Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell, 2008

New Year's Eve! Tonight 2008 comes to an end. It was a very eventful year for us! I'm excited to see what 2009 will bring.

We'll be ringing in the New Year in Times Square, assuming all goes well. Jeff and Jaime are in town, and they're seeing a matinee showing of Avenue Q this afternoon. Our plan is to meet them at the theater after the show at 4:30p.m. then head into Times Square to begin the camp-out. It's going to be intense. Of course the place fills up quickly, and once you've been put in a spot you can't leave. Well, you can leave, but you can't get back to your spot. Move it and lose it, so to speak. Also, you can't bring any bags or backpacks, so no loading yourself up with extra blankets or food or things to do to occupy the time. So we've got some granola bars and small bottles of water to stuff in our pockets to take with us.

Also, it's freezing out and currently snowing pretty hard. I think the snow is supposed to subside by late this evening, but then the wind is supposed to pick up and as midnight nears the "feels like" temperature will be in the single digits. We're planning to wear layers and layers and more layers of clothes, so hopefully we'll be toasty warm despite the conditions. Despite all these challenges, I'm really pretty excited about this!

In light of the New Year, I've been doing the requisite reflecting back on this past year. What a year 2008 was for us! I'm very thankful that much of it has been documented here on this blog. It will be quite a year to look back on. For example:
  • It was our first full calendar year of wedded bliss. And it certainly was blissful. Eric is a great husband.
  • Eric finished law school, studied for and passed the bar, and began work as a corporate lawyer. That's quite a transition.
  • I finished up work at my firm in D.C., including training my replacement. I learned a lot and really gained invaluable experience.
  • We celebrated our first anniversary in the Cayman Islands.
  • We moved to New York. That's a big one.
  • I studied for and took the GRE and Psychology GRE. I applied to doctoral school.
  • We both turned 26 years old. And Achilles turned five!
  • We hosted LOTS of visitors, in both DC and New York. Hopefully 2009 will bring even more guests!
As I'm sure you all know by now, I love pictures. We take a lot of pictures. Believe it or not, the pictures I share on this blog are only a sampling of all the pictures we take. So, I thought I'd throw together some pictures to help me look back on 2008. So, here it is, our year in pictures:

I hope you all are able to look back on 2008 with peace and contentment, and that you are filled with hope for 2009. I wish you all the best in the New Year. Enjoy your celebrations tonight, and I'll see you in 2009!

Signing off for 2008,
Mrs. W.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Cleveland

This past weekend I left Eric and Achilles at home for a bachelors' weekend in New York, while I went to visit family in Cleveland. As always, it was wonderful to see everyone!

I left early Saturday morning to catch my 9:00a.m. flight, which ended up being delayed about an hour and a half due to a "maintenance issue." After sitting on the plane for over an hour, they finally moved us to a new plane. Then we had to wait another half hour before we could finally take off. Ugh. The worst part of the whole thing was that I missed the annual shrimp, cheese and crackers lunch! Of course they saved a plate for me, but I had to eat it by myself. Boo on plane delays.

After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, catching up, and just enjoying each other.

My grandfather's Christmas tree

Cousin Molly showing Gramps pictures from her recent trip to Budapest. She spent Christmas there, visiting her brother Jacob and his new wife, Zita.

Watching sports and dozing off in front of the TV is a great pastime of ours. Here, my stepdad Gary and cousin Adam demonstrate the proper technique.

Uncle Peter, Uncle Mark and Molly tackling the biggest crossword puzzle I've ever seen.

That evening we had our big Christmas dinner, which is always so delicious. We have some fine chefs in our family! This year's feast included ham, potato casserole, mixed vegetables, corn, and the always popular pretzel Jell-O salad. And of course, there was dessert as far as they eye could see: peanut clusters, peanut butter cups, chocolate-covered pretzels, and Lebkuchen, to name a few. Mmm, mmm. We certainly never go hungry at these gatherings!

The table set for our Christmas feast

After dinner, as is the tradition, everyone pops those gold and silver poppers you can see on the table in the picture above and enjoys the goodies inside. Said goodies usually include a paper crown (which ultimately leads to the family photo of everyone wearing their crowns), a toy and a joke. We share the jokes with each other, play with our toys, and then retire to the living room to take our group shot.

My mom playing with her new Whoopee Cushion

Our patriarch enjoying the merriment

The girls in crowns

Family shot!
Top row:
Gary, Uncle Peter, Uncle Mark, Adam.
On the couch:
Aunt Rachel, me, Gramps, Heather, Molly, my mom (on the chair)
And last but not least, on the floor: Sarah!

Another great tradition in my family is gathering around the piano to sing Christmas carols. This takes place frequently over the course of the weekend, and after our crown picture we spent some more time singing Christmas hymns together.

