Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Pictures

Though I know from many viewings and readings of The Grinch this season that Christmas would have come even without trees or stockings or presents, I am still so happy that we were able to create a home, and a Christmas-y one at that, just in time for the big day.

Extra credit goes to Don, who bought a tree while he was here by himself right after OCS, before we actually moved in. Before we had a single box or stitch of furniture, we had a tree. He used all the wallet-sized pictures I sent him while he was away this fall as ornaments. Amy and William added candy canes, and I added my grandmother's Shiny Brite ornaments. I really love this tree.

This has been the first Christmas in our family history that Don has had totally off. No work, no duty, not even any looming travel plans.

I did get around to making Christmas cookies - yesterday - while Don and Amy watched Star Wars and William napped. It was blissful.

We grilled hamburgers the other night - how nice to have the grill and the Christmas tree going at the same time. I think this climate will be just fine.

The exhaustion is receding, the pile of boxes is dwindling, and our home is taking shape more and more every day. And the first ten days in our new house have already been so rich in memories.

Christmas day will always be
Just as long as we have we.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Numbers

1 week in our new house, as of tomorrow

9,000 pounds of HHG (that's household goods, for you non-military types) that thankfully fit in

One 26' truck meaning that our we did in fact empty and release our

10x20' storage unit, avoiding extra rent, extra expense, and an extra

530 miles (each way) to MD and back to get the rest. Phew.

2 kids and

3 cats and

1 fish held up amazingly well on the

10.5 hour drive south last week - which was preceded by

2 nights in a hotel and a

7 hour drive from CT to MD. Did all this lead me to come down with a

24 hour stomach bug or just an extreme stress reaction? The jury is still out.

4 bedrooms in this house - it's huge!!

40" LCD TV - Merry Christmas to us - we finally catch up with the rest of the world in the technology department.

$2.96 for gas down here - that seems cheap?

2 episodes of "The Life of Mammals" that I've watched on our pretty new TV while trying to write this post while also catching up on

10 days of neglected bookkeeping... which is perhaps why I'm out of good ideas for now.

12 days of Christmas have only just begun; please let me stay in the Christmas spirit long enough to make at least

1 batch of cookies and watch Christmas in Connecticut at least one more time.

MANY fun and/or necessary things to do in the next

8 days before Don starts his new job.

MUCH to catch up on when I resume some regular blogging (I've been promising that for awhile, haven't I?)

LOTS of love to all my friends and family out there at this most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting There...

Slowly but surely, Christmas is coming along...

Thursday, December 8, 2011


It is really hard to know where to start on this one, because there is so much to tell. So many things about the last few days (which I keep wanting to refer to as "the weekend," but was in fact a Tuesday and Wednesday) that were so incredible, and so incredibly special. Yesterday, December 7th, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Don graduated from OCS and received his commission as an officer in the US Coast Guard. Words can scarcely express how amazingly proud I am of what he has accomplished - not only getting into and completing a SUPER competitive and elite program, but finishing first in his class, and receiving no less than five awards at graduation. Forgive me for bragging and gushing just a little about the whole experience.

The fun began on Tuesday evening, when we got to get all dressed up and attend the celebratory dinner-dance. Don's been wearing the uniform for a long time now, but I've never gotten to see him in the "dress" variation, so I was a little giddy over that alone. We had a tremendous time.

Wednesday morning was the graduation ceremony itself, of which I have no decent pictures. The Coast Guard Academy is so beautiful, and all the venues were appointed so tastefully, and uniformed people everywhere made for such an impressive display... but alas, between the rain and the kids and the general commotion, I failed as a photographer.

Amy, however, did not, and she gets credit for the next three shots, taken during the brunch we had prior to the ceremony. She actually captured the feel of the whole thing quite well.

At several different points during all these proceedings I found myself brought to tears, in moments when I realized just how tremendously blessed we are in all of this, in every little way. So to kind of sum up the experience for myself and to keep from rambling on too much, let me conclude with a (incomplete, I'm sure) list of all the thoughts and moments that have filled me with gratitude over the last few days.

-Christmas everywhere, from the poinsettias and music in hotel lobbies, to the gorgeous tree and decorations throughout the Academy.
-Invocations at each event, and an overwhelming sense of the presence of God among us.
-Kids who held up through a bunch of days and nights of being off the usual routine, dragged hither and yon, and made to sit still a lot. Not only did they hold up, but they were little angels and got all kinds of compliments on their nice behavior.
-It may have been rainy, but at least it was not cold.
-Sniffles that (knock on wood) got better when they could have easily gotten worse.
-The privilege of staying in a really nice hotel, dining in a ballroom, and otherwise living the life for a short while. Oh, and Starbucks in the lobby.
-Gold stripes and bars and the awe that comes with what those mean for Don's career and our overall success as a family.
-Uniforms, and the pride of being a member of such an important organization and serving the country with distinction.
-Dress codes, and how snappy a bunch of people look when even the civilians are dressed nicely.
-Having our families with us for this whole experience. We are so blessed to have a set of siblings and parents that we are so fond of and whose company we so thoroughly enjoy.
-All the support and help from our families always, but especially in these last few weeks of moving, traveling, and events that have required more favors and babysitting than we usually like to ask.

A really exciting future ahead of us...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Like Rocks

*The title of this post is an inside joke for Don (love you, darling!)

Today we got to go to a very favorite place of Don's and mine, and one that we have not been to in over four years. This is a spot where we came for walks almost every weekend; the last of which was just a few days before Amy was born. I was already a week past my due date, and a tropical storm was grazing the coast, but we tramped along in the rain on the mile-plus loop anyway.

And four years later, we returned, now with our little family in tow, just as we used to talk and dream about when we took those walks years ago. The pace was a little slower, and our arms were a little more tired as we carried sleepy children up the last stretch back to the car.

Don and the kids spent the better part of an hour throwing rocks in the waves while I slipped an embarrassing number of rocks in my pocket - all of them simply too pretty to leave behind. I like rocks.

This little road trip got me thinking about how a place is never truly just a place, it is a place in time, and returning at a different time renders it a different place. For better or worse, nothing ever exists quite the way it does in memory. But that is okay, because there are an infinite number of new places and moments and memories being created all the time.