Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Winter is here

The first day of winter officially arrived on Sunday. As of Tuesday, we have had a total snowfall in the month of December of 43". The average is 18", and the "whitest Christmas" we've ever had is 22". According to our weather man we're not there yet.

I haven't measured in our yard, but it sure seems like that much. Of course with all the snow being shoveled off the driveway, in some parts we are at three feet! Keep reading the weather man's blog. We've only had a TOTAL of 7 hours 59 minutes of sunshine for the WHOLE month! yuck. I mean, I love snow. Don't get me wrong. But I also enjoy the sunshine. I like my vitamin D.

Ah, the shoveling that comes with the snow. My Bill is grateful for his wonderful wife, who has done a spectacular job at keeping up with the shoveling!

Our driveway has migrated a few feet to the right... We'll get it back in the spring! maybe.

There's a pile of snow to the right of Bill. Under two feet of that is the "snowball" bush we cut back this fall. I hope the poor thing makes it!

I tried looking for a picture of our house in the summer. Do you believe that I do not have one on this computer? So, you'll have to remember on your own what our house looks like without two feet of snow piled in front of it!

Have a very Merry (and perhaps even white) Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

my 31st birthday

Saturday morning, I woke up to Bill singing Happy Birthday. I hopped out of bed (yup, I hopped. It was my birthday!) and got ready for the day. I met Sami at Panera, where she sang Happy Birthday to me (twice) and if you have ever heard Sami, you'll know that her singing in public will draw attention. She also had a candle that she lit and stuck in my bagel. Then we headed over to the mall.

We walked by the Apple store which had this elf in the window. We decided to take some photos.

I had my watch with me because the battery died. When we stopped by the watch store, Sami pointed out that Santa was right there and there were no kids waiting in line. Well, since it's been a few years since I have actually sat on Santa's lap, and I got my thirties off to such a good start with my list that perhaps going to visit Santa on my birthday wasn't such a bad idea. I had Sami go make sure it was okay and since there wasn't a line, I went and talked with Santa. As you can see in the picture, I did not actually sit on his lap. I didn't want to hurt him! But I did have a nice long chat with him. He told me not to worry, I wasn't the first, nor would I be the last adult to sit on his lap. He didn't ask me what I wanted for Christmas, but he did wish me a Happy Birthday.

When I got home from shopping, Bill made me lunch (a croissant with ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato). After I posted these pictures on facebook, I opened all of my birthday cards. Last year was the first year that I can remember waiting and opening my cards all at once. As odd as that is, I really enjoyed it. By the time I had finished the mail had come and I had a couple more to open! Then I opened my presents.

Then, later that night, Heather came over for taco dinner. After dinner we went to the "Love Came Down at Christmas" concert. It featured Leeland, Sara Groves, Sixpence Non the Richer, and JARS OF CLAY!!!! oh yeah, and we had front row seats. When the usher showed us our seats he exclaimed, "how did you get such good seats?!" Well, when I bought them online I entered the quantity with any availability and those were the seats I got! It was because it was my birthday, I'm sure of it. Anyway, I love Christmas music and the entire program was wonderful. It started at 7pm and we didn't get out of there until somewhere around 10pm. My favorite song they played was "Little Drummer Boy". The two drummers on the snare drum were amazing.

Then we went back and ate my peppermint (overload) cake. And that was my 31st birthday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nashville, Part 2

Heather and I went to Nashville for the Youth Worker's Conference. The Conference started on Nov. 21st and we flew in the night of the 19th. That gave us one day to see the sites.

We started at this wonderful place called The Pancake Pantry. If you ever go to Nashville, check it out. It's worth the wait. Although we got there at the right time. We walked in and sat right down. About ten minutes later, the line was out the front door! Heather and I both ordered this delicious dish, the Swish Chocolate Pancakes. They had regular syrup on the table, but they also had this cinnamon buttery type syrup. Oh wow! It was amazing! Needless to say, we didn't eat again (except for the gelato) until that night. And even then we weren't really hungry!

After our breakfast, we went over to the Belmont Mansion. It used to sit on a wide-open property, but now the front yard is home to Belmont University. We took the tour of the grand home. Other then the Biltmore, it was the largest house museum I've ever seen! They were in the process of decorating it for Christmas, which was fun to see. We also got a peak into the "master" bedroom, which is going to be renovated as soon as they raise enough money. (it was a behind the scenes kind of peak, very exclusive. Boy, do they have a lot of work ahead of them!) That took almost two hours.

Then we went over to the Parthenon. We decided we'd had enough culture for the day (the mansion was full of art and sculpture), so we did not go into the Parthenon. But we did take a few pictures outside.

It is not small!

Here I am, next to the ginormous column.

The we went over to Union Station. Here's the exterior...

We just ran in quick to see the interior. It was beautiful!

Next we went over to the State Capitol building. This was a bit different then in Austin. There was a security guard and a metal detector. We had to check in, and he checked our purses! yikes! There was an info desk, and the nice gentleman there gave us a guide book. We didn't have too long, because we'd found a meter, but only had about a half hour's worth of change!

Here's the interior.

Heather suggested we go down to this park that is at the "foot" of the building. It has the entire state history (in text) on stones, all around this park. And there was also the War Memorial.

Where there was this giant stone earth, spinning in water. If you were strong enough, you could turn it. I did manage to get Michigan in this photo!

Our next stop was Opryland. We spend three hours walking through the Conservatories, admiring their Christmas decorations. Who puts all of these up? And when do they do it? It was amazing!

This backdrop reminds me of White Christmas.

