Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

Merry Christmas! Christmas was, once again, a wonderful day full of laughing, family, love, food, presents, games, and fun. I couldn't ask for a better family to share it with. Below are pictures from the day of:

Christmas morning- because we have no little kids in our immediate family right now, we all just kind of take our time getting up. Tim and I happen to be the earliest risers so we had time to take a shower and get ready before everyone else was up and around. Not your typical Christmas morning in PJs but I'm sure in a few years when there are kiddos running around, we'll have many more of those days.

We woke up to a WHITE CHRISTMAS! Awesome! There was about 7 inches of snow at this point but it kept snowing throughout Christmas day (and actually through the weekend too). It was beautiful! Although I have heard from my parents and Kansas City friends that after about a week of snow and cold, they want it to go away. I don't blame them.

Another shot of all of the snow- gorgeous!

Definitely a winter wonderland this year.

For breakfast I had made our new tradition of a mushroom/spinach quiche and blueberry coffee cake. Both were AMAZING. I made them a couple of days prior so that we could enjoy them both till they were gone so we had them on both Christmas eve and Christmas day (since we were leaving early in the morning on the 26th).

A shot of each- the quiche I made a homemade crust out of the normal: flour, oil, water. It was amazing though- so flaky! I'm lucky my mom's pie crust making secrets have rubbed off on me. I then sauteed the mushrooms and spinach with a little onion, salt, and pepper. While that was going I mixed up the eggs (majority were egg whites) with some skim milk and then poured that over the vegetable mixture when it was done. Then I topped with some monterey jack cheese and baked. SO yummy. The blueberry coffee cake was pretty much your standard coffee cake...just mixed with blueberries and a flaky cinnamon/walnut topping. So delish. They went fast, too, which is great- means people liked them!

Of course before opening presents we had to take Christmas photos. Timmy and I in front of the tree.

My stud brother and I (by the way, I'm kind of foreshadowing but he got me the GREATEST book (again) this year... it was this yoga bible on a particular type of yoga (that I won't bore everyone with) but it is AMAZING. So excited. Last year he got me two of my favorite naturopathic doctors' books... which I still reference to this day. He is the best!

I look like I am about 2 feet tall between these sexy guys!

Dad, mom, me and Tim (and grandma in the left of the picture).

Dad, mom, me, and Jon. It would be funny to put a picture up from 20 years ago of all of us to compare. Too bad I don't have one accessible! Back then I was taller than my little bro!

All of the "kids" around grandma.

And Tim and I with our presents stacked high around us- we are pretty lucky! We got tons of great stuff...of course that isn't what Christmas is all about but we sure feel so thankful to get it all.
That afternoon we had an awesome Christmas dinner. My mom made brisket and ham, and I made salmon for myself and Tim as we are not big cow/pig eaters. It was wonderful too! of course we had all of the other sides...vegetables, potatoes, pies, etc. Fabulous! That night we played more games and enjoyed the remainder of the holiday. My brother had to leave that night to head back to Springfield since he had to work early the next day and Tim and I tried to figure out how to get everything back on our flight to Seattle. It was TRICKY but somehow we did it. Glad that I had the insight to bring an empty suitcase (even though Tim thought I was crazy, guess it was smart!) After that we spent the night chatting with my parents and then left at the ass crack on the 26th (we were up at 5:30am which is 3:30am Seattle time). But BONUS! Our flight gave us upgraded first class seats for free. Yes! So napping on the flight was much easier. I always cry when I leave home so it is always hard to leave. I'm always fine when I'm back but I miss my friends and family and the place that I knew for 20+ years quite a bit. I love Washington of course and it is, by all accounts, "home" but nothing compares to that place that is so reminiscent of the years you spent there growing up. And nothing quite compares to the lifelong friends/family there who know you in ways that no one else can because they just don't have that history. It is always so nice to be back there for a while.
When we got back to Seattle (after stopping at whole foods) Tim and I spent literally FIVE HOURS cleaning the house. NOT KIDDING. It was incredibly lame. The cats were only by themselves for FOUR DAYS and I swear they went insane. They decided they were going to rebel. Let's just say we had to scour the ENTIRE HOUSE, give the cats baths, and give ourselves showers before we even thought about picking up Bella. We were not happy campers. Yuck. I have never had more gross kitties in all the cats I've had and I'm convinced it's because they are boy cats (all my others have been girls).
Aside from that, it was good to be home, to have the weekend to relax (for me) before heading back to work, and to have another wonderful and successful holiday memory. I've said it a million times and will probably say it a million more but we are truly blessed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve and the start of the Blizzard

