Mic Check one, two... Guest blogger here. I thought I might try my hand at this whole blogging thing. After all, my curiosity has gotten the best of me. Why is it that my wife and sister, and so many others can spend countless hours writing what is essentially a journal with for everyone else to see? I mean ok, all the widgets and stuff are cool but really? So maybe I am a little cynical and when Erin won the blog creation award from Rachel to design her a new blog, I was ready to kiss Erin goodbye since I know how much time Rachel spends on this thing. But, to my surprise Erin has done a pretty good job of not being overtaken by the blog. However, it is early on so let's see how long it lasts! Ok, so enough of my cynicism and on to what has been on my mind this week.

Gratitude - "the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful"

So I am sure that this seems pretty cliché with it being Thanksgiving and all, but it really has been on my mind this week going into the holiday season. It is hard to know where to start with the many things that I have to be thankful for, but I think I can narrow it down to three categories: God, Family, and Country.

1 Chronicles 16:8 (New International Version)
     Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
     make known among the nations what he has done.

Isn't it fitting that Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season? What a great way to focus our thoughts on gratitude instead of self-centeredness. Retailers try their best to detract from the meaning of Thanksgiving by making the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a "black Friday", a day focused on buying and getting an early start on Christmas shopping with some good deals. Now look, I understand that there are some great deals at 4 a.m. on Friday morning but there is NO WAY that you will catch me at Best Buy or Wal-Mart in my sleeping bag at 2 a.m. waiting in line for the newest Garmin GPS. Sorry, not worth it to me, I'll be in my warm bed sleeping soundly. Anyways, I have been thinking about what it means to give thanks to God. Why does God need our thanks? I mean think about that, doesn't God already know he's the stuff? I believe that God desires our affection and love more than the words that may come out of our mouth. God desire a relationship with a healthy view of who He is. Out of that view should come gratitude for what God has done is our lives. I am so thankful for what God has done in my life and those around me and am mindful of that at the start of this holiday season.

I can't tell you how excited I am about getting to see my family tonight. We are going to leave as soon as we can, probably around lunch time today. This will be the first time in 5 years that I have been home for Thanksgiving. Since playing at Duke we have had games on Thanksgiving weekend and I have not been able to make it home. We will be at my parents house and then leave early Saturday morning to make it back for Duke's final game versus Wake Forest at noon. Apparently Samuel and Ellie Kate (nephew and niece) have been asking, "when are Erin and Ryan going to get here?" My sister, Rachel, and her family have been there since Saturday. I can't wait to see the little kiddos! It has been a while since we last saw them and I'm sure they have grown. I am so thankful for family and cherish the time that we have together. Family time is the highlight of the holidays as the rest of the year is busy and hard to make visits. I am also so thankful for Erin's side of the family that we will get to see on Saturday at the Duke game. Some of her dad's family will be coming down for the game from WV as well. The most important family member I am thankful for is my wife, Erin. Ever since starting our new family on June 21, 2008 I am constantly blown away at how blessed I am to have such an amazing, loving wife to come home to everyday!

Finally, I am grateful of the country we live in. I thought I would share a few interesting factoids on Thanksgiving. At a site near the Charles River in December of 1619, a group of British settlers led by Captain John Woodlief knelt in prayer and pledged "Thanksgiving" to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic. This event has been acknowledged by some scholars and writers as the official first Thanksgiving among European settlers on record.

I thought this quote was interesting from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621: "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

Sounds like they had some good ole fowl and venison for Thanksgiving. I like the idea that they entertained and feasted for 3 days. I think I'll implement that tradition this year. I do love the history that our country has and I think it is important to remember where we have come from and what we are celebrating. I am also so thankful for those who have served our country and have made the freedom to celebrate Thanksgiving a reality for us all. We are blessed to live in the United States of America.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!



