Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Chronicles

I'll begin by saying that my Christmas this year was SPLENDID. I don't know how else to effectively describe that it was everything I could have wished it would be, and everything Christmas is "supposed" to be. I can't think of a single aspect about it I would have changed (not even my dad being hospitalized... I'll explain that shortly).

Josh and I kicked off Christmas proper by spending Christmas eve wrapping presents together and listening to Christmas music at home. It was a bit of a nail-biter as I was still waiting for ONE more package to arrive. Thankfully it did, around mid-day, and I then could breathe a little easier. Once all the presents were wrapped, we just sat down and took some time to snuggle together and chat. A little later we drove up to my mom's for coffee and cookies with my siblings and some aunts and uncles.

On Christmas morning we woke up early because we had a busy day scheduled. We first opened presents together. Neither of us bought a lot of stuff (actually we had the exact same number of presents under the tree!), but we had chosen really good stuff. Best of all was the Canon digital Rebel xsi that Josh gave me! I had no idea that was even a consideration for this Christmas, but it's the camera of my dreams. My jaw hit the floor when I opened that one :) Then it was off to the Becks' for a big breakfast and more present opening. We had a good time there. Around 1:00 we packed it up and headed to Towson to visit my dad and bring him some goodies. He was in good spirits and started munching on the holiday trail mix I'd brought him right away. It's amazing that even though it's sad and depressing to be in the hospital at Christmas time, the truth is, I've spent more time with my dad this past month than I have since he and my mom divorced almost 20 years ago. This whole event has really brought us a lot closer to him and given us a lot of time to talk to him and build a relationship through helping him that we wouldn't have had otherwise. As tragic as it was for it all to happen, it has truly turned out to be a blessing for all of us. Amberly and Ben arrived there shortly after Josh and I, and they stayed a little later as well. I felt compelled to get to my mom's and help her out since the three of us all spend most of Christmas morning with our in-laws. I feel bad that our own mom is at home by herself preparing a great big dinner for all of us while we're spending time with other people. So Josh and I got there and helped get a few things together before it was dinner time. We all sat down together and ate, and then the kids started begging to open their presents - of course :) So we let them dig in first and snapped a few million pictures. Then we just kind of dug in ourselves without much rhyme or reason. It was fun. The gift of the night was without a doubt this gigantic Nerf gun that Amberly bought for Ben. Everyone wanted turns playing with it, shooting each other, shooting Evan's "Little People", and startling the pets. It was a hoot :)

On Friday I visited my dad in the morning and then we went down to D.C. with Nathan, Erin and Jennie. We walked around the American History Museum for a while, then went to dinner at the Hard Rock and finally made our way over to the National Christmas Tree. It was a good time. The weather was nice - very chilly but not unbearably cold. In the past Nathan and Erin have always gone to see the tree, and this year they invited all of the Beck kids to join them. I thought that was a fun thing since the Beck kids don't all get to hang out together very often. They're pretty scattered with Jennie and Connor in the Towson/Timonium area, Nathan in Germantown and Josh here in Columbia. Everyone is at least 30+ minutes apart from one another.

That's about it for our Christmas activities. Before I wrap this up though, I thought I would share a couple of things I learned this Christmas.
  1. Christmas is, in fact, the most perfectly romantic time of year for a wedding (learned not just from the example of my own wedding, but the Herdmans' wedding last weekend)!
  2. Nothing ruins a holiday manicure better than Scotch tape.
  3. Don't trust your neighbors when it comes to UPS deliveries.
  4. If you don't have it, Yankee makes a candle so you can pretend you do. In my house that was Christmas cookies and a live tree :)
  5. Everything happens for a reason, and even something that seems devastating can turn out to be a great blessing!

I hope everyone had a SPLENDID Christmas also and that a healthy and happy New Year lies ahead!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Wedding Every Day

Yesterday we went to the wedding of my best buddy from college, Phil and his beautiful bride, Daniella. This was the first wedding we've been to since our own, so we were very excited to enjoy a wedding from "the other side" of things. It was a lovely winter wedding. The ceremony was held at Christ Lutheran church in Baltimore, and the reception was at Martin's West. Pictures are below - some are a little blurred from being far away, sorry! :)

Phil & Daniella exchanging their vows

This is a happy bride!! Aren't they cute?

