31 December 2009


New year resolutions are a contentious topic, at least if you live with my husband, who happens to think they're rubbish. I don't make resolutions, per se, but I do try to pick up a good habit or two at the start of each new year. In college, I decided to stop machine-drying my undergarments and sweaters. All these years later, I'm still on board and getting a longer life out of my delicates. I've committed and failed many times to floss daily. For 2009, my cousin, Shannon, and I agreed to be in contact at least once a month. We emailed for the first half of the year, called for the second half of the year, and will hopefully keep up our regular contact for many years to come. I was touched by another cousin's resolution in 2009 when he committed to write a letter each month to someone who means a lot to him; the letter he sent me was one of the most special pieces of mail I've received.

This year, I'm going to commit to be a better granddaughter to all of our living grandparents. I'm going to write to each of them at least once a month. Check back with me at the end of 2010 to see whether I was successful.

In the mean time, I look forward to seeing what is in store for George, me, and our families and friends in 2010. Just think, last year at this time, we had no idea that 2009 would be the year our marriage would officially begin, the year when we would be blessed with visits from so many friends and family members, the year when George would enter management, and the year when I would confirm my legal passion. Beat that, 2010!

21 December 2009

Christmas Cookie Adventures

Yesterday, I spent nearly eight hours making Christmas cookies. The first four hours were really fun; the last four hours were not fun at all. Ah, well.

The Good: Cranberry Pinwheels and Ginger and Molasses CookiesThese pinwheels were the surprise of the day and my favorite of the lot by a lot. The ginger and molasses cookies both turned out well, though it's hard to tell them apart by color. Mmmmmm!

The pinwheels seemed complicated but ended up being worth the time. The dough, which includes orange peel, is rolled into a thin "square" and then covered with the cranberry, sugar, pecan filling. Then it's rolled, chilled, and sliced before baking. They tend to cook more evenly the thinner they're sliced. Look out for lots of varieties of pinwheels next year!

The Bad: Sugar CookiesWhen I got the dough out of the refrigerator, it was nearly frozen...so I let it thaw. By the time I got around to rolling it out, it was so soft that it was impossible to cut and lift. I was particularly disappointed because we were given these awesome kiwi- and New Zealand-shaped cookie cutters for the wedding, and I was excited about giving out NZ Christmas cookies. Only one Kiwi survived, and his little beak ended up burned. At least the boring, round cookies taste good. :-)

The Ugly: Buckeyes
Growing up, I loved buckeyes, but my mom rarely made them. After my frustrating experience yesterday, I totally understand. I used this recipe (with extra peanut butter because it was so dry), but I did not freeze the balls. Strike one: crumbling balls of peanut butter. Strike two: impossible chocolate and lack of double boiler. Good thing I didn't keep going long enough to get a third strike and give up forever!

Any guesses on which cookies were made during the first four hours and which were made during the second four hours?

This evening, George and I took some containers of cookies to a few of our neighbors. I got a real kick out of the various responses, all indicators of life in the 'burbs. One neighbor either wasn't home or didn't answer the door. Another neighbor's teenage son answered the door and was shocked when we identified ourselves as the immediate next door neighbors. A third neighbor was really surprised by the cookies and very pleased to meet us. It's sad that we don't really know our neighbors, aside from the occasional wave, even after living here for nearly three years. Perhaps this will open up an opportunity to get to know those who live (literally) feet away from us. Who knew that cookies could be so powerful?!

Note: I linked the recipes above. The pinwheel, sugar, and ginger cookies came from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. The molasses cookies came from the McCormick gingerbread whoopie pie recipe. The buckeye one was a random online recipe.

19 December 2009

Turning the Page

Another finals season has come and gone, and I've survived. I know that my posting habits might make it seem like it was a light one this fall, but it was actually anything but light...a real surprise after such a reasonable semester. I've become so accustomed to preparing for in-class exams, that I had difficulty preparing for two in-class exams while also writing a 20-page take home exam and two final papers. Yesterday, I turned in the last bits, and I'm now "free" until January 11th.

