Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snowmaggedon 2015

Snowmaggeddon 2015 finally arrived in the deep south. The weather forecasters predicted we would get anywhere from 1-3 or 3-6 inches and to be honest, I thought they were all crazy. We often get predictions of snow to no avail so I wasn't so sure this time around it would actually happen. However, I must admit that every time we have a prediction of a big snow, I get all excited like a a little kid again and the anticipation of the snow is sometimes more than I can handle. 

I went in to work a little earlier than usual on Wednesday in case I needed to leave early. The manufacturing team was sent home at 9:30 a.m., but I was going to stay at the office until the snow came to Huntsville, People continued to leave throughout the day since many of them live an hour or so away from Huntsville and they wanted to be home and not stuck far away from their families. 

Of course, this would be one of the few days I didn't pack a lunch and of course, the cafeteria would close at 9:30 a.m. also leaving me to snack on the various and sundry granola bars in my overhead bin. Alas, we had some customers in house and they had catered lunch and there was some left over so a lot of us devoured the BBQ leftovers which were quite good. 

Late in the afternoon, there were only about 10 of us left at the office, all of whom live in Huntsville. A little before 3:00 p.m. the first snowflakes started coming down and we all started packing away our things and bundling up to go to our cars because we had been told by our coworkers and friends in other areas that the snow would come quickly and cover the ground in a hurry. Not 10 minutes later, the security guard got on the intercom and told us if we wanted to go home we had better leave now. 

By the time I got outside, the cars and parking lot was covered in snow. I got in my car after dusting the snow off and hit the road and a reasonable speed. There was clearly a line where the snow was coming in because not five miles down the road it was barely snowing and the ground wasn't even covered yet. 

I made it home before any roads were closed and soon after it started snowing at my house. I got a text from my cousin Lauren around 4:00 p.m. saying they were going sledding. So, I got bundled up and got Pippa leashed up and we walked the mile and a half or so to meet them at the sledding hill. I went down once, but there still wasn't a whole lot of snow at that point. Mostly I just watched Greer and Jon Mark have a big time. 

Afterwards we walked back to their house and Jon Mark, Greer, and I made a snowman while Lauren got their dinner ready. She invited me to stay, but I declined since I had The Pip with me. The roads weren't icy (just slushy) so Jon Mark was kind enough to drive me and Pippa home. 

Thursday I stayed home from work but had brought my computer with me so I was still able to get a few things done. I made a mini snowman and Pip and I went for a walk in the early morning hours before most people were even awake. I played in the snow a few more times that morning, but by the afternoon, it was mostly gone, which was sad. Snow is so beautiful bit not so much when it's melting away. 

So, that's my tale of Snowmaggedon 2015. I think this is the fourth big snow we've had since I moved into my house in Five Points and I've loved every one!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Long Drive Home

Whew, what a weekend. It was all kinds of messy as far as the weather was concerned and it all started on Friday afternoon. 

It was predicted that we would get snow and ice on Friday, but the actual times it was supposed to start were varied. I met my dad for lunch at Surin at 11:30 a.m. and it was just starting to snow when I left work to go meet him. By the time we left the restaurant, it was snowing a little harder and there was a ton of traffic on the road. It was already bumper to bumper heading back to work and I assumed correctly that the arsenal and other business had let out early and folks were trying to get home. 

Within an hour of getting back to work, the roads were starting to ice over and people were abandoning ship so they could get home safely. I might have left as well, but I had to make up the extra time I had taken to meet my dad for lunch and I was waiting on some information from our corporate group so I could roll up a quote for my customer. As a result, it was almost 4:00 p.m. before I was able to leave for the day. I think my car and maybe five others was all that remained in the parking lot by the time I ventured outside. 

I had to wait a few minutes for my car to warm up and defrost and deice before I could get on the roads. I had put a blanket in the car that morning and I grabbed some snacks from my stash at work before leaving in case I ended up getting stuck some where. Thankfully, I had the mindset that morning to fill up with gas so at least I had a full tank and I would be able to keep warm if I had to sleep in the car. 

