Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowmageddon 2014

Here in the southeast, it’s been an incredibly cold winter so far.  All I keep saying is “if it’s going to be this cold, BRING ME SOME SNOW.  Make it WORTH IT.”  We southerners don’t do well in the way of Jack Frost and his sprinklings, but it sure is pretty to watch and we can appreciate it once a year.  After that one dusting comes and goes it’s basically “BRING IT ON SPRING!,” but that’s neither here nor there.  Enter Snowmageddon 2014

It was predicted yesterday morning that we would see snowfall around noon, and around 2” for this part of the upstate.  I dropped the kids off at school, had coffee with some mommy-friends, then headed to the gym to get my miles in.  The public schools started announcing early dismissals at 11:30, so by noon, Tyler, Caroline and I were on our way to the Chick fil A drive thru.  You need a meal with staying-power in case of bad weather you know.  Once we were home and our bellies were full, we turned on the gas logs and gathered around the living room.  Waiting… waiting… waiting.  Finally around 2:30pm, Jack Frost delivered… we were lovin’ it!

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This marks the fourth snow of our little folks’ lives and they were big fans.  I’m glad it turned out so well, especially considering we had practically zero weather-appropriate gear.  No snow boots, no waterproof gloves, no “lined” pants of any sort.  Instead they attacked the cold in layer upon layer, pajamas under their clothes & coats, gloves under mittens, everything tucked into everything.  It took us longer to get ready than it did to play, I’m quite certain, but we had fun!

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Deck Angels”:  how one makes a snow angel when there’s not enough snow covering the grass.

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After going in and out twice, it finally started getting dark and we had to retire from snow-play.  Nathan was due to get off work at 7pm, and all of us were hungry for a big plate of spaghetti.  (Forget the milk & bread… we go straight for the good stuff.)  On his way home from the hospital, though, he called in an almost-panic to tell me that his wedding ring had been lost in the parking lot when he was trying to wipe the snow off his windshields.  He didn’t realize it was gone until he had driven about three miles, but decided that he had to go back to try to find it.  According to his story, he said a silent prayer asking God to PLEASE help him find the ring, because with snow still falling, it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  Once back at the hospital he attempted to look around the 10-foot radius of his parking spot, thinking it would have bounced off the car (he’d heard the cling but didn’t realize what it was until driving away).  It was nowhere to be found, and just when it seemed hopeless, two men came up and offered to help him.  In less than a minute, one of the men posed the question “have you tried looking on the back of the car?”… which of course, he had not.  Who would have?  He’d driven at least six miles in the wind and snow by this point, but figured it was worth a shot.  IT WAS THERE.  Just sitting on the trunk of the car, apparently stuck thanks to that icy snowfall.  After leaving the hospital yet again, he came upon a fresh wreck on the interstate… hmmm.  I’m a big believer that all things happen for a reason, and we are quite sure God was definitely protecting him last night! 

This morning, we awoke to a beautiful new layer of white powder.  Tyler and Caroline could hardly wait to get back out in it!  After a yummy breakfast of 7-up biscuits, sausage, eggs and fruit (I don’t play!), we got back in our multi-layers and headed back out. 

Sledding on a trash can lid!  OH YES WE DID.

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We also couldn’t pass up a “winter family photo” opp.  (Well, I couldn’t.)  A framer for sure!!

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We took off on a “snow walk” through the woods at the end of our street after the “sledding” adventure.  Connor couldn’t believe his good fortune of being leash-free for all this fun.

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This trek through the woods was fun, but our socks and gloves just didn’t cut it.  Pretty soon no one objected to my suggestion we head back, and I think it’s due to the fact that we have fulfilled all wintry-mix obligations of snow-play, pretend snow angels and quasi-sledding.  Thanks for the snow Jack Frost!  It was a blast!!  If you need us from now on… we’ll be by the fire. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Asking a Favor…

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In roughly three months, I will lace up my shoes and attempt to run my first half marathon in Nashville, TN.  13.1 Miles doesn’t seem like a lot, especially to those who are 26.2-ers, but for ME?  It’s a long way.  I distinctly remember my 18-year-old self having to run one measly mile in less than 8:30 for my volleyball team and thinking that was pure and te-total torture.  To say I’ve come a long way since then in terms of running for sport is an understatement. 

