Friday, July 17, 2009

Thanks for the flowers!

I got these gorgeous flowers at work this afternoon - delivered by FTD. They are so beautiful! It did come with a note, "I am so proud of you!" but no name. Thanks to the sender - they made my day! :)

Update: Flowers are from my *fabulous* SIL! Thanks, Jenn! You're the best!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Call me Registered Architect!

I got my FINAL PASS for my FINAL ARE in my inbox this afternoon! It's hard to believe after all the school and work and studying that I finally got through this exam! I am more relieved than anything that I will not have to be retaking anything in 6 months. It's been a lifelong quest and I am very proud to finally have achieved it.

There's still paperwork and money to be exchanged in the upcoming weeks, but as far as I am concerned, you can call me Ina Bachmann, RA! (Registered Architect, for those that don't know.) Bye-bye "Intern Architect," hello liability! Thanks to all of you who have offered up support, prayers, kind words, and good thoughts! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Orlando Part 1: Sea World

We arrived late Sunday evening in Orlando and enjoyed a great Cuban dinner at Bongos Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney. We were able to stroll around the West Side area very briefly after dinner, as the shops were closing. But we planned to come back another day to check more of it out.

Monday morning, we took our time getting up and getting ready. I ran over to the resort grocery store to grab a few things for breakfast - milk, eggs, cereal. We finally got out the door around 11:30 am and headed to Sea World. We were met by a whole line of cars queued to get into the parking lot (as we expected). Luckily, the parking and tram part went quickly, and we were soon at the ticket booth. SIL works for A-B, so she had 1/2 price coupons for admission, which was very nice. We started by checking out the "Believe" Shamu Show, which was a great start to the day. Our seats were labeled as part of the splash section, but we never actually had any of the killer whales get close enough to our seats to get us wet. As hot as it was, it might have actually been refreshing!

After "Believe," we were getting hungry, so we headed over to The Terrace to grab a bratwurst sandwich to share (hoping it would tide us over for a little while) and water. SIL checked out the A-B store, then we headed over to the Clydesdale Hamlet to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. They have 6 Clydesdales in the barn there, and they were enormous! Beautiful horses to see in person!

Next, we checked out Shark Encounter. Then we headed for the sea lion and otter show, but it was already packed out. Made a mental note to show up really early for the next show. DH wanted to ride a ride at this point, so he and SIL headed for Manta. I usually like most roller coasters, but for some reason I was not in a roller coaster mood this day, and I was also uneasy about leaving my very nice and expensive camera in a locker, so I told them to go ahead and I would look around some other exhibits that I wanted to see while they were in line for Manta. I checked out the underwater sting ray tank at the base of Manta - it was pretty cool because you were looking up through the bottom of the tank and could see the undersides of all of the rays swimming around. Then I went to see the penguins and puffins and decided it was about time to head over to the sea lion and otter show to wait in line. The seating area was still closed off, so I walked nearby to Pacific Point to see the sea lions and seals. They were all basking in the sun and sleeping. One baby sea lion was trying to nurse, much to the protest of the mama trying to nap. DH and SIL called about then having gotten off Manta, and we met outside the Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island stage to wait for seats to open. After about 10 minutes, they let us in and we got pretty good seats. As folks trickled into the seats, a mime clown appeared and proceeded to deceive, harass (in fun), and mimic the crowd shuffling in. He would hold up fingers as if to ask how many seats a family was looking for, then motion them to follow him, then he would lead them past all the seats and out the exit on the other side! He went up to a family that entered with an elderly lady in a wheelchair, took over pushing the wheelchair for them, and zoomed her around the front until she finally turned around and realized that her daughter was no longer pushing her chair! And taking the cake was the elderly lady that showed up in an electric scooter. He hopped onto the scooter, standing and straddling her lap, proceeded to drive the scooter, shooing the crowd in front of him, around the front to a spot where she could park in the wheelchair section! He was a hoot to watch! Finally the show started, and as we learned, otters are not as easy to train as sea lions. But the show was fun, and we got to see 2 sea lions, an otter, and a walrus in action. The "sword fight" with the otter was pretty cute. And the trainers/actors did make the best of a couple of miscues with the animals.

DH and SIL went to ride Kraken next. I decided to sit that one out as well, and watched the Journey to Atlantis water ride for awhile, and checked out Manatee Rescue Dolphin Cove while I waited on them. The manatees were not that exciting, even though they were *slowly* feeding on lettuce. The dolphins were much more fun to watch. There was one side of the cove cordoned off for people who wanted to pay to feed some small fish to the dolphins. They had a nice overlook on the opposite side, so I went up there to watch the feedings. The dolphins showed a lot of personality - some would pop right up alongside the feeding area, allow their heads and sides to be petted, and some even purposefully splashed people! They are some smart and funny animals for sure!

After DH and SIL finished riding Kraken, they met me by Dolphin Cove and we walked the rest of the park. Stopped by the Sting Ray Lagoon and Turtle Point to see the big sea turtles.

At this point, it was about 5 in the evening, and we were pretty worn out and ready to head back. So we said bye to Shamu and headed home to wash up and get dinner. We ended up going back to Downtown Disney Marketplace to have dinner at Portobello Italian Trattoria. The food was pretty good, and we had a very accomodating waiter. Afterwards, we checked out the Lego store and World of Disney store. We scoped out a few things to think about purchasing, then headed back to get some sleep so we could get up early for Animal Kingdom on Tuesday. More about AK in Part 2!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fabulous Fourth!

We had a busy but great Fourth of July long weekend. I got up on the 4th at my usual crack-of-dawn hour to get DH and SIL to MARTA for the Peachtree Road Race. Although DH is still sporting a week-old broken rib, he walked it without problem. It was too bad he couldn't run - he actually got a group 3 number this year - best number ever! SIL had a group 6 number, so she ran and caught up with DH walking and they did the last bit together. After a brief scare and driving back home to find that my wallet had been in the glove compartment the whole time, I staked out my usual spot at the Colony Square fountain to watch. I am so proud of my PRR-ers!

We spent the evening at friends Steph and Chris's house for burgers and fireworks. I got to play with my new toy - a Nikon ML-L3 wireless remote control that I managed to pick up from Showcase during lunch on Thursday. DH and I got some great long-exposure shots of sparklers and fireworks. Can you see Chris spelling his name with his sparkler? So fun!
Sunday through Wednesday we spent trekking with SIL to Orlando to spend some time at the parks. We stayed at my parents' newly-renovated timeshare, so that was great! We spent Monday at Sea World and Tuesday at Animal Kingdom. Saw lots of animals, rode some rides, and luckily didn't get rained on until late afternoon Tuesday, right after the AK parade. I'll post more details and pics in a day or two!

Friday, July 3, 2009

New TV Setup


and After:

It took a few hours over the course of 4 days, but we took our time and finally got our new TV stand put together. I think it looks great! Plenty of room for the Wii and accessories on the left side, center speaker and receiver in the center, and the other components on the right. The three drawers fit Will controllers, manuals, and remotes nicely. We like it very much!