Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Long Drive Home-Day 1

We drove all day. We left bright and early this morning from my brother's house in Denver. My brother got up early and made us some cafe con leche. Very sweet! We stopped for just a minute at McDonald's.

Then we drove. And drove. And drove. We've stopped for the night here in Blackwell, Oklahoma. We ate lunch at a McDonald's in Kansas. For dinner, we ate a diner next to the hotel we are staying in now.

Tomorrow will be a long day. Thankfully, the weather has been cooperating. It's been cold but not icy. That's a good thing.

Good night all.....I'll let you know when I get back in Stark Vegas. It'll be good to get home and sleep in my bed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Last Day in Denver

Hi everyone!

Let's see....where did I leave off? I woke up early again (yes, thanks to Raelynn again) and got up. My parents and Raelynn were already up. In a few minutes, David came downstairs and joined us. My mom made fried egg, cheese, and ham sandwiches. Yummy!

My mom, sister-in-law Melissa, Raelynn and I went shopping. Before that was possible, we made a Starbucks stop. I got a caramel frappicino and Raelynn got a vanilla flavored milk. Melissa got something like a Dirty Chi without water and foam with an extra shot of something. Mom got a cold coffee drink.

After the much needed coffee run, we went to Barnes and Noble. I was looking for some things to pick up for Raelynn's birthday which will be in a few weeks. I found her several books that I know she'll love.

After the book store, we went to Hobby Lobby. I spent some money on discounted ribbon that I can't get at home. (Thanks to Walmart for getting rid of the crafts department!) I make teacher signs for their classrooms and decorative clipboards. I expanded my color palette so I should be good for awhile.

For lunch, we stopped at a place called Mimi's Cafe. Simply wonderful. I had the French onion soup and a turkey sandwich on some fancy bread with even fancier flavored mayo. It was delish.

After lunch, we came home and I've been on the computer ever since. I'm listening to clothes in the dryer, so I can fold when they are done. There are currently many butts in the kitchen. I think Melissa is making fajitas for dinner and it requires lots of support in the preparation department.

Tomorrow we leave to go home. There is supposed to be a really bad storm coming our way. I'm praying that we'll have a boring trip home.

Until then....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 8 In The Mile High City

Today was a busy day. We did lots of stuff. Before I get into that too much, I should talk briefly about what we did yesterday after I blogged. Well, we didn't DO much, unless you call stuffing your face something to do. Last night, my brother went out and got 5 Brothers hamburgers and fries for everyone. It was some greasy and deliciousness.

Okay, so on to today's activities. I woke up early YET AGAIN (yes, due to Raelynn) but this time I managed to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Eventually I got up and came downstairs. My mother, Raelynn, and my brother were up. My brother made cafe con leche for everyone and then my mother cooked egg, cheese, and bacon sandwiches. Yum-O!

Our first adventure today was to visit the Whole Foods Market. Yes, we visited a grocery store. But this isn't really like a regular grocery store. This place is huge and boasts that everything there is organic and eco-friendly. As we all know, this equals pricey. I had a real good time walking around and looking at all the stuff they sell. The produce department is incredible. Just the way they display the produce is so pretty. One whole side of the store is like this incredible deli. The cheese section is larger than the entire dairy department at WalMart. They have cheeses from every country and animal you can imagine. They also have places where you can order sandwiches, sushi, pizza, pasta, etc. Basically, people come from all over to eat lunch here. I had lots of pasta. It was delicious. Pricey, but good. This place was amazing to people watch in. The true tree hugger types are the ones that shop here. The grocery carts about a third of the size of regular grocery carts, and everything is at least three times as expensive. Just to clue you in, our lunch today cost around $36. And this was a grocery store. But anyway, I told my family that I had never seen so many examples of dreadlocks, nose piercings, and comfortable shoes in one location. It was a good time.
After our trip to the Whole Foods Market, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and History. We walked around a lot and saw lots of cool stuff. We spent some time looking at the space display and saw some space rocks. We then went to the animal displays. We really were impressed with the size of the Alaskan brown bear. This beast is close to 5 feet tall when on all fours. It was huge. After looking at the exhibitions, we went to see an IMAX movie on the ocean. It was good. After the movie, we went real quickly to the Egyptian Mummy display. Very cool. After mummies, we went to the gift shop and Raelynn bought a bag of polished rocks. Guess what color all the rocks were? That's right, pink and purple. The only down fall of this part of the day's adventure was that my Meniere's was giving me fits and I was nauseated due to the vertigo. The very large movie screen didn't help this any.

