Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year Closer

Well, there goes 2012. It's been a long year. I'm kind of glad to see it go, actually.

Every year (and every single day) is filled with countless blessings, and I don't ever mean to not fully appreciate each of them. But, in terms of fertility, or lack thereof, is it horrible to be glad to just check another year off the list? Surely now, we're a year closer to our children, right? I never thought I would look at our journey to parenthood in year-long time increments, but yet another Christmas has passed us by without even a pregnancy. Surely the number of childless Christmases we are to experience as a couple is dwindling down, right? While the number of babies extraneously present in my life are constantly increasing, the number of days or months or years until we have our own simply must be decreasing. They just have to be. That's how math works. Today is a day closer to me becoming a mama than yesterday was. And tomorrow will be closer, still. Because of that basic arithmetic, I'm glad to see this year come to an end.
I know God has a great plan for us. And I know that He already knows what that plan is, down to every detail. I trust that completely. And because of that, I'm glad to have marked another year off of the journey. Don't get me wrong, I completely hate that it actually was a full year within that journey; I wish the journey to parenthood was already complete and that it had been measured in days or months alone, instead of entire 12-month calendars. But regardless, I'm excited to take that 2012 calendar off the wall and start a fresh, new one. With 12 more months of 2013 ahead of me, maybe a conception (followed by a healthy pregnancy and birth) is possible. Maybe 2013 is the year.
Here comes that tricky hope again. That scary flame that encourages me to keep dreaming. But maybe it's right. Maybe 2013 is the year. 2010 wasn't. 2011 wasn't either. And 2012 wasn't, still. But maybe, just maybe, 2013 is the one. Only one way to find out.
I've got to take another step forward. Move another day ahead.
January 1, 2013 is, at the very least, one day closer to me finally becoming a mama.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmastime 2012 Highlights

Merry Christmastime!! (It applies until January, right?) I hope your Christmas has been wonderful! Mine has been very blessed, indeed.
Disclaimer: Ever since I got my iPhone for Christmas last year, I've been highly dependent on it for my photos and have, therefore, been negligent with my real camera and bad at taking a good amount of pictures. So, since Instagram has become my more consistent form of mini-blogging, I'll just share the images that I highlighted as they occurred throughout the season.
The week before Christmas, Matthew and Heather joined us at the historic Ryman Auditorium for Andrew Peterson's "Behold The Lamb of God" concert.
The tag line for the show is "The true tall tale of the coming of Christ." Within the concert, they tell the whole story of the Bible in song, from the creation to Jesus' coming and including His crucifixion and resurrection. It's awesome, and a great way to put the focus on Christ at Christmas.

And it was so cool to see so many amazing artists and musicians on one stage coming together to proclaim the Good News.

Moving on to other highlights, Brad and I won 1st place in our neighborhood's home decorating contest. Again. Holla! We already have big plans to up the ante next year.

This year, I bought some Scentsicles to make our artificial tree smell more like a real one. They're scented ornaments that are just fragrance-infused sticks which blend into tree, allowing you to "smell the real smelling smell of a real tree" without seeing the true source. I loved it.

We personalized our annual ornament to add to our growing collection. We also (secretly) backlogged one from 2006, which is the only year of our marriage that we failed to commemorate with an ornament. It has been bothering me for six years each time I trimmed our Christmas tree and strolled back down memory lane. I figured if we could get one unique to that year, it wouldn't really be cheating. So we snuck one in honoring our college graduation. Now we officially have an ornament for each year, and in the future, nobody is any the wiser. Trick, trick. Well, except all of you guys. But, shhhh.

Brad's family came down early to celebrate the holiday. I didn't take any photos (oops), but here's one that Matthew took of the aftermath. Jeremy got a toy train set, and their dad got a remote controlled helicopter. For not having any children in the family, we still represent the toys!
While his family was in town, we all went to the Belcourt Theater, which is this old, historic movie theater that plays mostly independent films, classics, or movies with cult followings. We saw one of my Christmas favorites, "Home Alone." It was so much fun to watch such a familiar movie with a large audience. Every time something hilariously unfortunate happened to those darned Wet Bandits and I heard the innocent laughter of children (and adults) all around me, my heart was filled with even more Christmas joy. And I may or may not have taken a picture of the title art as it appeared on the big screen. I hope I don't get arrested for copyright infringement!
Later in the week, Bradley and I spent an evening in our car driving around town and looking at Christmas lights while we drank some warm coffee. I do love memories like these.