The happy couple dancing :)
We were definitely the 2nd cutest couple at this wedding
The old Towson crowd! What a crew....
Place cards & carrot cake

Because we were dressed so cute, I had to get a picture when we got home!
After the wedding, I started thinking about weddings in general. And I realized that we could live every day like a wedding day. Here's how I decided that would look:
  1. Begin with God. Not necessarily at church, but at least with the acknowledgement that the day is a gift from God and the willingness to seek His will and guidance. Some reflection on your blessings would also be a good start.
  2. Spend as much of your time as possible with your closest family and friends. Share a beverage with them, a meal, or even a party! Make the absolute best of your time with them.
  3. Play your favorite songs and sing along as loud as you want. Take the time to share a dance with your beloved, or heck everyone! Let loose and enjoy yourself.
  4. Always have dessert. Life is short, you may as well enjoy a really well-made dessert when one is available. There's no reason to cut that kind of enjoyment out of your life. If it's calories you're worried about, refer back to #3.
  5. Keep a guest book - i.e. letters, photos, cards, etc. that document the sentiments you and your friends/family shared. What better reminder of how important those people are to you or how important you are to them than a heartfelt note? Also a great opportunity to reminisce about all the great times, both hilarious and humiliating :)
  6. Count your gifts!! God is good and has given us MANY blessings. It's important to recognize that on a regular basis to truly understand what a great life we have been given. The better we understand this, the more fulfilling our lives will be.

Wouldn't life be so happy if we all lived every day like a wedding day? I'm so proud of that analogy I think I'll add it to my speech for Ben & Jenna's wedding. I'm rather excited for that speech :)

I just have two quick updates before I wrap this up for the night. The first is that I went to see my dad today and he was in quite a mood. Earlier in the day when he was walking down to physical therapy, he stopped in the hall and said to his therapist, "Watch my new trick!" and then he proceeded to stand there on his one BAD leg (really, they're both bad, but this is the one he just hurt with the recent fall). She told us he scared her to death and she told him not to move until she got to him. But he thought he was really funny. The other update is on our stolen Christmas presents. We did get in touch with Amazon this morning (where all 4 gifts were ordered from), and they were so nice about the whole situation. They told us they would either replace everything or refund our money. What a relief! So we asked for replacements on the items that were in stock and a refund on one that was out. We'll just re-order that one when more come in. So that was a pleasant resolution to a very unpleasant experience. Just thought I'd share :)

Thanks again, and as always, for reading. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pee First* :)

Look! A new post! Admit it, you're excited.

First, let me say Merry Christmas to everyone! I'm hoping to be able to blog a little more over the holiday break from school (officially now through January 4) but just in case, I want to make sure I got my holiday greeting in :)

Next let me say, this is going to be a GIANT update since I haven't blogged for so long. Fortunately for you, I have an amazing husband who said he would be willing to continue playing Rock Band until I was done writing this post, and then we can proceed with our cozy Friday night together. Lucky me :)

I'll start with my dad. He's doing so much better. He has made great strides with his intense routine of physical, occupational and speech therapy at least 5 days a week. Amberly, Ben and I have been vigilant about one of us visiting every single day to make sure he's well taken care of and everything is going well for him. We've got him set up with all kinds of conveniences to make his stay there as comfortable as possible. He has only had minor complaints about one nighttime tech who he says is mean to him and won't help him in the middle of the night. He is also getting really sick of hospital food, but who can blame him for that. We bring him "real" food from the cafeteria whenever we can. His biggest issue is trying to recover from the fall. He's older and he had a lot of leg problems before this happened. He shattered his ankle when we were kids (so probably around 20 years ago) and has limped ever since. He has arthritis in both knees, and he has previously broken a hip (also from falling alone at home). So he's not a sturdy guy as it is. He hurt the non-broken hip on this fall and is still feeling considerable pain from it when he tries to get around. When I was there the other day his walking speed was noticeably quicker. He's using a walker to prevent another fall, so it's not really fast at all, but when he first started standing and walking they were trying to get him to a wheel chair to take him for therapy, and he stood in the floor for a long time just trying to get turned around to sit in the wheel chair. He finally looked up and said, "Tell them I'll be there next week." So to see him moving around at a relatively normal pace is reassuring :) The therapists estimated about another 2 - 2.5 weeks and then he can go home... wherever that will be, because he can't go back to his apartment to live alone at this point. But that's another hurdle.

