Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Every year I like to look back at the fun things Dave and I did together and make a collage.  Here's this year's, which hopefully Dave got in the mail for Christmas, since we haven't seen each other yet!  You can find other years here.

Some of the pictures (LtoR): Kayaking while the van wouldn’t start in Tetons, Hiking in Cascade Canyon in the Tetons, solar eclipse at Waldo ponds, Gooseneck overview at Capitol Reef, fixing the van in Tetons, Matt and Allie’s wedding limo, hike in the snow with the new camera, Labyrinth in Jackson Hole after picking up the coil on our trip with Charlie, Central park in NYC with Brent, the shore pre-Sandy (Brigantine), Capitol Reef camp site after the Cohab Canyon hike, fixing the Westy at the garage, Tetons, wedding, whitewater rafting, me and the van at the falls in Yellowstone, Lake Powell, Time Square after nice work if you can get some, Jackson lake, Berties for Dave's 28th birthday in Kentucky on his move to NYC, Lake Powell again, Brigantine Beach, Norris in Yellowstone, Making a mosaic birdbath, My 30th birthday and new pots, Rehearsal dinner, Wildfire threatens our home, San Francisco (forgot Muir woods!), Mammoth caves, Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef.

I think we did a bad job of taking pictures together this year, but I still wanted to show the breadth of things we did, even though we were living two time zones away for half of it.   I realized I forgot a few things and all of the pictures on Dave's phone and camera aren't here.  Ah well, it's still a fun overview! 


I hope 2013 is amazing for all of us!  A year ago I was about to turn 30 and had no idea what this year would bring.  In the last year my car was stolen, our condo was threatened by a wildfire that was two miles away, my boyfriend moved 2000 miles away and lived through a hurricane, most of my graduate school friends have moved away, and my Grandma has been quite ill.  Despite all of this, I am proud of myself for making it through.  Sometimes it felt like I was barely surviving.  My home was a mess, my laundry never done, my eating habits pushed to eating out because I was too sad to cook.  My friend Yolanda was my savior through the hardest times.  I miss her so much, she moved away for an amazing job in November.  I saw her last week and cried after I had to say goodbye.  I think after all of this, though, I'm in a good place.  My job is still worth staying here for and I am thankful that I have it.  It keeps me sharp and makes my days go extremely fast.  I hope that I can continue to stay close to Dave, even though we are so far apart.  I also hope that my Grandma pulls through this rough time. 

Cheers to a new year, new chances to make yourself happy each and every day, and to hope! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Traditions

My Grandma is at the heart of our Christmas traditions.  Her blue and green Christmas lights brighten her corner home that is the warmest, coziest place to spend a holiday.  Grandma and I both love our storms and hope for snow, gobs of it!  We gather at her home for Christmas Eve and have a late Christmas lunch with as many aunts, uncles, and cousins we can fit into her house!  Of course before lunch one of the family members leads us in prayer.  Grandma is the mother of my six aunts and two uncles, all of whom are married with children, adding up to 25 cousins, many of whom are married and have children of their own!  The boys make their way to the basement for poker games and football on TV, the girls cook and do dishes after each meal, as there is no dishwasher.  The cousins play games, try on any old bridesmaid dresses we can find in Grandma's upstairs closet, and exchange gifts in the living room near the Christmas tree that sits in a musical rotating stand.  She decorates the tree with icicles after all of the ornaments are on.  Many of the families wander off to in-laws' parties later in the afternoon, but some of us stay at Grandma's all day, eating leftovers, drinking, and playing games.  Grandma is a saint for letting all of this commotion go on in her home!

Around 9:00, we put away the last of the food and freshen up for Midnight Mass.  This year will be particularly hard because our priest was killed on his bike just a few months ago by a car.  Hopefully mass will be a celebration of him, among the usual Christmas celebration.  We all sit together and illegally save seats for the families who are still at the in-laws and are running late.  Cousin Jennifer and I sit together and giggle at ugly Christmas sweaters.  I awkwardly avoid receiving communion because I don't want to be glutened by the host.  We sing Christmas songs and listen to the choir.  I give hugs to old high school friends who are at mass and we all walk out through the snow to our cars, seeing our breath as we go, and haul ourselves back to Grandma's house.  It's now midnight and it's Christmas!  Tradition calls for doughnuts and pickled pigs feet, which, in reality, are something my Grandma makes called "sults," which aren't pigs feet, but a pork roast chopped up and put into a sort of pickly jello.  It's kind of like eating cold pork with sour kraut in the form of a loaf.  I LOVE it!  Grandma always surprises me with it, but this year, she is a little under the weather, so I might have to have her help ME make it!

Grandma sends out a Christmas letter each year with a story.  She is a wonderful storyteller.  This year she told us of how her and Grandpa, who died a few years before I was born, got engaged.  It was Christmas Eve of 1945 after Midnight Mass when he gave her a ring.  Now that I know this story, I understand even more, the traditional post-midnight-mass celebration that we have every year at her house.

