Tuesday, November 30, 2010



I am done with my graduate research!  And I got an A!  I can now relax and take a breath.  Life is good.

Also, have you seen this video?

I only wish something this cool could happen when I go to the mall.

Happy (almost) December!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday

Oh, how I love a good sale!  Black Friday is one of the days that I most look forward to in a year.  Months in advance, I begin searching the internet for leaked ads.  During the week leading up to the holiday, I download PDFs of the ads so I can start mapping my route and planning my purchases.  It is a game to me, and I win when I get what I want at the lowest possible prices.

This year, many Black Friday sales started at midnight.  I casually strolled in to Wal-Mart at around 11:00PM on Thursday night, and it was surprisingly calm.  I started putting things in my cart, and by 11:45, I had in my cart everything that I intended to buy.  By this point, many people were buzzing around, but I think I got there early enough to avoid the crazies.  I lingered around the check-outs because I knew I'd have to wait until midnight to check out in order to get the sale prices.  As I was lingering, a nice associate asked me if I wanted to be first in his line.  I happily obliged, and we engaged in a very nice conversation for the next fifteen minutes.  At midnight, he scanned all of my items, and I walked out of Wal-Mart at 12:05AM.

Sounds easy, right?

I took my bags back to my apartment, and I intended to go to sleep for a few hours before Kohl's opened, but then I remembered that Old Navy also opened at midnight.  So, I went to Old Navy where I purchased a pair of jeans for every member of the family.  Kids jeans were on sale for $10, which I thought was a pretty good deal.  So good of a deal that I didn't mind standing in line for an hour-and-a-half.

Then, I went to Target, but the line was out in the cold all the way around the block, so I went to Kohl's instead.  There, I got an iPod dock for my mom and some boots for my cousin, Chloe.  The Kohl's line was only about an hour long.

Next, at about 5:00AM, I went back to Target for some DVDs and other toys and games that were requested by my adopted family.  The line there was about two hours long.

At 7:15AM, I checked out at Target.  I was exhausted because, at that point, I had been awake for 24 hours straight.  I am just getting to old to do that kind of thing.

So, I went home and went to sleep for a few hours.  By a few, I mean three.

My brother called me at 10:30 to tell me he was at my apartment but that his car had been acting up throughout the two-hour drive toward Lincoln.  Once he parked his car, he turned it off and tried to start it again, and it wouldn't start.

So, I called AAA to come get it and tow it to a mechanic.

By the way, AAA is amazing.  My membership easily pays for itself in hotel and travel discounts.  And now, I can add free towing to my list of received services.

So, we headed toward Memorial Stadium.

My brother is one of the most chronically early people that I know, so we had lots of sitting around to do.  Plenty of time to watch warm-ups.

Soon enough, it was time for them to go to the locker rooms and for the pre-game show to start.

I love our pre-game show.  Our band is great, and I love the feeling I get when I hear "Hail Varsity" and "March Grandioso."

My beloved Huskers played against the Colorado Buffaloes, as has been the tradition every day-after-Thanksgiving since I can remember.  With the Huskers' move to the Big 10, this game was our last regular-season game as part of the Big 12 Conference.  Coming off of a 9-6 loss against Texas A&M, after which much controversy over Big 12 officiating ensued, this was a good game to attend.  There was a lot at stake.  A win meant that we would clinch the Big 12 North, giving us the chance to play in the final Big 12 Championship as we know it.

Thankfully, our Huskers showed up to the game prepared, and were quick to begin scoring!

At halftime, the band gave a special "Farewell, Big 12" performance.

Then, there was a special ceremony in which a jersey of a former player of ours was retired.  Maybe you've heard of him?

What a guy!  I loved watching him play football during my college years.  He was so charismatic on that field!  But I always tell my students that I remember him more as the well-dressed, good-smelling guy who sat next to me in English class.  I'll never forget the first day when my teacher was clearly stumbling over how to say his name.  Ndamukong isn't a very common name in this part of the country.  He said, "Call me Suh," which to me sounded like, "Call me Sue."  I remember thinking, "What a girlish name for such a big man."  At that point, I had no idea he would turn out to be such a big deal.  Anyway, I'm proud of all of his accomplishments, and I appreciate the humility with which he has accepted all of his recent successes.

Brother and I loved being able to be at this game, even though it got a bit chilly.

And in the end, the desired outcome came to fruition.

Which means, we're headed to Arlington!

After the game, there was a video highligting some of Nebraska's greatest football moments since joining the Big 12 Conference.  Throughout the video, fireworks shot off from behind the big screen.

Unfortunatly, my camera is awful, so I can't show you exactly how awesome they were.

After the game, we learned that my brother's car wouldn't start because his starter went out.  Because there were no starters in the city of Lincoln that would work in his car, so he had to spend the night and wait until Saturday so they could have the part shipped overnight.

After hearing the diagnosis, Brother and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  People kept congratulating him on his win.

Don't get confused, friends.  My brother does not play football for the Huskers.  He plays for a different team.

But he is quite large, and when he's dressed in Husker clothing, he apparently is a doppelgänger to Husker football player Jeremiah Sirles.