On Christmas Eve, we originally had great plans to drive up to Lamoni for a day to see my dad's sister, her husband, their daughter Anne (my cousin) and Anne's husband, Jim, Anne and Jim's new baby Connor (6 months), Michael (my other cousin), and my grandma and grandpa. WHEW! Lots of people. Anne, Jim, and Connor all live in Pennsylvania and were just arriving from PA that day so that's why we had originally thought we'd go up that day- to see them and meet the baby along with everyone else. Lamoni is the town that I went to college in (home of Graceland University) so it's kind of neat to have relatives to live there now so I have an excuse to drive 2 hours to see the old hang outs/school/friends that still live there, etc.

HOWEVER. Beginning on the evening of the 23rd, we kept hearing about this winter storm that was approaching Kansas City that was so powerful the weather people were saying it was unlike any other winter storm they had seen before. Really. Yeah right. I was a bit skeptical because I always feel like there is a bit of an exaggeration factor with said weather people. They kept saying it was going to rain, then change to ice, then to snow- with a total of 6-20 inches of snow.


I lose.

They were right. It started raining on the 23rd (POURING), which by noon on the 24th had turned to sleet/ice. Our trip was definitely out at this point. Ice in the midwest=DO NOT ATTEMPT TRAVEL. Of course all the stupid people do attempt travel which is when you see 100 cars on the sides of the roads when the roads clear up days later. Not only did we not end up going to Lamoni but pretty much all Christmas eve services' were cancelled that night in the area (which we always go to) due to the weather conditions. By evening on the 24th our "winter storm warning" had turned into a full on blizzard warning with a 100% chance of a white christmas. Crazy!! So we stayed in, ate, watched it begin to snow, and played games- cards and even some ping pong (so fun).

We also let my dad open an early Christmas present from us- the first one opened...

My dad is a HUGE KU fan so we got him the KU version of monopoloy. And of course played it that night. I'm not trying to brag here, but GUESS WHO WON. Yup. I did. Only reason I mention it is that I NEVER win monopoly. My brother always does (it's kind of known in our family as his game). It was down to my mom and I at the end but I pulled out the victory...and it didn't even take forever. Crazy.

A photo of my brother prior to playing games with a bow on his head. Merry (almost) Christmas to us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day trip to Southern Missouri

One of the things that we've done for the past two years (that I hope we do every year), is make a trip to Nevada, Missouri (pronounced like NUH-VEY-DUH, not like the state of NUH-VAH-DUH...must be a Missour-AH thing). ANYWAY, my college roommate, Wish, lives down there with her husband and her adorable 10 month old son Peyton. Wish and I were roommates for all 4 years of college and I love that girl! I also hadn't met her babe (and had only seen her 7mos preggo last christmas) so Tim and I got up early to make the trip down on the 22nd.

Nevada is about a 2 hour drive away and last year Tim was in for a bit of a culture shock driving down south in Missouri. There is not much there in terms of scenery other than farms and a few gravel roads (with names of A, AA, F, FF). Wish also has a HUGE property with cows which I think Tim thought was NUTS (understandably when you come from here and there is no land to speak of in which to have anything). She also has an adorable house that they remodeled inside and lives in the country- it's actually very peacful and serene out there. I am happy for her!

It was great to see her this time around too... it's always weird to see my close friends as parents for the first time, especially in this case since Wish and I spent all 4 years of college together. She is a great mom though, as expected, and Peyton is absolutely adorable. He was such a happy baby, didn't fuss at all. And I've decided that 10 months is an adorable age. Some talking, some crawling and so much personality!

I did manage to snap one picture- here's the big guy with Tim after his (Peyton's) lunch of yogurt and pears. Mmmm!

After we left Wishs' we headed back to Kansas City thinking we could hopefully finish up our Christmas shopping (for my mom since I hadn't done that the other day). Instead we ended up hanging around with my family just chatting and playing games...putting off all of our shopping to almost the last minute. We finished all of our shopping the following day and ended up getting everyone some pretty cool stuff! We then hunkered down for what would turn out to be the Christmas blizzard of 2009...literally. We did not know when we got home that day after shopping that we wouldn't be leaving the house until our flight on the 26th (and not on purpose but because we literally couldn't!) Not a bad thing though to be stuck inside with family, enjoying the holiday.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First few days in KC

I absolutely sucked at taking pictures for the first few days in Kansas City. One reason was that even though I brought the camera (Tim's- remember, mine broke when I dropped it in sand in Hawaii...) but I forgot the camera battery. Ugh. And I just didn't think of taking any phone pictures, which is surprising because I always had my phone with me. Oh well!

