laptop. I find myself spending way too much time wandering the internet or playing with miniature beagles when I should be reading for class.

Now some people (my husband, for example) would do anything to have a day where all they do is sit in a chair and read. They are disciplined, hard working, and they thrive in long periods of quiet. The less they have to do in a day, the happier they are. The more they have to read, the happier they are. OK, so maybe I am just describing Dave.

All that to say, while one might think I’m crazy to take on two jobs, school, and an internship, this semester is looking much more attractive because I finally have more structure to my life! I’m still working as a project assistant for the relationship education job, but I’m also nannying for a sweet baby girl named Madeline. Aside from the fact that I love getting to spend a few days a week with such a lovely little girl, it gets me out of the house early in the morning (they live in Raleigh) and allows me to structure my day around her schedule. See – perfect! I then get to work on school work while she sleeps – everyone is happy!

I’m also very excited about the class I’m taking this semester (my last class before I graduate). The class is about complex family issues: families in crisis. We will be talking about divorce and step-parenting, abuse and neglect, addictions, adoption, teen parenthood, and death and illness in the family. I’m excited because these are the types of issues that I will most likely come into contact with in my future work. I’m all about applicability!

Despite all of this praise of strucure and obligation, let me just say that I’m incredably thankful for the flexibility that Dave and I have to be able to hop in the car and drive to the coast for the day so Dave can surf the best waves of his life (thank you Irene). While everyone else was evacuating the town in preparation for Irene’s impending visit, Dave and I were barreling down the high way toward the ocean as fast as our Taurus would go. Dave was like a kid in a candy store once he saw those huge waves. It was a fun day indeed… until his board snapped off into someone’s ankle… but alas, that is a story for him to tell you. For now, enjoy these pics : )

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Hi, friends! This week I launched a Facebook page for Hannahkline Cake Design in an attempt to be a little more public about my baking and to spread the word.  If you’re on Facebook, and you haven’t already, please go and ‘like’ my page. Thanks for all of your support in this endeavor!

Don’t forget to keep up with my baking blog – Seven Spoons. That’s where I post recent recipes and photos of the things I’ve been making.

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Proud.

This is Grayson Robert Baker. He graced this world with his presence back in September. Isn’t he cute?

Grayson belongs to Elizabeth (Dave’s sister and my sis-in-law) and Ryan. He is a rock star for sure.

We love him very very much, and we hate that we’ve only been able to spend a limited amount of time with him.

The real reason I wanted to write this post though, is not about Grayson (sorry little guy). It’s about his mum (or mom… tomayto, tomarto), Elizabeth. To be specific, it’s to brag about her.

I’ve always thought of Elizabeth as a very capable person. She knows how to get the job done. And she does it well, whatever the ‘job’ may be. When Elizabeth had Grayson back in September, she (and we) had no clue about the journey her family was about to embark on with this bundle of joy. It is a complicated journey that would take me many posts to explain, so you can read more about it on her blog (linked above).

Since the beginning of that journey back in September, I’ve watched (or heard about from a far) Elizabeth go through some of the scariest challenges a mother can go through. Being told at a newborn checkup that your baby needs to be rushed to the hospital due to dehydration isn’t something that you’re trained how to react to. Watching your tiny 5-pound baby go through a spinal tap procedure doesn’t appear in many of the parenting books these days. But Elizabeth managed. It was very very hard for her, but she did it. You can read about everything they went through in the first couple of weeks here.

We visited shortly after Grayson’s arrival back in October, then we visited at Christmas, and we also saw them in Charlotte back in January. Each time I’ve seen Elizabeth and heard about everything they’ve been going through (the good and the difficult), I’ve been struck by her tenacity, her honesty, and her unwavering love for G. I’ve heard that there are many expectations that come with motherhood. Expectations of how those first few months will unfold, how everything will be happy and (though not always easy), filled with joy, love, and bonding. After going through the countless trials and tribulations that no mother should have to go through, I’ve seen Elizabeth put many of those expectations aside in order to be the mom that Grayson needs.

Although that is a tremendous feat in itself, what I really admire is the honesty, transparency, and humility that Elizabeth has shown in the process. I tell people all the time that I don’t know how she does it, looking after Grayson, 4 dogs, and for a while an immobile husband (Ryan had 2 knee surgeries in the the first couple of months of G’s life).  Elizabeth is completely open with people about how much of a struggle the last few months have been. She is transparent about how it has made her feel and the daily struggles that come with putting many of the expectations aside, while also sharing the joys and privileges that she experiences with G. In a world where competition and pride runs rampant, even in (or especially in) motherhood, seeing someone actually embrace the struggle not as something to just get through and do well, but as a lifetime of learning, loving, and being patient, is admirable and inspiring to say the least.

On this Wednesday morning, as I’m miles and miles away from Elizabeth, Grayson, and Ryan, I guess I just wanted to brag on them. To say that I’m proud of you. To say that you’ve inspired me (and many others) as I’ve watched you step into a motherhood that maybe looks a little different from what you thought it would be. It’s interesting that people always say “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”, but that’s only because God designed you to handle it. God designed Elizabeth with strength, capability, creativity, unceasing love, and lots of patience that she probably didn’t know she had until now. Grayson is so lucky to have you, Momma. And we are very proud of the Mom you’ve become.

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Run rabit, run rabit.

About four years ago I made it a life goal of mine to run a half marathon. I got into running races when I was in college and did a few 5ks before progressing to 10ks. I enjoy the rush of competition and at the same time I love partaking in something where you’re all struggling together to reach the end alive.