In other news....

I also got my new car! This was unexpected. We went to the dealership and ordered the car on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. My mental math puts that on the 20th of November. At that time they told us it would be about 5 weeks before it came in - so somewhere around the end of December, possibly into January because of the holidays. Two weeks later, Wednesday the 3rd of December, I got an email at work saying that the dealership had gotten the invoice on my car which meant the car would be delivered within a week! If that wasn't surprising enough, less than an hour later I got another email saying the car was actually there and ready to be picked up! We were unprepared on multiple levels: #1. I wasn't ready to part with my Integra, #2. my mom was on the title so I not only had to find that, but get to Eldersburg so she could sign it, and #3. I had a very nice stereo in the Integra that Ben had given me as a gift and I wasn't about to trade that in with the car, so I had to go to Eldersburg to find the stock stereo somewhere in my mom's basement AND we needed to find a quick (and free) way to switch them out. Well, I don't have to tell you that we were awesome enough to accomplish all of this on Thursday (even though I had originally found the wrong stereo in my mom's basement and had to make another trip to find the right one), and by Friday evening we were on our way to Annapolis Subaru to pick up our brand new car. It was bittersweet because as I mentioned before I thought I had a little more time to say goodbye to my Integra. If you remember when I bought that car, I had busted my butt for it and had had my heart set on it for a long time. I really loved it and it had gone so many places with me: Alabama for Jared's wedding, Cedar Point, New York city... just to name some big ones. Not to mention it had never given me any trouble. But I knew it was time for us to part. It had just barely under 150,000 miles, it was 10 years old, I hated the ice cold/blistering hot leather seats, and there was no way to fit a family in there. So I drove her her last drive to Annapolis, did some paper work, and drove home in my brand new Forester... but not before driving past to wave goodbye to the Integra :) Today is the Forester's 2-week birthday and I have loved her every second. So at this time, I'd like to introduce you to Sue.....

Isn't she so pretty?? I've gotten some criticism about her color [white], but I wanted a pretty car. The other colors were simply not for me. The only other colors I was considering were a charcoal gray (Josh's favorite) and black, but both of those came with a really dark gray interior and I didn't want essentially black with black. I thought it would feel too enclosed. Other than her beautiful exterior, some of Sue's best features include a remote engine starter so I don't have to go out in the cold to start the car up, fog lamps, heated cloth seats, side-mirror defrosters, all-weather floor mats, a cover for my trunk cargo, a cover to protect the rear bumper when you're loading/unloading cargo, and a gigantic moonroof... it's seriously like being at the planetarium.

Not only that......

We celebrated our first anniversary! I can't believe it's been a year already. Our actual anniversary was on Monday (the 15th) but I suggested we celebrate on Friday (the 12th) since Monday was a work day and we'd be tired. We decided to go out to a nice dinner at Gordon Biersch - a fabulous brewery in Annapolis. If you like DuClaw it's similar but a few steps up in class. I had the crab cake and the Marzen- a smooth, mildly sweet, auburn colored lager. Both were delectable. Josh had a Marzen barbeque burger and the Golden Export- a smooth lager, lightly hopped with a dry finish. He also liked both. I tried his beer and liked it, but I definitely enjoy the slightly darker lagers. After dinner we came back to the house and just snuggled on the couch in the dark by the Christmas tree. It was very romantic and nice. We don't get to do that often enough. Then came the super fun of gift exchange - we proved [yet again] how perfect we are for each other by getting spot-on perfect gifts for each other. I bought him a Nintendo Wii because I knew he would have it and enjoy it for a long time and it was something we could do together. He arranged for us to have portraits done since our last formal pictures were the wedding. They turned out SO great and we bought a bunch. It's something I'll keep and love for years and years to come. We also celebrated a little on Monday night since it was our actual anniversary. We just made dinner and ate by candle-light. We also had a really tasty wine. It's from Elk Run in Mt. Airy and it's called Annapolis Sunset. I highly recommend it if you like light and fruity wine. Unfortunately all wine causes me a nasty headache the next day so I had to wake up and take some medicine to get through the morning, but it was worth it :)

And my last update in this extremely long post.....

