Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Best of the Rest

   As mentioned in my last post, Christmas Letters in the Information Age, I am putting together a roundup of all the things that happened throughout our year that didn't get written up in detail here on the blog, over on either of our Facebook profiles or pages (since we now have both) or on Twitter. To make this more organized and well, chronological (because, that's just how it has to be) I am going to do the majority of it formatted under the calendar month headings.

   A decent amount of the major events that took place in our lives this past year have been well documented here and can be accessed by month in the archive section to the right of the screen. Things like our big move from a one bedroom condo to a three bedroom house in a small town. A house with a garage and a laundry room (swoon). But some important details did escape in the hustle and bustle... things like how grateful we were to Jason's parent for letting us stay with them for the few weeks in between. Things like our house warming party. Things like pictures of all the adorable decorations I worked so hard on for Bastian's first birthday party, and him enjoying his first ever bite of cake!

   Yes folks, this is going to be a mighty long post so if your interested go ahead and view the rest after the jump:

   The beginning part of 2011 is a bit sparse for two reasons, the first of which being that we were still extremely new to this whole parenting thing and as such we didn't get out much at all. We learned a tad bit late that we weren't in fact crazy, our baby was just colicky for his first several months. As he grew out of that stage however things started to move extremely fast, or at the very least seem that way. One day we could hardly get him to drink his milk and he next he was eating crackers, bananas and now everything under the sun! It feels like one day we were rooting for him to be able to roll back over after finding himself (unhappy) on his belly, the next he was crawling, the day after that walking and now climbing up every piece of furniture we own! Lots, and lots, and LOTS of firsts. Way too many firsts to include. They came one so quickly after the one before it that we couldn't hardly keep track.

It has been quite a whirlwind.

   We spent New Years Eve at my folks house and were honestly so sleepy that I don't remember much aside from the guacamole and an inconsolable baby. But I do know that as always there was wonderful company and many laughs.

   As previously mentioned the first part of our year was very slow in terms of things to report however one exiting thing happened in January, Jason decided to join many others in the Lose for M.O.R.E. challenge and began his journey of healthy weight loss, exercise and collecting pledges for donations per pound lost to go to the M.O.R.E. Project.

   For first few months of Bastian's life it seemed that there was problem after problem when it came to feedings, and although the battle with food/nourishment continued for a while afterwards February brought with it a major reason to celebrate... the beginning of the journey that is "solid" foods! I put that in quotations because I really still don't quite understand what is solid about fruit and veggie purees, but nevertheless it was very exciting!


<Jason> March for me was mostly a blur. On Monday, March 7th one of my best friends in this world passed away. I had literally been friends with Tyler Boyd for over 26 years and he played the role of one of my 3 Best Men in my wedding. I also had played the role of his best man only six months prior to his death and so as you could imagine I was a complete wreck for quite some time. I apologize to those I interacted with throughout this month, I simply wasn't myself.  Tyler was always a fantastic and loyal friend, and there were several years where he was really the only reason our friendship stayed in tact. In my early teens I got lazy with the friendship and had a hard time keeping in touch with the fact that he was in Texas and I was here in Illinois, but Tyler never gave up on it.  He continued to call and write on a regular basis until I finally came around and began putting effort back into the friendship.  One of my favorite things about Tyler other than his loyalty as a friend was his uncanny love of EVERYTHING Star Wars.  One of the "little things" I'll miss the most is sharing funny Star Wars pictures, captions, quotes and video clips with him almost on a daily basis over the internet for the last few years. The thing that will be the hardest this Christmas is not having Tyler call me Christmas afternoon to talk for about an hour about our year, and our Holidays and such like he had done, without fail, every single year since he moved to Texas as a boy. I really don't want this to be too long, but it's really the only thing that stands out for me in March and Tyler is still missed very much, I think about him, and wish I had been a better friend for more time on a very regular basis. Requiescat In Pace Tyler, and to Larry, Bonnie, Shawn and Weston, God Bless you all. </Jason>


