Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Did I Mention It's Been Crazy?

My first two posts after my hiatus were about travel. This isn't surprising, because there's been a lot going on with us. In fact, we're nearing the end of a crazy couple of months. But it's been good (mostly). Here's what I'm talking about:

April 8: Host a Seder for 9
April 8-10: Host my Aunt Faith and cousin Jeff for Passover
April 18-25: Trip to Hawaii with our friends Sharon and Gary
Weekend of May 2: Nothing scheduled, which was a good thing because all three of us were sick for 2-4 days.
May 5: Kathy's Birthday
May 7-9: Surprised Kathy by having her friend Jen down for her birthday, and they met up with two other friends who now live in the DC area.
May 10: Mother's Day
May 13-18: My folks visited
May 14-17: 10th Anniversary getaway to Rehoboth Beach
May 22-25: Camping with Tom and Anna
May 27-29: Hosted my college roommate Pete and his girlfriend Evette for a visit
May 29-31: By myself, went to NYC to visit Jeff and attend a RateBeer gathering.
June 5-14: Family vacation in Hilton Head with overnight stops in Raleigh with Chris and Margie.
Weekend of June 21: Mercifully, nothing. Well, except Chris and Margie staying with us while they were in town for a wedding.
June 26-28: Camping with local beer geeks. Same event as this, except it's smaller this year.
June 29-July 2: Hosting Kathy's friend Jen and her two kids, while they visit DC.
July 3: All day beer gathering of locals.
July 4 weekend: No plans yet, but just wait.
July 7: Somebody's birthday.

Maybe it'll settle down after that, but I'm not counting on it. We still have to decide whether to go camping at a festival outside of Richmond the weekend of July 11 -- we're leaning against it, but Tom and Anna are pushy. And there are always more activities that pop up on our calendar. At least, there always seem to be. I figure that's usually a good thing. Usually.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

10 Years and Counting

On May 16th, Kathy and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. My folks came up to take care of Emelia, so Kathy and I could take our first vacation sans child in the 2.5 years since she was born. In fact, it was Kathy's first night away from Emelia since she was born. Kathy was anxious enough about leaving Emelia that she insisted on going somewhere nearby, so we went to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, less than three hours from here. We had both been there briefly -- Kathy's uncle and aunt have a home there, and in December 1998 they hosted a small family engagement party for us. But I think we only stayed one evening, and I don't even remember seeing the ocean on that trip.

This time we stayed at a hotel one block from the ocean, and constantly walked down to the beach. It was too cold to swim (or even to stand in the surf for very long), but it was great to walk on the beach, especially Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, before the weekend visitors filled the place up. Among other activities, we saw our first movie together since Emelia was born, watching the new Star Trek, which we both enjoyed quite a bit. And three nights in a row of eating out alone at nice restaurants was a treasured experience. But whether it was these activities or others, the main thing we did was spend unhurried time in each other's company, something that doesn't happen much around a toddler, no matter how much we enjoy being with her (and believe me, we do).

While we were in Delaware, Emelia had a wonderful time back home. The folks kept us informed on how things were going, which helped keep Kathy relaxed and enjoying herself. We very much appreciated their coming up to take care of Emelia -- it was the best anniversary present we could ask for. That they enjoyed having that much time with Emelia (and vice-versa) makes it that much better.

In terms of what being married for ten years means to me, I think it's incredible that I could find someone who is so right for me. Incredible to think that 12 years ago I didn't even know this person whom I would marry, and grow to love more as each year passes. Incredible to think that if our love keeps growing as it has been, my love for Kathy will be so much greater in a decade than it is now. Simply put, my marriage to Kathy has been and continues to be incredible.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hello Blogger My Old Friend...

...I've come to write on you again.

So I'm back. I thought I had nothing left to say that couldn't be covered in the twitter-like status updates on facebook. And maybe that was the case. But I decided that I still need to say it here, where I can store my footprints rather than have them wash away with the ebb and flow of all the other things that facebook compiles. The reason is simple -- I'm 40, and my daughter is 2. By the time she's 22, and maybe starting to learn about who her father is, I'll be a different person, and she'll never have known the person I am now. And I want her to have various anecdotes of who she was as a little girl, given that we'll undoubtedly have forgotten most of them unless they're recorded somewhere.

Of course, who I am as a blogger is not an accurate portrait of who I am -- it's what I choose/bother to share, and who I hold myself out to be in the public environment of this blog. Still, that'll have to do -- I have no desire to share everything.

