I’ve been distracted, which is why I haven’t been writing in here lately.

There have been good distractions and wonderful distractions and birthday distractions and shocking distractions and all kinds of things have been distracting me and holy run-on sentence.

And now I have a kidney infection.  Ugh.  I lean back and ouch!  There are my kidneys!  I bend down and ouch!  There are my kidneys!  I turn over in bed and ouch!  There are my kidneys!

Do you get the picture?

My kidneys hurt!

So I have an appointment at 4:20 (tee hee) to get on some antibiotics and knock this thing out.

The kidney pain started on my birthday – happy birthday to me!

It really was a happy birthday, actually.  A special birthday.

Per birthday tradition, we went to the state fair and saw the governor!  Well, let me make this clear: seeing the governor of North Carolina is not traditional; going to the fair is.  Anyway, the governor was walking around with just her husband and granddaughter.  I couldn’t believe she had no bodyguards or security folks with her, but I guess she’s less likely to get recognized without all the entourage.

One of my gifts was a pair of tickets to see The Killers in Virginia in December – a very awesome surprise from my hubby.  I’m going out of town to see a band!  I feel so cool!  And yesterday my cable modem was acting-up, so I went to Starbucks to work, which made me feel even cooler.  All of a sudden I’m one of those people who sips lattes at Starbucks while searching on their laptop for places to sleep when they go out of town for concerts.

This year in which I’m 33 is going to bring about all kinds of coolness.  I can feel it.

Speaking of cool, our house has a staircase!  I can finally see what’s happening on the second floor!  Allan hasn’t let the lack of stairs stop him – he climbs beams and shaky ladders.  Not I.  I waited for the stairs.  And they’re here!  It was very exciting.

I still feel like the house building is kind of boring now.  Our realtor agreed – nothing is quite as exciting as going from a concrete footprint to a house.  After that, the interior stuff is just kinda eh.  But she said the drywall portion is fun, too, so I’ll look forward to it.

I’m also going to look forward to spending more time with my nephew at Thanksgiving because, my goodness, that kid just keeps getting better.  We actually played together this weekend.  And laughed together this weekend.  And bonded this weekend.  It was pretty magical for me.

He seems quite interested in my camera, which is basically always in my hand whenever he’s in sight.  He knows there’s some sort of correlation between the gadget and him and the images he sees.  In the meantime, whenever I point it at him, he stops what he’s doing until he hears a few clicks, then he reaches for the camera so he can see the images on the back.  Then he looks at the lens.  Then the back.  Then the lens again.  He’s trying to figure it all out, which blows my mind and makes my heart swell.

My new layout doesn’t allow me to share what I’m listening to, though I still use the lyrics for the blog entries.  A few weeks ago my friend and fellow music fan suggested I pay attention to a band called Imagine Dragons, and one day I was in the Charlotte area and heard a song called It’s Time on the radio.  I instantly connected with it.  When I looked to find who sang the great song, it should have come as no surprise that it was Imagine Dragons, the band suggested by my friend.  So take a listen and enjoy.

I had a massive, massive headache today. I woke up with it. Before my alarm rang its evil bells, I was awake and dealing with a pounding sensation stretched across my noggin.

I took some Sudafed – I’ve been having a bunch of sinus issues lately – and it didn’t work. I took an Aleve and it didn’t work. Then I went to lunch at a Chinese buffet and what do you know, the pain went away.

But now it’s back, in a milder form.

It’s the weather change. When the weather changes, my head gets upset and aches. We’ve had irregular weather here over the past few weeks – the temperatures have fluctuated between highs in the 70’s to highs in the 90’s. It’s been very strange and, for the most part, very unwelcome.

We’ve had another thing here over the past few weeks, but this thing was welcome. And it’s rude to call it a thing. It’s a him. A boy. A beautiful, red-headed baby boy who I happen to be related to.

It’s my nephew!

Oh, I love that child. Truly, I do. I love that he exists, that he has a gap in his teeth and a crooked pinky finger.

The other welcome thing to arrive this weekend – and yes, it was a thing – concrete! On our lot! In the outline of our house! Allan and I walked the parameter of the footprint of what will soon (eventually) be our house, which was actually kind of special. I’m trying to figure out how to sneak a head’s up penny somewhere in there during the next phase because I’d like good luck to be in the foundation of our home.

You can never have too much of the stuff.

I’m back from vacation.

I didn’t get a suntan. I didn’t get any extra sleep. I didn’t get to relax much. But I did get a blood blister on my big toe. And I got to spend a few days with my very charming 13-month-old niece. And I got to see a state (Utah) filled with diverse, mind-boggling beauty.

So, I’d say it was a win.

I’d chuckle when telling people about my impending vacation in Utah of all places, but it really is a pretty spectacular state with so much to offer. The landscape changes almost mile by mile – from spiky, rocky peaks to desserts to giant red cliffs and everything in between. The two national parks we visited when we were there – Arches and Zion – could NOT be more different. Arches is red, red, red. Red everywhere. Giant boulders, dessert shrubs scattered throughout and the occasional arch. Zion is lush and green with trees, giant white cliffs and an occasional reddish brown cliff thrown in for good measure.

While we were at the parks, we went at 100 miles per hour. With the exception of lunchtime at Zion – when we laid in the grass, absorbing the sunshine – we never stopped moving. At Arches we experienced the only insanely hot day – thanks, unexpected thunderstorms! – when we had the toughest hikes. The hike to Delicate Arch was very strenuous for me, mostly because of my fear of heights. It was really challenging – but a lot of fun – to keep hiking, through blisters (of the non-blood variety) and heat and asthma complications.

It was a great trip.

When we were in Vegas, we tried to jam as much family time as possible into the visit. We went to a children’s museum, a casino, out to nearly every meal, etc… I was thrilled to be able to spend so much time with Kamryn, my one and only niece. She is very funny, believe it or not. The only real word she knows is “hi!” and she says it to nearly everyone she sees. But the thing is, those people don’t know she says hi to everyone, and as a result, everyone she meets feels special. Like they’re the only one the adorable baby girl is greeting. It’s sweet. While there I also took a bunch of family photos. While I’m no professional, I’m free! I got one shot in particular that I feel was one in a million. The light and the way it hit my sister-in-law’s hair could not have been more perfect.

When planning the trip, we decided it would be fun to spend our last night on the Vegas strip, and it was. It was totally a cool experience. But in hindsight, I don’t know if I would have done it. I cried like a baby when it was time to leave my family. I couldn’t even talk to Gregory because I was crying so hard.

The worst thing about my life – the absolute worst thing – is that I live so damn far from my family. I love and miss them more than I could possibly put into words.

Real life resumes tomorrow.