The Mac is Back!

I woke up at 6am this morning (ew, yuck) and realized that I have been going full throttle for the past two weeks without pause. So today before the kids' get out of school at 11am I am going to sit still, just me and the hound dog.

We start our tale with some singing. Last week if I was not at work or asleep, chances are I was at choir. On Wednesday, several of us joined up with the nursing home ministry at our church and sang carols at the local nursing home. We meet every other week and it has become one of my favorites.

Apparently I was really getting into "Joy To The World."


I narrated the first half of the concert this year and I am proud to say that I only missed one word!

These two gals to the right crack me up. My voice never fully recovered from my bout with whooping cough in 2012 so I am now an alto (who jumps up to second soprano when need be). I have enjoyed it quite a bit -- and sitting beside Laurie and Rachel is a hoot. My girl Sandy who I am usually beside was directing the orchestra that night.

Thank you to the wonderful church photographer Carolyn Edwards for these super photos. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am constantly amazed at the big talent in our small church. We don't attend a mega church, but we still manage to have a chancel choir, youth choir, bell choir and even an orchestra! And that is due to the dedicated people at MUMC who truly love God, music and each other.

As soon as the concert was over, I dove back into work to help complete the behemoth that was our last issue of 2014 -- 56 pages of year in review. Once it was put to bed, we celebrated. Our director took us out to lunch Monday for the holidays and I ate my weight in spaghetti and then our managing editor took us out to lunch on Tuesday and I ate a chicken pot pie covered in cheese. It was marvelous. I have eaten like it is going out of style this week and I will be paying for that. In the hustle and bustle I was a complete fail at taking photos but I did find this photo of our staff photographer and Little Kid that was lost in the shuffle.

The paper shut down for the holidays and I have three glorious weeks off from work. I kicked off the celebration with a trip to Atlanta Wednesday to see Fleetwood Mac! It. Was. Epic. The Bestie and I went down and met up with our friend Allison for dinner and the concert. Allison and I actually saw them in 2003 in Nashville and that was a great concert but this one was awesome because Christine McVie is back! If you have read the blog for any amount of time you know that I am a Mac Superfan, my dream job is Fleetwood Mac backup singer and I want to be Christine when I grow up.

A friend of mine from choir was also there and we texted and squeed to each other during the show -- Debbie loves Stevie like I love Christine. 

She is 71 and still looks and sounds fabulous!

If you have the opportunity to see them -- GO. They sound better than ever and their energy is amazing. They went full throttle for almost three hours. I was exhausted by the end and I am half their age! Everyone looked and sounded fantastic and after they played "Seven Wonders," I felt that my life was complete.

I was a little concerned that they were not going to play "Silver Springs" which is my all-time favorite FM song, but they brought it out for the encore. Whew! I love that Stevie turns her back to the crowd during that song and sings directly to Lindsey. I told you I am a total fangirl. My editor is also a big fan and emailed me Fleetwood Mac-themed emails on our last day of work! They are just an amazing band.

They talked a lot during the concert and Stevie shared with the crowd the story behind "Gypsy" which was so interesting. I just soaked it up.

I was blessed to share the evening with these two gals whose friendship goes back not years, but decades.

We capped off our short trip with a stop by IKEA. Score. While I was gone, The Nana came down for a few days to spend some time with the kids. Thank you, Nana! Tuesday night before I left, we took her to the local Galaxy of Lights which is this amazing light display at the Botanical Garden.

The Engineer took this with his iPad in low light so it is a little yellow. I have big plans for the playroom in the new year.

All the while, we have been Christmas Crazy with kids' school parties and their gift exchanges. And I will fully admit that 75% of my Christmas cards are still sitting on my work bench. But I will tackle them today, promise.

And confession: there are three wrapped presents under my tree. Part of that reason is because I don't trust my kids not to try to undo the wrapping paper and peek at what is inside. Big Kid has already narced himself out that he has gone snooping through the house looking for gifts. I should wrap up a rock for him for Christmas. This is the first year that I have wrapped gifts immediately before giving them and that trend will probably continue until Dec. 24.