The overpasses on the Parkway were already closed and had been for hours by the time I left so I decided to take Whitesburg home instead of all the access roads along the Parkway. The traffic headed towards home wasn't too bad at all. In fact, I was surprised at home few people were on my route, but it was bumper to bumper headed the other direction and there is no telling how long it took those people to reach their destinations. 

I saw a few cars slip sliding across the roads but thankfully I didn't. There was one point when my brakes locked up over a big patch of ice, but other than that, all was good. I drove about 15 miles per hour the whole way home and stayed far behind the cars that were in front of me. A few times cars would get too close behind me, but they would eventually realize I wasn't going to speed up and so they would pass and I would be more at ease. 

It took me almost an hour to reach home but I made it safe and sound and was thankful to be in for the night. Lots of folks were stranded and I was glad to not spend the night in my car. This morning (Monday) we had some more icy roads, but I took Whitesburg once again and made it in to work just fine. The winter weather isn't over yet. We are expected to get more snow and ice on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be as lucky getting home then as I was this past Friday. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Return of the Rodent and More Coldness

So, I broke down and called the HVAC man. Thursday morning I got up and it felt like the whole house was vibrating from the loudness of the unit. When I went out to warm up my car, the unit was about the only thing you could hear in the whole neighborhood. I figured I had better go ahead and have him come out now before the situation worsened.

About an hour after I called him, my neighbor Jeff called me to see if I knew how loud my unit was sounding which gave me a bit of a chuckle. Jeff is seriously the best neighbor, y'all. I know I say it a lot, but he kills bugs, opens jars, helps crank the lawn mower, shares new recipes, let's Pippa out and watches my house while I'm away during the day among other things. He is a rockstar neighbor!

Darrell (the HVAC man) stopped by around 4:30 or so. He called and said that basically the Freon lines were hitting against the side panel of the unit. Then as he was leaving it started making a racket again and he put some Freon in it and said it was the compressor working overtime. I feel like I've had the compressor placed once before, but I could be delusional. Anyone, he said when he left it was not nearly as loud as it was when he arrived and to expect some noise since it was working so hard. When I got home, the unit sounds like normal and I was no longer concerned that it might die on my in the middle of the night.

When I was scooting around the kitchen on Thursday morning preparing my breakfast and packing my lunch, I moved something around on the large rolling table my dad made and noticed some pellets that looked like mouse or rat poo. Y'all, I cannot even begin to convey how distressing this is. I thought I heard something a few nights ago when we had freezing rain or sleet or whatever that was and even turned on the TV to keep from freaking out. So far, to my knowledge, Pippa hasn't seen the rodent but I feel certain there's one running around here somewhere so I'm gonna have to talk to my trust bug/rodent man about it.

We are expecting more snow and ice on Friday which is rather disappointing. Pippa and I are supposed to run in the Bow Wow Fun Run at the Huntsville Botanical Garden on Saturday and I'd rather not traipse through snow and ice. The Garden in closed on Friday (because of potential weather) and so now I can;t pick up my race packet until the morning of the race. They've already pushed the race back by an hour in hopes of a little warmer temps I guess. I'm sure if the race goes on, there will be lots to write about.

Keep bundling up y'all - stay safe and warm!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cold Weather and Lenten Season

This is going to be one of those rambling posts that some of you seem to enjoy so much because really, that's all I've got for now.

So, we've had a little dose of winter weather here in Huntsville lately and I think it's getting on everyones nerves more than anything. I, thankfully  haven't had any trouble getting to work in the mornings. Wednesday morning the Parkway was closed and as I was plotting out my route to work the Parkway was reopened and so I just took my normal route and had no problem at all. It's getting down into the single digits tonight and I think more snow or ice or something of the sort is expected on Friday.

All this cold weather means my HVAC unit is working overtime. It's been working so hard that I'm beginning to get concerned about its future. It's making a really loud noise but it is still keeping the house warm so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's not going to die. After new tires, new glasses and contacts, a year's worth of Pippa's heartworm medicine, a new washing machine, and an upcoming trip to the Biltmore and Washington, D.C.,  I don't really have the funds to have a problem with my HVAC unit right now. So, maybe you can keep your fingers crossed for me too.

