Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's been a very busy Christmas this year, and it just seemed to sneak up on us. Last week, Seth and Mandy had their finals at Geneva, so there was no time for shopping that week. That left the week of Christmas as the only time for us to shop. On Monday, Mom took us girls to the mall to go shopping. The mall, despite it being a few days before Christmas, was packed full of people, which meant loooong lines. At Dick's Sporting Goods, while we bought Dad some long johns, we waited in line for about twenty minutes, mostly due to a couple in front of us that bought about one thousand dollars worth of shirts and sports gear. Then we went to a couple of stores to look for a new bathrobe for dad because his old one has certainly seen better days. I also tried to find a gift for Mandy, but I had no luck. We managed to complete shopping for the cousins, so we were done. We wanted to eat a late lunch, but the food court was jam-packed, so we left the mall and went to the Panda Express that opened not far from home. It was delicious, and I've fallen in love with the orange chicken and fried rice. After we got home, we made quick preparations to get ready for the Christmas program at church that night. On Tuesday night, Mom and Dad went out to shop for us kids. On Wednesday (Christmas Eve day), Dad took us kids out to Target to go shopping for each other. We quickly split up, and I headed for the pajama section to find some for Mandy, who wanted footie pajamas. They didn't have what I wanted, so I called Dad and asked for his help. While I waited for Dad to arrive, Mandy showed up in the same section. Her eyes widened, and then she walked away. I later heard from Dad that Mandy had wanted me to leave the section so she could buy me my gift. Anyway, I settled on buying Mandy these blue stripped pajama bottoms that are totally her. Then I want over to the electronic section to buy Seth some headphones. Seth enjoys playing his game "Celtic Kings," but often there is a lot of noise so he wears headphones... that is, my headphones because he doesn't have a pair. I found some headphones for Seth, paid, and then went outside to wait for everyone else to come out. Then Dad took us home and went out to buy White Elephant gag gifts while we wrapped our presents. Then we drove to Uncle Jason and Aunt Nancy's house for the clan Christmas Eve gathering.

About the Christmas program on Monday, we had a fun time. The program began with the newly founded children's choir singing a couple of songs (Sunny is part of this choir but wasn't able to make it due to a stomach bug), then other people got up to sing or play Christmas music. Jake Bailey entertained us with a 20th century remake of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" that Mom said would have fit perfectly in a Tim Burton movie. The highlight, for me, was when the Karen people stood up to sing. Earlier this year, some of the Karen people from Asia moved here from refugee camps in Asia, and they have settled onto a self-sustaining farm on some property that belongs to the Davis family in our church. They've been attending church with us for some time, and it was exciting to hear them get up and sing Karen hymns in the Karen language. After the program, there was a nice little meal that everyone enjoyed.

This year, as always, we got together twice as a family for two different occasions. We got together with Grandpa Mike and Grandma Marsha on Saturday afternoon and then with Grandma Linda and Granny on Wednesday. On Saturday, we drove over to Grandpa's house and enjoyed the lovely banquet that we grazed on all afternoon, including the infamous pina colada punch that Grandpa makes every year. Yum! The kids played downstairs on the Wii and the playstation, and the adults sat upstairs and talked. I'm afraid I didn't get many pictures, but you can see some of the pictures at the below link.

On Wednesday, we drove to Uncle Jason's house for the annual Christmas Eve gathering. We first enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner, complete with a delicious fruit punch that everyone kept sipping all evening. After the meal, we gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents. Grandma played Santa this year, and she made sure everyone had one gift before we opened them. I got a lovely black purse from Uncle Josh and his family, a pink sweater from Uncle Jason and family, and then two shirts and jeans from Grandma and Granny. Mandy got clothes but also a UGA hat that she's been wanting for some time now. Seth got himself a Mario t-shirt and some other clothes. After opening presents, we gave Grandma a picture of all twelve of the grandchildren (back in November right after Thanksgiving, we sneakily got together and got the pictures of all the grandchildren, though the next weekend we five Cunninghams had to get some of the pictures re-done because the originals turned out blurry.), and she loved it. Then the adults (including myself) had our second annual White Elephant Gift Exchange. We then took some family pictures, and then the kids scattered outside. I snapped some funny pictures of Seth, Gabe, and Noah tipping over the hammock. After a while, we got together to play the picture telephone game that Mandy, Seth, Mom, and I had played at the youth Christmas party. It was absolutely hilarious. A picture of a strong man evolved into a man with tree branches for arms, a quote "fish is good" turned into Lucifer/ a cat person eating fish, a fire-breathing dragon turned into a fire-breathing Loch Ness monster, Chicago turned into a city being destroyed by a tsunami, and there were many other funny ones. There were a couple where it looked like we were rolling with laughter. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game. We hung out for a little while afterwards and then went home. You can see the pictures at the two links below.

