Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!


We hope that everyone has a great Christmas and enjoys some extra time with family and friends. And don't forget what Christmas is all about...


(If you get this through e-mail, you will have to go to our blog's website to see this video - www.andrewlauren.blogspot.com)


The Story of Christmas

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:1-20

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Andrew's Birthday and the Snow of the Decade!

Last Wednesday (December 16th) Andrew turned a quarter of a century old. We celebrated by going out to Ragazzi's for dinner. Andrew's present to himself was a Shop-Vac...exciting, I know! I attempted to bake a cake for him, but for some reason it turned into the consistency of angel food cake and so when I tried to ice it, the cake just fell apart and it was pretty much a disaster. Andrew was nice about it though and I still managed to pull one decent-looking piece out and stick some candles on it!





Yesterday and last night we were hit with the biggest snow storm in more than a decade. We measured 15" outside of our house. It is SO beautiful out! Andrew and I took a nice long walk around our neighborhood this morning. Unfortunately the snow is pretty powdery so my efforts at making a snowman failed miserably. I did save some snow in order to make some "snow cream" tonight though (you mix 8 cups of snow with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract - yummy). Here are some pictures of the winter wonderland at our house.

This is what we woke up to this morning.






Yep, that's 15 inches!


Time to clean off the steps and the Jeep




I was making a snow angel...in the middle of the street






Starkey Road this morning...the "main" road leading to our neighborhood


Andrew standing in the middle of Starkey Road


James wanted to go outside...we let him feel the snow and I think he was content to stay inside then.

So, needless to say, we're not going anywhere today or tomorrow. Andrew isn't sure if they'll have to go back to school at all next week for the 2 days before Christmas break starts. I will probably have to go to work, but I'm looking forward to taking some time off the week following Christmas. I hope everybody enjoys the snow!

P.S. Christmas is less than a week away!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Biltmore

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving last weekend! I always love Thanksgiving and Christmas because it means spending time with family, good food, and relaxing.

Instead of going to the crazy malls on Black Friday, Andrew and I went with Andrew's parents and sister to the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. Although I knew this was a BIG house, it is just one of those things that you have to experience in person in order to fully grasp. The house covers 4 acres, totaling 175,000 square feet. It consists of 250 rooms that include 35 guest and family rooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and three kitchens. Andrew and I tried to put in an offer, but for some reason they said it wasn't for sale right now. Maybe later.

Anyways, we had a great time and I really enjoyed seeing the house. We actually decided to upgrade our tickets to 12-month passes, so we will definitely be going back a few times this next year. They don't allow pictures to be taken inside the house, but here are a few of the outside.













Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yep...We Did It

I know everyone is going to accuse me that it is "way too early," but we put up the Christmas tree this past Sunday. I guess you could say I'm just in the Christmas Spirit extra early this year. I'm even listening to the radio station here (Q99) that is playing Christmas music 24/7 from now until Christmas.


Yes, that's a real fire in the fire place :)



I know it's not super big and glorious, but it fits perfectly in the corner here. James likes to cuddle up underneath the tree and take a snooze, too.

In other news, Andrew and I got new cell phones last night. We're pretty excited about it. We still have the same numbers though, so no worries. I also figured out how to do a blog post from my cell phone, so if you start getting blog posts with just a picture and a short caption, it's probably from my cell phone. Isn't it crazy what you can do these days?

While I do love Christmas, I also love Thanksgiving (tomorrow)!! We have so much to be thankful for and probably more than we can even think of...but here is my short list:

  1. God and His gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior
  2. My wonderful husband
  3. My loving and supportive family
  4. Our church family
  5. Friends
  6. A stable job that I actually like
  7. Good health
  8. A roof over our heads
  9. Food on the table
  10. Our cat, James
  11. And all of the other "little things" that make life great

Well, I hope everybody has a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Don't eat too much turkey!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eric Church

This past Thursday night we got to go with our friends, Ruth and Dakota, to see Eric Church at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke. Eric Church is a country singer...if you listen to country music you've probably heard his songs "Love Your Love the Most" and "Guys Like Me." We weren't too familiar with many of his other songs, but it was definitely a rockin' time at the Jefferson Center and we really enjoyed it! We had great seats too...first row on the balcony!

Andrew and I waiting for the show to begin


Ruth and Me







Here is a video of his song,"Love Your Love the Most." If you get this blog through e-mail, you probably won't be able to watch the video through the e-mail. You'll have to go to our blog's webste (http://www.andrewlauren.blogspot.com/) to see it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adventures at Mount Rogers

Yesterday morning as Andrew and I were getting ready for church, I asked Andrew if he wanted to do anything that afternoon since it was supposed to be a nice day out. I had in mind maybe a short hike or playing tennis or something. As we always do, we went back and forth about what we wanted to do for a little bit (we can be a little indecisive sometimes). Then, Andrew expressed interest about going to Mount Rogers because he had always wanted to do it. I knew we wouldn't be able to do that after church since it gets dark so early now and I knew that it was a good distance away (almost in NC), so we decided to be spontaneous and skipped church to go on an adventure to Mount Rogers. After a very brief bit of researching on the internet, we were on our way.

