I snapped a few photos of the clouds last night after terrible storms ripped through our area. They were incredible, as was the sky, which blanketed our area in a glowing pink and gold sunset. Near Springfield, our friends were snapping photos of a beautiful rare double rainbow. It amazes us that amidst such terrible destruction, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in ages.
As Neil is from Southwest Missouri, about an hour east of where a tornado has devastated Joplin, and I’m from Minnesota, where another tornado hit North Minneapolis last night, we were huddled around the police scanner and news reports all evening. Our family and friends are safe, but our thoughts are with those in need and suffering, particularly in Joplin. If you are able, please donate what you are able to the Red Cross.
Being married is awesome because you get twice the families and twice the mom love. For all the craziness in our lives, they are always there to tell us when to slow down and when to make the next move. Happy Mother’s Day!
We are back after a whirlwind trip to Minnesota for the holidays. If you remember, the weather ruined our plans to travel last year, so we were eager and past due for a good visit with family. It was so weird exchanging brown and rainy Missouri for buried and snowy Minnesota. It was the most snow Neil had ever seen, and they even got more while we were there:
So after a workout at the local YMCA, Neil offered to shovel the driveway Missouri-style, with borrowed boots and all!
We stayed with my aunt, and her house truly could be the official location of Christmas. She doesn’t even know how many trees she has! Each is carefully themed and ornamented and Christmas music plays 24/7. For a pretty newly married couple, Neil and I love being around so many traditions and history. A few of our favorite decorations:
My grandmother’s memorial ornament, a must-have for the grown-up hopefully we’ll someday have, not that I don’t love our little Holiday Shrub.
Homemade noodle ornaments that were made as a family when I was little. They were so much fun to make!
Homemade wooden ornaments from my Grandpa’s workshop. He used to make us each ornaments every year.
Cute little dutch shoes!
All the aunts have the same nativity set with various pieces missing or “altered” in some way, innocent victims of generations of children. Baby Jesus has endured many kidnappings.
We started our Christmas Eve by taking a few portraits of my cousin, her son and their new pup Apple. Apple is one of the most gorgeous labs I have ever seen!
We then set to work preparing the feast! Christmas Eve is always a smaller gathering with Appetizers, many of them vegetarian!
Yummy French Bread Pizzas with homemade hummus, olives, and spinach. They were so good, I’m definitely going to be making these soon. Genius!
We also had loads of fun playing with Jacob, my second-newest second cousin who was in town to celebrate his very first Christmas. He is so adorable!
And being so cute and at his first Christmas, we made sure to spoil him rotten!
We also opened gifts ourselves:
Neil excited about his new candy and gum stock. Seriously you guys, if you’ve never met him, this face happens whenever he’s excited…
My aunt received some SERIOUS gardening tools. They are very big and VERY sharp. Don’t mess with her!
Sarah and Andrew with their newest Christmas ornament.
My cousin Adam with the pint glass his my aunt lifted from the restaurant we ate at the previous night. He had stolen a glass, but she had thought to steal one first. Keeping it classy…
My aunt received a HUGE mailbox and while trying to convince her kids how much she loved it, realized the real one was inside and the big one was a gag. It was hilarious watching her back pedal out of that one.
Afterwards we took a few portraits:
Our Christmas Eve celebration lasted well into the night and we did it all again with the rest of the family Christmas Day. We also celebrated with some of Neil’s family and my parents. So much travel, but that’s seemingly the life of the newly married twenty-something isn’t it? You go to where the people are.
As far as gifts, we really kept it simple this year. We have lots of great chocolate to bake with, and new ornaments to add to our collection. My dad gave me some great books, and my mom bought me some amazing mineral make-up I can’t wait to use. Neil’s mom wove me a rug and gave me some beautiful holiday serving dishes and Neil’s dad gave bought us our favorite organic, all-natural detergent. I got Neil a great new running skull cap and he got me a dutch oven (the kind that doesn’t involve farts). I can’t wait to use it. In fact, Neil’s making me dinner in it right now!
With 2011 being totally dedicated to relocating (more on that when we debut our New Years Resolutions!), it’s crazy to think that it might be our last Christmas as residents of Missouri. Figuring out holidays will take on new and more complicated challenges, and hopefully a chance to form a few of our own traditions along the way. It’s all very exciting, but scary and nerve-wracking at the same time. So goes change when you’re living a bit outside the norm!
Do you feel like you need a holiday to recover from the holiday?
With finals now over, Neil and I finally got a chance to put up our tree. And it took all of…twenty minutes. Being that we’re persistently nomadic for the time being (I’ve moved at least once a year since 2000) and currently renting in the hopes of swapping states in the coming year, we’ve opted again not to get full-sized or even a small-ish tree. We’ve made the sacrifice in an attempt to minimize stuff we’ll have to move and in doing so have staved off a lot of deco all-around over the years. While that might seem kind of gloomy, we’ve managed to find little ways to decorate and celebrate the season that don’t take up a lot of room.
Neil carefully wraps our oversized lights on the tree. It makes it so adorable!
Last year we picked up a tiny table-top tree (or shrub, as it’s identical to a real ornamental shrub we have in front of the house) and put a few of our favorite ornaments on it, mostly photo ornaments of us and the pets. We also rotate out a few of the yearly ornaments I have received from my aunt since I was a little girl. I have collected over 100 ornaments, ready for whenever we finally get a forever-tree.
