Currently browsing: Gardendale
I’d like to start by saying: We’re OK! We really appreciate the emails, texts, Tweets, Facebook messages, and so on. We made it out with little damage and are really counting our blessings. Many in our neighboring communities did not fare so well. My beloved state and home is hurting right now, and there are many who did not make it through the storms. My heart goes out to all affected by yesterday’s destructive weather.
Gardendale made it out OK for the most part. Our sister city, Fultondale, looks like a war zone. Had the tornado that hit Birmingham been just a few miles northward, that would’ve been us. But it wasn’t, I have to keep telling myself. We were really lucky. We have many friends in other affected communities: Cullman, Tuscaloosa, Prattville, Warrior, Huntsville, downtown Birmingham. This particular system hit all the way up and down the state, leaving massive destruction in its wake. We had plenty of warning, but how do you prepare for an F5 tornado?
It just goes to show that no matter how prepared you think you are, it’s never enough. I’ve found that a smart phone is no replacement for a weather radio or battery-operated radio and stock of flashlights. That said, I have to give kudos to ABC33/40 for their nice weather app. I’m a big Fox6 fan, but found 33/40′s easier to use when we lost power. I was able to still get streaming video and weather updates …
… at least until the cell towers died.
But seriously, there’s still a lot of folks sitting in the dark right along with us; or worse, have no home to come back to. Please keep my fellow Alabamians in your thoughts and/or prayers. And for anyone looking for resources to help (or for help), here’s what I’ve found so far:
To donate to disaster victims in Alabama:
- Online: go to www.alredcross.org and click on the “donate now” link on the homepage
- Call: 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and you will be prompted to a menu that includes financial donations
- Text: “Red Cross” to 90999. A response will include two options for donations, either to Japan or for Disasters: domestic and spring storms.
To get in touch with local chapters:
- Northern Alabama http://www.redcrossrelief.org/
- Mid-Alabama (Birmingham) http://www.alredcross.org/general.asp?SN=8618&OP=8619&IDCapitulo=DRGYJ0Q5XZ
- Central Alabama (Montgomery) http://www.montgomeryarc.org/
- Southern Alabama http://www.redcrossalcoast.org/
Find a Red Cross shelter near you:
For storm survivors: Register yourself as “Safe and Well:”
At approximately 5:10pm CST, Jessie and I were in an automobile accident. We’re both ok. Jessie was in her car seat (a booster seat) and has a knot on her head and is still a little shaken up. I’ll be sore for a small bit, but we’re both OK and relatively unharmed. However, I cannot say the same for my car.
I was sitting, fully stopped, about to turn in to my subdivision. A young lady in a gold Pontiac G6 did not see my brake lights and hit me from behind at almost full speed. I say “almost” because she tried to stop suddenly … her brakes squealed, and BOOM! Knocked us forward with such momentum that everything in my dash came out and littered the car seats and floor. The A/C vents were knocked out on one side, I have no idea where my cigarette lighter is, my Bluetooth ear piece is also nowhere to be found, etc. — aggravating because I had *just* cleaned the inside of my car!
The external damage is a lot worse. Both back doors will not open or shut properly. The trunk door is slightly unhinged. The whole rear bumper and undercarriage is broken and mangled an hangs down off the car — in fact, the car is not drivable because it’s pushed up against my two back wheels. I’m also a little worried about 3 of the 5 doors not being able to properly close or lock. The seal around one of the back windows is also a bit warped — I think if she had hit me any harder it probably would have popped right out. Half of my tail lights are popped out of place and/or mangled. There’s gold paint all over the back end and back (trunk) door.
I felt sorry for the young lady who hit me, she was hysterical and had only had her car for 2 weeks. She kept crying and said, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”, over and over. I really felt bad for her, I’ve been in her situation before and it’s an ugly feeling. Within minutes, her father and her agent (both lived nearby) were there, then a Gardendale police officer arrived. I had already called Jim at this point, and he was on his way home.