Work continues to be completely insane right now which is great because I'd much rather be busy than not. I typically stay away from all the office drama and usually don't have a clue as to what's going on with everyone; but, lately I've found myself right in the middle of it all. We have a new girl that isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box and it's causing a lot of interdepartmental riff. Really, I don't know that the problem is her brightness or lack thereof, I think it's more that she feels entitled and that she has every right to sit at her desk and not do a thing all day long. Needless to say, it's been a less than pleasurable experience.

In other news, the Lenten season is upon us and while my church doesn't necessarily observe this period of sacrifice, it never hurts to give up something in our own lives to help us remember the sacrifice of Christ. So, this year I've made the decision to give up desserts for Lent. It serves multiple purposes really. Since I love all manner of dessert and sweet, it truly is a sacrifice and also I'm hoping it might help me lose a few pounds as well. Lent just started today and I can already tell you that every manner of dessert has come to the forefront of my mind today so this is definitely going to be a challenge and I hope I will be strong enough to stick with it.

Well, I suppose that's enough rambling for now. Stay warm and safe everyone!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras on Valentine's Day

After an eventful Friday night, I had big plans for Saturday as well which included an oil change, tire rotation and alignment for Bertha.

When I got my new tires back in the fall, I also got the three year warranty for alignments and some other warranty for tire rotation meaning I can have it done however often I want during that time period. I asked the guy how often those things needed to be done and he said around 6,000 miles so I basically decided that every other oil change I would get my tires rotated and an alignment. I may as well get my money's worth. (I realize this is all so very intriguing.)

So, I dropped the car off at Goodyear and walked to the gym where I did some cycling and then took a Zumba class and then walked back to Goodyear where my car was all ready to go. It was a good way to spend Saturday morning. 

Once I picked up my car, I headed out to University Drive to get my free birthday burger at Steak and Shake (yes, I realize the irony of working out for almost two hours and then eating a cheeseburger) and then I stopped by Sam's Club. I have actually never been to the Sam's on University Drive probably because I loathe University Drive and typically avoid it at all costs. I usually go to the Sam's off of South Parkway because it's close to work and convenient. Anyway, I walked in and literally turned right around and walked right back out. There were so many people there that every line was probably 10 people deep. I haven't seen lines that long since a snowstorm came to Tuscaloosa in 1996. 

So, I walked back to the car and drove to the produce pickup location and just waited for about 30 minuted until they were ready for me to get my basket for the week. This week's basket was filled with goodness -strawberries, red leaf lettuce, avocados, halos, apples, bananas, onions, red peppers and probably something else that I'm forgetting. 

I went home and rested for a short time before it was time to take a shower and get ready for the Mardi Gras parade. I was meeting my co-worker Maria at 3:00 p.m. the parade was to start 30 minutes later. Not only did I meet up with Maria, but also some of my cousins showed up and stood with us too. Greer (the four-year old) got a ton of beads but they must have gotten heavy because he didn't want to wear them after a while. We decided that next year instead of standing along the road, we would be in the parade instead. 

When the parade was over I was supposed to hang out with Maria, but after the morning workout, my knee was bothering me and I really just was ready to go home, so I parted ways from Maria and my family and went home and snuggled up with my Valentine, Pippa. 

It wasn't a bad way to spend Valentine's Day and it was nice to have some time outdoors before the really cold temperatures came to town. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

He's Gonna Be Famous One Day

I've been a terrible blogger lately; you don't have to tell me - I already know. I blame it on a combination of laziness and a boring life. In addition to not really having much going on these days, I also just don't want to pick up a computer when I get home in the evenings which doesn't bode well for the two people who like to stop by here and see what's going on in my life. I'd like to promise to do better, but goodness knows if I make that promise I'll not be able to live up to it. So, I'll just promise to do the best I can and hopefully that will work for all of us. The good news is that I've got a lot going on in the coming weeks for which I am thankful and hopefully it will lend to some good blogging material. 