And you the reader in the present are welcome to come along for the ride. It's a given that I'm writing for you too, not just future Emelia. Otherwise I could just keep a journal.
Now that that's out of the way, let's cover Hilton Head, where we spent the second week in June with my family for our annual vacation. Unlike last year, we drove down -- our direct flights being canceled last year, thereby requiring a connection, probably had something to do with it. Both coming and going, we stayed in Raleigh with our friends Margie and Chris, hitting a bit of the beer scene down there and seeing their new house (they closed on it the Friday we were in Hilton Head, meaning that we stayed in different places coming and going). They'll be up here this weekend for a wedding, and we're camping with them next weekend, meaning we'll be seeing them all four weekends in June. Seeing Margie, a college friend, was as close as I came to attending my 20th college reunion, as Hilton Head started the same weekend that was held.

Down in Hilton Head, the house we stayed at was amazing, as the family selection seems to be each year. We let others fight over the bedrooms with the ocean view, and grabbed the darkest room we could find in hope of sleeping in. It didn't work, as I think I was out of bed by 6:30 every morning except one.

The beach was lovely and the weather was pretty cooperative (mostly sunny, and only over 90 a couple of days). We had a good time for the first part of the week, and the absence of "Explosion Wednesday" that has been present in past years was a definite improvement. Still, by the end there was some strain, which probably started in earnest on Thursday with Dad's fixation on consuming the leftovers. If we had thought to turn his mention of them into a drinking game, maybe things would have stayed a little mellower, but I only just thought of it while typing this out. And besides, being plastered by 10am is not conducive to keeping up with children, of which six were present.

The newest child to enter the family's fold is three-month old Emily, daughter to my sister Shari. We met Emily on this trip, and she's a real cutie (and sweetie). Emelia loves babies, and she had been looking forward to meeting "Baby Emily" for months. The reality mostly seemed to meet her expectations. Throughout the week, Dad regularly interchanged the names of Emelia and Emily. I can't really blame him -- when we picked Emelia's name, we were concerned with picking a name that wasn't too close to others in the family, but Shari had her heart set on the name Emily for a long time, and stuck with it when the time came. As long as she keeps Emily west of the Rockies for the most part, I figure the country's big enough for both Emelia and Emily.

Emelia had a great time with her cousins -- she gets along with all of them (they all get along with each other), and at the end of the week, she was so sad that she had to say goodbye to everyone. Probably Emelia's favorite activity for the week was going in the pool, especially jumping in from the side and having one of us catch her. Her excitement at doing that resulted in her jumping a few times before the adult was ready for her, eventually resulting in stern lectures and time out of the pool because she forgot to ask if the adult was ready. Her next favorite activity was putting on various articles of her cousins' clothing -- she already has a shoe fetish that exceeds her mother's.*

Foodwise, easily the highlight of the week was the Dallas contingent's night in the kitchen. Kim started us off with afternoon queso that was delicious. For the actual meal, Josh led off with crabcakes that were fantastic. Next up was a tasty salad course that Josh and Hunter prepared that included a goat cheese medallion covered in crushed pecans. As for the main course, most people were served 3-inch thick steaks that received universal acclaim, while Hunter, Kathy and I went with 10-ounce tuna steaks that were some of the best I've ever had. After taking a bit of time to digest, Kim brought out poundcake topped with creamcheese frosting and fresh fruit -- fairly simple but so good. In case you're wondering what we did for our night of cooking, we volunteered to make dinner the night we arrived (4pm check-in), so we kept it simple with ground turkey tacos. Our meal was well received (as were all the other meals the various family members prepared, lasagna by Dad/Mom/Shari and BBQ chicken by Rebecca & John), but it certainly belonged in AA compared to Josh, Hunter, and Kim's major league offering.

So we survived another year, even thrived at times, and Josh and Kim get to pick next year's place. That they haven't already is something of a miracle considering how much Mom was looking at places for them to select. Collectively, our family is crazy enough to think that the destination should be all set up a full year in advance. Last night, Josh and Kim threw up their hands by sending around a list of six possible houses in four different locations, and seeking feedback. Our response is simple -- all the houses look lovely, and we'll be happy with whatever you choose. They're not getting out of their responsibility that easily!
* - At least it exceeds it now that Kathy's somewhat reformed.