Well, Christmas this year has come and gone. It has been a very good one.
For us, Christmas sort of began on Thursday the 22nd. Seth, Mandy, and I myself went to the theater to see "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" with some friends (I'll be posting a review of it on the ramblings blog soon), and we hung out with them on Thursday evening while Mom and Dad had a date night with "Mission Impossible 4."
On Friday, we had a hectic day of wrapping last-minute gifts and preparing food. In the evening, we went to Houschton to celebrate with the family there. We ate supper and then opened up our presents. Grandma Linda was sick and could not be with us, so we did a nice little surprise for her: we piled into the cars, drove a few miles down the street to her house, and then brought her some supper and sang her some Christmas songs on her front lawn. After serenading Grandma, we went back to the house and just hung out. I played a few Christmas songs on my guitar, and then Mandy, Gabe, and Noah played a few tunes together. We all had a good Friday evening together, and then we went home.
Because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we opted to open our presents on Saturday the 24th. So on Saturday morning, we woke up and opened presents. We got gifts of new gloves, a double bass stand, a book of traditional Irish songs (guess who got that one... hehe :) ), new clothes, a Zelda video game for the Wii, and much more. After presents, we had our annual breakfast of quiche and then straightened things up before going to Grandpa Mike's house. We spent most of the afternoon there. The adults talked upstairs while the kids played in the downstairs basement; I got into a Tetris tournament with Seth, Noah, and Gabe, and it was quite entertaining.
Dad and Seth both had Monday off, so we decided to run some errands and spend time together. We did a few returns- exchanges for clothes that were too big. Note to self: never go to the Mall on December 26th. The place was an absolute madhouse, stuffed to the gills with people. You'd think Christmas hadn't even happened yet with all the sales and the throngs of people in each store. After doing our errands, we went to the theater to watch "Mission Impossible 4." After the movie, we went to Longhorn's for dinner, as Dad got a coupon from work. We had a good time together there, enjoying the food and each other's company.
On Tuesday, Seth went back to work though Dad also took the day off. We spent most of the day cooking and cleaning, as we had company over that night. We also a good time with them. Today, I had an impromptu get-together with some friends, which we all enjoyed, even though it was only for a few hours.
Also, on Monday I completed my current draft of my novel "War of Magic." On Tuesday, I did the necessary work on createspace to get the copy. However, I unfortunately misunderstood the nanowrimo prize, so I only was able to get one copy, which I did have to pay for. So, I will not have five copies like I thought I would get. Still, one copy will be fine for now. I should get the book by the end of the week, and I'll try to post a picture of it when it arrives.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable Christmas week this year. I've posted pictures of some of the events on facebook.
This year, the church held another Christmas concert-esque event. Seth and Mandy both participated, as did some of our cousins. Mandy played the cello and sang in the choir, and Seth just sang.
The concert went very well. God be praised that Mandy was calm during her playing and that she played very well without her usual nervousness. Mom also made ten delicious cheesecakes for the reception afterwards; I only got a few pictures, as I got distracted, but needless to say, they were beautiful and tasted amazing. It was a good evening, and we all had a good time with our church body and family members who came out for the event.
I did take videos of the event, but the 18-minute compilation that I put together won't upload on blogger. I did upload it on facebook, but it won't show up here for some reason.
Otherwise, not much else has been going on. Dad and Seth are staying busy with work. Mandy is staying busy with school and her social schedule. Mom has now gotten into Christmas cookie mode. And I've not been doing too much. I'm trying to finish a draft of my novel at breakneck pace so I can use a free printing coupon I got. There are currently two opportunities for me to do some form of editing or writing work, and I'm waiting to hear back from one of them, as nothing has come of it yet. But I'll keep you updated on that.
On another note of performance, I did something that I'd never done before last night: sing karaoke in public. And no, no alcohol of any kind was involved. I went out with my college friends Blair and Christie, as we wanted to hang out during Christmas break, so we went to a little coffee shop in downtown Lawrenceville. The place was somewhat empty and didn't have a lot of people there (and most of them couldn't sing anyway), so it took courage for one solo piece, and then it became addicting. Singing once wasn't an option; I kept wanting to do other songs. I first did a poor attempt of a duet for Mamas and Papas "California Dreamin'", and my first solo song was Enya's "Only Time." A lot of people that night were singing country, so I tried to alternate between genras. During the evening I sang Josh Groban's "To Where You Are," Kelly Clarkson's "Behind These Hazel Eyes," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" (another bad duet because Christie and I didn't know this particular version of the song, so it was hard to keep up with the lyrics on the screen), "Haven't Found What I'm Looking for" by U2, and "Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald (the version on the screen was different from the version I knew, so I stumbled a lot over this one). Even if I sounded awful, I had a lot of fun. I was really getting into it on the stage, something I didn't expect to do; last time I sang in a performance was the youth choir at church, and I got a bad case of stage fright, and my mouth kept going dry on me (and it didn't help that I couldn't sing alto at the time, even though I had been told I was an alto). It was a good evening. I did get sort of tired of some of the bland/ lackluster performances and the frequent country songs (I personally thing that American folk has a lot more personality and variety than country does), and I wasn't fond of the Maroon 5 cover (I hate Maroon 5 and their perverse lyrics) or of the whole Gospel-praise stuff. But, otherwise, it was a good evening. I really enjoyed the coffee shop, and I wouldn't mind going again with my friends at some point in the future.