When we got home, we five sat down and watched a movie called "Merry Christmas." It is the touching story of how on Christmas Eve in 1914 German, French, and Scottish soldiers had a ceasefire and became friends, much to the dismay of their superiors. Besides the one irrelevant sex scene, I highly recommend the movie. After we watched it, we started "Bourne Ultimatium," but we went to bed at midnight, so we didn't finish it. However, we did that evening do our annual tradition of opening one gift. Mandy opened the pajama bottoms that I gave her, I opened the gorgeous green Christmas nightgown that she gave me, and Seth opened his gift, but sadly I've forgotten what it was. Mom opened one of her gifts, which was a new pasta scoop since our loyal white one has lost several of its teeth. It is funny because Mom had been teasing us about buying her a new scoop, so Mandy and I often had to cover our mouths and try not to laugh when she mentioned it. We gave her the scoop Christmas Eve so we could sneakily throw her off the scent of one of her other gifts.

On Christmas morning, there was not your usual "peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Mandy is always impatient to open the gifts, and for years she has delighted in waking us up early. This year was no exception, as she woke me up at 8:51, demanding that I get out of bed. I had no choice but to comply. Once we had all gathered in the living room, we began opening presents. Mom and Dad had gone to Kohls to give us girls clothes (since we both need them badly), so Mandy and I got cute tops and sweaters, including some new underwear. Mandy got a new Canon camera (since Bethany broke hers), and we've told her that she is not to let Bethany borrow it (but Bethany got the same camera for Christmas as well, so that shouldn't be a problem), Seth got a new wireless mouse for his laptop, and I got a gorgeous red 4 GB MP3. We gave Dad his new bathrobe as well as a nice big frying pan, then we gave Mom a knife sharpener and some frying pans, one of which was identical to Dad's. There is a funny story behind the pans. Mom knew Dad really liked the egg pan we gave him last Christmas, so she decided to get him a bigger one. Meanwhile Dad knew that Mom needed new pans, so he went to a cooking store at Northpoint Mall to get her a set of two pans that cost as much as the pan that she got him. We laughed over this, and Mom is going to return the pan and get Dad another gift. After opening the gifts, we cleaned up and ate quiche for breakfast. We hung out and enjoyed our gifts, even enjoying a visit from Grandma and Granny. However, after they had gone, things got dirty and cluttered. Our attic for some time has needed an extensive cleaning, so Dad decided that Christmas Day would be the best day to clean it out. We got everything down and put it in the living room. Our living room was flooded with dusty boxes and junk, and we couldn't even get out of the house because all the doors were blocked. After several hours, we finally managed to decide what was junk and what was staying, and the living room and attic were clean. Dad joked that all the stuff we threw out looks like we just cleaned out Santa's sleigh.

Thursday was busy. Mom took me and Mandy to Kohls so we could use a gift certificate she got. Mandy got a new shirt and a furry vest there, but I couldn't find anything there. I'm looking forward to this South Beach diet that we're starting in January so that I can actually find stuff that fits. Anyway, then we girls went to the church to clean up and get it ready for Sunday. Mandy and Sunny were going to spend the night at Grandma's house, but sadly Granny got the stomach bug that has been going around, so we decided against it. Dad, Seth, and Mandy went over to Uncle Josh's house, and I later went out with Blair, her mom, her sister, and some of her sister's hyper friends to the Night of Lights at Lake Lanier. After we enjoyed the lights and snapped some pictures, we had a late dinner at Chick-fil-A and went home. When I got there, Mandy and Sunny were back, which meant that Seth was spending the night with Noah and Gabe. We watched a movie and hung out that evening.

