Category Archives: Money Matters

I don’t remember what normal feels like.

I guess, if I want to start blogging again, I’m going to have to find some speech to text program to spare my poor arms and hands. By the time I finish the ridiculous hours of work, I’m in too much pain to come here and update. Work tells me do what is right for me…take care of myself first…then, oh, by the way, I need XYZ from you by 8am tomorrow.

I can’t remember what it felt like to be pain-free. Or to have a life.

Better her inbox than mine.

Holly's InboxHolly’s Inbox by Holly Denham

My Review: 2 of 5 stars

Even though it is a couple of inches thick, I read this in one night. While it did have some good parts, I just couldn’t get past the content of emails flying back and forth at work. Maybe other places are more relaxed, but in my experience, I don’t know anyone who would be foolish enough to send or receive messages with such personal detail, berating other employees, sex talk, etc via their WORK email account. In my reality, she would have been caught and fired within the first week. Big brother really IS watching.

It’s nothing like you see on tv.

Alrighty.  Where was I?  Duckie and Forensics were both on their way to my house…

And they both showed up at almost the same time.  The forensics lady walked in with her kit and started dusting for prints and taking pictures of everything.  Duckie and I stood outside for a minute while she was in the living room, then we went in and started looking around.

Clearly, my TV was gone.  There was no doubt about that.  It would be hard to misplace 56” of Samsung glory.  I didn’t really notice anything else missing.  The cabinet doors to the tv cabinet were all open, but there hadn’t been anything much in them to begin with.  My Pee Wee Herman dvds were still there.  😛

After forensics was done in my office, Duckie and I went in there so I could start looking in my files for serial numbers for the tv and computer.  It was such a mess in there already that it was hard to be sure what had been moved and what hadn’t.  I knew my BAMF camera, Samuel L, had been sitting on the desk in front of my monitor when I left that morning.  Earlier, when I discovered that the computer and monitor were gone, I automatically KNEW Samuel L was, too.  While Duckie and I were looking around the room, I noticed the burglars had shoved a bunch of stuff over on my desk, presumably to get the monitor off easier.  I was in complete and utter SHOCK to see my camera shoved to the side with all the other clutter.  THEY DIDN’T TAKE MY BABY!!!  It was a Christmas miracle!  In September.

I had to move some things out of the way on the floor to get to my files.  When I did, I saw a small black rectangle on the floor.  Again, being the crime-show-watching-fool that I am, I didn’t dare touch it.  Instead, I flipped it over with the end of a piece of paper.  It was the USB part of my wireless mouse and keyboard…which was normally inserted into the front of the computer.  Immediately Duckie and I became all excited, knowing that they had to have touched it to pull it out of the computer!  We got the forensics lady to come back in and dust it, but she didn’t seem the slightest bit convinced that she’d find anything.

Apparently she didn’t.  Not there.  Not on the doors, or closets, or any other place that she dusted.  If she did, she didn’t say so, and we never saw her lifting any prints either….assuming we would recognize that if we saw it.  She left shortly afterwards.

I had told the officer about my comings and goings that day…what time I left the house and what time I returned home.  And that there was a tree-cutting truck parked behind my house that morning.  And about the 3 guys that were standing around outside of it.  And that I had to ask them to move when, 30 minutes later, they were still standing around doing nothing and blocking my driveway.  And about the fact that I never leave Loki in his crate while I’m gone…he’s almost always outside in the back yard.  I gave her a description of the truck guys as best I could, but it was pretty generic. 

She got all my information and said a detective would be contacting me within the next day or two.  She said “this area has been getting hit pretty hard lately.  But we’re doing the best we can.”  She told me my best bet was if I could find the serial numbers and hope that the burglars tried to pawn something.  Then she left.  Duckie and I were both pretty disappointed that they didn’t do more.  I was expecting them to take MY fingerprints for comparison.  And to have dusted some of the other items that had clearly been touched.  And to go talk to my neighbors to see if anyone saw or heard anything.  But they didn’t.