   Results were in! In early April Jason finished up the 12 week Lose for M.O.R.E. challenge with 20lbs lost even after having to stop all exercise for the last 1/3 of the challenge period due to a medical concern. He raised $120 for The M.O.R.E. Project and $80 for All Grace Outreach. As an added bonus he hit his personal goal of fitting back into one of his (and my) favorite suits! Check him out <---

   April also brought with it Easter celebrations! We had an early get together before the holiday with my in-laws where Bastian got his very first Easter basket... which had also been Jason's very first! It was incredibly sweet as you would imagine. We read his new Berenstain Bears book about the meaning of the holiday and he tested out his new ride on toy:

   Easter morning he opened up the Easter basket I put together and we got some good candids and videos while he chased his wooden egg shaped rattle and made funny faces in his new cool guy shades. {Click here for more photos of the celebrations} After that excitement died down a bit we drove out to my home town to attend church with my parents and sister before heading out to my Aunt and Uncle's home for a holiday meal and some good company. 

  Bastian made friends with the cutie in the bonnet one pew in front of us. He's such a ladies man. 


   In spite of all the frantic packing and other moving preparations that were going on in May, on Memorial Day Jason was able to indulge his love of parades... and being in them. Not only that but he got to drive the coveted mini corvette. This was one of several parades he was able to participate in throughout the year, but the only one in which he got to drive this red little number so it was especially noteworthy.

   While Daddy worked the Parade circuit Mommy took Bastian to visit with her extended family and get a little time in playing on the grass. We even got to experience our first taste of watermelon!

   Things like these were exactly what 2011 was all about for us, lots of "casual" "small" "laid-back" get-togethers and events that pieced together represent a happy loving life as a family. Familiar experiences made new.

   Summer things sped up for us and June especially was a bit of a whirlwind, what with our big move and all of that. On top of moving our stuff for the second time I was able to take an afternoon out with the help of my mother and plant pumpkins in our backyard which was a dream both Jason and I shared. Lots of projects were completed with the help of those we love and we appreciate them all so much. Both sets of parents were instrumental in our move as were my Father-in-law's cousin Janet and her husband Geoff who let us store some of our bigger pieces in their garage to shorten our trips.

On June 3rd Jason earned his FIFTH degree black belt (which he tested for the previous year)!!
So proud of him!

   Bastian attended his first wedding in the month of June with his Momma and her extended family.... My cousin Amanda got married in a beautiful ceremony on June 4th. While weddings with a nine month old aren't always the easiest, it was so nice to see all of my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins on that side of the family again. Not to mention how sweet it was to be there for the happy bride and groom on their big day. Bastian was most impressed with the ceiling fans and decorations in the hallway of the reception hall:

   We also had the tremendous honor of riding with Jason's dad in the carriage at the head of the Swedish Days parade. He was nominated the Parade Marshal which is a huge recognition of his years of service to his community. Bastian had a blast waving at all of the parade watchers... that and attempting to throw his toys to them as if they were candy. It was amazing to see the community support for Jason's parents and family as a whole. So many people came up to shake hands, offer words of congratulations and thanks. It was a great day for us all. If we can track down some digital pictures in the near future I will add them A.S.A.P.

Forgive us, but the summer months I was without a working camera so not much documentation of these events occurred.
   Fourth of July weekend also turned out to be quite a crazy, yet fun whirlwind. My Sister-in-Law Jenna was engaged to her boyfriend Glenn towards the end of 2010 and while they were in town for the holiday they threw a meet and greet instead of a traditional wedding shower and we got together with family and friends to celebrate their engagement. Then of course in traditional 4th of July fashion we spent the day with the family and friends eating good food and laughing together. Although we missed out on fireworks due to a sleepy baby we did get to participate in some rather entertaining rounds of badminton. Jason even got to participate in yet another parade! That man loves his parades.
   Also of note in July was a big first to write down in our books... Bastian's first steps! I, as a stay-at-home mom by default have been there for almost all of his firsts but it was especially sweet to have Daddy home with us that day to witness such an amazing moment!
   Needless to say it wasn't long at all before he was not only walking but running and climbing all over the house!