Gotta love him

Aside from the obvious reason that I can call Durham "home" (that would be Ryan...), there is one other person who especially makes Durham feel a lot more "homey" to me.  It's this obnoxious boy that lives in our apartment complex.  He takes me back to my childhood days of getting picked on by my brothers like they used to when we were younger, except this guy just never grew out of it.  Oh wait...he is my brother.  Yes, I would be referring to Matt, my brother...AND my next door neighbor. :)  And obnoxious is not really the right adjective to describe him.  Really, he is just very energetic, witty, intelligent, creative, and MISCHIEVOUS and always into something - and all that combined makes him one of my favorite people in the whole world to be around.  That is why, ya just can't help but love the kid....even when he does things like this....

Yes, that's my "prankster" Matt for ya.  I did say he's always into something, right?  So, a couple nights ago, I tried a Paula Deen recipe for pumpkin bars and knowing that every member of the Pridemore family has a sweet tooth for anything cream cheese and these have homemade cream cheese icing, I told Matt I was making them and that he could stop by to get one if he wanted. So about 8 PM, I answer a knock at the door (he only knocks when the door is locked and he knows Ryan or I will answer the door faster than he can pull out his own key to our apartment...) to find "student" Matthew at the door, back-pack on straight from class, coming home for his snack.  So Matt plops himself down on the couch and carries on a conversation with me about his day and class as I head back to the kitchen to finish icing the bars.  Meanwhile, Matt throws a "you're gonna be mad at me, sissy" at me. (I love how even though we're both in our twenties, he...and TJ and Jamie for that matter...still call me sis or sissy).  I said, "how come"?  and he nonchalantly says, "well, you'll figure it out eventually".  So I didn't really even pay the comment any attention. Until a few minutes later...I walk into the room and am just talking to him, spatula in hand, and stop mid-word as I realize that Matt has turned my decorative vase of Cranberries upside down on the coffee table.  As is typical, he's already forgotten his "prank" and busts out laughing...with pride...when he realizes that I just realized what he did.  Oh Matty....gotta love him. 

So, his pranks can be a little obnoxious at times...but I'm so thankful to have Matt, pranks and all, in Durham.  Especially in the beginning when I first moved here and didn't know anyone, having him right around the corner was SUCH.A.BLESSING and really made Durham feel a lot more like "home".  How can it not, having your little brother live right next door to pick on you all the time just like old times, right?  And though Matt is always full of fun and games and good for a laugh, he also has a protective/responsible/almost-on-the-verge-of-mature side too.  Like last football season...right after I moved here, I didn't know anyone except for members of the football team and Ryan always had to spend Friday nights away either traveling with the team or staying in the team hotel in Durham the night before a game and I HATED staying by myself in this new town where the very few people I knew were locked away in a hotel and I didn't even know my way around.  So, my "protective brother" Matt, who was medically red-shirted (due to an injury) and not required to stay at the hotel last season would come stay in our guest bedroom on Friday nights so I didn't have to stay by myself.  What college-age brother hangs out with his old, married sister on Friday nights, right?  Well, at least his buddies were all in the hotel so he wasn't hanging out with them anyways and he would sometimes not get there til 10 or 11, but it really meant a lot to me and made my transition to living in Durham...five hours from home, family, and all my friends...much more tolerable.  It would have definitely been a rougher transition without having Matt here. 

So sad will be the day that either Matt or Ryan and I move away from Durham.  After spending 18 years in the same house with Matt, TJ, and Jamie, and then having Matt live just a few steps away for two years, I don't know if I could handle the separation!  Now we just need to work on getting TJ (and Rachel/Jeff and fam) closer than 10 hours away... 

(Per my childhood reference earlier, I just had to add this picture of Matt and I from yesteryear...doesn't he just LOOK mischievous??)

And for fun, all three of the sibs...three of my favorite people ever!


Friends, Family, and of course...some more Football

I think it's safe to say that football consumes our falls (and this is why you get to see pictures from football games in every post during the fall!), and has for the entirety of our relationship - this is our 9th football season together! Starting with the Buford high school days, friday nights in Tom Riden stadium were the highlight of the week with Ryan in the action, scoring TD's with me on the sidelines chanting "T-D-, we want a touchdown!" with the other cheerleaders. 