We didn't see any of my family this holiday, but we did ship gifts back and forth. My parents let this beauty appear on our doorstep! With their encouragement, we opened it before Christmas morning, and we are so glad we did! We used it to make a couple batches of Brad's delicious eggnog.

We kicked off Christmas Eve by going back to the Belcourt Theater to watch "It's A Wonderful Life." They host multiple daily showings of this Christmas Classic every year during the week leading up to the holiday. It may become one of our annual traditions. Watching movies at home without an auditorium full of other film lovers just seems so boring now.

When we got home, we swapped our gifts of Christmas PJs, made some cookies from scratch (We seriously love that mixer!), and waited for Santa to come.

Christmas Eve just isn't Christmas Eve without a reading of "The Night Before Christmas."

Nor would it be complete without boarding the Polar Express!

Christmas morning we woke up as a family and exchanged stockings.

Chester was anxious to dig into his. I think he was irritated that he could smell bones and treats in the bottom, but he couldn't get to them easily. Even though the sock monkey was initially tossed aside to get to the tasty goodies, he has since played with it a lot. It's actually already missing an ear. Oops.

Then we had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. Brad tried to make a batch from scratch, but he accidentally killed the yeast and the dough didn't rise. (Yeast is so finicky!) Luckily, we had a tube of Pillsbury on hand. That's still homemade in my book.

Later Christmas morning, we finally got to the (other) main event of the day: "Les Miserables"! We had both been so looking forward to this film release, and we were not disappointed. Seriously, go see it. It's amazing. Such great acting and singing and storytelling and visual cinematography!

That evening, we had Hill Ridge over for Christmas dinner. With Publix' help, Brad perfectly roasted a ham, and I baked a couple casseroles. Our friends brought over some other side dishes, and we topped off the meal with sparkling grape juice. Oh, and Brad mastered the yeast and made some awesome rolls from scratch. I was thrilled to not only get to spend a great Christmas dinner with our best friends, but also to set my table with my new Christmas dishes!

After that, there was nothing else to do but settle in and finish this year's Christmas puzzle.

I sure do love Christmastime. I can't wait to finally have children to share all of our traditions with. 
How was your Christmas holiday season??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One Week More

Ohmygoodness, you guys!!!

[image source]
So, you know how I have a tendency to get kind of obsessed with a few things? (What me? Never!) Well, my newest obsession has become Les Miserables. And people, seriously, it should become your latest obsession, too!
Mere months ago, I didn't know anything about Les Mis more than the fact that it's a "fancy" musical which I'll probably never encounter. Pssh. How naive I was! Little did I know that it is the most epic story in history (besides the story of Christ)!
A good friend of mine introduced me to the trailer, and the rest is history. Here, let me do the honors of paying it forward to you. Feast your eyes on this!

Shyeah! Toldja so! Based on those two and a half minutes, I decided that it looked absolutely monumental. Since then, I've been pouring over everything I can get my hands on through the trusty world wide web. Brad and I have listened to the soundtrack, I've watched the 25th Anniversary Concert, and I have seen every clip that the film has posted on youtube. It's official. I'm obsessed.
From my limited understanding of the history, Victor Hugo's 1862 novel about the life of a convict (and those surrounding him) during a French Revolution and spotlighting social injustices of the time has inspired many film adaptations as well as the musical that's been running here and in London since the 80's. But I'm pretty sure that this is the first film to be based on the musical which is based on the book. And they're doing their best to bring the authenticity of Broadway to our screens. The director insisted that every take be sung live rather than prerecorded and lip synced during shooting.

I can't get over how incredibly amazing this film will be. The more I learn about it, the more excited I become. The story! The actors! The voices! You better believe that Brad and I have already purchased our tickets for Christmas morning, opening day. I can't wait! (You can also count down the days with this Les Mis advent calendar!) 

One Day Week More! I can already hear the people sing!

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Knew You Were Trouble.

