Wednesday, December 30, 2009

christmas adventure

Upon completing my first semester as a full time grad student, I decided to take 2 weeks off from work for a break from stress, and to visit friends and family. Of course the weekend I decided to head north, there was a giant blizzard in VA. Luckily Billy helped me clear and dig out my car from the snow so I could begin my trip north to CT.

It only took me 6.5 hours to get to Aunt Laura's in Bristol, CT. Which is a personal record. Usually it takes at least that long to get to NYC! Everyone had to work the next day, but I was excited to get to hang out a bit before everyone went to bed. Brother and I woke up relatively early (yes, before noon) to have lunch with my aunt and gramps. My mom had mailed Christmas presents for me and brother to my aunt's house, so we opened our presents before we went out for lunch. Aunt Laura took many pictures to send to my mom, since she couldn't be with us. Brother and I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping before heading to NH the next day, and got some pretty great presents for dad. December 21st was Jill's 21st birthday! And she had decided to head to Foxwoods for the night to celebrate. Brother and I went with Dave, Steve and bang and their friend - to help Jill celebrate and gamble! I didn't play at any of the tables, I was content to play slots. In the end I broke even, but had a lot of fun running around with everyone. Brother won over $300 at poker, as usual. And I think Steven lost the most. Steve, Dave and I headed out just before 11pm since they had to be up early for work and I didn't want to be tired for the early drive to NH.

After much coaxing, I got brother up and ready, and we packed our cars and headed North to Portsmouth, NH. I think it took about 3-3.5 hours, would have gone faster but according to brother, I drive slowly. I'm pretty sure 10-15 mph over the limit during a holiday week is plenty fast. It was my first time seeing my dads new house, and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's still in the remodel phase, with rooms that need painting and stripping of wall paper, but its a perfect colonial house. That day we explored the town and went shopping to prepare for Christmas. It was entirely too cold compared to what I was used to in VA. My dad built a fire in the family room and made it toasty warm. (I also had warm and cozy thoughts to keep me warm :) Wednesday was our big shopping day. For Christmas, we decided to spend the day shopping at the mall in Burlington, MA. Dad bought Chris his first official suit, a nice deep blue Hugo Boss. He looks pretty sharp. And a bunch of other clothes. Dad bought me a bunch of clothes and shoes for me as my Christmas present. We spent the entire day shopping and by the time we had dinner we were all beat. Christmas Eve we mostly spent getting the house ready for fambly to arrive. That night we walked around Market Square. It was chilly and snowy. It's a cute little northeastern town. Christmas day we opened presents with Dad before Uncle David, Beth arrived with their pup Roxy and later that night Uncle Kelly stopped by for dinner, before heading back to pick up our cousin Andrew. We played games and watched movies, opened presents and enjoyed the warmth from the fire. By this point I had managed to catch a slight cold and tended to nap unwillingly thanks to the cold meds. But hey, I was also on vacation. I do believe that napping is allowed! We spent the rest of the weekend hanging out, and trying to keep warm since the furnace was being replaced which meant, no heat! Sunday was just me, brother and dad, and it was decided that we would celebrate my upcoming birthday before I headed out early the next morning to meet up with my ladies in Schenectady, NY. We had dinner at the Library, a very fancy restaurant in a building that used to be, a library! It's comparable to Ray's the Steaks here in Arlington, delicious steaks and sides, and top it off with wine, delicious! The waiter asked if we were celebrating my 21st birthday, bless his heart. After dinner we went to see Avatar in 3D. It's a very long movie, but well worth watching. I'm not sure if it would be as good not in 3D, the storyline is predictable but the visual is well worth watching and experiencing in the theater. We woke up relatively early the next day to pack up my car so I could head West to visit with my bestests. I was wicked sad to leave my dad and brother, but it helped to know I was going to see more people I love.

Of course on my way to Schenectady there was a massive snow storm in the Berkshires. This slightly delayed my arrival time, but it's good to know upstate NY will never fail me when I'm looking for snow. Nora, Dave and Gregory were patiently waiting at the Davidson's and shortly after I arrived, Amy, Mike, James and Claire drove up to the house. We hung around the house, opened presents (look at the cute little bows I got for Claire! All colors), played with the kiddos and discussed plans for the evening. Secretly, Amy and I (although primarily Amy and Mrs. Davidson) planned a graduation party for Nora. After much work and effort, Nora has graduated with her Bachelors! After checking into the hotel, we headed to the church for the party. Nora was completely surprised, and of course angry with us. She doesn't like being the center of attention, at all. But we made her :) There was a delicious Italian meal and cake for everyone. Amy and I are going to plan a spa day to celebrate Nora's graduation once she and her family officially moves to Boston! After dinner we went to the Adamek's to hang out and eat delicious ice cream and baked pears. We also watched 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, one of our favorite movies of all time. It was late once the movie was finished, but we had to get the wee ones to bed and rest for more fun. Tuesday was around 7 degrees and just freeeezing! I wasn't prepared for such temperatures. We had breakfast and ventured to see Elmo! at the Albany museum. There were a few new exhibits at the museum since the last time Nora and I went, but unfortunately the fire alarm kept going off, so we had to leave the museum. I had made plans to head back to VA that night and unwillingly left my little nephews begging me to stay longer. It's always so difficult to leave my ladies, but I was so glad I was able to spend time with them during the holiday.