Throughout this whole time, my cell phone had been ringing off the wall.  I guess Mom had the best intentions when she posted about my plight on facebook, but I was really not in any position or state of mind to be answering calls from everyone I know checking to see if I was alright.  THANK YOU, all, though for your concern!

Once the police were all gone, another neighbor came over to check on me and find out what happened.  I finally answered a call from my brother, Red Baron, and filled him in on what was happening.  And mostly just tried to calm down.  Duckie kept saying, “It’s just stuff.  At least you’re ok.  The house is fine.  Everything else can be replaced.”  I knew he was right, but I couldn’t stop crying.  Mostly I was just extremely PISSED off (and like my mother, I cry when I’m mad).  I was just so upset that my HOME, the one place where I feel completely comfortable, had been violated.  It didn’t feel like “home” at all anymore. 

Duckie and I started inspecting the back door and pretty much determined that it had been kicked in, near the doorknob.  There was about a 2 foot long split in the wood on the inside frame of the door below that.  He managed to get the door to stay closed with the deadbolt locked.  So at least I could close the house up.  When he got ready to leave, he said I could come stay at his house that night, but I wanted to go through the house more and start trying to clean up the mess.  I was trying to convince myself that I would sleep there, that these fools weren’t going to run me out of my house.  And I figured that, later, if I felt uncomfortable, I’d give V a call, since she lives close by, and see if I could crash at her house.

So Duckie left and I began the process of going through the house and checking to see if anything else was missing.  I started in the office, mainly because I was still trying to find serial numbers.  I cleared off a spot on my desk and started sorting through papers.  I had my work laptop with me and luckily my internet modem was still there and functioning, so I was able to get online and let everyone know I was ok.  And to distract myself from reality for a little while! 

As it started getting dark outside, I started getting less and less comfortable being there.  I had let Loki out and had a minor anxiety attack when I went to open the back door to let him back inside.  Shortly after that, I got a text from Jen, offering me and Loki a room at her hotel.  Apparently she had sent it earlier but to the wrong person.  So I decided I would go ahead and do that.  As I was getting a few things together to take with me, I noticed that one of my small, older digital cameras (aka the little green machine) wasn’t sitting on the shelf of my desk where it normally would be.  I checked all around and couldn’t find it anywhere.  That immediately made me think of my other small (and NEW) camera, Ruby, that was in one of my purses that I had just switched from.  I ran into the living room and found the purse in the chair…empty.  Bastards.  Add two digital cameras to the list.

By this point, around 11pm, I was in almost panic mode trying to get out of the house.  I grabbed my bag and Loki, got in the car, and headed to the hotel…

Bad BeautiControl Rep

I’m terrible.  I love the products, but I tend to mostly purchase the spa products for myself.  I have some of their makeup, but, must confess, I’m a bare escentuals addict.

To top things off, a friend of mine from school is now an Avon rep.  Having been an Avon rep for several years when I was in college, I was curious what they had available these days, so I checked out her website.  Immediately I was reminded of why I quit selling Avon….they have entirely too much stuff for sale!  How can you be knowledgable or focus in any one area when they sell everything but the kitchen sink?!  Not to mention the fact that, most of what I earned (and then some!), I turned around and spent on personal purchases.

And now, they sell SHOES?!  Whoa.  Leave it to me to stumble upon the special offer where certain shoes were only $5 if you bought a different pair.  Shoe whore that I am, I found 4 pairs that looked really cute.  But I restrained myself…I only bought 3 pairs.  😛

What?  I had a gift mastercard from work that was burning a hole in my pocket.  I always loved their speed dry nail enamel, so I picked up a bottle of that, too.