We have nothing planned for today. Mandy and I were going to go shopping with Grandma and Granny, but we had to cancel the trip because Granny is still sick. Meanwhile, next Saturday we may go to Commerce and spend our Christmas money there, as every year we try to find a time to go shopping with our money while everything is on sale. So today will probably be one of those lazy, relaxing days where we don't do much. Well, I think I have remembered everything about our crazy Christmas (though I will probably remember something later and kick myself for forgetting). I hope you all had good Christmas, so have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

End of the Semester

Well, we have just about finished out the school fall semester of 2008. Mandy and Seth are in the midst of finals, as they had yesterday and then today and tomorrow. They've been studying hard the past few days, and we're hoping they'll do well. Mom and I have been waiting for our grades. She has gotten hers, and they are A's, as expected. However, my teachers must be slacking on turning in final grades because I only have 1 and a 1/2. Spanish is a 97, and I have my chemistry half of science, which was over a hundred, but mind you that is only one half. I'm guessing that I have all A's, but I don't want to make premature assumptions, so I sit here, impatiently waiting for my grades to be posted.

I finished my finals on Tuesday when I took the music final, which covered American music. It was not that hard, and I'm expecting an A on the test. After my final, Mom picked me up and we drove to the Johnson house for Geneva's Christmas party, although one of the youth group members also attended. We played some fun games together. First, we had to play Carol Pictionary (I probably misspelled that), where we had to draw something that represented a Christmas carol and our team had to guess what it was. One of the carols, King We- something, was drawn by Mr. Price but my team had no clue to what it was, but the other team was "oh, I know what that is. Haha." After that, we played a bow game and then played a hilarious game. We had eleven players, so everyone got eleven pieces of paper and a pen. The game is sort of like "Telephone," but you have to draw and write it. For example, Mom wrote "your mom" on the paper (it's a common term around Geneva and the youth group), and she passed the paper to Mandy, who drew a picture of a mom and then passed it to another person who guessed what the drawing was. However, people's interpretations vary, so the drawings can become hilariously skewed. Mom's started off as "your mom" and ended up with monsters playing football. Mine was "The Hobbit" and ended up as the quote "argh! How are we going to get out of here?" with a picture of a two men standing on a beach. There were several other hilarious ones that made us roll on the floor with laughter. We enjoyed the game a lot, and we're thinking of playing it at one of the family Christmas parties. The second part of the party was the White Elephant gift exchange with some hilarious gifts, including rapper grills, a whopee cushion, Hannah Montana Lip gloss, and an oven mitt. After the gift exchange, we went home. I sadly did not have my camera that day, so I have no pictures of the event.

So I've been out of school for a few days. I've spent most of my time working on my novel (I am roughly halfway through the second draft), though I have also cleaned like crazy. The kitchen has often looked like a disaster, but I, the kitchen master, have conquered it twice in two days. Not to mention the laundry that is going right now. I feel proud of myself, but I need to find some books to read over the break. I've been making slow progress on the book of Southern Secession, but I'm getting interested in finding more of Stephen Lawhead's historical fantasy books. Also, for about half the week, I've been getting more serious research done when I discovered the ugly truth behind Celtic Woman and its corrupt management practices. I did not do this research myself; I discovered a detailed blogpost written by someone else, and I contacted him a few times via e-mail, asking him questions and receiving detailed answers. It's not pretty, and I'm glad I'm not in the music industry. That aside, my break has been going well, and I'm hoping to be productive over it.

Despite the fact that Mom's been out of school for a week, she's been extremely busy. She's had finals to type up for her students, and yesterday she baked things for Dad to take to a party at work. Tomorrow, she will give her finals to the Geneva students, and then she will be free for a couple weeks before she heads back to the grind.

The weather has been unseasonally warm around here. On Tuesday it was foggy yet somewhat warm. Yesterday, it felt like it was in the 70's. Sort of strange, especially when it's freezing all over the rest of the country. Oh, well. I'll savor it while it lasts and before the bitter cold returns to haunt us.

