Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wonky Winter Wanderings (with well-deserved worryings)

During our last afternoon in Danville, it really started to snow. My reasons for taking a walk were as follows: everyone else was getting ready, and I was bored, and I needed the exercise, and it was warm inside, and . . . Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted to go out and play in the snow.

I can't tell you how beautiful it was out there. Do you know that gentle sound of snow falling? The almost inaudible pat pat of flakes hitting the ground? That's what it sounded like.
Check out these deer tracks!
I thought that maybe I had a future in Tracking Things because I soon came across a family of deer. I don't have a picture for you because I accidentally tripped on a tree root and scared them all away. So much for tracking.

But I had a great time, nonetheless.

It was only interrupted by the shout of "JULIE" about twenty minutes into the walk. I tell you what, I haven't heard my dad use his vocal chords like that since my soccer days. Apparently my dad, Michael and Grandma Mickie started worrying that I had fallen through the ice and was dying of hypothermia somewhere, or that I'd been trampled by a gaggle of wild turkeys.

I'll admit that it was a bad idea for me to not bring my cell phone on the walk. But, I think they underestimate my ability to survive in the wild. Only my mom insisted that I was just out there losing myself and running around and taking pictures (she knows me so well). Afterall, I had boots capable of withstanding -25 degree weather! Michael was three seconds away from trekking out into the snow IN HIS PAJAMAS to find me. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever heard? After giving him hugs I pointed out to him that it wouldn't have been a very smart choice. As fashionable as his pajama bottoms might be, they aren't exactly thermal.

But can't you just picture how it would have looked...Michael carrying a semi-conscious me back to the house in his pajamas? How romantic! We would have shared true love's kiss and then had hot chocolate.

Happy Last Day of 2009, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Day

We were able to spend Christmas morning with Michael's family in Indianapolis. We had a nice relaxing morning with comfy clothes, gifts and a quiche that was to die for! Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures from this. (I'm not naming names, but a couple Shockleys claimed they didn't want pictures of them in their pre-getting-ready state!)

We made it to Danville in time to have Christmas lunch with Grandma Mickie. Some of the local deer wanted in on our delicious meal. Grandma was obviously a good girl this year because she got a monkey toilet seat for Christmas. (She has a monkey themed bathroom.)

We finished Christmas Day at Grandma Helen's. Here's Mom, me, Aunt Lorie and Grandma. And the menfolk, Dad, Eric, Michael, Wes and Uncle Dan.
We had a game night with the family, including a Eucher tournament and some table Boccerball:

Then we came back to Indianapolis for one last night before returning home. The snow positively dumped on us! Although it made for more dangerous travel, it sure was pretty.

As one last nugget of Christmas-related charm, take a look at this house that we passed in Indianapolis. Those are all illuminated lawn decorations! Incredible! (I wonder what their electricity bill is?)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Back Home Again, in Indiana!

(That's the song sang at the beginning of the Indy 500, for those of you non-Hoosiers.)

Merry Christmas Eve to you.

Michael and I are back in the motherland, spending these days leading up to the holiday with his family. We got in on Tuesday afternoon and got to spend some time with his family. Judy's been baking up a storm, so as you can imagine, I've been fit to burst since we got here. I've had her pecan tarts, red velvet cupcakes and am looking forward to the chocolate chip cookies she made this morning.

Lauren, Michael and I did some shopping yesterday. I would say that it was last-minute, but then what adjective could I use for the shopping Michael and I did today? Yes, we are procrastinators. It's both a gift and a curse. I have a great picture of Michael and Lauren standing in line at Victoria's Secret...the thing that makes it truly great is how I was yelled at across the store immediately after taking the snapshot, causing the very large scrum of people near the cash registers to turn and gawk at me like I was some kind of pervert. I'll try to post it later. (Edit: Picture, check.)
Then we all went to an awesome tapas restaurant downtown. Sangria, "small plates" and creme brulee: de-Lish!
Let me tell you, it is pretty cold here compared to Phoenix. I bundled myself up before going on my runs. I looked like this, only plumper:

(But doesn't Randy appear to have a nice hour glass figure in this photo? ) Good thing Michael bought me the most cuddliest, most aesthetically pleasing boots on the planet!