It's kinda intense how into football this family is - this family being the new Wood family (Me and Ryan), the Pridemore side of our family, AND the Wood side of our family. But we can't help it - football is in our blood... Ryan's dad played for legend Bear Bryant and the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ryan played Wide Reciever at Duke (#82) and then on my side, my dad played for Bobby Bowden and the West Virginia Mountaineers, then for the Atlanta Falcons for eight years and then both of my brothers play now - with Matt at Duke (#10!) and TJ at Florida (#45!).  I sure hope our kids get some of those athletic genes...and the full scholarships to college would be nice too! :)

So, often at a Duke or Florida football game, you will see Ryan...or my dad...or even my mom....sitting in the stands watching the game, with an XM radio in their ear listening to play-by-plays from one of the other games, which inevitibly happens to be at the same time...every Saturday.

Sometimes, you'll even look over to see a huddle from two or more of them trying to share the ear buds when something exciting happens...

Aside from football season being fun for us anyways between our own teams and then watching Matt & TJ play, it's also a time of year that we get to see lots of family and friends.  My cousin and her family live about an hour and a half from Durham and have been over for two Duke games this season.  We always have so much fun with them!  They are moving to D.C. this summer, so we especially enjoy our time with them now since we know it's short-lived - it's been so nice having them semi-close by this last year and a half that we've lived here since the rest of our family is five hours away at the closest...and 7 hours from them.

Here's Ryan and I, my parents, and my cousin Andrea, Jimmy, and their kids Alicia & AJ at the Duke vs. Virginia Tech game on 10.3.09

Does Andrea not look like my mother's child sister?  Everyone has always thought that Andrea looks so much like my mom.  She definitely looks more like my mom than her mom (our moms are sisters).

Matt & I took Alicia & AJ some Duke Football t-shirts one day a couple years ago when we visited them in Spring Lake.  After two seasons of wear, they finally outgrew their first Duke t-shirts and had to get new ones. 


Matt #10 & Banks #39 celebrate after a big play


And now, moving on to the big Duke/UNC rivalry game...that turned out to be not such a big game for Duke...

However, we did have fun tailgating with some good friends Adam & Melissa from our Bible study group.  Some people stopped by to ask how our tailgate was able to work and how we could all get along :)  To make things more interesting, Adam played football at UNC in addition to both of them being UNC grads and of course, Ryan played at Duke, so it was definitely an interesting combo for a tailgate, but we did have fun...and lots of good food! 


Some of Ryan's teammates were back in town for the game, so we got to hang out with them for a little while too.  So great to see them!

Adam and Melissa were such good sports that they even sat in the Duke section with us!


I love watching Matt play football - I've never seen someone play with as much heart, determination, and competitiveness as him.  He truly loves the game and worked so hard and overcame so many obstacles to be able to play in college.


Last week, Duke played Georgia Tech at home and we had high hopes for that game as well.  However, it didn't turn out quite the way we wanted it to so I don't have many pictures to post.  We did have a fun crowd for that game though. My parents were here along with my aunt and uncle, my cousin Tina and her fiance Wes and my cousins Andrea, Alicia, & AJ.  After the game, we all came back to our apartment for pizza and to watch TJ play at South Carolina. Ryan's parents were supposed to come for the Tech game as well but the swine flu hit their house...we missed them!

This weekend Duke plays at Miami and Florida plays Florida International at home, so we are waiting on Laura Gowder to get here Friday afternoon and then we are going to have a FUN, relaxing weekend with her...and nowhere to go...and I.CAN'T.WAIT!!!


Here comes the bride...

I've just started this blog and already I feel behind!  We've had so much going on lately that it leaves me little time to stop and write about it all, but with all that we have going on, it also leaves much to write about and lots of pictures to post!

So even though some of these pictures are from weekends back, I still wanted to put some up.

