Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ever Grateful

I started this post much earlier this week but because I've been working something like 50 hours this week and because blogger is blocked at work, I haven't posted. Overtime pay is pretty good, so don't feel too bad for me, okay?
I have been thinking about making a simple wall hanging with tag board and ribbon and played around with the sayings: "Be Ye Thankful" (too um ... old sounding), "Give Thanks" (too Thanksgiving sounding), "Ever Grateful" (just right). I haven't done it yet, but it is one my list for my craft-y-ness days - coming next in Feb. =) It will replace my dwindling Mexico countdown chain in the hallway. We leave in a week! (Picture, insert happy, excited emotions here)
1222. One year of being a Mrs.
1223. A nice, relaxing weekend in the WI Dells spend sleeping in, playing on water slides, going to a movie, talking, reflecting and shopping. (yes, I said shopping)
1224. Finding fingerless gloves for a nice deal. (my attempt to knit some failed so I altered the original pattern and made normal gloves instead)
1225. yummy yummy food at a great, unique restaurant. Just our style
1226. cinnamon-ized almonds. I was sad when I ate the last one
1227. Loki enjoyed his stay with the "doggie sitter." Chris called to check on him after we got up and they had already gone on a walk and had play time. I'm go glad that Loki has a "friend" in Milwaukee.
1228. Sam's club produce. The goal this week: try to use 1 pound of fresh spinach.
1229. snow. It finally looks like winter

1230. And it didn't snow yesterday so I didn't have to wipe/scrape off the car
1231. phone dates with friends =) LOVE.
1232. seeing friends again after our winter break hiatus
1233. warm, winter pajamas
1234. smoothies in the mornings
1235. goodbye kisses from Christopher when I am still sleeping
1236. learning new knitting stitches from you tube. Turns out, I'm totally a visual learner
1237. more patients at work (being bored at work is such a new phenomenon that I don't know what to do with it)
1238. we have a party to do to on SundayGO PACK!
1239. our car starting each and every day this week - and the driver's side door closing properly - and me making it to the gas station to put 15.8 gallons of gas in our 16 gallon tank (the gas gauge apparently rounds up in winter)
1240. Loki is okay after being bite by another dog =(
1241. the pile of books waiting to be read on a beach in Mexico
1242. Overtime pay
Recently I have heard a lot about choosing your "word of the year" to describe how you want your spiritual life to look for 2011. I hesitate to choose a word to describe my spiritual journey before it happens because I think that I could focus too much on that word and miss something else. I do, however, usually choose a word or two when I look back on a year. For instance, 2010 was security and 2009 was growth.
But this year, as I was thinking about it, I did decide on my "word of the year": Create: to cause to happen; bring about; arrange, as by intention or design. Right now, I think that one of the best things that came from us moving is that I had enough time to realize how much I enjoy making things. Without any yard work (as much as I loved it) and with staying up before night shifts, I have more time to work with my hands. And I love it. Making something out of nothing (well, out of yarn) is pretty darn satisfying. I also find it really fun to tweak a pattern to make something work better the second time around.
So, Christopher's financial aid application was due this week -- if you think of it, would you mind saying a prayer that he/we get some for next year? Thanks!
In case you are wondering, my plans for the weekend (and I use the term loosely since I worked on Friday night and work again on Sunday night) involves staying in my pajamas as long a possible on Saturday, yogaX (which does involve workout clothes but who's counting), hopefully some kind of Asian take out, a movie or two, doggie walks and doggie naps and a football party. And I get to do all of those things with Chris Brenna. Yes, I'm just that lucky.
What are your weekend plans? I hope they are just as grand.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Year Old Wedding Cake

Today we took the top of our wedding cake out of our freezer, unwrapped the layers of tin foil and saran wrap and ate some surprisingly yummy (but very slightly freezer burn tasting) cake. It survived a ride in the cooler across Wisconsin and has been taking up precious space in our small freezer ever since we have moved here. It was on one of my old dishes (which I am now not sure what to do with) and even Loki agreed that it was, indeed, yummy. We did decide, however, that the last remaining bottle of wine from our honeymoon - a Rodney Strong Cab - deserves a better reason to be opened (Ahhhem, my handsome chef). 

But a lot more has changed than our physical location and corning wear. 

