Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

Happy 2012!

Nothing like ringing in the new year with an amazing meal, wonderful friends, chilled champagne…. and minute to win it games.   Yea, you heard that right.  I was a little skeptical when I first heard that we would be playing Minute to Win It games (maybe cos I am biased against the show because Guy Fieri drives me bonkers?)… but it turned out to be hilarious and fun.  Caroline brought over the list of games as well as all the props we’d need – and we competed boys vs. girls in games like Face the Cookie, Defying Gravity, Dizzy Mummy and Extreme Hanky Panky

If the idea of emptying an entire Kleenex box with one hand sounds easy…. try it.  Go ahead.


Also, my husband apparently has incredibly dexterous facial muscles as he absolutely dominated Kate in the cookie game.  Who knew?



Besides the few rounds of hilarity (of which I think the boys won?), we had an incredibly yummy dinner made by Kate and Charlie. 


And we rang in the new year with sparklers…



Cheers to 2012!




Friday, December 30, 2011

Honky-Tonks and Bowl Games




Nashville!  We packed a lot in to our one day in Nashville.  I had breakfast in the morning with my high school friend, Tamara and her boyfriend, Max.  I haven’t seen Tamara since my wedding and had never met Max, so breakfast turned into wandering over to the coffee shop next door to linger a little longer…

Then I headed back to the hotel to pick up Matt, and we turned around and came back downtown… to eat again!  We went to this place over near Vanderbilt’s called Jackson’s Bistro.  It was so, so good.  I wanted at least ten things on the menu, but since I had just come from breakfast a few hours earlier I stuck with a Caesar salad and tomato soup (which coincidentally, happen to be two my favorite foods anyways.)  But before I could sign that meal off as being too healthy, Matt and I split what the restaurant is famous for – a cookie dough egg roll.  It was as amazing as it sounds.


Now, thoroughly stuffed, we drove over to the Broadway area to see the infamous stretch of Honky-Tonks.  The road was blocked off near the river for a pep rally for the game, and the streets were packed with Wake Forest and Mississippi State fans.  Sadly, more Miss St fans than Wake fans…. my ears were already bleeding from the sound of cowbells which threatened to drown out the noise of the live bands playing in each of the bars.  We wandered for a bit, then settled in to one bar with some live music that was a Shania Twain-Patsy Cline cross.  (Side note: you don’t realize quite how much you appreciate the smoking ban in bars until you are someplace that does NOT have it.  Ugh.)  We tapped our heels to Any Man of Mine and I Go Walkin’ for a few rounds, then packed it up to head over to the stadium.


The stadium was surprisingly full – and the cow bells were once again in full effect.


There’s something different about being at a bowl game (or away game, for that matter) with your fellow fans.  There’s a more intense camaraderie than there is even at a home game.  (That feeling didn’t stop me from wanting to “accidentally” dump my $8 soda on to the fan sitting next to me who thought it was her explicit job to let the defense know it was time to TACKLE TACKLE TACKLE on every single play.) 

We cheered and we cheered, but alas the Deacs didn’t go home victorious this game.  It was a pretty close back and forth game, so it definitely wasn’t a complete embarrassment unlike some of other losses this year.  Disappointing to lose but a fun experience nonetheless. 



Go Deacs!  And now…. time to wrap up this adventure and Go Home!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

380 Miles to Music City





380 miles to Music City.  We arrived, got settled in to our hotel and headed in to downtown for dinner and the pre-game Wake Forest event at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  There was, appropriately, music at every venue – at dinner and in multiple locations throughout the museum.  My favorite thought was a group of 4 Wake Forest alum that had had in a sequestered little part of the museum, each one of them an aspiring singer-songwriter.  (From my understanding, they weren’t a quartet – just 4 individual alums who lived in Nashville and were trying to break into the music scene.)  Each of them took turns playing a few songs and they played a few together.  After the event at the music hall of fame, we stopped off for some quick dessert and turned in for the night to get ready for a big day of cheering on the Deacons!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Vacation

What a difference a year makes!  Most significantly, I’ve been at my job a little longer this Christmas and could take more than one day off for Christmas so I could actually get to relax and enjoy the time with my family and friends.  Actually this year, I only worked one day from December 23rd through January 2nd.  It was blissful! 