While, in theory, I was buying from my competition, at least I didn’t buy anything that BeautiControl sells.  So I’m not a complete failure, right?  :)

Suze’s 2009 Action Plan

Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound by Suze Orman

My Review:  3 of 5 stars
If you’ve read any of Suze’s other books, there’s not a lot that is new here. It’s geared towards actions to take in our current economic crisis, although, the advice is pretty similar to what it would be any other time. Only here, the emphasis on having an emergency fund (8 months minimum) and paying off debts is much more crucial.

Itty bitty notebook

Today I received my Dell Mini 10″ Netbook.  It is green and adorable.  I have not, as of yet, determined how usable it is.  I’m using it now. 

I have been trying to break the bad habit of using my work laptop for everything, but I missed being able to sit in the living room and browse the internet at the same time.  If I go sit in my office, it’s too confining, and I end up spending way too much time online.  With the laptop, I could check email, facebook, flickr, just quickly for updates and then go back to the movie I might be watching or the book I might be reading.  But am seeing more and more how using my work laptop was keeping me tied to my job when I am supposed to be off.

So, a few weeks back I ordered this cute little netbook.  It’s about the size of a small spiral notebook.  The keyboard is slightly smaller than a regular keyboard, but not unbearable for my average-sized hands.  it just takes some getting used to.

The screen is pretty small, making some fonts hard to read.  I have 30 days to decide, so I’ll try and use it as much as possible between now and then to see if this is something I can live with.  The added benefit will be that I can take this one with me if I travel and be able to download pictures, etc, without having to lug the big laptop with me.

Did I mention it was green?  A pretty shiny lime green.  Too freaking cute.

Peaceful, easy feeling

It’s an overcast, breezy Sunday morning and I am sitting on the patio, drinking my coffee, and playing a little fetch with Loki.  The past 3 weeks have been utter hell.  We have an OFCCP audit at work next week and so I have been working 12-18 hour days, including weekends, to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.  I have been the living dead for 3 weeks now.

Friday afternoon, we were able to finish up the most urgent of our work and I actually left the office by 5pm.  It was a tiny miracle so I felt I needed to take the opportunity to unwind a little and talked a coworker into going to the dive bar near work for a couple of drinks.  After that, I met my friend V at one of our fave little neighborhood bars for more drinks and to catch up. 

I just have to say that it was the perfect slice of heaven at that particular moment.  I was finally able to relax, laugh, and just generally feel human again.  And the added bonus is that I was able to sleep that night!  No insomnia, just crashing from sheer exhaustion!  The weeks of little to no sleep had finally caught up with me and the drinks managed to shut my brain off enough to allow me to finally get some much needed rest.

After getting to bed around 2am, I was up letting Loki out around 8…but then laid back down on the couch and slept until…SIX PM!!!  I would’ve felt guilty except for the fact that I KNEW I needed it!

Today, rather than stressing out over the audit and whatever else this week will throw at me, for this moment, this peaceful moment on my patio with my dog, I am relaxing and it feels great.

Mobile Blogging

So I’m sitting in my bed, doing a bit of reading before I go to sleep, and realize I have not been keeping my promise to myself to blog about the latest comings and goings of my life. Seeing as I am already bundled up under the covers with my book (Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult), I wonder if I can blog from my phone.

Turns out, I can! Its a little slow loading and not as easy to navigate, but it works!

So here I am. Its late and I really should be sleeping. Work is pretty chaotic and stressful lately. Lots of layoffs have taken place and, the big bombshell that got dropped on us recently is that HR has decided to combine my current department, Staffing, with my old department, Training. The manager over my old department has decided to take the voluntary retirement package that was offered last month. So with her departure, I guess the collective “they” have decided to use this opportunity to consolidate.

Everything is very hush-hush with the leadership team members as they try to hash out what the “new” organization will look like. Based on conversations with my boss and new responsibilities she has given me, I feel pretty safe for now. But there is no telling what the future will bring. We should know more in the coming weeks…

Guess I’ll be going back to the old have-to-remember-to-take-it-everyday-pill.