It is interesting to me that on the anniversary of the second most romantic day of my life (the evening we got engaged is first), my most prevalent thought is "I am so glad we are friends." I think that maybe the wedding frenzy and the honeymoon eclipsed what attracted me to Christopher Brenna in the first place: I really really enjoy spending time with him. 

Yes, I love his heart and I think he is handsome and hilarious and one of the kindest people I know. Yes, I love the part of me that is alive and whole because of him. Yes, I love how he challenges and encourages me. 

But I also love that when we are done with our weekend vacation, I get to go home with him. I love that after my trip to Mexico (in two weeks!!!!!!), I will say goodbye to my friends, get on a plane and fly home to him. I love that I am excited to spend whatever time we get together: dinner before I go to work, breakfast on a lazy morning or playing a week-long game on our kitchen table. 

Yes, I love him ... but I also like him. A lot. 

And while our relationship has survived a move across Wisconsin and a mass exodus of several kitchen items, at the end of the day, I am holding his hand ... usually on the couch with our black peanut between us and I am happy.

Our first date (Anniversary post, part 2)

Little known fact: Christopher and I had our first kiss before our first "date." Scandalous? um ... no ... really, it is us. let me explain.
We started dating on a pretty normal day. We had talked about starting to date (after a few months of hanging out. all. the. time. Ask any of our friends) and we had prayed about starting to date so when he asked "so, do you want to date?" I said yes. We then went to the dog park, played Rock Band, had dinner with his parents and climbed out his window to look at the stars.
Somewhere along the line, we decided to do something memorable for our first official date. You could argue that the day we actually decided to date was our first date - or you could argue that the first evening we hung out alone and went for a walk along the river was our first date - but we decided that we could determine when our first date was and so we did. It is basically similar to things now, we have dinner together every night but once a week or so we decide to have dinner and call it a date.
We decided to go to this Pizza Farm in WI, this family run operation, only open on Tuesdays and they make pizza with ingredients grown/raised on the farm and cook them in brick ovens outside.
We got rained out the first Tuesday we tried to go but we were undeterred. And so the next week, we "packed" a picnic basket with a small salad and ice cream sandwiches and drove over the river to WI. We got a little lost on our way, going through Whitewater State Park on our way to Stockholm, WI, across the river from Lake City. I wish I could draw a map and show you how far lost we were but I am not that tech-ie. Later on in our relationship we would learn that if he drives and I navigate, we usually get places better/quicker/easier. But it was a beautiful summer evening, our love was budding and we didn't mind the drive.
That did mean that we got to the Pizza Farm a little later than we had planned which was significant because the line was now well past the dirt driveway to the farm. We ordered and was told that it would be a two and a half hour wait. Now normally that would be outrageous but we had just driven about that long and the Pizza Farm had a reputation so we set up our camping chairs on the edge of the farm away from all the people and watched the sheet graze. We named a few -- something very majestic but I can't remember what now. Part of the deal at the Pizza Farm is that you have to bring your own utensils, table, drink, etc. As we ate our ice cream sandwiches (because they were melting and we were hungry), we realized we hadn't brought utensils. Some mis-communication had lead us to believe that the other one was bringing these. In hindsight, it was probably my job as I brought the rest of the food. Later on in our relationship we would learn to be more specific about such things.
So, we left the pizza farm and drove back to a gas station and got some forks and napkins. We used a tupperwear container from the trunk of Chris' car as a table and hoped the little candle Chris had brought would last while we ate. As we waited, a group of people began singing songs from Wicked. The pizza did eventually come, we did have enough light to barely see it and it was really good. And, like I said, it was a beautiful summer evening, our love was budding and we didn't mind the trouble of our first "official" date.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our first kiss (Anniversary post, part 1)

This weekend marks our first anniversary so I could write about our wedding or our honeymoon but I did that, just last year, here and here and everything I said then still applies. Instead, I am going to write three posts (dare I call it a three part series?) about our first things. =)

I had been planning to have dinner in Eau Claire with three nursing school - life long - friends, their respective husbands and one (miracle) baby. My good friend, Laura, was in WI, visiting/home from Okinawa and we found a night that worked well for all of us to meet, which was no small task.

