Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chinese Lantern Festival

The coolest new attraction at the State Fair this year was the Chinese Lantern Festival around the lagoon. Just the entryway was enough to get me excited about seeing it, but Rachel and I knew we wanted to wait until dark to get the full effect. It was a bit pricey, but worth every penny in my opinion. 

The festival featured 22 different lantern exhibitions, including the Statue of Liberty, giant pandas, lotus flowers, longhorns, musical ants, a temple, and even a giant dragon made out of over 15,000 porcelain dishes! It was amazing! All the lights were glowing and reflecting off the lagoon, and just made me smile. I loved taking photos of it all, until my camera battery died. :-/ What an amazing exhibit!

A State Fair without Big Tex

Rachel and I go to the State Fair of Texas every year. This year we planned to go on the last Friday of the fair, since we both had the day off. This is the sight that usually greets you on the main strip of the fair...

Unfortunately, Big Tex caught fire the morning that we were planning to go. Facebook was CRAZY with everybody talking about it, making jokes like "I guess EVERYTHING at the State Fair of TX is fried, even Big Tex!" It was sad - they said there was an electrical issue that caused him to catch fire.

By the time we got there mid-afternoon, they had taken down the remnants of Big Tex - but there were news trucks and policemen all around the hill where he once stood. But we didn't let the sad events of the day get us down. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon, and we had a great time visiting all our favorite attractions like the petting zoo, car show (especially Rachel's corvettes), and the craft tents. I, of course, had fun taking pictures, especially of the ferris wheel. Rachel wouldn't ride with me (afraid of heights), but I could at least take pictures! 
Me in front of Big Tex's "hill"
Rachel, oblivious that the baby camel is about to grab a chunk of her hair and PULL!
A "zedonk"!
Bagpipe-playing cowboy, or jeans-wearing piper? Either way, it's a bit strange.

Of course, you can't go to the State Fair without eating fried food. Our favorite tradition is the twister tator, so that was our first snack of the day. Before we left, we split a fried bacon cinnamon roll - it just tasted like a thick funnel cake with bacon bits on top. I didn't taste much of the cinnamon. But it was okay...

It was a really great day, in spite of the craziness with Big Tex. So long, big guy! I hear they're going to rebuild you for next year, so see you soon...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celebrating a Milestone - Mamaw & Papaw's 65th Anniversary

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone many people nowadays don't even dream of seeing. No, not a milestone for me personally, but one I rejoice in just as wholeheartedly. My dad's parents, Red and Liz Isbell, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary! In this day and age, it's considered impressive if a couple remains married for 65 months. But 65 years?! Wow! Factor in the fact that Mamaw is a 3-time cancer survivor, Papaw has had several mini-strokes, and both have had various less severe health issues over the years, and this anniversary is downright amazing. I'm so happy I was able to be there with them to celebrate. When Dad first told me he and his siblings were going to do a surprise party for them, I didn't think I would be able to make it to Alabama, but the more I thought about it, the more determined I was to be there. That I was able to surprise Mom by showing up made it even more fun! What a special weekend!
Weren't they cute when they were young?
Papaw arriving at the party - a little in shock
Cutting the cake
Feeding him cake, just like at a wedding
With all 5 of their children
Adding in the in-laws that were there
The whole gang - all the family that was able to attend
My family with the guests of honor

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Training up a new generation of archaeologists

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take the Cambridge 6th, 7th and 8th graders on a field trip to the "See the Scrolls" exhibit at Southwestern Seminary. Since we had just finished discussing the background of the NT in one class and the OT canon in the other, it was perfect timing. I worried that the students would be bored with the first part of the tour, looking at artifacts and photos and learning the history leading up to the Qumran era and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but they did great! They asked intelligent questions,  showed that they had been paying attention in class by answering the guide's questions, and acted quite respectful. Then, after a short movie, seeing the actual scrolls, and lunch in a genuine Bedouin tent, we ventured outside for the most anticipated part of the day. The seminary has set up a mock Qumran-style dig, so the tour guide showed us the various "rooms" and key features of the Qumran settlement, then set the students free to dig for actual artifacts. They had a blast, digging up a small column, a small fake skeleton, and lots of pottery shards. What a fun experience to share with my favorite middle schoolers!