First is Mallorie and Ryan's wedding on October 25th.  Ryan and I sat through 4 quarters of a torrential downpour Saturday afternoon as Duke beat Maryland (no pictures due to the rain) and then we headed south (after changing into dry clothes for the 5 hours in the car) to make it to Mal's wedding the next day.  I was a little worried about the weather for her outdoor wedding the last weekend in October, especially after sitting through all the rain that we had, but God granted her nothing but sunshine and abnormally warm weather (upper 60's) for their wedding day on one of the most gorgeous days of the entire fall, complete with a beautiful red, orange, and blue skylit sunset at the end of the reception. 

 The outdoor setting of the ceremony and the reception - Duluth town square in Duluth, GA

Mallorie Grace is mine and Jamie's other sister, fitting in age right between us.  Mallorie, her sister Kalli, and I go way back to the summer before my 9th grade year at Heritage Academy when Kalli and Mallorie transferred to Heritage and lived about an hour from the school. We all met at basketball camp the week before school started - Kalli and I in 9th grade, Mallorie just a little 6th grader - and after the first day, we hit it off so well that my "new" friends came and stayed with me for the whole week so they didn't have to commute back and forth from their home in Snellville to camp in Gainesville every day.  From that week on, Mallorie has been like another little sister to me.  Even when I went off to college, Mal would come and stay weekends with my roommates and I and we'd sneak her into Georgia games with student ID's.  But then when she was home back in Gainesville, she'd go over to my house and spend time with Jamie - they'd go shopping or to the movies.  She really is like a middle sister between the two of us.

And here comes the bride....beautiful Mallorie Grace Krueger...
A little over a year and a half ago, Mallorie met HER Ryan...yep, we both found and married Ryans! :)  They made their relationship official the night before our wedding and he came to the wedding the next day as her date. I have a picture of them from the reception and I can still remember the table that they sat at.  And then, on mine and Ryan's one-year wedding anniversary and their one-year dating anniversary, I got a text from Mal with a cute rhyme saying something like "it may come as a shock, but he gave me a ROCK!" :)

Introducing...Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Jones!!  (The first picture is of my two Krueger sisters - who are both no longer Kruegers anymore...)

It was so fun to get to see so many great friends from home!
Top left is Christie (Cole) Howard, me, Erin Cole, and Britney Whitaker (all BPBC childhood frinds), top right is me with Mrs. Christie (Kalli & Mallorie's mom and my mentor/Bible study leader from high school, college, and post college when I was living at home working for the Falcons), bottom right is me & Ryan, Britney, Christie & Alan Howard, Erin Cole, Erin Channell, and Russ & Kalli Sandifer, bottom right is the "Erin pic" of the three Erin's who grew up together - Erin Pridemore, Erin Channell, Erin Cole.

Big congrats to Kalli & Russ who are now expecting their first baby!  Talk about an exciting weekend for the Krueger family - Mallorie's wedding was on Sunday, Kalli found out she's pregnant on Monday, the next day! 

Britney, Erin, Christie and I had the bright idea of running through the (cold) fountain...

And here is the beautiful sky at sunset at the close of the reception.  It really was a perfect day!

Ok, I actually do have one picture from the Maryland game the day before.  As I mentioned, I didn't take any pictures, but I did find this one in the Raleigh News & Observer.  It's an awesome picture because at the very end of the game when Duke just had to hold Maryland for the last two minutes and keep them from scoring to win, Matt caused a fumble as Duke kicked off to Maryland, getting the ball back to the Duke side and securing the win!

And now we're off to campus - Duke takes on No. 7 Georgia Tech today and my mom's whole side of the family is coming for the game so we're headed to campus to meet up with them!  Pictures from Duke/UNC and our tailgate with Adam & Melissa from last weekend are still to come (I'm so behind!)...

And of course....Go Gators and Go TJ today too - they play at South Carolina at 3:30 today!

 Happy gameday everyone - have a great weekend!


I said it's be...a Georgia...Gaaaator!

I guess that's what I could be labeled...a Georgia Gator. 