I had a busy first few days in Kansas City. I arrived on the 17th around 6pm. I spent that evening eating dinner and chatting with my parents at home. My mom just had rotator cuff (shoulder) surgery on her right shoulder about 5 weeks prior and 2 weeks prior had double eye (cataract) surgery. Why she choose to endure all of this torture within a month's time span, I do not know other than I guess she just wanted it all over (I think that insurance also played a factor...) Anyway, she has been debilitated for the past month meaning she hasn't been able to lift anything, drive, stir food (to cook), wrap presents, and additionally after her eye surgery she has been relatively blind. Needless to say, it was good that I got in early to help out for the holiday preparations.

On the 18th, my mom and I went on a MASSIVE shopping spree to finish christmas shopping (and for me it was a start/finish type of day since I had done NOTHING up until this point). We left our house around 10am (I drove her boat-aka van- since she can't). And can I just say how difficult it is to drive a big car versus my little mini? Just saying. We spent the ENTIRE day buying gifts for everyone- dad, Tim, Jon, and even me. I refused to buy her gifts though. I like surprises. We stopped briefly for lunch around 3pm and continued shopping until we literally were about to keel over. We finished everything though and got home at 10pm. That's TWELVE HOURS of shopping. I have never shopped that long in my entire life. We got lucky in that the crowds weren't bad at all. Oh and all that shopping which means walking? My achilles was SO HAPPY with me the next day as evidenced by me looking like a 100 year old trying to walk. Completely lame that it still sucks so much.

The next day I got up and decided to do some Christmas baking for everyone. I baked 6 batches of cookies (oatmeal raisin, 2 batches of christmas sugar, chocolate/peanut butter, strawberry, butterscotch). IT WAS INSANE. That's like 300 cookies. Also a first for me. I'm pretty sure that in the process I managed to eat about 100 cookies myself.

Later that day, I realized finally why I had booked my flight as early as I did... my mom informed me that there was a wedding that night for a close family friend (and a girl that I used to babysit when I was younger). SERIOUSLY I couldn't figure out why I had originally booked my flight for December 17th (even though it turned out ok that I got in so early since my mom did need help) but then when she told me that, I was all, OH YEAH. You did mention that back when I was looking at tickets in September. Good thing I am totally unprepared for a wedding and have NO CLOTHES to wear to it. Lucky for me, some of my Christmas presents that we had bought the day before came in handy. Since I already knew what they were, you know, because I picked them out, they got to be utilized a bit early since I figured jeans probably wouldn't be totally appropriate. So we went to the wedding which was beautiful and I stayed for about an hour of the reception before my girlfriend Carolyn picked me up and we headed to downtown Kansas City to the crossroads district (seriously, downtown Kansas City is much more impressive than it used to be. It has districts, and cuteness!) We went to JP's wine bar which was GREAT...the food, the wine, the company. Carolyn and I have been friends since, um, 4th grade... we lost touch after high school but coincidentally enough were both living in Phoenix at the same time so reconnected then (and subsequently we both left Phoenix for our guys around the same time). So great to see good friends to catch up- especially in such a cool setting with awesome food and wine.

The next day my mom and I took on the wrapping off all million presents. It took us literally SIX HOURS. Not kidding. I wrapped all million presents (actually probably literally 100) and she put bows on. It was crazy but we got it all done. After that, I began making soups for the next dad's family was coming over for a "soup" dinner so I told my mom I'd make two soups (cheddar potato and chicken veggie noodle).

The following day, Monday, I got up and worked out (turns out to be a good thing because it was the last time I worked out for the remainder of the holiday....) then went to meet my girl Jilly for lunch at Lulu's noodles- another great place in downtown Kansas City. Jill and I were such great friends in college and roommates for a year. Our lives are surprisingly parallel and it seems like every time we catch up we realize that there is something else that we share with each other that the other person has also experienced. It allows me to connect with her on a level that I'm lucky to experience with friends. Not to mention, we always have endless things to talk about... especially now that I get to be totally jealous of her career in a more "naturopathic" setting as a chiropractor. It was so great to see her to catch it is with all of my great friends that I get to see (even though I don't get to see them often enough!)