On Monday, another little Cunningham joined our ranks, bringing the total list of Cunningham grandkids to fourteen. This afternoon, Mom, Mandy, and myself visited Aunt Sarah and Uncle Josh in the hospital. The baby's doing well, but Aunt Sarah's rather tired. We are very thankful that the birth and recovery are not as bad as they were when Nathan was born almost two years ago, and hearing the birth story was a testimony of God's goodness in protecting both mother and child. The new baby is downright precious and sweet, and she looks just like a Cunningham. Lord willing, the three should be going home tomorrow.
Mandy has been helping out at Uncle Josh's house. She spent the night there last night and helped Noah and Sunny manage the little kids, and it sounds like she had a good time. Except for Noah hacking her e-mail twice (and IM'ing me once, but I knew it was not my sister talking to me), but that's typical of him.
Tonight, our church held another informal dance in Braselton. This marks the third informal dance we have done in a year, our first one being held last October.
For a week, I kept a close eye on the weather. No rain was in the forecast, but the temperature was a different story. For over a week, the projected low temp was in the low 30's. So, we all made sure to bundle up in layers that we could easily take off when we grew warmer.
First, we all had potluck supper of chili, soup, and hot dogs. Not to mention a dessert table and another table for hot drinks like coffee and hot chocolate. After eating and some fellowship, then it was time to dance. First up, it was a new one called (I believe) "Black Nag." Then there were the polka, Pattycake Polka, two different versions of the Virginia Reel, some swing dancing, Salty Dog Rag, and Postie's Jig. This time, I did not get much video of the evening because people disliked the camera and because the lighting and angles weren't great. Also, I was out on the dance floor pretty frequently anyway, so I would not have gotten much anyway.
We left around 10:30 or so because it was cold and because some of us have to be up in the morning. It was a bit early, but it was still an amazing evening. I'm already looking forward to the next church dance.
Nothing much has happened over the past month. A few doings here and there but nothing terribly big.
School has been keeping Mom and Mandy busy. Dad and Seth are also staying busy at work. And I'm still doing housework and playing guitar, but this week I've started writing my own lectures for world history. Our evenings during the week have been pretty hectic. On Monday evenings for the past few months, our church has been competing in a men's softball tournament with other churches; we haven't done amazing this year, but I have to say that Covenant has the most loyal, loud-cheering fans this side of the Chattahooche River. On Tuesday evenings, Mom, Mandy, and I go up to Cumming for a world civilization history class. On some Wednesday evenings, we go to Cumming to meet with one of the prayer meetings that meets there every week. On Fridays and Saturdays, we generally have something big going on, whether it be a party, a get-together, youth group, or what have you. And things are only going to continue to be busy around here for the rest of the year.
If you want to know what lately I am up to nowadays, check out my profile on figment.com. This is the place where I have been posting some of my writing. My novel "War of Magic" is being posted, and I've entered two separate contests for kicks and giggles. No, I am not looking for a way to bump up my hearts on the story contests; I'm merely posting the link to my profile so family members can see some of my writing.
No, I haven't disappeared. We're all still here. There's just nothing going on around here. We've been busy with school, music lessons, church events, and other little things, but nothing big has happened in a while.
This weekend, we Cunninghams once more experienced God's great mercy towards us.
For a few months, our van had been giving us some trouble, with it worsening particularly in the last few weeks. We finally figured out that it was likely a transmission problem, but Mom and Dad decided to take it to the shop on Monday. On Saturday (the 10th, three days before our original shop plan), we decided to go to Ikea in Atlanta to get Seth's much-belated birthday present. Ikea is a neat furniture/ home store in northern Atlanta, and it generally has spartan styles. It also has little demonstrations of how you can fit an entire apartment into a space about as big as Seth's bedroom. We five had a good time looking around, trying out chairs and couches (with often humorous results) and picking up a few odd things, including a new dresser for Seth.
As we pulled out of the parking garage to go home, the transmission started acting up. Because of Atlanta's poor design, we had to take the long way to get to the highway, so we took Northside Drive. Northside Drive is a pretty, forested road, but it has a lot of hills; our poor van became very sluggish, going no more than 20- 30 mph. By now, we were all praying that we could just get to the highway, as the van would do much better on a straight, flatter surface. Finally, we got to I-75, but we pulled the van into a parking lot, as we didn't think we could make it home. Dad almost called someone to get us, but eventually he decided to try and get the van back to the house; if we left the van in the lot, then we would've had to pay a pretty penny to get it back to our county. Still praying, we got onto the highway. Traffic wasn't as bad, and we didn't run into any significant problems. When we got onto the road which our neighborhood is off of, the van started acting up again; but, God be praised, we got it safely onto our driveway. We were all frazzled after we got home, but we were all so thankful for God's mercy to us. Our van could have died in Northside Drive or on the highway, but it miraculously ran long enough to get us home.
Our van's been repaired now and is running just fine, but it's a testimony of God's goodness towards His people.
It's sort of hard to post when not much is going on around here. But I'll post a few things.
- Mom and Mandy start homeschooling on Monday the 22nd. It's bittersweet because this is Mom's last year of homeschooling her kids. Mom's also been preparing for her science class that she's teaching to several kids, and she's also been enjoying reading about British history in her spare time.