With that said, I’ve pledged to be a St. Jude Hero and raise money for a great cause.  I could go into great detail, but they’ve helped me set up a fundraising page dedicated to their mission so I’ll just let you check that out HERE.  All I ask is that you please consider donating and helping me reach my small goal of $500 for the children and families of St. Jude!  I would greatly appreciate it, but they would appreciate it more. 

Thank you so, so much!!

Tarheel Born, Tarheel Bred

In case you need a refresher, our blood-lines run Carolina Blue.  One problem with us being South Carolinians, however, is that people ‘round these parts deem that school in Columbia “Carolina.”  This is simply not the case.

To ensure our future Tarheels (we’ll settle for Clemson Tigers, though, just don’t tell their Pa!) know who the REAL Carolina is, and fully appreciate the deity of UNC Basketball, we embarked upon their first game at the Dean Dome.  A day to be remembered, clearly. 

We started out dark & early… Rolling in comfort and in style.  I made ham biscuits the night before and Granna had the fridge stocked, so we were locked and loaded without reason to stop.  Chapel Hill or bust!

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Once in Chapel Hill, we parked near the Dean Dome and got the little ones dressed for the game.  Caroline has had an “authentic” cheerleading outfit for just about every stage of life, so it wasn’t unexpected.  First stop before the game:  the basketball museum to pay tribute to our favorites.  At the top of my list?  Mr. Hansbrough, of course. 

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After walking through the museum it was time for the Dean Dome… Game time! 

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We had a great time, especially since our boys pulled out the W in the end.  This season is a bit “iffy,” but we love them nonetheless! 

After the game (and ever since), both Tyler and Caroline have been obsessed with the Tarheels . They got stuffed “UNC” bears that are their new favorites, and they both say they are going to grow up and go there to school.  Nathan and I have already committed to buying a condo in Chapel Hill if this is the case… always good to plan ahead, you know.  We also took some time to meander through campus a bit.  As I watched the students walking around, jogging through campus, heading into Lenoir for a bite to eat, and watching a pick-up game on the soccer practice field, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.  It’s been *cough cough* 11 years since that was me, but when you go back to your old “home,” it doesn’t feel that long at all. 

"What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well, or the bell, or the stone walls, or the crisp October nights or the memory of dogwoods blooming. Our loyalty is not only to William Richardson Davie though we are proud of what he did 200 years ago today. Nor even to Dean Smith, though we are proud of what he did last March. No, our love for this place is based on the fact that it is as it was meant to be, the University of the people."
-Charles Kuralt, fellow J-School alumni, at the UNC Bicentennial in 1993.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adventures in Christmas, 2013

This was the first time in 32 years that I have not traveled for the holidays and It. Was. Awesome.  Matter of fact, everything about this Christmas season was awesome.  From our bright red couches and Christmas d├ęcor to our constant Santa discussions and festivities around town, we reveled in all things jolly.  Our house was lit up like the fourth of July on a daily basis and I think the few neighbors we have during the “off season’ really appreciated it.  Either that, or the slow drive-byes were indicative of distaste… one can’t be sure!  Regardless, we LOVED our house this Christmas and it just added to the height of our addiction… remember, we are “Christmas People.”  We have villages that cover our entire pool table, fine china brimming with holly, multiple nativities, Santa cookie jars, glowing mantles, five trees (some were small for the bedrooms), and even a tree trunk in the front yard that was laced with gaudy ribbon by Tyler and Caroline. Which I left as they “decorated” for six whole weeks and loved every second of it. Seriously, we love Christmas.

In Columbia, we had tons to do during the holiday months and almost worried that we’d be bored now that we’ve moved.  Not the case, thankfully!  Instead of “Lights Before Christmas” at Riverbanks Zoo, this year we had the lights and live animals of Hollywild -

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They thought they were BIG STUFF riding through the park unbuckled.

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After the lights, you could choose to go to “Deer Forest” and feed roaming animals for $10 per car.  The kids REALLY wanted to do this, but Nathan heard that it was not great and that the deer were often so overfed that they ran from the cars.  I left it up to him… and once a decision is made there is no turning back.  (SO FINAL, that Hollywild.)  Unfortunately we couldn’t see the Deer Forest until we said “no thank you,” and once we laid eyes on it the kids were devastated that we had to pass it by. I was shooting Nathan daggers with my eyes over this… I knew I’d be the one who had to hear about their misfortune for days.  The deer were chomping on corn from outstretched hands all over the place, not to mention the MILLION POUND COW that literally towered over a monster truck.  It was honestly the biggest animal I’ve ever seen in real life, so it even made me a little sad that we couldn’t experience the hands-on feeding thing. 