   After unpacking for what felt like forever we finally got around to having a housewarming party. It was entirely against my nature but I resisted the urge to decorate and theme-it-up and instead we actually succeeded at having a relaxed, laid back get together. We were both so honored by the number of friends and family members who came out to celebrate with us. The grill ran into the night, backyard games were played, stories told and when it got too dark and buggy outside we migrated inside where the guys proceeded to play Star Wars Trivial pursuit while the rest of us indulged in extra deserts.
   Later on in the month I had a last minute opportunity to drive up to Wisconsin to participate in an artist showcase event hosted by Mark and Gretch of Midwest Artist Network. It was extremely nervewracking as I had not done a public reading of my work since maybe middle school. It was however a very rewarding experience that inspired me to push myself more in the realm of my writing and other such artistic endeavors.
   I did post a few blogs here in September relating to Bastian's first birthday but I never got around to doing a full recap, and while it was pretty standard as far as first birthdays go it was still worth recollecting. Not to mention all my promises of pictures of the final decorating projects I went overboard with. (Always biting off more than I can chew, yes). We filled up the house with festive bits and pieces relating to modes of transportation from trains to airplanes and hot air balloons to celebrate in advance all the places he'll go... though the gift theme turned out to be all about the tunes, which works if you think about it. Musicians tour a lot right? Anyways, it was a small, cozy get together where we ate semi-grown-up versions of Bastians favorite foods and watched the wonder on his face as he took his first bite of cake and pounded the keys of his brand new piano for the first time.

To view pictures from this event click here

   Jason's birthday is also in September and since last year it was slightly overshadowed by having a brand-spanking-newborn I made sure to plan ahead for an outing that I knew he'd love. I was really lucky in that one of his favorite local bands Modern Day Romeos happened to be playing at a festival for free just a little ways away, so after a relaxing afternoon of hanging out with our good friends Jeremy and Shelly whom we hadn't seen much since he went to college with them, we all got in our cars and headed out to the festival for music, drinks and some impromptu adventures through magic shops. We finished up the evening as is customary when the night is late and the offerings of suburbia dwindle to just about nothing, with a trip to Dennys for coffee and breakfast food. Then although  he worked the whole day on his actual birthday Bastian and I ventured out to pick up a slice of his favorite cake (past precedence has taught me that baking an entire cake for his birthday is extremely wasteful since we each only eat one slice and the rest goes bad in the fridge) and supplies for an extremely decadent baked potato casserole which we both enjoyed after we got the fire alarms to stop singing their happy birthday wishes. All in all it was a success.


   If we thought that June was a whirlwind then October was surely tornado moving into tsunami territory... but in the best way possible. It started off early when Jason stayed in for the night with Bastian so I could get out to a birthday party of a friend of mine from school (my one year of college) whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. Not even a week later was our 3 year wedding anniversary for which Jason planned a surprise night away as a couple complete with sushi, champagne and the indulgence of my old junk food favorite, pizza for lunch the next day. It was so great to have a short break from our normal lives to spend some time just enjoying each other's company without the distractions of day to day life.
   A week after that we drove out to Louisville to be a part my Sister-in-Law's wedding. It was a magical, emotional, and extremely fun weekend and a beautiful wedding. Jason was honored to be asked to officiate the wedding and did a wonderful job expressing the joy and significance of the day. I was also honored to be a part of the event doing two readings picked out specially by the bride and groom, both of which suited them perfectly. Welcoming Glenn to the family and celebrating together with all of the extended family and close friends made for a memorable event, along with seriously amazing food (seriously, so good), fun music and of course the ever entertaining photobooth. Who doesn't love a photobooth??

For more pictures from the wedding click here.

