Sunday, November 29, 2009
One of my favorite traditions is that my family always has a fresh cut tree. To me, there's nothing more Christmassy than the smell of a Christmas tree. We always pick out the tree together. One year in New York, we cut our own. Another year, we rented a cabin in the mountain and made a "tree" with branches. But picking one out at Home Depot is my favorite. My sister will point one out, tell my dad to pull it off the pile, and Dad will spin it and tap it on the ground to get the boughs to fall while we judge the shape and symmetry. My sister is probably the pickiest when it comes to the tree. When we get it home, we put lights on and usually begin with the ornaments, though we haven't done that yet this year (we chose our tree last night). My mom has boxes and boxes of ornaments - many of them made by my grandmother from New York, who will be spending Christmas with us this year. Sometimes, we put tons of our special memorable ornaments on - baby's 1st Christmas, gift and keepsakes ornaments, the infamous Mrs. Peach. Other years, we go for a simple silver and angel theme. One year it was angels and red bows. No matter what, it's always beautiful.
We also usually go to Winter Haven at some point during the Christmas season. Winter Haven is a Tucson neighborhood where all residents are required to dress up the homes with lights. Last year, we went with Mr. Kingston on Christmas Day. It was where we really first told each other we wanted to spend forever together, so it's even more special to me now. You can walk or drive through, depending on the night, and there are also horse-drawn hay rides. It's just a really fun time, because everyone is in the Christmas spirit.
In my family, we have a sort of Christmas "routine" that has become a tradition. Christmas Eve is generally spent at my cousin's home - his wife's family is also there, along with (usually) my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle. The years that we do a gift drawing, we open those gifts. However, my little family unit has decided that this year, we'll start a new tradition and do something fun like Winter Haven on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve at my cousins' home is hectic and crowded and has turned into somewhat of a long, drawn-out gift-opening show for their son. We've decided it's time for something new.
Christmas morning has always been my favorite. I'm like a 6-year-old, I get so excited. I can't wake my sister up until the time she tells me the night before. If I do, she'll stay in bed even longer. Some years, my dad has to work Christmas day and I have to wait until early afternoon. Before we do gifts, my parents have to have their coffee. My mom will start a fire and turn on Christmas music. We start with stockings, then move on to gifts. The big meal on Christmas day for us is usually breakfast. Last year, we went for a walk with the dogs after breakfast. Christmas is the day for just our little family to spend together, though sometimes my grandparents join us for a small dinner in the afternoon.
There are many other Christmas memories that are special to me like baking and decorating cookies with my mom and sister and decorating the house. I have a large collection of snowmen, my sister collects reindeer, and my grandmother has given my mom countless decorations. It's always fun to see them come out of the box and talk about our memories of Boris Claus (a Russian Santa my aunt brought from a trip), my mom's creepy carollers (sorry, Mom, they are), and the stockings my sister and I have had since our first Christmases. Within a couple of hours, our house goes from homey to festive with little touches of Christmas in every corner. I give my mom crap about some of our older, weirder decorations, but I do love the comfort that the sight of our house decorated for the holidays brings.
As far as traditions with Mr. Kingston go, I'm adamant about never having a fake tree. To my relief, he's agreed to get a small pine that we'll keep on our dining table away from the dogs. I hope that decorating, baking, shopping for gifts and spending time with family will be as important to us and our children as they have been to me growing up. I look forward to what new traditions we come up with for our own kids, and I hope they enjoy the traditions my family carries on to them.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The last two days have been a roller coaster. We took Paisley into the emergency vet on Thursday evening and was told she could have one of three things: an intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, or Hemorrhagic GastroEnteritis. She had one symptom (bloody diarrhea - I know, sorry folks!!) that was a classic sign of the HGE, but could have been caused by complications from the other two. A pancreatitis test ruled that out. An obstruction would require surgery, HGE would require supportive care and hospitalization for as long as 3 days. As of Thursday night, my plan was to leave Tucson early and take Paisley back to my vet in Phoenix for care. But my vet doesn't do 24 hour care and it also became apparent in the morning that moving her wasn't in her best interest.
