Monday, February 8, 2016

'Twas the 39th Anniversary of My Birth

It was my 39th anniversary this past Monday. I'm now walking in the 40th year of my life and I'm here to tell you, that seems a little weird. 

This year's birthday was much, much better than last year's disaster - thank goodness! I kicked off the birthday weekend by welcoming my new furniture into my home. Santa and Mrs. Claus put some money towards new furniture for me for Christmas and it finally came in the week before my birthday and was delivered on Saturday January 30. It looks so great. I just love it! I got a new couch and a chair and ottoman. The couch is grey and the chair and ottoman are off white with grey polka dots. I also bought some coverings to keep on them when it's just me and Pip at home. That way we can (hopefully) keep things clean. Pip has done really well with the furniture so far. The decorative pillows that came with the furniture are sitting in another chair and thankfully Pip hasn't eaten any of them. I did take the couch cushions away from her during the day because the way she lays on them to look out the window causes the shape to warp and it's hard to fluff them back into place. So, she is cushion-less during the day which is probably for the best. 

The day before my birthday, my dad and I headed up to Nashville. We left about 12:30 and made the journey north. We had bought tickets for the NHL All-Star game which was held at Bridgestone Arena. I grew up loving hockey and my dad is a fan as well, although he doesn't follow it as closely as I do. When I found out the All-Star game was going to be in Nashville the day before my birthday, I made it a point to start watching tickets like a hawk. It became sort of an obsession and I was checking prices about every 30 minutes; but, it paid off because I bought tickets in a pretty great location one week before the game and the next day the prices started rising again. So, I think it worked out perfectly. 

We had the best time at the game. We've had a lot of good times and seen a lot of amazing things, but this game might have been one of the funnest and most exciting things we have ever done for ourselves. We cheered and jeered and laughed and watched people and just thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I am so glad we went! We ate at Outback in Nashville before heading home and arrived back in Huntsville around 11:00 p.m.

The actual day of my birthday was also a good day. I took the day off work which I have never done on my birthday. I went to Jones Valley Elementary to have a make-up day with my lunch buddy (our last day had been cancelled because of snow) and then I went and ate lunch with my parents, grandparents and sweet Ada. We went to Red Lobster which is my birthday spot. I have eaten their for years on my birthday and decided not to brake with tradition this year. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then most everyone came back to my house to see the new furniture and give me a few gifts. Most of the gifts had to be returned because I had already bought them for myself and my mom and dad didn't communicate on the gift giving front, My dad had already ordered a pair of boots I wanted. Communication is key my friends! 

That evening I went to Ladies' Bible study and celebrated again with my friend Amberly who shares a birthday with me. Her mom hosted Bible study that night and we had a delicious meal. While at study, we received news that my dear friend Leah gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Juniper Willoughby. I think it goes without saying that the weekend of the 39th anniversary of my birth was indeed a great one. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Return of Nat

Well, here we are again. I guess you could say I took a break from blogging for a while. It was actually unintentional, but then I didn't miss it and decided to just not write for a while and then I toyed with the idea of giving it all up because how many times can I write about a trip to the circus and make it sound interesting each time? Plus, I rarely get any comments and so I just wasn't motivated to write and I was too busy to care. 

Then my friend Candy text me about it saying I needed to write a post and then I got an email from my mom and then I got a text from my cousin Amy and so there are at least three people in the world who actually read the nonsense I put on this blog and so here we are with a new post in a new year, my eighth year to be precise. How the time flies. So, here's the deal, I'll write when I feel like it or when something interesting is going on or when I have time. I am still working full time and taking a full load this semester in graduate school an so, obviously there are other things that will take priority over blogging. I'm not promising a post every day, nor am I promising a post every week (although I will try), but I am promising to blog when I can. 

Furthermore, I have a big project that is shaping up to start in the next couple of months and it is a project that I definitely want to have a journal of and so I suspect that when this giant project gets going I'll be motivated to write a little more, provided I'm not too tired or stressed or curled up in a ball crying some where. I've also made some other changes that I should probably write about and so hopefully the writing bug will bite me soon.