I started my new job in January, but because of the freebies from my doctor, I just now got around to needing to fill my Nuvaring prescription.  On the old insurance, I always did the mail order because I could get 3 months at a time for about $45.  So, without concern, I mailed in my prescription the new insurance.  Afterall, I’m working for a Fortune 500 company so certainly should get the same or better benefits, right?

Much to my shock and horror, my prescription arrived the other day.  I had provided them with my check card info for billing.  The invoice?  $140.  ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS?!?!?!!!

In sheer panic, I immediately called my insurance company for an explanation.  Turns out Nuvaring is on their 3rd tier….nonformulary and non-preferred.  My copay is 15/25/50.  In the past, I could get a 3-month supply for less than my copay now for ONE.  WTF?!?!  For whatever reason, Cigna doesn’t like Nuvaring.

I asked them if there was any way I could return my package.  I was desperate here, I mean that is a hundred bucks out of my bank account that I was NOT planning on spending.  I’ve been playing catchup from my dental work and thought this would actually be the month my finances would return to normal.  Ugh.

So yeah, they won’t let me return it.  Their policy is “the same as at retail:  once you walk out with it, it’s yours.”  I told them, “Yes, but the difference is, at retail, I stand at the counter, they hand me the prescription, I see the amount, and I refuse to accept it!”  In this situation, I was hoping they would see my logic that, opening the shipment box and viewing the invoice was the same thing.  They didn’t see it that way.

I guess I’ll be giving my doc a call and asking her to write up a new prescription for me for some generic pills that I’ll have to remember to take every single day.  After two+ years of only having to remember once a month.  Lovely.

For someone who isn’t even having sex regularly (or at all lately for that matter!), this sure is one hell of a price to pay for birth control.

Hush money

In between all of my meetings yesterday, I managed to actually make it IN to my office around 1pm.  There I found an envelope addressed to me, sitting on my desk.  Hmmmm.

When I opened it, I found a card from my boss.  She thanked me for all the work I have been doing on reports lately (a key area that I have been tasked with improving) and emphasizing their “greatful”-ness that I joined the team.

Oh, and $100 worth of American Express Gift Cheques.  Score.

A Blue Ribbon Kind of Day

On My Own Time (OMOT) is a region-wide competition organized by North Texas Business for the Culture of the Arts (NTBCA) to exhibit the talent of member companies’ employees. There are categories for a variety of arts in both amateur and professional divisions:  ceramics, fabric, jewelry, works on canvas, works on paper, woodworking, and of course, photography.  My company participates religiously. 

This year, I entered two of my photographs in the Color Photography category.  The definition they used for “professional” was that you earn money for your work.  They had left out the word “regularly,”which was part of the definition last year, so I decided to be brave and enter the professional division.

There are 3 outside judges from the art community in North Texas who judge all of the entries and select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for each category and division.  Photos of all of the entries are also placed online on our intranet for employees to vote.  During this time, the art is also on display at one of the main campuses for my company for employees to view and vote.  The employee vote determines the People’s Choice award.  First place in each category as well as the People’s Choice award from all member companies are invited to display their artwork at Northpark Center in late Septemer.

So today was the Artists’ Reception at work, where they serve us cookies and punch and announce all of the winners.  The peanut butter cookies were fantastic, by the way.  But even better than the cookies was the fact that one of MY photos, Down to the Wire, won FIRST PLACE in the Professional Color Photography category.  Me = ELATED!

I am so proud I could burst.  I am now an award-winning photographer.  Woooohoo!

winner!

Two days!

I really need to get serious about packing.  I’ve got most of my clothes that I think I’ll be bringing with me piled up and ready to load in the suitcase, but I haven’t really put much thought into making sure I have matching outfits and shoes.  I’ve just thrown all of the super lightweight, cotton, comfortable stuff I own into a pile. 