My first day off, Anne, Kate and I met downtown for lunch to break me into one of Winston’s finest traditions that I, amazingly after 9 years of living here, have not yet participated in.


Skippy’s Hot Dogs!  Being the hot dog connoisseur that I am, I don’t know how I’ve lived my whole life without trying Skippy’s.  Game changer.  Watch out Zweigels, you’re on notice.

Fortunately,  I had started the day off with this….


A little damage control for the week to come!

Saturday – Christmas Eve – my husband took off for work around noon for his second of six twelve hour shifts that he was saddled with over Christmas and my parents arrived about an hour later.  (I don’t think he planned that, but it’s awfully suspicious….)  Sister, brother and brother-in-law made their way up from Charlotte and we had dinner together, then went over to campus to look at the Christmas lights.  I’ve never been on campus when there was literally NO ONE there and it was incredibly peaceful, although a tiny bit creepy.


Katie and Dylan posing in front of the dorm that they first met in, all those years ago.  (Six? Seven?)


Wake Forest is now responsible for both the marriages in our family!  Go Deacs!

Matt was able to get off work a little early (which NEVER happens) and we all went to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.  Or food comas from all the holiday food.  Your choice.

Christmas morning dawned early (10 am) at our house… and the present opening chaos ensued. 





The aftermath…


Quickly followed by lots of naps and another meal.  Does every family’s Christmas involve a lot of napping and eating?

Unfortunately Matt had to switch over to night shifts that night, so we said good-bye to him at 7 pm…. and then hustled to get out of the house when he came home around 7 am so he could sleep.  We went to brunch at Village Tavern, and then the rest of the Claffey clan hit the road to spend a few days down in Charlotte at Katie and Dylan’s house.

We both worked Tuesday, and then we hit the road on Wednesday to go down to Lincolnton to see Matt’s family.


We spent Wednesday in Lincolnton with the family, and Matt’s sister Micah, her boyfriend Derek and his two boys Alec and Cameron met us for dinner and a gift exchange later that night.  We had a great time catching up with family, and spent some time next door visiting with Nanta and Pa to celebrate Nanta’s birthday too.  Shamefully I did not take any pictures of our family time together, although I am also going to blame my sis-in-law because she just got a new fancy pants camera so I’ll pretend I was deferring to her to have the opportunity to be family photographer.  (She didn’t either.  We both failed.)

In fact, the only thing I took a picture of was the gift that Matt’s Nanta gave us….


Oh, Nanta.

We spent the night on Wednesday, woke up Thursday and said good-bye to our pupdog left in the care of his grandparents and hit the road for Nashville.  And with that, our whirlwind 4 days with family came to an end!  It still went quickly, but it definitely beat last year when Christmas was squeeze in to my one day off and I felt like we barely got time for a hug and some sticky buns before it was time to say good-byes! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Reason for the Season

Today, in the midst of all the Christmas errands and house cleaning I had planned on my day off, I got to spend a lovely relaxing morning catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile.  As a bonus, I also got to catch up on the life of her sweet baby boy.  I know I just said this a month ago (and again, I have nothing original to say) but the more friends I have who have become parents, the more acutely aware I have become of time passing since I now have something to measure it against.  I knew it had been awhile since Lauren and I had caught up, but knowing Jeffery was almost 6 months and I had last seen him at 3 months was mind-boggling to me. But anyways, the point is not how long it’s been since I’d seen her but how wonderful it is to have a friend like that who you can just comfortably slip into conversation – even when life has changed so much – and just pick right back up where you left off and have easily spent an entire day in the little corner of a coffee shop chatting.

Okay, chatting and doting on this little guy.  Can you stand it?


He is just the sweetest.


It was a peaceful moment in the midst of a busy month, but a perfect reminder of what December really is about: time for fellowship and reflection.  And babies dressed in Santa shirts with red suspenders. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Day After

Christmas Party Photos, Round 2: The Phone Version.