Since I wrote my last post way back in December, here are the things that have happened:
  • The Downtown Christmas Parade was at night this past December and it was way better than it had been in years. 
  • The Living Christmas Tree was on par with previous year's performances, although a little strange in some parts. 
  • My dad and I cooked a really nice Christmas dinner for the family and I think it was a big success. 
  • There was no snow on Christmas, but that probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone
  • I went to the Symphony on New Year's Eve, doing something for myself for a change, and it was the best New Year's Eve I have ever had. 
  • We went to the circus and took my four-year-old cousin Greer. It was his first circus and it was so fun to see the wonder and amazement on his face. As it turns out, it was the last time we will ever see the elephants at the circus and that makes me a little sad. 
  • The daughter of a friend got married and my cousins and I danced the night away at the reception. 
  • I said good bye to one of my favorites, Judge Frank Riddick. 
  • We celebrated another birthday of three cousins.
  • We've had multiple family dinners and lots and lots of laughter. 
  • I've binged watched loads of television
  • Alabama won a football national championship.
  • I won the Parker Football Bowl Challenge for the second year in a row! 
  • My family discovered my weird love of the calendar. 
  • I started my second semester of graduate school and two weeks in I can confirm it is a doozie! I'm not loving it like I did last semester; but, alas, this too shall pass and hopefully so will my grades. 
That about sums things up. Not too many details, but, that's what I've been up to. I hope to write again soon. Until then, be praying that I survive the next few months because I might have 37 too many irons in the fire. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How The Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical

This past Saturday my parents and I went to Nashville for the day to see "How The Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical." The Grinch (the original cartoon one that is) is probably my favorite of the Christmas classics. My mom gets me a Lennox Grinch figurine every year for Christmas and I just generally love the story. So, when I saw that the musical was coming to Nashville I decided to go and asked my parents if they'd like to come along as well. Mother said yes, my dad said no and so I bought two tickets for me and my mother. Then my dad felt left out and so I bought him a ticket too. Long story short, the play was this past Saturday and the three of us went. 

We left Huntsville around 10:00 a.m. and headed north. We anticipated the traffic to be slightly insane around the Grand Ole Opry and it was; but, we found a restaurant close by and were able to enjoy a nice lunch before making our way over tot he Opry House. After lunch we had about an hour to spare before the show started and it took almost that long to get the two or three miles from the restaurant to the venue. We were having no luck finding a parking spot; so, my dad dropped me and mother off at the curb so we could get the tickets from Will Call and he went off to find a spot to park. Mother and I got the tickets and left my dad's at Will Call for him since we didn't know how long it would take him to find a place to park. As luck would have it, he found a spot pretty soon after dropping us off and actually beat us to the seats. We were in the balcony and the Opry House has a wheelchair lift that took some time to get to and use. 

The show started on time and overall was good. It wasn't as wonderful as I had pictured it in my head. Since I am a lover of the original, I don't like much deviation and this show had a lot of musical numbers that were not in the cartoon. Overall the story was the same, but I think I was anticipating it to be an acted out version of the cartoon as someone narrated and it wasn't like that at all. Also, I was either very tired or it was very slow in some spots because there were times when I thought I might fall asleep. I'm glad we went though because we did all enjoy the outing and it was nice to do something Christmasy that we haven't done before. 

When the show was over, we headed back to the wheelchair lift and had to wait on some other folks before mother had her turn. We finally made it outside and were soon on our way home. Ya'll when we got on the interstate to head home, you would not believe the amount of traffic trying to exit at Opry Mills for shopping. I bet the traffic was backed up for five miles or more. It was nuts. This is why I shop online, my friends. 

We made it back to Huntsville around 6:30 p.m. or so and called it a night. We had originally planned on going to a concert at the library but by the time we got back, we were all tired and ready to go home. It was a fun day and I'm glad we were able to enjoy some family time together doing something Christmasy. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Favorite Things Brunch 2015

As mentioned in my last post, the 2015 Favorite Things Brunch was held this past Saturday. Erika, Kendra and Candy all made an appearance again this year and we welcomed back Amy who hasn't been able to join us the last couple of years. We kicked off the festivities around 10:00 a.m. and had a delicious array of food. Erika brought the most delicious cinnamon rolls I've ever put in my mouth. Kendra brought Grape Salad from Chicken Salad Chick. Amy made a French Toast Casserole and Candy brought a hashbrown casserole. I made some breakfast "muffins" which had hashbrowns, eggs and turkey sausage. All the food was super yummy. 

First on the agenda was eating - of course - and then we spent the next couple of hours talking. I had to run out at noon to pick up my produce basket from Plentiful Produce, but the girls stayed at the house and kept the conversation going while I was gone. Pip spent the morning outside and barked for quite a while until she knocked the glass out of the back storm door. Thankfully I was able to pop it back in and shut the main door and she didn't "say" much after that. 

