Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks...

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, because it’s all about recognizing all the reasons to see the glass “half full”.  I think people spend way too much time thinking about how things could be better…how nice it would be to make more money, live in a bigger house, take more vacations.  Of course, I am guilty of this too, so I really appreciate how Thanksgiving, for one day, pretty much forces us to stop thinking of what we don’t have and be thankful for what we do have.  I sure do have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I graduated college and got my CPA. Chris received his pilot’s slot.  In a matter of weeks I got the wedding of my dreams, the honeymoon of my dreams, and the husband of my dreams…as well as a baby (Mason) and a whole new family, all of whom I absolutely love to death.  For another year I maintained the friendships that have kept me sane through thick and thin, and was lucky enough to have them stand by me through all the changes I’ve been through.  I’ve even managed to make some new friends in the midst of all of it. We were assigned to a base just 4 hours from our hometown. We moved into our first home, and our always-supporting families were there to help us through something that they knew, from experience, would be hard work and a lot of stress.  I got a job in a town where the job market is not great.  Of course we are incredibly thankful for Chris’ job, which will always be secure.  We are healthy and happy, our bills are paid, and we have such a bright future ahead of us.  I think we both are going to accomplish a lot, both together and individually.

I’m not perfect, as I am sure anyone who knows me is fully aware…and sometimes I fall into the trap of dwelling on my life’s “imperfections”.  Instead of thinking about how lucky we are to be close to family and friends, I think about how I miss them and how much harder it is to keep in touch now that we are away.  Instead of thinking about how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads much nicer than what a lot of newlyweds are privileged to have, I compare our house to the newer neighborhood on the other side of the base, where “luckier” officers of Chris’ same rank live for the same price.  Instead of thanking God that I have a job, I complain that I could make much more money in a bigger city.

So, this week I’m going to try to see the glass as more than just half full…I’m going to try to see it as overflowing.  There are ways that Chris and I have “made” our own luck, but mostly we have our family, our friends, and of course God to thank for living a life this full of love.  All of us have so much to be thankful for, and I bet if you force yourself to sit and write it down like I just did, you will think to yourself, “Why can’t I look at things like this EVERY day? Why does it take a holiday to make me sit down and really count my blessings?”  It shouldn’t, but everyone’s lives are so busy these days, sometimes we need some extra motivation to make us concentrate on anything.  I guess that’s why Thanksgiving is probably the most underrated holiday there is! So this year, take advantage of the one day that we all actually get off of work JUST to sit around and think about how great our lives are! J

Now that I’m done with my sappy little spiel, I’m going to share some of the events that took place in our lives this past week.  Wednesday night we threw a Thanksgiving feast and invited a bunch of other people from the base.  In college, the feast I threw every year with my roommates was one of my favorite traditions.  It got really huge by the end, and we always had lots of food and enjoyed getting everyone together for some good eatin’ and socializing.  I started out this month being bummed because I realized I wouldn’t be able to cook any of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes this year, since a whole turkey and several casseroles would simply be too much food for Chris and I to eat on our own.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner, but at some point I realized there was no one stopping me from throwing a feast here in Columbus.  Chris, who has never been able to attend any of the feasts I threw with my roommates, was a little unsure of whether this was too big of an undertaking for the two of us.  Knowing that it would throw a bit of a kink in things that I now have a full time job and could not put off cooking until the day of the event, I went grocery shopping on Saturday and began cooking on Sunday.  I froze or refrigerated everything, and actually found myself stress-free and with extra time to prepare before guests arrived on Wednesday night.  Chris is definitely a "believer" in the Thanksgiving feast now...he thought it went over great and had a really good time. 

Here is our turkey…it was so delicious! I found a website several years ago that explains how to cook a perfectly moist and flavorful turkey that I always use.  It starts by cooking the turkey at 500 degrees for 20 minutes to seal in the flavor and moistness, then lowering the temperature to about 325 and cooking it 20 minutes for each pound.  Also, the green stuff you seen on top is rosemary and thyme.