I owe a lot to George for getting me through the last few weeks. If not for him, I would not have eaten, slept, or left my desk. For about two weeks, he did literally everything around the house. Kudos to you, my love. I'm one lucky gal. :-)

And now that all that is over, my mind is firmly in Christmas mode. I'm planning Christmas cookies, a table setting, and, yes, Christmas dinner. If there is one thing law school has done to me, it has made me more appreciative of the opportunities to be domestic and to be creative. Stay tuned for how my holiday plans work (or don't work) out.

13 December 2009

Holiday Party 2009

Last night, the Big G hosted its annual holiday party for the Seattle and Kirkland offices at the Experience Music Project, which is located just below the Space Needle in Seattle Center. Although the timing wasn't ideal (smack dab in the middle of my exams), it did give George and me an excuse to take a little overnight vacation in our own city. I really love Seattle...even when the temperature hasn't gone more than a degree or two over freezing in a week.

Anyway, here's a little look at last night:

Is my husband handsome or what?!

05 December 2009

Final Visit to the Farm

This morning, as I type, the contents of my grandparents' farm are being auctioned in preparation for the farm's closing next week. I've written a previous post or two about my memories of the farm, and now I'm sharing some photos and thoughts from my very last visit to the farm...even now as the auction proceeds.

It was a sunny and bittersweet day in November. Mom and I drove down the lane to a quiet and empty farm, devoid of a dog to announce our presence, cars to tell us who had arrived before us, or a smiling face opening the back door to welcome us in before we'd even stopped the car. Clearly, my last visit to the farm as I knew it had already passed.

It was surprisingly easy to walk through the house for the last time because, while I have so many memories there, it looked nothing like the place of my memories. Much of the furniture was gone. Days and days had been spent emptying 55 years of accumulation onto tables. What remained were knickknacks, dolls, old Christmas trees, pots and pans, and other miscellaneous accumulation that had not been claimed by anyone in the family.

The barn, on the other hand, brought back a load of memories that I'd forgotten I even had. It had been years since I'd been inside the barn. My family has put in a tremendous amount of work sorting through the contents of the barn. In the process, they uncovered things I had completely forgotten about, like the yellow banana seat bike that always stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. I used to ride it up and down the lane with Rocky, the Golden Retriever, following at my side. Oh, yes - I loved that bike.

Even though I don't remember riding in the sleigh, I remember the sleigh always sitting in the barn waiting to be used. Like the bike, it has seen better days, but aren't the majestic shapes of the sleigh and of its bells beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, I love to see Grandpa's tack hanging in the barn:

On the top floor of the barn, it was like time stood still. The rope I remember swinging on as a kid is still there. (And I'm still terrified of swinging on it.)

The basketball court, where so many family tournaments were played, looks ready for a game that's never going to be played.

Grandpa's sign (to himself) and a half pile of hay are ready for another round of farm animals.

All too soon, we needed to leave the farm to pick up Grandma and Grandpa for our lunch date, which meant it was time to say one last goodbye. We followed Grandpa's directions to close the door, buckled our seat belts, and drove out the long driveway for the last time.

Of all the times when I have lost tears thinking about the end of our family's time at the farm, this was, surprisingly, not one of those. I didn't cry because, next week, a new family is going to start building its own book of memories at the farm. The neighbor's son has purchased the farm and will be living and farming the land with his family. Soon, a new family will learn that the steep steps into the dining room are perfect for sliding on one's behind or for getting a Slinky to go from the top to the bottom without stopping. Some new kids will carve their initials into the trees beside the aging carvings of "ALK" and "KLM." A new family will appreciate the beauty of watching the sun rise and set from the back porch. Maybe the new family will even plant their first Christmas tree and watch it grow over the years. Yes, our family has had a phenomenal run on the farm, and I feel good about the fact that it is now going to be loved by another family.

