Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - An Overview

  • I got engaged!
  • My baby cat went to the vet after eating netting off of a turkey roast
  • We picked a wedding venue
  • I got the worst case of the flu of my life
  • I lived through Snowpocalypse, which yielded 73 inches of snow in less than two weeks
  • I found my wedding dress
  • I started my very first garden seedlings (not chia pet seedlings)
  • My brother made us a cat tree
  • We built our raised bed garden
  • All my mysterious plants were identified (with much help from you all)
  • We got a dog
  • Our basement flooded (again)
  • We went to DC
  • I had my first and only article published on another blog
  • I learned to identify birds
  • I dug dandelions
  • Our dog ate a whole baked chicken carcass
  • I took my second trip to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters
  • Our garden really took off
  • I started working our genealogy
  • We went to a party at a friend's farm
  • We got a hamster that was part of a senior prank
  • Our dog tried to eat the hamster
  • I had my first bloggerversary
  • We saw Prairie Home Companion live
  • We picked a honeymoon
  • I went on a life-changing mission trip to Camden, NJ
  • We kayaked on the Shenandoah River
  • I started working two jobs at a time
  • We had an earthquake for the first time that I can remember
  • *B* and I had our first real disagreement
  • We started marriage preparations
  • We drove 16 hours to Indiana, while taking a detour through Michigan
  • *B* married friends of mine
  • I started freaking out about the wedding
  • School started again
  • I finished therapy!
  • I watched a freshman administer first aid to a fellow classmate during a fire drill
  • *B* and I started RCIA
  • I found the most perfect white bread recipe
  • My stress levels started to be difficult to deal with
  • We had to give away our dog after she literally tried to eat our kitten
  • I made and canned tons of applesauce and apple butter
  • I was given a gorgeous Renn Fest dress for my birthday early
  • I decided not to let stress get me down
  • We made wedding favors over Thanksgiving break
  • I turned 25
  • I got married!
  • My husband and I took a cruise for the first time in either of our lives
  • We visited four foreign countries together on our honeymoon

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Wonderful Whirlwind

What a crazy, wonderful whirlwind these past two weeks have been.  
At our rehearsal dinner, I had arranged a surprise for *B*.  One of his best childhood friends, Crystal, is eight months pregnant and living in Montana.  Her brother, *B*'s very best friend, is deployed with the Navy.  *B* was disappointed, but he understood that neither could make the wedding.  Little did he know, Crystal and I planned to fly her up the night before the wedding.  We had a lovely rehearsal and went to a small nearby pizza place for a rehearsal dinner.  
Me and *B* at the rehearsal dinner
  My best friend (and maid-of-honor) and me at the rehearsal dinner
My brother, who was picking my grandmother up after her plane came in anyway, got both my grandmother and Crystal.  We were all sitting down when Crystal walked in.  *B* didn't even recognize her!  I had to point her out three or four times.  When he did realize, though, he was so overjoyed.  I love this picture:
Crystal and *B* after he figured it out

Though he didn't get a lot of time to spend with her, he hung out with her the night before the wedding.  She flew home two days before her no-fly date.  Now we're just waiting for that baby!

The wedding was gorgeous.  A few things did go wrong (like when our nephew smashed his hand under a kneeler and no one took him outside) but overall it was great.
The baby pre-wedding

Our bouquets in the choral loft, where we sat before walking down the aisle

My parents helping *B* get ready
 My mom and my mother-in-law joking about how my MIL 
tripped up the stairs when going to light the unity candle

*B*'s face when he saw me for the first time

Exchanging our vows

Me and my mother-in-law during the sign of peace

Our receiving line - *B*'s best friend was there in spirit (and picture form)

My favorite picture so far (at least until we get the photographer's pictures)

Our rings

Our gorgeous and tasty cake
Cutting said cake

My closest friends from my high school graduating class

 The gorgeous red velvet capelet that my mother made for me so I wouldn't get cold

After the reception, we went out with some of the bridal party in Baltimore City to a pub.  We had a room overlooking the Inner Harbor with a gorgeous view.  The concierge saw that we checked in with our wedding attire on, and they sent up complimentary champagne and strawberries.  How nice!