Well, my poor Dawgs took a beating and it was hard to watch, but I was hoping for the Gators to take the win.  Blood runs thicker than an alma mater, right?  Most definitely!  (love you Teej!)  And TJ's coach did not hesitate to tell me that when I visited the team hotel on Friday night wearing a Georgia t-shirt, which I only did to pick on TJ...and so I could get this picture of the little sibling rivalry we've got going on...

P.S.  When did my little brother get so big??
Tim Tebow thought my little prank was funny and insisted on getting a picture with me and my Georgia shirt too, but I've somehow misplaced that picture... ;)

So, Ryan and I got to Jacksonville Friday night before my parents and (family friends) Lisa and Benny, so we got to hang out at the team hotel with TJ and Sam (his roommate & bff...or whatever guys call their bff's) for awhile, which is always fun - those two are entertaining together.

Saw Omar, a Buford teammate of TJ's who also plays at UF - he came up to hug me, but then saw my shirt and said he just couldn't hug me with that thing on.  :) 

Made it to our hotel pretty late to find that Jacksonville on GA/FL weekend is I-N-S-A-N-E!!!  We stayed at a hotel walking distance from the stadium so we wouldn't have to deal with parking on game day, but in doing so, our hotel happened to be right beside The Landing...on Halloween weekend...with about 50,000 college students (= lots of drunk people in costumes at all hours of the day...and night).  We had to wear wristbands and show them to security guards just to get on the elevator at our hotel, and we slept soundly at night to the calming noises of our sound machine, which we had set to the "drunken 3AM party in the hotel hallway" setting.

Aside from the chaotic hotel experience though, we had a fun weekend!  My whole family was there except for Matt (who had to be in Virginia to whoop up on some Cavaliers that day) along with family friends Benny & Lisa and my uncle Steve and cousin Eric...all of whom have been die hard UGA fans all their lives, but rocked the orange and blue all weekend for TJ (except for my cousin Eric...he couldn't bring himself to do it).



As we were walking around the stadium waiting for the Gator Walk, I heard the Red Coat Band play the Georgia fight song from a distance.  That was the first time I realized that it was going to be harder than I thought to pull against my bulldogs.  Although I logically wanted Florida to win for TJ's sake, hearing the fight song, and then later the calling of the dawgs and the chants during the game made me want to stand up in the middle of the sea of orange and blue that I was sitting in and join right in with the Bulldog nation!  I have to say, it's been so fun to be at Florida games this season and be a part of TJ's experience there, but I do miss Georgia football game days in Athens!


And here comes the team! Left picture is TJ following Coach White (his position coach) in the Gator Walk, middle is Omar Hunter (Buford high school teammate of TJ's), right is...superman himself...that's right, Tim Tebow.


I have to admit...Jennica and I did call the Dawgs on the first kickoff...just for fun.  oops. And if you look closely in the middle picture, we both did rock our Georgia "G"'s despite being decked out in Florida colors - hers on her face, mine on my earrings.  :)


And here come the teams...


Opening Kickoff for Georgia/Florida 2009 in Jacksonville, FL...

Unfortunately, I didn't get a ton of great in-game pictures and wasn't able to zoom in very well, but here's one of TJ making a block on special teams.  He's #45 near the left sideline.


TJ's fan club :)


Final score: 41-17 Florida.  Note the difference between the left half of the stands and the right half.  Sad day for the Dawgs...on a happier note, I think this game secured Florida's spot in the SEC Championship.

Meanwhile, Matt and the Blue Devils beat Virginia 25-17 for Duke's 3rd straight ACC win!

After the fun weekend in Jacksonville with family and friends, Ryan and I headed north on I-95 on Sunday morning via a detour in Savannah, GA for lunch and a couple hours of enjoying the charming southern town...and it's good southern food! Oh, how I miss the south!

The Southern Charm of Savannah, GA...


And of course we had to get some pralines from River Street Sweets...


But I think lunch is what sent us straight to heaven, because we ate here....

Yes, that would be Lady & Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant. And check out that flag - she's a Georgia fan!

Here's what we ate...


Amazing is all I can say.


Thanks for stoppin' by y'all.  Come on back now, ya hear!