That afternoon, I made the other soup, my brother came into town, and I headed to the airport to pick up Tim from his flight. When we got back to my parents house, my aunt and uncle, their two daughters and one of their daughters 2 girls were all there. It was so awesome to see everyone and to catch up (can I say that a million times about everyone?!) and it was so fun to play with the little girls (ages 5 and 2). They were so much fun. I love being back in Kansas City for the holidays. It's such a nice feeling to be surrounded by so many members of family, friends and loved ones.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another birthday: Birthday Girl.

December 19th was Miss Bella Kaleigh Jones' first birthday. WOW, it blows me away that she grew up so fast. I mean, she is definitely still a puppy, don't get me wrong, but I just can't believe how fast we went from those crazy puppy days of playing playing playing, then having accidents, then learning and training and playing some more to the crazy puppy nights of waking up a million times, going potty but still crying. Then seeing people and jumping all over them and going NUTS because SHE WAS A PUPPY and had to just LOVE EVERYBODY.

Oh and the trials and tribulations of the first year, not only in training, growing, and filling her big girl shoes but trying to figure out her health issues. UGH. Poor thing has been through so much in just a year.

Now we have a big girl, still a puppy, but a big girl. She's now 45-ish pounds, full grown except for some filling out she still needs to do. She doesn't jump on anyone anymore (well, not like she used to), she listens, she understands, she knows what is right/wrong. Her health issues are figured out...most of the time. And they don't cost us $500 a week anymore in millions of tests, vet visits, changes in food. She doesn't have accidents at OUR house. Why do I emphasize our house? OH, only because while she was staying at our neighbors house over Thankgiving, she peed FOUR TIMES in their house. Apparently they keep a GIANT bowl of water out and yes, still a puppy, Bella drinks for fun. And doesn't know how to hold THAT amount of water. Yikes. Our friends have subsequently learned to control her water intake. Oh and in honor of her birthday on the actual day of? I flew to Kansas City on December 17 and Tim worked the 18th so she had to stay with the neighbors. Tim picked her up the morning of her birthday at their house.... about 2.5 minutes after she had apparently jumped the living room/carpet barriers to POOP ON THEIR CARPET (I guess it has more of the consistency of grass than the hardwood floor does....) ARE YOU KIDDING ME. She has not done that since last MARCH when we got her. As in the very. first. day. As the neighbor is trying not to gag, and Tim is trying not to die of mortification, he picks up the poop as Bella prances around like, "what? It's my birthday...I can do whatever I want."

Happy first birthday, Bella. You are definitely a princess but next year, you really don't need to poop on anyone's floor to prove it. We love you little Bell bells.

Our little girl with her birthday lobster. She loved it so much she immediately ripped the hat off of him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy birthday to Tim!

December 15th was Tim's birthday and it was a pretty great day! I took the day off work to spend with him and we pretty much just relaxed and enjoyed the day together. We got up, I made him breakfast, then we took Bella to the dog park, came back, relaxed, and then went to dinner at a local grill that Tim wanted to go to where we had halibut and salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, wine for me, beer for him- so yummy! And then of course after all that we came back and he opened presents and we ate cake. Pictures below.

The picture above is actually from the day BEFORE his birthday- he got a card/present from my parents and opened it the day before.

Birthday morning breakfast on Christmas plates... I made chicken sausage for him (none for me, not my favorite), scrambled egg whites with an egg yolk, and raspberry multigrain pancakes for him, oatmeal/cinnamon multigrain pancakes for me. It was fabulous!

I kind of sucked at taking pictures on his birthday apparently. Above is Tim after dinner with his pile of presents. I got him mostly clothes (LOTS of t-shirts/long sleeved thermals because that's what he wears a lot of) and of course I wrapped each separately because it's fun to open presents! I also got him an REI fleece for work and a new, nicer one for home, new darker 7 jeans than the pair he has, a cool little book for him, and of course our annual picture frame that I do every year with a collage of all of our pictures from each year. I started this tradition on the first birthday that I was with him for... we had met on his birthday back in 2006 so his birthday was our anniversary back then and this was my present to him for that first anniversary. This year I made him think that I hadn't done it and then ran upstairs and put the picture out so that right before he went to bed he would see it and would be surprised! It was great. I love surprises and I love this tradition of having something that sums up each great year we have together.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Great start to the birthday week

Tim's birthday is December 15th so the Saturday after I got back from Alaska (the 12th), we started the birthday celebrations...well, sort of. I went to the gym and worked out, then I picked up a couple of surprises for him (actually one surprise- his cake so we could enjoy it before/on his birthday and before I left town again and hot chocolate/tea/cookies from our favorite little bakery/cafe). After that, we went to the dog park where I FROZE but the pup had a great time! We got to see our friend Lindsay and her dog Burton there too so that was fun.

