Remembering Christmas

Christmas is a very special time in our family, and I am so blessed to be sharing in a very Texas Christmas with my Aunt Donna and her family.  When we first arrived, Donna showed us a book she started keeping in 1994 in which she recorded her family Christmas memories.  The last time we were in Texas was 15 years ago.  I wanted to share what Donna wrote in her book about the circumstances that brought us together...

"It was a special Christmas because all of our family gathered at my house this year for Christmas.  Although what brought us together was Daddy's illness.  We are so very thankful for the grace that has been given us in many ways and for this rare and wonderful blessing of being together for Christmas in Texas.  Our special guest was our own Daddy!  He was able to get a day pass from rehab and spend Christmas Day with us!"

We spent that Christmas in Texas because Papaw was still in the hospital after having several seizures and surgery to remove a brain tumor.  We celebrate again this Christmas and remember the family that is no longer with us but will always hold a special place in our hearts.  What a reminder of the blessing and gift of family.  

 Grandmother, Lauren, Papaw, Papaw-Papaw, Caroline, Patti

Sending you all our love from Texas this year!

Merry Christmas y'all! 


It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Anyone who knows me well, or really at all, knows that I.love.Christmas.   I could dedicate a whole slew of posts to various Christmas obsessions, but this one is about the cards.  There is something exciting and wonderful about walking out to the mailbox and seeing smiling faces of friends and family.  I remember growing up that mom would keep Christmas cards from years past, and I loved comparing the cards from year to year.  One family in particular added a child just about every year (at least, it seemed that way)!

Picking out a Christmas card is almost as difficult as taking the perfect picture.  My favorite site is shutterfly.com.  You can view their Christmas cards here.  If you sign up for their emails, you'll get lots of great offers throughout the year!

For our first Christmas, we forgot to take a picture!  At the last minute, we had to set up the camera on the table and take a self timer photo.  It was dreadfully difficult and took about 25 takes!

The next year, I made sure to have a friend come take a picture for us.  We added two furbabies, which quadrupled the number of photos we had to take to get a decent one.  Dogs just don't sit still for pictures.  The end.  Leo is totally hamming it up, but I'm having to hold Layla next to us!

When you fail to get a good shot, you always have the option to use a multi-shot photocard, like this one.  Year three was a smorgasbord of our travels and adventures from that year...New York City, Hackensack, Cloudland Canyon, Metropolis, and the Mississippi Headwaters.  I won't bore you with all those pictures!

Last year was probably my favorite card.  We spend Christmas in Germany, and I really wanted a picture from our trip for the card, so I held off until after we got back.  We got some great pictures of us in the Alps in Fussen, Germany that we used for our first New Year's card!  The link will take you to my favorite one from this season's selection (the one we used last year isn't up anymore).  Here's one of my favorite pics from that card:
It's not a perfect shot, but holy cow!  I'm in the Alps!  At the top of a mountain.  Amazing!

Caroline is going to take our pictures this year over Thanksgiving.  Hopefully it will be quick and painless.  Most of our cards in the past have been red or green, so I'm thinking of doing something a little different.  Here are a few options...one, two, and three!

If you've sent me a Christmas card since we've been married, it's hanging out in a basket by our Christmas tree.  I love to thumb through them and count the blessings of our friends and family!


Birthday month

I love birthdays, but I'm not one to celebrate a birthday month.  It's kinda silly.  But sure enough, as soon as I say I won't do something, I do.  Hence, this year is a birthday month celebration.  Here's why:

  • Half marathon completed
  • Cross the finish line and get tickets to see this guy

(This video, by the way, inspired my love for my special kids with designer genes.  But that's for another post)

  • Midnight show for Harry Potter
  • This brand new pack of Sharpie pens from Charlie (be still my heart!)

  • The presidential suite downtown
  • Celebrating birthdays and Thanksgiving with Charlie's mom and our family!!!



13.1 glorious miles.

 See our "13.1"?  :-)

I never in a million years thought I would utter those words.

 Pre-race...26 degrees
13.1 miles of freedom.  
Of thanking the volunteers.  
Of shaking hands with firemen.  
Of smiling while jamming out to Pink and Glee. 

I think this is the first marathoner

 Coming around the last turn...

 I'm near the sign now...