- Dad's being kept busy at work. Radiant is being bought by NCR, and the transition period is rather hectic and full of unknowns. Plus, one of Dad's co-workers just went on maternity leave this week, and so he's taking her place while continuing to manage his current job. Seth's doing well at his staging job, and he seems to be enjoying it.
- I think our cat Pooky is mental problems. I kid you not, this male cat acts like he's a prissy girl when he meows, sits, and even walks; it's rather bizarre. Lately, he's taken to following people around the house like he's a little lost puppy. This is a joy when I'm trying to clean or do something important and he keeps getting underfoot. I don't know why Pooky is so needful (and way more so than the other cats), but his behavior's getting rather annoying.
- Earlier this month, we determined that I am not going back to GGC... at least for this semester. There were a variety of issues involved in that decision. I'm not sure where I'm going, as I'm running out of job options in the area, so some prayer is much needed. In the meantime, I've been taking to doing more things around the house, like straightening it up more often. This week I also made dinner on Thursday; it was a promising recipe that we'd never had before, but I admit I was disappointed with the results and thought it was rather bland. Everyone assured me it was good, and Mom and I both thought of ways to make it better next time. I'm hoping to make dinner one night again next week, and I'm trying to decide between catfish tacos or cuban grills. At least the poppy seed chicken I made on Sunday for home shepherding group turned out; I was real pleased with that dish. Besides more attempts at cooking and cleaning, I've still been writing. This week I finished my latest novel attempt, and we'll see if I can get it nicely polished up in subsequent drafts.
- Oh, guess what? Sarah H and I may get a few seconds of fame. Celtic Woman is recording their latest show in Atlanta next month, and Sarah and I are both going to see the first night of recording. We're really excited about it. It's 17 days away, on September 6th, and it's exciting because we could possibly end up in audience shots on the DVD. But it's too early to tell, but it's an exciting possibility. I'm still trying to figure out something to wear, and I think I may need to make a trip to Cato soon.
- Mandy passed the six-month mark for having her license. Now she can drive one friend around. She celebrated it this week by hanging out with Bethany for an entire day at the mall. She was ecstatic on Tuesday night and was so excited about it that she started fretting over wearing something cute just for the occasion.
- Music lessons have been going well. Mandy's sort of taken a break with her teacher over the summer, and she'll get another break while her teacher has another baby. Seth's started double bass lessons last month, but he's only had two classes because his teacher is always sick or busy with something else. I've continued guitar over the summer, and I'm still enjoying it. The fingers on my left hand are developing callouses, which is a good thing and will make playing easier. Christie and I took Johnny to the repair shop this week, and I must say he's sounding a lot better than he was before, though I want to say that something still doesn't sound quite right with it. But I'll wait until Monday and see what my teacher says.
- It's been extraordinarily hot down here, with temps getting into the upper 90's during the day. Everything is starting to look brown, and rain has become very sporadic; we had our first rain in probably over a month this week. Thankfully, the humidity hasn't been as bad as previous years. I'm looking forward to cooler weather and, hopefully, more rain as fall approaches.
Last Friday, there was a formal dance held at church, though several non-members attended. It was a very fun evening, and I managed to record some of the dancing. Here's a youtube link to the video. Enjoy!
Last week, we went down to Cape San Blas along the Gulf coast of Florida, and we spent a week there. It was us five, and Grandma Linda and Bethany G. accompanied us.
Here are some highlights and memories:
- Our little white van was absolutely packed to the gills with everything. We had seven people, their luggage, a bunch of food, games, and you name it. The van rode low the entire way down to Florida, and going over train tracks was quite interesting. It rode low also on the way home, but it was not as bad.
- A family from our sister church owns a rental place about four hundred yards from the beach. They were generous enough to give us a discount. It was a beautiful little place. Mandy and Bethany took over the in-law suite downstairs while Seth and I each got our own room, which has not happened on vacation in years (Seth even had the luxury of a bed, as usually he sleeps on a couch or on a pull-out bed).
- The water was gorgeous. The first day, it was a beautiful blue and calm. However, as the week progressed, it grew choppier and less blue because of frequent storms that churned up the water. It made for some nice body-surfing opportunities.
- We found several shells in the water. It became a game to find whole shells without cracks before the waves carried them away.
- We were smart and put on a bit of sunscreen this year. And we only spent about an hour and a half in the water at a given time. Thus, none of us got badly sunburned. We all came home looking nice and brown.
- We got rain at least once a day, usually in the mornings or at night. It was amazing to watch the big storm clouds roll in and the thick gray line of rain underneath the clouds grow bigger as it approached. On the last night, I watched lightning flash inside a big cloud, which was very neat.
- We didn't do much. When we're on vacation, we don't like going to a bunch of places. We largely spent most of our time at the house watching movies, goofing on the computers, reading, swimming, long walks to the beach, and taking pictures of everything (with the occasional trip to the store for something). On Friday, we went to Crooked Island to find some shells; it wasn't very successful, but it was a nice beach. It made for a very relaxing week, and we lost track of the days.
- We made friends with the local wildlife. There was a little green frog called Spencer who occasionally showed up at night, and his frog cousins Roger and Hyacinth were always nearby. At Crooked Island, we met a crab called Eddie.
- On Friday (our last night) we went to Mexico Beach to go out for dinner. We had the hardest time finding a good restaurant to eat at, but finally we settled in the Fish House Restaurant. It was a small, hole-in-the-wall place. The people who worked there were nice and served us quickly, and our waitress was a hoot. The food was pretty good, though I found the batter for my fried catfish was a little bland.