Luckily this happened outside our end of the subdivision, so we weren’t but just a few hundred yards from the house. Jim drove my car back to the house and Jessie and I hopped in his car. I’ve already called and left a message for my boss on his cell. I’m going to try to work from home tomorrow but at this point don’t know yet how much will get done (if anything at all).
I had wanted to post about other stuff, but to be honest, I just want to unplug for a bit and spend some time with my husband and daughter. It sounds so cliché, but we really are lucky it’s just the car that’s damaged. Everybody’s ok … cars are replaceable, people aren’t.
Hit my cell if it’s anything important … otherwise I’ll get around to email and other stuff later.
April 21, 2008 by Nicki
This weekend flew by WAY too fast. Friday I had a killer headache, plus rain came in later that evening so we didn’t get to setup our booth until Saturday morning. This turned out to be a real blessing in disguise as the tents that WERE setup Friday night were blown everywhere and the ones still standing had a ton of water on/in them! :shock:
It didn’t take near as long as I thought to set everything up Saturday morning, but I printed too few Soldiers’ Angels info cards to hand out. I had plenty of fliers and a handful of people stopped to look at the binder of pictures and PR materials, but the cards went out the fastest and in greater numbers. I can understand why, they’re small and can easily fit in a pocket rather than having to fold up (the much larger fliers).
Jessie participated in the demonstration put on by her karate school. She looked very fierce and determined, and performed really well! Jim’s mother came up from Montgomery with our niece and nephews, so it was great seeing them. (hehe, the boys used Jim as exercise equipment, so that was pretty funny) I also got to meet and spend a little time with Elaine and her husband from Painted Personalities.
As I’m typing this post, the pictures of the Alabama A-Day Game and this weekend’s Magnolia Festival are being uploaded to my Zooomr account. They seemed to have been having problems earlier this morning, but everything looks pretty good now for the most part (outside of the few hiccups that I have had to re-upload).
From hearing from my own adopted soldiers, and friends and family who’ve served or are still serving, I can only imagine how that soldier feels. It’s got to be one of the worst things in the world — feeling forgotten, unloved.
I hope whoever that card was meant to reach got the message. But how many others are out there feeling the same way?
At the Magnolia Festival yesterday, something struck me as I explained to those who came by the booth about Soldiers’ Angels and what we do — there are so many here who want to help, but have no idea where to go or how to get started. I had a large stack of cards with the Soldiers’ Angels web address and our mission statement on them, and gave out every single one.
A few stopped to look at the binder of pictures and testimonials I had. One that the binder contained was this:
“Mail is more important than even hot showers or hot food. When I was in Fallujah, the mail center received about eight shipping containers every two days; three were filled with letters. People at home probably have no idea how much their little cards, letter and goodie bags boost morale. Countless walls around Iraq are wallpapered with cards and letters. Soldiers and marines especially love the cards from kids. There is nothing better over here than reading two-dozen cards from kids who can barely hold a crayon. If a kid sends a card, rest assured that card will be stuck in a wall somewhere, and it will bring a smile to many a soldiers and marine.”
- author Michael Yon, Moment of Truth in Iraq
It’s such a simple thing and yet it means the world to someone a thousand miles away. If you are interested, please visit www.soldiersangels.org and help us support those who are deployed throughout the world defending and protecting the freedoms we cherish.
(x-posted to Bama Angels)
It’s busy time! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately, work is busy, home is busy, and what little spare time I’ve had has been for cooking, eating, and sleeping — and pretty much in that order. Jessie’s into her last semester of the school year. Things are starting to pick back up at work. Jim’s really busy at NSR.
My birthday is next week. Considering nobody’s asked me what I want yet, I’m hoping for something to go shopping with. *grin* Though cash would be nice … I’ve been eying a very nice Smith & Wesson .38 special. :mrgreen:
Things with Soldiers’ Angels has been going great! I’ve been gathering materials for the upcoming Magnolia Festival and will have everything I need for the event mid next week. I’m looking forward to meeting people from this and neighboring communities and will hopefully gain some new SA members from it!
