Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Kim!

Last night, we celebrated Kim's (my step-mom) birthday. I love being with family. Kim's special request was pizza and a homemade chocolate cake with buttercream icing. I did the cake, and my dad did the rest. Does anyone else out there absolutely love cream sode?!! I hadn't had it in a long while and it tasted wonderful with the pizza.

Here are some pics from the festivities . . .
Yellow roses, her favorite . . . and the cake

Fun casual dining

Joy and Kim

Brian and Tucker

The girls

Snow Day

Yesterday we got about 3 inches of snow and then ice. I worked from home, and Brian enjoyed a day off from school. It was a nice change of pace, and it's always nice to look out at the snow in the yard.

I have to say that the highlight was the incredible quesadillas that Brian made for lunch. Wow! The best I ever had!!! Here's what were in them: taco meat, turkey bacon, black beans, red peppers, carmelized onions, cheddar cheese . . . then, top it with sour cream and mango salsa! Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Here's some pics of the yard:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time to smile

Oh, and I forgot to mention some very important news in the posts below: I got my top braces off before Christmas! If you're tempted to think it's a small thing, oh it's really not! These are momentous times!

You'll notice the posting is either feast or famine around here. It's been famine for a while. And, now it's feast time . . . on reading. There are 5 new posts below.

A Best Friend Reunion

Last weekend a reunion of some of my best friends: best friends from high school. Yes, that would be Krissy and Tamara. We had a super fun time together down in Maryland at Krissy and Steve's place. We chatted tons, ate great food, saw the sights in downtown Annapolis, chatted some more, . . . it was great. Oh, here's a juicy tidbit: Krissy is pregnant!! Woohoo! Their first kiddo is due the end of July. Tamara is an 'ol pro at the kid thing . . . 4 great kiddos.

It's really hard to keep up those very special friendships in your life . . . especially across miles, with busy lives, and so many new relationships in each new phase. But, there is no doubt that certain people have a huge place in your heart and nothing can change that . . . like my Krissy, Brooke, and Tamara. I really love those girls. I hope I can get to see Brooke sometime soon . . .

Taking Up Swimming

I think that ever since Amy Claire started swimming, I've more than secretly wanted to start regularly swimming. And, after years of running (which I still enjoy), my knees are starting to talk to me . . . so, it's time for a no-impact cardio sport to join in the weekly routine: swimming! If you know me, you know I love fitness.

Anyway, it's convenient that my LA Fitness has a nice pool. I got me some TYR goggles, a TYR cap, and a swimmer's suit. And, I consulted one of our senior high girls from church extensively (who is a competitive swimmer). I've been her little aprentice. It's been fun. So here are some of my very beginner swimming tips:

1. A cap doesn't keep your hair from getting wet. It just holds it back.
2. In a lap pool, swimmers share 1 lane. You shouldn't stand and wait for a lane all to your own.
3. Swimming takes LOTS of lung-power.
4. You'll feel like Gumby when exiting the pool (after swimming your first few times).
5. Have fun and relax!

Anyway, any swimmers out there? Give me a shout. I'll take any tips. I'm mainly doing free-style, back-stroke, and various other things that I see people do.

2 Years Together

It's hard to know how the time can fly by so quickly. It's been 2 incredible years together

. . . thankful for each new day, always learning something new about each other, learning how to communicate better, learning how to trust God with the big and small things (especially money), having fun travels together, moving into a new home, serving at church together in many ways, seeing the refining process of marriage, learning how to balance schedules, having morning devotions together, Brian plugging through college,

. . . and goofy little things: going through at least 1 box of Shredded Mini-Wheats per week, making sure I never blow-dry my hair while Brian irons or we'll blow a circuit, trying to find a remedy for very large flocks of geese in our yard (like hundreds), witnessing Brian kill numerous flies with his bare hands, enjoying a good episode of King of Queens, . . . this could get long-winded.