That night we decided to go was sort of for Tim's birthday because for his birthday dinner he gave me two options. So I just said, we'll do both then! One on the actual night, one before. So this was the "before..." Wasabi bistro in downtown Seattle. Arguably the best sushi place in all of Seattle. SO GOOD.

Tim with his japanese beer. I forget if he got asahi or sapporo. Either way, it was quite tasty. I had wine which of course was wonderful too.

Eating miso soup....they have the BEST miso there. Tim got clams in his.

And our sushi roll spread... so freaking good!

After a nice long dinner and drinks, we were still feeling awake and were out in Seattle. We started talking about that one time when I came up to visit from Phoenix and Tim took me to dinner at Daniels on Lake Union (also in Seattle) and afterward I got my nose pierced. Well. SOMEHOW, after wine, he talked me into going to our piercing/tattoo shop in Ballard to get my ears pierced (it's a piercing I've wanted for a while...I'm still too afraid of commitment for a tattoo. Piercings I can always remove). So, next thing you know, I have both of my ears pierced (the stud in the picture above, obviously). Surprisingly, I haven't had this spot pierced before although anyone that knows me from WAAAAY back when knows that I used to have studs up and down my outer ear. Anyway, it's fun and I'm glad I let the wine, er, Tim talk me into it.

When we got home a couple of hours later, we decided to break in to the cake. I got him a chocolate raspberry torte cake. I am not a huge fan of chocolate/fruit but my guy can't get enough of it. So it was a perfect cake for his birthday. He loved it!

And cutting the first piece of cake. I did sing him happy birthday before he cut into it, even though it's not his actually birthday yet. I am superstar wife sometimes although I'm pretty sure my singing scared the animals. All in all, it was a great day of fun!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Alaska comes to Seattle... Jenn goes to Alaska

I headed up to Alaska on December 8th for one of my annual trips. I go every year in December and February for a client. It's actually very ironic that I go there every December because after the trip that I made in December 2006 from Arizona was when I met Tim in Seattle, then moved to Seattle, started my job in Seattle, and now as a result of my job in Seattle I go to Alaska the same week every year as the week that I met Tim the very first time I ever went. Crazy stuff, this life.

So, nothing too eventful to note about the trip... we did all of our usual, eat, drink. We made the usual stops too: Humpy's (a bar in Anchorage that is known as the local watering hole, apparently), and of course Benihana (my co-worker's birthday always falls during the trip and for some reason he wants to go there every year. I tolerate it...I guess it IS his birthday).

I was proud of myself because I got up every morning (except for the last morning, Friday, as a result of a LATE night Thursday) and went to the gym to "run." I put that in quotes because I can't really run. Yep, 6 months later and my foot is STILL NOT WORKING. Stupid achilles. I went to the dumb ortho doctor, I do eccentric stretches, I ice, I don't use it (I barely even WALK!), and I put homeopathic crap on it every night to help with the inflammation. I would even venture to say that during the month of December it has been WORSE (I think it had a major flare up after the Camelback hike in AZ. Ugh). So anyway, I "ran." Meaning, I was on the elliptical for an hour.

Can I just sidenote for a second and say that I HATE the elliptical? I absolutely despise it. I don't know why. It just feels like I am a hamster and running as fast as I can and I can feel it, yeah, seriously, I feel like I'm going to fall off or pass out because I have to push and push and push myself to feel like I'm even MOVING and it's good cardio but come ON! The damn thing barely moves and I feel like I am going slower than the 80 year old grandma next to me walking 1.0 miles per hour on the treadmill. IT SUCKS. Even though treadmills aren't my favorite either, I would MUCH rather be on one of those and be able to run my normal pace, as if I were running outside. Sigh. End of sidenote. I guess the point is that I was active and I was proud for that...even with the stupid foot.

Thursday another co-worker flew in and we got to tour the state of Alaska, or at least part of it. We drove up through Wasilla (you know, where Sarah Palin is from) and toured some of the clients' projects up there. It was pretty cool. Crazy how much land there is in Alaska that isn't even touched. It is a gorgeous state. So raw, so untouched, so beautiful in its purity. Does that make sense?