On Friday morning, we were told she needed an ultrasound to look at her liver and stomach to hopefully determine presence of an obstruction and to see the health of her organs. I went to visit Paisley with my mom and sister. She was obviously drugged up on pain meds, antibiotics, and fluids. While she looked better, she also appeared to feel awful, if that makes sense. Instead of her usual squealy greeting, we got a couple of high pitched moans. While in the visitation room, she very nearly fell asleep on her feet. We sat with her for maybe a half hour, with her on my lap and receiving lots of kisses. At the time, her ultrasound had not yet been performed, which we were a bit concerned about. We left her, and I felt really awful, but I was glad that I'd been able to see her and see that she was physically looking healthier.
When I talked to the vet after performing the ultrasound, she was very concerned that Paisley's stomach was highly distended and there was a spot on the ultrasound that raised a lot of questions. Her initial thoughts were that there was an obstruction in the small intestine, or that the intestine had folded over on itself. The vet told us she was pretty certain we'd be looking at surgery. I'm so thankful that the emergency clinic sends away their x-rays and ultrasounds to be seen by radiology experts, because the 2 long hours later, the techs came to the conclusion that Paisley didn't have an obstruction, and that the vet had simply captured the connection between the small intestine and colon (apparently rare because of small dog anatomy).
So we were fairly certain that we were dealing with HGE, but neither x-rays nor ultrasounds are 100% unless the obstruction can be clearly seen. The only ways to be certain are to perform surgery or to conduct a barium survey. The vet's thinking was that inflammation had slowed her digestion and left a lot of fluid in her stomach, which stressed the system even more. After much consideration -mainly we were concerned that if we'd eventually end up in surgery anyway, why not just get it over with - we opted for the barium survey. Paisley's stomach was drained of fluid that wasn't moving along, providing a path for the barium. By early evening, we knew that the barium had cleared her digestive tract normally, verifying that there wasn't an obstruction.
As of this morning, Paisley has eaten and kept food down. She hasn't had any of the bloody diarrhea (sorry, folks!) that she was plagued with since yesterday evening. So it looks like our little girl is making her comeback. I'm not sure yet when we'll be able to bring her home. I'm just very thankful this Thanksgiving weekend that we took Paisley in and that we worked with wonderful vets and technicians who helped me and Mr. Kingston (and my mom - thanks, Mom!) make the most informed decisions possible about her treatment. I'm extremely grateful!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
All in all though, we did have a nice Thanksgiving. Between Paisley's illness and Clover's excitement at being in a fairly new place, I didn't get a lot of sleep, so we were pretty much just lazy most of the day. Our dinner was small - just me and Mr. Kingston, my parents, sister, and my grandmother. After dinner, my sister and I went to our aunt and uncle's house to say hello to our cousins. I'm hoping sleep finds me quickly after all the events of today so that I can be up early to get Paisley to Phoenix. However, I'm waiting to hear the results of her blood work and pancreatitis test, so I'm just trying to pass the time with other things, like facebook and blogging.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I'm thankful for my amazing parents. They've always provided unending support and thoughtful guidance. They're the most selfless people I know, and I hope to be as great a parent as they are.
I'm thankful for my sister, who is wise in so many ways that I'm not. She's strong, beautiful, and independent. I greatly admire her confidence and determination.
I'm thankful for my friends, who are always there to laugh, listen, and share. My friendships truly enhance my life and I feel grateful for having wonderful people in my life.
I'm thankful for my pups, who are precious, sweet and loving. I'm thankful that they're healthy and full of life.
I'm thankful for my husband. He's taught me the true amazingness of unconditional love. He's patient when I'm not, listens when I need an ear, and brightens my day with a simple smile. I'm truly thankful for the man he is and the man he strives to be. I feel absolutely blessed to be married to a man who's such a perfect match for me.
Of course, this year is hard for so many families, so I'm thankful that Mr. Kingston and I each have a job, a roof over our heads, and food in our refrigerator. I'm thankful that we're healthy and don't have to make tough decisions like whether to buy groceries or pay the electric bill.