For supper, my VERY generous brother and sister-in-law treated us to dinner at Benihana. They wanted to tell us they were proud of us for completing our masters degrees. It was so nice. When we lived in Key West, this would be the place we'd go when we celebrated anniversaries. Starkville now has a Japanese steak house but its not even in the same league as Benihana. I had Rocky's Choice. Yummy.

Now I'm at home. I've given Raelynn a bath and she is watching some movie with my mom and my little nephew Jayden. Jayden is 18 months and is totally adorable. He calls it a "Moo-bee." Too cute. The rest of the family is gathered in various places around the house and talking. Me? I'm sitting her blogging and thinking of all that needs to be done tomorrow. I'm sure I'll spend the day washing clothes and packing since we'll be leaving on Wednesday. I've had a good time but I'm ready to get home and sleep in my own bed. Going back to work....that's a totally different story.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Adventures in Denver-Day 7

Today is Sunday. I woke up early again (side note here: Raelynn has woken at the crack of dawn and has woken me up in the process each day. I've been staying up late talking with family so I'm dragging. The only redeeming factor here is that I can take a nap--which I did today) and my mom made biscuits again at the request of Raelynn. My mom also heated up some leftover ham from Christmas, so those of us that were up enjoyed ham biscuits. My brother woke up earlier than he usually does and he made cafe con leche for us. This is something I miss from Key West. The only thing close to that at home is a latte from the local coffee house. Since it's on the other side of town and each cup costs like $5 I don't enjoy them often. My dear selfless brother makes coffee with his espresso machine twice a day for everyone in the house. I think if his gig as an electrical engineer doesn't pan out, he'd make a nice living as a barista. The past few days I've had coffee, I've shared it with David. This morning, I had a full cup. And by cup I mean really big cup. Several hours later, I was shaking as I coming off the caffeine high. A little nap cured that!

We went to my brother's church this morning for worship time. His church is really nice and for the most part, people here dress up for church. Now keep in mind that I'm the queen of comfort. Also, I don't own (or want to own) winter type clothes. Somehow the regular summer type clothes I wear to church would stand out around here. So, in preparation for that, I went and bought a dress in Starkville before coming here. I wore it today but it wasn't nearly as comfortable as I had hoped it would be. Part of the problem may also have been that I was wearing hose and high heels. These are two things that I really stay away from. Back in the day, I'd wear high heels because I thought it made my legs look good, and it did. (My legs and feet are probably my best physical features.) But when you get older, it just doesn't become practical. And I don't really care if anyone thinks my legs look nice now (but know that they do.) As for the hose, I find it very uncomfortable. I rarely wear them. I think I wore them at my wedding 14 years ago and since then have worn them about 3 times. Today I wore them because I didn't want to freeze. I wore the heels because I couldn't find a decent pair of winter type church shoes in Starkville. Also, I'm not fond of closed in shoes. My winter shoes that I wear to work are slides. I do have enough sense to know that slides (with a closed toe) don't look good with a dress. So, instead of buying new shoes that I hate, I thought I'd just use shoes that I hate that I already have. I saved a few bucks the way I see it.

When I got dressed this morning, I put on the hose and really quickly made a huge hole in one foot. Great. And wouldn't you know that I didn't pack the clear nail polish.. The good news here is that I got the extra large size so the hole never went anywhere. However, the down side is that the hose slowly started to congregate around my ankles. At one point, my niece was looking at my shoes and said it looked like my heels had straps. What? How did I manage to look like a retard? I thought I had planned for this.....I guess not. The church service was good and no one was pointing and laughing at me (this IS church after all) so I made it through. Know this though, I threw the hose away the moment I walked in the house and buried the shoes in my suitcase. Oh, and did I mention that I slipped and slid on the ice getting in and out of the car at church? Nice. At least I didn't fall. That would have been bad.