That night was the Benihana night... after Benihana we went back to Humpy's where there was a live band playing. It was one of the strangest nights of my life and I'm not really exactly sure why. The people there were very interesting. It was a very diverse group, in a different way than I've experienced before. Not like LA or Seattle or San Fran (or even New York) diverse. Just actually literally strange people. I can't even say what it was like they were just off or something. And I'm not trying to sound judgemental at all, I'm sure they were perfectly nice people...It was just weird and I can't describe it so I just sound like a judgemental asshole. I promise, I'm not trying to be! I think it's one of those things you have to be there to witness yourself. Everyone has those moments.

Anyway, I was there with my two male co-workers and I got hit on at LEAST 5 times by various ladies (who actually didn't seem to be grouped in the "strange" category that night) and many times during the course of the night some of the strange people tried to pull me out to the dance floor with them. I was very flattered but the whole night was just an interesting experience. Words don't do it justice. I got back to my hotel room at around 1am after having enough of the whole night and wanting to crash...I guess my two co-workers went to a "male establishment" afterwards and they had even more crazy experiences there. Just a weird night, I guess.

Friday morning I dragged myself out of bed and got prompted by a flight email that asked if I wanted to fly standby on the 11am flight out of Anchorage. Sure! We got our work done and our original flight wasn't slotted to leave until 5pm, putting us back in Seattle LATE. Yuck. So my co-worker and I go to the airport and fast forward...what time do we end up leaving Anchorage? almost 6pm. It was ridiculous. They put us on the earlier flight and then we'd get bumped or a flight would get cancelled or delayed until eventually we left LATER than when we were supposed to in the first place and we spent the whole freaking day at the airport. IT SUCKED. And to top it off, I think we both felt LUCKY that we even got out when we did. But we had the passes to the Alaska airlines boardroom so at least that made the time a little bit more bearable. Below are a few pictures that I snapped on my phone while away...

Beautiful shot of the sunrise at 10am as we were landing in Anchorage. (Seriously, the sun doesn't rise until about 10am and sets around 3:30pm in December).

And another shot of the same out of the plane window with a few more mountains in view.

The hotel we stay at (Captain Cook) has a HUGE village entirely of gingerbread houses for the holiday season. It's seriously GIANT.

And a picture of the terrain as we were driving through Alaska. One funny thing to note about our time there- it wasn't THAT cold. It was in the 20s. But it was actually COLDER in Seattle (thus the title of my post). Apparently when my co-worker arrived on Thursday in Alaska, it was 9 degrees (with a windchill of less) when he left his house in Seattle that morning. Anchorage in comparison was 25 that day. All week that week in Seattle I don't think it broke 20 degrees... can't say I'm sorry I missed that! At least it was sunny though... would rather have cold and freezing than the snow we got last year around this time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Beginnings of the holiday season

I got very ambitious on November 30, the day we WERE supposed to come back from Phoenix. Since Tim was at said interview (referenced in the last post, thus the change of our travel plans), I went to work. However, since it was the Monday after Thanksgiving and the puppy was without daycare for the day (leaving her at home for more than 6 hours=bad news), this meant that I was subsequently taking a half day. Lucky for me, the puppy was relatively tired after spending the prior 4 days with our neighbors who have a boxer of their own. And two boxers together? 100% energy, all of the time. A little secret to anyone considering getting a boxer: THEY DON'T EVER STOP (especially when around other dogs ESPECIALLY when it's a puppy).

So, as a result, Monday I had a tired dog. And because of this tired dog, I was able to do what I wanted and not have to entertain her. So, what did I do? Put up our Christmas decorations! All by myself... A little surprise for Timmy when he got home. It wasn't the same because we usually have a Christmas decorating party but I knew that if I didn't take advantage of the time I had that day, it probably wouldn't get done before Christmas considering our work/travel schedules the first few weeks of December. All pictures below are taken with my iphone so, again, not the best quality but oh well.

A picture of the mantle with all stockings for Tim and I plus animals. They are the only kids we've got right now so of course they get personalized stockings! They are our babies. Though the cats are driving me nuts right now but that is an ENTIRELY different post....

A shot of the little decorations I put up outside on our porch.

