Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Year of Firsts

I'm always surprised at the in-depth conversations Nathanial and I manage to have while he's getting ready for work.  Especially given that he usually leaves for work by 6:30 and my lack of morning chipperness.   A few mornings ago he asked me a question that I've been pondering ever since. What would I label 2014 the year of?

I finally decided that for me 2014 has been the year of firsts.

It was the first time I was ever called Mrs.

It was the first time I got a stamp in my passport.

It was the first time I moved away from the great state of Texas. 

It was the first birthday where I couldn't say I was in my early 20's anymore.

I was a first time homebuyer.

And first time home improver.

It was the first time I appreciated a heavy jacket (and a husband returning safely from the North Slope.)

It was the first time I hosted overnight guests.

It was the first time I saw a moose in the wild. (Yep that obsession is still alive and well!)

And it was the first time I spent Christmas away from family.

This year brought so many surprises and challenges but also so much happiness and adventure.  I'm excited to see what God has in store for us in 2015. 

Thanks for following along!  Life is so much sweeter with the love and support of our family and friends.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Celebrating the Season

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.  Is there anything better than celebrating the birth of a savior?  

I love all that it represents and also all that it embodies.  I love how this time of year is tied to traditions, joy, cheer and family.  I love the songs and the music and the food.  I love it all!

We managed to pack in so many different ways to celebrate this year.  I think it helped that we started right after Thanksgiving.

We ran a 5K on Black Friday that ushered out Thanksgiving and ushered in Christmas.

We checked out a fundraiser called Festival of Trees where local businesses create and decorate trees which are auctioned off to charity.

We saw some impressive light displays!

Including some very Alaskan themes like moose and flying fish.

We attended Nathanial's company Christmas party complete with live band, photo booth and a Christmas Story theme.

We won the costume contest at our Sunday School Christmas party.  A tutu and Charlie Brown for the win (literally!)

I hosted a Ladies' Night Out where we learned to make floral centerpieces and had an ornament exchange.

We watched tons of cheesy holiday movies.

But mostly we just enjoyed spending the season with each other.  Alaska at Christmas is really something magical.

Merry Christmas, Y'all.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sounds of the Season

This past weekend our church did something fun in the evening service.  The crowd got to shout out favorite Christmas songs for the worship team to lead. I was really impressed with Nathanial who had to transcribe the music as he site read. His trumpet really made some of the songs stand out. I requested We Three Kings so he could really shine but was ignored. They were going by age and as I was one of the youngest in the room I didn't really stand a chance.

The evening got me thinking about Christmas songs and what music represented the season for me.  

There are the traditional hymns like Silent Night and Joy to the World that remind me of a candlelit Christmas Eve service and even the caroling I did as a child. 

There's the Nutcracker score which reminds me of being in dance and the many times I've seen the Nutcracker ballet.

There's the actual Christmas song that reminds me of the Yule long burning video my Dad would play each year as we decorated the tree as a family. 

Even the Jingle Bell Rock, which I can't stand, reminds me of the holiday 
season. Now you might be wondering what's wrong with the Jingle Bell Rock as most people consider it a decent song. It was a decent song to me too maybe even one of my favorites until I spent my childhood on a jump rope team (it's a real thing - we were called The 
Palpitations) performing in Huntsville's annual Christmas parade. Jump roping for 4+ miles to the same song on repeat year after year did me in. I still remember the routine and have to change the station or the leave the room any time the song comes on. 

What songs remind you of Christmas? What's your favorite song and memory?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This weekend we finished decorating our tree and put up some lights on the house.

You know you're dedicated to being in the Christmas spirit when you have to shovel snow and melt ice just to be able to put the ladder down.

Despite my one slip on the ice, the lights went up without incident.  I love the way it turned out.   Nathanial gets all the credit for that! After a few drives around the neighborhood, we're confident our house looks the best.  

Here is some of the other decor we have up:

That's a mercury glass tree in the middle; not a menorah
Our tree. Thanks family for the gifts!

Even our fridge is in the Christmas spirit.
Window clings are an easy way to decorate the kitchen. Thanks Jannette for that tip!

Some glitz in our formal living room.
It's not Christmas without an advent calendar from my Dad.
This Charlie Brown tree in our entry has OSU and Baylor ornaments. :)

And a funny story as a reward for looking at all those pics:

Whenever Nathanial is on a business trip I try to sneak something in his suitcase so he knows I'm thinking of him.   This time I counted out a Hersey Kiss for each night he would be gone with one for good measure and put them in a Ziploc bag with a note written in Sharpie on the outside.  

