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!