All in all, it was a good week. Here are some more pictures.
Well, last week we three Cunningham kids, our cousin Gabe, and several people from our church spent a good portion of the week up in Bluefield, Virginia for the annual Reformed Family Bible Conference. It was an amazing trip, and next year we're hoping we can go again... as an entire family this time.
On Tuesday, we three, Gabe, Bethany G., and Joseph and Leila B. got up early for breakfast and to get the car packed. It was weird to have us packing it up and then telling Mom good-bye because for years I've been so used to Dad packing the van and then everyone leaving. After getting in our caravan, we began driving north. We took the scenic route to Virginia, going through South Carolina, then North Carolina to Tennessee and then finally to Virginia. We spent about seven, eight hours driving (including a few breaks), and we arrived in the town of Bluefield that afternoon. Bluefield is literally right on the border of West Virginia, and later we would actually cross the state line on our way home. The entire Appalachian region is absolutely gorgeous, and I wouldn't mind at all living somewhere in that area.
Because I was a last-minute addition, there was a bit of a fiasco over where I would be staying. However, we finally solved it, and I shared a room with Evi F. We got the AC dorms while Mandy, Bethany, and a few others were in the non-AC dorms; thankfully, the weather would remain nice all week so those without AC weren't miserable. After unpacking, it was soon time for dinner at 5 PM. In the past, I'd heard horror stories about the food served at the conference, and I was fully expecting to spend the entire week without food; however, God was merciful in that the food was edible, not great but enough to keep you from starving; everyone agreed that the food was much better this year, even if the portions were tiny.
On Tuesday night, we had our first hour-long lecture from one of the pastors in the denomination. Between Wednesday and Friday, there were three lectures a day, two in the morning and then one at night. The lectures this year were on the book of Ephesians and centered around Christ and the church. They were all excellent and very relevant to the times we live in. It made me very thankful that we have such good, faithful pastors who still preach God's Word and not rely on entertainment to do it.
When there were no lectures, there was plenty of other things to do. Several of the nerds played nerf gun war, many guys and a few girls played ultimate frisbee, but most of the time people sat around various places on the campus and socialized. On Tuesday evening, a Gospel group from further south gave a concert in the chapel; on Wednesday afternoon, Judy Rogers, who is the wife of one of the pastors, gave a concert; on Thursday afternoon, several of the young musicians and singers got together and did a little concert, which was excellent. A few people at any time of the day could be seen playing an instrument on campus, and we even had a talented bagpipe player one day. Several people also danced throughout the week, particularly the Salty Dog Rag, and it was largely for practice for Friday. On Friday evening, after the last lecture, everyone gathered in the Dome (the campus' gym) for the dance. The place was filled, and people danced the Pattycake Polka, the Virginia Reel (a fun dance), Postie's Jig (very entertaining to watch people leap around and try not to hit each other), and several others.
It was an amazing time to meet other people from other churches in the denominations and to make new friends. The one downside is that the entire week was quite exhausting, given the busy days, excellent lectures, late nights, and early mornings. By Friday, it was clear that sleep deprivation was beginning to set in, and several people were tired before the evening dance began. Most of us spent the trip home sleeping (except Mandy and Joseph who goofed off in front of the camera and did some rather bizarre and strange things, as evidenced by Mandy's pictures).
It was an amazing trip, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone's already beginning to think of next year's conference, and we're hoping that Mom and Dad will be able to join us next time.
It's been a busy summer thus far. Between Six Flags trips, camping trips with the family, and other social events, we've sure been kept on our toes. Last week we went to a recital for a young baritone at our church, and we spent most of that week cooking in preparation for the event. The week of Memorial Day, we spent a few days camping with the family at Vogul State Park; we had a good time, and I've posted pictures up on facebook.
And things are only going to continue to get busier. Today, Christie's coming over so we can try to compose music for some song lyrics that I've written. Tomorrow, we're going over to some friends' house for dinner and fellowship. On Monday, there will be something like a large party starting in the afternoon and lasting until sometime Tuesday. Let me explain; every year, the RPCUS (the denomination our church belongs to) holds an annual family conference in Virginia. Mandy's been twice before, but this year Seth and I will also be going (I was a last-minute addition). Several young adults are carpooling with us up to Virginia, and so some of them will be spending the night with us on Monday so we can leave early on Tuesday morning. I'm really excited about going, as this will be my first time. I'm bringing my camera, so hopefully I'll get some good pictures. And, over the rest of the summer, we've got other events like a family vacation to Florida and a possible second camping trip with the church family.
So, yeah, it's been pretty busy around here. As of now, I have not had much success on the job front, most likely because I have no experience in retail. I've applied at some places, but I haven't had the time to apply at others. I will try to start looking again after the Virginia conference. Keep me in your prayers as I continue to look and also as I begin to wonder about my calling and what the Lord wants me to do for His kingdom.
It's been an excellent three days for Memorial Day this year.
The fun started with the clan gathering together on Saturday to celebrate Grandma Linda's birthday. We grilled out, and then afterwards we just chilled in the house. Ainsley was a hoot. She had fun playing with the tape measure and treated it as if it was a magic trick, bowing every time it went back into the metal container. Then she wanted Mandy to chase her around the yard, and she kept denying that she was crazy (which is a sure sign that she's a Cunningham through and through).