Isn't he a dream? They can withstand temperatures of -25 degrees and are hardcore waterproof. Fortunately I don't think it will be that cold here, but there's a chance we'll be able to really test these boots in Danville. We'll be headed over there tomorrow afternoon to spend some time with my side of the family.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Early Family Christmas

Since half of my family will be staying in Phoenix and the other half going out to the midwest for Christmas, we usually celebrate the holiday a little early so we can exchange gifts. We did our family exchange on Saturday and had a wonderful time! It was a full house, with my mom and dad, JP, Shannon, Kai and Shannon's mom, Kathy.

JP and Shannon brought their dogs with them, too. Here's a lovely picture of Becks with Michael. I think it really captures the feel of the holiday, don't you? Last year we started an early Family Christmas tradition. We all ate ribs from Mongomery Inn...truly the most delicious ribs I've ever eaten. We continued the tradition this year and enjoyed a few slabs between us. (Shan ate pasta as she doesn't like ribs - even Montgomery Inn *gasp*)

I wish I would have gotten a picture of all of us in our bibs, but you'll just have to settle for the following:

Doesn't this look like a true Christmas feast?After dinner we did our little exchange. Kai had to open his presents first because it was getting past his bedtime. I really enjoyed watching him open them because it seemed like the first time he really 'got' it, knew that they were his, opened them himself, could come round and give us hugs and kisses for thanks.
But the poor guy had to go to bed right after opening up the gifts.
I won't go into all the intricately planned twists and turns of the Annual Martin Family Scavenger Hunt, but I will tell about two highlights. First, the clue that told us to drive to a local gas station to fill up Mom and Dad's car. Thank goodness we looked under the gas cap before moving all the cars out of the driveway to clear the way, found the correct gas station and then checking the cap. We would have gotten all the way out there and found that the clue was in the car the whole time! I thought my Dad was going to keel over from laughing so hard. Then we had to go next door with a drink for the neighbors to sing a carol for our next clue. (We did a moving rendition of Carol of the Bells).
It was a great night. And one of the best side effects of this way of celebrating is that Christmas is stretched out from just one day to a week!
We leave for Indianapolis tomorrow morning to spend some time with Michael's family. Then we'll head over to Illinois for a couple days to see my family. Can't wait!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Don't you ever wish you could live in a Christmas Village?

I do.

I inherited one from my Mom and love it.

Always a beautiful yet managable amount of snow on the ground? Everything cast with a creamy white glow? Old Deputy McGillacuddy hanging out (with a Coke?) outside the Hunter's Tavern to make sure no one drinks and drives!

Staying wrapped up in our little cabin while the children make snowmen in the front yard (also, with a Coke...since when did my fantasy have product placement?!) And our children are awfully blonde for having two dark-haired parents!

The toy shop always buzzing with the sounds of trinkets and laughter. People who travel in a two-horse open sleigh. Heading over to the Ski Chalet to get a few runs in. Notice how the skier is throwing a scathing glare at that reckless hooligan shredder of a snowboarder...hey, this fantasy has to have some basis in reality, right? (Zing!)

You're all welcome in our cabin any time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees...

Things are winding down (or up, depending on how you look at it) toward Christmas around here. Michael and I have been decorating the house, buying gifts and finalizing the travel plans for the season.

On the 10th I had my work Holiday Party. Here is my friend/coworker Remi that I caught mid-devour of a scrumptious Sprinkles cupcake. Mmm, red velvet. I took one home for Michael and...he didn't eat it right then! Can you believe him! The gall! I could never turn down such a sweet treat! He said he, quote, wasn't hungry. I feel like I'm married to a stranger.

He ate the cupcake the next day.

On Friday we went over to the home of our friends Amy and Erik. They are excellent Yuletide hosts. We chatted, ate dinner and watched The Christmas Story. It was great!

They served hot chocolate spiked with one of the following: Bailey's Irish Cream or Kahlua. (Sorry Amy, I can't remember!) It was so good! I recommend it, but since I can't tell you which was the correct additive, I suggest the following: make one of each and enjoy!

Michael spent Sunday with his Little Brother, Michael. They went to see the Gingerbread Village at the Arizona Grand Resort, which I hear is more of a gingerbread cul-de-sac because of size and grandeur. They also did some Christmas shopping together. :)

We went to the ASU Holiday Party on the 9th. It was great because I got to meet Michael's new boss and see some of his coworkers again. The decorations were festive and the food was good. It was so fun to see all those little kids running around in their fine Christmas clothing. Michael refused to get on Santa's lap for a picture, sorry.

