Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tinsel & Treasures

All week long I've been waiting and hoping for some inspiration for this week's entry.  It may have taken until Alex and I laid down to sleep after 1 a.m. (EST) last night, but I think I've got it and my "envie" to write is finally here.  :)  (For those of you non-Cajun's out there, click here for a definition of a phrase I just can't seem to translate accurately on my own.)

This is the first year I have ever been away from home on Christmas.  A couple of times I have been away for Thanksgiving when living farther than a day's drive away from home.  Thankfully, many people have been kind and gracious to include me in their holiday plans, and someday I hope to return the favor.  This year, though, I wasn't away from home due to the distance, but instead due to this newly extended family I gained almost a year ago - the in-laws. 

Alex's family lives in North Carolina, so now that we live in north Louisiana he doesn't have nearly as many opportunities to visit them as I do with my family.  With the extended holiday break (~2 weeks for both of us), it was pretty obvious that we needed to take this first year as a married couple and make the trip out east for a visit.  My mom was not thrilled with this decision, but we will make our way home in time for New Year's, so she will just have to be understanding of things this year. 

Since his parents are divorced, we always have to split our time between the two homes (30 minutes apart from one another).  This can be a challenge because on shorter visits it is hard to feel like we get any real quality time with either of them.  For this visit, we decided to spend 6 days with his family - 3 with each parent.  Essentially, we added a day at each home compared with our summertime visit. 

There was also a lot of back-and-forth built into this trip:  two nights at mom's, then one night at dad's, then one night at mom's, then two nights and dad's.  Add that to our nights in the hotel on the book-end days (first and last) of travel, plus two nights in a cabin with friends, and later three nights in south Louisiana, and you can about imagine what kind of mileage we are putting on my car for the trip.  Trying to keep everyone happy is hard work!

The cultural experience of celebrating holidays in a different part of the country is something I realize I have gotten rusty on.  The differences in food, faith, and even customs was almost foreign to me this year.  I should have remembered and thought about this more, but *face palm* I didn't prepare myself as I should have.  My thoughts went a little something like this:

All week, I longed for seafood gumbo.  (Ham is for New Year's - not Christmas!)  My mind was blown to find his Protestant family doesn't attend church on Christmas (mind STILL blown, by the way).  And baking as an elaborate group activity - what's that?  Dessert is just "lagniappe" - it's the rich delicious "real" food that counts! 

It was this constant internal battle with that I really should have embraced instead of fought.  Fortunately, by the time we arrived at his dad's on Christmas afternoon, I recognized what I was doing to myself and decided to start over with a clean slate, making a conscious effort to accept the differences and enjoy them rather than fight with myself over what "should" be.  At his dad's, that kind of decision is very easy to execute - at his mom's, a bit more challenging.  But we were on the happy side of the visit and therefore my Christmas Day experience ended much more pleasantly than it began. 

His parents are so generous to us, and me especially.  It can't be easy to purchase gifts for grown children who live so far away, having very little idea of what they need or want.  I have to say his dad and stepmom did a stupendous job of picking out gifts for us that are just exactly to our taste and interest.  I had no idea that his stepmom paid attention to my aimless comment about her knife set back in July, yet tomorrow we will leave with the most AMAZING full set of kitchen knives that I've ever used before.  Alex also did a great job of sharing little things I'd commented about over the last few months - a cd I wanted, that cheesy 4-H snuggie one can only love, a beautiful infinity scarf, and a cute monogrammed necklace.  I'd say they did good.  :)

As this first week of our two-week trip draws to a close, we are excitedly preparing for tomorrow's weekend trip to the mountains with some old friends.  I can't wait to finally have some quality time with people in our age group who are not related to us - aka friends (hey, what's that? haha).  We are actually "sacrificing" an anniversary trip to be with those who served in our wedding just one year ago.  I look forward to sharing stories and pictures as our holiday continues to unfold. 

For your viewing pleasure, I'll leave you with a few pictures of our antics:

The closest Bojos is exactly 4.5 hours from Monroe;
I inhaled the food (twice) before I could even pause
to capture the moment via photo.  
SO excited about this gift from Alex!
I couldn't resist.

And, a belated "Joyeaux Noel" to you and yours!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Duck"ing the Halls

With all the hype about the Robertson Family in the news this week, I decided to take advantage of this renewed interest/popularity and share with all of you how I am in love with their Christmas CD.  "Duck the Halls:  A Robertson Family Christmas" was released on October 29th as the first full-length Christmas album from the cast of A&E's Duck Dynasty.  The album is sold as a standard CD and there is even the "deluxe edition" for all those 'super fans' out there.