Time to roll, Tide!
Alabama’s A-Day Game is this upcoming weekend, so Jess and I will be headed to T-town to meet up with Teresa and her loved ones. I’ll be gathering a few travel supplies over the next few days and (if Jim lets me borrow his camera) hopefully get some great A-Day pictures!
Time to design
I noticed on the Lunarpages blog a week or so back that they are having another WordPress design contest. YAY! I’ve started on a few designs to enter, and will post a sneak peek of the first one here when it’s ready (hopefully this weekend, but realistically early next week).
Jim and I went out for the evening and on the way to dinner, we ducked into Wal-mart for “just a couple of things.” Boy oh boy, I should know better than to shop when we’re hungry. I think we came home with half the store. LOL!
Rather than buying Jessie a pre-made Easter basket, we stocked up on various candies, stuffed animals, and other toys and goodies and will be putting her basket together manually. All together it probably cost 3 times as much as the basket, but she’d have more stuff and it’s more personalized. After all, who can resist camo Easter eggs?
Jessie’s so gonna be spoiled.
A couple of hours later, we finally get out of Wal-mart and headed up to El Carreton in Gardendale. It looks like a hole in the wall place, but trust me, it’s got the BEST Mexican/Spanish food I’ve ever had!
I highly recommend their chimichangas! :mrgreen:
I admit, I am a bit later getting this out than I would have liked, but I think I’ve covered everything pretty well.
Vendors and Services We Used
Online Wedding Planner / Organizer: The Knot — The Knot offered a great online organizer service that allowed me to track and keep up with events associated to the wedding and the wedding planning process. They offer a ton of services, but what I found most useful was the adjustable checklist and portable guest/gift registry. I used the guest list to generate mailing labels for addressing the invitations, and the same for using the gift registry for generating mailing labels for thank you notes. I can honestly say that using The Knot’s services made my job a little easier. Wedding planning is hard work, but their website’s services helped me keep my chaos organized.
Wedding Dress: My Sister’s Closet — Someone on eBay referred me to her online store. My dress was new, never altered, and came at a very reasonable price. She shipped quickly and the dress was packaged very well.
Flower Girl Dress: Ducklings & Daffodils — Also a gem found on eBay, she shipped quickly and everything was packaged very well. Description was slightly inaccurate, but she was pretty quick to fix a mix-up, and overall I am pleased with the dress.
Wedding Location: The Birmingham Botanical Gardens — We were blessed with beautiful weather, and despite the drought all summer, the gardens were still as beautiful as ever. We paid a deposit of $100 for one hour in the Japanese Gardens. We also had the option of an hour rehearsal in the Japanese Gardens which would have had to been scheduled prior to the wedding (we ended up not needing it). The reservation also provided that we could setup as early as 30 minutes before the wedding. The gardens staff also allowed us to use their back gate so our guests would not have to walk from the visitor’s entrance at the main gate. (this has to be requested prior to the event!) All in all, we had a VERY lovely ceremony and I highly recommend the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to anyone who is looking for a wedding location.
Reception Location: Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites — Unfortunately the reception room at the gardens was already booked for our date, so we held our ceremony here. This worked out in our favor for several reasons: 1. we needed a backup location in case of rain (the gardens’ rain shelter only holds 15-20 people); 2. we were able to start setting up the day before the wedding and did not have to rush; 3. we rented a suite in the hotel that was large enough for me, my entourage, and several others to get ready and do other wedding-related things the day before and day of the wedding; 4. the reception hall we rented was plenty large enough to hold everyone and several more, and was only right down the hall from our room so we could scurry back and forth getting things packed up during and after the reception. The Marriott staff were accommodating in every way possible and were a huge help in making our reception go as smoothly as possible. They went above and beyond when it came to customer service and we will definitely be using them again!