[image source]
Yesterday, on her 23rd birthday, Taylor Swift released her 23rd video. This one is for her new single off her Red album for "I Knew You Were Trouble." This is one of my favorite songs on the record, and even more importantly, it's Brad's favorite one! I'm not going to admit how many times the two of us have belted it out in the car or danced to the dubset beat in our kitchen.
The song is unlike anything she's ever done before. She has said that she wanted the music to sound like the feeling experienced in the chaotic relationship that inspired it. I'm not surprised that she also ventured into uncharted territory with the video that accompanies it. (It's also fun to hear her perspective on it all...)

It's taking me a bit to get used to the "new, more mature" Taylor, but I actually really like it. I'm not sure how it will fit into young girls' lives, but TSwiz is 23 now, and she deserves to grow up in her artistry a little bit. I, for one, am loving following her journey!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 cubed

[pic via]
Well, here it is, everybody. The final counting holiday of this kind for a century. We won't have one like this again until January 1, 3001, so this is the last time to celebrate the month, date, and year falling together in perfect unison within our life times. Hope you make the most of it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Instagrams

I didn't take very many pictures during Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't wonderful! Uncle Brad and I especially enjoyed spending time with our cool niece and nephew. :)
Rachel and Clinton playing in the leaves after Thanksgiving Dinner

Aunt Mindy w/ the kids while Rachel displays her "bouquet" of red leaves.

Uncle Brad is the Tickle Monster!
We don't have very many opportunities to visit with my family, but we always enjoy spending time with them when we can, especially the youngest members. Being the favorite (ahem) aunt and uncle is hard work, but somebody's gotta do it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NYC Day 6 - Final Day

Saturday was our last day in New York City. We finally made it up to the top of the Empire State Building, did some more fun shopping in Times Square, took a bus tour, and went to an improv musical. It was a great way to round out the trip.

We ended up nixing our original Saturday schedule in the Bronx that included the Botanical Gardens and Yankee Stadium, so we were able to fit in the visit to the to the Empire State Building that we had to postpone the day before.  While we were in line to go to the top, we weaved through a museum detailing the building process of the city's tallest sky scraper. There were a ton of photos that made my stomach drop of construction workers casually sitting on beams hoisted hundreds of feet in the air. Eek. Then we boarded the elevator and headed to the 86th floor observation deck with a few ear-pops along the way.

When we stepped outside, the view was breathtaking. It was a gorgeous day, and the bright blue sky served as a beautiful backdrop to the miles and miles of cityscape. I couldn't believe how far you could see. From this vantage point, I could totally understand why New York City is called a concrete jungle.  Also, even though we were nearly 90 stories into the air, pigeons still flew to the top of the building. I guess when you're flying that high, you need a place to rest.
It was so windy that high up in the sky that it was difficult to get a good picture. And when you're asking a stranger to take it of the two of you, you don't want to ask for a second one where your hair isn't blowing in your face. We had a little bit more luck on other side of the building.

You could see as far away as the Statue of Liberty, very small, all the way at the bottom of the island, or you could look straight down and see the giant Macy's. Visible were ice skating rinks and pools on top of roofs and Central Park could be made out behind some buildings. (I did take pictures of all of those things, but I didn't include them all in this post. I know y'all don't care about that many pictures of the view...)

When we came back down to the ground, we went to Times Square for our fourth and final time. By Saturday, we considered this active area of the city to be our old stompin' grounds. We went into the Disney store just so I could marvel at the big castle inside. It was wonderful. I walked around with my mouth hanging open and touching everything. I can only assume that the real Walt Disney World is even better than this.

We had passed the Hershey's store earlier in the week, but we decided it was time to head on in. They had more chocolate than even Willy Wonka could want, including Hershey kisses as big as my head! I wanted about one of everything, but we settled on a few of the mini Reese's peanut butter cups.

One of my favorite things about NYC wasn't a tourist attraction at all, but all of the street/subway performers. These people were so legit! Their instruments ranged from some buckets to a few horns all the way up to a full band set up underground. It was crazy. Our most favorite performers, though, were these break dancers down in the Times Square subway station. They had a boom box playing some music, and these dudes were just dancing their rythmic hearts out! Brad actually took some video of them, because we were so impressed. I was in awe and could have watched them perform for hours.