Today, we went to the Howlands for the annual Memorial Day picnic. This year marks the tenth picnic we've attended since we first started attending Covenant eleven years ago (they didn't hold it one year for a few reasons). It proved to be a very hot year, but thankfully there wasn't much humidity. Nonetheless, most people stayed outside, seeking shade under the pavilion or wherever they could find it. There were boat races this year, and Christie and I raced once (we failed miserably, but then neither of us really knew what we were doing). There were other games like ultimate frisbee, kickball, wiffle ball, and volleyball all throughout the day. After the boat races were done, the teenagers decided that they couldn't take the heat anymore. So, not caring if big snapping turtles lived in the pond, began jumping in the pond. They dragged the floatable dock out towards the center of the water, and there was a game of "king of the raft" that went on for a while. Some people took great delight in pushing others off the raft or into the water, and Mandy would have gotten thrown in had not one of the adults intervened (Cliff later dunked her to get her fully wet, though). Dad even took dip in the pond to cool off, which made several of the kids cheer to see an adult join them for a few minutes. Because of the heat, a lot of people got sunburned. Right now, I'm looking as red as a beet, but I'm expecting to be nice and dark in a day or two.
Next stop: camping with the clan in north Georgia later this week. It promises to be a pretty hot week, but we're all looking forward to it.
Oh, and Seth officially starts his new position at Radiant tomorrow, where he'll be working in staging, which is a step up from peripherals. We're very proud of him and the fact that he's quickly advancing at Radiant based on his own hard work and not because of Dad's position in the company.
Well, I've finished my third year of college. Now a few more to go.
So, I turned in all my papers and all my reading on time. I ended the semester with three A's and one B, which I'm thankful for. And now I have to look for a job. I've turned in several applications, most of them last week, and I'm waiting and praying for a good job to turn up. In the meantime, I'm actually rather bored. I've got no papers to do, no reading to finish, and no stories to write or rewrite. I hope I get a job soon because I hate sitting around doing nothing.
I do not think I can recall such a tumultuous spring in regards to the weather. Generally, this is the time of year for thunderstorms, loads of rain, and lightning and thunder, but I don't remember it ever being this bad. A few weeks back, we had thunderstorms for three nights in a row, and we've had several other ones ever since then. We got a brief rain shower yesterday, which was nice, but I think we could use some more rain because it's been getting dry and hot. It's sobering to look at other areas of the south like Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina that are absolutely getting pummeled with huge storms.
In the midst of stormy weather, life has continued on. I've got this week and three days of classes next week before I have finals, and I am so looking forward to being done with this semester. I put in an application at the vet down the street for a kennel job, but when I called last they said they were still looking through applications. I do need a summer job this year, and I'm praying I find a good one because I've heard that Radiant may not be hiring temps for the summer.
Well, I've got to get back to work on this Scots-Irish research paper for my history class.
In late March, we celebrated two birthdays: Mom's and Seth's.
Mom's celebration began on Thursday, the day before her birthday. Mandy and I worked together and planned that our present to her would be taking her out to lunch and then paying for her to get her hair cut; however, because of our schedules, the two events could not take place on the same day. So, on Thursday, after Mom and Mandy came back from cello, we told Mom that we were taking her out to lunch at Zaxby's, and she was surprised. We went out and had a good time there enjoying that delicious chicken, fries, and Texas toast. The next day, Dad took Mom out for dinner; they went to a restaurant in downtown Lawrenceville and had a good time together. Then, the next Thursday, we girls took Mom to the Nova hair salon in the morning. The lady Milly, who cut my hair a month ago, did a good job, though she did cut Mom's hair shorter than she wanted. Still, Mom was very happy about not having to sit on her hair or getting tangled up in it all the time. Dad did buy Mom a present, but it was one most people wouldn't expect though she asked for it. And Seth, being the slacker he is, hasn't bought Mom's yet... much to me and Mandy's chagrin.
Seth's was also pretty simple this year. Mandy, being the social organizer that she is, actually planned him a small party for several of his friends (though only boys were invited, which kept things simple). The boys came over for dinner, played some poker, and then watched two movies. I took a few pictures of the event, but none of them were particularly memorable. We bought Seth some clothes for his birthday, though his "big gift" is yet to come.
Seth actually did get something of a birthday present though not from us. The week of his birthday, Radiant Systems hired him on as a full-time worker, which means he's no longer a temp and can get his own insurance, benefits, and vacation time. This week was his first week as being full-time. He's still working in Peripherals, but he'll also soon be helping the guys out in Staging, where he'll upload software onto the Point of Sales and such. It's a big step for Seth, and we're very proud of him for moving up. Actually, the week before his birthday, Peripherals threw him a surprise party complete with presents and cake, including a helium balloon that sings "Happy Birthday" when touched.
It's been a bitter winter down here, but it looks as if we're getting an early spring as well. Earlier this month, we had some temps in the 60's and 70's, which were downright heat waves for us; then, it cooled down again. And now, the temps seem to be going up again. It's very exciting to watch the signs of spring. Our dogwood tree has buds that are beginning to open, the crabapple's red leaves are coming out, and the white tree (don't know it's name) is beginning to turn green itself. The tulip tree is beginning to bud as well, which means within the next month it'll start dropping sap all over the cars and the driveway. The weather has become so nice that Mom has begun her garden. She's planted some broccoli and I believe cauliflower for her cool weather crops, and she's got even more veggies planned. We moved the vegetable boxes this year to a sunnier area of the yard (which, believe me, is hard to find in our yard), so we're hoping our garden will do much better than it did last year.
