Tag Archives: christmas

Oak Ridge Boys: insta review

I just got home from the Oak Ridge Boys concert and I’m doing an insta-review in order to hit the high points.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

a) I went with my family– my mom, aunt, uncle, grandma, and my grandma’s “boyfriend” (or whatever you call it when the “boy” hasn’t been a boy for a good 65-70 years!)

b) The Oak Ridge Boys was my very first concert ever.  And a *huge* part of my childhood memories, especially at Christmas time (maybe I’ll look up old posts that reference this later.  Not now. )

Okay, so first of all, the show was split into two parts:  the “Greatest Hits” and the “Christmas Show.”    The first part opened with some dude (maybe a tour manager?) announcing this fact and then hawking CDs.  Hmmm…

They opened with a song *about them* written by Shooter Jennings.   Again, hmmm….

By this point, I was CRACKING up at their clothing.  The guy with the really deep voice looked like he was auditioning for American Idol–in skinny jeans, velvet (?) jacket, I-wear-my-sunglasses-at-night.   Definitely the “hippest” of the group.  Dude even had a flavor savor!

The rest of them looked like your average group of middle-aged Harley dudes.  Except they didn’t really match.  And one guy was wearing what appeared to be black tapered SLACKS.   Weird.   Anyway, it was amusing.


It goes without saying that the ORB cater to a decidedly older clientel.   In fact, it took a while to find *anyone* who was anywhere near my age bracket.  And it was FUNNY to watch the crowd participate– by clapping, singing along, waving back to Santa, taking videos on their cell phones.    HILARIOUS!    There was a superfan seated in front of us.  She had a SIGNED sweatshirt from “The Boys” and loved every minute of the show.


Remember: this is the stuff I grew up on.  We played the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas CD every.single.year while putting up the Christmas tree, baking cookies, opening gifts, etc.  It’s pretty much a family tradition.    They played quite a few of their famous songs during the “greatest hits” portion….but no Bobbie Sue, which greatly disappointed me.   They played some songs off their new album, which they should do…but, again, I wanted to hear Bobbie Sue!

Then they had intermission (weird) and on to the Christmas portion, which was decidedly longer.  They played *some* of their songs off the Christmas CD and did some standbys (Jingle Bells, The Christmas Song, etc.) but they did a LOT of songs that were unfamiliar to me… and a lot of slow songs.  In a row.  At the end.   My grandma’s 80 year old boyfriends was faring better than me in the I-can’t-fall-asleep-at-a-concert department.


The cheese factor was severely high tonight– they did the requisite tributes to family, kids, military, etc.   A lot of heartstring pulling, but people were genuinely enjoying themselves.   And, like I said….this music is so engrained in my childhood that I couldn’t help having my own heartstrings pulled a time or two.  Even if I did bust out laughing during Elvira.  I mean, SERIOUSLY, how that song ever got popular is beyond me.

As much as I’d like to be all cynical about it, the show definitely helped get me in the Christmas spirit, though…  for that, it was a success!

2008: A Year in Review, Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd half of my year. I just realized that I probably should’ve done these in reverse chronological order, but whatever.

July–I took my blog public, making it a whole lot easier to remember what I did for the rest of the year.  I also started biking to work and we had Kristi’s Bachelorette Party Boat Trip:



August– I took two vacations this month, plus a Tour de Philo.  First up was my staycation and then a second trip to Nawlins for Kristi’s wedding:



September— I started running, became obsessed with Mad Men and reconnected with an old friend via Facebook.  We also had Bunco at Erin’s in conjunction with Philo Fest, but-unfortunately- I have no corresponding photos :-(


I do, however, have a photo of this thing that I found on my fence (I know you all needed to see it again)




October– was downright insane.   There was a crazy gas station incidentmy cat died, and I was involved in train accident on the way home from seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed in Carbondale.  To top off the craziness, this was the first year in a long time that I *didn’t* dress up for Halloween.  Odd.


And then there was the trip to Chicago to see the New Kids on the Block:




November– is always a busy month.  This year, I went to San Antonio for work. And had the usual Thanksgiving with the family.  Oh, and there was that whole historic election thing.

I also made a trip to Chicago for Nikki’s Big Ten Bar Crawl:



And attended my only (gasp!) U of I tailgate of the season




Family and friends of Ryann Smith held a benefit in Tuscola and raised a bunch of money. I realize that I haven’t blogged about Ryann at all.  She was born a couple days after Christmas with a rare birth defect called CDH.  She is a fighter.  Please keep her and the family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to know more, visit her caring bridge page:  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ryannsmith.


I also had Christmases with my Grannie Rich,  my brother, and the rest of my extended family.


(And, because I know you can’t get enough of me and firearms, here’s the infamous gun shot one more time…)



I spent my Christmas break lounging, watching movies (Marley and Me and Seven Pounds), reading (still making it through the Twilight saga… I’ll reserve judgment until I’m finished with all the books), and spending time with friends and family.


I rang in the New Year in Chicago, but failed to take a single photo.  Maybe I should resolve to be a better chronicler this year :)


Reflections on 2008

All in all, the year turned out pretty good.  In some ways, this is one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned so much.   I’ve learned how to ask for help from those closest to me.  I’ve learned to say “no” on occasion and I’ve learned to enjoy myself in less-than-ideal circumstances. I’ve made some new friends, reconnected with others, and have spent more time with some of my family members than ever before.