Anyways, we really love life together . . . even through the hard and difficult times. God is very gracious! And, we're very thankful!

My mom gifted us with a trip to D.C. to celebrate 2 years . . .

Washington Monument, and our double-chins :)

The White House

Priding ourselves on cheap-eats: Julie's Empanadas

Yummo empanadas + lunch in the park + warm sunshine = bliss!

Doors I liked - at the Daugthers of American Revolution building

WWII Monument . . . it's new

The Lincoln Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial . . . yea, we got around

We got to see Twelfth Night, very fun

We did the museums, but I'll spare you those pictures

Sunset at the Capital one night

We couldn't pass up the Botanical Gardens, . . . more like I couldn't

An orchid named after me: Mary Orchid

We have many more pictures, but I don't want to bore you :). If you ever want a virtual trip of D.C., let me know. But, really I highly recommend a trip there. It's so unbelievably free everywhere, and we ate at some really fun restaurants. It's was a splendid time!

Do you have a Christmas Pickle?

We received a Christmas pickle (ornament) this year. I thought it was really cute.

The glass Christmas pickle ornament is always the last glass ornament to be hung on the Christmas tree. The parents hide the glass pickle ornament in the Christmas tree among the other German glass ornaments. When the children were allowed to view the
Christmas tree they would begin gleefully searching for the German glass pickle ornament. The children knew that whoever found the glass pickle ornament first would receive an extra little gift and would be the one to begin the unwrapping of the Christmas gifts.

Even though there are no kiddos yet, we're not going to let that stop us. Guess what our "little gift" with the pickle was this year? Back massages!

Home for the Holidays

Better late than never, right? Well, either way, that's the case here :).

Folks, I had 12 days off -- a record -- and I totally enjoyed it! I was smart this year, and I saved vacation time for Christmas. Since Brian is in school, it's nice to enjoy his break with him.

We had a wonderful time hosting family over the holidays. On Christmas Eve, we had the Hand clan, 12 in all. Brian made a great ham with bourbon cola, pineapple rings, and cherries. This was my first Christmas ham . . . I never had ham at Christmas. It was yum!

Christmas Eve evening is always our candlelight service at church -- something not to miss. It was wonderful to hear the story of our Savior's birth again; every year I am more grateful for the life and hope we have through Him. It was also wonderful to see so many church families extended families. And, a blessing to sing (and hear) Silent Night sung acapella with only candles lit. It was special to sit behind friends of our who have a cute newborn girl and almost-2 year old boy, with his hair slicked down, sweater-vest, and wide-eyed at the candle's glow. Many things are precious about our church body -- it's like home.

Jenna (sister-in-law), Mike (Bri's bro), and Dad Hand

On Christmas morning, we open presents on our own -- just us. Guess who got books, and books, and books, . . . to his heart's content? Yup, Brian. And, guess who was completely floored by a new camera and blue tooth? Me!!! So, I took, oh . . . just 200 picture over the holidays. Oops! A little too excited.

Then, we enjoyed brunch and more present opening on Christmas day at my dad and step-mom's. There were out-of-town little neice and nephews there, so there was present-opening-excitement! I just loved sitting back with Brian and enjoying that family time.

All the stockings at my parents . . . we're quite the crew.

Little Jacob, fresh from the tub -- a little chubSisters
John, Robin, Kim, and Joy Ansley and Pop-O (my dad)
Hard to know who likes the toys more . . . Someone is a proud bike owner now . . .
Caleb is teaching Brian about tools . . . or maybe visa versa

Christmas evening, we hosted my mom's family and my bro and his fam -- 11 in all. We aren't often together, so it was really special. My Grammy (yes, I still call her Grammy) had a stroke 2 1/2 years ago, so anytime with her is really precious. Life isn't the same for her -- or the rest of the family for that matter -- anymore.

My Grandpop, Aunt Pat, and Mom - sorry, a little blurry

This Christmas, we were blessed -- in more ways than one.