When I got back from my produce run, we began the favorite things gift exchange. I gave each of the girls a set of measuring cups and a measuring pitcher from The Pioneer Woman's new product line available at Wal-Mart. I bought a set for myself as well and here is a quick review. At a first glance the set is cute, but if you look closer, it does appear to be cheaply made, which is why it is for sale at Wal-Mart and not Anthropologie. My gut tells me these are designed after the ones offered at Anthropolgie because the Pioneer Women herself has featured on her blog and raved about the sets available there, but they are not up to snuff when doing a side by side comparison. Moving on...
Erika gave each of us a bag of goodies. If you know Erika, then you know she is a lover of QVC and so our goodie bag had a lock and lock container and a candle from QVC as well as a hand soap from Bath and Body works - all of which will be put to good use. Kendra's gift to us was a plug in wax warmer. I have a larger counter top one that I use quite often, but this one is a smaller version and plugs directly into the wall. She also gave us a cranberry scented wax melt to use with it. Candy gave each of us a cream eye-shadow from Mary Kay. It is her favorite eye shadow and she picked out a color she thought we would each like. My color is neutral and I've worn it almost every day this week which is really something considering I never wear eye shadow. Last, but not least, Amy gave us each a pack of post-it notes and highlighters because let's be honest, who doesn't love some new school/office supplies?

After the gift exchange, we enjoyed a little more conversation and wrapped things up around 1:30 p.m. or so. It was so fun to get together with these girls who I've known for years and years and years. I love each of them dearly and am thankful we are always able to find time to spend with each other during this very busy time of year - that's my favorite thing of all. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The First Few Days of December

Y'all, I need a break, seriously. I look at my calendar every day and look forward to the end of the month when I have a day off from the craziness that has become December. I'm so tired and it's not going to get better any time soon. 

So, for starters you may be wondering why I have been scarce lately. Truthfully, you probably are not wondering because the five people that read this blog are my close friends and so you know what has been going on. My mother became ill the day after Thanksgiving and subsequently spent almost a week in the hospital battling an infection. To be honest, we weren't sure she was going to pull through, but things turned around on day six and for that we are grateful. She is still recovering at home but feeling much better. So, as a result of being at the hospital and being tired and being just plain ole busy, I haven't even thought about blogging; so, here's what's been happening in the first few days of December...

On Tuesday, December 1, I took a break from going to the hospital in the evening in order to participate in the Galaxy of Lights Fun Run. My cousin Lauren and her son Greer and my friend Lauren also participated. It was a super rainy night, but the rain held off for a little while and we managed to get our walk/run in. Sadly, we all went away empty handed as far as door prizes are concerned. I was a little bummed about that. 

Last Friday night I had my Bible school class Christmas party at the home of the aforementioned friend Lauren and her husband Steven. Instead of playing Dirty Santa with gag gifts like we did last year, we played Nerdy Santa with new or "lightly used" books. Our class is so full of characters that you really never know what you are going to get when it comes to playing Christmas games. There was an interesting array of books including how to make coffins and a book stolen from the children's ministry library about talking to your child about sex. It was a lively evening as one might can imagine. 

Last Saturday I hosted the annual Favorite Things brunch for the gals with whom I've been friends the longest. I hope to write a whole post about this as it is truly one of my favorite events of the season. Sunday was church and grocery shopping, and running a few errands, followed by family dinner with the cousins. 

Monday night Erika, (the once again aforementioned friend) Lauren and I went to the Heritage Ringers Concert. I know I've mentioned it before, but this free concert is one of my favorite of the season! It was once again held at Trinity Methodist and there was a huge crowd as always. They played some great tunes this year including one from the Grinch! During the concert I was thinking they should record a Christmas CD some time and sure enough at the end of the show, the conductor announced that they had in fact recorded a Christmas CD and so Erika and I both willingly forked over $10 to buy one. It is worth every penny, although I was admittedly sad that "Sleigh Ride" wasn't one of the recorded tracks as it is my favorite number that they perform. 

That brings us to Tuesday night which was the annual Agape Board and Staff dinner. This year it was held at Madison Church of Christ and catered by Jim and Nick's BBQ from Cullman. The food was really great and the fellowship was nice as well. Some of the folks at these events can get a little long winded and seeing as how I am a stickler for being home by 8:30 p.m. on a "school night", I started getting antsy around 8:00 p.m. At 8:35 p.m. when people were still giving speeches, I couldn't take it anymore and dismissed myself out the back. I felt kind of bad, but not bad enough to stay. I was ready to be home in my PJs. 