After church, my brother suggested we go to a restaurant called Spicy Thai. I've never had Thai food before, but surprise surprise it's basically Chinese food. I ordered something called Moon Harbor. I know, it sounds like a song, right? Basically it was ground chicken cooked with onions, peppers and you eat it with some rice on lettuce leaves like you were making a taco. It was pretty good. I like Chinese food, but given a choice, I'd chose something else.

After that, I came home and organized my stuff and Raelynn's stuff. My sister-in-law keeps a very tidy house and I'm sure that having all these people over here messing stuff up is killing her. I'm trying very hard to keep my area neat. After cleaning up, I took a short nap. Raelynn woke me again (but this time because David asked her to) and we went for a walk in the snow. It was pretty but cold. We walked to an area that in the summer has lots of prairie dogs living in it. I wonder where they are now. Do they hibernate? Do they go somewhere else? Who is enjoying watching them poke out of their holes now? At any rate, it wasn't me. Raelynn walked with us (me, David, and my sister-in-law Susan) and complained the whole way. One minute she's asking to play in the snow and the next she's complaining she wants to go back in the house. We did turn around when she said she was tired. I'm going to certainly get my money's worth out of the pink fuzzy snow boots that I bought for her.

Right now, my mother is sitting at the kitchen table reading a book. My dad, brother, and niece's husband,Tim are watching a football game. My sister-in-law Melissa is upstairs with Jayden, who I hope is taking a nap. David and Susan are sitting at the dining room table with me and playing Upwords. I haven't seen my nephew Christian in a little while so he's either not here or is hiding ( just found him....he's sleeping on the couch.) Raelynn moves from room to room and visits with everyone. My niece Sable is laying on the couch and taking a nap. She's currently 32 weeks pregnant and has been experiencing contractions at night. She's not feeling well. On a side note, Raelynn has named the new baby "Jim." She said this was a good name. Sable and Tim are leaning toward Paxton or Nathan right now. I think Raelynn is still going to call him Baby Jim.

It's a lazy evening. I think we may go out later to celebrate David and my completion of graduate school. Even if we don't you can bet that I'm going to blog about the food later. After all, isn't that what it's all about?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Day at Colorado's Premier Retail Experience

What you are looking at here people, is one mighty fine mall. Since I don't live near a mall, I take advantage of one (especially this one) when I come to visit my brother and his family. The day started early (again, thank you Raelynn). My mother made biscuits and we had them bright and early. While I ate, I watched it snow. Again. It was pretty. We've now gotten over 8 inches in the past 3 days. After a few hours, the rest of my retail therapy crew got up and we set off to the mall.
This mall is wonderful. From the front, it looks like a huge log cabin. It looks a lot like the Fort Wilderness Lodge in Disneyworld. It has all the stores that I enjoy and also is the home to The Cheesecake Factory. Yum!
It was packed. This is a true understatement. I think there were as many people in this mall today as there are in Starkville. I have some issues with crowds, but I managed to not have an anxiety attack. Once we plowed our way through the crowds, we went to the food court. I was determined to have a gyro. I can't get them in Starkville, so eating at least one while I'm here is crucial. I had to wait in a long line, but it was worth it.
After we ate, the unthinkable happens. My purse strap broke. I've blogged before about my search for the perfect purse. It's very similar to the process that you use when you are looking for a mate. This purse has served me well for over 2 years. And really, if you have to have your purse break, a mall is the right place for it to happen. My sister-in-law Susan and I traveled to a store or two and I quickly picked up a replacement purse. It's a good one.
We waded through the crowds and I visited all the stores that I love. I went to Sephora first. This is the place that I get my glitter eyeshadow and eyeliner. I bought some of both. After that, I went in search of my favorite perfume. This mall doesn't have a Perfumania, so we had to rely on the department stores. The first two stores did not carry my signature scent, Stella. The third stop to Nordstrom's paid off. Not only did I get the perfume I wanted, it was with a special holiday basket. Score! After that, I rewarded Raelynn by going to Borders and buying her a Fancy Nancy book that she didn't have. It was a Christmas book, so it was 50% off! Score! After my successes with purse shopping and acquiring my perfume, we went to the pretzel place and I had a yummy pretzel and lemonade. All in all, a good day.
For supper, we have eaten leftovers. Good food the second time around is still good food. 'Nuff said there.
I don't think I'll be doing any more retail therapy in Denver, since today worked out so well. When you have a perfect day of shopping, you should stop while you're ahead.
Tomorrow will be time for church and more family. I hope you all enjoy your day praising and worshipping our Lord.
Until then......good night!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Denver-Day 5