Spring coming closer means spring break for me! I'm off school this week, and it's nice to have a break. My American lit. teacher, however, is desperately trying to get everyone to read a whole bunch of William Faulkner and to discuss it on the discussion board; she clearly doesn't understand the meaning of "spring break." This also means that the schedule for fall classes is up as well. I've got a basic idea of what I want, but I can't sign up until my advisor removes the hold on my account (which I don't know if it'll happen because of my interactions with her; I'd have to say she's the worst advisor I've had at GGC so far); and I'm also waiting to see which teachers are assigned to the classes, as I don't want to take a class where the teacher is horrible. Now this is making me think of me returning to the work force for the summer; I'm not sure yet where I'll work, but Dad is going to see if Radiant will take me back on for a few months.
Recently, I started guitar lessons with Mr. Price, and I've been enjoying them. My fingers are getting tougher, and I can play for a longer period of time without my fingers turning red and hurting like crazy afterwards. I've taught myself the old hymn "Wondrous King All Glorious", and I'd love to be able to play the hymn "Like a River Glorious", but that one has flats and I don't know where flats are on the guitar. I am also teaching myself Enya's "May It Be", and it's quite a lesson in speed. For now, I'm using an old guitar on loan from my friend Christie. I've named him Johnny, and I've developed maternal instincts around him; he does, however, need some work done. However, Johnny is a rather large acoustic guitar, which makes him rather cumbersome and difficult to hold given that I have a short torso. So, today, Christie and I are going to Guitar Center, where I'm going to test out classical guitars (which are not as big) and find one I like, one that I will buy and call my very own. I'm also involved in Christie's music club at school, and I try to attend meetings when I'm not too busy with homework.
And so, life is fairly busy around here though nothing too big has happened. We're excited for this Friday, which will be the church's spring bonfire and square dance. We had one last October, and it was a ton of fun. We danced the waltz and the polka, and I learned the Virginia Reel. We had to cancel the original date because of the weather, but it looks like Friday will be just right. We're all really looking forward to it.
I think it's an established fact that cats are just, more often then not, stupid. Usually they show this in their various, strange antics... like sucking on the other cats' necks, attacking shoes or table legs, or fill in the blank. Well, we recently witnessed another strange antic that I've never seen before.
Now, it's common on warm spring days for the cats outside to roll in the dirt. I'm not sure why they do it, but I'm not going to get into cat psychology on this one. Anyway, I was at school when the incident happened, and I heard about it later that day. The cat boxes had just been cleaned and filled with new litter when Claws, our whale who is secretly disguised as a cat, decided to check them out. Then, suddenly, she started rolling around in the litter. It was new with nothing in it at the moment, but it was the strangest thing Mom had seen.
Now, if you'll excuse me, Pooky's stirring up a fight again, and I've got to deal with it before the situation worsens.
I did forget to mention that Seth got a new car about two weeks ago. I forget the exact model, but it's used and is like a smaller, five-seat version of a suburban. We did have some issues with it for the first week of owning the car, as it was in the shop most of the time because the former owner admitted it did not some work done. But, it's now been resting on our driveway. It's given Seth the freedom to go hang out with his friends (like when he went camping with them this past weekend) and to go to work early and thus leave earlier than usual.
Yes, it has happened; our dear Mandy has turned seventeen. I think we're more than a bit freaked-out at the realization that the baby of our family is only a year away from eighteen. It's quite frightening.
Mandy's birthday celebration began on the 4th of this month with a party. She invited fourteen people, and we managed to squeeze all of them into our little house. We had a lovely dinner of fried rice, teriyaki chicken, and Chinese salad (complete with sliced jicama); and then there was a simple New York cheesecake with strawberry sauce. Oh, and not to mention Mom's first attempt to make wontons, which were delicious and a bit hit among all the guests. After Mandy received presents of shirts, earrings, a mug, and other similar things, we all cleared the living room as best we could and played "Never Have I Ever". Given how "violent" the game can be, I'm amazed that no one was hurt and nothing was broken given the size of our living room. Then we played Wax Museum, where you have to stand absolutely still while "it" is watching you. Seth, of course, won both times; I kid you not, he was so good at it that the guys were able to treat him like a wooden board and push him around at it. I actually caught a video of it here:
After wax museum, people started to leave because it was getting late. A couple of people stayed behind and watched "Inception" with us. The party ended at 2 AM, and we all had a blast.
Saturday night was also special. Dad took me and Mandy to Chick-fil-A for Daddy-Daughter date night that they were having. It was nice to go out together. Then we went home, and Mandy opened her presents. I renewed her Picnik account and bought her earrings, Seth bought her a purple body pillow (which she loves but unfortunately the cat Claws has also fallen in love with it), and Mom and Dad have yet to give her the "big gift" which will come at the end of the month (I believe it will be a new cello case). She also received a nightshirt from Grandma Gail and scissors for left-handers (Mandy was so ecstatic to receive them, and she started laughing at us when we tried to use them). Currently, she is out celebrating with Grandma Linda, which I believe is the last major part of her birthday.