I also couldn't cry leaving the farm because we're not losing what really matters: the memories and the people who made it possible. I'm reminded of the Brad Paisley song Two People Fell In Love that talks about generations of happiness and success all because two people fell in love. We're so lucky that we still get to enjoy the company of the two people who fell in love and made our family possible.

04 December 2009

I'm thankful for my health.

It's finals season, which means I'm seeing everything as the glass half empty. For those of you who have to be around me: sorry!

This morning, however, I had a great routine check-up. (Really, this was just routine - don't get excited or concerned.) I've lost about 15 lbs (~8 kg) over the last several months, so my numbers are looking much healthier, and my doctor is pleased that I've incorporated exercise into my life. Having to buy smaller clothes is fun, but I have to admit that the smile on Dr. Pearson's face was almost as rewarding. I've been blessed with many things, and today I am so very thankful for my health.

Now...back to studying federal income tax...

29 November 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

It's been a busy month...and an especially busy Thanksgiving weekend.

On Thursday, we enjoyed this feast with our friends, Samantha and Brian, and a few of Brian's co-workers. YUM!

On Friday, I outlined all day while George ran errands and took care of things around the house.

Yesterday, we went snowboarding at Mount Baker with some diving friends, Seon, Ki, and Ricky. Although I'm paying for it with a lot of soreness today, I'm so pleased that I actually remember how to snowboard. Sorry, skis, you'll have to wait for another time.

Today, we continued our tradition of buying a fresh tree and pine wreath at Red-Wood Christmas Tree Farm. Our tree is a noble fir this year, and I've decorated the wreath with jingle bells.
There is a chill in the air. Christmas cards have been ordered. Christmas shopping is underway. Finals are just one terrifying week away. Yes, it's that time of the year for sure!

07 November 2009

What do I do with my dress?

Photos by Evantide Photography. Cropping by ALKS.

My wedding dress is still hanging...ok, jammed...in the closet in my craft room. I'm still undecided on what I should do with it now that our wedding day has come and gone.

I love the idea of doing a trash-the-dress photo shoot, especially something fun like snowboarding or SCUBA diving. However, it seems a shame to just destroy the dress, and would I just throw it away after the photo shoot? While I'm not crazy about totally destroying my dress, I'm also unsure about cleaning and preserving my dress. It would need a lot of cleaning after being stepped on by my loving groom and being dragged around Kerry Park and Gas Works Park. Even if I do preserve it, is it ever going to be put to use again? I'm certain that any daughter I might have is not going to want to wear my dress. If I'm only going to keep the dress in a box for the rest of my life, why should I spend more than half of what the dress cost and use environmentally harmful chemicals to preserve it? I am totally willing to donate it to someone who can't afford a dress. But, let's face it: my dress wasn't that expensive, and it's going to cost someone almost as much to clean and alter the dress as it cost to buy the dress new.

I've heard some pretty creative ideas for the dress, like making a Christmas tree skirt or two out of it. As much as I loved the pick-up skirt on my dress, I'm not sure that I want a "pick-up" tree skirt. I've also heard that it could be made into a christening gown for our future children. For a number of reasons, this isn't really in the running. This morning, Wedinator gave me another creative idea for my dress:

In all seriousness, I know that I need to do something with my dress soon before it starts to yellow. At this point, I'm seriously considering cutting out some of the best parts of the dress to save (for what, I have no idea), and throwing away the rest, or else donating the dress. Help! What did you do with your wedding dress?

01 November 2009

Role Models

Like many other people, I have great admiration for the Obamas on a personal level. Maybe it's the affection they show each other in public. Maybe it's the balance they attempt to strike between their respective careers. Maybe it's their style. Whatever it is, I hope that George and I still look at each other the way Michelle looks at Barack when we've been married five years, ten years, or fifty years. Given my admiration, I really enjoyed this candid look into their marriage and struggles over the last fifteen years. Looks like there's lots more work on the horizon...for all married couples.

21 October 2009

Shop locally!

When is the last time that you supported a local and independent business? I challenge you to commit to the 3/50 project. What a fantastic idea!