We had a big Christmas around here. For the most of the day, Raelynn showed great patience and restraint for an eight year old. As I mentioned yesterday, we didn't open presents on Christmas Eve like we normally do. My niece, Sable, and her family spent Christmas Eve with her husband's family. They came over around 9:30 this morning and a little while later, David's sister, Susan showed up as well. Melissa spent many hours slaving over Christmas dinner, which was fabulous. It was well into the afternoon before we did the present thing. Raelynn didn't bug me about it and she waited patiently. She got most of everything she asked for: Nintendo DS, two DS games, a book, a movie, and a Barbie. The other members of my family gave her several "artsy" gifts....ones I'm sure she'll enjoy when we get home. (I'm currently enjoying the DS!) She also asked for a puppy but I don't see that happening anytime soon!

I blogged last night and afterwards had quite the good time. David and Susan were sitting at the dining room table playing their 80th game of Scrabble and I was surfing YouTube with my sister-in-law Melissa. My brother Hugh is a computer genius and has wireless high speed Internet. I'm enjoying it to the fullest. Thus, my more regular posting. Well, that and the fact that I don't have any school work to do and I'm in a situation where I can't drive anywhere. Either way, we all benefit, but I digress. I stumbled upon Bud Light's Real Men of Genius ads on YouTube and I swear I haven't laughed so hard in my life. If you really want a good laugh, search for this on YouTube next time you're on. I think we were a little loud and disturbed David and Susan's Scrabble game.

As I mentioned earlier, my family did the name drawing thing this year. My brother drew my name. I was SO HAPPY with my gift. He got me a large Vera Bradley bag that I'll use for toting my school stuff back and forth. I've looked at this stuff before but haven't bought any myself. A week or two ago, I got a Vera Bradley lanyard at a Bunco game where we swapped gifts. Now, I'm the proud owner of two designer pieces. My brother picked out the pattern. It's called Purple Punch. It's purty!! Thank you Hugh! So my rundown is out of order, but here's the events of today:

I went to bed late and work up early last night. I had a horrible dream. I dreamed that Raelynn had been abducted. Usually when I have a bad dream, I can roll over and tell myself that it was a bad dream and that I should dream of something else. That didn't happen last night. I came downstairs in the dark to the living room to read a book or something, and in the process, woke up my mother's dog. Choo Choo started barking and I was afraid that he'd wake up Christian that was sleeping on the couch. So, I wandered back upstairs and went back to a dreamless sleep. I probably woke David up. I think he came to bed around 3:30 AM so he was tired either way.

A little while later, I got up and of course, my mother and Raelynn were already up. My mom made her delicious breakfast casserole and we all enjoyed that.

For Christmas dinner we had a Smithville ham, brussel sprout casserole (I know it sounds horrible, but it really wasn't bad for brussel sprouts), wild rice, green beans, congealed salad (I call this old lady salad) green salad, and rolls. For dessert, my sister-in-law made my grandmother's recipe for peanut butter pie and my mom made a pecan pie for my niece's husband, Tim. All the while, my brother Hugh was smoking a turkey and it turned out great.

After dinner, David and Raelynn went out to the nearest hill to the house and went sledding. It was cold so they didn't stay long. That and the fact that David said that he broke the sled. Afterwards, they walked home. I'm almost ashamed to say that I was sitting at the table playing "Makeup Artist" on Raelynn's DS. I mean, someone has to teach her how to play, right?

So now.....I'm watching my brother, my niece and her husband, and my sister-in-law play a game called "Huggermugger." I'm not quite sure how to play it but I think that Scrabble is getting old. Maybe I'll join in someday. I enjoy watching other people play board games as opposed to playing them myself.