Post-race in the medic area after a little run-in with asthma

Crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

It's hard to explain the feeling when you cross the finish line and know that you put in months of time and training and sweat and dedication.  Especially if you're not really good at sticking with something (that may or may not be me!).  I am so proud to have set a goal and completed it.  And I had SO MUCH FUN!!!  I was really able to enjoy the race because I wasn't trying to finish in a certain time.  I loved talking to other racers and the volunteers.  Indianapolis was a great place for my first half.  And have I mentioned that it's flat???  Practically unheard of in Atlanta.  I will definitely return to run this race again.  

Thanks to everyone who was so supportive and listened to me drone on about pacing and stingers and long runs and all that other race stuff. :-) 

Race Report for the running junkies:

The expo was smaller than expected but well organized.  Quick packet pick up and chip activation.  We had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and headed to bed early.  

 At the expo...poster with all runner's names

(Caroline in the pink shirt)
Saturday morning was absolutely freezing.  The temp at the start of the race was 26 degrees!!!  I lined up with the 13-15 minute group so that I would impede other runners.  It was definitely the right choice because I got to pass lots of people towards the end. :-)  There were aid stations at every mile along the course.  The volunteers were wonderful!  I enjoyed thanking them along the way.  The course was really pretty.  We ran through downtown, out to a residential area, and then back into town.  The Monumental Circle area was so pretty!  Coming around the last turn was a sweet relief.  

Monument Circle

I had three goals for the race. 
1.  Finish. 
2. Finish in under 3 hours. 
3. Finish in under 2:45. 

Official time: 2:39:46
10K split: 1:14:11 (4 minutes faster than the 10K I ran in September)  
Overall pace: 12:11

I used a run:walk method.  I am going to work on increasing my run:walk intervals over the spring and hopefully run another half in about 6 months.  I am hooked.  For now, I gave myself the week off and will pick back up on Monday!

 Ice party in the hotel

Dinner in the kitchen at Bucca di Beppo


On Remembering...

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

Today, I pray for peace and hope for all of the mothers and fathers who have lost a child. 

Today I remember Samuel and Asa.


A fine farewell

Growing up in Atlanta, you don't have a choice about your team.  You're born a Brave, you'll die a Brave.  And that's just the way it is.  This weekend we say farewell to a legend as the Braves play their final regular season series guided by Bobby Cox. 

I remember the first moment that I really LOVED baseball.  It was October 1992.  The Braves were in the National League Championship series against the Pirates.  The series went to 7 games and I BEGGED my parents to let me stay up to watch.  I remember sitting by the TV, rocking back and forth with excitement.  And then, it came.  The slide.

Braves win!  Braves win! Braves win!!!

The next Friday at school was one of the first of many Braves parades through the hallways.  And that was when I knew I loved the game.  We are the Bobby Cox generation.  He will always be remembered and respected.  Thank you for your dedication to the game, to your team, and to the fans.

And your ejection record?  Just peachy.  :-) 


Run, girl, run!

Apparently there are lots of unwritten "blog rules," one of them being you never blog about why you haven't been blogging.  Considering I haven't been on here since July 14th, I'll leave it to your imagination. :-)

Besides school, the other activity consuming my life is training for a half marathon!  I know, you heard that right...a half marathon!  I'm definitely not a runner by any means, but Charlie and I have been training.  My goal is to cross the finish line in the upright position with a smile on my face and wanting to do it again!  A few weeks ago, our long training run coincided with a local 10K race, so we signed up.  If I'm gonna run, I might as well get a shirt for it!  We had a group from school that joined us, and they were so awesome and supportive.  I appreciate all the kind words and good vibes I've gotten from friends and family on this journey.  It will truly be an accomplishment to cross the finish line.  Here are a few pics from race day...

 Sandy likes to run without clothes, but we don't judge him.


 Kelly's a trooper...running after getting the PT plague!

 Lindsay's so fast we can't even get a picture of her!

 Charlie's chuggin' along...great job!

 Cassie's all smiles!

 I'm upright, and smiling, and I passed that chick in front of me! :-)

Group shot (Cassie, Kori, Lindsay, Matt, Charlie, Lauren, Kelly, and Sandy)



As freely as God has given me life, 
I join my life with yours. 

Wherever you go, I will go. 

Whatever you face, I will face.

For good or ill, 

in happiness or sadness, 

comes riches or poverty, 

I take you as mine. 

I begin my life with you today knowing that we have developed love and trust that are strong enough to last through good times and bad. 
With this ring, I enter a covenant, offering my hand, my heart, and my soul as I know you will cherish and protect them.

No truer words have even been spoken.  This life we live together is not always easy, but I cannot imagine it without my very best friend.  
Charlie, you are my blessing. 

Love you more each day. 
Happy Anniversary!