I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
After I got the kitchen and myself all cleaned up (my fingers are still pink) Mr. Kingston took me out on a date. He'd asked me out earlier in the day, so I was excited. He's always so sweet, but it was really cute to be asked to dinner by my husband. We went to Outback Steakhouse and then picked up movies and some beer and headed home to watch in our PJs.
Friday, November 20, 2009
We love Paisley because she's sweet, smart, funny, and affectionate. She really is our first baby. We love having her curl up between us in bed or on the couch. I love her talks with Mr. Kingston and how she follows me anywhere I go. She may be an angry elf sometimes, but she's our angry elf.
We started discussing another dog in probably July of this year and decided she would be our wedding gift. We knew we wanted another puggle. I think we were almost as excited about getting our new pup as we were about getting married - we were looking so forward to bringing her home and having a sister for Paisley. Mr. Kingston suggested the name Clover and from then on, we referred to her as that. Two weeks before the wedding, we went and saw her for the first time.
We brought her home two days after we were married and she and Paisley became fast friends. They play constantly. It's hard to believe we've had her for a month already. Like the wedding, it feels like it was ages ago. Clover is just as tiring as Paisley to take care of, but just as fulfilling. She get happy to see us come home and can be very sweet. She's busier than Paisley though, aand Paisley was buuuuusy. She's more adventurous and independent. She's farther along with house-breaking too.The Girls are really our little family - we love them dearly, even though they test our patience and sanity at times. We know that when walk in the door at the end of a long day, they'll be there to greet us, give us kisses, and welcome us home.
Monday, November 16, 2009
So to my dearest Mr. Kingston, Happy Monthaversary! Here's to so many more!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Even when we visited guests at their tables at our wedding, a few people asked when babies were coming. Before the wedding was even over. It made me want to give far too much information involving my ovulation. To answer every one's question seriously, yes, we do want children. Honestly, we can't wait to be parents. But we also greatly value this time we have together and feel it's important to spend time as a married couple first. I think this is completely rational, and we intend to evaluate our position in a year and go from there. We have a lot we want to do: build savings (most importantly) and go on a big vacation. The last thing we want to do is bring a child into the world before we're ready emotional and financially as a couple. I know people say that if you wait until the perfect time, you'll never have them. We don't need the perfect time, but this is certainly not the right time. Yes, we're stable, but we have a goal, and no baby talk will commence until we reach it.
When it comes to the house situation, I get frustrated too. Our current plan is to rent a house when our lease is up in March. We've also thrown around the idea of staying in the apartment, but we'd love the extra space and a yard for the dogs. Yes, I understand it's a great time to buy a house. Yes, I know the government will hand us $8K for our contribution to the stimulation of our economy. Yes, I know paying rent is sort of like setting money on fire. But it's not the time for us and, again, we're not ready. We don't know where we want to live in this huge city, how much we want to spend, etc. Not that we love apartment living, but we don't feel like buying a house is a top priority right now. It's not something we feel we have to achieve in a certain time frame. Neither of us want to rush into buying something that isn't a perfect fit just to check "buy house" off our imaginary to do list.
Not to mention, houses are expensive and we're trying to build savings, not deplete it with big purchases. I feel like we're making mature decisions that we know are right for us and for what we can handle, and yet they're not exciting or satisfying enough for some people. "It's only 3% for a down payment," a coworker (who recently bought a home after living with his parents and saving his entire salary for 6 years) said. Yes, but that's 3% of a house that we could stock away for a trip to Ireland, something that is currently much higher on the to-do list. But on top of that 3% is closing costs and other fees that come up when purchasing a home. Not to mention, we don't plan to buy a brand new home, so we both feel we need significant savings for any unforeseen repairs. Ideally, Mr. Kingston would like to buy somewhat of a fixer-upper and do a lot of work to our permanent home (flooring, plumbing, cabinetry). So we're now looking at 3% for a down payment, closing costs, unforeseen repair savings, and remodeling money. We're just not there yet, and we're okay with that. And yet, with all these reasons, I get looks of pity from some of the people who ask.
It's true that the "when" of what life brings next boils down to money. Doesn't most everything? As a young couple, I don't really think we're alone in our situation. We're not in a bad financial place by any means, but we just contributed to our wedding and are working hard to replenish our savings and pay down other bills to put ourselves in an even better financial spot. Considering the fact that our economy is where it is right now in part because of people purchasing homes they couldn't afford, we're extremely cautious about our move into the next phases of life.