Tomorrow, my mother, my niece, two of my sisters-in-law, and I will go to the Park Meadows Mall to take advantage of the after Christmas sales. I'm not really concerned with acquiring next year's Christmas decorations or wrapping paper at bargain basement prices. I'm more concerned with going to several stores and getting items I need but can't get at home except for online. Either way, this mall is wonderful. While there, I will get a gyro. They have a Greek place in the food court and since I can't get a gyro in Starkville, I take advantage of eating one whenever I can.

Overall, the day has been okay. I tend to get a little overwhelmed while around my extended family. And pretty much everybody else's extended family too. So far, there have been no meltdowns or freak outs. Let's be thankful for that!

Tune in tomorrow for more mindless dribble about nothing in particular. That's the best part of vacation!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tassie's Denver Adventure-Christmas Eve Edition

First, let me start by saying Merry Christmas! This is truly a miraculous time of year and I hope it finds you healthy, happy, and surrounded by the ones you love. I know I am.

Today is Christmas Eve. Traditionally, this is the evening where we open gifts so the tree can be emptied for Santa's visit the next morning. Not this year. My niece, Sable, is married and is spending Christmas Eve with her in-laws. We'll be doing the present thing tomorrow morning. Santa will have to shove his presents around all the other ones already there. Should be fun, as it always is. I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't say there was a certain amount of sadness that goes with Christmas. There's all this hype prior to the season and then when it gets here, it's like a big letdown because it's over so quickly and you have to wait another year to have another one. For some reason, as tacky as I am, I don't tolerate Christmas stuff outside of the season. Go figure.

Well, if you've been following, I left yesterday's blog with the pondering of when I'd go to sleep last night. I really thought that I'd go to bed like at 8:30 but I managed to stay up until 11. Not much different than a regular night except there were no papers to grade, no lesson plans to write, and no other school related work! Yay for me!

Today's rundown:

I woke up early (Thanks Raelynn) and then came downstairs. My parents and Raelynn were already here. My mom made fried egg sandwiches for everyone and slowly people started getting up. Jayden spent the night last night. His crib is in the same room as the one that Raelynn is sleeping in. I know she didn't get to sleep until after 11, so I was quite surprised that she got up so early. I don't get this.....her body clock doesn't seem to work during the school week. I literally have to drag her out of bed. On the weekends or during vacations, she's up with the first light. I think she was lonely and tried to wake up Jayden, but was quickly instructed on the evils of waking up sleeping babies.

I spent some time hanging around the house watching Raelynn hover around and play with Jayden. I think she is really enjoying having a smaller person around that she can interact with. She's there for each moment of his day: eating, diaper changes, bathing, name it. She makes a lot of noise in the process so about mid-morning I was looking for some Motrin. I didn't end up taking it because I went to Target!

Melissa (my sister-in-law), my mom, and I went to Target for some necessities. I bought some stuff to make some appetizers with and found Raelynn some pink fur lined snow boats. I enjoyed pushing the cart around Target. The only thing I bought for myself was a bracelet. After the Target trip, we went to Chipotle to eat. This place is amazing. I really look forward to it when I visit Denver. I did manage to find one closer to home this summer when I went on a shopping trip with some friends to Birmingham. The only way I can describe it is sort of like a Subway for burritos and tacos. The burrito you end up getting looks and feels like a brick. It's delicious.

When I came home, I ate my burrito and get Raelynn all dolled up to go outside and play in the snow. She had a good time tromping around the yard. The snow came up to the top of her snow boots. She made some snowballs and played until she got cold.

At some point, I got really sleepy so I went to lay down for a nap. That's one thing that I enjoy about vacations. If you stay up late and wake up early, you can always take a nap. David, Melissa, and Susan left to go shopping while I napped. David was going to buy a GPS, but the MicroCenter didn't have one in stock. He did come home with some snow boots. I didn't buy myself any at Target. There was no way I could afford boots for both Raelynn and myself. I've been using my mom's boots that she got for $7 at Hudson's Dirt Cheap at home. I've never been to that store, but that's another post for another day.