A funny thing happened on the way to the future...

"So let me make this suggestion.  Don't spend a lot of time imagining the worst case scenario.  It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice.  When things do go bad, don't run, don't hide.  It will take time, but you'll find that even the gravest problems are finite, and your choices are infinite." 

An excerpt from Michael J. Fox's new book.


Our Independence

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

 Happy Independence Day!!


I want it to be so Wang that it's right!!!

If you've been around me lately, it's highly probable that we've heard me express my love of "So You Think You Can Dance."  I love this show for several reasons, but mostly because my dancing skills are right on par for a white girl with no rhythm.  My heart loves to dance but my body knows better!!!  Needless to say, I love and appreciate watching all types of dancing because it is such a wonderful art form.  I love watching the sexy ballroom dances and the sweet contemporary dances that tell a story.  I love watching the growth of the dancers on the show, as they experience new dance styles and partners.

It's also fun "getting to know" the dancers and rooting for your favorite ones throughout the season.  I normally am all for the underdog, but this year is a little different.  Holy. Cow. Alex. Wang.  Alex used to be the principle dancer for the Miami City Ballet.  He's pretty much awesome.  But no one could have predicted that he would be so good at other styles!!!

Exhibit A

Alex dances contemporary with one of my favorite All-stars, Allison (I wanted her to beat Benji!), and they are dancing to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah."  One of the greatest songs ever.  Mia Michaels calls this the best contemporary routine ever on the show.  And Sonya Tayeh is brilliant.  Enough talking, just watch.  

Exhibit B

Alex dances hip-hop with Twitch, the best hip-hop dancer that's been on the show.  This routine is choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha.  This routine had me out of my seat!!!  Hang on til the very end...

If Alex doesn't win this, America is just crazy!!! Hope you enjoyed!


Making lemonade

One of my status updates today (notice I said "one" because today was a very status-y day!) was about squeezing every bit of goodness out of summer.  It's like getting that last bit of lemon juice out of the freshest lemon for your lemonade.

And boy, am I squeezing. 

I went back to Atlanta this weekend to celebrate the boy's birthday.  We met at our favorite neighborhood pizza place, where we ordered drinks and savored the sunshine on the patio while we waited for our pizza...pepperoni with roasted onions and mushrooms, if you were wondering.  We went back and forth about our plans to go to the drive-in since thunderclouds were rolling in, but our fun side got the best of us.  We headed down and stopped by Zesto's for a brown-crown turned upside-down ice-cream and rolled into the perfect spot for the movie. 

Saturday morning was spent in glorious fashion...sleeping in and cooking breakfast for a king.  We spent some time shopping to get Charlie ready to look all European on his adventures in a few weeks, and then ended the night in wonderful company as we celebrated the retirement of his boss. 

Jesus, forgive us, but I'm confessing that we skipped church for coffee and soccer.  The Lord must have heard our prayers since Germany came out on top. :-)

And the topper tonight came when I found out that Brooks and Dunn had to reschedule their concert...I'll be in the crowd the night before classes start!  Talk about ending summer on a bang!

Each day I am reminded how truly blessed I am by my friends, family, and my sweet husband.  In a few shorts weeks we will be celebrating our fourth anniversary...I cannot believe how time is flying by!  Life is so sweet and so rich when you share it with your best friend!


Perfect Summer Day...

I've been on a blog hiatus for, oh, the past month.  Maymester was just as stressful and busy as everyone had warned me it would be.  I couldn't find the time or the motivation to write anything really worth reading.  But as always, this too shall pass, and I lifted my head to find myself facing a glorious week full of whatever I wanted.  And, boy, did I ever make the most of it.  I was able to catch Charlie's softball game, run errands, get some new clothes for clinic, see Stacy and baby Harrison, have breakfast with sweet Miriam, pack all my stuff, and move.

Oh, did you catch that last one?  Yep, move.  One of the great things about this degree is our 8-week clinic rotations.  In a nutshell, we have four clinic rotations, and we pick on a lottery system.  It's very fair (and since I'm a rules person, I would know fair when I see it (-: )...however, there are not always clinic sites available in Atlanta.  You know, where I live.  And already pay rent on an apartment.  And where my husband and two lovely dogs stay.  Yeah, that place.  Hence, the move. Let's call it a temporary relocation to my old bedroom in my parents' house, because, well, it's rent free.  Although I will say that Charlie and I are very good mulch spreaders and wreath hangers and garden pickers and getting-stuff-off-high-shelves-and-changing-light bulbs-in-22-foot-ceilings people (those last ones are most definitely all Charlie!).  So here I am, sitting in my favorite chair in my room, incredibly thankful that my parents are allowing me to be a boomerang child for 8 weeks. 

