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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Highlights

So, I've read several blogs where people list their 2008 highlights and thought it'd be perfect to copy them....with our own highlights of course.

It was a year of significant changes and lots of travel for me.

January - I began working from home more often and we mostly hibernated. Brian was recovering from his knee surgery and I oversaw the snow-shoveling duties.

February - New York and Miami for work travel. Outside of work travel - more hibernation.

March - New York for work travel and we slowly started to get outside on a few nice days, but still lots of hibernation.

April - We celebrated Brian's birthday and I went to Boston for work travel

May - We went to my friend Sarah's wedding in Virgina and had our first family vacation.

June - Brian and I went to New York for a celebration at my work - saw a Yankees game, ect... We celebrated Liz's birthday with a party in Crown Point and one in Brighton, Michigan. We also went to see Jack Johnson in Michigan.

July - Brian went to LA for a story covering an Olympic athlete and Liz put a rock in her nose. She also took swimming lessons (a favorite blog moment). The lessons were filled with sheer terror on her part and finally some success.

August - On Memorial Day weekend, we went to the cottage in Michigan and had a blast.

September - Brian started a new job which meant he now works in the days for the first time in his 11-year career. It also meant sending Liz to a new school - weeks after we had settled into the first one.

October - Brian and I went to Scottsdale, Ariz. and later in the month we went to Washington, D.C. for my friend Michele's wedding.

November - Celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and Liz started to become obsessed with all sorts of gross things - like farts. She began insisting that we make every book "funny."

December - I went to New York for my annual staff meeting. I got stuck over night because of a horrible snow-storm in Chicago. Then, we went to Goshen, Ind. to celebrate Christmas with my family and drove back in a virtual blizzard where my wind-shield wipers refused to work. It took us nearly double the time to get home, but luckily neighbors called to inform us our house was out of power. So, we went to our friends home and spent the night there.
At Christmas, we went to Michigan and spent time with the Brighton Hedgers. Liz is still mostly terrified by Santa. Not exactly sure why, but I think his long beard and general large appearance just scare her. She also doesn't like the idea of a strange person walking around our house. Though, she did make major concessions this year by letting him drop off gifts outside the house. Last year, she wanted him to leave the gifts in Africa.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Picture Tag

My cousin Brian tagged us in a blog game called picture tag.

Here are the rules:

1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.

2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.

3. Explain the picture.

4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

I went with the third and fourth in the file, because the third one was just so cute that I couldn't resist posting it. This is Lizzy and her pal Dylan at the mall about one year ago during the holiday season in 2007. They were riding the bus together and having a lot of fun. Lizzy still talks about the fun they have together at the mall. We try to spend time with them throughout the year and just saw them a few weeks ago. We do need to get together again soon.

I tag: Tonya, Joe and Quyen, Cat and Destini.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa: Bring gifts - but please stay outside

Even though it's a full year later, Liz is still nervous around Santa. OK. Downright Frightened. Terrified you could say. Basically, She loves talking about him, hearing about him, and even watching Santa shows on TV.

But if we're within 50 feet of a Santa at the mall or on the street, she'll immediately dissolved in fits of screaming, crying and basically a full meltdown.

It would be tempting to get a shot of her terrified with Santa, but I can't force myself to put her through that agony - even though we all know it would be a priceless photo.

Despite her fear, she still wrote her letter to Santa and was thrilled to get a letter from him in return. We even made the cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve too.

Still, just before bedtime on Christmas Eve, the thought of him entering the house sent her into a near meltdown again.

She decided she wanted Santa to leave the gifts outside - a reasonable albeit cold idea. So, you guessed it. The cookies and milk went outside too. I believe the milk was frozen in about 7 minutes. Luckily, Santa didn't mind and did indeed eat most of the cookies. Rudolph ate some of the carrot too. It's a good thing he's so accommodating. Whew!

Probably the most precious thing I've ever seen Liz do was when she bounced into our room at 6:30 a.m. saying, "Mommy, Daddy was Santa here. I've been a really good girl this year!"

She was so excited and we ran downstairs to bring in the gifts that Santa had left outside and she was so impressed to see that indeed the cookies and milk had been gobbled up by Santa. She looked at the plate with awe and said: "wow."

Then, she tore into those gifts. And, of course the best presents were the ones that came from the Big Guy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No boys allowed

Like everyone else, we've been swamped with holiday events, and this is actually my last "free" weekend of the holidays.

So, before I become that blogger that starts posting Thanksgiving photos at Easter, I must pass on some great pictures from turkey day.

We were in my hometown of Goshen with my Grandma and Grandpa Shidler and the whole gang. It had been quite some time since we'd been there for Thanksgiving. We were long overdue!

My grandma makes these legendary fabulous mashed potatoes - you know the ones with sour cream, cream cheese, and probably lots of other fattening ingredients (like butter) that I'd prefer to pretend don't exist. Instead, I just relish how delicious this dish is and the fact that no one else can truly do mashed potatoes like Grandma Shidler - that will probably never change! She's the expert!