New York City has been the setting for an numerous movies and TV shows, and we wanted to see some places in person that were familiar to us through the screen. The day before, we took a tour of Central Park, and this day, we took another one that was city-wide. We rode around in a bus that would show us footage from films and shows and then drive us by the locations pointing out what was shot there. It was a convenient, foot-friendly way to see around the city, too. 
Speaking of TV shows, we had dinner at McGee's Pub, which is the bar that inspired the creators of How I Met Your Mother. But did you know that sitcom is only set in NYC and is actually filmed in Hollywood! I was mind-blown and horrified when they told us that!

The very last activity of our NYC vacation was an improv comedy musical, and it was hilarious! It was made up of  4 performers and a band. They took suggestions from the audience, and ended up doing a two hour show centering around Desperate Housewives of Colonial Times. I'm telling you, we laughed so hard. They would accidentally make a mistake or say the wrong word and then everybody else would have to run with it and keep it up through the whole show. And sometimes they would start to go a direction different than the band, and have to try to work the correction into the piece, and it was hilarious. It may sound kind of lame, but it was awesome. (I couldn't take any pictures of the show, but we did take one in the lobby in front of a few past posters.) 

And with that, the week was over. As we were packing things up to go the next morning, we listened to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" and Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" as a final closing to the best week of our lives. (No joke.) Then we sadly hopped on the train to New Jersey where we picked up our car from Brad's coworker's house who had been keeping it for the week, and began the long, depressing drive back home.

Overall, our vacation was amazing. Collectively, it truly was the best time Bradley and I have ever had. We got to see and do so many wonderful things. We came into the week with a hefty schedule, and we accomplished everything that we wanted to and were at peace with the few tasks we removed from the list. Luckily, the hubs and I travel the same, and we both want to focus on the same stuff (big land marks) and ignore the same things (shopping). I'm so grateful that we had enough time to do all of the things that both of us wanted. Now that we got the major tourist attractions out of the way, our next trips can focus on lower key events, Broadway plays, and Shake Shack burgers. I already can't wait. :)
See what we did the rest of the week:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

NYC Day 5

Our Friday in the Big Apple was a pretty low key one. Our initial plans to go into the Empire State Building got postponed until the next day because of the long wait, so we had some time to just walk around the city before we went to Central Park or visited Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

By this time in the week, we were pretty much Mass Transit Pros. Brad was the master at navigating the different subway lines and stops. During our whole time there, we only got lost once. (We hopped on the Eastbound train instead of the Westbound, and ended up confused in Queens.) Not too bad for some small town, Southern, first-timers!

We didn't intend to walk past Macy's on Black Friday, but it was on our path from the subway stop to the Empire State Building, which was still our original plan that morning. There were literally thousands of people on the street waiting to get into the World's Largest Store. It was the only time during our visit that I clung to Brad's hand so we wouldn't get separated in the crowd. Black Friday shoppers are crazy!
When we finally made our way through the sea of people to our destination, we immediately realized that the wait was going to be too long to enjoy the truly experience before we had to leave and be at our next scheduled stop. So instead, we decided to wait until tomorrow for that and just did some sight seeing. It was cool to see Seventh Avenue (aka Fashion Avenue) in person. And the NYC Post office is seriously huge! It reminded me of the Parthenon replica we have her in Nashville. We walked by Madison Square Garden, and even though Taylor Swift was performing there that night (and the next), we didn't get to go to the concert. Bummer. (But we did see many girls in obvious TSwift concert attire on the subways!)

Right outside of Central Park, which was our next stop, is The Plaza. As in "Eloise at The Plaza," or as I better know it, the place that Kevin McCallister stays in "Home Alone 2: Lost In New York." It is grand, for sure. We walked past the valet and bellhops into the lobby to take look around. It is so fancy and beautiful. I can definitely see why it has been the setting for some movies.

We were right on time to participate in our walking tour of Central Park that focused on TV and movie locations. The tour guide told our group where specific scenes had been filmed, as well as a lot about the history and details of the massive park in general. It was so pretty there, especially in the fall as the leaves were changing colors. Of course we had to take a picture kissing in front of "the kissing bridge." Apparently, this bridge is the most proposed location in the whole city. How romantic.