I purchased the "'Deluxe 'ZinePack Edition" (because the standard edition wasn't available) as one of the 29 gifts Alex received for his birthday in November.  We eagerly tore open the package and listened to the entire album in a matter of two days riding in the car that weekend.  The CD is filled with familiar favorites, and even a few new tunes.  In my opinion, young and old alike would be entertained by the ever-hilarious comments and banter between Robertson family members scattered throughout the tracks.

This product was definitely a family project - everyone has their own place to shine, be it as a background vocal, or the lead in at least one song on the album.  For those who watch the show regularly, it's easy to recognize vocal contributions on each track, and familiarity with each of their personalities will draw you in as if they are good friends performing in your very own living room.  If you're not in it for the Robertson (why are you reading this anyway?) connection, there is the added bonus of vocals provided by several big-name musicians - Luke Bryan and George Straight, just to name two.

Purchasers of the deluxe edition receive the 14-track CD (plus one bonus track), scented Christmas ornament, gift tag stickers, and a 64-page magazine with exclusive family interviews, photos, fun facts, holiday recipes.  This package is sold only at Walmart and available while supplies last.

If you know me, you know I am a HUGE fan of country music awards shows.  With that in mind, I was super excited to watch the CMA Country Christmas special that aired on ABC on December 5th.  However, the show seemed to go on, and on, and on...this year, without any exciting performances, and really just a slew of lame performances (big name stars - yes, beautiful/relevant music - no).  BUT, Willie Robertson and Luke Bryan teamed up to perform one of the leading tracks from Duck the Halls, and I think they did a great job.

As a fun treat just for you, click below to check out their performance (and get a preview of the CD).

So, have any of you bought "Duck the Halls" yet?  What would you share with others about the CD or deluxe gift pack?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  (And by the way - we all know money talks.  If you find yourself wanting to support the Robertsons in light of recent events, go out and buy their CD.  Put your money where your mouth is to show where you stand.  Or don't.  Your choice!)


Note:  All opinions are my own, and I have NOT received any compensation for this post.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

KK Day!

Amazing how I go from zero ideas for blogs to three in the span of a few days - all of which there wasn't time in the schedule to execute said ideas.  A while back, I realized that in the blog I wrote introducing Alex, I didn't go into detail about our terrible first encounter, and in a later entry, I said I'd make a point of getting around to sharing the details someday.  Today is the day, folks!

Waaay back on December 10, 2010 (can't believe that was 3 years ago!), my friend Kara convinced me to meet up with she and her then-boyfriend (Christopher), and his friend (Alex) for a casual outing at Krispy Kreme.  With the daunting task of packing to leave Raleigh for a month at home in Louisiana over the Christmas holidays looming over me, I discussed the pros and cons with my friend Lendy earlier in the day.  She encouraged me to go along, so I agreed, but I assured her that I would have nothing exciting to repot.  Little did I know...

Alex was in town for the weekend covering a basketball game for the university he worked at in South Carolina.  He and Christopher became good friends while working at a university in rural North Carolina a few years earlier.  Because the two boys rarely crossed paths since then, they wanted to hang out with one another while both in Raleigh for the weekend.  Cue the sweet girlfriend (Kara) who wanted to spend time with her long-distance boyfriend (Christopher) without the awkwardness of a third wheel (Alex).  Basically, Kara wanted me to come along in hopes of balancing things out, and maybe even setting the two of us up.

The three of them picked me up at my apartment in Alex's car, and off we went!  When I hopped in the back seat, I realized Kara was in the back, and Christopher was up front with Alex.  I guess the seat assignments made sense given the dynamics of our group, but this should have given me a clue from the very beginning that it was going to be a strange night to say the least.  In the short 15 minute car ride, the boys didn't give Kara or I the time of day at all.  They conversed with each other, leaving us out of everything.  Thank goodness we were up for commiserating over the last few days of finals and getting ready for the holidays. ;-)

At Krispy Kreme, it was still as awkward as ever.  We all shared a box of donuts, and pretended to be engrossed in watching the hot line prepare gooey circles of deliciousness...but no one was immune to realizing the discomfort in the group.  Even sitting at a table together trying to be silly, the tension could be cut with a knife.  Thanks to Kara, we do have a few photos from these moments to look back on the experience.  Scroll down for a good laugh (and to continue the story - duh). 

Silly?  Nope, just weird.

My heart skips a beat at how cute Alex was, even then.
(But what the heck was in his mouth??)

Christopher, on the other
Long overdue for a haircut...check out those split ends!
Promise I'm not high, or drunk...too bad (jk).