This past weekend was actually a little eventful believe it or not. On Friday night, I went to The Voice competition at the Academy for Academics and Arts. The very talented Troy McMullen was singing in the competition as was sweet Georgia who also goes to church with us at Mayfair. I sat with Troy's grandparents' Tim and Jan and it was so great to catch up with them. Troy sand a song from "Into the Woods" and he did an amazing job! I might be a little biased, but I honestly think he was one of the top if not the number one singer. He projected very well and had great emotion with his words. It was such a treat to see him perform.  

After all the singers were done (14 in all), the audience voted. Each member of the audience had three votes. You could vote for the same person one, two or three times, or you could vote for two people (one with one vote and one with two votes) or you could vote for three people (one vote each). There were also two judges and I'm not sure how much their vote counted. The audience turned in their votes and I have no doubt that the kid with the most family and friends in attendance got the most votes. 

After about 20 minutes or so of waiting, the votes were tallied and I'm so very sad to say that Troy didn't make the top three which was seriously so surprising to all of us. I think he was pretty devastated, but he held it together and didn't let it get him down, at least not while he was in front of all of us. The three kids that won were okay, but not great. I wouldn't have voted for any of them. The gal that got first place had a lot of spunk but here singing wasn't phenomenal. In fact, there was a tie for first place (the judges broke the tie) and they announced her as the winner, but said nothing about the the person who had tied but lost - that person didn't even get a trophy! Kind of nuts if you ask me. 

Over the weekend though, Troy had an audition and a callback for "13 The Musical" which is bring presented by Lyrique Music Productions. He won one of the lead roles and I'm super pumped for him. It wasn't a bad ending to the weekend for Troy!  The shows will be at the VBC Playhouse June 5-7 and 12-14. I'm thinking he will be in the younger cast which will be the matinee shows at 2:00 p.m. So, if you don't have anything going on one or all of those days, then go check him out because I know he'll be wonderful and I can't wait to watch! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

She's Growing Up

It's been a while since I've written a post about Pippa and I figured this is as good a time as any as we've had some pretty big developments recently.

Over the weekend we went for a walk down to the local pet store in Five Points. The weather was so nice and I thought we could both use some exercise and some practice since we are doing the Bow Wow Fun Run at the Botanical Garden in about a week. We walked to the store and she got her nails trimmed and I got her a walking harness which made walking with her so much easier!

When we got home and I took the walking harness off, I noticed she had a rope burn where she had gotten chaffed from the harness. The good thing about the harness is I can certainly return it; but, when I tried it on her again, I believe it was on too tight. She was acting like a deranged animal when the lady was trying to fit her so it's not wonder the harness ended up too tight. I think we will try it out a few more times now that it's been loosened and see how it does.

Most of you probably know that Pippa has been crate trained. I got her a crate before she came to live with me and it expanded as she grew and she has always stayed in the crate when I've gone out. As she's gotten older, I have felt so sad for her being in the crate. She's such a big dog and loves to roam around and look out the window and it makes me sad to put her in her "cage" as some people call it. However, for months now, she's so used to our morning routine that when she comes in from going outside she immediately goes inside the crate and waits for her treat.

Lately, there have been a few times where Pip has escaped the crate. I've come home and much to my surprise, she's waiting for me by the front door, sitting in the chair by the window, and surprisingly nothing in the house has been demolished or eaten. How does she escape you may be wondering? Well, she gets so mad about being in the crate that she pushes against the door of the crate so hard that the locks come undone and then FREEDOM! This usually happens when she's been put in the crate for the second or third time in one day.