Then of course there were all the Halloween festivities that we love so much. Starting with our super awesome, amazing pumpkins

Jason's Pumpkin (Carved and designed together with Mike Jenkins):

And my 8 hour masterpiece that proves that I am either very committed or that I should be... not sure which:

   After the pumpkins were carved and the preparations were in place for our Halloween party we took a drive out to my home town for a new event called Nightmare on Chicago Street {pictures} in which two blocks in the center of the downtown area were marked off a quarantine zone for shelter from the zombie apocalypse. There were props everywhere, local merchants open late, live bands, a costume contest hosted by none other than Svengoolie! I even heard that Vincent Price's daughter was there signing books but I unfortunately didn't see her. We met up with some friends and enjoyed the shows together despite the freezing cold.
   Halloween itself is best not recounted as our whole house was extremely sick. Special thanks to my mom for coming out and handing out candy while we recovered!

   The first of November was a pretty momentous day in our world, and although I normally don't post much about our business lives here on the blog I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that as of 11-1-11 we became a part of a new industry thanks to the launching of an entirely new business model by the Policy Council of The Team. We have been a part of their leadership development organization for several years now which is no doubt why I was able to retire at age 23 and become a stay-at-home mom. Now we have the opportunity to earn an income based solely on how efficient we get at helping other people improve their lives in ways that are meaningful to them. The enormous benefits of this change are evident in our lives already and we are so grateful to be doing what we are doing in a time and place where so many are not so blessed.

   The 11th of November I had the privilege of having a ladies night out with my mom to see a play in which my cousin performed a leading role. We drove out to Dominican University and found our seats with some of my extended family who were also there to see Becca in action and we sat in awe as she dazzled the crowd with her rendition of Gypsy Rose Lee in the show aptly named Gypsy. I had never seen this as a movie or acted live but the songs and some scenes felt familiar nonetheless and it was impressive all around. 
   We rounded out the month, no pun intended, with Thanksgiving dinner at Jason's folks house and desert with my family up in Wisconsin. 

   As part of Jason's gift to me for our wedding anniversary  he gave me a coupon for a redo of our first date so we dressed up and headed out for a meal at Red Lobster which we both agreed was fun for reenactment sake but was not something we were interested in doing again (just not our cup of tea). Afterword we went and saw the Muppet Movie because it was the only movie in theaters involving puppets, and I've got to say it was so, SO much better than our first date movie (Team America World Police = awkward date movie). I cried. And of course sang... and about jumped out of my seat when Sheldon showed up on screen!!
   Then... I turned 25. It was a little bit of a rollercoaster as I am still getting used to celebrating my birthday while at the same time paying proper tribute to my Papa who passed away several years back the day before it... but overall it was a pretty memorable year as far as birthdays go. I got all dressed up and Jason took me out to a fancy dinner with one of my good friends Erin. We (I) ate sushi, laughed, talked and marveled at the chefs ability to toss knives and other cutlery without injuring himself or anyone else. Then I spent the rest of the evening with Leanne, my best friend since high school, drinking cup after cup of coffee and chatting on past 4 a.m. like we used to do back in the day. Later in the week I was treated to a fancy lunch out by my parents. Our yearly tradition of a birthday meal at you-pick-the-restaurant is something I always look forward too and it only seems to get better as the years go on and our bond grows deeper.

   Our most recent noteworthy event of the year was The Felix Culpa Farewell concert at The Metro. It was bittersweet to say the least. We haven't been following/listening to them as long as some of the other people in attendance who were fans from the very begining, but we loved their music the moment we heard them and it was a very emotionally tense show. As a viewer anyways. They played incredibly well and words can't explain the energy in the room, but suffice it to say that it's going in the memory bank as a "Thank God I was there for that" event.

   So there you have it. The best of the rest. If your new here because you received a Christmas card from us with a link to this post please feel free to stick around and check out all of the other content that got logged throughout the year as it happened. I promise that this is the longest post you will find on the whole page... possibly the longest one I will write ever.

   And on that note I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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