So, that, my friends is the first eight days of December wrapped up neat and tidy for you. The rest of the month isn't slowing down. On one hand it's nice to be busy, but on the other, it's also quite exhausting and I'm anxious for January where I have maybe two things on the calendar. 'Tis the season as they say! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Review: The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids

I'm alive! I know it's been a while. It's been a whirlwind lately and blogging has been about the last thing on my mind. More to come on that (hopefully). Today, I need to provide your with a book review or I might get kicked out of the book reviewing club and I don't want that. It would be so sad! 

Way back in October, I chose to review "The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids" written by Pastor Rick Warren. I have never read "The Purpose Driven Life" but have heard lots of wonderful things about it and so when I saw Pastor Warren had written the same book geared towards children, I thought I would jump on the chance to review it. Then school and life got in the way and so now, finally, I present to you my review of this lovely book. 

There are six "purposes" which outline the book. They are as follows, The Reason for Everything, Faith and Friendship with God, Your Part in God's Family, Becoming Like Christ, Serving God, Serving Others, and You Were Made for a Mission. There are 365 devotionals in the book, one for each day of the (non-leap) year. Each devotional starts with a Bible verse and then a practical lesson, or story by Pastor Warren followed by a prayer for that day. 

Pastor Warren uses nine different Bible translations throughout the book, making sure that the most practical and relate-able version is listed for your child. The book is printed in very bright blue and green which is no doubt to be made appealing to the young eye that enjoys bright colors. My old eye would prefer a toned down color. The books is geared more towards pre-teen and teenagers than little ones, but would be a great tool in getting kids that age interested in Bible study and in a pattern that they will hopefully continue for the rest of their lives. 

The book is published by the Zonderkidz division of Zondervan and is available for around $16.00

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In January, I Shall Rest

It was another busy weekend, as most are this time of year. Friday night we went to the Madison Academy game and for the first time in three years, the Mustangs lost in the playoffs. It was kind of expected and therefore not so devastating; but, it was a good game. They had a good run, but alas, all good things must come to and end. 

Saturday morning I left my house at 8:00 a.m. to run errands and knock some things off the to do list. I also had an ALANA meeting and this is where I shall pause to tell you three readers about this organization because we are in desperate need of some new faces so consider this my plea. ALANA is the Association of Ladies for Agape of North Alabama. This group of (old) women support Agape in various ways. They hold charity sales throughout the year to raise money and collect dues of a whole $10 a year. With the money that is raised, the ladies help support the foster children who are supported by Agape. They provide money for such things as a spring (or Easter) outfit, a Thanksgiving turkey, they help pay for the foster family retreat in the fall and also provide money for school supplies. If other needs arise, they address those as they come up and try to help the foster families out as much and as often as possible. I'm not sure how many members there are in total, but there is a core group of about 20 or so women and the average age is surely close to 75 (if you throw out me and my friend Leah). The ladies meet about four times a year on Saturday mornings for about an hour and food is provided at the meetings. Here is my plea - this group is in desperate need of some new and younger faces! If you are interested in getting involved in this great group, then please get in touch with me either by emailing me or leaving a comment with your contact information in this post. OK, that's it for the public service announcement for today. 

After the ALANA Meeting I had a little time to kill before picking up my produce basket for the week. So, instead of going home for 30 minutes, I went by and volunteered to sort baskets. There were actually a lot of volunteers that day so the sorting went quickly and I was able to get my basket and head home. Once home I changed clothes, sat down for about 15 minutes and then drove three houses down the street to pick up my cousins Anna and Randy for a basketball game. My cousin Tyler (Anna's brother) is the assistant coach at Shorter University and they were playing in a tournament at UAH. So, a bunch of us went to support him. The game was actually really good and we had a great time cheering on the Hawks. 

When the game was over, we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner and then I finally headed home for the night. Anna, Randy, Tyler and Autumn went to see a movie; but, since I had been home for all of 15 minutes that day I opted to go home and stay home. It was a good thing to because I think I was asleep by 7:30 p.m. 

It was a busy, busy Saturday and I've got to tell you, I'm ready for a weekend of rest which will no doubt happen in January, which will be here before we know it.