I haven’t always liked running. In fact, I used to loathe it with every ounce of my being. If my 13 year-old self could hear my 25-year old self talking about half marathons, I think she would keel over and die. When I was in secondary school back in England, I remember being forced to run long distances in PE and wanting to die every time. The PE teacher would stand at the finish line with that ominous stop watch yelling at the top of his lungs for me to get a move on. At the age of 12, running was intimidating. It was unpleasant. And worst of all, running reminded me of how un-athletic and self-conscious I was.

I spent the better part of high school attempting to remedy my fear of anything remotely athletic. It all started when I was a Freshman and my parents decided we should collectively get on the Body for Life diet/exercise plan. I mean, who couldn’t resist wanting to look like this hunk?

Yeah…

For a 15 year old teenager, this wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, I assure you. We began getting up at the crack of dawn and going to the gym before school. Every day. Before school. EVERY DAY. The Watson household started eating everything in fist-sized portions, eating low-fat versions of our favorite foods, and pining over the before-and-after transformations in the book that this guy ^ promised to deliver. At school, I spent the 5 minutes between classes choking down power bars that tasted like cardboard and slim fast shakes that tasted like pepto bismol hoping that none of my class mates would notice.

As awful as I make this sound, it actually was a significant turning point in my life. I began to not feel so intimidated about exercise and healthy food choices. It lead the way to me joining the tennis team in my high school in Texas and getting first place in the district competition, then going on to compete at State. That was something my 12 year-old self would have never imagined.

Well, this year I decided it’s now or never. I signed up for that half-marathon and I’ll be running it come rain or shine on March 20th. I’m training with a friend who’s tall and lean and somewhat of a veteran when it comes to running half marathons. But I often smile to myself as I puff and pant and struggle to keep up with her long-legged pace. I smile about how far I’ve come from those dreadful middle school days of fear and embarrassment.  From those days of never thinking that I’d be any good at sports. Well, I’m no pro but I’m finally doing this. I’m finally trying, and boy does it feel good : ) If I can do it, anyone can. See you at the finish line!

Me running a 10k in 2007

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It has been a long while since I last updated you on the life and times of the Klines. For that I apologize. But do not fear, for I am about to make up for it by bombarding you with weeks worth of happenings and news. For that you are welcome.

Last weekend Jess and Stephanie came from Austin to stay with us for a long weekend. We toured them around Duke campus on Saturday where they got to experience the Cameron Crazies firsthand during the biggest basketball weekend of the entire year (Duke vs. UNC). Hundreds of slightly/moderately/severely intoxicated fans covered in blue body paint carting huge 80’s style boom boxes around is always a fun time, in my opinion.

We spent some time outside enjoying the early spring weather, took them to Mad Hatters, watched a lot of modern family, and of course, went out for drinks with some friends to celebrate Jess’ recent coming of age! Fun fun fun.

It was Dave’s spring break (reading week) last week so we decided to celebrate our anniversary early by taking a quick trip to Asheville, NC. We booked a night in a lovely little bed and breakfast one mile from downtown and less than half a mile from the Biltmore Estate.

Our plans of hiking on the mountain trails were foiled by the rain but we got to spend a lovely morning exploring the Biltmore thanks to a kind couple who gave us some free tickets! They even gave us tickets for an audio tour so we got to learn about all the history and people who lived there.

“Biltmore house is a French Renaissance-style mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2) and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age.”

We had a lovely dinner and a great two days relaxing and spending time together. We reflected on our last two years together and the many experiences that have molded and shaped us. It’s interesting to think back on what our marriage has looked like in both the exciting and fulfilling times, as well as the challenging and mundane times.  Because after all, our story is comprised of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the highs and the lows. We are so thankful to God for how he has blessed us with each other, with our families, and with our friends.

On Saturday night we carpooled with a group of friends to Carrboro to go and see Over the Rhine in concert.  We’ve seen them several times now (Dave more than I) and we are still amazed at how good they are live.

To top it all off Dave came home on Monday (our actual anniverary) with one of the most beautiful bouquets of roses I have ever seen. We gave each other cards, and then went out to dinner at Piedmont downtown where I had butternut squash & ricotta ravioli with sage brown butter & parmesan and Dave had roast breast of poulet rouge with créme fraîche mashed potatoes, brussles sprouts & tarragon jus. It was delicious! After dinner we came home and watched the footage of our ceremony. I cried when we said our vows, as I always do when I watch the video, and I was overcome emotion as I remembered how special the day was, and how wonderful it was to have all the people that we love so much around us.

Monday went from great to greater when I received word from NC State that I got into the graduate program I had applied for! I will be pursuing a Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Parent Education. I am so excited to have been accepted, and am glad that all the work on the GRE/application paid off! When I called my parents to tell them my Dad immediately posted it as his Facebook status and my Mum cried and called me a brainy box (which I last recall being used circa 1993 in England). It was so sweet.

To make the week even better, our friends Tim and Pam stopped in yesterday for a night on their way to see a friend in Albany, NY. It was so lovely to see them even if it was only a brief visit! We feasted on fajitas and cupcakes last night, and then Pam and I dropped Dave and Tim on campus at 8 this morning so that Tim could go to Dave’s New Testament class. Pam and I soothed our tired bodies with coffee and girly chatting which is always enjoyable.  They even brought us some cuvee coffee, some tea from the Tea Embassy, and some home-grown veggies from their garden! What good friends : )

That’s all for now folks!

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