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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best NYE Ever!

I had very young parents and grandparents growing up, so on NewYears Eve, I was often left in the hands of my maternal great-grandmother.  My parents often hosted a party at the"camp" which my Papa had built just a few hundred yards from our houses and my grandparents always did something fancy.  At least it always seemed that way to me.

As I (and she) got up there in age, Grammie Foster was there more for the token adult presence than to actually do any of the babysitting chores.  I remember my mom would make us special food so we could have a party ourselves.  We'd get to have Doritos, sparkling grape juice and use special "wine" glasses - which my mom gave to me (because they are red and match my decor) and I keep in the china cabinet in my house.  I imagine that at one time there must have been more than five of them, but since there were only four of us girls, any more than that didn't register with me.  

One of our most favorite things to do was to take all of the cushions off the couches, chairs, etc., and play "Queen."  Which meant we would stack up all of those cushions into "thrones" and sit on them.  

And Grammie Foster always drank coffee.  Taster's Choice instant coffee.  Probably a half dozen cups a day.  I remember her having the tiniest stove/oven combo I had ever seen.  It couldn't have been more than 24" wide - maybe even smaller.  I don't know how she cooked anything in that oven.  And she had the best refrigerator.  It was a really OLD one - the kind that had a latch handle that you pulled open and the freezer had a small metal box for the metal ice trays - which were stuck in the ice compartment because it wasn't a frost free model.  I don't know if she ever defrosted it while I was alive.  She didn't do much cooking for herself.  I know my Grammie would bring her "leftover"meals and Grammie Foster's favorite thing to do was to go to the Super Duper grocery store and buy friend chicken or other prepared items from the deli for her supper.  

Funny how once you start thinking about something, the memories just pop up!

Anyway, to my recollection, I never remember spending New Years Eve with my parents.  That was the one night a year they really went all out.  When I was very young, they often went to a local bar to celebrate.  There used to be a place in my hometown called the "SQ" or "The Susquehanna House." It burned down when I was in Junior High, but I know my parents and their friends spent many a New Years celebrating there.  That was back when people were allowed to smoke anywhere and many of their friends smoked too, so I remember them coming in to kiss us and tell us "Happy New Year" smelling like the bar.  It's funny how smells can envoke memories too because I remember after turning 21 going out for the first time with my college friends - how when I got back to my apartment, I could smell that combination of smoke and alcohol on my clothes and in my hair and thinking, "I smell like my parents on New Years Eve!"  Can I tell you how jealous I am that "kids" these days don't have to experience that unpleasantness.  I am not and have never been much of a drinker, so I hated the fact that I smelled like the bar even though I was just an observer.  I never understood how my sorority sisters just came home from the bar and fell asleep.  I always had to shower that smell off me.  

Erik and I really aren't the partying type.  I think the only year we actually went "out" for New Years Eve was the year we got married.  We flew to Punta Cana on December 31 and the resort where we stayed had a huge NYE celebration.  Since then we've either stayed home or gone to a friends house - oh and six years ago, we went to  NYE wedding.  That was pretty cool.  (Erik and I actually wanted to have our wedding NYE but were talked out of it by our parents.)   This year we decided to host a little get together and we had the best time.  We invited over a few couples and their children and laughed and talked and watched the kids play.  It was great.  We ate way too much food (or at least I did) and the kids had the best time playing.  Such an imaginitive group we had.  They hunted, played baby dolls, and ended the night playing "Harry Potter."  I'm not really sure what that game entailed, but I heard some British accents and saw a lot of wand waving.  There was also a lot of trying to explain the "ball drop."  We basically got to the point where the kids didn't really get it so we played the "Nevermind, just forget about it" parenting card.

After a minimal amount of clean up, I was lying in bed reflecting on the the previous year and the blessings in my life.  Our precious Whitaker was born.

These three continue to grow and show their unique and wonderful personalities.

We have our health and we're happy.  What more could we ask for?

A friend posted on her blog, "Life Under a Blue Roof" that she doesn't really like making resolutions so instead, she was going to "envision" things she wanted to accomplish in the New Year.  I really like that idea because resolutions are well, kind of resolute.  I prefer to go for a more casual approach - that way if I don't achieve my resolution, I don't feel so bad.

My vision for 2011:

1)  I will make and stick to a daily meal plan.  I did that last year and it was wonderful.  You can read about it here:  Creating a Meal Calendar.

2)  I will organize my photos into files and save those files on my new external hard drive!  My mac is awesome and you can barely tell I have over 5000 photos stored on my hard-drive, but I need to get the photos organized, and stored.  I'll also load those files to a web-based site like flickr  (snapfish, shutterfly, or other photo sharing site will work too) so that if my hard drives ever crash, I can access those photos again.

3) I will commit to getting to the Y five days a week.  Even if this means going on Saturday mornings by myself!  