The night was still early when we left KK, so the group decided to venture to the downtown area in hopes of finding pretty Christmas lights to enjoy.  As we were walking down the street (not seeing very many lights, I might add), Kara and Christopher kind of split off to a different sidewalk, leaving Alex and I alone to make conversation.  Trying desperately to say something interesting, I commented about a "fancy limo" passing on the street, to which Alex replied, "limos are expensive."  What a dead-end statement to make!  I thought to myself, "Well, so much for trying."

On our way back to the car, Alex said something about hoping his car was still there when we returned.  I, trying to spur conversation, replied by saying, "Well, if not, you can always by a new one," which he took offensively, as if I thought his car was a piece of junk or something of little value.  Yet another failed attempt at pleasant conversation, it seemed.

I don't remember much else from that evening, though presumably we all piled back into Alex's car and one by one he dropped us back off at our respective locations for the night. Needless to say, the outing was a real bust on so many accounts.  However, for some reason, I found the experience worthy (or laughable) enough to share with my mother when she picked me up at the airport the very next day...who knew three years later we'd be 19 days away from celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary.


Every year since, we have honored December 10th as the day we first met.  It has been officially dubbed as "KK Day," and we try to celebrate with donuts (when in an area with access to Krispy Kreme) and reminisce on memories of that awful night.  I look forward to sharing KK Day with our kids, having donuts, telling our story, and talking about how mommy and daddy briefly hated each other.  It's exciting to think about how KK Day will be a real holiday in the Edwards home for many years to come!


Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 1)

Ya'll I'm a big girl blogger now!! Okay, not really...juuust kidding. I think this is what it means to "link up" and this is my very first time doing such a thing. Like whoa.

So this is called "7 Quick Takes Friday" (as if you didn't already know that by the obvious image included above).  Apparently lots of bloggers are on this bandwagon which involves a weekly post about seven random thoughts, ideas, or experiences relevant to the writer at that particular time. So here I am, diving into the big girl blogging world by trying it out for myself. I won't promise weekly "link ups" with #7QT, but I may try it every now and again.

Anyone else out there freezing their buns off? Oh yeah, just 75% of the country...oops. Brr, it's cold out there! While we are missing the brunt of what forecasters are calling "Cleon" (Oh, and when did people decide it was a good idea to "name" winter storms? Dumb.) I'm still quite grumpy about what she did to ruin our plans for a weekend trip to visit the bff in Dallas. Poor Dawn has visited me in almost every place I've lived (there have been quite a few), and the no-good, terrible, bad friend that I am has yet to return the favor. Dawn, two things: a) I owe you big, and b) for all that is good and mighty out there, pleeeease pick a fun, exciting, and NON-winter-weathery location for your next adventure! Mk, thanks!

I'm not giving up so easily with this rant against cold weather. With the rainy, gross, awfulness outside, I really just want to curl up in sweatpants with the husband and watch DVR all day. I've been fighting some icky crud (re: cough, sore throat, mucus) for almost a week now and I think warm and cozy would really do the trick. Thanks to our cancelled plans, I may get said wish...but only after dozing at my desk all day in the office. At least I get to blog in the mean time! ;-)

I realize I never write anything about our time in south Louisiana for Thanksgiving last weekend. For the most part, there was nothing noteworthy to share. Food, relaxation, and family could easily sum it up. I did manage to kick-tail for one round of ladder golf with Alex's new set.  (I would add a picture as evidence but my phone appears to be comatose; I hope you'll forgive me.)  That may have been the highlight of our weekend. The low point was definitely our unexpected 2 am drive back to Monroe following some irresponsible decisions on the part of his intern. I won't say much about that here, but feel free to inquire if you are so interested.

Speaking of ULM athletic (not really, but kind of), last week's win against the Ragin Cajuns carried the team to officially bowl-eligible status, which means the plans we FINALLY made for our holidays have been placed on hold again. Ugh. By Sunday we should know more, but I am definitely not ashamed to say I'm crossing my fingers for the bowls to fill up quickly...without any Warhawks on the list.

Umm...Christmas is almost here. What? A grand total of 19 sleeps before the big day. I guess I really ought to get back to working on selecting and designing gifts. To make matters slightly more stressful, I know Alex went all out on a gift for our anniversary, and my ideas just don't seem like they will measure up. I really just need to buckle down and make it happen.

While everyone is busy posting pictures of their christmas tree or holiday decorations, our little home is feeling a big neglected. We don't have any holiday decorations, and Alex and I disagree on Christmas tree philosophies, which means our house mostly looks the same as it would in June (give or take an extra blanket or two). He says I can buy some holiday decorations after they go on sale in January, so maybe next year we'll have a little something. I don't see either of us budging on the tree thing, though, so we may be treeless for life. Just call us the Grinch House, I'll understand.

So, what is everyone else up to on this chilly Friday?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!