Monday, December 14, 2009

For Your Listening Enjoyment

This year at The Heights I was able to direct a dinner theatre for all of our ABF's (Adult Bible Fellowship, or Sunday will always be Sunday School and Big Church for me). We performed the show "A Christmas Tale" and it was a bit of a family affair. Randy played the Narrator and Graham was known as "Dictionary Boy". It was the story of Christmas told in "troupe" style, thus the costumes. I'm posting one of my favorite songs from the show. My recording does not do the singers or the band justice, but hopefully you can get a good idea of just what a great talent we have at our church.

From right to left is Trent Blackley our music minister who got mad skills, Wendy Harju behind him who I could work with anyday...she makes it easy, Angela Irby our fearless children's choir director and vocal wizard, Loyce Pickett on the platform behind her and one of my new favorite people, Kami Loyd kneeling on the floor our resident cutie, Georgie Jinks on the stool and costume queen (who should be running a Broadway theatre), Randy is standing next to her and delivered an amazing performance...I miss hearing you sing, Graham my baby is sitting on the platform and just wowed everyone, and then Patrick Williams prophet extraordinaire and one of the hardest workers sitting next to Graham. Thanks, guys. I had a blast.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Hollow

As we do every year for Thanksgiving (except for that one fateful year that we couldn't get off work and had to eat at Luby's and Randy cried like a baby for a week), we went over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house (aka Hawkins Hollow) for some deep friend cajun turkey and the best cornbread stuffing this side of the Ozarks. This is the view from the Varnell's front porch. You can almost see all the kids in the distance playing...or killing each other...tomato-tomahto.

This is Randy and his brother, Steven. I'm pretty sure this was after we had eaten. They were taking a breather.

Rachel and I did a little bit of hiking/walking with one of my nieces.

I took this picture after we got back from our walk. There's a hill that goes up to the house that I call the booty buster because it kills! So I took a breather halfway up the hill and sat with my sweet mother-in-law and my youngest niece. That's their house in the background.

It was Sienna's 5th birthday, so we had a bonfire and roasted hot dogs! It was so nice outside.

Then we went in for some strawberry birthday cake and Sienna did the honors. She got her Razorback cheerleader uniform for her birthday!

So apparantly there was also a fashion shoot going on too. This is Rachel with her cousin Annabel and her friend Raney.

We had such a restful and relaxing time as always and can't wait to get back for Christmas. Notice I didn't take any pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner. My camera was still in the car and I was too committed to the stuffing to get up and get it. We are so blessed to have such an amazing family and a place where we can go and remember what's important in life. Thanks, NiNi and Pawpaw.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slowing Down for Thanksgiving

I usually start Christmas in September with getting Christmas scripts ready for The Skit Guys, plus all the Christmas music and drama at churches start two or three months before Christmas. So I try to drag out my Christmas music really early to get in the spirit. It's not easy to think about Christmas with the A/C whirring in the background.

This year, I decided we were going to slow down as much as we can and focus on Thanksgiving. I got this idea from that I found through another friend. It's a Thanksgiving tree. I cut out some leaves and got some tree branches and everyone hangs their leaf on the tree. We all have written some of the things that we are thankful for and it's there everyday to remind us. I know it's a little cheesy, but I've really enjoyed the unique things the kids come up with that really meant something to them on that day.

Graham's: "I am VERY thankful for Mom and Dad being very graceful and giving my wants when I don't deserve them".

Rachel: "I am thankful for a science teacher like Ms. McDonoghue and her pretty smile". (Rachel loves science)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pictures from Paris- Last Day!

This was our last day in Paris. Randy had to work, so I took off by myself. Since we hadn't gotten to tour Notre Dame, that's what I did.

In the main church area. It was very quiet...except for the Germans. I thought Americans were loud.

Just one of the Rose Windows. I really miss stained glass windows. There were so many throughout the whole church and each one told a story.

Halfway through my audio tour I hear a loud bell and the alter boys with the priest came out. He delivered a sermon while the tourists just walked around. It was a little odd, but fun to see.

After I had finished touring ND, I went back to the Louvre to see if I could finish seeing it. I think you'd really have to dedicate two full days, if not more, to seeing the whole thing. This time I took the audio tour. You really could spend hours and hours there. This picture is of a "vase" that Solomon had built. I know, right?! It was for water and it holds 20,000 gallons of it. It was huge. I was amazed at how much the Bible was referenced when they explained how we know about the origins of things.

This is a real mummy. I took this picture for Graham. You can see next to him (actually, I think it was a her) are the tools they used to...extract...her innards.