Otherwise, not much else has happened since then. It's been work and school, the usual. I did get my hair cut this week, and I gave about eight inches or so of it to Locks of Love; it's nice not to have to deal with so many tangles and split ends. We're having company tonight over for dinner, which we're all looking forward to. I also started guitar lessons this week, but my loaned guitar Johnny needs some work done before I can start playing anything and sounding vaguely good.
I've pretty much had it with GGC's food services. This is the second time in less than a week that I've had a major beef with them. And it's not been one of the restaurants on campus; it's been with two separate ones.
First, on Friday, I paid over $9 for a piece of fish, two things of vegetables, and a drink because I didn't order the $6 combo (what's the point of buying the combo when you can't eat all of it?) that has more food in it. I complained via a comment card, and I'm due for a meeting with one of the guys running the thing to explain what happened. I hope it goes well, but I'm not expecting it to. This is GGC, after all, and it never fixes anything properly.
And second, I had a rather nasty experience with GGCity Cafe. I won't go into the horrid details, but let's just say I found a hair in my food. They apologized profusely and gave me a new wrap to eat, but I'm not impressed. Now they've instilled a paranoia in me that I'll find another hair somewhere.
I guess that's what the college gets for using the lowest bidder for food services. Every student has complained about it for years, whether it be the horrible taste, high prices, the inexperienced people working the restaurants, or even the food being horribly made (like when raw pork was served recently). It's rather nauseating, and I've just about had it with them.
Today the youngest member of the Cunningham clan celebrates his first birthday. It is amazing to think that one year ago today how we all were anxiously awaiting what would happen, with Aunt Sarah being in the hospital and all the worries there. And now, today, I am reminded of God's goodness in preserving Aunt Sarah and little Nate during that difficult time. He is certainly good to His children, and it is a reminder that He does hear our prayers, no matter how weak and tainted our words may be.
Well, this morning was interesting, to say the least. Thank you, GGC, for that.
I got up at 8 so I could get ready to stay on campus all day for the music club meeting and for my world literature class, which meets at night. I received a text/phone call from GGC announcing that they would be testing their new siren today and possibly for the rest of the week. I didn't think much of it and went about my morning business.
Shortly after nine o'clock, I was sitting on my "perch" (a brown armchair that I sort of claimed and which I sit in quite frequently) and checking e-mail and all that when I hear the sound of music playing somewhere outside. I thought "hmm.... weird" and forgot it when it stopped. A few minutes later, an alarm goes off. At first I thought it's someone's car alarm or a siren, but it doesn't move and it keeps going on. The sound was more reminiscent of something you would hear from an air raid. Mom and I were both genuinely puzzled and began to wonder if we had missed the morning news about World War 3 starting or something like that. I also wondered if perhaps it was the GGC siren but shrugged it off, as the campus is more than a few miles away and this area is wooded and hilly. I posted on facebook about the alarm and quickly learned that it was indeed the GGC siren that they were testing that morning; a few people said it had been in the paper to tell people it was just a test, but we Cunninghams don't read it, so we didn't know. And, we were not the only ones to hear it. It could apparently be heard a few miles down Lawrenceville- Suwanee towards Suwanee town and in the Collins Hill High School area.
So, in conclusion, it was an interesting way to start off the day.
This storm will probably go down in Georgia records as being the worst that anyone can remember. Well, now that everything's just about melted and getting back to normal, it's time for the tale of how a snowstorm shut down Atlanta and threatened to drive several of us crazy.
The approaching storm first came to our attention either the Thursday or Friday before it began. However, none of us thought that we would get a lot of snow or that it would stick around long, but it would prove otherwise. The snow was predicted to arrive Saturday night (though they later changed this to Sunday night), and it showed up later than expected; the weathermen predicted it would start snowing around 7 PM, but it didn't start until closer to 9:30 PM, after we had gotten home from evening services and were eating dinner. We were fully engrossed watching Mandy and Seth playing Mario on the Wii (which is as entertaining as watching a movie) when someone turned on the porch light and we saw the snow falling. Now, Georgia gets wimpy snowflakes that are more like baby snow flurries, which rarely stick; this was not the case this time. The flakes were absolutely huge, and they were falling in huge numbers for more than a few minutes at a time. It took less than an hour for everything to be completely covered by the snow, and it was still falling. The temperature had dropped below freezing, so the snow was definitely sticking. Finally, Mandy and I put on some warm clothing and went outside around 11 PM. There were at least two inches on the ground already, and there was plenty of good snow for snowball fights. Mandy and I started throwing snow, and then Seth came out to join us for a little while. While we were goofing around and listening to other neighborhood kids grow ecstatic at the sight of so much snow, we had a funny moment. A couple of teenagers/ young adults came walking down the road and passed us; one of them had shaggy-looking pants that reminded me of a Chewbacca costume or of a sasquatch; so our joke that evening was that we saw a sasquatch outside in the snow. Anyway, Mandy wanted to build a snowmen, but we went inside instead, where I made some tea to warm me up.
Snow the morning after
Now, GGC had sent out an announcement to all the students and faculty (they do this three times: one by text, one by a phone call less than two minutes after the text, and then by e-mail a few hours later; it gets rather annoying after a while) on Sunday afternoon before the storm arrived that campus would be closed the next day. Well, on Monday morning, we woke up to find six to seven inches of snow covering everything, including the road. We could not even tell where our driveway began and ended. Dad, Mandy, and I went walking in the snow, and Seth later joined us. The roads were too impassable for Dad and Seth to go to work, so they just stayed home. Mandy kept getting text messages from our cousin Noah about sledding and having all sorts of fun, but sadly she could not convince Mom or Dad to drive her out to Duluth. So, needless to say, the snow was fun that first day, but it's more fun when you have friends to share it with.