Here are some more pictures:
Chris wasn't around to take a picture, but I wanted to get a shot of myself cooking in the apron that Warren got me for my birthday this year!

Part one of the buffet...Next year, my every day china will be replaced with the Thanksgiving themed plates that my parents are giving me for Christmas :) Then we really will be festive!

The turkey on the special turkey platter I got for Christmas a few years's really old, and there is an inscription on the back talking about how Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.  My only complaint about the turkey...a lot less meat than I thought it would be! I think everyone got as much as they wanted, though.  In the trifle dish is a 7-layer salad.  The trifle dish was a wedding gift...funny thing, actually...the original one I got literally exploded out of nowhere.  Not's like there was a poltergeist or something.  My mom had it sitting on the dining room table, where she displayed our gifts.  All the sudden, it just exploded into a million pieces.  Well, she got the pieces together, and brought it back to Bed Bath and Beyond for me, where they actually exchanged it for a new one.  They probably thought she was crazy when she told them that it exploded...but nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose!

Here is the rest of the buffet, which included Green Bean/Corn Casserole (recipe courtesy of Gayle Anderson), Vegetable Casserole (Paula Deen), dressing (delicious and very popular with our guests...I got the recipe from, homemade pecan/chocolate pie and mashed potatoes (contributed by Jess, one of our guests), and homemade cranberry sauce (so much better than the canned! And easy!)  I also put rolls and deviled eggs on the table.

Table full of females... of course we had Autumn and Jon.  Jamie is our neighbor, and her husband Jordan (who went to the Academy) came as well.  Jess is our across the street neighbor. She and her husband both went to Auburn and are both in the Air Force...but unfortunately, their first assignments aren't the same. Her husband, Casey, received an instructor pilot's position, and will be living here for the next three years.  Her next assignment is in Florida. Casey is currently away doing training for his instructor pilot position.  Chris hopes he is lucky enough to have him as an instructor.  The other two girls, Kate and Amanda, are also in the Air Force and were in Chris' squadron at the Academy. It was the first time I met them, but I really liked them a lot and hope we will get to hang out again soon. 

Getting dessert...Kate and Amanda brought pumpkin pie, Autumn brought homemade apple crisp, and Jess brought the chocolate pecan pie.  All of it was so yummy!

There wasn't enough room for all of us at the table, but the guys were more than happy to sit on the couch and watch football.

This weekend was really special because we got to see Dow for the first time since the wedding.  Dow has been a really amazing friend to Chris, and me, for years and years.  He works in Chicago now as an engineer so we don’t get to see him very much.  We went to Atlanta to pick him up from the airport on the way to the wedding of Greg Saunders, one of Chris’ roommates during his years at Auburn, and his (then) fiancee (now, wife) Larke .  The wedding was so beautiful and intimate, and the food was delicious! The wedding was in Highlands, NC…neither of us had ever been there, but I would be very interested in returning for a long weekend.  I usually prefer the beach to the mountains, but it’s fun to mix it up and do a little of everything…next time we are planning a weekend trip, I definitely think North Carolina will be a candidate.

At the W hotel in downtown Atlanta catching up with Dow

The wedding was so pretty and cozy! They got married in front of this fireplace.  There were candles and greenery all over the room. It was beautiful!

The reception had the best buffet ever! It was also decorated with lots of greenery and candlelight.  Very pretty.  My favorite part: either the hot chocolate bar (3 kinds of hot 10 toppings...can't go wrong), or the pound cake favors that were made with the bride's grandmother's recipe. 

The bride and groom joined the younger guests at a local pub after the reception (I knew we weren't the only couple who wanted to continue celebrating after our reception was over!) Greg met Larke in college at Auburn, but she grew up in North Carolina.  Later, we found out that her mom actually worked with Tammy at Gayfers while they were in college.  Is it a small world, or what? Now, they are in St. Lucia honeymooning, then moving to Houston.  Chris and I really enjoyed catching up with a whole bunch of his old high school classmates during and after the reception.