Uncle Peter and Molly playing the piano while Heather, Adam, Uncle Mark and my mom sing

Uncle Peter was the pianist for our hymn sing

Gramps singing along

Heather and me caroling

After the hymn sing it was time for presents. Most gifts go to our Gramps, although Molly, Heather and I always exchange gifts, plus this year Heather and I brought our gifts for our mother and she brought gifts for us since we didn't get to see her on Christmas. We got some wonderful things! Molly brought me a beautiful necklace from Hungary, and my mom brought a really cute lobster Christmas ornament for Eric and me. She also brought Christmas toe socks for all the girls!

Gramps opening an ornament that his new granddaughter-in-law, Zita, made for him

Toe socks! From left to right: Molly, Sarah, Heather and me.
The funny part was that as my mom took this picture she said, "smile, toes!" and we all wiggled our toes!

After the festivities wound down, we watched Wall-E (which I brought, of course), and by the time it was over we all crashed and went right to bed. We woke up early on Sunday to attend church together. I always love going back to that church. This year was nice because the regular pastor was on vacation, and the pastor they called to fill in had been the pastor there when I was little. His wife had also been our choir teacher. It was so nice to see them again.

Beautiful Christmas church

Molly, Heather and me all dressed up

After church, the visit began to come to a close. Uncle Peter was first to leave, then my mom and Gary left in the mid-afternoon. Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark, Adam and Sarah left after dinner, and then it was just the girls left. I went out that night with my friend Megan, which is always so much fun. She treated me to dessert and drinks at Cheesecake Factory, and we had a great time catching up. She's talking about visiting me in NYC this summer, which will be a blast! She's a great friend.

Monday morning Heather had to leave, then Molly and I did some shopping and had lunch with Gramps before I had to head to the airport myself. This time I got home with no delays (other than a long bus ride from the airport to Manhattan). My boys met me at Port Authority to escort me home, and that was a happy reunion.

So, another Christmas come and gone! The celebration continues on for us, however. Tonight our friend Jeff and his girlfriend Jaime are coming in from D.C. to spend New Year's with us, and on Saturday we'll be leaving for our Florida trip. So the fun is not over yet!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A New York (and New Jersey) Christmas

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I know we sure did. We missed being with our families, but on the whole I'd say our first Christmas in New York was a success.

Eric was able to leave work pretty early on Christmas Eve, and he used his time to finish up some last-minute shopping. When he got home, we did some shopping for food and wine that we would need for the holiday, then relaxed for a bit. Before we went to church, we exchanged our ornaments. We give each other new Christmas ornaments every year. For the past few years I have gotten him the annual White House Christmas Ornament, and I ordered it again for him this year. My ornament from him this year was a WALL-E ORNAMENT! I freaked out when I saw it. It's so adorable.

Our tree, with so many gifts piled in front of it!
Pardon the goofy-looking lights on the tree. For some reason, our bottom strand of lights burned out this year. One half of it burned out soon after we put it up, and the other half of it bit the dust just this week. It was the strangest thing.

Eric opening his ornament, with some help from Santa Achilles

My Wall-E ornament!

I loved him so much, I kissed him. And Achilles thought I was crazy.

After hanging our ornaments on our tree, we left for church. We went to a 10:30pm service at a Lutheran church we've been going to, about 10 blocks north of us right alongside Central Park. The service was long (an hour and 40 minutes), and the Bishop presided over it. It was very traditional - the Bishop wore his fancy robes, hat and cane, they used incense, and the Bishop even sang the whole Gospel! It was really nice. The music was enjoyable, and I always just love singing Silent Night by candlelight.

When we got home from church we poured some eggnog and warm apple cider and opened all of our gifts. We got some really wonderful things from our family, and from each other. Eric bought me a really nice new bathrobe, some perfume, a necklace I had my eye on at one of the holiday markets, a Wall-E action figure, and the Wall-E DVD. Achilles also got me a lollipop that I've always wanted - one of those big, colorful, swirly ones. I felt spoiled. I got Eric Rock Band 2 (although he knew that one was coming), a Gators golf hat he wanted, and a couple other miscellaneous Gator items. Achilles got a great new dog bed with a blanket over it so he can burrow into it, and a chicken treat in his stocking. It was a good Christmas for all of us!

Eric opening his Rock Band. I made him make a surprised face. Although, he really was very happy to finally be able to play with it!

Sporting my new robe, and showing off my perfume.

My Wall-E action figure! He's modeled after my favorite part of the movie, when Wall-E dances for Eve using a trash can lid as a hat. Awww.

Achilles in his new bed, with half of a Christmas bagel at his feet.

On Christmas morning, we woke up at our leisure and relaxed around the house a bit, enjoying our new toys. Then we made ourselves a nice big breakfast.

Eric setting up his Rock Band drums

Modeling my new robe (and rockin' some snowman slippers)

Achilles burrowed in to his new bed

After breakfast we got dressed and headed to Penn Station, to catch a train to New Jersey. Eric has extended family (his dad's mother, and his brother and family) in New Jersey, so we went to spend the day with them. We had a wonderful time! Everyone was so nice and their house was so homey and festive. We chatted a bit, had hors oeuvre's and wine, ate a delicious dinner (despite the oven breaking!), and really enjoyed ourselves. We even got to see deer out of their den window, which is something we don't see a lot of in the city. It was very nice.