So, over the weekend, I decided I would experiment and I left her out when I went to church Sunday morning and again when I went to Huddles on Sunday night. Both times, she didn't bother anything. The house was just as I left it and she was waiting by the door and window when I came home. So, I left a note for Naaman (who lets her out during the day) that he could leave her out after he let her outside. Both Monday and Tuesday mornings she came in and went straight to the crate and I locked her inside and then when Naaman came to let her out, he left her in the house with free roam and she has done great so far. I'm so proud of her and maybe soon she will be able to stay out all day long. Now, if she would just learn to not act a fool when I have company, all would be well.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Graham Blanchard Discount Code - Just For You

You may have seen some book reviews and giveaways in the past for various Graham Blanchard children's board books. These board books are a great teaching tool for parents to use when teaching their children about God and what God can do for us. Some examples are here and here.

These books are so great for the kids in your life! They are small enough for toddlers to easily hold in their hands and the illustrations are always beautifully done and full of color. Most importantly, the books send a positive message and teach our children about God and Jesus at a young age, developing a firm foundation and setting a positive path for the future.

Graham Blanchard has recently released a new gift set of books called "Knowing my God Series Starter Set" which includes three titles: "Jesus Invites Me" based on Matthew 11:28-30, "Jesus Shows Me" based on John 15:9-14 and "Jesus Saves Me" based on John 10: 14-16. The books "aim to help kids make a personal connection with the words of Jesus, even from infancy."

To celebrate the release of this new set, the nice folks at Graham Blanchard have provided my readers (you!) a discount code for purchasing books through the Graham Blanchard web site. These books are so wonderful for your little ones and I hope some of you will take advantage of this 15% discount.All you have to do is add books to your shopping cart and then enter the discount code TCN15 and is good not only for the gift set, but for all Graham Blanchard products. The code is good through April 30 which means you can use it for those upcoming Easter baskets!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

They Paid With Lovin'

I'm sure some or all of you saw the McDonald's commercials that aired during the Super Bowl. I actually didn't watch much of the Super Bowl, but I did happen to see the McDonald's commercial where people paid for their food with "lovin'" rather than money and since it had already been an emotional day for me, I, of course, cried when I saw the commercial. Then, I got on Twitter and my cousin Lauren commented about how cheesy the commercial was and that made me laugh since I had just cried over it.

In case you didn't see it, basically, from that day until Valentine's Day, McDonald's is randomly selecting people to pay with lovin' rather than cash. They just have to do something like give the person they are with a hug or take a photo with someone or dance, etc. You get the picture. If they do it, then the meal is free - they paid with lovin',

Anyway, Monday I was perusing Twitter and I saw where someone I follow had posted a tweet about an elderly couple in Decatur who paid for their food with lovin'. The man had to give his wife a big ole kiss and someone took a picture of it and posted it to Twitter and I'm sure multiple other places. I thought to myself how cool it was that someone so close to Huntsville got chosen to pay with lovin'. Then, on my way home, I passed the McDonald's on South Parkway, as I do everyday, and I thought, "I wonder if anyone has paid with lovin' there today?"

Well, as luck would have it, not only did someone pay with lovin' at that McDonald's, but one of those someones was my friend Meri and her family. Meri and her husband Miko took their four kids and one nephew to the South Parkway McDonalds. They ordered four Happy Meals, two salads, and a number six (not sure what a number six is).Their total came to $35.99. At some point while they were ordering or right after they ordered, a manager came over and said something to the cashier and then the cashier asked them, "Will you be paying with lovin' today?" This obviously took the family off guard and Meri said, "Excuse me?" and the cashier asked again to which Meri replied, "YES!"

Their lovin' payment was that they had to take a photo with the cashier, Karen.

Meri asked how many people had been chosen that day and as it turns out, my friends were the 28th people to pay with lovin' that day and that was just at the South Parkway McDonald's. Meri also confirmed that the people chosen are random but we are still unsure of how they decide what the lovin' payment will be.

I was super excited for Meri and her family. I think it is so cool that they were chosen. I would love to know how many people in Huntsville and all across the US paid with lovin' by the time this campaign is over. I'll tell you one thing, I haven't eaten at a McDonald's since 2011 and even I am tempted to go to see if I get chosen to pay with lovin'. Great idea, McDonald's! What a fantastic way to spread a little joy and a little joy goes a long way!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

More Birthday Celebrating

The rest of my birthday weekend wasn't quite as exciting as the trip to Shakalaka; but, it was memorable nonetheless.

