Category: play

The most wonderful time of the year

I have been looking forward to Christmas time since….well, probably since last Christmas, really.  It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year for me.  I love the lights, the weather, the foods, the gifts, the music (I am one of those people who start playing Christmas music in October)…it’s just such a festive, beautiful time of year.  I always do everything I can to make the most of it. Because I enjoy the season so much, Christmas festivities always start very early for me.  I think that the kick off this year would probably be the Tour of Homes that I took Michael on for a date in early December.  I don’t know what it is about home tours, but I find them exceedingly fascinating and enjoyable.  I’ve always enjoyed riding around and looking at homes from the outside…perhaps it’s just the extension of that activity that I find so much fun.  Whatever the reason, it was a blast.  There were 7 homes and 1 historic church on the tour, although we only made it to 6 homes before it ended for the day.  But even so, it was worth our time.  All of the homes were gorgeous, and on top of that most were decked out in all of their Christmas glory.  There were also different restaurants from around town that were offering food tastings at all of the houses.  We had apple and cheese wedges and a fancy meat and olive sampler and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and key lime pie dessert shooters and lobster bisque and I’m forgetting the other one but they were all DELICIOUS.  Oh, and gawking at the gorgeous houses was pretty fun too, of course :).

The tour of homes was followed shortly thereafter with Michael taking me to see A Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theater, which was FABULOUS.  I’ve wanted to go see that for years, but could never muster up the willingness to bite the bullet and pay the steep admission costs.  But Michael finally got me there, and it was totally worth it.  The set was beautifully done, and the actors and musical numbers were brilliant.  This version of the classic story also had a marked “gospel music” feel to many of the characters and songs, which was a new and enjoyable twist to a very well-known story.

A week or so later was my company Christmas party.  Michael has gone every year since the tradition was started, but this of course was my first time.  The highlight of the Brightlink Christmas party is the gingerbread house competition.  There are 3 rules – things can be prepared in advance, but nothing can be assembled ahead of time; everything must be edible; and you only have 1 hour to assemble your house once the contest gets going.  Some of the entries have gotten quite impressive.  There have been nativity scenes, a barn, an iconic building on the Georgia Tech campus, and an angry birds fight that involved a blowtorch and flaming marshmallows launched in a catapult-like contraption, just to name a few.  Employees are generally paired into teams with their spouses, but since Michael and I are dating we were also put into a team together.  Before this year, the gingerbread house that Michael was most known for was “Snowpacolypse” – he knew he wouldn’t get a house standing, so he put a bunch of marshmallows over the battered gingerbread and said a snowstorm had come through.  Oh dear.  I had actually never before built a gingerbread house in my life, but I knew that I wanted to at least get one standing, lol.

What we ended up with actually far exceeded my expectations.  We decided on a “beach house” theme, and I spent a long time the weekend before prepping everything I could beforehand.  I even made the gingerbread – Michael said that it look liked it had been store bought, a comment which I considered high praise, indeed.  We dyed blue icing for the water, made some grey icing for the mortar on the walls, and used a variety of different types of food to make the designs and textures that we were going for.  Some of my favorites included dried dates for the stones on the walls, triscuits for the roof, green peppers for the trees, fruit roll-ups for the towel and hammock, and crushed up cheerios for the sand.  It was fantastic!  I was so very pleased with the result….winning “chef’s choice” (the caterer’s vote) was just icing on the gingerbread (pun very much intended, haha)!

And then, of course, I also hosted my own Christmas party before leaving for Albany.  It is becoming a tradition – this is the third year that I’ve done it.  It was a blast, as always.  And this time I didn’t try to cram all of the prep work into a single day, which meant that I had enough energy to actually enjoy it by the time that people started showing up.  We had a nice dinner, decorated gingerbread cookies, played some Christmas games, made some silly photos in front of the Christmas tree, and then did a white elephant gift exchange that was really a blast.  Last year about 2/3 of the gifts were some form of chocolate, so this year I forbade anyone from bringing that, and it seemed to ignite people’s creative juices when it came to white elephant gift-buying.  There were books, and funny hats, and blankets, and house decorations, and even a bungee-cord chair.  That’s the one I ended up with :).  I really do very much enjoy hosting, and I love Christmas, and so throwing this Christmas party has probably become one of my favorite events that I host all year.