Since I'm writing about local businesses, I'll share a link to Bill, our new neighborhood butcher. He's a serious character with dynamite meat-selection and marinade-creation skills. George and I just love stopping into his shop to buy some of his newest creation. This is also the man who is going to try to make my hamloaf dreams come true. That's right, folks: Grandma's hamloaf is coming to Washington!

18 October 2009

Autumn Wreath

The weather has turned cold and wet, and our trees are finally starting to change colors. Yes, autumn has arrived! To celebrate the change of season, I was inspired to make a seasonal wreath as soon as I spotted this wreath on Etsy. Success:

Here are some instructions in case you want to make your own:

  • First, I bought a plain straw wreath. They're available at most craft stores; this one cost less than $4.
  • Next, I covered it with scraps of muslin, left from a previous project, using some standard craft glue.
  • While the glue was drying, I ripped fabric into strips roughly 2 inches wide. As you can see, I started with eight fabrics, but I ended up using only four of them to make the wreath look less cluttered. In the future, I would use just a few colors, in more narrow strips, and maybe add ribbon to the mix. The inspiration wreath used wool, but I used simple cotton quilting fabric.
  • To make the design, I tied the strips around the wreath in a repeating pattern. I bought 1/3 of a yard of each fabric. Even though I only used half of the width of fabric, I'd buy a lightly longer piece in the future so that I could double-knot each piece. Although I figured out how to get the ribbon effect shown in the inspiration wreath, I didn't do it on my wreath because the ribbon I bought matched the strips of fabric I discarded but not the ones I adopted for the wreath.
  • Finally, I trimmed the ends of the fabric on the back and hung the wreath on the door with a piece of ribbon.
Happy Fall!

05 October 2009

A Few More Memories

Today, especially after reading my brother's comment, I remembered that I have some photos from the farm in digital format. Here they are:

This was one of our many Christmas celebrations in the living room (pre-1990's remodel). I'd guess this was taken in about 1988.

This is the day of the Seahawk...obviously before it exploded underneath Justin and Mason. For some reason, Kristi was cut out of the right side of the photo. This was taken in approximately 1992.

Once again, here are all of the grandkids gathered in the living room (post-1990's remodel). This was 1996 or 1997.

04 October 2009

End of an Era

On the day I married my sweetheart, I proudly wore a strand of pearls borrowed from my grandmother. The pearls were given to her by her sweetheart, my grandfather, on their 60th wedding anniversary in 2008. Just a few days before their 61st wedding anniversary, my grandfather suffered a stroke. Over the last six weeks, the life they knew previously has been altered beyond recognition. Next weekend, they will leave the 60-acre farm where they have lived since just before my mother was born almost 55 years ago and move into an assisted living facility. When I think about the farm, vivid memories flow through my brain like a heavy spring rain down their long driveway.

According to family legend, the driveway is a quarter-mile in length. I've walked and driven it many times but never bothered to check. My mom and her siblings have a gaggle of stories about the driveway; most of them start with "when I was a kid..." and continue with a tale of woe. My favorite is the one about my mom and aunt having to walk the driveway to catch the bus in winter during the pre-pants for women era. Because the wind and snow rip across the mid-meadow driveway, they'd each wear pants under their skirts and stash their pants in the mailbox for the return walk at the end of the day.

I've experienced the driveway myself. For many, many years, Grandpa and his dog (now Tip, before that Rocky, and probably many others before that) have walked the driveway at least once a day to get the mail. On several occasions, I've had the opportunity to join them...even as recently as this March. I don't remember any specific life-changing conversations coming of those walks, but I remember them nonetheless.

At the end of the driveway and across the street, the farm continues into a field and through a large woods. Many, if not all, of my grandfather's horses are buried in those woods. My uncle, cousins, and many of their friends have spent uncounted hours hunting deer, turkey, or whatever happens to be in season in those woods. I'd bet that all of the grandkids have swung from the grapevines that hang in those woods, and most, if not all, of us have spent the night in those woods during family campouts. In fact, the woods is the only place where I've slept under the starts with only a tarp and sleeping bag between me and all of nature.

