In which I get a table for Christmas.

First of all. This. THIS. Oh my god.

Pretty Pretty Drawing Table

This is the ultimate Christmas present. I tweeted about it a couple of times a few months ago when I was looking for a cheap drawing table I could possibly get myself for Christmas. This was anything but cheap, but it was my dream table, and it was love at first sight and I kept opening the Futura Craft Station Amazon page up and reading Ash the specs out loud; “It’s 38″ by 24″ – it’s big!” “It’s got a pretty glass top!” “OH MY GOD YOU CAN MAKE IT A LIGHTTABLE!” I couldn’t get it out of my head. I showed it to my co-worker at work who found that they carried it at an art store in town (though when we went to check it out later, they were only selling it online), and while I knew there was no way in hell that I’d be able to afford it, I knew it was THE ONE.

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Photos, Gift List, and More, oh my!

Austin

I’m already missing Austin. We’ll be back soon, I know, but I still miss it. There was just always so much to do and warm and wonderful. I love the mountains here, but it’s also been raining the last few days and it will continue to rain for the next few days and I’m bored of being stuck inside.

Thank goodness for WoW. Ash made herself a new Belf Hunter so I ran my Glenwyn (Belf Lock) out to Silvermoon to help her level. While there, I also got my first mount, with many thanks to Meg for lending me the gold to accomplish this task. I’m really liking the new stuff that Blizzard has put into the game. The calendar is awesome and displaying the achievements makes me feel more successful (and makes me want to keep playing – definitely something Blizzard thought out carefully, I’m sure). I got WotLK for Christmas but I haven’t installed it yet – I figured I’d just wait till I got high enough for it to really matter.

At some point today or tomorrow we need to go out to the pet store so I can pick up some hoppers for Kendi. We’re looking for jobs too, though from what I’ve seen in the papers and online there’s really nothing. I might end up heading over to Staples since they seem to have some positions available. Though that’s definitely not what I was hoping for. I miss my old job. That reminds me though, I have to update my resume.

Ash is currently working on an in-depth post on our adventures over Christmas break, so I’ll tweet that when she’s done. Apparently she’ll breaking it up into several different posts so you’ll have to continue reading it over the next few days. Speaking of Christmas, here’s the list of goodies I racked up:

From work: Tons of Candy, a set of cards, a puzzle, offers for references
From Ash’s work: A really sugary good-bye cake when we left
From my parents: A pair of PJs, The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton, WotLK Expansion pack, Childrens Writer and Illustrated Market book, candy, earphones, crayons, a sketchbook, socks, Flogging Molly CD, Great Big Sea CD, Kingdom Hearts Remix, Far From Home, There’s a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Meyer, Dark Whispers by Bruce Coville, some gas money
From my Oma and Opa: $15
From my Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Bob: $50
From my cousin Eric: his annual mix CD
From my cousin Randy and his wife Kelly: Not sure, it’s still in the mail
From my Grandma: Her annual $2 bill
From Ash’s mom: hand-knitted hat and scarf, The Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing, Stitch n’ Bitch book, some yarn (I kind of stole it), a remote control Dragonfly copter
From Ash’s Ricky Daddy: $50 (and he took us out for a lot of meals)
From Ash’s Teddy Daddy: Lots and lots of meals that he took us out for
From Ash’s Grandma and Grandpa: $20, a t-shirt from North Carolina, a beautiful Asian dinnerware set
From Ash’s Uncle Bo and Aunt Jen: What’s your Dog Thinking book
From Ash’s Grandma and Grandpa Niels: candy, a cool LED flashlight, blank greeting cards
From Ash’s sister Courtney and her husband Harry: $15 giftcard to Target

Ash and I have not exchanged our real presents to each other yet since the one she got me is still in the mail, but I did give her the Journey MP3 player I bought her, a pair of Coca Cola boxer shorts (she collects Coke stuff), a car adapter for her MP3 player, season two of Charmed, and I got her a used Okami game for the PS2 but her mom bought her a new one so we’re gonna go exchange the used one for another game (woot!). She gave me a How to talk Southern Dictionary (I got a lot to learn) and while we were in Texas we went to the Disney Store (I’ve never been there) and she bought me a giant stuffed Eeyore. He’s so super soft and great to cuddle with. I can’t remember if I’ve missed anything. It was a great Christmas this year – better than I ever thought it could be.

I also loved celebrating New Year’s in Austin. I honestly cannot wait to go back. One of my favorite things? Yep:

Cacti!