The most personally exciting places that we got to see the spot were where Kevin first meets the Pigeon Lady in "Home Alone," the fountain that Giselle dances in front of in "Enchanted," and walk the Promenade, which is not only the solitary straight pathway in the whole park, but it's also the most filmed area in Central Park with scenes in "When Harry Met Sally," "Serendipity," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "Big Daddy," among others. 

Our tour took a little break to allow us to ride the park's historical carousel. It was so old fashioned that the music was even created by the circular motion of the horses, and you could see the antique instruments working in the center of the circle. Back in the way old days, the carousel was powered by mules underneath that would walk in laps at a speed determined by the number of knocks the conductor would do on the floor: one for a gallop, two for a trot, three to slow down, and four to stop and so on. It has since been motorized, thank goodness.

After a few hours of touring (just a small portion of) Central Park, Bradley and I enjoyed The.Best.Burger.Ever. Like ever. Shake Shack is compared to the In-N-Out Burger of the West, or the Whataburger or Five Guys of the South. But let me tell you, this place blows all of those other regions' burger joints out of the greasy kitchen! Hands down, this was the best burger and fries combo I have ever experienced. On more than one occasion, Brad and I have considered flying to NYC just to eat here. It's that good.
The line was out the door and down the street, and once you finally arrived in the building, you were herded through a winding amusement park style line before you could place your order. It was pretty much standing room early, and believe me, people were standing and eating. Luckily, I spotted two empty seats near the window for the hubs and me. All we had to do was share the table with an Asian family of three. Hey, you've gotta do what you've gotta do! And the meal was more than worth it.

When we were all filled up (and wanting more but not willing to wait in line a second time), we made our way back to Times Square for the third occasion that week. This time, we were visiting Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Of all the many things we did during our visit, I think we probably had the most fun here.

There were life size, life-like wax figures of hundreds of celebrities, musicians, politicians, and a number of any historical figures mingling around the place just waiting for you to approach. Brad was able to flirt with Bette Midler and prove that he's just as smoldering hot as Edward Cullen and Johnny Depp. And I was able to show off my JLo booty and finally get my hands on Justin Timberlake. (Humina, humina.)

I listened to Woody Allen talk about the city and helped Lucy bake dinner while Brad chilled with Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali and tried out to be one of the Rockettes. (He didn't get in.)
As if the entire museum wasn't one big photo op, they had a few places set up specifically for picture posing. We could finally stand on the bridge that was merely in the background of our Central Park picture, and Brad had the opportunity to fully "embrace" the Oval Office. Yikes. There's a reason we aren't into politics!

We rocked out with some legends with the likes of Elton John, Tina Turner, and Bono, and I performed some height comparisons along the line. I was just barely taller than horse jockey Willie Shoemaker, but I couldn't even touch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's head on my tip toes! 

We couldn't resist some 90's boy band / girl band photo bombing, and I got a second opportunity to fawn all over JT. Also, that bottom right image is of a random wax woman taking a picture. She's not real, people. There's no need to very patiently wait behind her to snap the picture she's trying to get. She's not a real person taking a real picture. You can just walk on past her. Because she's not real. Just fyi...

Within Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, there was a special 4-D showing of "The Polar Express"!! Eee!! That's my very favorite Christmas movie! And since Santa waved at me at the end of the parade the day before(!!!), it was officially Christmastime! The showed an abbreviated version of the film that lasted about 45 minutes but still adequately captured all of the magic.
And if you're wondering, the fourth dimension catered to our other non-visual senses. Snow fell from the ceiling when the boy walked outside in his pj's; wind gushed over our faces when the train came to a stop in front of his house; something poked us in the back when they were falling into Santa's big gift bag; and it literally smelled like Christmas in the theater when they were gathered around the tree at the end! It was awesome!!

As soon as the film was over, we came to the Main Event. I finally got to meet Wax Figure Taylor Swift!! It was magical! They even had her sparkly guitar in a case nearby. My was museum goals were officially complete. Success.
I'm not exactly sure why we had so much fun at that silly museum full of wax figures, but Brad and I truly enjoyed our evening goofing around with fake famous people. That combined with our amazing time at the beautiful Central Park and the best meal in all the land made our penultimate day in the city pretty great.
If you're interested in how the rest of the week went, you can check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 6.
Related Posts with Thumbnails