The very next morning, we flew to Miami, FL and cruised from there to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Isla Roatan.  I have limited pictures of the honeymoon because we switched off whose camera we used.  I will post others when I can copy them from my husband. hee hee :o)  He has the pictures from Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

So I start in Belize.  We woke up early just to watch the sunrise off the back of the ship.  Isn't it gorgeous?
We took a two-hour bus ride through the marshes and mangroves just outside of Belize City and into the mountains further in the countryside in order to visit the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich (shoe-nan-tun-itch).  I love the houses in Belize.  Though they are rudimentary in many cases, the people look so happy with what they had.
 A typical Belizian house
 Crossing a river on a hand-cranked ferry to get to the ruins

So, funny story.  I'm the one who originally really wanted to go to these ruins.  I wanted to climb these ruins.  One small problem - I'm deathly afraid of heights.  On the way up, I was looking at the rocks in front of me.  It didn't even occur to me that I was going up, or that there were no railings (though railings don't usually calm me down anyway).  So I got to the top, and I managed to take these two pictures:

 *B* on the edge of the ruins (those whitish specks on the grass are people)

The surrounding grounds and other buildings (again, specks = people)

*B*'s camera has all of the other pictures, the gorgeous scenery, the ruins themselves, me clinging to the walls.  The reason that I only took these two pictures is that right after I took them, I started crying and hyperventilating.  What was I thinking??  I can't even ride in glass elevators without freaking out.  And I'm standing on top of an 850 foot tall building with no railings or protection from falling.

In the end, a very nice British couple and our awesome tour guide, not to mention my husband hee hee :o) helped me down the ruins.  They helped me sit down and slowly inch to the stairs, which were one brick's width from oblivion.  I wish I had pictures of it, but my fingers were digging into every single little fingerhold I could find.  When it was all over, I was - and am - glad we did it.  But you can't pay me to go up to the very top again.

The next day was much more subdued, though not without surprises.  We went to Isla Roatan, which is part of Honduras.  We booked an excursion to kayak in a clear bottom kayak, snorkel, and meet animals. 

What they called kayaking was really more like shallow canoeing.  *B* and I were in a boat together.  But apparently we misunderstood what they meant when they gave directions, and we took on water.  We missed almost all there was to see in the kayaking portion.

I'm not the world's strongest swimmer, but I made it through the snorkeling alright.  We got to see tons of coral and fish.  It was amazing.  I'll post pictures of the first two legs of the excursion as soon as we get our waterproof cameras developed. 

The third portion involved walking through a "park."  When I think park, I think nature reserve.  This was like a mini-resort with animals on the grounds.  They were cute nonetheless.  *B* wore a towel as our clothes were all sandy after the beach activities.  A monkey crawled right into his towel!  Eventually, it turned around to settle in, and I was able to get this quick snapshot:

 *B* and the Capuchin monkey

 A beautiful scarlet macaw in the trees

 A good picture of us on the third deck of the ship while still in port

 Since it was Christmas Eve, the dock workers sent us off in style :o)

We went to a prayer service at midnight on Christmas Eve.  The next day, we wore Christmas attire all day long.  We drew quite a few stares and amused looks.

 My Christmas outfit - not so unusual

*B*'s Christmas outfit - it fits his personality, and everyone loved it

My two weeks in a nutshell.  It was really great to have time to ourselves.  It's amazing though.  I always thought that nothing would change before and after the 18th, other than my name and demographic information.  It took a few days to get acclimated with our new roles in our relationship.  Everything has settled into a new, but pleasant groove - and I cannot be happier.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wedding Bells

Two more days left!  Wedding bells will chime on Saturday, then off to our honeymoon on Sunday for a whole week.

And when I get back, a highly anticipated (by me) and welcome (by you) change in frequency and topic of postings.  Hang in there, and have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Been a While

I assumed that as I got closer to the wedding, I'd be posting more.  Boy, am I wrong.  There are not enough hours in the day for all that still needs to be done.

Last night, I had a mini-crisis.  I had been trying to get a hold of our DJ for a long time.  In our contract, it said we were supposed to have a consultation 2-3 months ahead of time, but I never got a call.  So I emailed him.  Then, after a week with no response, I called and left a message.  By the time last night came around, I was a bit panicked.  I called one of my bridesmaids who has an awesome (though I'm sure very expensive) DJ.  She gmail chatted him, and he knows my DJ.  I don't know if she did something or if everything fell together, but his company called me twice today and emailed me.  I was able to cover all of the things that were making me worried (particularly pronunciation of names).  At least that got done.