Chris and I had been a few weeks weeks and the debate in my head went something like this: "On one hand we have only been dating a little while and I'm still not sure what is right/acceptable/reasonable to ask for at this stage in the game. On the other hand, I think this may get serious and this is a convenient, and possibly the only, time for him to meet these friends. It would be nice for these girls to have a face/personality to put with him."
I talked it over with Chris and he said he would love to come. (If there were bonus points, this would totally have earned him some.) And so one afternoon, after I had worked a day shift, we drove over to Eau Claire. I don't really remember what we talked about during dinner --- probably about life in Okinawa, Kristi and Jeremy's recent wedding, and little Isaac (i.e. the miracle baby). I'm sure it was great to see them, but, honestly, I don't remember much about that dinner.

On the way home, I remember laying my head on his shoulder and holding his hand while he drove. We went to Chris' house first, because I drove, and I went in for a little bit even though it was late and I had to work the next day. Later I would label that summer of 2008 "the summer I fell in love with Christopher Brenna (and didn't get enough sleep but that didn't matter at all because I was all twitterpaited.)" And as we said goodnight, we stalled by the front door - think the stalling scene from "Hitch" - although I like to think the stalling was mutual - Chris asked if he could kiss me. I said yes, and he did. I had been nervous for our first kiss - it was my first kiss - but it was wonderful. (hey, that's all I'm going to say: his mom and sister read this after all.)

I went home and my roommate asked me about the night. I gushed and was tongue tied about Chris as I attempted to verbalize how I felt ... or something like that. She paused when I was done and asked "How are your dear friends that you haven't seen in ages?" And I sheepishly lowered my head slightly and said "Oh yeah, they are good too ... "

And a few pics because now I'm nostalgic:
Christopher and I that evening, convenient, huh?

Kristi and Laura, Okinawa Trip 2006

Before Kristi and Jeremy's wedding
I love you girls! But, obviously, I also have a soft spot for Christopher Brenna.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Randomness suits me just fine. I love random conversations (Anne Frank and vampire fish at work the other night) and random meals (sweet potato fries and rice are a perfectly acceptable meal, I think). And I like that I don't have to use transitional sentences because it is my blog.
There, you are warned.
We just got back from Minnesota where we celebrated Christopher's grandfather's life. He was 99 years old and would have been married to his wife 75 years next month. (Just for fun, if Chris and I were married 75 years, he would be 107 and I would be 103.) I didn't know his grandpa, having visited them twice, but his offspring are welcoming and nice and that does say something. And his little wife lights up at the mention of her family or church even though she can't hear or see well.
Christopher and his dad are the only sons in their family, as was grandpa Brenna and his father (I think). Regardless, if someone is going to "carry on" the Brenna name, it will be our son/s and on Monday I heard three times that there was "no pressure" to have a male child. And no I don't feel any pressure which may be because I think our first child will be a boy - we aren't pregnant and this isn't based on anything except that I simply think it. 
We had a relaxing trip to Rochester, the Brenna home is great for playing games (Christopher held on to his winning streak in Vegas Showdown), reading by the fire (with Cinders who is excited about the new fireplace) and stretching out and watching a movie complete with popcorn being delivered to us in the basement.
I think Loki views the Brenna home like our children will learn someday learn to view their grandparents' house. He gets excited at the exit off of Hwy 52 and the closer we get the more his stubby tail wags as if he knows that good things will come. He gets to sleep on our bed between us - I don't know why that is not okay at home but is okay in Rochester. He chases (plays?) with Cinders through the snow maze in the back yard and he shares ... um, doesn't steal her one ball. He gets a treat when he leaves because "Loki has a long drive." And we have realized that it is easier to leave a toy or two there so we don't have to bring some with us and find them before we leave.
We went to Trader Joe's and I love love love LOVE Trader Joes. And it is sweet shopping with the in-laws especially when they say "groceries are never cheaper than when you shop with us." I am thankful for their generosity and I hope we can reflect some of that generosity onto others. They are also letting us borrow their truck for the semester as Christopher has class from 6pm - 7:30 pm two evenings a week and although we could have made it work with one car, we think it would have been difficult and stressful. I am thankful that they are willing to go down to one car so that we could have two. Again, I am humbled by their generosity.
Christopher and I are going to the Wisconsin Dells tomorrow for our one year anniversary. Yay! School starts next week so the time together to work on our relationship will be even sweeter. And then, in two week, I am going to Mexico with some girl (Rochester) friends. Double Yay!!!
Enjoy your weekend!

Gratitude list #1202 - #1221

P.S. It is okay to have granola and 6 Christmas mint kisses from my not-so-hidden stash for breakfast before going to bed for the night day, right?