Oh, I nearly forgot! For some years, we have not gotten a Christmas tree because of a lack of room in the house. However, this year, Mom and Mandy decided that they wanted to get a tree, and Mom suggested moving one of the lamps and putting a tree there instead. So, on Monday, Mom and Mandy brought home a medium-sized tree. We decorated it, and it looks nice. Mandy's had fun with the new Christmas lights that can blink, fade, or look like disco lights. It's nice to have a tree, and we've forgotten how good a real Christmas tree smells. I'll be sure to post a picture or two of the tree.

Times are about to get slightly busy again. This Saturday we're going to Grandpa Mike's house for an early Christmas celebration, and there is sure to be a large spread of food and plenty of talking and family fellowship. Then next Wednesday, we're going to Uncle Jason and Aunt Nancy's house for our Christmas Eve celebration. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and share them with you all. :D

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Almost There!

The fall 2008 semester is winding down both at GGC and GCA, and things are getting tense! It's been the usual: teachers cramming in as much as they can while the students choke and keep thinking "slow down!", projects all due the same week, and, of course, the lovely cumulative finals that everyone loves. So, nonetheless, things have gotten very busy, which is why I have not posted for a few weeks. I shall do my best to inform you of what has happened.

GGC has been hectic ever since Thanksgiving break was ended. For physical science, we had about three days of classes with a quiz and a test and also a science project on Robert van de Graaff and his generator all in one week. Hannah and I were nervous about presenting the project, but we did well, and I'm confident we got an A. I also did well on the test, only missing one question. However, the science final was a different story. It was today, but I began studying on Saturday afternoon and spent about ten, eleven hours on Tuesday studying. Now this final was like two tests combined into one since one half was on physics and the other half was on chemistry. I think I did good on the exam, but I'm waiting to see the grade posted. Spanish was also busy but not as much. I had an essay about a party, an interview, a "pop" quiz, and then the final within a period of a week and a half, but I'm not concerned about passing the class because my midterm grade was 97.7 and I've gotten A's on all my quizzes and tests. I'm not concerned about the music final on Tuesday because it's not cumulative and won't be that hard.

However, there was one class that just made me boil on Tuesday and left me in a foul mood for two days. Dr. Rafshoon, my history professor, gave us a little review in preparation for our final test, and she implied during the review that all Southerners are slave-beating White supremicists. That was it, and I left the class fuming. To cool myself down, I did a little writing therapy, which helped vent my anger. I was going to take Dr. Rafshoon again next semester, but I'm going to skip her, take a world history class, and finish US history when I get a better teacher. In the meantime, I'm reading a book about Southern secession and why it was right; I swear, the more I read about Lincoln the less I like him.

Mom is done with her ecology class (she took her final this morning, which had some hard questions that she wasn't expecting), and tomorrow night she will take her mycology final and be done with college for a few weeks. Next semester will be easier for her, as her cellular biology class is said to be very fun and she'll only be taking one class. Plus, her class will be during the day so she'll be able to spend the evenings with us.

Geneva is also winding down. This week is review, and next week the school is having their annual Christmas party and then three days of finals. Mandy is studying like crazy for her Latin class so that she will get an A on the test and not have to take the final exam, and she's also studying hard for her geography test since she's been having more trouble with that class. Both Seth and Mandy are looking forward to their Christmas break.

With all the business, there has been some time to be social. Last Friday, Mandy and I went to the Abrahams' house to babysit their three adorable children, and we spent the night there. The next morning, Bethany Abraham dropped me off at home, and she and Mandy went to a cookie exchange hosted by a lady from our church. Yesterday (Tuesday night) we had Cliff spend the night with us. We watched "The Dark Knight" (great Batman movie and great sequel) and then they watched "The Italian Job" while I studied in the back. I'm hoping that maybe someday soon we'll be able to film another funny video like what we did for "Bobby's Bad Day," but we'll need to get Cliff writing. Speaking of being social, I'm looking forward to Monday when I can buy tickets for me, Sarah Howland, and her aunt to go see Celtic Woman in late March, and we're really excited about going, as this will be our first show.

Well, I think I've said everything of interest that has happened since I last posted. I'm going to relax after studying like crazy for three days and watch "Gladiator" with the family.