I don't see a striking resemblance, but other people apparently do.  Anyway, he got a kick out of being mistaken for a Husker.

We arrived back at my apartment at 9:00PM, and I went immediately to bed.  

Black Friday is exhausting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season to bring out things like these:

I tend to get really cranky when I have to start using the above items.  I am simply not a winter person.

But I get even crankier when I have to get out these items:

These items have consumed the past three days of my life, and they are likely to consume the next couple (at least).

What I need to keep in mind as my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in are these things:

1.  I am blessed to be able to afford a winter coat, scarves, and gloves.
2.  I am fortunate enough to be able to have car windows to scrape in the mornings.
3.  I live comfortably enough to be able to spend money on cold medicine and cough drops.
4.  I am lucky to have a job that provides me good health care, should I decide that my cold needs something stronger than Tylenol.
5.  I have a job which allows me the opportunity to work a three-day week and spend a four-day weekend enjoying a smorgasbord of food with the family I am fortunate enough to have.

I am richly blessed, and I need to spend less time focusing on the seasons of scraping windows and cold medicine and more time focusing on the season of Thanksgiving.

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name." 

-1 Chronicles 29:11-13  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Go Time

The alarms went off at 6:30 on Sunday morning, and we were less than thrilled to have to wake up at that hour.  Steph wanted us to take an early flight home so that she could spend some of her birthday with her family.  Totally understandable.

Uncle Jim came and picked us up at 7:00.  Thank goodness for Uncle Jim.  His pick-up was spacious, and comfortably seated six people.  Unlike our other mode of transportation, which, for most of our weekend, was a bit of a squeeze.

Poor Amber.  This is one situation in which being "fun-sized" is a disadvantage.

As soon as we made it to our gate at the airport, I splurged for a $9.00 breakfast at Cinnabon:

Totally worth it.  I think.

We boarded our plane
And headed for home.

We were all looking a little rough by the time we got to Kansas City.

And although we had a great time in Texas, it was good to be home.

Blake Owen or Jake Shelton?

At some point while we were at the Stockyards, Russ texted us to let us know that some country singer was going to be performing at Billy Bob's.

Billy Bob's is known as the World's Largest Honkey Tonk, and is known for the big-name acts that it draws.  I am not much of a honkey tonk person, but by the expressions of the people with whom I was traveling, I knew that going to this concert was not optional.

Tickets were $20, which, I suppose, is a pretty cheap night of entertainment.

This is the person who was apparently a big deal:

Jake Owen.  Not Blake Shelton.  I can only remember the correct name when I look at the drum in the above pictures.  My co-workers were ashamed that every time they asked me who we were going to see, I couldn't come up with the correct name.  Sorry, friends.

I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed the music.  It's just not my genre.  But I did enjoy the time spent with my dear friends.

But then there was this lady:

who was some sort of Jake Owen stalker.  Her assigned table was seven tables away from ours, but she kept moving around and sitting at other people's tables in order to get a good picture of Jake.  While sitting at the table next to ours, she informed us that "some people would like to actually hear the music" and that she would appreciate it if we would "keep it down."


Lady, you are at a concert.  Which, for all intents and purposes, is located in a bar.  Which holds over 6,000 people.  It's not going to be quiet.  Also, we weren't even being loud.  The people at our table and the people at the table behind ours confirmed that our conversation was not bothersome and that this lady was, in fact, a looney toon.

(steps off soap box)

And so, although I had never heard of Jake Owen before, and I didn't know a single song that was sang, and the crazy photographer lady was rude to us and to many others, I suppose it was a good time had by all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Horned Frogs?

Saturday was largely devoted to the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little bit since we almost never get to sleep in on Saturdays.  We grabbed hotel breakfast, and then Uncle Jim picked us up to head toward campus.

TCU is an absolutely beautiful campus.  In fact, if I had expanded my college search to Texas seven years ago, I'm fairly certain that it would have been a top contender.

I would have had a hard time buying in to the fact that this ugly thing was the mascot of my alma mater:

Fun Fact:  Did you know that the horned frog is actually a lizard?

Anyway, after a free lunch of hot dogs, popcorn, and soda (no, I did not eat a hot dog), we headed for the stadium, which was also very beautiful.

It was certainly no Memorial Stadium, but it did have many similar features:

A tunnel walk:

A big screen (although, not nearly as big as ours):

People running around with flags:

We happened to attend the game where they allow kids to run onto the field with the players:

Soon enough, it was game time:

And we got to see Coach Plager in action:

After being down 14-0, we finally scored a touchdown.

This little machine sounded like a train whistle and went off whenever TCU scored:

When TCU scores, it is customary to hold up this symbol:

Although the game was very close for a while (a little too close for comfort, it you ask me), TCU came out on top:

After the win, they allowed the student section to storm the field:

They even had a fireworks display, but we didn't stay to watch.

We were very hungry for dinner, and my dear friends were kind enough to allow me the pleasure of eating here:

What I wouldn't give to have easy access to this whenever I wanted it:

After dinner, we went back to our hotel to get ready for the concert...