Friday, January 7, 2011

some good ole R&R

I have had a few days off and have checked a few things off my to-do list.

I love LOVE re-using something and turning it into something that we need.
yes, I know he is that cutest thing you have ever seen.
And I love LOVE beginning to knit and not really knowing how it will turn out and being happy with the end result.
The pompoms drove me crazy (and the way I propped up the hat -
with soup cans - makes it look kinda weird, huh?)
And I also like the fact that our Christmas cards are ready to go out and I don't even feel bad that it is after Christmas - that is what happens when you get them two days before Christmas after all. The great thing about Christmas cards is that people will be happy to get them whenever they get them.

Of course, we have feasted, with Christopher making wonderful, healthy meals. 
If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be that
chicken couscous. It is that good. 

We saw True Grit in the theater and we both enjoyed it. It made me want to watch some old John Wayne movies with my dad. I took Loki for one beautiful walk with snow softly falling. We had a great big breakfast with did not make anything that resembled a fruit or veggie. I stayed up reading way to late and totally slept in the next day. I played with some Christmas gifts and wore new pajamas, clothes and jewelry. (Last year it was my goal to not buy myself anything to wear and because of that I am completely in love with my Christmas gifts.) I registered for a crafting retreat that I will go on with some girl friends in March. My body has P90x good aches and we get to do StretchX tomorrow. I have been reading my Bible with Loki sleeping on my lap and have journaled with a steaming cup of tea nearby. 

It has been a relaxing, restful and rejuvenating few days. 

And now my laundry is done and I'm going to fold it while watching 24 on Netflix and then begin playing with some chocolate and blue (organic) yarn that I picked up yesterday. 

Happy weekend friends! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking back and looking ahead

With the flip of the calendar, tradition says we are to take stock of our life, to make resolutions to give our lives the shape we want them to have. It turns out that a few of my resolutions have to do with what I learned throughout last year which makes me happy because I am building on what is already there. And I have decided to call my resolutions goals because I am more motivated by goals than "resolutions." I use this goal tracking website and I find it really encouraging to put little check marks next to things like floss daily. So here are some of my goals:
Buy organic meat and dairy. So we watched Food Inc recently and there should really be a disclaimer that says something like " before watching you should be prepared to make radical changes in the food that you buy." We have already made some changes in the food we buy and I am proud of that.
Open an etsy store. I prepare for my night shifts by staying up late and usually I watch TV and knit and I have knitted more this winter, which is normal for me ... the cold means cozy knit things to me. And so I'm going to make a few baby hats and possibly other things and then take the plunge and see how it goes. I love the creative feeling of making something and I enjoy looking at something and figuring out the pattern. I am, however, pretty hesitant about the sizing of babies heads and things and, truth be told, I think having a baby would make this a lot easier. But our future babies (Lord willing) can't wear more than one baby hat or sweater at a time and so selling seems like a good option. The current running name is "Blooming Brenna Knits" (the blooming having to do with the saying "bloom where you are planted") and I have been brainstorming business plans/ideas with Christopher.
Save. Yesterday, on a normal walk Christopher and I decided to double, yes double, how much money we want to save this year. I'm going to make a little thermometer and we are going to keep track on the wall in the office. (did I mention that I am really motivated by goals?) I will be sooooo proud when we achieve it. $20,000 in 12 months.
Have a potted vegetable (and herb - for Chris) garden. =) So excited. Also along that line but I am too chicken to make them real goals this year because I think it may be too ambitious: make and can our own applesauce and spaghetti sauce.

There are more goals about exercise, reading, journaling and keeping up with the house work of course but I'm done writing for now. 
YAY 2011!
In other news, my new year has been pretty fantastic so far. We had a low key New Year's Eve as I was still recovering from a head cold and we made sushi, watched Inception and skyped with Chris' family. My handsome chef made palak paneer and garlic mushroom pizza the other night and the bowl for the ice cream maker is in the freezer which means can only mean one thing. We took Loki for a really long walk today (Milwaukee is having a mid-winter thaw) and went over to the vet so we could weigh him and he lost 2 pounds. We spent an afternoon at my grandma's with family and watched some of the Rose Bowl

Did I mention that I love my beautiful life? Oh, and goals too? 

Gratitude List # 1186 - 1201. Apparently hiding my list in posts is more fun than making lists.