Lucky for Nathan, though, Santa’s Land was still ahead and it had TONS of animals to feed.  We both whispered a thankyouJesus, and naturally he was willing to pay just about anything for whatever animal food they offered… lesson learned, Daddy

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We had carrots, crackers, lettuce and bottles filled with some weird red juice that supposedly on the goats would drink… except no goats would go near them.  Caroline was completely torn up over this, and she was almost in tears that Buddy had gotten a baby goat to drink a sip of his just before we left.  As luck would have it, we were heading toward the exit when I happened to see a barn filled with a few camels, completely out of the way of all the other animals and easy to miss.  We headed straight over and LO AND BEHOLD, THE CAMELS WERE THIRSTY.  This gal drank both our bottles and had the reddest camel-lips you ever did see.  It made Caroline’s whole night (and mine).

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As much fun as Hollywild was, we also got to experience small town friendly - Christmas version.  Although Nathan and I both grew up driving through the lights of Forest City, we couldn’t turn down the offer from Granna and Pa to go on a carriage ride and see all that had changed in our hometown. 

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…And in the blink of an eye, all the festivities leading up to the big day had come and gone…

Christmas was upon us!  We set out red velvet cookies for Santa (and carrots for the reindeer), read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by the fire, then hurried off to bed so that Santa wouldn’t miss our house.  After all, we’d seen Rudolph’s blinking nose all the way home from Paw and Grammie’s house so we knew he was in the area.  {Side note:  the minute we saw the flashing red light in the sky and pointed it out to the kids, they went crazy with excitement.  Both shouted out OH MY GOSH!!!!!!, followed by Tyler’s enthusiastic “OH MY DAMNIT!!!!”  Caroline copied him verbatim, and at that point, Nathan and I weren’t sure if we would actually pee ourselves from laughter or if they should be in some sort of trouble?  It was more than clear they didn’t know the appropriate usage, since it was clearly a jubilous “damnit”.  We decided to just let it go, and if we ever heard them say that word again we’d address it.  It hasn’t happened since, but the story is too hilarious not to share.}

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Once the kiddos were in bed, Santa Clause came!  We’d already spent half of Christmas Eve putting together a massive trampoline (with Pa’s help while Granna kept Tyler and Caroline at Lake Lure), so there wasn’t much to do.  With presents in place and Santa’s footprints all over, it was time to get some sleep and wait.

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I’m sure it will be the last time they “sleep in,” but at 7:30am on Christmas morning, SANTA HAD ARRIVED!

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It was freezing cold, but luckily Santa planned ahead and brought hats and gloves in their stockings…

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This trampoline was all they asked for – we had to insist they make a list of five other things just so they had something under the tree.  To say they loved this gift is an understatement.

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Luckily the other things were pretty enjoyable too!

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You see that blue face?  He’d been shaving in the bathroom with his new Spiderman shave kit… Haha!

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After all the Santa excitement, Granna and Pa came over for breakfast and to exchange gifts, which will hopefully be our NEW family tradition.  I’ve spent every Christmas Eve night of my life in my mother’s house, and this was the first year that I was in my own.  Although it was different, we loved that this is our new normal!

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About 2pm, we loaded up and made the strenuous trek across the lake about half a mile to Papa and Mimi Kaye’s house.  My mom’s side of the family always gets together Christmas day-afternoon, so she and I spent some time leisurely working in the kitchen before heading over… another “new normal.”  Every other year I’ve had to plan ahead and bring all my food from wherever we were living at the time – but not anymore!  It was wonderful!

After everyone finally arrived and we’d eaten ourselves into oblivion, it was time for Caroline and Tyler to open MORE gifts!  The adults in the family play the gift exchange game (errr steal/whatever you want to call it), so the kids are the only ones who have presents.  Lucky for them, they’re the only kids! 

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All in all, Christmas 2013 was MAGICAL. 

Even though it seems like Caroline and Tyler are the most fun possible each time I write a post like this, they get more fun with each passing year.  I can hardly stand to think about how much bigger they’ll be when it’s time for my next holiday recap… *tear*.  Until then, HAPPY 2014!