I loved this one. I really wanted this to be a compelling story, but it's not. It's a statue of a knight, Phillip I believe, who had died. He wasn't great or notable. Those little guys reminded me of those other little guys in Star Wars. I can't remember what they're called. I did look under their hoods and there is somewhat of a face painted on there.

I got turned around at one point and found myself in a part where there was no one. I was trying to find my way out but kept getting led down long halls and up and down staircases. I'm so glad I got lost because out of nowhere came Napolean's apartments. This is his dining room. Wow.

This is where he'd entertain people with plays and concerts. In the other room, just past those curtains, they'd stage a play for the people in this room. They could close those curtains so it'd be more like a theatre. They also had carpet on the floor for better acoustics.

Our last night in Paris! Randy did a wonderful job of navigating us around. We had this map that we used the whole time we were there. I think we had two more that were the same map, but for some reason we held on to one in particular. It had been the one I used the first day I got lost, so it was all flimsy from being rained on and it had all our destinations circled. When we got off the train this night, Randy had left it in the seat. We were both devastated, but figured it was the city telling us we had the hang of things. After wandering for a while to find this restaurant and going in circles, Randy realized that his phone had GPS and we could have been using it the whole time! This is a picture of the last restaurant we ate at- the oldest one in Paris dating back to the early 1600's. Voltaire came here frequently. I also have a picture of where Victor Hugo (Les Mis) would sit. It was amazing and the food was so good. Randy ordered snails, which suprisingly were actually quite tasty! I had duck and as we did every night in Paris, we topped it off with Creme Brulee.

Au revoir, Paris!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Versailles Part 2

This is one of the paths around the gardens. There are groves and groves of trees and orchards. It goes on forever! I would love to go back and see it when it's all in bloom.

This is on the road to Marie Antoinette's chateau. Jen Sebby, I kept thinking how much you'd love it here!

Marie's little garden in her house.

Hallway into Marie's house.

I think this was one of her children's rooms. I can't remember.


This was behind Marie's house. She had some pretty amazing gardens. This is a gazeebo with some statue of a goddess.

She had all these fun little walkways. We didn't get to explore all of them, which I really hope to get to go back and do someday with Rachel. Our feet were killing us at this point.

Just another building where she would have musicians come and play.

Okay, so you'd be walking down these groves of trees and then out of nowhere would be these huge elaborate fountains. It was a little creepy without water, but I'm sure it's beautiful in the spring and summer when everything is in bloom and the weather is nicer.

Marie would open up the doors to that building in the back and have musicians play. There's a pond right there and you have to wind around through some rock arches to get over there. The paths go on forever and there were so many trees that I had never seen before. Just breathtaking.

At the end of our Versailles trip we got back on the train to Paris to find a restaurant that our good friends the Sebby's recommended. I think a friend of a friend owns it. We found it! But it's closed on Sundays.

Versailles Part 1

When anybody asks me what my favorite part of the trip was I have to say Versailles. I dreamed about it that night! I took a lot of pictures, so it's in two parts. This is the walkway after we got off the train.

This is after we entered the get in line for tickets.

Here's Louis' chapel he had built for himself so he could worship from the comfort of his own home.

This was a very common scene while we were in Paris- Randy and his maps, ever the navigator.

Upstairs in Louis' chapel.

I'll only bore you once with a picture of a ceiling. They were all painted like this. So amazing.

Look at that fireplace! It's huge! It would have been great had it been lit. The temperature stayed in the mid 40's-mid 30's while we were there.

Louis' bed.

The Hall of Mirrors

Marie's bedroom. Little frilly, huh?

Their backyard. That's a big lake back there. We walked all the way to the end of it.

Pictures from Paris- More from the Louvre

Some friends wanted to see more pictures, so here ya go! I really don't know much about these pieces since everything was in French and we didn't do the audio tour this day.

The Mona Lisa. We didn't get too close. We came. We saw. We can die now saying we saw it.

This guy's from Easter Island. Ever see Night at the Museum? He talks in that movie. I'm sure it's not this particular one, though. And, yes, I knew it was from Easter Island before I watched a Ben Stiller movie.

There was a whole room dedicated to Christian art. This is Jesus on a donkey.

Some of the walls from when the Louvre was a fortress.

From ancient Babylon. I think there are three more somewhere. It's floor to ceiling. Randy was crying like a girl at this point since we were being "shooed" out because it was closing time. He missed all the ancient stuff. We spent too much time in Renassaince art. He'll be back, though.

This is looking up at the pyramid at night.