As cheesy as you are thinking this is I'm sure it's nothing close to what the construction guys that found the bag were thinking.  Nathanial is rolling out a new Arctic hardhat and took a ton of materials to site.  I guess he handed off the materials without going through them and the bag of kisses had fallen inside.   The guys found them and had eaten all but one by the time they saw the note.  They brought him the last one and apologized.  Good thing I packed that one for good measure :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter Wonderland

The song Walking in a Winter Wonderland has a whole new meaning to me now that we live in Alaska.  I think the verse "We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way" is a nice way of phrasing what it looks like when you're trying not to fall when walking on icy surfaces.  Let's just say I bust lots of moves trying not to bust my behind. It's definitely not as fun as frolicking sounds.  All though it's helped my flexibility quite a bit as I practice the splits a lot more frequently.

Driving in winter here is a different story.  It's my kind of driving - no rules and no lines.  There's always ice, snow or mush on the roads so you can't see the lines.  I like being able to forge my own path.  Parking is great too because there is no worrying about parking inside the lines. Not that it's ever a problem for me ;)

We've been really busy since returning from our Thanksgiving trip to the lower 48 so tonight was the first chance we had to get a tree.

Selfies with a Christmas tree in the back of the SUV are totally a thing
I attempted to put up an artificial one but it just didn't feel right.  So tonight we went in search of the perfect real tree to bring home.  The first place we went had a 30 foot inflatable Santa outside the lot.  We were surprised to find that the prices were almost as tall as Santa and the service less than jovial.  Most of the trees had frozen needles too.  Nathanial did his best to negotiate a better price but the owner wasn't willing so we headed down the road to another lot.

The second lot was so much better.  The trees were housed inside greenhouses. There were no frozen branches and we were warm as we looked though the huge selection. The trees were hanging by the tops on metal railings which was really helpful in picking the perfect one.

It's funny how the smallest things make the biggest difference. The moment Nathanial carried in the tree our house started to have the warmth and joy the Christmas season should. 

Putting the stand on

Growing up my family would always eat at Pizza Hut after decorating the Christmas tree. I'm not sure why that was the restaurant of choice but it was a fun tradition to keep.

Tonight I decided to start a new tradition with Nathanial and have a fun meal before getting the tree. Our holiday fiesta with homemade salsa and Chuy's inspired jalapeno sauce was a great start to the evening.

We capped off the evening with a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie and a double instrument serenade.  Not too many people have husbands that play both the trumpet and the harmonica.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Are You Ready For Some Football

I'm back! Both to the state of Alaska and to updating this little space on the internet. I've missed blogging!

First things first- SIC 'EM BEARS! I'm a proud alumna tonight as my Bears just clinched the Big 12 Championship for the second year in a row.  At this point I could easily branch off into the hypocritical policies of the Big 12 and their "One True Champion" brand campaign but since we all know that Baylor is indeed the true champion I'll go ahead and skip that diatribe.

Nathanial and I enjoyed watching tonight's game with some other BU fans at a local sports hangout called The Peanut Farm, but I have to admit my favorite games of the seasons were the two we experienced in person at the beautiful new McLane stadium on the Brazos.

The kick-off to our Thanksgiving trip was the annual Wells family showdown of Baylor vs. Oklahoma State. My brother and his family graciously allowed us to hitch a ride with them to the game.  It was 4 hours well spent as we (Sarah, my sister-in-law, Kate, my niece and I as the boys opted not to participate) practiced some sweet dance moves and Nathanial and I regaled (or bored) everyone with tales of Alaska.

Once in Waco, Nathanial and I got to have dinner with my college bestie, Jessica, and her husband, Kevin, before heading to the game. It was a great visit but was even more special as she is 8 months pregnant and made the hour long trip just to see us. The Mexican food we had at Ninfa's was pretty spectacular too. Hooray for queso!

The weather was horrendous that day but we were blessed with great seats.  Our seats under normal circumstances would have been pretty awful (think end zone at the very top of the stadium) but during this game were perfect as our section was one of the few covered sections.  The game was set to be a black out theme but that proved difficult with the various rain get ups the crowd was wearing. Nathanial had a great one liner and said Baylor fans were wearing black to OSU's funeral. The weather was so bad that fairly early into the game the cameramen abandoned their posts and the network opted to use only overhead shots.

The game ended up being much more competitive than anticipated. Despite the score and the stormy weather, a fun time was had by all.

BU vs OSU: The one time a year we aren't on the same team.