4) We will carve out time to do even more fun things as a family that don't involve farm related activities.   My children find that stuff fun but it's time to expose them to a few novelties - going to the movies, maybe roller skating or ice skating  . . . bowling.  We just never did those things before because our kids weren't at the age to enjoy them.  Now they are and I think it will be so much fun to expose them to those activities!

5)  Plan and actually go on some some sort of family vacation!  

6)  Realize that these things are all just a small part of life.  It would be great to achieve them, but if they don't get done, that's OK too.  My kids are not going to be scarred for life if I don't get them to a movie theater.  We don't have to go on vacation to have quality family time together and create memories.

Each day is a gift and my biggest goal will be to remember that and appreciate it.  

And to thank God each day for it.  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today is my Ninth anniversary.

I have a poor memory.  I cannot recall memories the way others can.  I remember things through pictures and I remember feelings, but I don't remember events well.  I think it is strange because my mom has amazing recall on so many things.  I wish I had her talent because I remember very little from my youth -even the last nine years, with so many things I want t remember, I don't.

I remember only one thing vividly about our wedding day.  Well, I guess not just one thing, but this memory has come to be significant.

A little back story first:

When Erik and I were dating, it was such a whirlwind romance that we would often just stop and say to each other, "What were you doing last year at this time?"  We met November 17, 2000, were "pre-engaged" in February 2001,(you can read the story of our pre-engagement here) engaged June 2001 and married December 29, 2001.

Earlier in the day, I had given a grooms gift to my soon to be brother in law to give to Erik.  It was a pocket watch and I included a card saying, "What were you doing last year at this time?"

We had an early evening wedding - 4:00 p.m.  I really don't remember much about the day other than my girlfriend and sorority sister, Irene, had to wake me up on my wedding day.  I remember her shaking me, "Wake up!  You're getting married!"  Irene was my Matron of Honor.

I remember just before walking down the aisle, I was left all alone in the hallway adjacent to the church entrance.  It was the first time in days I had been completely alone.  I hadn't been emotional at all - I was too happy to cry!  But as I stood there alone and waited, I started to get a little overwhelmed, and just as the tears started to come, my dad peeked around the corner and put his left arm up as if checking his watch and then tapped it as if to say, "Come on! You're going to be late."  That made me laugh and he extended his arm and we headed to the doors of the church for him to walk me down the aisle.

I remember that Erik managed to put my ring on the correct hand.  And I put mine on his RIGHT hand.  Then throughout the unity candle lighting and song, we laughed and laughed because we couldn't get the ring off his right hand and on his left hand.  We joked that we weren't officially married because of that!

I remember being moved by the message Erik's mentor, Jim Cossin, gave.  I remember him saying something along the lines of us being a good match - you could see that I was calm and collected and that Erik couldn't stand still.  Which he couldn't - he was a nervous nellie standing up there shifting back and forth and twitching.  It was so beautiful to have someone who knew Erik so well from his youth speak about his growth into a man.  It was such a great honor to have Jim part of our ceremony.  

 I don't remember this moment, but I LOVE the way the photo shows off the detail of my wedding gown!

Our wedding party

My Maid of Honor and childhood best friend, Keely.  

We're wed!  Leaving the church.  Everyone was supposed to light their sparklers but I think they were so short, they burned too fast!

Entering our reception.

Cutting the cake.  

As much of an eyesore as it is, I'm so grateful this clock was in the picture.  I now know forever that at 8:27 on Saturday, December 29, 2001, we were cutting our cake and feeding each other.

The groomsmen dressed up for YMCA.

The last photo we would have with my Grammie.
 Our "goodbye" shot.

Almost all of our guests!

My first boys giving a kiss to their old, "Miss Jen."  The boy on the left is a sophomore at CMU.  The boy on the right is a senior in High School.  I met them when they were about 2 and 4 years old.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is that I vividly remember being pronounced man and wife and walking out of the church.  As we did, I happened to look up at the clock in the church and the clock said 4:34.  After so many months of planning, and so much time waiting, our actual marriage ceremony only took 34 minutes!  It didn't feel like it had happened so fast, but there it was, proof that it only took 34 minutes to make it official.

I think of that often as the days, weeks, months and years pass.  I look at my little family and reminisce about how fast these past nine years have gone - and get scared about how fast the next nine years are going to go.  I wonder if Erik and I will be sitting in rocking chairs in our front porch (in my future, I imagine we have actually completed the exterior of our house and we do finally put on a front porch) and saying, "What were we doing 20, 30, 50 years ago at this time?"  And we'll remember how we were afraid Walker would have malformed feet because he would kick his heels on the floor so hard anytime he laid on his back.  We'll remember how Maggie bossed her brothers around from the minute she could speak.  How we thought Will was going to get us arrested for child abuse because every time we turned around he was running into chairs, doors, walls, trees - and we'll remember how pleasant Whit was as a baby.  How the only time he ever cried was when he was tired or hungry.  

And we'll remember the love.   We have all of these memories and so many more to come, all because two people fell in love.