This blog has really been a great outlet for me and I appreciate each and every reader, hit, and comment you all have given me.


Here’s to happiness and prosperity in 2009!

A SoIL Christmas

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law in Southern Illinois (affectionately referred to as SoIL).  It was a really great time.   After a quick lunch, we toured some of the wineries on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.


We started at Alto Vineyards and worked our way north.  We toured a total of 5 wineries that day:  Alto, Hedman, Von Jakob, Pamona, and Hickory Ridge.  Each one was different.  My favorite wine was either the Cabernet Sauvingon from Von Jakob (the only 100% cab sav grown, made, and bottled in Illinois) or the Kir (pronounced Keer) from Pamona.   Pamona was the most unique in that all of their wines are made from fruit other than grapes.    Here are some of my tasting notes*:



I was planning on giving wine as gifts, so of course I had to buy bottles at almost every stop.  Here’s a photo of all our “loot.”  It’s not all mine, but I picked up quite a few bottles:


Then it was back to the house to open presents. We’re nearly 30 years old, yet our mom still goes overboard for Christmas.  Check out the number of presents under the tree. I kept telling my mom it was “garish.”



Ryan and Jo don’t have many pictures of the two of them together, so Jo asked me to take one by the tree.  In typical fashion, Ryan wasn’t playing along.  So I took one of Jo pretending that Ryan was in the picture:

jo1Then one of Ryan doing the same thing:

ryanAnd, finally, one of them together:


Everyone got a lot of really great presents, but Ryan wins the prize for most creative wrapping materials.   Jo outlawed bows this year because the dogs just chew them off, so he came up with a compromise…. Yep, that’s duct tape on my present.  Classy!


After gifts, we went to dinner and then came back to the house to play some games.  We had been snapping photos all night and Ryan noticed there weren’t many of me.  Maybe I should take my very own photo in front of the Christmas tree with a gun.    My brother is a hunter and is very pro-gun and I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum.  We argue the gun control issue all the time and he’s always trying to get me to go out shooting.  I never do.  

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the warm, fuzzy holiday spirit, but for some reason I agreed to taking pictures with the guns.   And, I must say, they make me laugh every time I look at them.



After that, we drank some mulled wine, played board games and went to bed.   The next morning Jo, Mom, and I went to breakfast at Harbaugh’s Cafe.  Our friend Lesley has been raving about this place for quite some time, so I had to check it out.   The food was good, but the atmosphere is what really caught my eye.  


It was kinda funky and kitchy.  None of the furniture matched, the dishes looked like they came out of someones lake house.  It was just really eclectic and fun.  Here’s a shot of my chair at Harbaugh’s:


As we were getting ready to leave, Ryan suddenly remembered that there was one more present under the tree.  As you may recall, there’s a bit of a tradition in our family for both surprises and somewhat extravagant gifts.   The surprise gift this time was a flat screen TV for our mom.  She cried.   Over a TV!


All in all, it was a super great weekend.   I loved being able to go do stuff with my family without the usual pressures of Christmas.  I think this may become an annual tradition. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!


* I apologize for the poor quality of the scans. I just got a scanner for Christmas and I’m still playing with settings, etc.  The good news is that new scanner = more pictures/documents to share!!

Foto Friday: Roxie Claus

I know, I know… it’s cheesy to dress animals up in ridiculous outfits.  But, since I didn’t even put up a tree this year, I thought maybe I should make some attempt at holiday cheer.


Interview with a Vampire-lover

I stole this idea from illini_girl, but it’s been a while since I’ve done one.  And I have so many random things to discuss.

Are you really too busy to blog?  What’s that all about?

Honestly, yes.  And no. It’s not that I’m too busy to blog. It’s that I’ve spent a lot of time away from the computer, so my blogging time has been limited.

Are you done with your regular Wednesday posts?  What about Foto Friday?

Yeah, I think I’m giving up Website/Wordy Wednesdays. It’s just too much of a commitment and I have kinda run out of things to talk about. I’ll keep Foto Friday, though.  But I gotta start taking more pix.  Seems like I have to dig through the archives more often than not these days.

Are you becoming a professional dog sitter?

I’m thinking about it.  Last week, I watched my mom’s two dogs-Desi and Lucy- at my house.   And this week I’ve been dog-sitting Knee at a friend’s house.  Thus, the lack of night-time Internet access.

Knee?  That’s an awfully strange name for a dog isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s short for Anfernee (you know… like Anfernee Hardaway, the bball player). But she’s the sweetest dog ever.  Oh, yeah, Knee’s a girl.

So, what’s up with this “re-training” of Roxie business?

I won’t bore you with the details, but basically Roxie has a “dominance” issue.  And she’s spoiled.  To help break her of this, I’m re-training her to sleep in her crate instead of in my bed.

What made you decide to do this?  How did you know what to do?

Well, the final straw was when Roxie scratched my friend in the face for getting too close to me.  But it really needed to be done.  

I did some research online and then I called into Afternoon Magazine on WILL FM.  They had experts on from the Dog Training Club of Champaign-Urbana.  You can listen to it online at http://will.illinois.edu/afternoonmagazine/monthly/2008/12/.  (Click on the Friday, December 5 archive. I’m at about minute 28 or so).  

They gave me some good advice, so I got a crate and started re-training  on a Monday.

How’s that working for you?

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