Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Times Five

Ceej and I had the pleasure of attending 5 celebrations of Christmas this year, and I loved every minute of them! I didn't take many pictures because I was waiting for my new camera (a graduation present from mi padre), but each celebration was unique and wonderful. I'll break them down for your curiousity:1. The first was on Christmas Eve, when Ceej and I went out for dinner at Red Lobster with my mom's immediate side of the family (my stepdad, brother, and step-brothers). It has been a tradition for many years and for good reason! Our dinner was delicous, and afterwards we all went to church. When it ended, we came back to our house for a game of "Christmas Bingo," entailing (surprisingly) delightful prizes like $10 gift certificates to Pier 1 Imports, Blockbuster, Subway, etc., as well as an assortment of Burts Bees products and yummy candy. Instead of typical gifts this year our family bought an ice shack to go ice fishing as a "family (boy) present," and my mom and I are going on a Mission Trip to New Orleans next week as our gift. We ended the night with a good old fashioned watching of Home Alone 2. 2. The next morning, Ceej and I drove to Stillwater, MN to visit my dad's immediate side (my sisters, brother-in-law, dad's girlfriend, and neice and nephews). We had a classic breakfast of his famous cheesy scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon, which used to be a typical Sunday occurance when I was going there more regularily. After breakfast we opened gifts and played with the kiddos. I couldn't help but look around and smile at how big and busy our family has gotten! I remember when it was just the three of us girls and my dad, and now it's a houseful! It was Rylan's first Christmas "out of the womb" (Mickeegan, his 5 year old brother, graciously reminded me that he WAS actually with us last Christmas), and Elliana has grown so much since last year as well. The kids are so fun and I love being their "auntie Em."

3. Christmas night we drove back to Eau Claire for the Thurner immediate family Christmas, which included lobster dinner at their house. Ceej and I refrained from ordering lobster at the restaurant the night before, knowing Charlie's would be better (And it was! It was also 3x larger than the one Ben ordered at Red Lobster). We enjoyed dinner and then opened gifts. We laughed a lot, especially as John modeled his clothes that were many sizes too big! Ceej and I got some very thoughtful gifts, one being a recipe box that was owned by his grandma filled with recipes that he enjoys. One of the recipes was handwritten by Ceej years ago!

4. On Saturday I drove back to Stillwater for the Reich extended family Christmas held at my sister, Jenni's, house. Ceej played in the Alumni hockey game and couldn't make it (I had to miss the Johnson extended family Christmas because of exams, so he was off the hook... not to mention, we did have FIVE to go to). Like last year, we all gave white elephant gifts in addition to a good gift, and had lots of laughs at the creativity of the silly gifts. Some highlights included a floor-length, bright purple, jean jacket with painted sunbursts on it for my cousin, and "grills" for my uncle (fake silver teeth). Two special gifts were given to my neice and nephew: beautiful quilts made from the clothing of my late grandmother. They were called "hugs from grandma" and brought back a lot of memories of the little lady. Hugging the quilt really did make it feel like she was there with us! 5. That night I returned to Eau Claire for the Thurner extended family Christmas. Ceej played pheffer with his uncles and dad, and we all had a relaxing evening chatting for a long time. I had gotten there after the meal and gifts, but it was very nice to just casually enjoy the company of family.

This year more than ever I am so thankful for family. I am humbled by the fact that Ceej and I both have very close-knit families and extended families, and I am excited to watch as they all grow and change throughout next hundred or so years. I pray for continued health and happiness, and I hope your day or week or month of Christmas was equally as wonderful!


Well, it's official: I am an Alumna of UW-Madison. What a journey these past 3 1/2 years have been! As I reflect on my undergraduate studies, I am amazed at how unbelievably blessed I am! I have met the most wonderful women who have become my best friends, I have been challenged spiritually, psychologically, and academically. I have felt disappointment, enlightenment, confusion, joy, dismay, excitement, pride, hopelessness, and success. I have felt that I would fail at least once per semester. I have failed exams, and I have gotten "Best in Class" on several papers. I have lived in apartments infested with bats and mice. I have pulled plenty of almost-all-nighters, only to realize that I only function optimally on 8 hours of sleep. I have found a church that I adore to the extend of downloading the services and listening to them on my ipod. I have laughed so much that I cried or peed a little.

I have loved being in college.

Now that this part of my life is over, I am so thankful that I had such an amazing experience. I am sad to be done and I already miss my roommates more than words can say, but I couldn't ask for better friends, better classes, or a better experience. I have learned so much about myself and life in general, and feel ready to step into the next chapter of my life!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Grand Finale

Well, it's officially finals week here in Madison! I had an exam yesterday, one this morning, a 10 page paper due today, and an exam yet on Monday and Tuesday. I'm averaging 5-6 hours of sleep a night (and I'm definitely a fan of my 8 hour nights), and I've been at the library until about 1am each night, give or take. Don't feel sorry for me! I am DONE with exams on Tuesday and GRADUATING on Sunday... that feels so weird to say! I've also been managing to wake up 30 minutes early each day to watch an episode of Friends; ahh life's simple pleasures. Anyway, lots have been going on!! Here is a list of the events that have been occurring:

1. My amazing roommates and I have decorated our apartment FULL of Christmas joy. It's beautiful!! I'm a big fan of Christmas and my roommates, so it's pretty much the most wonderful place in the world right now!
2. We spent a night taking "Ugly Christmas Sweater" pictures. We had a blast! Below is one entitle, "awkward smile." It makes me laugh!
3. My poor roommate and Maid of Honor, Jamie (on the far right), has 3 kidney stones!! We're waiting for them to pass and she's taking it like a champ. We affectionately refer to them as "the triplets" as it feels like we're waiting for her to go into labor when we ask questions like what she'll do if they come during class or who will hold her hand when "it's time." 4. Ceej and I have a new niece!! Little Miss. Scarlett Rose was born on December 6 at 8 pounds and 1 ounce, and she is beautiful!! Mommy and baby are both happy and healthy. I can't wait to see this little punkin again! I am so happy that she lives in Madison right now so I could be there shortly after the birth, but I will be sad to leave them in a month! Anyway, off to study! I'll update you when I have my Bachelors degree!