Monday, December 31, 2012

Away in a Manger

Of all the new things that came to the Burdett household this Christmas, I think my favorite is the Fischer Price Little People Nativity set, complete with stable, the Angel of the Lord, Joseph and Mary and the donkey that brought them to Bethlehem, the Baby Jesus in the manger, the Three Kings of Orient and their camel, and the cow and sheep whose food trough was used as a makeshift crib:




This little Nativity set is adorable, and gives me much-needed moments of peace and hope. Whenever I (ill-advisedly) hear some news on the radio or go to CNN.com and am blasted with

GUN CONTROL     FISCAL CLIFF     CLIMATE CHANGE     VIOLENCE ERUPTED

I go rearrange the Kings a little, or I have the cow and donkey switch places, and I look at the smiling face of the little Child in the manger, and for a few minutes at least I feel better.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pensacola Beach 2012, Day Three

We got home last night (Saturday night, that is) around 8:30; we had intended to do the drive in two days, leaving Pensacola sometime in the afternoon and staying somewhere along the way--Opelika, AL, perhaps--and finishing the drive this morning. However, Elyse decided she was really ready to be home: Friday night she was crying and saying, "I want to go home." She told us several times, "We don't live in Pensacola."

So we decided to leave early, around 10:00, and do the whole drive in one day.

I didn't take any pictures, and we didn't have any real adventures, but here's a run-down of what we did Saturday:
  • Checked out of the Hampton Inn around 9:45, and went down to the beach to feed the remaining cat food to the seagulls, who were sorry to hear we were leaving.
  • Stopped in Fort Deposit, AL, at the Priester's Pecans store (a tradition that goes back nearly a decade for us). We decided not to have lunch there, but looked around for a while, bought some divinity, rum pecans, and assorted candy for the kids.
  • Ate lunch at a Cracker Barrel east of Montgomery.
  • Tried to find the Books-A-Million in Lagrange, GA, but couldn't. (I now know it's actually a Bookland, but since that's not what we were looking for, we didn't find it.)
  • Had coffee and a cinnamon roll at the Starbucks in Lagrange.
It's nice to be home, but also kind of sad that the vacation is over. Still, I'm glad we went, and look forward to our next vacation.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pensacola Beach 2012, Day Two

The weather today was pretty good; it's been windy, but warmer than yesterday, and sunny enough to be comfortable. So this morning we went down to the pier and the beach for a nice long walk. Here are some pictures from our morning's adventures:

Posing with the Scottish pelican in front of our hotel:

The view down the beach from the pier:

A view of the beach, looking straight down from the pier:

Elyse looks down into the ocean from the pier:

Our hotel (the four-story Hampton Inn, with the green roof) seen from the pier. The big wheel on the left of the frame is the 360 Pensacola Beach observation wheel (http://360pensacolabeach.com), which we haven't (and probably won't) ride:

Elyse and Mommy feeding the seagulls (Anna's favorite part of coming to the beach):

Elyse, Jessica, and Mommy, each doing their own thing on the beach:

Pier and clouds, seen from the beach:
(The weather wasn't really as ominous as this picture makes it look.)

 A seagull, calming down after the feeding frenzy:

Wind, sand, and (no) stars:

Elyse collecting shells:

Elyse and Mommy walking up the beach:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pensacola Beach 2012, Day One

We're on our traditional post-Christmas vacation, this year in Pensacola Beach, Florida. (This is a long-standing tradition: Anna and I started coming here after Christmas about twelve years ago, and this is, we believe, our eighth or ninth trip to just about the same spot.) We drove down Wednesday, taking most of the day to do it, so today, Thursday, is our first full day here. We're staying at the Hampton Inn right on the beach. It's a little cold--the high today was only about 50 degrees--but it's still nice to be on a vacation to the beach. Last year after Christmas we went to Helen, GA, which was good but just not the same. (Though, of course, last year before Christmas we went to Orlando, FL, with Granny and Pa for an epic visit to Disney World, so we weren't really up for another long drive to Florida just a few days later.)

We spent a lot of today doing various shopping errands in Pensacola: we went to Dollar Tree, Barnes & Noble, and Kohls. We did go for a little walk on the beach this morning after breakfast, and Anna and Jessica went out to feed the seagulls and walk along the beach this afternoon. (I stayed here with Elyse, who was napping...in fact, she's still asleep, having resisted every attempt to rouse her. We hope she's out for the night, because if she isn't, she'll be up until midnight.) I went for a walk tonight to take some sunset pictures, which, since I forgot my tripod, didn't come out as well as I'd hoped.