Christmas morning we spend at mom and dad's house.  Mom makes breakfast and we open gifts, usually with Lampoon's Christmas on in the background.  We gather food, games, and pajamas, and drive back to Grandma's house to join the cousins from out of town who slept there the night before for a day of games and good food.  Grandma listens to us as we sing along to her Christmas music, "Come on Ring Those Bells!" and entertain ourselves with cards and board games and movies all day long.  She plays cards with the aunties, 7's, Kings, and Sheep's Head. 

Grandma's house when I was in my mom's tummy!
Grandma's house when I was a baby
Cards and Grandma's
Uncle Mike's outfit after Midnight Mass

Grandma's kitchen table

Grandma and mom 2012
Looking forward to another year to make memories with Grandma and the family!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fall 2012 Highlights

Since we left off, I've been to the Jersey Shore (Brigantine), New York three times, Kansas City, and San Francisco.  This is my first weekend in my condo since November 3rd!  Dave was at his parents house for hurricane Sandy and they were without power for well over a week.  I heard from him right after the storm, but had to wait a while before we were finally back in touch.  There were lots of trees down in his parents neighborhood and lots of ruined roofs!  The Rockefeller Christmas tree ended up coming from their county!  His apartment actually had power the whole time, but his work didn't.

Dave and I with his nieces and nephews at Brigantine Beach.
Oh my gosh, how cute is this?  I believe Gavin was 8 months old here.  Best baby ever!
Dave, Matt, and Nard gambled while Vicki and I went to watch the fireworks one night in Atlantic City.  Not sure how this fared in the hurricane.
Statue of Liberty from the not-so-long-ago flooded Battery Park
We had some NYC fun.  We went to a play about a dude with a big nose, went to the Philharmonic at the Lincoln center, and I finally got to see TWC site and the new Freedom tower.  I also got to see Battery Park after it flooded from Sandy.

A park in Dave's neighborhood

Rehearsal dinner gluten free dessert-- sorbet.  YUM!
I went to NYC for my fall break.  I had lots of fun sharing a kitchen with Dave's mom.  I made 15lbs of cream cheese mashed potatoes (5 too many!), a gingersnap crust pumpkin cheesecake gluten free, Aunt Darcy's stuffing, and gravy for Thanksgiving dinner.  She made just as much food and the other girls made the Turkey, more stuffing, and soooo many amazing pies!

Dave's last unmarried (1-year-younger) brother tied the knot the day after Thanksgiving. Rehearsal Dinner was Wednesday, Thanksgiving-eve, and we had such a fabulous meal with an amazing dessert!  Dave's brother and sister-in-law in NJ hosted Thanksgiving and the Turkey was made on the grill.  Best turkey EVER!  We had such a beautiful sit-down meal with much of the family who had come in from Wisconsin for the wedding.  It was perfect! 
Rehearsal dinner with Vicki (Dave's mom), brother Andy, and Liz, who were married in June.

Rehearsal dinner.  Dave borrowed this academic jacket from his dad. 

Groom, Bride, and Best Man all rehearsed!

Maddie being such a Turkey on Thanksgiving!

Brothers on Thanksgiving enjoying the hot weather and smoking the turkey on the grill.  Honestly, it is very difficult to get these boys to pose for a photo without someone being a goofball. (Matt, Dave, Andy, and Jake) (Jake is the dad of the adorable kids pictured above!)

Ready for dinner!!!
 The wedding was such a blast.  Dave was the best man and gave a really cute, funny speech. 
Congrats Matt and Allie!

Good lookin' crowd!

Fun in the limo on the way to the reception.

Cocktail hour!   Only coke for Dave, have to be ready for the big speech!

Dave with some of his WI aunties.

Dave with Grandma Nancy and Aunt. 
Dave and his mom.  I can't get over how amazing she looked in that dress!!!
The wedding was positively fabulous.  I've never seen anything like it!  We had a beautiful cocktail hour, then a three course meal that lasted well into the night.  In between each delicious course we danced!  It was so fun and I am so happy to have been able to attend this one, as the last brother's wedding was the same day I was in cousin Cassie's wedding.

A week after this, Dave and I met up again in San Francisco for a week-long conference.  We met up with many of our bestest friends who have moved away in the last year and had so much fun.  We took a day-trip to Muir woods and went on a 4 mile hike, then headed to Stinton Beach.
Hike in Muir Woods.
Red wood at Muir Woods

Stinton Beach, SF
We flew back to Denver and had a good 10 minutes before Dave had to board his flight back to New York.  I hate goodbyes!

Well, that's it, my semester in a nutshell!  School was crazy-busy and that's why I lacked posting for a few months.  More to come!