For dinner, Melissa cooked jambalaya, salad, and garlic bread. It was good and I don't even like seafood. After dinner, David, Susan (David's sister), Christian (my nephew), Raelynn, and I went walking around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. We usually take an evening at home and drive around and look at them, but things were so crazy trying to get ready to leave that we didn't get a chance. Tonight was fun. I don't know what I liked better: the lights or watching Raelynn tromp through the snow. Everyone else walked in the street where the snow was packed down but Raelynn managed to find each snow bank and plow her way through them. The lights were pretty cool too. The only "Denver-y" thing I found was that if you have snow on top of blinking Christmas lights, it looks very cool. I'm a big fan of Christmas lights. (This is one thing that I can tolerate year round.)

After the light watching, I gave Raelynn a bath and washed her hair. She's sitting in the living room with my parents right now watching something on TV. She didn't pick it out, so I can't imagine what she'll get from whatever crime show my parents picked out. I really should have put her in bed by now, but I'm hoping that if she stays up late, she'll sleep late too. I can dream, right?

David and Susan are playing their third game of Scrabble tonight. David amazes me in Scrabble. He really has problems with spelling at times, but manages to whip everyone in Scrabble. Hugh is in the kitchen making cafe con leche (Cuban lattes) and I'm not sure where Melissa is. Christian is wandering around the house. Me.....I'm sitting here typing away on the computer and loving every minute of the high speed wireless service that my brother has. How about you? What are you doing tonight?

Until tomorrow.......

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tassie's Denver Christmas Vacation-Day 3

If you've followed this post from yesterday's post, the answer the question is: No, David didn't use his new snow chains today. I will freely admit ,though, that there were times that I thought we'd need to. We spent the night last night in Park City, Kansas. The hotel had a bed, a shower, a large screen TV, and WiFi computer service. You'd think I'd have nothing to complain about. Well, I do. The toilet did not flush. This was not a good thing. The only thing worse than my toilet at home overflowing is someone else's toilet overflowing while I'm on it. It did no good to explain. The people working the front desk didn't speak that much English. That's okay though, cuz when they go to clean up the room, they'll finally figure out what we've been talking about.

So the rundown:

We went to the free "continental" breakfast this morning at 6 AM. I'm not sure which continent this breakfast was referring to....I mean, usually there has to be food in order for it to be called "breakfast." We drove next door to McDonald's where we had dinner the previous evening. I had a Big Breakfast. That was a first for me. I'm more of a breakfast burrito person, but since Raelynn wanted a biscuit, I ordered that and shared with her. It will probably be the last time I order a Big Breakfast.

We got on the road early because we had watched the news and it looked like we'd be driving right thorough a really bad snow storm. I don't have issues with snow, I have issues with ice on the roads. We had plenty of that. Literally for 600 miles today, we drove on icy and snow packed roads. David did an excellent job and I am now recovering from the white knuckles that I sported for several hours during the worst of the storm.

We stopped in Oakley, Kansas for lunch at a truck stop. I had breakfast and I think everyone else did too. It was okay, but Huddle House at home was better.

We made several other stops, each with me holding my breath as we got on and off the freeway. Those ramps weren't as cleared as the main road. We counted at least 9 accidents on the way. All of them major. Thankfully, the Lord kept His hand on us and we made it okay.

Since arriving at Hugh and Melissa's house, I have toted all the luggage upstairs, taken a shower, eaten dinner (Melissa cooked chili), and now I'm blogging. I'm not sure how long I'll be up since the guys all tend to be card players and I don't. My niece Sable and her son Jayden are here and I think her husband Tim will show up soon. I don't know how Melissa handles the stress of having all these people in her house. She keeps her house neat and tends to her guests with a smile. I have to say that they are very giving and generous people.

So, my understanding is that all the snow they've had here in Denver over the last 24 hours will turn to ice tomorrow since the temperature will drop to the teens. I'm really wishing I had bought some boots. I always think I'll get some when it rains at home. Maybe now is the time to get them. After all, I did have to buy a new coat today at Walmart. It was in Kansas somewhere, I don't know the name of the "community." (It didn't look like a town but since it had a Walmart, I figure there must be some civilization somewhere.

Anyway, not sure what's in store tomorrow. Whatever we end up doing will be done at home. I don't think I'm ready to drive in the snow and ice just yet. If nothing exciting happens here, I may just go to bed early.

So the question to ponder for tomorrow is what time will I go to bed tonight? How many people will I bore with my texts tomorrow?