And a picture of the wreath on our door. I actually made this! I brag about this every year. A few years ago (before I moved to Arizona) my crafty mom showed me how to make awesome bows and wreaths. This was one of the products of that. I still have all of the Christmas bows we made that go around candles, line the stair rails, etc. Of course, I can't remember how to make such awesome bows so I guess I need another training... I guess I didn't do awesome at taking many pictures of the decor but oh well! We elected not to get a tree this year since I was scheduled to be in Alaska for one week and Kansas City for 10 days (leaving me actually in town for about 9 days from the end of November to before Christmas). Tim also was going to be in Kansas City with all of us for 5 days AND we had NO IDEA what the puppy would do with a tree so it all worked out. We were festive enough!

Later that first week of December (that Friday actually-the 4th), I snapped the above shot at about 7am as I was taking Bella out first thing in the morning. We live in a pretty cool area, eh? Later that morning, I met my 8 month pregnant friend for coffee which was such a nice treat/visit (and turns out, 3-4 days later she went into labor and was in labor for, seriously, you are NOT GOING TO BELIEVE HOW LONG- 60, SIXTY, hours!! So she didn't end up having the baby until December 11th which was still 3 weeks early but wow, I keep telling myself she is my hero. Come ON! 60 hours!!! SIXTY?! Are you kidding me?! I guess the point of it all is, though, that at the end result, she has a beautiful daughter). Anyway, so I saw a beautiful sunrise, had coffee with a great friend to catch up (for what turns out to be the last time before baby!), and then that night Tim and I had dinner at our favorite Mexican joint in town. We met up with 2 other couples at the same place for drinks after dinner prior to going to my company's holiday party.
It was a great day, a great week, filled with the beginnings of holiday festivities, friends, great weather, and happiness.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The long awaited trip to Phoenix post

**NOTE: it is actually the last week of December and I have sufficiently slacked off all of December on making any blog posts. Ok, to help myself feel better, I haven't really "slacked" per se, but I have really only been at home for about 2 weeks for the month of December, oh, and the one week that I had time I spent the time establishing this new blog address. SO. I digress. Point is: I have tons to update on but in an effort to do that, I am going to back date everything to the more appropriate time. Then, hopefully, by the end of this week (the last week in December), the blog will be up to date and 2010 will start off fabulously.**

So, November 25 we flew to Phoenix.

Sidenote: This was monumental for several reasons...or maybe just one big reason. We were supposed to go to Phoenix on November 27, the day AFTER Thanksgiving and stay through November 30. About 1.5 weeks prior to our trip, Tim found out that he had an all day interview on, GUESS WHAT DAY? November 30. Ugh. He pretty much had no choice but to go because to not go would be to not accept the interview and though I'm not going to talk publicly about this interview right now, let me just say: it was a BIG DEAL.

So, after finding out this information, we had to rearrange our travel plans and figure out the best bet. At one point one option was just to postpone the trip to next spring (seeing as how the last weekend in November was the last free weekend we'll have UNTIL next spring-insane!) This was an option in my frustration because seriously? Has anyone tried to change travel plans on the days surrounding Thanksgiving? RIDICULOUS. But, after choking on how much it was going to cost for changing our direct flights to disjointed flights (meaning direct flight there, layover in Portland on the way home), we sucked it up and decided to go November 25-28.

Going the day before Thanksgiving actually worked out great and it was so fun to be there for Thanksgiving. We got in around 5pm on the 25th and went straight to the hotel in Paradise Valley/Scottsdale to check in. We stayed at the Montelucia resort, thanks to the advice of my friend Jessica. It was AWESOME.

I'm not really one to take pictures of hotel rooms but I really liked this one- the dark wood, dark crown molding, lots of black and red.

And a shot of the entry way into our room.

And the bathroom. Pretty cool.

A shot of Timmy and I before heading out to dinner. And where did we go for dinner that night?! Pita jungle of course! Anyone that knows me knows my infatuation for that place- I LOVE IT. So it was naturally the first place I wanted to go upon our arrival...and it did not disappoint. The resort was having a night before Thanksgiving party with live music, etc. so when we got back we kind of hung around that for a little while. Apparently there were like 1500 people in attendance. I would believe it. I was cracking up at how little the Scottsdale crowd had changed since I lived there... And again, anyone who has hung out in North Scottsdale knows what I am talking about.

The next day, Thanksgiving, Tim and I had plans to head over to the Smith family house to eat breakfast and visit. We were going to just have Thanksgiving dinner with them but we opted to do breakfast instead so that Tim and I could spend some time together since time together has been so few and far between lately. The picture above is of Tim outside of the resort waiting on the valet to bring the car.