I finally found some comfy shorts I can live with.  The best part is, they were between $5 and $10 at Walmart!  If they last through my trip, they will have been worth the money.  :-)

1 of the 3

I’m also thrilled that the swimsuit I ordered back at the beginning of March and have been on a waitlist for finally arrived TODAY.  And it fits and its cute.  So now I have 3 suits to take with me, two of them I can mix and match.  Yeah, I went the route of the skirted suit, but these aren’t grandma-looking and are not swimdresses.  Two of them have a cute straight leg mini-skirt and flattering tops that show just the right amount.  The third one has a cute blousson type top (but not overly so) with a regular swimsuit bottom that I can swap out with one of the skirts if I’m feeling thigh-shy.  When I stop and think about it, I am such a dork…I haven’t worn a swimsuit in ten years and now, I’ll be on vacation for 5 days (4 really since we come home early on the 5th day).  Do I really need three swimsuits for that??  😛

Tomorrow I need to get up and head to Target to return a few things, then I’m going to DSW to use my reward check to find some cute sandals.  I have plenty of sandals, but am specifically looking for a slightly dressy but casual and comfy shoe to take with me as a night time shoe for when we go out.  Then it’s the gym and tanning again.  I actually have the tiniest bit of color now, but considering how white I was to begin with, that isn’t saying much!

I think I’ve gotten over the fat me vs slim Red and am now in the state of mind of IT’S MY VACATION and I’m not going to let my insecurities get in the way!  Nothing else I can do about it at this point, so might as well just HAVE FUN!  And I plan on doing plenty of that.

I’m anxious to see if the hotel is as nice as it looks in the pictures online.

Time keeps on slipping…

I don’t know how people do it. Have a life after work, that is. Every day I have big plans of things I am going to accomplish after work. Errands to run, stuff around the house, exercise, etc. But the fact of the matter is, by the time I leave work, I am just wiped out. All I want to do is go home and crash. And by crash, I mean collapse and veg, not sleep….because I’m definitely still having issues with that part. I’ve got to break this cycle somehow. Because trying to catch up on everything on the weekends sucks.

I’m beginning to think you have to be a morning person to get things done. The day is just not long enough. Although, my fleeting experience as a morning person simply meant that I got to work earlier, but still left just as late and just as exhausted. Maybe I need better vitamins. And less coffee. And more exercise.

On a happy note, did I mention my dad sold my Mazda?! For about $500 more than I ever thought I would get for it. I’m convinced part of that is the difference between Dallas and Beaumont. The other part? Tax refund season. The only downside is, they financed it. So here’s hoping they pay it off. At least I’ve gotten their downpayment applied to my balance on the Acura. Hooray for less debt!

Going wading?

 

The dress at my new job is slightly more business than casual, so I’ve been dusting off some selections in my closet and doing a bit of shopping. The biggest problem I’m having is the length of my pants. For those that know me IRL, you know I have a fondness for the big chunky heels. I just don’t own flats…or even low-heeled shoes, with the exception of tennis shoes and some sandals. I just like my big heels, what can I say?

The problem is, most of my dress slacks are too short when paired with my “regular” shoes. I have a hard time finding pants that fit well that come in Long, so I end up with regular length that look more like high-waters once I’ve got shoes on.

Rather than throw them all out and start a fresh search for longs (I do have some, just not all), I thought perhaps I should go buy some flat-heeled shoes and then those pants would probably look ok. So before heading back to Duckie’s on Saturday, I stopped by DSW in search of a black pair and a brown pair, figuring those would be the most coordinating choices. I am just drawn to the bigger heels, I can’t help it. But I didn’t let myself stray into that area of the store and limited my browsing to the lower-heeled and flats section, where I really don’t like most of what I find.

Long story short, I leave the store with what? FOUR pairs of shoes, none of which are flats. However, they do all have less than a 2- inch heel. That’s progress right??

My pants are still too short though.

Truer words were never spoken.