The newest additions to our collection from my aunt, twin snowmen. She buys ornaments in pairs since I got married, so every year we’re excited to see what our matching ornaments will be. I have the best aunts!
Our newest family member gets his first ornament on the tree.
Felix’s close-up Suess-ish ornament.
Even in Christmas ornament form, Libby gives us the stink eye.
Another first-time ornament, a beautiful Scandanavian bell from Anja’s mother Donna, who is by far and away one of the best Christmas decorators in existence. She also gave me a miniature nativity ornament, but it’s too heavy to hang so it sits on my baker’s shelf during the holidays.
And finally, since I’m allergic to sap and can’t have a cut evergreen within a mere 50 feet of me (believe me, I felt like I had killed Christmas for my whole family for several years), I found amazing evergreen incense cones to burn that make my whole house smell of forest. And when I say whole house, I mean my underwear smells like trees.
What are your decorating traditions during the holidays?
My mom and her siblings. She’s on the far left. Can you see the resemblence? People say I’m a carbon copy of her and that she’s a carbon copy of my grandpa.
My dad’s high school picture.
My Mom and Dad with my first pup Sammy, circa 1980-1981
My Grandparents and I soon after I was born in 1982.
My Grandpa, Mom and I sometime around 1985 after my brother was born.
My baby brother Jared, all cute and squishy! I think this was around 1990?
If you’ve noticed my absence this week, I’ve been busy working on a pretty top-secret family crafting project with my mom and aunts that involves some old photos. I always love when people post family photos, so I thought some of you might like to see a few of mine.
Scanners are very addictive, but I’m so thankful that we have digital photography nowadays don’t you agree?
So Neil and my Dad share the same birthday. Too much awesome for one day? Possibly. Neil is turning 29 and my dad is turning 62. They are so similar that it seems almost too perfect that they also share the same birthday. For one, they are the funniest people you will ever meet. Both have an extremely dry sense of humor, and the wit is usually so unexpected that it sucks the air right out of my chest. They are also both very bold, and its almost gotten us beat up on multiple occasions. Yes, my dad has almost gotten our asses kicked. At Disney World no less. Here’s a tip, never comment on a woman’s choice not to shave her armpits. It might save your life.
So Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband Neil and my awesome dad. Without both of you, life would definitely be a lot less interesting.
We had a blast at my cousin’s wedding in Minnesota this weekend. It’s always an awesome time seeing my family. Throughout all the changes, the moves, and distance, they are a constant and an amazing support system to both Neil and I.
The weather this weekend however, was the complete opposite. I’ve never been under the threat of tornadoes for so long in my entire life! We arrived in Rochester and the sky was all sorts of green and purple and the lightning was right out of a movie. We decided to hit up a restaurant near our hotel in case we had to duck for cover or race back, so we hit up John Hardy’s BBQ. I’m not usually one for barbecue, but Neil is, so we decided to give it a try. We each ordered ribs and fries and were blown away by the plate of food we got. The portions were HUGE! I’ve only had ribs once, so I figured they’d be around 5 inches or so but each rib was over 8 inches long! Picture that with a bed of fries beneath and I was stuffed in no time. Who can eat like that? Needless to say we both took doggie bags, and I gave mine to the night desk guy at the hotel.
We survived the storms the first night and awoke to more warnings the next morning. We made our way to the wedding, and the sun graced us for a bit. My uncle owns a beautiful nursery, and the place was fully decked out for the wedding. Gorgeous flowers, fountains, and archways, perfect place to have a wedding (though he insisted it will never happen again).
Nate as Sarah pulled up in the car
Grandpa misses Grandma so much…
Father of the Groom and Sue
Check out the car Sarah arrived in!
My new second cousin Jacob!
Cute little robin’s egg favors.
A few of the great-grandchildren, missing are Jacob and the new twins Logan and Sophia
Uncle Larry and Auntie Paula. It was really hot out!
Adorable gift table
Sarah and Jacob
First dance as a married couple!
It was a gorgeous wedding. The flowers, the food, the open bar, the music, the open bar – did I say that already? It was all completely amazing. We laughed and danced and drank more than we should have…
…then Neil brought me his iphone.
The weather app showed red all over the radar. At almost that second the wind started whipping through the tent. We hurried and tied down all the sides. We were thinking that it was merely just a thunderstorm and that we’d just continue dancing in the tent, but Neil wasn’t convinced and went to get the car. While I was waiting, two police officers ran in from either side of the tent, screaming for everyone to evacuate and find shelter. Tornadoes had been spotted west of town moving east. The sirens started going off, and then it was mass chaos. I quickly hugged a few family members and everyone just grabbed what they could and ran with who they could to find the nearest shelter.
Okay, so I was scared. I was screaming and crying in the car. I’m terrified of storms. I’ve never seen a tornado and nothing terrifies me more than a tornado at night and not being able to see it. Remember that scene in Twister? The tornado comes out of nowhere and swallows the drive-in movie theatre! We even ended up hiding in a gas station just like in the movie! EEP! After 30 minutes we started back to the hotel, following the storm all the way to Rochester.
We left the next morning under more severe weather warnings, and essentially drove through it all day. At one point, we even had to pull over, with about ten other cars, because the rain was going sideways and no one could see! I was so happy by the time we drove down my street, and opened the door to home. It was a beautiful wedding though, and I’m so glad we were able to be a part of it.
Do you have a crazy wedding story?
I’m still editing photos, and quite a bit of scandalous video footage so stay tuned!