After making stops at the grocery store (and Starbucks- in true Seattle-ite fashion), we made it to the Smiths' house where we got to meet baby Brody (adorable- and by far the best behaved 6 month old I have EVER met...) and we got to play with the little girls (Chloe and Cadence) and visit with Ben and Jill. It was so great to catch up with them and to see how awesome their family is! They are great friends.

A picture of us with Cadence, er, Dora. I think after this picture our camera died, sadly. I'm pretty sure Jill has pictures of all of us together, including her. After this, all pictures from our trip are via iphone so the quality isn't the greatest and we weren't awesome at taking pictures.

After leaving Ben and Jill's, we went back to the Scottsdale area. Our resort is about a mile and a half away from Camelback mountain (an intense 2 mile hike). So we parked at the resort and headed to Camelback. It was pretty tough, as I remembered! Tim loved it... it's kind of like rock climbing and it's very steep...and there is a great view at the top. It was such a great day for it- weather was high 70s, sunny, totally clear. Perfect! Only bad thing about it (in retrospect) was that it ended up causing my stupid achilles to flare up again. Ugh.

A picture of me on top of Camelback.

And another with the shot of Phoenix in the background.

This was our view on the afternoon of Thanksgiving. Since I don't live in Phoenix anymore, I don't think that 78 degrees is cold, and is, in fact quite warm. So we spent the afternoon at the pool. It was perfect.

For our Thanksgiving dinner, we went to our own little dinner that was offered by the restaurant at the resort. It was AWESOME. Tim and I both agreed that we should do Thanksgiving like this every year. The food was amazing, we spent probably less than we would have if we had cooked, and there was no cooking or clean up involved. Plus, they had everything imaginable that you would want for Thanksgiving. Even though it was different than most Thanksgivings we have had, it was so nice, relaxing and absolutely perfect

A shot of me sipping my wine. MMM.

The next morning we traveled FOREVER to eastern LA.... actually, just western Phoenix where I used to live. The whole time I kept saying to Tim, "how did I used to drive this far everyday?" It was SO LONG. It took us about 40 minutes, which is about right. But we got to eat at my favorite old breakfast joint while we were on that side of town and Tim ordered the most amazing apple pancakes I have ever had. We then drove through my old neighborhoods before heading back to the Scottsdale area.

A shot of Tim waiting on breakfast.

And a shot of me.

We went on a walk after breakfast to burn it all off and then spent an hour or so at the pool to enjoy our last sunny day in Phoenix (Saturday the weather was expected to turn cold...) It was perfect again! We then headed out to Tempe to meet my friend Jen at a mexican restaurant there. It was awesome!! Again, so great to see such good friends and to catch up. She is great! We then were off and running again to central Phoenix where we were meeting our friends Jessica and Adam for dinner at an Asian fusion place. Dinner was amazing, and I can't say it enough, it was so great to see such good friends, to catch up, to laugh, to enjoy wine. Jessica and Adam are such a great couple and we had so much fun visiting with them. Sadly, we sucked at taking pictures amongst all of the catching up with Jen, Jessica, and Adam. Bummer! After dinner, we had tickets to the Jeff Dunham show. I know, I know, puppets, whatever. But he is a pretty talented ventriloquist and I think it's funny.

A picture of us before the show...or maybe it was in intermission, I don't know. The opener for Jeff was guitar guy. I actually thought he was more entertaining than Jeff.

On our last day, we went shopping in the morning after breakfast and then we were supposed to meet Melissa that afternoon but it ended up not working out. So instead, we headed back to Pita Jungle (I told you I love that place) for one last time...and to kill some time before our flight since we had about 3 hours before we had to be at the airport. We just took our time eating, got dessert, drinks, etc. It was great. We also witnessed a downpour in Tempe. It started to get cloudy/windy while we were eating (and we were outside) and then it just absolutely opened up and POURED, which is very strange for any part of Phoenix. So naturally, we moved inside.

A snapshot of the outside of Pita as we were heading to the airport (you can tell it's darker/cloudier in this picture). As we got to the airport, it continued to downpour- so crazy! We got lucky in that we were able to standby and catch an earlier flight (putting us in about 4 hours earlier due to the fact that we didn't have a layover in Portland). All in all, it was a great (but short) trip. We are hoping to make it back soon to see more friends and to enjoy all that we love about Phoenix. I miss that city and everyone there!