This week I had a lovely get-together with some girlfriends for lunch. Here you'll see Remi again, along with the former Waldom sisters, Lauren and Emily.

Aren't the two on the ends the most adorable pregnant women you've ever seen?

On a personal note, I heard such an interesting thing on a Grey's Anatomy rerun last night. (Hark! So much wisdom to be gained through that show!) One gorgeous doctor said to another doctor something along the lines of, "You're feeling your feelings all over the place right now. You need to take those feelings and pull them back inside." I think that sometimes I need to work on feeling my feelings more on the inside and less on the outside. Just a little Introspective Snack for the day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

#1 on my list completed!

*Note: This post was actually written on 11/24. I'm late on posting because of a combination of indecision, laziness and mixed feelings on whether I should post it at all*


Something big just happened. I just completed a story!!! (That deserves a triple exclamation point!) You know, my hobby of creative writing? I just finished a project, I can't believe it!

I've had the very last chapter written for quite some time now, but in the past few days I've been able to work in those tricky and not as exciting in-between scenes. And then...finally...when the moment was right, I could cut and paste that final chapter into place. Then I sat back in my chair and giggled soundlessly at the screen. I looked around, bobbing my head up and down, looking for someone to celebrate with, but I was alone.

It's okay, I guess right now is not the time for the ULTIMATE CELEBRATION. Don't worry, there will certainly be a time for this. The ULTIMATE CELEBRATION will occur when I am done going back and rewriting all those scenes I wrote when I was in high school and overused SAT vocabulary words. (i.e. "'Look, a conflagration, otherwise known as a widespread fire!' she said.")

Now before you (read: I) get too excited, I think we all need to calm down just a little bit. Because I don't even know what this means. Will I ever be happy with the finished product? Will I get done rewriting all the old stuff just in time to want to rewrite all the new stuff, which will have (by then) become the old stuff? Will I ever get the courage to show this to an agent or editor, or even enough courage to let Michael read it?! (One time I let Michael look over a cover letter I'd written and it came back all covered in red ink. My self-esteem felt this small) (Plus, Michael doesn't even like the type of writing I do...he's not really into the whole sci-fi/fantasy/all things make believe/romance genre)

The only things for certain are that:

  1. I have months upon months of editing and rewriting ahead of me, and even then I will likely never be confident enough in the story to let anyone other than my mom read it

  2. I can check off one of the things on my Bucket List! Woot!

  3. I can cross of an item on my 11 Tasks in 101 Days (I've written over 15,000 words since 10/15/09)

  4. If (despite item #1 on this list) I ever get published, you all know what you're getting for Christmas that year

I don't think I mind putting this out there. I realize that by simply posting this blog entry I'm setting myself up for disappointment. That you all will think I'm very creative and expect me to announce my book signing dates on Christmas. I think I will be okay if nothing ever comes of this story. If no one else ever reads the thing, or even if people do read it and just go, "Eh," while one side of their lips pinches upward in the universal gesture of disapproval, I'll be okay. I can say that I did it. I had a thing that I loved and I finished it.

Thank you for being here for my special moment. I feel very good right now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Skirting: The Issue

I recently bought a tree skirt for our Christmas tree. I love it. I especially love it because this little guy is looking out at me:
But isn't he the most adorable thing you've ever seen? I love his button nose! And his button button! How can one with no mouth be so expressive? I'll tell you, it's those warm and sensitive eyes.
So a little background on my family and Christmas tree skirts: My Grandma Helen has a really cool skirt on which she fixed the names of the four members of her family. Under my dad and uncles' names she attached their wives and children as they entered the family. (She attached their names, not their selves. That would be uncomfortable. Was that unclear?) Isn't that the coolest? And my mom did the same thing with her Christmas skirt, meaning that Michael's name was attached last year when we got married, and Kai's name was added under JP and Shan's 2.5 years ago when he was born.

