Christmas in Song

“Grown a little sadder/Grown a little older/And I need a little angel/Sitting on my shoulder/Need a little Christmas now” – We Need a Little Christmas

I love Christmas, but this year it was hard to get into. Granted, we were abnormally busy this year – on December 19, DJ successfully defended his PhD. He’s officially* a doctor! But removed from that, we both just felt like something was missing. I mentioned this in my previous post, so I’m not going to dwell on it, but we thought we would celebrating this Christmas as a family of three, instead of a family of two. So preparing for Christmas was a little sadder than normal this year.

 

“And everyone is singing/I hear those sleigh bells ringing/Santa, won’t you bring me the one I really need?/Won’t you please bring my baby to me?”All I Want for Christmas is You

This is my favorite Christmas song (and I can sing this song almost as well as Mariah Carey herself, although DJ and the dogs tend to disagree). Again, we thought we’d be a family of three this year, so it was hard to hear this song and not think of the baby we were hoping Santa would bring us.

 

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas/may your heart be light/In a year our troubles will be out of sight.” – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aASCHienefI

This is a close second as my favorite Christmas song. It really resonated with me this year, thinking back over the last year and especially where we were this time last year. I had just been laid off, so DJ and I were both applying and interviewing for jobs. We didn’t know where we were going to be living come summer, if we were going to be living in the same city or different cities, or even if we would find jobs. Our troubles of last are truly out of sight this year. We both have good jobs, we are still living in our home (which I love so much more at Christmas), and, most important, we are together. Everything may not be the way we would like, but that’s okay. We both believe that “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

 

We had a wonderful Christmas. We both had to work Christmas eve, but we had a great day home together yesterday. We spent the evening with friends, sharing a meal and each other’s company. So Christmas was good, we are good, and we’re ever hopeful for a family of three for Christmas 2015. We hope that you are well and that you had a good Christmas. We hope for good things for everyone in 2015.

 

*It won’t be “official” until graduation in May, but he’s done all the work. All that’s left is to walk across the stage on May 9!

Wedding Weekend in North Carolina

On Friday, DJ and I drove to North Carolina for my cousin’s wedding. Steven is my mom’s sister’s son. A quick-run down of my family on my mom’s side: My grandparents live in Ohio, in the same town my mom grew up in. My mom’s sister, Jackie, and her husband, Art, live in the same town. Jackie and Art’s daughter, Anissa, is my only girl cousin on that side. My mom’s other sister, Mary, and her husband, Mike, live outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Their sons, Steven and Austin, also live in the Charlotte area. I’m the second oldest of the bunch. (It goes Steven, me, Austin, Anissa). We were ALL together this weekend for festivities and we had such a great time.

You should know these people by now. We clean up pretty well.

You should know these people by now. We clean up pretty well.

My beautiful cousin, Anissa, and her awesome boyfriend, Tim.

My beautiful cousin, Anissa, and her awesome boyfriend, Tim.

My aunt, Jackie, and uncle, Art.

My aunt, Jackie, and uncle, Art.

My mom and her sisters.

My mom and her sisters.

My parents

My parents

All of the cousins. Austin, Steve, Me, and Anissa.

All of the cousins. Austin, Steve, Me, and Anissa.

The wedding was on Friday, so on Saturday we got to hang out as a family while the bride and groom left for their honeymoon. We went to my aunt and uncle’s house for the day. They live on a lake and we took their boat out and went tubing.

He was the only one not to flip the tube.

DJ was the only one not to flip the tube.

It's a lot harder than it looks.

It’s a lot harder than it looks.

DJ Julie Boat

We both made it alive.

 

My dad got in on the tubing action

My dad got in on the tubing action

And my grandfather certainly wasn't going to be left out

And my grandfather certainly wasn’t going to be left out

Hanging out in the water after tubing

Hanging out in the water after tubing

Since we live across four states, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but when we do, it’s like we’ve never been apart. I love my family and on top of that, they’re pretty awesome people.

July is here

It’s Julie. DJ’s in the final throes of PhD preparation, so you’ll be stuck with me for a while.

It’s hard to believe July is here already. Normally we’d be getting ready to go visit my parents for the 4th of July weekend. I grew up not far from the Antietam Battlefield and every year, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra performs a free concert with fireworks at the battlefield. It’s a tradition in my family and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve missed it (Once I was in Germany, once it was just waayyy too hot, and maybe the year I was born?). My dad and usually someone go down to the battlefield around 7 on Saturday morning and claim our spot.  We get the same spot every year, but there are also upwards of 20,000-25,000 people there, so getting a spot early is a necessity. We pack (almost always too much) food, games, and books, and head out in the late afternoon. We eat, visit, and relax until the concert and fireworks.

DJ's first time at the Battlefield - 2006?

DJ’s first time at the battlefield – 2006?

I was super grumpy that day - admittedly, the hot temperatures and I don't mix so well. Take notice of the matching family shirts though.

This is part of my mom’s family – my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. I was super grumpy that day – admittedly, hot temperatures and I don’t mix so well. Take notice of the matching family shirts though. (I think this is 1999 or 2000)

2010 with our friend Lauren!

2010 with our friend Lauren (who will henceforth be known as Aunt Lauren)

Even the rain doesn't stop us.

Even the rain doesn’t stop us – or the Power Rangers. (2009)

It’s the one time a year that lots of friends from home are all in one place and it make visiting easy. Unfortunately, this year’s going to be an absentee. Since DJ is wrapping up his work, we had to choose between going to the battlefield and my cousin’s wedding in North Carolina next weekend – no brainer.  I’m going to miss the battlefield certainly and it’s a tradition that I can’t wait to share with our kids.  But I’m even more excited for the wedding. All of my mom’s family will be there and we’ve been looking forward to it for months. We’re a large, loud bunch, and I can’t wait for our kids to be a part of it all.

 

 

Why this blog

It took us a while to decide to start this blog. When we started, and still now, we struggle with what to write, what to include. We’ve been feeling our way through it and it’s helped us as an outlet as much as we’re hoping it helps you to get to know us better.

One thing that I hope you will understand from our blog is that we are present. We are there. Our posts might not be as often as we like and we might have an occasional dry spell without posts. But we always write and we always catch up. We’re not perfect, but we’re here. And that’s what we want you to know about us. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. But when it comes to our family, we are there and are going to continue to be there. No matter how open you want our relationship to be, or if that relationship changes over the years, you are  a part of our family.

This blog has been a letter to you, a letter ten months in the making. We feel like we’ve been able to give you a better idea of who we are than just with our profile with CHS. It was hard to describe ourselves in a single letter for our profile, so we started writing the blog.

I hope that you’re reading this. I hope that you’ve gotten to know us better and that you know that we’re more than what can fit in a single letter.

Baseball and Anniversary

Hello.  It’s DJ here.  It has been a while since we posted anything, but we’ve been pretty busy.  A week and half ago, the Phillies were in DC to play the Nationals.  We always try to get up when the Phillies are in town, even when they’re one of the worst teams in baseball like this year.  The good news is that with them so bad and the general disinterest in the Nationals, we got some killer seats right down the third baseline.  The Phillies were shutout, but even that couldn’t ruin some of the best seats I’ve ever had at a baseball game. 20140614-163506-59706422.jpg Then, the following weekend was Julie and I’s 6th wedding anniversary.  We took the opportunity to make a beach weekend in the Outer Banks. Nags Head 06-2014-1000100

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Batman or Superman?

A few weeks ago, we were running out of blog topics. We put a call out to our Facebook friends and asked for blog post suggestions. Some were serious, some more fun. This is first from our suggestions and it’s a fun one – Batman or Superman?

Kickball theme night - Julie's the Batman all the way on the left, DJ's the Riddler.

Kickball theme night – Julie’s the Batman all the way on the left, DJ’s the Riddler. Like I said, if a costume is necessary, I’m more than happy to oblige – and I made that one on my own, cape and all.

Julie: Batman, all the way. And for no deep reason. Probably because after school when I was growing up, in addition to Darkwing Duck, Ducktails, and Power Rangers, I would watch The New Batman/Superman Adventures. Except when it was Superman. I just don’t like Superman. I do like Batman though. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are two of those movies that whenever they come on tv, I know what I’m doing for the next two hours. (We also saw The Dark Knight twice in the first three days it came out).

DJ: I’m not a fan of this blog post, mostly because this I think this is a ridiculous debate.  To me, this is equivalent to asking if you’d rather have a lollipop or a kick in the face.  Batman wins.  It is a no brainer.  Superman is too simple.  He has superpowers that make him invincible with the exception of some magic rocks.  And I can totally tell it is you, Clark.  You just took off your glasses.  Seriously.  Give me Batman, who is just a man who surrounds himself with awesome gadgets and Morgan Freeman (who can do no wrong).  I’ll even give him a pass with his voice that makes me get laryngitis just listening to it.  But you should probably get back to me after I’ve seen Ben Affleck.

Memorial Day

DJ and I both had to work today, so we celebrated Memorial Day yesterday with food, fireworks, and friends.

After the late night Friday early morning Saturday, we did a whole lot of, well, nothing on Saturday. We were going to make pork bbq (one of our yummy favorites), but our lazing around got in the way of that. So we got up early yesterday morning instead and smoked that meat for seven deliciously-smelling, neighbor-envying hours. The smell of charcoal is summer for me. I also made my mom’s much sought-after baked beans and brownies to finish the menu off.

Best. Smell. Ever.

Best. Smell. Ever.

We packed up our cooler and chairs and headed down to the river. The music was great, the weather was perfect, and the food was superb. We went with some new friends and the company was exactly what we needed this weekend.

After I told him to smile about three times.

After I told him to smile about three times.

Finally.

Finally.

I’m a sucker for a good fireworks show and last night surely didn’t disappoint. The fireworks were set off just as the sun was setting, making the landscape a photographer’s dream. I love this city and the skyline served as a perfect backdrop.

I love fireworks and RVA.

I love fireworks and RVA.

These are traditions and memories that I can’t wait to share with our kids. Some of my best memories from growing up are at fireworks shows with friends and family. They’re moments that are irreplaceable and I cherish them forever. My heart is so ready to share these experiences with my family and hope that our children will love these traditions as much as I do.

Memorial Day is about more than fireworks and food, though. DJ’s paternal grandfather and my maternal grandfather both served in the military. My paternal grandfather was a conscientious objector during WWII. My paternal grandfather was raised German Baptist, an old-order religion similar to Mennonite, which believes in non-violence. Instead of going to battle, he stayed stateside and performed other necessary work.

My dad served in the army after high school as well. Their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of countless others, allow us to live in a country where we are free to make our own decisions, speak our own minds, and live our lives constantly striving for the better, so we never squander what others have given us the opportunity to have. Thank you!

My dad in the army.

My dad in the army.