Playing in the snow
On Monday, freezing rain began to fall in the morning and grew throughout the day. The temps remained cold enough to keep the snow from melting, but it also introduced a new problem: if the temps dropped below freezing that night (which they would), everything would start turning to ice. And it did. School was cancelled for Tuesday, and Dad and Seth were not able to leave the house for work on Tuesday either. Around this time, we started watching clips of the local news on-line to see what was going on. The roads in the metro Atlanta area were icy, cars were either being wrecked on the roads or abandoned because of the ice, and there were not enough snowplows and salt trucks to deal with the problem. The highways got cleared fairly easily, but other roads were not. Mom and Dad ventured out on Tuesday afternoon, and it took them two hours to drive a few miles to the grocery store, where there was practically no food anyway, but God be praised that they made it home safely.
On Wednesday, the temps refused to rise above freezing, so nothing could melt. School was cancelled again, and by this time we were all getting antsy. Mandy wanted to hang out with her friends, but she was stuck in the house because the roads were too unsafe. I'm generally not a social bug like Mandy, but after three days of being snowbound, I was beginning to develop cabin fever. I temporarily cured this by going outside and making a snowman (which turned out more like a snow volcano), and Mandy joined me as well.
School was cancelled again on Thursday, but by this time the roads were becoming clearer and more passable. Dad and Seth went to work that day, which took them over two hours to get there safely. The roads were still icy, though, and we were still stuck in the house. School was also cancelled on Friday, and a faculty meeting was held to discuss how to make up an entire week of missed college. However, that day Bethany came over to spend the night, so it was nice to see some other faces for a change. On Saturday, we drove up to the outlets at Dawsonville for our annual after-Christmas shopping. On our way to the mall (there was little to be found at the outlets this year), we stopped by Radiant to say hi to Seth and Cliff, who were working a full day there. They re-organized the entire place, and it looks so different from when I last saw it back in August, before school started. The mall was a little more successful shopping-wise, but I'm hoping to make it out to Cato today or sometime this week to see if they have any better clothes.
Yesterday, the snow began to disappear. Some boys after church had a snowball fight, which was entertaining to watch; after home shepherd groups, Ben C. started up a bit of a snowball war with Gabe, Noah, and Christopher. Yesterday, I saw more of our green-ish lawn re-appear, and today the snow is just about gone except for a few areas.
Despite this storm shutting the entire city down for a few days, I am thankful it wasn't worse then it could've been. We didn't run out of food, we kept our electricity and heat on, none of us were in accidents (one person at church had one, but he's all right), and we all stayed safe. I am thankful that God was good to us in these ways.
Well, what started off as much rejoicing over a beautiful snowfall has now turned into something much different: worry. Atlanta has practically been shut down for two days now, and it doesn't look good for the rest of the week. The problem is that it's too cold. Temperatures this week are hovering around 20- 30ish degrees, which is not enough to melt the snow, which causes some brief melting but which re-freezes into ice when the temp drops low at night. And ice is a horrible situation to be in down here. Because huge snowfalls like this are rare, only happening every 10+ years, Atlanta isn't well-equipped to handle it, as the metro area only has three snow plows total; so, hence, the entire city is shut down for further notice. This is the second day that Dad and Seth haven't been in to work because all their carriers (i.e. Fedex, etc...) have closed down because of the conditions of the roads and because not everyone can get in to work. GGC has also closed down, and there's no telling when it will be back up again. So, all in all, it's one big mess.
Dad, Mom, and possibly Mandy are going to try to get out of the house today and see if they can make it to the store, if it is open. But we are not too concerned about it because we have a Food Lion not far from the house, where we can walk if needs be. And we're thankful to still have electricity and heat. So, despite being snowbound in Lawrenceville, we're doing good, and we're all fine down here.
I have removed my review of Celtic Woman's February 2010 Atlanta show, but the 2009 may remain up for a little while. My reasoning is simple: I was getting tired and frustrated of the daily spam I kept getting for that particular post. I've saved the review among my personal stuff on my computer, but I'm not likely to re-post it again.
On a happier note, we got around six inches of snow last night. It's a gorgeous (but very cold) winter wonderland out there. The general consensus is that we have not had this much snow since 1993, when it snowed for two days and kept us stuck in the house. I've got pictures, and I'll try to upload some later. Or I may make a slideshow like I did for our snow event last February.
It's snowing! It's snowing! It's snowing! And this isn't your bitty Southern flurries; this is the real deal. It's powdery, and we got probably an inch in less than an hour with more still to come. It's falling outside in huge snowflakes, and it's so gorgeous! Ah! I'm so excited!
Well, my wish of snow is coming true again... somewhat. Georgia's about to get hit with another snowstorm, which looks like it'll turn into an ice storm. It should arrive here by tomorrow evening, and now we're all wondering what that will mean for Monday, which so far looks nasty. It could mean school gets cancelled that day, but I won't know for certain until either Sunday night or early Monday morning.
As for school, I started on Thursday. However, classes are up in the air because the students' ability to drop or add classes is down, so I have no idea what my actual schedule will look like. I'll let you know soon.