The baby and home will come, folks, we promise. Just give us some time, there's no rush.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have a couple challenges in picking the right cards: finding something that's not too serious but not too cartoony, doesn't have religious wording on the inside, and doesn't say "Season's Greetings." I do like something creative, but if it's got traditional wording, I prefer "Merry Christmas" and I'm okay with "Happy Holidays," but I don't like the phrase "Season's Greetings" for some reason. Since everyone is trying to be more PC and sensitive to different beliefs, you can imagine that my eliminating a popular Winter Holiday phrase makes my job a little difficult. Here are a few of my favorites from my favorite store, Target:
I love blue and white for Christmas rather than the traditional red and white and these look like a snowy hill.
I love this design!
These are lovely, but might be too girly for Mr. Kingston's taste. I just put him through the fun of a purple wedding, he might appreciate a break.
Now, if I had an unlimited budget for Christmas cards and wanted to splurge a little, I might go with something like these from Tiny Prints:
Of course, Tiny Prints specializes in birth announcements, so they mostly have photo designs. We've decided not to do a photo card this year, but if we did want to do one, I like the simplicity of this design:
Of course, I can't forget Etsy as a great source for truly unique cards.
These are from BethsCardCreations - snowmen AND snowflakes?! Sold!
And these just might be my favorite! They're from SilhouetteBlue and say "Make the Season Bright" at the bottom.
I love and look forward to my annual search for Christmas cards. What's your favorite part of preparing for the holidays?
1. My husband passed his journeyman's licensing exam on Friday, and I am so proud of him. He didn't want the pressure of everyone knowing, so he didn't tell us he'd even taken it until after he passed.
2. I spent my 12th birthday on an Amtrak train going from Tucson, Arizona to Rochester, New York to visit my mom's family.
3. I was a synchronized swimmer from the ages of 11 to 13. My sister swam as well and continued on through college. She's won national titles with her masters team. She's awesome!
4. One of my tattoos was inspired by one that my mom got from Lyle Tuttle.
5. If you told me a year ago that I'd be married right now, I wouldn't have believed you. I knew I loved Mr. Kingston and wanted to be with him, but I never would have guessed things would progress so soon. And I couldn't be happier!
6. I once cut myself making Jello.
7. In college, I had a Pathfinder that I loved. I totalled it soon after I graduated. Over a year later on a family trip to Mexico, we spotted it in a parking lot by the beach.
8. I've only voted in one presidential election (I've been old enough for 3 now), and it wasn't the last one. Say what you will about not using my voice, but I haven't had complete confidence in a candidate and his views, and I refuse to give my vote to someone I don't believe in.
9. If I won the lottery, I'd pay off our cars and buy Mr. Kingston a Harley Davidson Road Glide.
10. The stones in my rings are moissanite, not diamonds. It's not because of the diamond trade but because we wanted something different and we could honestly get more for our money with moissanite. We also love that they originate from meteors, and they inspired our first dance song "Stellar" because of the line "meet me in outer space."
So now I get to tag my favorite bloggers to give us interesting things about them. Since I still don't have many followers (as I put "get more followers" on my to-do list), I'll tag Mrs. ESPN and anyone else who'd like to participate can leave a list in the comments.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
In school making friends was easy (mostly). As elementary school kids, a simple mutual love of the monkey bars or a seat next to each other in morning circle activities formed a bond. We're going to skip middle school because it's a mess, and I have no desire to revisit the awfulness of attempting to make and keep loyal friends between the ages of 11 to 13. In high school, classes, sports, clubs, and extra-curricular activities were great sources for friendship. College brought much of the same, with friend-making opportunities being jobs and school projects and social organizations. In every young stage of life, common interests and simple location served friendships up on a silver platter.