Miscellaneous Location / Meeting Room: Gardendale Civic Center — We used rooms at the Civic Center for several small and miscellaneous things related to the wedding. We met here with our pastor to cover the ceremony program as well as our consultation. We also used it to gather with friends and family to put together the wedding favors. The civic center staff have always been helpful and very accommodating. Their rooms are reasonably priced and book VERY quickly; so if you’re interested, give Linda Harris a call as soon as you have your event date/details!
Wedding Favors: Oriental Trading Company, The Paper Works Outlet, Elizabeth’s Treasures — My wedding favors comprised of large take-out boxes from Elizabeth’s Treasures; chopsticks, candy, magnets, and filler from Oriental Trading Company; wrapping materials by Paper Works Outlet. I had pleasant experiences with all three. The Paper Works Outlet is a local business (metro-area Birmingham), and was only a short drive from work or home. Their staff was very helpful in giving advice and ideas, as well as helping me look for anything I needed. I ordered online from both Oriental Trading Co. and Elizabeth’s Treasures; both shipped quickly and were quick to answer any questions I had.
Wedding Dress Alterations: Just Alterations (205-914-3081) — Located in the strip mall located beside the Gardendale Post Office, she was easy to work with and always very accommodating to my crazy schedule. She not only did a great job and worked quickly, she offered a lot of useful advice. I’m pleased to refer anyone I can to her, as I believe that no one else could’ve done a better job than she did with my dress!
Photography: His Hands Photography — I’ve never enjoyed having my picture taken until I met Samantha. She instantly put me at ease and I was able to enjoy the sessions and just have fun. Her husband used to work with my husband, and she was also referred by several people I know. She did both my bridal photos and wedding day photos. She’s also done a few sessions for my brother-in-law and his family as well as my mother-in-law. She does excellent work and works with you to meet any and all needs you may have. I highly recommend her services to anyone looking for a photographer for special events or for any photography needs in general!
DJ Services & MC: DJ Vez — Both my husband and I have worked with him in the past. Not only did he do a great job with the musical layout, he also helped keep the festivities rolling by making announcements and prompts when needed. We have enjoyed his company as well as his friendship and would recommend him to anyone in search of DJ’ing or music services.
Wedding Cake: Wal-mart — Yep, believe it or not, Wal-mart’s prices were very reasonable AND the cake was both lovely and delicious! The only thing they didn’t do that most everyone else did was deliver. That was no problem for us because the nearest Wal-mart was only a few minutes from the reception location. Wal-mart did a lovely job on decorating the cake and provided everything we needed to set it up as we desired. The price was the well within our budget and we even had filling added to the largest layer — our guests LOVED it!
Hair & Makeup: Merle Norman, Linda’s School of Beauty — Prior to the wedding, I had a makeover done at the local Merle Norman studio. Unfortunately they were not available to do my makeup early the morning of my wedding (they would not be open early enough for me to get it done), but they were very helpful in showing me how to do my makeup and what colors/tones to use to get the effect I wanted. Pretty much the same for my hair, Linda’s would not be open early enough for me to get mine done that day. However, I’d gained a lot of advice and tips previously and their staff (students) have always done a great job on my hair. I highly recommend both of these establishments to anyone looking for hair and/or makeup services!
Local Wedding Resources
These are various wedding-related resources that I ran across in the course of my research: Alabama Bridal Directories, Brides.com, Bama Bride, Alabama Bridal, Weddings Alabama, Alabama Wedding Magazine, Brides Club
Eventective – This handy tool helped me refine my search for ceremony and reception sites. You can customize your searches based on location, need, size, etc. Not just for weddings either, you can use Eventective to look for event sites for just about any occasion. Using this site helped me narrow down my research to a select group of potential sites and provided just about all of the information I needed in order to evaluate whether or not I could use a particular company/site.