I should probably change the title of this post to "Perfect Summer Weekend," but I'm just too lazy.  Today was wonderful...we went to church this morning and then stopped by the Chattanooga Market.  My favorite.  We came home with peaches and strawberries and some amazing German rolls.  We made it home just in time to fix lunch and squeeze in a game of O'Shoot before watching our 6th-ish World Cup game (sorry Caroline...the Aussies didn't stand a chance).  Then Charlie and I took the dogs down to the creek, where I laid in the grass by the swing and read while they did their frolicking.  

Friday and Saturday night were spent down by the river at my favorite music festival, Riverbend.  Sheryl Crow opened the festival on Friday night.  Last night, we got an amazing show from Alison Krauss and Union Station (who, by the way, are only performing one other concert ALL YEAR!). 

The day started to wind down as I stood on the front porch and waved goodbye to Charlie as he returned to Atlanta.  While I'm looking forward to my time at clinic, the days are harder when you don't wake up next to your best friend.  But we are going to squeeze every bit of goodness out of these summer days.

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...


And since we're on the topic of love...

One of my favorite mash-ups with my two favorite instruments.  Enjoy. 


I swear, I'm alive!

Hi friends.  I've been noticeably (or unnoticeably) absent these past three weeks.  That's because I've been in the midst of PT hazing, er, Mayterm.  And tomorrow is my very last day of class for the first year of school!  At approximately 5 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, I will emerge from my hole and partay! 

For now, I have to finish my paper on the use of thermal capsulorrhaphy as a surgical intervention for patients with multidirectional shoulder instability.  It's due tomorrow. :-)



I woke up this morning just in time to get down to the beach for this... 

Mother's Day post and beach update to follow when I'm not so busy being lazy...


Almost made it...

We're in the midst of finals, and to put it lightly, studying our brains out.  My friend Lindsay is quite possibly the best "let-me-find-a-you-tube-video-for-the-moment" person that I know, and I love her for it! Tonight, she found this one...who hasn't felt like this at finals?!? Couldn't have said it better myself! (And please, Zack, the blazer. Bless your heart!


Raindrops keep falling on my head...

This is what I need to get anywhere today...the rain is falling, falling, falling.  I love the smell of the earth after is rains.  Mom always called it the "Garden of Eden" smell.  It's cool, damp, rich, and renewing.  Since I'm sans kayak, I guess I'll be traipsing around in the rain boots. 

(Photo above was taken at the lakehouse in Hakensack.  Layla and Sophie came along for a swim.)


Daddy's girl

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love as you do...

I'm sitting at Caribou with Charlie on a Saturday morning date that cost $4.03 and included two free bagels from Einstein's (become a fan on Facebook for some great offers!) and two cups of Caribou coffee. We like cheap dates. :-) Our Saturday morning dates bring back memories of dates I had long before I met Charlie...

Saturday morning would roll around, and Caroline and I would get so excited. Saturday mornings were date mornings with Daddy (and yes, I will always call him Daddy. Some things just shouldn't change).

Caroline and I would take turns picking where we would go for breakfast. She almost always chose Cracker Barrel. She loved the little bottles of syrup you get with your pancakes. And the hash brown casserole....oh.my.goodness.

I was a fan of Dunkin' Donuts. We never got to eat that kind of junk during the week, but when Saturday came, it was free game. I am only still slightly addicted to the chocolate doughnuts. Wherever we ended up, it was our special time with Daddy. It didn't matter what we talked about, or what we ate, or where we went. We were getting to spend time with the man in our lives.

Every dad should date his daughter. Little girls need to know that their dad loves them. Dating your daughter sets high expectations and fosters self-esteem, self-respect, and acceptance. When I think about my relationship with my dad, I recognize that I never doubted or questioned his love for me. I knew that I was free to ask questions and make mistakes.

Mostly, I felt secure. And that security allowed me to grow in a healthy way. Everyone carries baggage into relationships, but I feel that I carried so much less because of the positive, loving, healthy relationship with my father. I watched the way he treated my mom and cared and provided for our family. He loved us well, disciplined us well, and nurtured us well.

Because of our relationship and the example he set for our family, I had high expectations for the person that I would spend the rest of my life with. I wasn't going for someone who was mediocre because I hadn't experienced a mediocre love.

So dads out there, date your daughters.
It's the best gift you can give them.