happy holidays

A couple weeks ago, Andrew asked me how I ranked the holidays, which got me thinking. How DO I rank my favorite holidays?

Well, here goes:

1. Christmas – obviously, number one.  I love everything about it, from Jesus’ birthday (we always do a cake!), to new pajamas and snow and presents and family and cookies and stockings and time off of work…I could go on forever.  My family growing up didn’t have many traditions, but we did have special things at Christmas.

2. Birthday – What other day of the year gets to be all about me?  Just kidding…  But since my mom’s birthday is the day after (and her mom’s is the day after!), I have happy memories of Memorial Day joint parties at either Bamma’s house or ours.  Lots of family, lots of love, lots of good weather.  Oh, and did I mention my love language is gifts?  So, really, ANY day I get something makes me feel special.

3. Valentine’s Day/Anniversary – a close third to Christmas and my birthday is Valentine’s Day, and just three days later is our “dating” anniversary, so we typically do something big for one or the other.  February is a good month for me.

4.  Thanksgiving – I almost ranked Thanksgiving higher, and maybe I should have, since it’s food-related and all, but the top three are pretty big.  I love Thanksgiving because of family, and all that once-a-year food goodness.  Bring on the pumpkin pie!  And let’s not forget it’s the start of “holiday season,” which gets me all sorts of jolly 🙂

5.  Anniversary – Our real anniversary is Dec. 17, which is hard because it tends to get lost in the chaos of Christmas. Our first anniversary we flew to Chicago one week before Christmas…it was terrible.  We’ve done all sorts of different things, from almost-nothing to trips to fancy dinners, and I have to admit, I’m not really happy with any of them.  I’d like to pick something–anything–and make it a ‘tradition’ (there I go with my traditions again).  Like, ‘every year we go to [insert restaurant here],’ or [every year we give each other [insert certain type of gift here].’  Guess we’ll keep working on that.  We do have seven months.

6. St. Patrick’s Day – I’ll admit, this one’s out of left field.  It’s green.  It’s all about beer. It’s huge here in Buffalo–who knew?–but neither of us are, indeed, big drinkers… All I know is that I have a pair of bright green running shorts and a special “I’m not Irish but kiss me anyway” t-shirt that I wear proudly every year.

…hmmm, what am I missing…?

7.  July 4th – …is always fun!  Bbqs and fireworks and good weather and food and family and friends.  And checkered tablecloths.  And decorations.

8. Memorial Day – this one is obvious: my birthday, as well as bbqs and family and friends being off of work.  At least they were growing up…in the military you get like EVERY holiday off, so I’m not used to Andrew working on days like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or President’s Day.  I was so spoiled. But then again, it’s the military; I kinda think they should get the most time off of anyway.

9.  New Year’s Eve – this one is a hard one.  We aren’t big party-ers, so we aren’t really into clubs or going out.  We don’t drink that much, or dance or really even stay up that late regularly, but we don’t want to be boring and you definitely need the right crowd for an occasion like this… So, it’s always a bit of a conundrum.  Perhaps our favorite one was the year we went to Columbus with Heather and Silas and went to fancy-schmancy dinner all dressed up.  Last year was an adventure

10.  And bringing up the rear is Halloween…  Growing up we celebrated Halloween for awhile,  then we didn’t celebrate Halloween for awhile, (during which time we went to the ‘Harvest Festival’ at church), and then when we got older we passed out candy and Christian tracts (our parents made us) at the door.  Andrew and I have done everything from nothing (this past year…I think we went to Panera or something) to dressing up at a Halloween party the night we got engaged!  I love dressing up, so this holiday only ranks highly if we have an awesome party to go to.  Take notes, friends–someone plan a party!

And that’s all, folks.  It was kinda nice strolling down memory lane as I recounted various holidays from my childhood…

a day to celebrate

There are TWO reasons to celebrate today:

First: Happy Birthday Heather!

Heather and I have been friends for what seems like ages, even though it’s only been about four years…  WOW.  Has it really been that long?  We’ve been through just about everything together, from dealing with marriage stress, having a kid (her), getting out of the military (me) and even camping in the wilds of Minnesota (above).  Heather, you’re one of my very best friends and I love you!

And the second reason today is special…

It’s the Columbus Marathon!

Kathy, Nicole and Susy are all running RIGHT NOW!  Go girls!  This was all of us last September for the Air Force Half Marathon.  I miss my running partners!

happy birthday, carolyn

We celebrated Carolyn’s birthday (which is actually today) on the Fourth due to scheduling conflicts.  How could just a handful of people be so busy we couldn’t spare a random Wednesday night?  I don’t know, either.

Anyway, we had a birthday dinner for her at Andrew’s parents’ house.  The kid-Layers are all going to P. F. Chang’s for another celebratory dinner tonight–bring on the lettuce wraps!

Ben and Andrew’s dad dressed alike.  It was cute.  And the tablecloth zipped onto the table (around the pole for the umbrella)–how neat!

Note my reddish lips–not sure how I feel about it yet.  A post on new makeup colors will be coming soon.  (I know you’re all waiting with baited breath.)

You can’t see them very well, but Carolyn’s candles were animal-print striped.  She was a fan.

Presents!  (You’d think it was Abigail’s birthday with all the pink around…)

Showing off some of her new goodies.  Grandma did well with the purse 🙂

After presents, a walk in the woods and a quick game of KanJam, we headed down to the creek in the back of the yard for a fire.

Abigail with her “horsey.”

Andrew’s mom had gotten a couple boxes of sparklers on her last trip to Indiana (selling fireworks is illegal in New York).

We roasted marshmallows for s’mores.  I’m not a big marshmallow fan, but roast ’em and mix ’em with chocolate and I’m in!

The girls and Andrew started having fun with the sparklers and the camera.  Andrew’s a pretty good amateur photographer, so he was able to adjust the camera settings to get some really great shots.

Next, they thought it would be an awesome picture to get their names written with the sparklers.  It took a couple tries to get the timing right…

If only her name were Carol…

The gazillionth try was a winner!

Thankfully, my name is a bit shorter, so it didn’t take too long to get an OK shot.

If you can believe it, this picture took TEN SECONDS to shoot.  Seriously, the shutter was open for that long and we had enough time to write our names and actually move in the shot, which you can see above.

Next, Andrew experimented with the fire.  Here it is taken in an automatic shot:

Here is another shot taken with a VERY short (1/300th of a second) shutter speed:

VERY different.  I’m excited to carve some time out and peruse the photography books I have so I can take great photos like Andrew.  (How cheesy does that sound?!)

Remember those marshmallows?  I may have overdone it in the s’mores department…

I’m holding my hands out because they are covered in chocolate and marshmallows, and apparently some chocolate missed my mouth…