For the answers to these questions and more, you'll have to check back in tomorrow to find out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tassie's Christmas Adventure...Day 1 and 2

Howdy folks!

Welcome to Christmas vacation! Woo Hoo!!! I'm hoping that being done with my master's courses (yay me!) will allow more time for more regular updating of my blog. Let's hope so!

So...let me get everyone up to speed on the background of my Christmas excursion this year. My husband's sister is married to my married brother/sister. It makes holidays very easy. We don't have to split up Thanksgivings or Christmases....we just have one large one together....except.....

My brother and his family live in Denver, and we live in Starkville. That's about 1,000 miles. Not an easy trip. A few years ago, we started alternating who went where for Christmas. For the last time or two, we've not gone to Denver. Stuff has gotten in the way. Mostly our classes and lack of money because of said classes. Now that we're both done, that is no longer an issue. parents, my nephew (my brother's son), David, Raelynn, and I are traveling cross country to spend time with the Denver fam.

We don't all fit in the same car due to all of the stuff that has to be moved. My nephew has been living at my parents' house for the last year and now we are moving him back to Denver. So we are caravanning. My parents and Christian went ahead of us yesterday and drove from Starkville to Fort Smith, Arkansas. We didn't go that far. We stopped in Helena, Arkansas and spent the night with David's Aunt James Helen. (Yes, that's her name....we've decided to call her "Aunt Sissy" for Raelynn. Aunt James Helen doesn't roll easily off the tongue.) We had a nice visit with her and then left her house on our way to Wichita, Kansas. My parents and Christian got here in the early afternoon. We had further to drive so we didn't get in until 6 or so. It didn't help that we spent 45 minutes driving in circles around Tulsa. Apparently, someone is having a grand time spending money on construction in Tulsa. The GPS system we borrowed from my dad (fondly dubbed "Dummy") didn't account for the detours. Neither did we. We kept trying to get on to the correct road but each ramp on to the freeway was blocked. David and his keen sense of direction got us out of Tulsa and we didn't have to stop for directions.

So, for other random stuff:

Yesterday, we ate at Aunt Sissy's house. She made homemade soup and bread. She doesn't have a TV, so David and Aunt Sissy played two games of Scrabble. I went to bed at 8:30. For breakfast, she made homemade biscuits and sausage patties. Yum.

For lunch, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. I love this place. Whoever thought of this place was a genius. Shopping AND dinner? You gotta love it! I had a meatloaf sandwich and a salad. It was good.

For dinner, my parents, David, Raelynn, and I went to the McDonald's next to the hotel. (Christian didn't feel well so he didn't go.) Raelynn got to play in the large play area with some girls. I think this made up for the fact that the hotel's "indoor" pool is actually outdoors and we didn't get to swim. We made it back to the hotel where I watched The Biggest Loser-Where Are They Now? episode. Fun. I'm also taking advantage of the high speed wireless service at the hotel. Have I mentioned how much I hate STUPID dial up at home?

So tomorrow we're expected to drive right through a winter snow storm all the way to Denver. The high tomorrow in Denver is expected to be 23 degrees. But don't worry, it's a dry cold. That's what my brother always says in defense of living in Denver. He also says that everything is 15 minutes away in Denver. What he doesn't say is that Denver is full of crazy drivers that go very fast. Not something I enjoy.

So anyway, David is torn about the snow storm. On one hand, he bought snow chains for the truck in anticipation of a snow storm. Part of him doesn't want to drive in it, and the other part wants to try out the chains. Which part of him will prevail?

Tune in tomorrow to find out the answer and to learn more useless and random information about my Christmas Adventure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Santa, Here's What I Really Want For Christmas.....

Hello world! Please know that I've missed blogging and my little life seems to have gotten more stressful that I could ever imagine. But that's no excuse. Thanks to Birdie Mae for leaving a comment and telling me to get off my duff and start writing again. (She didn't really say that but I feel that was the gist.) I don't think anyone really understands what a blogger feels like when someone leaves a post saying they read it. I like to believe that many people read my posts, but without a comment, I can't really tell. Okay, so enough of my excuses...on to the update and the topic of today's post.