And so I did the same with our little two-person family. Check it out!
Now, I don't know if my Grandma and mom sewed or hot glue gunned the letters on, but I decided to sew them. Let me tell you, this was a process! After cutting the letters out of felt, the teeny stitches took a very long time. And some letters were easier to work with than others. I's and L's, it's been a pleasure working with you. But if the H and E's were difficult, the M was a downright Diva. I think I had to re-do the M 12 times. Not joking. But it was all worth it in the end. Can't wait to start wrapping some presents and placing them lovingly around this skirt. (Don't worry, I won't cover up Santa!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...around here.

Last weekend, Michael and I got into our annual Christmas argument. It normally involves me being a tad too excited about decorating and Michael not being excited enough, and this is year was no different. Except this year it took place in Target as I joyously pirouetted down aisled of ornaments and Michael bah-humbugged along after me with the cart. Michael had bravely agreed to put up Christmas lights on our new home. After a few rolled eyes (on his part) and a few shouts of "DON'T RUIN THIS FOR ME!!!" (on mine), we hugged it out and made our way home. We had our purchases and were ready to embark on a voyage of illumination.

Next thing you know, the Hubs looks like this:
And soon our house looked like this:

But alas, we were outdone by our neighbors. Ol' Bill and Lettie put out a huge inflatable snowman and Santa Claus, which I was tickled to discover on my drive home yesterday.

Then Michael came home with 10 small pointsettia plants, proving that a Christmas Miracle has happened and he has made a Scrooge-like turn around. <3

Me spying on the Hubs around a Christmas tree:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

So, if you haven't heard, I'm sort of into Christmas. Okay, I lied. I'm way into Christmas. I love Christmas.

So when I read about, and then heard about via text message from my sister-in-law, the Ahwatukee Festival of Lights, I knew I must do whatever it took to put myself there. So on Saturday afternoon, while Michael was working the ASU-UofA football game, I found myself completely free to go to the Festival.

I drove down Chandler Blvd. and saw signs pointing to 'Event Parking.' I followed these signs and parked in a school that did NOT look like a festival. Then a school bus came around and parked. People started running from their cars to catch the bus, so I did the same. About two minutes into the bus ride, I realized I didn't exactly know where the bus was headed. And after hearing a woman say to another woman how excited she was to go to 'the party,' I was pretty convinced that I was about to crash some large scale private gathering.

Well, that wasn't the case. Still, I was the only single person on the bus amid mothers with their children and entire families. I felt pretty creepy.
It wasn't Lights as much as it was Festival. There were a lot of booths selling crafts and foodstuffs.
The best part was a little stage that was made up so a local dance studio could put on a dance recital. Most of the dances were adorable. Some had me giving the side-eye as little girls writhed around on stage doing sexy moves in tiny leopard print underwear and training bras. Once again, I felt like a Creep Master. I looked around and definitely caught a few dads looking uncomfortable. Is this how my old dance recitals used to be?!?! Anyway, most of the dances were adorable. I loved this little girl who was flitting around:
I wish they had sold tutus like this one at a booth.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks

Michael and I had our first house guests at our new home this weekend. Lauren, Michael's sister, came to stay with us along with her two friends, Brian and Kwynn. It was a great time having them around the house, and they came to our family celebration of Thanksgiving. So on Thursday morning we headed up to Fountain Hills to see my parents and JP, Shannon and Kai.

Lunch was excellent. Everyone contributed something, which is a tradition in our family. I think it gives a little more Thanksgiving-y feel to the day. Dad also had a short quiz of T-Day trivia, so we went once around the table trying to answer questions. We got Kai to sing his favorite song for the table - Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" - and enjoyed the wine, which flowed like...well, wine.

QUICK QUIZ! Who wore it best?

We had our dessert and wine out on the patio. It was a great day - the perfect temperature!

This picture was taken by hooking the camera up to a light fixture. Please notice Michael with a look of torture on his face as he shields his eyes from the sun. Michael and Einstein have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes it's more of a hate-hate.
We rounded off the evening with a little more wine, a little hot tubbin', and a lot of laughs.
On Friday we in the 'Tuke (what the cool kids call Ahwatukee) had a lazy morning around the house. Then we had a really good meal (and tons of leftovers, as you can see) at Oregano's.
Michael took us to Sun Devil Stadium to check out the field and see where he works. We went down to the field and hung around for a bit. Lauren, Kwynn, Brian and I raced across the field. Michael was the judge. Then Michael and I goofed around in the end zone. I did my end zone dance and Michael tried to stiff arm me.