Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's

Happy New Year's! I can't believe this year has come and gone. I love the reflection that comes with a new year.

At the beginning of this year, I was: in love with Chad. hating my internship. trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel (with said internship). counting down to visits (with said Chad). getting ready to propose my thesis. trying to stay focused on school. dreaming of graduation.

At the end of the year, I am: in love with Chad. NOT hating my internship, because it ended. working in a job I LOVE. not needing a light at the end of the tunnel (I guess I'm not in a tunnel, right now). sometimes taking for granted the fact that I'm with Chad everyday (but glad I don't have to count down to visits). done with that crazy thesis thing. done with school. graduated.

Whew! Chad and I are both excited to see what 2013 will bring. I have several hopes and goals for the year. Tonight we are celebrating New Year's with our dear friends Duane and Andrea. Hope your night is magical, whoever you are and wherever you are.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mi Dushi Tera: Aruba, Part 1

I'm going to dedicate some time over the next few days to blogging about our 6 glorious days in Aruba. We arrived in the afternoon, so by the time we got through customs, out of the airport, into our rental car, and to San Nicolas where we were staying, it was late afternoon. 

We stayed in a little apartment on the Buckleys' property. Bill and Johanna built the patio area and the apartment (and, I think, their home as well) themselves. It is fairly common in Aruba for people to build their own homes of bricks and stucco. The Buckleys and Sherman were there to meet us when we got there. Sherman had brought us some bread from the bakery, and Bill couldn't wait to show us his massive orchid collection (195 plants, including the one we brought him). Here's the cute apartment we stayed in (although its hard to see for all the huge plants and trees in front).

After getting settled in, we headed for Rogers Beach, a little beach on the east end of the island that rarely sees much traffic. I'm not sure why, other than that maybe people don't like how close it is to the oil refinery. Whatever. It's beautiful. And I LOVED going out there and basically having the beach to ourselves (there were two people there, who left not long after we arrived). 

I was happy for a pretty afternoon on the beach. For me, there is nothing like beautiful white sand, that clear ocean water, and the incredible cloud paintings in the sky.

The next morning, I got my running clothes on and we headed towards Baby Beach. On our way there, we got sidetracked when I remembered a cool area where the water crashes violently against the cliffs and sprays up like a geyser every few seconds. First we took some pictures from a distance, but then we decided to shimmy on down to the sandy shelf just above where the waves were crashing. We got totally soaked. It was awesome!

We headed to Baby Beach afterwards, and went for a little ocean-side run. Then we enjoyed our first day of snorkeling. Okay, "enjoyed" is an understatement. I had been snorkeling once before, so I knew it would be cool. Chad, however, hadn't been and he was like a little child on Christmas the first time his head popped out of the water. So many fish! I wish we had an underwater camera. Really, it was incredible. I was just happy Chad loved it so much--I wanted so badly for him to love my little island like I do. This became the first of several snorkeling excursions on this trip.

After snorkeling, we left the beach and passed a man who had created a makeshift stand with graffiti-like letters spelling "Coconuts" on it. I want to be respectful, but the man seemed a little crazy (only adding to the experience, I might add). He had his giant machete and chopped us up a coconut for us to drink out of.

Fun, fun, fun! More trip pictures to come.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our First Taste of Philly

We started and ended our Christmas vacation in Philadelphia with Chad's sister, Deanna, her husband, Mike, and their 5 awesome kids. When we got to Philly, we enjoyed horsing around with the kids and participating in their Christmas happenings. As mentioned in my previous post, Deanna is an amazing mom. I was in awe of her abilities--really. Such a fun, loving mom and wow, what an amazing cook! We ate like royalty at her house. Mike is finishing up his residency at a hospital there and I was impressed with what an involved, fun dad he is, especially considering his busy schedule. And those kids are a blast! We took some pictures on Christmas day, so I may post some of those later.