Grandma also makes her classic minced meat pie and every Thanksgiving, typically several people walk up to it and hesitantly look at it saying: "Now, what's this?" For those of you who are fans minced meat pie, you'd be in heaven. Grandma is famous for all of her pies.

But the biggest fan of minced meat pie is Grandpa Shidler. Luckily, since the rest of us aren't huge fans of minced meat pie, he gets pretty much the entire pie to himself - to enjoy on Thanksgiving and the week afterward as leftovers.

It's always fun when we get together because three of the cousins (all girls) are about one month apart in age, and Anna, is just one year older then the three girls. So, there are four girls that get to giggle, run, cause mischief, giggle and run screaming through the house. What could be more fun!

This year's favorite activities were playing a game in which the whole purpose was that no boys were allowed. Apparently, they had some type of shop and only girls were allowed. They also enjoyed playing outside and decorating the Christmas tree.

Here they are outside - tumbling all around.

Now, it's time for inside mischief.

Speaking of mischief - check out silly Anna.

Tree Time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our Nation's Capital

It had been a number of years since either Brian or I had a chance to visit Washington D.C. I was there most recently in 2003, but for a short trip and didn't get a lot of sight-seeing in at the time.

He and I went for one of my best friend's wedding. She got married on Nov. 1 and we had a few days to walk around Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed to see that some of the landscaping has fallen by the wayside. But the monuments are always wonderful to see and the World War II memorial and Korean Memorial were both new to us.

The Korean Memorial and Vietnam Memorial are quite powerful. The Korean Memorial is amazing because as you walk along the wall, you see pictures of soldiers on the wall, and there are life-size statues of soldiers beside you. If you look closely at the pictures, you can actually see me (my red jacket). So, it's almost like you're walking along next to the soldiers. Very powerful.

You'll also notice the beautiful trees. We went as the fall colors had fully changed.

Also, while we were disappointed by the landscaping around the Washington Mall., we were pleasantly surprised by the public transporation. Those of you who use public transportation, like us, are accustomed to fairly dirty trains. Most often, McDonalds bags and other food items are strewn about the South Shore or the El in Chicago.

But on the Metra, food is forbidden and they take this rule quite seriously. Anyone caught with food gets serious punishment. So, the Metra was surprisingly clean, efficient and cheap. It was also entertaining arriving on Halloween night and see everyone dressed up in costumes on the train.

Here we are in front of the White House.

Here are some pictures of the D.C. Mall. You'll see what we mean about landscaping issues. But at least they're watering.

Anyone out there with a green thumb? Rumor has it the president-elect is hiring. Maybe some new landscapers for the nation's capital? Hmmmmm. On second thought, that's probably pretty low on the priority list.

The nation's monuments look amazing, as always. That's one thing that hasn't changed over the years.

Here's some shots of the World War II Memorial that was finished in 2004. It was the first time both Brian and I had visited it.

Here we are at the top of the Lincoln Memorial looking down on the mall - a favorite view in D.C.

Now, we're at the Korean Memorial, which was one of the most powerful monuments we've seen. There are 7-foot-tall statues of soldiers walking through the woods, and parallel is a black wall with scenes derived from the Korean war that are etched in the wall. If you look beyond the pictures, when there's a reflection you can see the soliders in the background and yourself. If you look closely, in a few of the pictures, you can see me taking the photo. This monument is quite emotional because it gives you the illusion that you're walking next to the soldiers. An amazing memorial.

The main event. Here are a few pictures of Michele and John dancing at their wedding. It was a beautiful wedding in downtown D.C. in a charming bed and breakfast.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More fall fun

Shortly, it'll be Christmastime, so without further ado - here's some more fun fall moments. In our house, where we have hundreds (OK - dozens) of trees - I could post many shots of leaves. But here are a few favorites.

I best be brief since I'm sadly (luckily) missing raking leaves right now to do this post. And as soon as I hit "publish post" I need to dash outside to help.

Obviously, Liz loves raking season. What kid doesn't, right?

The more leaves - the better - Who cares when you're not raking them.

An annual tradition - going to pick out the best pumpkin.

Obviously, a lot to choose from - oh the choices!

Found it! The perfect one.

Daddy - our official pumpkin carver, works very carefully on Liz's pumpkin while she "supervises."

Here she is with her perfect pumpkin.

Don't worry - we still haven't forgotten the post filled with pictures taken by Liz. Brian says he'll do that one (we're waiting -no pressure of course). Here's a glimpse of a great one she got with Brian and I.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Traveling Hedgers

Lately, we've had a number of adventures and I realized I still haven't posted from our trip to Arizona in October. After we went to the big Halloween party, Brian and I flew to Arizona and were there about three days. For me, it was a work trip, but we did have a bit of time to sight-see on Sunday and went to Sedona, Ariz.

While I was working, he did more sightseeing in Arizona - playing golf, watching fall baseball, etc.. But we got one day to explore together.

Neither of us had been to Sedona before. We've been to Arizona a number of times, but this time, we made a point to carve out time to see Sedona. I highly recommend it - even if you're visiting Phoenix or another part of Arizona. This was so beautiful. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.