Here's a little information about Mount Rogers. It is the highest point in the state of Virginia, with an elevation of 5,729 feet above sea level. Mt. Rogers is also the highest peak east of South Dakota without road access to the summit. It is in Grayson and Smith Counties in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forrest. The summit can be accessed from Grayson Highlands State Park by following the Appalachian Trail south for 3.5 miles then taking another .5 mile spur trail to the summit. To get to Grayson Highlands State Park from Roanoke, you go almost 100 miles south on I81 to exit 50. Then you take Highway 16 to Highway 58 until you get there (both are pretty windy roads). It took us about 2.5 hours to get there (137 miles total).


Let me just put this out there...we both went into this thinking that it was a 4 mile round trip hike, not just 4 miles one way. I don't know how we both managed to misunderstand the descriptions we read online, but we did. It wasn't until I started hiking that I realized this. I think Andrew came to this realization a little earlier but didn't say anything because he knew I would have started complaining or made us turn around.


We arrived at the park a little after noon and I think we started hiking sometime between 12:45 and 1:00. One thing we were excited about was that there are wild ponies roaming around the park. I think we would have been pretty disappointed if we didn't see any ponies, but thankfully we saw some very soon after we started hiking. They were so sweet and very friendly! They came right up to us and let us pet them.

They were so pretty!


Andrew with the pony


The pony was trying to eat my strap, thus my expression


I know what I want for Christmas!




They were very friendly!


Me with the ponies again


Andrew with a baby pony. So cute!



Okay, so we may have spent a little too much time playing with the ponies. It was time to continue on our journey to the summit. After all, we had only been hiking for about .2 miles. As we continued our hike we were so blessed by the absolutely stunning scenery and the amazing views. As soon as we got onto the Appalachian Trail section of the hike, we were stopped by another hiker who asked us if we knew the score of some football game. Unfortunately we didn't. The man then continued and asked us where we were from and if we had ever hiked here before. We replied by saying we were from Roanoke; he was from Charlotte. We told him we'd never hiked there before, to which he responded by asking us, in a very hesitant tone, if we were going all the way to the top today. We said we were and he glanced at his watch and told us we'd better get moving. Then he asked if we had flashlights. At this point I'm thinking, Oh, great...we're never going to make it back by sunset. After we'd walked a bit away from the man, Andrew and I voiced our doubts and concerns about making it back before it got dark. Thankfully we had packed flashlights and matches, just in case. However, we really didn't want to have to use them. Needless to say, from then on we definitely picked up the pace, only stopping for needed water breaks and to take a few pictures. I kept looking at my watch and trying to calculate how much longer it would take us to get to the top. I told Andrew that if we weren't to the top by 3 pm then we would have to turn around in order to make it back by dark (even though I knew he would have made us keep going - I would have been thankful for that later...). Here are some pictures from on the way up.










From what we had read online, the hike itself is actually prettier than the summit because the summit is covered by dense fir trees. That could not have been closer to the truth. Toward the end of our hike up we knew we were almost there because we entered this dense, dark, cold, and somewhat creepy, enchanted forest. Once we got to what seemed like the highest spot we found a USGS marker. Come to find out later, this wasn't actually the center marker, but we were there (I think we walked right past the middle one). Anyways, we were pooped so we sat down and ate our apples and Cliff Bars. Just for the record, we made it there at 2:50 - plenty of time to spare!




It was at this time that I started not to feel well. I had a headache and kind of felt like I was going to be sick. It was probably a combination of overexerting myself on the way up, dehydration, worrying about getting back before dark, and just a general unpreparedness for an 8+ mile hike. Andrew also had a headache, but at least he didn't feel nausated like me. So, after a very short break, we knew we still had another 4 miles to go. Knowing that I had a pounding headache, Andrew was such a great encourager the whole time and kept pushing us to keep going. I definitely couldn't have done it without him. We stopped a bit more frequently on the way down for water breaks and to take some more pictures since we felt a little rushed on the way up.






One thing is for sure, there is no possible way to capture the beauty of it all with a single camera shot. So, we took this little video of the stunning views.

video

Thankfully, the hike down went by fairly quickly and wasn't too bad. We were back to the ponies before we knew it, and that meant the car was right around the corner. We made it back just before it got dark and we got to see a beautiful sunset.




So, that was our wonderful adventure at Mount Rogers. Maybe next time we'll know to plan a little more in advance and get an earlier start! The drive home was not so much fun for either of us as my headache had turned into a migraine and Andrew could only see out of one eye because he was having difficulties with his contacts. But, we made it back in one piece! Today I'm a little sore and tired and I know Andrew is too. But was it worth it? Definitely!