The drive home was mostly uneventful. I did see a shooting star just past Baltimore :) and it only took me about 6.5 hours from Albany back to VA. I was received back home with a very warm welcome, and despite missing my friends and family, I was glad to have been able to safely travel to so many places and spend time with them all.

View all the pictures from my Christmas adventure :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

semester complete.

I successfully completed my first semester as a full time grad student. I'm slightly disappointed in my grades, but found that trying to balance work, school, health and a social life is a lot of work. I hope that I am now better prepared for Spring semester. I've already received 2 of 3 syllabi, and the work load is intense! But at the same time, I'm also looking forward to it. Grades from this past semester were:

Museum Studies: A-
American Music Persp..this class sucked: B+
18th Century Atlantic Revolutions: B+

Overall, not bad. I have just under 2 more weeks before class starts up again, and I'm doing everything I can to take advantage of the free time! (Despite needing to update my resume and searching for an internship, research, reeeading... responsibilities can eat it.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

have finals

The final for my museum studies class was an in class presentation about the exhibit we had been working on all semester. Instead of using powerpoint I decided to make a web page. It has images and silly commercials from the 1940s-50s. Credit goes to Brie for suggestion of wallpaper behind television screen!

Have presentation, if you're bored!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

car love

After delaying and ignoring issues with my car for months (since I think June/July), I decided it was time to bite the bullet and take my car to get fixed. In a few weeks, once finals are over and done with (can't waaaait) I will be driving up North for the holidays and figure since it's many miles it would be good to know my car is all set and hopefully will keep me safe.

Since 2 of the 3 issues were specific to my Saturn, I decided to take it to a dealership in Fairfax, just a few miles from campus. I spoke with a dude named HOOK, who was really friendly and told me they'd take care of my car. (FYI - He did not have a hook for a hand, and I was very disappointed) First, my brakes have been clicking every time I press them. I figured it was the ABS engaging and not a big deal, since I tested my brakes - in the rain - and was able to stop successfully and the ABS worked as they should. Found out, it wasn't really that big a deal. Part of my left front axle cracked in half, completely, which left the sensor for my ABS confused. It couldn't tell how fast my left tire was rotating in comparison to the right, so it was always panicking and engaging, click click click! For you lucky people who have experienced this, it's fixed! The dealership picked up parts from an outside vendor so it cost me about $250 less than it should have. Still cost about $400 total, JUST for that (not counting labor, good times)

Also, the bracket for my muffler rusted and broke, not off entirely, just loosely so that my muffler rattled and it wasn't dragging on the ground, I'm not that trashy. As a precautionary measure I used a wire hanger to secure my muffler in place, until I got around to getting it fixed (read 5 months later..) They easily replaced the bracket costing around $125 for parts and labor.

Third and final issue, my sunroof likes to leak into the trunk of my car. Found out it's as simple as replacing the drainage into the hose, the mechanic explained it to me and showed me how I can fix it myself, should it happen again (which it will because this was time #4 it was leaking). This luckily didn't cost me a thing! Which is good, because I have a feeling the last time I brought it in to get fixed and they charged me $300 was BULLSHIT, especially because it was probably just the damn hose again, which I can fix myself, so take that craptastic dealership in Alexandria.

Finally, after many months, my car is in working order and happy. It only cost me $711.28 to get it there, but hey, it's the price you pay for a sweet 3 door black cherry Saturn <3 (and mobility)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

wwe bobby shields

As I mentioned previously, my friend Bob was offered a chance to wrastle on the WWE. Well he was able to actually wrestle in front of a giant audience and have it televised! This past Tuesday December 1st at 10PM on Syfy, Bob made his debut! I am so incredibly proud of Bobby Shields and all that he has achieved. We've been friends for at least 6 years and he's always talked about wrastling and wanting to be on WWE. Although he was used to help others progress, he did a fantastic job losing! (As weird as that sounds.) It's one small step and a start that was a really great experience, he is incredibly excited about. Congrats Bob!!

Check out the clip!