Thank God it’s Friday!!!

This has been one hell of a long week. Between trying to get things handed off with the old boss, all the meetings the new boss had lined up, continuing to teach the training classes that I already had scheduled, and squeezing in time with the lady I’m replacing, who happens to only be working part time from home with two children, I felt like it should’ve been Friday by Wednesday!

I’m feeling better about things now. Finally have a true transition plan in place and have been able to start off-loading some of my former responsibilities. And am starting to get a grasp on all the (many, many, many) reports that I’ll be responsible for providing on weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis…I can definitely see why that is an area in need of an overhaul. Talk about a lot of duplicate work and manual effort. Yeeesh.

Tonight has been all about recouperating from the week. I have had training calls with the lady from work from 8-11pm every night this week….after working a full day in the office. I am just beat. But I’d rather do that and take advantage of getting as much knowledge from her as I can before her last day next week.

Nothing says relaxing like PJs, a good drink, and, what turned out to be, a pretty lame movie from Netflix. But it felt good to do nothing!

My brother, Duckie, closed on his house yesterday, so Dad drove up today and is planning to be in town for a week or so helping out with some minor repairs and stuff with Duckie, before he moves in. I’ll probably head over there tomorrow and see what I can do to help. I’m so excited for him that he got this house!

Just have to start all over. Make a new beginning.

Well, my last day AT [company] was Friday. And my first day FOR [company] was yesterday. It has been a bit frustrating to say the least. I’m more than a little stressed, but hoping to ease my mind today with a discussion with the new boss, just to let her know what the status is….which I’m sure is not what has been presented to her.

Meh. Can’t get into it here. Yesterday was orientation all day and I have far too many decisions to make in terms of benefits. Once that was over, I discovered my old email account had already been disabled and converted to my new employee ID. Only problem with that is that my laptop has not been through this conversion. So I have been unable to access or send any emails since yesterday morning. Kind of screwed my plans of working some old job items last night.

Today is my first actual day at my new office. Hopefully I can get the laptop/email issues resolved early because this afternoon I have to spend teaching a class (old job). Then there is the matter of getting my office configured the way I want (hopefully). I know they’ll adjust for my ergo assessment….now I’m just hoping I can shift everything around (don’t want my back to my door) and get it setup for my left-handedness.

It’s early, I need more coffee, and I have less than 30 minutes to get my butt in gear, dressed, and out the door. Mornings suck.

Let the gluttony begin!

Tonight begins the first of many holiday gatherings.  My (client) team from work is having dinner at Kitchen 1924.  They are supposed to get a feel for what our likes and dislikes are, and then prepare a customized 4-course meal to us, complete with wine pairings!  Sounds kind of cool. 

Our team was recently made larger by combining us with another group.  At least one, frequently two, of them drives me batty.  I’m making sure I’m on the far end of the table from him.  No telling what would come out of my mouth after a few glasses of wine!  Previous years, our team has always been very laid back, very tell-it-like-it-is, fairly close, and had a good time while emptying many, many, many bottles of wine.  This year, with the additional folks and a pregnant lady, it will be a different environment, I’m sure.

Thursday, my actual employer’s team of people on site at [client] (which also includes the one that drives me batty) are having lunch at the Mercury Grill.  Another place I’ve never been.  I find it funny that our boss had to specify NO JEANS.  At [client], we have no dress code.  Most of us dress business casual pretty regularly.  But some of us also have to meet with customers and lead meetings, etc, which call for more business-appropriate attire.  There is a subset that business casual is as dressy as they get.  And, of course, those people were the first to complain about not being able to wear jeans.  For crying out loud, it’s a free lunch!  Put on some nice slacks and shut up about it.  😛

Friday night is my birthday party.  I’m hosting it at my house again this year.  Nothing says celebrate like not having to drive yourself home afterwards!  Still need to pick up some food for that.  I’m taking Friday off from work, so will probably just go shopping that morning.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I won’t be up before noon!  So I’ll shop about an hour before people are to start arriving, knowing me.