After the bustle of celebrating Christmas in Atlanta, though, it was nice to have a toned-down week in Albany.  Michael came with me, but we had very little in the way of planned activities.  One night we all went out to see Christmas lights, my grandfather took us out to dinner once, I went clothes or grocery shopping with various members of my family, and we watched several movies together (if you haven’t seen Annie yet, go see it!  It’s fantastic).  And then Michael cooked dinner for my entire family the last night that he was here to celebrate my birthday, which was lovely.  He really blessed all of us a lot over the course of the week.  But overall, Christmas week was a pretty low week, which was just what I needed.  A little R&R is a great way to start a new year! 🙂

Summers are for memories

Aren’t summers great?  Particularly when you’re a student.  Students’ summers are marked by lazy afternoons by the pool, vacationing over the weekends, and visiting friends and family.  My summers, even though I’m a graduate student, are still much the same.  I realize that this is probably the last summer I’ll have like that, so I’m trying to make the most of it!

Of all the great things about this summer, though, I’d have to say that my favorite part was reconnecting with family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while.  My summer is almost over now – I moved back to Atlanta to begin settling in for the new semester last weekend – which means that now I’m only left with the nostalgic memories.  Here are a few of my favorites:

My Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle had a big anniversary party / family reunion dealio around the 4th of July.  My dad and brothers couldn’t make it, but my mom and sister and I did.  We drove midway up to Atlanta, visited with Julia a bit, and then went the rest of the way up to Dahlonega, in North Georgia.  Oh my word.  That was so much fun.  It was at an absolutely lovely venue, and it seemed like everyone was there.  I’ve often wished that I could see more of that side of my family….but it’s always a blast whenever I do get to see them!  My my, it’s amazing to see how everyone grows up!  🙂

Bill and Rose Dery….what an incredible couple! 

Hope and Hope – these two cousins were joined at the hip all night long!

The whole clan.  Or at least most of it…I think 😉

My cousins + Daniel’s new fiancé! 🙂

That same week, I also got to see fireworks not once, but twice!  I suppose that somewhat makes up for the fact that this was the first 4th of July I’ve been home for in 3 years.  Other countries don’t find the fourth day in July nearly as important as we do…ergo, no fireworks ;).

My 2 youngest siblings were in a production of the Little Mermaid this summer.  Hope played the most adorable seagull / princess / ocean creature you’ve ever seen….and Matt, our little budding thespian, got the lead male role of Prince Eric!  We were all very proud.  Although i must admit, I was about ready to go postal any time I heard any of the music from the Little Mermaid by the end of the summer.  Too much of anything is never a good thing…. 😉

Hope is third from the left

One proud Grammie!

 I did my best to spend some time in the pool this summer, too.  I didn’t get as much time as I would have liked – work definitely kept me hopping – but I got enough to at least get a few good shots!  And my last weekend in town, a friend of ours took me and my siblings out on his boat.  My goodness, that was fun!  The excitement was just compounded by the imminent danger of the boat breaking down at any minute.  It never actually did, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t in a constant state of anticipation!  Ahhh, good stuff, it keeps us young, hehehe….

Aside from all of the good memories, it was definitely a challenging summer.  But I’m so grateful for it.  The Lord taught me so much, and grew my relationships with my family tremendously.  I feel energized and ready to take on another year at Georgia Tech….although I must also admit, I’m sooooo glad that this is my last year!! 🙂

(The pictures below are from an impromptu photoshoot I went on in a peanut field with my friend Chad.  I didn’t know where else to put them, so I just stuck them at the bottom :]).