First, I just found out last night that I made an A on my last course of my master's degree. This is huge for me. I've maintained a 4.0 GPA....of this, I'm very proud. I'm hoping that this will relieve some of the stress that I've been feeling, but the reality is that I'll just find something else to stress about. I'm not sure what that is right now, but I'm sure it'll be here before I know it. I just hope that I can continue to blog. Not that this is an excuse or anything, but having dial-up at home doesn't make it any easier to check email, blog, or surf the Web.

So....I've finished my master's degree. There's a few days until we get out of school for Christmas break and I'm really pretty glad about that. It's been a long year (and it's only half over.) The week I had off for Thanksgiving was much needed and so will the upcoming break. My family and I are traveling to Denver to visit my brother and David's sisters. (Side note...for those of you that don't know, David's sister is married to my brother. It makes for neat and tidy holiday gatherings. We don't have to share our time with anyone. We just all meet together.) Hugh and Melissa came last year, so now it's our turn. I don't really relish the idea of the very long drive and the possibility of getting snowed in. I don't mind cold weather, I just don't appreciate it when the weather cramps my style. I may not have anywhere to go, but at least I'd like the opportunity to go somewhere if I wanted to.

So today's topic......I have to moan and groan for a second. We're starting our third week without an ice maker. For those of you just joining us, I'm a total ice monger. When I was very small I remember having those little ice cube trays. First we had the metal ones that had a lever you pulled to break the ice and then we got the plastic ones. I hate ice trays. Sometime when I was growing up, we got an ice maker. That was the beginning of my ice monger ways. When David and I moved to Mississippi and we were furnishing our house, I had two requirements. One was to get a washer and dryer and the other was to get a refrigerator that had an ice maker and access to the ice through the door. I got what I wanted.

I've enjoyed having an ice maker at home. It's not often that you won't find me without a soda, water, or Crystal Light with ice in a cup near me. I'm not fond of hot drinks (I'll drink hot chocolate during the season occasionally and only a small teacup of coffee in the morning to perk myself up) and I really don't do room temperature drinks. I would never make it in Europe. I've been told that they don't really use ice over there. My ice mongering ways have even led me to have ice at school. When I taught in Florida, my school had an ice maker that teachers were allowed to access. I bought this HUGE Circle K cup that I filled with ice every day. I would then either fill it with water or transfer some ice to a cup and drink some diet soda.

When I moved to Mississippi, the school I currently work at doesn't have ice that's available to staff. I think that if I wanted some ice, they'd charge me by the small Styrofoam cup. So I do the same thing....add water to the ginormous cup or use the ice for a soda. I just get the ice from my house instead of at school. So fast forward to three weeks ago.

I woke up, got ready for the school day and then when fixing my breakfast, I reached into the ice maker to get some ice to go with my Crystal Light I was planning to drink while I ate breakfast. When I looked at the ice maker, I could see that the arm of it was not moving. It looked like it stopped moving before it made it all the way back to the bottom. In other words, it was broken. It took David a few days to look at it, since it seemed we had something going each night. He finally took it out and looked at it. Apparently he wasn't able to find anything obviously wrong with it. Not good. A few days later he took it all apart and did some diagnostic testing on it. He hypothesized that the motor wasn't working and then ordered one on the Internet. It took FOREVER to get here. (Like over a week!) David replaced it last night and it still doesn't work. He then pulled out the fridge to see if there was any blockage in the water pipes and cleaned off the filter. He also replaced the water filter too. Still doesn't work. We're about a week away from going to Denver so David won't be able to do anything until after Christmas break. He said that he would probably replace the whole thing. Let's hope that works.

So that leaves me in a quandary. I still require ice. For home, I've bought a couple of bags of ice and put them in the ice tray. This lasts me for a couple of days. For school, I stop at the gas station for a cup of ice each morning. It's a pretty large cup and it costs 59 cents. You can't beat that. I put the cup in the fridge at school that I keep cold enough to keep the ice frozen. So far, my plan is working out. All I can say is that if this was summer, I would have had a freak out/melt down by now.

So, if you have any pull with the big guy in red, please mention to him that I'd like a commercial grade ice maker. For my house. Really. I would ask him myself, but I have a phobia of store Santas (that's another post for another day.)