But it is all good because I am on Christmas break, the kids will be out at lunchtime and The Engineer will be starting his Christmas leave this afternoon. This weekend, the kids are spending some time doing holiday activities with Gramma, we are meeting up with friends this weekend for our annual holiday dinner and I will FINALLY finish the kids' Christmas shopping, dare to dream.

Sadly, we will also be attending a funeral Sunday for our Sunday School teacher in Tennessee. If I could ask a small favor, please keep Janis and the Giaimo family in your prayers. Frank was such a special guy and so generous. Every year, they handed out  -- not the snack size -- full-sized candy bars at Halloween. I remember Frank telling me once that they handed out 200 candy bars that year! He will truly be missed.

Have a wonderful weekend!


T4T | The most epic holiday song evah!

I might be showing my geek but I don't even care. This is awesome.

Best holiday song of 2014 hands down.

Happy Tuesday!


Building Our Community

This was originally written for The Redstone Rocket's year in review issue as a recap and commentary, but after it turned out a little heavy on the commentary and light on the recap, I decided to post it here instead.

Funny story: I am the only Rocket writer without a journalism degree.
I instead possess that double threat of a bachelor’s of science in sociology and criminal justice administration. Many years ago when I matriculated at Middle Tennessee State, I thought that I would graduate; go to work for a nonprofit and save the world. But post-collegiate real life often doesn’t turn out the way we envision when we are young and idealistic, and upon graduation I went with the guaranteed criminal justice job with the guaranteed paycheck. The sociology degree gathered dust until earlier this year when I took over the Rocket’s Building Our Community column, our yearlong series related to volunteers who are making the Tennessee Valley a better place to live and work.
For the last several months, I stepped off the Arsenal for a different type of assignment and immersed myself in the nonprofit world. It has possibly been the most rewarding project of my career.

I have had the opportunity to write about the amazing work that Fran and her team are doing over at Manna House (www.mymannahouse.com) feeding the hungry of Huntsville. I have cuddled kittens at the Humane Society (www.ghhs.org). Now that was a tough day at the office. I spent some time at 305 8th St. (www.3058thstreet.org) and learned about their mission to provide a happy and safe home for disabled adults, I sent our photographer Ellen Hudson to hike the beautiful trails of Madison County with the North Alabama Land Trust (landtrustnal.org) and we watched children become musicians at the Huntsville Youth Orchestra (www.huntsvilleyouthorchestra.org) and explore their artistic side at the Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater (www.letthemagicbegin.org) 

We spotlighted several animal charities this year in Building Our Community, but one dear to my heart is the Basset Hound Rescue of Alabama (www.bhra.org), who brought the Skelley family our second basset in July, an 87-pound tank of a dog named Fletcher. We also took to the countryside to the Happy Trails Therapeutic Riding Center (www.happytrailstrc.org) and featured some four-legged equine therapy assistants who help youngsters with disabilities.

There are roughly 37,000 people who work on Redstone Arsenal. Much of our workforce has moved to the area from other parts and might not know about the vibrant volunteer community that we have here in Madison County. It is my hope in the past year that you have picked up an issue of the Rocket and one of these organizations resonated with you. They need our help. Many of these groups depend on donations to keep their door open. Team Redstone knows a little about missions and duty. Think of this as a new type of operation -- Mission: Giving Back. 

Although this series is drawing to a close, the organizations we have highlighted will remain in our archive and available to you. If you are looking for ways to give this holiday season, please visit www.theredstonerocket.com and go to our e-edition archive where you can search through each week’s Redstone Rocket and read this complete series. Each feature will include contacts and information on how you can help these organizations. Who knows? You might find your very own basset hound to wrap in a shiny red bow and place under the Christmas tree this holiday season. Warning: they like to drink the tree water.

It has been my honor to shine a light on good people doing good work this year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them for their tireless efforts to make our community a wonderful place to live. And thank you to Team Redstone for reading. Fletcher and I wish you a very merry Christmas.