Eric's Grandma L. opening some gifts

Eric's cousin Kevin and Uncle Alan

The ladies of the NJ W. house: Eric's cousin Kimberly, Aunt Lynn, and cousin Kristen

Aunt Lynn and Uncle Alan

Deer passing by the window!

Fun at dinner (me, Aunt Lynn, Kristen, Kimberly, and Grandma L.)

Enjoying our NJ visit

We got back to the city around 11:00pm and basically went right to bed. This morning we slept in, then cleaned up the house and started the cooking (while watching Wall-E), because tonight we had our friends Jose and Karen over for dinner. Eric made lasagna, including sauce from scratch, and we had salad and fresh bread as well, with cookies for dessert. We ate and then played games (Rock Band and Catch Phrase). It was such a nice time!

Eric preparing the lasagna: carefully spreading his homemade sauce

Salad fixin's, bread, and sugar cookies with orange and blue frosting

Our Christmas table - we finally got to light our Christmas candle!

The boys, all fancied up and ready for company

The delicious lasagna

Rock Band time! Eric on the drums, Jose singing, and Karen on guitar (and Achilles is the crowd)

Me rockin' out to some Alanis Morrissette

Eric and I are all business, him on the drums and me on the guitar

And that was our Christmas! I can't believe another Christmas has passed already. Although, it's not quite over for us yet. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving bright and early for a weekend in Cleveland with family. I'll be back Monday night, then Tuesday night our friend Jeff and his girlfriend Jaime are coming into town for New Year's. Then it will only be a couple of days before we make the trip to Florida! So we've got some fun in store for us yet.

Hope your holiday was wonderful!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

"For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
- Isaiah 6:9

Merry Christmas, friends and family! I pray this holiday is filled with peace, joy, and love for you and your family. May you create many happy memories this year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas Past

This Christmas is going to be a real change of pace for both Eric and me. This is the first year that we will not be able to make it home to spend the holidays with our families in Florida. It's kind of sad...we both had a feeling this day would come, but we had hoped to put it off as long as we could. It's hard to make that decision. We love our holiday traditions with our families, and we will miss them very much. Of course we know that this is a logical decision for us this year. Travel was just too expensive, and Eric would have had a tough time getting this week off work, so our visit would have been very costly for a very short period of time. Instead, we opted to go home in January for a longer stay and lower price tag. Definitely the smart decision, although not the easiest.

In thinking about the changes this Christmas is bringing for us, I was reminiscing about Christmases past. In looking through old photos, I came across a couple I thought I would share. Be prepared for cuteness!

Check it out, it's vintage Mrs. W. This picture was taken in 1985, when I was three years old. I wanted to share this one because this was probably my most favorite Christmas dress ever. It had a pretty full skirt, and hidden in the skirt were little tiny jingle bells, so when I swooshed my skirt around it jingled. I LOVED it. Please also note my white tights with red hearts, and black Mary Janes. I was stylin'.

Ah, it's me with my sister Heather, circa 1986. Notice that our dresses match but are in alternative Christmas colors. We were always pretty coordinated around the holidays. Please also note the chubbiness of Heather's cheeks. Is she not precious?

This one's from 1987. Once again we have the matching-yet-alternate-colors look. This year I felt extra fancy because I had my hair done at a salon. I had found a picture of a girl in a magazine who had a her hair braided like a crown around her head, and for whatever reason I had it done like that at a salon for Christmas. I remember coming home from the salon and being very concerned because I had to take a nap on my fancy hair. My hair survived, and I felt like a princess. Also great about this picture: Heather's super-natural smile.

And here we are, circa 1988, sitting on Santa's lap at the always-glamorous Parmatown mall. Heather is just as cute as a button. Once again she's sporting the chubbiest little cheeks and sweetest expression, no? And as for me...multicolored one-piece zip-up jumper? Check. My trusty headband that I always wore (my hair has always been mildly unruly, and I hate it in my face)? Check. Santa pin? Check. Awesome.

And here we are on Christmas Eve, 1989. This year we skipped the different colored-dresses and went for total matchy-matchy. Could it get better, you ask? Why, yes, it most certainly could. My mom also had a matching dress!

This is by far my favorite of the bunch: Eric and his siblings circa 1987. This is the only one I have of Eric and Co., sadly. But OH MY GOODNESS HOW CUTE. I hope Ronnie and Kelley aren't mad at me for sharing this, because my hands were tied. I just had to share it. I just adore this picture. They all look just like themselves, except small. Look at Eric's baby face! Love it. I also love his "Florida" t-shirt, so formally tucked in, and his haircut. And in case you were too distracted by the adorable children, please take a moment to notice THE CREEPIEST SANTA EVER. It only adds to the awesomeness of this picture.

It's so nice to think back to Christmases past and remember such happy times. Even though we can't be with our families this year, our hearts are home with them. And, I am excited to make new memories with my husband in our new home this year.

I hope you all have finished your preparations and are now ready to relax and enjoy the holiday with your loved ones. Merry Christmas!