In any case, here's one picture from this morning and another from tonight:



Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for rain and wind, though a little more warmth--a high of 64--so there might not be a "Day Two" blog entry. We'll be leaving Saturday, doing the drive in two days probably, and getting home Sunday afternoon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mom and Her Sisters

On Thanksgiving day, I set up my portable studio in my mother's craft room to take some pictures of Mom and her siblings. This is my favorite of the pictures I took that day:


(My mother was sitting on a stool to facilitate this diamond-shaped arrangement; she's not that much shorter than her sisters.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Carillon at Stone Mountain

While Anna and Jessica were in Minnesota for Thanksgiving, Elyse and I went to Stone Mountain for several hours. We did lots of things, but it seems that the thing that made the biggest impression was going to look at the Carillon; for days after our visit, Elyse talked about "the big, big instrument."

But we were there on a Monday late in the afternoon, and only got to look at the keyboard through the glass and see the speaker tower looming over the lake, but not actually hear the big, big instrument being played. So we went back this afternoon, this time with Mommy and Jessica, to see an actual Carillon concert. The Carilloneur, Mabel Sharp, played beautiful Christmas music for about half an hour. It was a wonderful experience. I recommend it.



(These pictures were all taken through the glass, but I had my lens right up against it so they came out okay.) 


This is a view of the booth that houses the keyboard, taken from the top of the small stone amphitheater:


Afterwards, we walked around the Crossroads area for a while; Jessica and Elyse paused for a moment to pose with this Santa statue:


Friday, November 23, 2012

Daddy and Elyse Week

This week, from 6:00 a.m. Monday morning when they left for the airport until about 4:00 this afternoon when they pulled into the driveway, Anna and Jessica were away to visit Anna's family in Minnesota. Elyse and I stayed here to hold down the fort and have a week of adventures together.

I made a conscious choice not to take my camera on any of our outings, because I wanted to be focused on enjoying my time with my daughter and not on looking for photo opportunities, so I can only describe what we did. Here are the highlights:

  • Monday afternoon we went to Stone Mountain Park, one of our favorite places, and spent hours exploring the walk-up trail area (though we didn't actually climb very far up), walking around Crossroads, riding the train, and looking at the Carillon.
  • Tuesday morning we went to visit my aunt Kathy at her house in Scottdale, only a few days before her move to her new condo in Tucker.
  • Right after visiting Kathy, we went to Zoo Atlanta and spent several hours looking at the animals (and also arguing about whether or not we needed more M&Ms). Elyse was especially captivated by the flamingos and the meerkats.
  • Elyse spent Tuesday night at her Granny and Pa's house, which was the first time she's ever slept away from home without Mommy or Daddy. She did fine, but didn't get to sleep until 11:00 (probably because of the long nap after the zoo).
  • Elyse stayed at Granny and Pa's house until around 2:30 Wednesday; I took advantage of the time to watch a movie, something I don't often get to do these days. I watched the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola film The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman. It's every bit as good as Leonard Maltin says it is.
  • Thursday we went to Granny and Pa's house for Thanksgiving with our extended family. There were, I believe, 37 people there altogether. We stayed all day, having leftovers for supper, and didn't get home until 8:30.
  • Friday we went to Stevie B's for lunch. We were going to go to Stone Mountain afterwards, but Elyse feel asleep, so instead we just went for a long drive through various parts of Dekalb and Gwinnett counties. (I'd intended the visit to Stone Mountain as a surprise and hadn't told Elyse, so she wasn't disappointed when she woke up in our garage.)
Anna and Jessica got home a couple of hours after we returned from our Stevie B's/nap drive outing. We were very glad to have them home, but I'm also very glad I had this week of adventures with Elyse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Washington Farms with the Kindergarten

Today Jessica's kindergarten class went to Washington Farms in Watkinsville to go on a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, and learn about farming. Here's Jessica, along with a couple of her classmates, waiting for it all to get started:


Jessica brought her binoculars with her:


Here she is sitting on a bale of hay, mostly being bored, I think:


Pumpkins!


They had a giant bouncy thing the kids could jump on, which may have been the highlight of the trip:



But the slides were pretty popular too:



Before we left, Jessica consented to sit in the giant rocking chair so I could take a picture:


Saturday, October 20, 2012

To the Pumpkin Patch with Elyse

On Friday, Elyse's class at Bethesda United Methodist Preschool went to the Pumpkin Patch to hear a couple of pumpkin stories and pick out a pumpkin. Here's Elyse with the inflatable giant pumpkin and black cat:


This is the size of pumpkin that was set aside for Elyse's class to chose from:


However, Elyse was much more interested in the bigger pumpkins:


Especially this one:


which she was convinced she could pick up:


She did eventually settle for rolling it:


One of Elyse's classmates had brought along her six-month-old sister, who just fascinated Elyse:


They developed quite a rapport:


This is Elyse with the older sister of her baby-pumpkin friend:


Bunches of pumpkins:


Bunches of preschool visitors (and their teachers):


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Girls, October 2012

Here's a baker's dozen portraits of the girls, taken from two separate photo shoots from the past few days: