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!

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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.

Our kitchen

Our kitchen area is my favorite place in the whole house.  We chose fun, bright colors for the kitchen and the adjoining sunporch that has become our breakfast nook type area. The porch is the room that sold me on this house.

Our (very orange) kitchen

Our (very orange) kitchen

My favorite room in the whole house

My favorite room in the whole house

A confession though. I hate cleaning the kitchen. Abhor it. I love the kitchen being clean, but will play tetris in the sink rather than load (or more in my case, unload) the dishwasher. I will wash utensils on an as-needed basis to avoid messing with the dishwasher. Bless DJ for being diligent about the dishwasher or else we would probably eat from paper plates every night.

In the six years we’ve been married, we’ve moved three times. We moved into our first cute apartment in RVA right after we got married. We moved into a different apartment in a different part of town with about 5 days notice when the aforementioned cute apartment had no heat. And in July 2010, we moved into our first house, our first space that we owned and that we could truly do with what we wish.

Every time we’ve moved, my objective is to always get the kitchen unpacked and functioning first. As long as you have a mattress and boxes of clothes, the rest of the house can come along as it pleases, but the kitchen is the anchor of the house. It’s the room where we usually say good morning after DJ’s lovingly gotten up early with the dogs and I stumble out of bed ten minutes later.

It’s the room that made us buy a reciprocating saw at 8:45pm the night before our new refrigerator was to be delivered because I didn’t know refrigerators came in different heights and we had to cut a cabinet off the wall.

It’s the room where I screamed because there was a spricket on the floor (I don’t do bugs) and DJ wasn’t home. Our first dog, Corky, came wandering lazily into the kitchen and upon deciding he didn’t want to eat the spricket, stepped on it for me.

It’s the room where we’ve prepared so many meals for more friends and family than we can count. We’ve made two Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners, Easter lunches, party food. We’ve made hundreds of cookies to gift to our friends and neighbors.

It’s the room where we’ll make bottles at 1:30am for our babies. We’ll set-up a high chair in the breakfast nook, overlooking the back yard when it’s sunny or when it’s raining or snowing. It’s the room where I’ll make our kids’ first birthday cakes. It’s the room, in the house, where we will be parents.

 

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.

The Meteor Shower That Wasn’t

Julie and I are both pretty exhausted today.  Yesterday, we were both caught up in the hype that was supposed to be a great meteor shower.  We were told that it was to peak from 2-4am and that it had the potential to have hundreds of shooting stars per hour.  Julie was excited about shooting them with her camera and I was excited to geek out about space.  I have never grown out of the childish wonder that is outer space.  It was a tough week for us and we were both looking forward to ending it with something special and fun.

We drove out of town to get away from any light pollution.  We navigated pitch black dirt roads but finally ended up at a clearing and meeting up with Julie’s photography group at around 11:30.  The sky was perfectly clear and we could not have asked for a better night.  We stayed out for over an hour and saw a couple meteors.  We wanted to stay up for the peak of the shower, which was supposed to be between 2 and 4 am, WAAAYYY past our bedtime. We soon realized that, even with our after work naps, we were way too tired.  Our solution was a one two hour nap in the car.  We awoke ready to be awed.  Instead, we saw nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  There were no meteors; it was a bust.  We were a little disappointed, but had no regrets.  The sky was still beautiful, and we had a great view of the Milky Way.  Julie even got some shots.

Julie's shot of the Milky Way

Julie’s shot of the Milky Way

We stayed about another hour and then headed home.  We got in after 4am, completely exhausted, but still happy we went.

 

Riverrock Day 2

Day 2 of Riverrock and DJ’s big race. We went down this morning after breakfast and the farmer’s market with DJ’s parents. We paddleboarded, slacklined, and got wet watching the air dogs. We came home for a little while because DJ’s race wasn’t until six, then I kept shooting while DJ was kicking ass on the trails. We were loving the break from the hot weather, making it gorgeous to be out. I hope you’re enjoying it.  All day, I watched the parents with their babes and I can’t wait to bring our kids to things like this. I so hope they’ll love the outdoors and this city as much as we do.

DJ slacklining

DJ slacklining

My turn slack lining with DJ behind the camera

My turn slack lining with DJ behind the camera

He bailed

He bailed

DJ's dad getting in on the slacklining

DJ’s dad getting in on the slacklining

Can you spot DJ mugging? Look at those guns.

Can you spot DJ mugging? Look at those guns. Nothing screams manly like a pink t-shirt from your high school physics club.

Big finisher.

Big finisher.