I was excited to see cacti. There is some in central Wisconsin, but it’s all small stuff and dies fast and it not at all nearly as impressive as the stuff here. It was everywhere! I think I surprised everyone by not getting hurt when I ran up to them to get my picture taken. I got my picture taken with palm trees too, and lichen, but I don’t think either of those are as fun as cacti. There are few people who honestly understand and relate to my nerdy fascination with lichen. It’s cool, okay?

Anyway, I’m either going to go play WoW, knit, or watch some TV. Who knows. I love the rain, but I want to go outside and play basketball. I hope it clears up tomorrow. Ta.

More Vacation Rambles.

Last night I finally got WoW back up and running thanks to my dear Meg Sue. Ash is going to start hers in a few days. I tried to play last night but the queue for Kel’Thuzad was so long that I started watching a movie half-way through and when I came back I had been kicked back off the server. I’ll try again tonight if we have time.

We were supposed to go to the zoo this morning, but Emmy the baby (Ash’s six month old niece) is sick so instead we’re going to go meet up with Ash’s dad and explore downtown Austin. I’m going to be such a tourist, I just know it. The one thing I regret while here is the fact that I did not take any shorts or sandals and they say it might get up to 80 today. But it’s already beautiful and I’m so excited.

Last night we went out and had Thai food and somehow or other I ended up downing some sort of shellfish and had a very very small allergic reaction (my face got tight and my throat hurt and my ears started throbbing at the end of the night). It’s nothing compared to if I actually eat crab, but it was enough to make me slightly uncomfortable. I’ll not make that mistake again, trust me. It was delicious and we’re going to a Tokyo Steakhouse tonight for sushi and I cannot wait.

Anyway, we’re all getting ready to go somewhere. You know, half the time I don’t know what’s going on here and I’m just along for the ride. But I’m content, I’m in Texas, and this whole place is just beautiful. Wish you were all here!

Some more Texas.

I’ve completely dropped the ball on this whole blogging daily thing, but I hope that you can all forgive me since I’m on vacation. I’ll be back soon.

Texas is amazing and wonderful and beautiful. Yesterday we spent the whole day out at Ash’s grandparents’ ranch and I have never seen a sky that big and open before. It was almost overwhelming (but in a good sense). We ended up taking the utility cart out to the end of the property (they have 100 acres) and exploring this really old oak forest that has a creek running through it. I spent much of the time just running because I could (cold-induced asthma? Haha, I laugh in the face of cold weather!) and Ash took pictures (which I have yet to upload). I met all of her family, got along wonderfully with everyone (especially her aunts and grandpa) and ate tons of food. I think we’re going back out there later today and I can’t wait (I can’t think of anything to add in parentheses – I fail).

We haven’t gotten a chance to explore the city of Austin yet, but I hope we do. I want to be a total tourist and take tons of pictures. I love it here. I honestly cannot wait until we move here. I love Tennessee and the mountains and that will be perfect for us for six months, but this little preview of Texas has excited me. I understand why all of Ash’s family loves it here and why her mom wants to come back. It’s just beautiful.

I haven’t been keeping up with any news or politics or anything that’s actually worth blogging about, so you’ll have to deal with my personal vacation crap until we go back, which will probably be on Friday. Hope everyone is having a good end of 2008. I can’t believe how fast 2009 is creeping up.

Scary.

Under the Texan Sun.

Everything really is bigger in Texas.

The sky is beautiful here and the weather is fantastic. I really, truly honestly can’t think of anything else to say. I’m just happy.

Well, I’d be happier if Spunky didn’t feel the need to bark at every tiny little movement or sound three miles away. I swear, that dog barks at ghosts walking the halls of buildings a dozen cities over. It drives everyone nuts.

But other than that, Texas is wonderful and that’s all the blogging you’re getting from me for now. I’m tired and it’s warm and my leg is falling asleep.

And I’m uploading patches for World of Warcraft which I’m way behind on. I cannot wait to start playing again.

Christmas Morning.

First off, let me just say, the weather here is absolutely gorgeous. Bright sun and blue skies and a lovely 43 degrees. I could not ask for a more beautiful Christmas. I love Tennessee. Slept in till about ten, curled up to Ash, and we wished each other Merry Christmas eighteen million times before we got up. I think it’s safe to say that we’re both thrilled that we’re spending Christmas together.