Tomorrow, I am proctoring the ACTs and I have to talk to the reception place to get table counts.  Sunday, the cat we've been taking care of for two months will be going home.  On the 12th, I teach, and on the 13th, the students start their exams.  On the 14th, my future sister- and brother-in-law and nephew fly in.  On the 15th, my maid-of-honor flies in.  We have to figure out if we have enough decorations and get together last minute things.  On the 16th, I have to clean the church and (if I remember correctly) it is the day of my bachelorette party.  The 17th is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  On the 18th, I get married.  Holy cow.  The day is almost here!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Our RCIA class the other night got me thinking about the Christmas traditions that we have in my family.  *B* and I are also in the process of making some traditions of our own.

Advent Calender
We have a wooden advent calendar that we put out every year since our first year together.  *B* and I are particularly fond of Lindt truffles, so every day we each get a chocolatey treat.  Yum!

Christmas Movies
Christmas usually means lots of movies in our family.  These are some of our favorites:
  • Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Mickey's Christmas Carol
  • Ernest Saves Christmas
  • The Santa Clause
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone
  • White Christmas
  • Miracle on 34th Street
In my family, Santa Claus brings the tree (at least until we're all old enough to know better), which meant that my parents stayed up until 2:30 am decorating the tree as well as putting presents out.  When I was about three, I ran down the hallway toward my parents while they were getting ready. They caught me before the surprise was ruined, but it made them change their game plan.

For a long time after (even after I stopped believing though my brother still did), my parents had us sleep in their bed.  It was attached to a bathroom, and they tied the doors shut so we couldn't get out.  We watched a tape my dad made even before I was born.  It had been added to a little over the years, but not much.  In order, we watched Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Ernest Saves Christmas, and The Santa Clause.  When I was younger, I'd pass out just before Mickey's Christmas Carol.  It's safe to say that I can now stay up the whole way through.

Christmas Tree
Like I said, Santa brings the tree until the kids are old enough to know better.  Once we all knew, we started going out with our parents to cut down the Christmas tree.  We've frequented a couple of places over the years.  One of my favorite had free hot cider that they'd serve you while they bundled up your tree.  It wasn't always fun though.  Once, when I was younger, my dad held up the saw to show me how big the tree should be.  When he brought down the saw, it sliced a bit off the top of my finger.  It grew back, but every year I think about it.
Regardless of how we get our tree, one mainstay is C7 light bulbs - the painted ones, not the clear ones.

*B*'s family always had small lights, but I insisted on keeping this one going, and he obliged.  I think he even likes the big lights.  When we put on the lights, we always do the "squint test".  Some people know about this trick and some don't.  If you stand back and squint at the tree, you can see holes and bright spots in the lights so you know where to readjust.  We also use bubble lights in place of some of the burned out bulbs:

The light bulbs heat up, boiling the colored liquid inside.  We even have a bubble light nightlight in our kitchen that we just never took down.

As for ornaments, we got new ornaments every year when I was little.  We'd always go to the same place.  They had hot cider, a really nice little deli, a Halloween section, and tons of trees decorated with ornaments for sale.  My brother and I each got one choice of ornament.  Sadly, the cider went first, then the deli, and now the Halloween section.  They still have a nice selection of ornaments, but it's not worth the hour trek anymore.  Maybe we can find somewhere close to home to fill that role.

Christmas Dinners
This tradition will take a nosedive this year given the fact that I'll be on my honeymoon, but I'm sure it will be back next year.  Every year since I was 16, I've gone to dinner on Christmas Eve.  It's always a special restaurant that we don't go to during the year.  They're rarely the same restaurant from year to year, but it's always a nice splurge. In the years to come, I have a feeling we'll be going to Christmas Eve Mass before or after dinner, too.

On Christmas, my small extended family gets together and has Christmas dinner.  As of late, it's been a weird situation (what with my parents getting divorced), but everyone's still there regardless.

The Hat
On Christmas day, there is a person designated to pick up presents and give them to others by wearing a hat.  It's traditionally been a red and white Santa hat, but lately it's been a little snazzier.  Right now, I really want the singing, dancing hat they have at Wal-Mart to be our new hat, but we'll see how it goes.

Stockings are always the last part of Christmas morning.  Since I was little, my mom has put giant fruit in the toe of the stocking.  My dad and brother get oranges, and I get pomegranates.  Oh, how I love pomegranates.  The fruit ends up being part of our Christmas breakfast of bacon and eggs.

What are your Christmas traditions?