Now that I think about it, I had a meal out last week, too.  Boss [client] took me to lunch at a french restaurant (yet another I’d never been to….can you tell I don’t get out much??) on Thursday to discuss my transition into my new job, which I will be starting next year.  I am actually being hired on by my client company.  I’ve been there for almost NINE YEARS but never actually worked for them.  How crazy is that?  So I’ll be working for that company come 2008.  Not in the same department.  Not in the same role.  Not exactly the same kind of work.  Not in the same building.  So it will be a fresh change of pace and I’m really looking forward to it!  Did I mention I’m getting a heck of a raise?!  :)

I do feel sorry for current [client] boss and team.  I’m trying to prepare them as much as possible with lists and contacts and processes and such.  Hence the massive effort to do a brain dump into the knowledge base before I go.  I know, since I’ll still be there basically, they’ll be able to call me when needed though.

I am so hungry right now.  I had a very light lunch….gotta save room for tonight’s feast!

Now it’s official!

What a whirlwind this week has been. To sum it up, leaving out all of the unscrupulous parts, I was offered the position for the job I applied for a couple of weeks ago! I got the official offer package last night and faxed in my acceptance today! I also learned that over 30 people were interviewed. To be selected out of 30, I’m feeling pretty damned good about myself!

The downside is, I’m supposed to start January 7. Sure, that gives me a few weeks to wrap things up for my current role…except that one full week of that I had already planned to take as vacation for my birthday and Christmas week. Then there’s New Years. So I’m going to be a busy, busy bee for the next week, trying to get through as much as I can. I’ve got two pretty large projects that I initiated that I want to make sure are completed, especially since one is basically a brain dump into our newly-accessible knowledge base.

Anyway, short and sweet, but the important part is: I got the job! Happy birthday, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to ME!

More details later.

A White Christmas

We had our department year-end celebration on Monday. Every year it is something different. This year, it was a trip to the Gaylord Texan for lunch and to see the ICE! exhibit. We had lunch at the Riverwalk Cafe, which I somehow imagine is nicer than the real one in San Antonio. Food was ok, nothing to brag about.

After that, we headed over to see the ice sculptures. First of all, it’s like NINE degrees in the exhibit. So they give everyone these giant hooded parkas to wear. I was even smart enough to bring gloves, although, since I had Samuel L with me, they had to go unused….my fingers were numb almost immediately!

I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was SO much more. Absolutely unreal. Lifesize (and some larger) sculptures of everything from igloos to penguins to trains to a nativity scene and more. Even a 3-story slide made of ice! Crazy talented people that did all of this. I wouldn’t pay their admission fee to go back again, but it was a darn pretty sight for a freebie!

Fun Facts About ICE!

2,000,000 pounds: the amount of ice it takes to create ICE!

5,000: the number of ICE! blocks hand-carved and transformed into our winter wonderland

ICE! Slide

40: the number of artisans from the City of Harbin (China) Tourism and Development Commission, who sculpt the attraction by hand

34: the approximate number of days needed to hand-carve the ICE! display

14,000: the total square footage of the unique structure that houses ICE!

9 degrees: the temperature setting for the ICE! structure. A winter coat is provided to keep you warm!

1,400+: the number of LED lights frozen within ICE!

3: the number of types of ice used in the construction of ICE!
~ Clear “glass-like” crystal ice – so flawless that it is compared to Waterford Crystal – makes up 80 percent of the sculptures
~ “White ice” blocks, which are more like compacted snow, make up 15 percent of the sculptures
~ Colored ice, which is dyed brilliant colors, is used for highlighting and accenting the remaining 5 percent of the sculptures

52: the number of days you can visit this famous attraction before it melts away

2: the number of other destinations in the United States that are as cool as ICE! Sister properties Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee and Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida also host annual ICE! events.