Ash’s mom knitted us all scarves and warm hats for Christmas so I haven’t taken mine off all morning. It’s cute and warm. We’re waiting until we get back from Texas to do a real Christmas present opening though since some of the gifts haven’t arrived in the mail. That’s okay, the one thing I wanted was to spend this day with Ash and I’m getting that and more so I’m perfectly happy. After breakfast this morning, we’re gonna head out to Ash’s uncle’s house and spend the day there. It’ll be great and a day full of yummy food.

Merry Christmas from Ash and Nikki

From Ash, me, and our many kids, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your day be bright and beautiful and full of good wishes!

Home for Christmas.

So let me tell you a story. A story that involves a lot of snow and driving. And Christian billboards.

We left Ashland Saturday night in the midst of a bad blizzard. But that’s not even the beginning. We were supposed to leave two days earlier but the weather, we were told, was horrendous so we shouldn’t even attempt it. It didn’t get any better but we didn’t want to stay around and wait for it to blow over so on Saturday we packed everything up and were almost ready to go when I went out to start Ash’s car. Yeah, that didn’t work, and after an hour of near-panic we got it started and were out of the house after dark.

We had hoped the weather would get better the farther south we got, but boy were we wrong. What should have been a six hour drive from Ashland to my parent’s house turned in to a 24 hour drive because we had to stop three hours after starting and pull into a motel the weather was so bad. We snuck all twelve of the kids in and slept for a few hours. We were up and out by noon and got to my house and promptly fell asleep (after celebrating an early Christmas with my family and opening up presents). The very next day we were up at 6 in the morning and were out on the road driving the three hours to Chicago. In Chicago, we got everything packed out of my dad’s van, packed into the trailer later on, and were once again, back on the road by 6 at night to Tennessee.

The drive to Tennessee was pretty uneventful except for the falling asleep at the wheel a couple of times and having to pull off twice at truck stops to catch a few winks, and, of course, the increasing number of Christian Biblical billboards warning the unbelieving that Hell is real (it’s real!)! Normally it’s ten hours from Chicago to Crossville, TN, but with the sleeping it took longer and we finally made it to our destination at about 9 in the morning yesterday. It’s been really nice today just sitting around and eating and watching TV. Ash and I bought new pants for ourselves and I picked up another small gift for Ash. Tomorrow we’re going to her Aunt’s and Uncle’s for Christmas and then on Friday morning we leave for Texas. It’ll be more driving but that’s okay, at least we’ve got a break before then, and it’s TEXAS. I cannot wait to go.

I got to talk to a ton of people back home on the phone and my dad is gonna call tonight when he reads my sisters The Night Before Christmas so I can listen in. It’s our Christmas Eve tradition, so at least I can still take part in that. It’s weird not being home for Christmas, but I’m really happy I get to spend it with Ash and her family – I definitely feel like one of family when I’m here. Everyone is just wonderful and makes me feel so at home. It’s great.

Ash is being adorable right now singing Christmas carols. I’m so happy. I hope everyone is having a beautiful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas from Ash, me, and our family. May your season be as happy as ours. <3

Go Team Go!

Man, I’ve still Austin on the brain like crazy. Here, have another picture:

Lake Travis

Gorgeous.

I finally finished my black and white film portfolio and put it up and was surprised by the large amount of positive feedback I got, from my photos, and from my deeply personal artist statement I put up. I’m really happy with the overall statement and quality of my prints. Maybe when I get them back I’ll put them online so others can see them.

Alright, the rest of the day will be dedicated to cleaning. Good luck to us. We will get this house in order!

Texas on my Mind.

I know I’ve been a grouch the last few days and I apologize. Today has actually been quite a good day. I skipped out on a boring class to make some money this morning, and I had a sudden realization as I sat at the computer creating the new Alumni 2009 Reunion brochure. I’m going to be in Texas in a few weeks. I’m going to be in Austin, Texas with my Ash celebrating Christmas. Texas! You have no idea how excited I am over this. I was almost screaming with happiness at Ash over the phone when I figured it out. Texas. Oh I can’t wait.

Texas

And on an entirely different, and more geeky note, who else is excited for WordPress 2.7? I still haven’t updated to 2.6.5, but I’ll try and squeeze that in tonight among all the packing and cleaning that has taken over the house. I have to get mine updated as well as Ash’s, Meg’s, and Mac’s (the SBird Crew as I refer to them as in my own little world). Gotta love WordPress. How can anyone say Blogger is better?

Alright, I’m gonna work for another half an hour and then head over to the dark room to make my final prints for tomorrow’s class. That way I have roughly three to four hours to get some work done there before I pick up Ash from the kennels. Okay, go team!