This is the Cascade room. I'm actually standing to the side of the waterfall.

Then, at night, outside, they have all of these lights!

The Nativity, all in white

Mary and Joseph

The giant tree of lights, and all the lights on the trees.

We found a Krystal! I was so happy. I introduced Heather to the Krystal chik. I was happy, because it's not a lot of food, for not a lot of money, and we weren't too hungry!

And yes, you see me in my coat because it was cold there. The next night it got down to 19 degrees! Brr.

Then we took the rental car back to the airport and as we went over to the taxi stand, I spotted these cute mosaic sculptures.

This was probably our front row experience for Jars of Clay! Yes, it's true, we waited for an hour and a half to get these seats. In the ladies room. We were going to wait outside, but one of the doors wasn't closed all the way (we couldn't cut through the tunnel like we had been doing all week, because all of the vendors were packing up, so the tunnel was closed off). So we got into the vestibule area. Then there was a woman walking around inside and she let us in. We heard their sound check! We were hanging out in a hallway, but we didn't want to get kicked out, so we eventually went and hid in the ladies room. We did a few Mad Libs, ate our dinner.... chatted. And eventually walked into the arena like we belonged there.
And it wouldn't be fun if you don't get a set list. The rude stage hand did not get it for me. The video guy did. He was super nice! And there were two stuck together, so Heather got one too!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008


A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit for the weekend. It was a beautiful autumn weekend. They brought Skylar too. We went to Robinette's, a local apple orchard! We saw them make apple cider, I picked out pumpkins (the cheapest I've ever paid), and we bought lots of apples!

Here's Skylar next to some of the bigger pumpkins. The ones I got aren't that big!

We went to the mall after lunch. Skylar is in front of the sculpture that is there.

Fall colors, soon snow will fall.

This last weekend was the Jr. High Overnight. Fun times! I baked cupcakes in these ghost shaped tins. Heather and I found them last year, but we never got to use them!

Here I am, in my costume. Yes, I made it. Yes, I made it just for the overnight...

Heather was Queen of DeVine. (the name of our "youth group rooms" is collectively called "The Vine", and the room has a mural that is painted in green, black and purple....) Do you get it now?

After only a few hours of sleep, we're a couple of matching youth leaders, ready for a nap! The few hours of sleep were worth it! We were entertained into the wee hours of the morning by a couple of "charades".

I can't go anywhere without plunging a toilet... Seriously. They're always getting clogged (not by me). This toilet has been acting up. The last flush was the final straw. The stall flooded and we actually had to put into action Jason's, aka Joe the Plumber, plunger. I'm getting really good at plunging toilets....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The rest of my trip to Austin

I am going to skip the boring details like how my flight got delayed due to a mechanical problem and I rebooked myself so I made it to Austin closer to the original time, and because of that got to fly first class from Atlanta to Austin. Instead, I will jump right in to the other half of the trip (the non-ACLFest):

Friday morning, when I was finally up and ready to go, Brad came and picked me up. Alisha had some work to do (preparing a grant proposal), we met her for lunch. We had Indian food (I can't remember the name of the restaurant). I got a small tour of the UT Austin campus. It's downtown, and it reminded me a lot of SCAD, only it was more localized and not spread out like SCAD.

Everything is orange, even the meters (this is for you greg!)

Brad, Scott, Anil and I headed down to ACLFest with Lizzie. Alisha came later, after she picked up Maddie from school. By the end of the festival on Friday night, Lizzie had enough. She was sleeping in her stroller, but wasn't strapped in. She likes to move in her sleep and was basically wiggling her way out of the stroller. It was a little chilly that night, so I put her on my lap to keep me warm, and to keep her from falling... this is how she finally fell back to sleep.

Saturday was Maddie's birthday. She's showing off the new shoes that had Dora on them! She opened a lot of presents that morning (from Brad's parents).

One of the things she got was a princess crown. She was wearing it in the car, but then put it on me. (not like I'm used to wearing a tiara or anything...)

By Monday, we were pretty tuckered out. Maddie went to school, Alisha went back to work and Brad took me on a longer tour of Austin. Here's the Capitol building. (Capitol as in the state is spelled with an "o" like the shape of the dome. Capital as in a letter, is spelled with an "a". Just in case you wanted to know!)

This is me on the front steps of the Capitol building with the rest of Austin in the background.

Inside the Capitol Building, looking down (from the second floor) at the mosaic under the dome.

Looking up at the dome!

The door hinges.

The artisan well outside of the Capitol Building. It did work, a slow trickle of water finally came out.

This is the staircase inside the Visitor's Center. There was a main staircase too. We just happened to find this one first.

This is the Texas State History museum. It had a large, beautiful mosaic tile floor right inside the door. But it was so big, like everything in Texas, that I wouldn't have been able to get a good enough picture of it. I liked the Lone Star out front.

Brad wanted to show me this beautiful fountain, but there was no water running that day. The tower is in the background.

Chuy's, where Alisha and I ate lunch. Yum! It was a great lunch.

Maddie opens her birthday card from Bill and me.

Bill and I bought Maddie the Skippyjon Jones books for her birthday (Skylar loved these). They are about a Siamese cat who thinks he's a Chihuahua and the adventures/mischief that he gets into. She loved them both. I read them to her, Brad read them to her, and I think she would have let everybody read them to her if she hadn't fallen asleep!

So that was my trip to Austin. Oh I should end with this: when I got to the airport Tuesday morning, they offered the last first class seat available for $50. Nobody went for it, so I did. I could get used to that!