 On the way back, we got to make a special stop to have lunch at Longhorn with Chris’ grandparents (Tammy’s parents, Bob and Lavada). It just so happened that our route from Highlands to Atlanta (to take Dow back) took us right through their neck of the woods.  I could kick myself for not taking a picture. Lunch was great, though, and as always, it was wonderful to visit with family.

Things have been a little hectic for me since we got back after 9pm on Sunday.  I had to pack for a whole week of being gone, since I left yesterday morning to work in Birmingham until Wednesday.  Then we are leaving from here to go home to Auburn on Wednesday night.  Chris and I both faced some changes to our jobs this week…Chris got “fired” from part of his job for doing too good of a job (according to the guy in charge, he was doing a lot of the work that other people were supposed to be doing…so basically, he was told to work less.  He’s not complaining!) Obviously, “fired” isn’t the correct word to use, but we think it’s funny to say it that way. I was told last week that my travels to Birmingham are likely to increase vastly, and that I could be spending up to 40% of my working time here.  I enjoy my actual work day better here in Birmingham, and naturally I prefer the setting since I have always preferred larger cities.  However, I am discouraged that this could mean less flexibility and less time with Chris and Mason.  I am going to have to give it a chance, though.  I know that once Chris starts pilot training in less than two months, our days of watching TV for hours every night and traveling every weekend will be long gone.  Chris will probably need me out of his hair so he can focus on his studies. (Trying to see the glass half full, here).  And I’ve already got elite status with my Marriott points, so maybe once it’s all said and done, we will have some free nights we can spend somewhere cool.  My hotel here is super nice and huge….kitchen, living area, giant TV (and the hotel does your grocery shopping for you if you want).   When Chris is gone for 4-6 weeks in January, I might just stay up here full-time with Mason since the hotel allows pets.  That way I will be closer to Auburn and Atlanta, so weekend trips would be more convenient, too.  I am speaking too far ahead, because who knows how all this will actually turn out, I’ve just been thinking a lot about it since I was told about the change.

We had to board Mason this weekend while we went to the wedding…it makes me sad to board him, even though I know he is in good hands.  What REALLY made me sad is that the boarder doesn’t allow pickups on Sunday (EVERYONE is closed on Sunday in Columbus), so he had to be picked up Monday after I left for Birmingham.  So I haven’t seen my little baby in 5 days! Chris said that when he picked Mason up, that he was so excited to see him.  I tried to talk to Mason last night on FaceTime (the program Chris and I use to video chat on our iPhones), but the iPhone scared him.  Chris sent me this picture of Mason, which made me laugh so hard because it is just amazing how crazy long his tongue is! That is literally just half of how long it is.  He doesn’t let it hang out very often, which is a good thing, because I think he would probably step on it. 

I guess I am looking forward to the game on Saturday (THE game that is, the Iron Bowl), but only because I’ve already kind of prepared myself for the worst…so I figure, I will be either pleasantly surprised, or just not surprised at all, but I doubt it will be any worse than what I have prepared myself for.  I know it sounds bad that I’m not sitting here saying that I just “know” we will pull off the upset, but we all deal with the emotional roller coaster that is football season in our own way, and mine is to always expect the worst but hope for the best.  Every time I stray from that strategy, I wind up ruining my Saturday by being let down, so I’m just going to play it safe :)  Mostly, we are just excited about seeing our families and having a long weekend.  I, for one, am also looking forward to some much-needed girlfriend time that I have planned for Friday night.  We are leaving early on Sunday so that we can get home and spend the afternoon decorating our first Christmas tree…I’m so excited! I am going to get the whole house done next week and I can’t wait.  Pictures to come! Check back next week!

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