Chad and I headed to the city on Monday morning to tour the city a little. We planned on being out just that morning but ended up making a full day of it--there was so much to see and do. We saw the Liberty Bell, and the rooms where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were drafted. We went to Reading Terminal Market (a huge indoor flea market), and tried Philly Cheesesteak--the honest-to-goodness real deal. Yum! We walked around in China Town briefly, and tramped around the city looking for the "LOVE" statue until we found it.

The Liberty Bell, with its famous crack. Apparently it cracked two or three times before they gave up fixing it. 

I believe this is where the Declaration was drafted.

Chad, sitting in Congress Hall.

I actually don't know who this guy is, but he looks like he should be singing, "Young Man. Are you listening to me?"

Hulk Hogan was in Philly! At least, we're pretty sure that was him. ;)

City Hall--beautiful, no?

City Hall again.

We found that darn statue, and it only took us several hours!

First experience with a legitimate Philly Cheesesteak. We really felt like we got our money's worth, since the guy serving us looked like he was straight out of the movie Rocky.

China Town! It really was like stepping into China. Not much English going on in there.

In short, Philly was awesome. I was so happy to have the chance to get to know Mike & Deanna's family better, since I had only briefly met Deanna and the kids at our wedding. After a few days in Philly, we woke up at the crack of dawn to catch our flight to Aruba (and our gracious hosts also woke up to get us to the airport). More on that part of our trip, later. For now, a single picture to drool over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grinch Night in Philadelphia

My sister-in-law is pretty amazing. Each time their kids get a report card, she comes up with some special dinner to celebrate their good grades. The other night was Grinch Night. All the Whos were invited to a feast in Who-ville, and she served up roast beast, Grinch drink (green sherbet/sprite), and Who Hash (potato casserole). Her girls got Who hairdos done for the night, and we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas afterward. Classic! I hope I can be a fun/cool mom someday.

Ainslee and Kaitlyn all decked out for Grinch Night.

Look at these yummy treats Deanna created. As in, they're not even from Pinterest. She just...(gasp!) made them up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In Which We are Terrorized by a Villainous Sheriff Inspector and Kentucky State Law.

It's inevitable, isn't it? Whenever I go on a trip, the preceding week is bound to be crazy.

I sat down to write this post with three closed doors separating me from our handy smoke alarm, throwing its token tantrum because I decided to cook myself a hot meal for lunch. (A pizza sub, to be exact. Delish.) I feel like one of those moms who says, "Sometimes you just have to let 'em cry it out," because I was not in the mood to damage my hearing while fanning the thing off with a broom for several minutes. There was actually something oddly satisfying about saying, "You can beep all you want. I'll be in the office when you're feeling calm enough to behave yourself."

Months ago, when Chad and I got our car insurance, we realized our Camry was not technically ours. My Dad gave it to me over two years ago when I moved to Alabama, but never actually signed the title over or did anything official. The insurance company said we could have 30 days to get the title transferred and the car registered in my name, or we'd have to list my Dad on the policy. Of course, 30 days came and went, and I completely forgot about that little agreement I made with the insurance people.

So now, several months later, I get a letter from them ("We understand your time is valuable, however. . ." Yeah, my time is valuable, but mostly I just forgot.) asking me to fax them a copy of the registration in my name within 15 days. (er, proof that it's registered in my name? ahem. why of course I can send you that...maybe by day 14 if I'm lucky.) Miraculously, the letter came while my parents were in town, so we were able to get our signatures notarized on the application form for KY.

Yesterday, Chad and I went down to the sheriff inspector to get the mandatory inspection done. I wish SO BADLY that I had a picture of this establishment. You'll just have to trust me when I say it was ghetto. It was on the backside of a building, and the door had several (WAY TOO MANY) signs on it, one of which said, "Please only knock once." Chad didn't see it apparently, and knocked several times before I could hiss, "Chad, stop!". When the sheriff lady came to the door, she had the most foul look on her face. I felt like saying, "We're here to see the wizard!" But I didn't. She instructed us to get in line. ("Which line?" we asked, because we felt like we were in the middle of a parking lot with cars everywhere and no visible "line" of cars. "Whichever one's shorter," she said gruffly, and shut the door in our faces.) We found the line though, because we're smart.