Finals Week Highlights

I’m done!  I have officially finished my first year of graduate school!  Let me tell you what, it was quite a ride!  But the last week or so or classes I didn’t really actually have much schoolwork to do – I’m happy to report that the mind-numbing amount of work I did before finals week finally paid off, and my finals week was quite relaxing.  So I made up for some lost time, doing all of the things that I had neglected to do throughout the course of the semester.  Here are some of the highlights:
I went camping with my dad the weekend before finals.  I think the two of us had two very different experiences.  For me, I had a blast – I really enjoy camping, but hadn’t been in years, so it was a nice change, and great spending some quality time with my dad.  But my dad’s perspective, however, was that there was a hole in the tent over his head.  Poor man.  It poured most of the night, and add to that the fact that he didn’t have a water-repellant sleeping bag, but rather one that absorbed all of that excess moisture in the air, and he had quite a rough night that evening.  We ended up waking up really early in the morning and just heading back – at least then he was dry, even if he wasn’t well-rested!
I also got to see a musical performance of The Mask of Zorro with my friend Amy.  To psych myself up for it, I watched the movie the night before, which was excellent.  But the musical just blew me away.  It had beautiful singing, and energetic dancing, and pithy humor, and sonorous Spanish, incredible costumes…it really had everything.  I was left breathless on more than one occasion.  I’m definitely getting the Georgia Tech student art pass next year!
My friends Jonathan and Jessica invited me to see a double feature at one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.  We brought food and chairs and got there early to just talk and hang out – Jess and I did our nails, lol.  I had never been to a drive-in theater before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even despite the threat of rain that drove us into our cars for a while.  But even then, they play the sound through a radio station, so we could still enjoy the movie just fine :).
Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do some dancing, too.  I caught the last bit of the Thursday night dance after Zorro ended, and that was a lot of fun.  I almost didn’t go, but in the end I’m very glad that I did.  But even better than the dance on Thursday, was the workshop on Saturday.  Now, I had been to dance workshops before – they’re always good and I learn a lot, but there’s nothing really that unique about them.  This one, however, was different.  It was called “The Art of the Steal,” and was specifically tailored to teach people how to steal someone else’s partner in the middle of a dance without disrupting the flow of the music or the dancers.  So there was a lot of group partnering instead of pairs, and weird rotations, and all in all everyone just had a grand time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a heck of a lot.  
My last night in Atlanta, I went out to dinner with Jonathan and Jessica and some friends of theirs to celebrate his graduation from Tech.  The place we went to was called Buca di Beppo, and their trademark thing is that they take all of their guests through the kitchen before seating them – way cool!! Anyway, I got back to Albany just in time on Sunday to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration with the family.  I was glad I made it back for that.  And now I’m in Albany for the summer!  For now, at least.  Who knows where I’ll be in a couple of weeks! 🙂

Easter fun

Since I had just been home for Spring Break the week before, I chose not to go home for Easter.  Just couldn’t justify the gas money to myself.  So rather than driving to one city for the weekend, I elected to go to three, instead.  I seem to be good at cramming crazy amount of stuff in a very small amount of time, lol.

I started the weekend by going up to Ellijay, to see my dear friend Rachel and her family.  She and her husband were in town over her Spring Break.  We went for a walk in the mountains, which was lovely.  The views were absolutely incredible.  I do so love being in the mountains!

Rachel’s father, Mr. Jim, also sent us on an Easter egg hunt on Easter morning.  It was hilarious – 4 fully grown young adults running around the house, playfully vying for the most foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in their little basket.  I have no idea who decided that chocolate eggs and fluffy bunnies and bright yellow sugary peeps are an appropriate way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ…but the hunt was still fun!

Upon returning from Ellijay, I headed straight to Easter dinner with some of my relatives who live in town.  It’s always a joy to see them, and this time was no exception – especially since I was sorely missing my own family down in Albany.

That evening, I went to a play with Rachel, Ryan, and my friend David.  It was called The Whipping Man, and followed the story of a Jewish family – a white confederate soldier and 2 of his (former) black slaves – right after the end of the Civil War.  They actually had a Passover on stage, which was particularly moving, considering that I had just had a seder celebration with my family the week before.  Covering heavy topics such as racism, slavery, equality, and judaism, it was definitely not a feel-good play, but it was excellently done and poignantly executed.

I also went to a little park and science museum with Rachel and Ryan before taking them to the airport the next day.  Rachel found a few more plastic eggs that had been missed by the kids in the daycare center next door, which really excited her.  We also had particular fun at the science museum trying to make two pennies roll down the giant funnel at the same speed, and taking pictures inside the giant kaleidoscope.  We’re so mature.  Hahaha.  But hey, when you’re in grad school you gotta do what you gotta do to de-stress!