It's Christmas! How is my shopping going, you ask? Well it's not going great, but I have made some progress. I decided to do the majority of my shopping online this year simply because of time. Between work and visiting my dad I just don't have the time to drive far and wide searching for gifts and standing in lines. It sounded like a great idea. The packages started arriving, and then they stopped arriving. On Wednesday according to our shipment tracking, there were supposed to be four things delivered between Josh and I both. Well, we never saw them, and still haven't seen them, and have come to the conclusion that these packages were stolen from our front porch before we came home that day. It was Josh's gift for his mom which we have been looking for honestly for years - every year that we've been together. He finally found it and it got stolen. There was also a gift for his brother Nathan and his wife, in addition to a gift for my mom and one for my sister and her husband. We were furious, but realized there was absolutely nothing that could be done. We're still going to try calling Amazon and/or UPS and USPS to see if they can just double check everything. But it really looks like there was just some jerk who noticed four boxes sitting there at 2:30 in the afternoon when no one else is home and figured there must be something good in there. So we're trying to move on and focus on the positive... like the fact that Christmas break has officially started and we don't have to return to work for two solid weeks! Josh's job is that great that he can take off when I'm off. It's been a really difficult few months for us with my job keeping me so busy. These two weeks are going to be exactly what we need.

Overall I'm completely thrilled for the Christmas season and almost sad that we're so close to it being over. Tomorrow we're going to a wedding and then it's mostly just relaxing with the exception of Christmas day of course which we will spend with our families, and then New Years Eve which we are spending with Mr. Andrew Bokman and his lovely lady, Devon. Ex-cit-ing!

Alright, I know you're sick of reading this if you've made it this far so I'll wrap it up. Thanks for coming back after weeks of bloglessness on my part. I do appreciate it :) I'm off to curl up with my handsome husband and watch Wall-E!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Follow Up

Just to follow up on my previous post....

It's been a stressful couple of days, but my dad has made a lot of progress. On Sunday evening a physical therapist came in to start working with him and he didn't react so well. He wasn't able to stand on his own or walk at that point, and after trying, he complained a lot about his hip hurting (he was convinced that it was broken even after x-rays). Yesterday he had more physical therapy and did much better. He was able to stand and walk about 14 feet. He also did some occupational therapy yesterday and was able to walk another 20 feet as well as stand at the bathroom sink and shave his face for about 20 minutes.

I had planned to drive down and visit him today, but ended up getting out of work extremely late. By that time my sister had called to let me know that he got the OK from his doctor to be transferred to a stroke rehab center. My sister had done some legwork to get him into the stroke rehab at GBMC where she works so she's able to visit him frequently. The drive to Glen Burnie (where he was) took her almost an hour, and she is by far the one with the most schedule flexibility out of the three of us. So he was being transferred to GBMC this afternoon and she stayed with him through that and got him settled in when he got there. Tomorrow night I have my last Ethics class, and then on Thursday I'm free and plan to go up and visit him.

It's an absolute miracle that he survived at all. I can't get over how speedy his recovery appears to be going. I don't think he's out of the woods yet, he still needs vascular surgery to hopefully reduce his chances of another stroke. But given his health prior to the stroke (a smoker almost his entire life who refuses to take his medications because he "feels fine" and eats a lot of meat and potatoes), he is extremely fortunate.

So just in case anyone doesn't believe there's a God, I think this story does a good job of illustrating God's love. My dad isn't even officially a believer, that I know of, and this is what God has done for him. I'm also hoping this experience converts him :) So along with your prayers for health, throw in there a little prayer that my dad will "see the Light." Thanks!

AND... I hope you're enjoying the Christmas tunes on the radio, shopping for the perfect gifts, and getting your abodes warmly decorated for the season :) Happy Christmas time!!!