Then we waited. Got the documents and our 5 bucks ready. She came and took our stuff, wrote down the mileage, circled around to the front of the car, and then came back to the driver's seat window and handed me my papers and money back. "Can't do it. Windshield's cracked." And without any further explanation, she walked away. What?!

Okay, it was pretty darn cracked, but the crack(s) don't obstruct my line of vision. Which is why I haven't fixed it since it happened two years ago. And we thought maybe she was just a grouchy person, and wondered if we should just try and find a nicer sheriff inspector. But we called around and found out that the state of Kentucky won't allow a car with a cracked windshield to be registered, no matter the shape or size of the damage.

The awesome part of this whole thing is that my insurance covered the windshield repair because of some waiver they have in KY (probably because of all this crazy strictness about not having a broken windshield in this state). So I got it fixed today. Hooray! The not-so-awesome part is that on Friday, Chad gets to go back and visit our sheriff friend again so we can take care of the registration before our trip. Gotta love government bureaucracy!

Oh yeah, 'cause we're leaving Friday. In three days. On vacation. To Philadelphia. And ARUBA. Remember?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Visit from the Parents

Mom and Dad Beckstead were in town last weekend. We had so much fun and were so sad to see them leave! Here's a little summary of the trip.

Thursday: I scrambled like a mad woman to get some work done, straighten up the house (which Chad ended up doing while I scrambled), and make it to the airport on time to pick up Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad both had massive amounts of baggage (thanks, Southwest!) full of Christmas presents (some for us, some for the Nashvillians). It was awesome! We gave them a tour of our house and sat in my office for a while talking about therapy and other stuff. Then Chad gave us a driving tour of some of our favorite sights in Louisville (old houses, Cherokee Park, the waterfront, etc.) and we ate delicious Indian food on Bardstown Road. Yum! We stayed up late playing Carcassone, a favorite board game.

game night!

Friday: We slept in! (Mom and Dad were adjusting to the 2-hour time zone difference). We walked over to the track and met up with my friend Sharisa and did some running. Dad has been a serious runner for about 5 years now, and Mom started up a few months ago, so that was fun. I'm pretty sure they're both in better shape than I am right now. . . Once Chad got out of morning classes, we picked him up and got a tour of the dental school. Then we spent some time at the Louisville Slugger Museum.

With Mom & Dad by the giant bat. Classic.

At the museum, just chillin' in the "dugout."

Silly Mom.

At the batting cages!

Dad had several hits. $1 to get 10 balls from the pitching machine at between 40 and 50 mph. They told us that was about the speed you would see from the pitchers in the 10-11 year old Little League World Series. Seemed pretty fast to me!

I am pleased to say I actually got some hits. AND, I used Babe Ruth's bat. Or a model he used. Or something like that.

Saturday: We walked down Bardstown Road (always a favorite for me), and shopped at a farmer's market. Then we had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory! (Heavenly). After lunch, we went to Churchill Downs to see the horse track. We were surprised by all the consoles with people betting on horse races taking place in other areas of the world. We stuck around watching them (the betters) for awhile, waiting to see if they yelled and got excited about the races they had bet on. They did. We went home and prepared for the little eggnog/hot chocolate party Chad and I had planned for the evening. Plenty of people came over from the ward and we had great Christmas numbers from several people! It was great.

oh, I could write a whole post just about the food at Cheesecake Factory. 

at the race track.

I've already got my ugly sweater on for the party.

Sunday: Mom and Dad left for Nashville to go visit Taylor and Jenny and Carson. We were really sad to see them go. What a fun trip! It made me feel like we got Christmas with them, even though we won't be going home. It also just reminded me how great it is having awesome parents who are lots of fun. Love you guys!


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