Back across the street on the main farm, we have all enjoyed the great outdoors. For years, we had annual campouts that involved tents and a great bonfire in the field in front of the house. When night fell, all of the hotdogs had been toasted, and we ran out of marshmallows, the ladies headed to the house while the men went to the woods (hunting "snipe" along the way) and the kids crawled into the tents. In the morning, Uncle Gary would heat up the Dutch oven in the warm coals from the previous night's fire and treat us to something scrumptious. A campout was not complete without canoe or boat rides in the lake and a little fishing. I'll never forget when Uncle Gary caught a snapping turtle and proceeded to hang it from the big oak tree in the yard after it was dead...and it continued to snap.

There are many a family legend involving the lake, too. In the funniest tale, Aunt Sherry and Uncle Gary (the two oldest kids) lore my mom (the youngest) to the muddiest end of the lake. Just when she's stuck in mud to her knees, they run out and yell that the snapping turtles are coming for her. There were no turtles in the lake at that time, but that didn't change the terror my young and naive mother felt.

Between the lake and the house, you'll find the barn and pasture. In those pastures, my grandfather raised and trained many, many Arabian horses. Grandpa made sure that all of the grandkids were comfortable around horses, and I'd say that he succeeded...at least as far as I'm concerned. I remember Sun-up, Mazie, Smokey, and Lad, but I know there were many others. When the last mare was expecting her last foal, Grandpa got up every hour through the night to check on her until she gave birth to her colt, Lad, in the middle of the night weeks after he started his ritual of checking on the mare. The smell of fresh air and horse manure still conjures up memories of the farm; I can't help but think of the molasses Grandpa added to the horses' feed every time I smell or taste molasses.

The horses stayed in the lowest level of the barn, but there was plenty of action going on in the rest of the barn. In Grandpa's meticulous workshop, he crafted numerous gifts and gadgets. If there was a problem or a request, Grandpa would be the first one to solve the problem or meet the request. He was a true craftsman, rounding every corner until it was soft to the touch and reinforcing his work to be sure it would last the test of time.

I probably have the fondest memories in the barn from the top floor. From the highest beam, Grandpa tied a huge rope from which we could swing. I remember being both terrified and exhilarated as I'd tentatively climb up the stairs, grab the rope, carefully sit on the huge knot, and let my feet leave the steps for a great ride. Beyond the reach of the rope, Grandpa stored hay. The castle of hay bales was a favorite place for the barn cats to keep their young babies. I can't begin to count how many kittens I must have chased in the barn. Perhaps the best thing on the top floor of the barn was the space Grandpa saved for a basketball court. From the time that my brother, Justin, and cousin, Mason, could dribble a basketball to the time that they went to college, they played basketball against my uncle (at the time, my uncles) and Grandpa at every family gathering. I don't remember what Justin and Mason called their team (probably something that started with young), but I do remember that they named the older generation's team the Old Fogies. The Old Fogies almost always won.

I hardly know where to start with memories from inside the house. I can't begin to recall how many times I've approached the steps to find Grandma and Grandpa waiting at the door for their firm hug and pat on the back. After that, they'd take our coats, hang them on the railing to the stairs, and continue looking out the window above the kitchen sink for the next family to arrive.

Grandma was master of the kitchen. This is where she baked her award-winning pies, perfected her bread recipe, created new masterpieces, and packed Grandpa his lunch every day before he left for his mail route. Grandma used to create amazing meals for all of her kids and grandkids on a regular basis. Back in the day, she could single-handedly make a from-scratch, 4-course meal for 20 people at the drop of a hat. Into her 70's, she was still baking Christmas tea ring (sweet rolls) for every family household and pulling together huge family dinners made from scratch. She'd always say that she "just can't put together a meal like [she] used to," but we all knew that, even in her 70's, she could make a better meal than the efforts of everyone else in the family combined. Although Grandma has given me her tea ring recipe, her mixing bowls, and her philosophy of cooking by what looks right rather than straight from recipes, I know I'll never live up to the food from her kitchen or her hospitality...but that doesn't mean that I won't continue to try.