Adult life is so much harder, for me anyway. I don't know many people who are involved in clubs or something like a club. Maybe an alumni organization here and there, or club sports or something. But it seems as though life makes us busy and - at least for me - I value my time at home more than I care to go mingle with strangers. I feel fortunate that my first career job required me to travel and spend a lot of time with my coworkers because I formed lasting bonds with some wonderful ladies. But at my more recent jobs, I've discovered that making personal friends of coworkers can be tricky. First, how do you even know if they'd want to be your friend outside of work? Ask? Like a date? Awkward! It seems to just kind of happen - starting with happy hour, maybe some one's doing a boot camp, or a group goes out for lunch. Someone else seems to always be the organizer though, when I'm involved. Maybe I'm just shy and feel weird about suggesting something to do outside of work.
There just don't seem to be as many opportunities to make friends as an adult. We get wrapped up with our own lives and personal relationships. During my wedding planning, I was involved with message boards on The Knot. I did make some friends, but as The Knot exists in cyberspace, the girls I click (no pun intended) with, like Salt, are often hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, so it's not like I could call them up and invite them to happy hour. I don't feel lonely when it comes to friends in this stage of life - I enjoy being newly married and spending time with my husband, our families, and the friends we have, both individually and as a couple. I have a handful of what I consider to be good friends - ladies I can go out for happy hour with and enjoy spending time chatting with. Mrs. ESPN is one of them - we have common interests (baking, for one) and can talk and catch up for hours when we get together. I may not have quantity when it comes to friendships, but I have quality. But it makes me wonder about the future. If Mr. Kingston and I were to move, or if we felt a desire to expand our circle, how the heck would we even begin?
I feel like I sound like Carrie from Sex and the City throwing a question out into the world, but I'm curious - how do adults make new friends? Do you make friends easily, or is it something you feel you have to put a conscious effort into?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I mentioned in an earlier post that Michaelangela created my wedding day hoodie. I asked her to modify her standard bridal hoodie design. I knew I'd want to wear it more than just on my wedding day but didn't particularly want to walk around with "Mrs. Kingston" on my back. So a monogram worked great for the purpose. Well here it is:
I also had a stamped monogram necklace made by Etsy seller Sissypretties. I wore it after the wedding to Dave & Buster's and now often wear it daily. Creating my necklace took a lot of great communication between me and the seller, and she happily did a practice run so I could see what it would look like and tweak the design.
Though Paisley herself wasn't welcome at my wedding, her picture was. DesignsByTami created a bouquet charm for me. I sent her a picture of Paisley and she created the charm and sent it directly to my florist for me.
My garter was from CreativeBridal. They customized a damask garter with a motorcycle charm to reflect one of mine and Mr. Kingston's favorite hobbies.
onehautehostess made the candy scoops for our table centerpieces and our beautiful toasting glasses.
One of my last wedding related purchases was my thank you cards to my bridal party. FinePrints made customized cards for each girl, and each had a personalized picture of bride that looked like me and three bridesmaids that were tailored to resemble each of the girls. I loved them! Unfortunately though, I think the pictures were lost with the dead lap top, but her shop will give a great idea of her work.
As I've mentioned, there are a ton of beautiful crafts to purchase as-is on Etsy, but for me the fun was making a design I loved from a seller whose wares were amazing all mine. Making the wedding reflect our tastes made us happy. See?
And here are my favorites, all from Etsy:
This is from Bambinoamore. Love the black and white with a pop of pink, although admittedly not crazy about the sweetheart neckline. The nice thing about Etsy is that often times, if you see something you like but have an idea on how to make it more perfect for your taste, the sellers are willing to work with you. Black and white and damask are ultra-popular right now. The shop uses a variety of colors in coordination with the damask, and they're all cute. Of course, I also came across these in their shop, which are almost irresistable. They might make a cute gift for our groomsman and his tattoo artist girlfriend, or perhaps for a Dia de los Muertos party.
I think this one is my favorite so far. It's from SevenSistersSales. I love the pleating at the bottom and the fun pattern combination. I might have to put this baby on my Christmas list.
She also has this festive apron perfect for holiday baking:
I also happen to love monograms and personlization, so if you want something more uniquely you, Michaelangela would be more than happy to help with that. Or there are these cute bubbly aprons from shopmemento. They even come in matching Mommy and Me styles.
I wish you happy (and stylish) baking!