On Saturday morning I went to an ALANA meeting which is the ladies association for Agape. The meeting lasted about an hour and afterwards I picked up my produce basket which was full of lots of delicious items. That afternoon I met up with my friends Margaret Anne and Grayson and we went to see the last two episodes of Game of Thrones at the IMAX. Even though we had seen them before, we enjoyed seeing them on the big screen.

Sunday was my actual birthday and that morning I was showered with texts, Twitter messages and Instagram posts from all manner of cousin. After church I went to lunch with my parents, my two grandparents and my favorite Aunt Linda. The lunch didn't go quite as smoothly as I would have liked, but that's how it goes sometimes.

My Aunt Linda gave me a scarf which I love and am looking forward to wearing. It has some of my favorite colors and is super cute! My grandmother gave me the best gift of the day which was my grandfather's Bible. I had no words and still don't. I was overwhelmed and beyond emotional when she gave it to me. I am so thankful to have this gift and will always think of my grandfather and his love for the Lord when I use it.

After lunch, I went by my parents' house where I got a jar of my favorite vanilla from my mother's caretaker and our adopted family member Ada. My parents got me a pair of shoes (that Erika had actually suggested for me) and a monogrammed sweatshirt and my granddad gave me a pedicure.

When I left my parents' house, I picked up the cookie cake they had gotten for me and brought it home. That evening a couple of friends came over to watch Downton so I didn't have to eat cookie cake alone.

Monday at work, Meri brought me another cookie cake. The one she got was super cute. It had a dog on it that reminded us of Pip. My cubicle mate gave me a Starbucks gift card probably to keep me caffeinated and happy.

Overall, it was an eventful few days and really, it's not quite over because I'm still trying to use up all my free birthday food coupons. As I told my friends at church on Sunday, it's great to be 38!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kicking Off The Birthday Weekend

This past Sunday was my 38th birthday and I kicked off the big weekend with a great group of friends at Shakalaka and we partied like a bunch of 12-year-olds. In case you are not familiar with it, Shakalaka is an indoor trampoline arena here in Huntsville. It opened up last year some time and I have wanted to go ever since but never have had an opportunity. So, I decided to gather up some of my favorite people and jump around to celebrate my birthday and I'm so glad I did.

I decided on the 6-7 p.m. time frame on Friday and sent out an email to everyone letting them know the time and also that the web site suggested to buy your tickets in advance. All of us did except for one person, who waited until the night before to go online and purchase her ticket only to find out that our time frame was sold out. So, sadly, she didn't get to join us for trampoline time, but she met up with us for dinner. Another friend wasn't on the email, but I had mentioned it to her at church. Unfortunately, I didn't have her phone number or email and so had no way of getting in touch with her to let her know it was sold out so she came and then couldn't get in. So, she left and went to have dinner with her parents. We did exchange numbers though so as not to have any issue in the future.

The nine  of us who had tickets to jump had a big time. We jumped on the trampolines, we flew off the flying trapeze into a pit of foam, we jumped into a pit of foam, we jumped on trampolines to play basketball, we walked a tightrope above another foam pit, we jumped on more trampolines, and we played dodgeball against innocent children. In fact, we probably got a little too much satisfaction out of hitting children with balls. Our hour went by quickly but we were all beyond tired when it was over with. I got some of the best sleep I've had in a long while that night.

After our time at Shakalaka, we went to Steak 'N Shake for dinner which apparently is one of the most popular places in town because the joint was packed and we had to wait about 30 minutes for a table. Oddly enough, Macaroni Grill which is almost next door was more or less empty which is so bizarre because when I waited tables there 100 years ago the place was packed all the time.

We finally got seated but had to split up because there wasn't a spot big enough for all of us to sit together. We all had a good time and as far as I know everyone enjoyed their food. Some of the girls got milkshakes to take home to their husbands which was really nice of them.

It was such a fun evening and I'm so blessed and thankful to have these great women in my life as my dearest friends. I hope we get to celebrate a lot more birthdays together.