The kitchen and dining room have been the scene of many family meals and family comedies. When the grandkids were younger, we sat in the kitchen and entertained ourselves until we laughed so hard that we cried while the adults enjoyed (somewhat) peaceful conversation at their civilized table in the dining room. After the meal, the grandkids usually took over the dining table for games of paddle pool and the farm game.

When I visited Grandma and Grandpa over summer breaks from school, we'd always meet at the kitchen table in the morning where they would share a grapefruit, Grandma would eat Bran Flakes, and Grandpa would eat Corn Flakes. Most of the time, the table held a bowl of freshly picked pansies that Grandpa picked for Grandma on his way to the house from the barn. It was around this table that Grandma endured much tickling at the hands of Grandpa.

In the living room, we've held family slide shows, wrestling matches (much to Grandma's dismay), farting contests (also much to Grandma's dismay), and many holiday celebrations. No matter what year it is, Christmas always means piles of people and presents in the living room. We always open one present at a time and one person at a time. Most years, my youngest cousin, Kristi, and I get our way, and we open presents youngest to oldest. Every year, we say that we shouldn't get so many presents next year. Every year, we do it all over again.

I have many memories that took place in the guest room. It features a queen-sized four-poster bed and a large mirror on the dresser. Naturally, Kristi and I discovered that the tops to the poles can be removed and re-purposed into the world's best pretend microphones. This is also where we'd come to play dolls or review our Christmas presents or talk about our latest crush or compare our jean purses. I think this is where I told Kristi that Santa isn't real.

I slept in the bed in the guest room many times. I know exactly what the ceiling tiles look like (brick pattern of used-to-be white squares), and I always avoided the shades because I could never figure out how to retract them. I loved staying there in winter because that bed had an electric blanket. Best of all, while staying in the guest room, I could always hear Grandma and Grandpa talk before going to sleep. I never heard their words, but the loving tone with which they spoke to each other said all that I needed to hear.

Looking back, I am finally beginning to appreciate all that Grandma and Grandpa taught me on the farm. They are extraordinary people who have shared an extraordinary place with our family for all of these years. It's hard to say goodbye.


When George and I visited in July, I had a feeling that it would be one of my last trips to the farm, so I took some pictures to help keep the place alive in my memory.

27 September 2009

Oops! I did it again!

Say goodbye to the old mop...

...and say hello to the new do!

I've been blessed with thick, fast-growing hair. So, for the third time, I'm donating a significant chunk of hair to programs that make wigs for cancer patients. [See here for the second time.] So far, I'm quite happy with my new look, and, Denaye, don't panic...it will be long enough to pull up by April. Promise.

12 September 2009

Woodland Park Zoo

I know that we've been slack with posting to the blog. I know that we owe some photos and stories from our honeymoon. But first, I have to share with you some pictures from our trip to the zoo last weekend.

Although it was Labor Day weekend, we thought that a rainy Sunday would be the perfect time to avoid crowds and visit the snow leopard cubs at the Woodland Park Zoo. We were right! Here are some photos from our day:

Snow Leopard Cub

Snow Leopard Cub (hiding behind the pine branch and fern)

Kea, a New Zealand native



This trip was the most fun I've had at a zoo since I was about 5 years old. Thanks for a fun date, George!

25 August 2009

We're back!

We're back from an enjoyable jaunt around the country. We had a great time visiting family and friends in Ohio, diving in the Florida Keys, relaxing in the spa in Miami, and taking in the sites and seeing friends in Washington, DC. As soon as we get a moment away from school/work, we'll share more details and pictures from our little adventure.

01 August 2009

Becoming Mrs. S

As I mentioned before, I have chosen to take George's last name while keeping my maiden name as a second middle name. The logistics have been far easier than I anticipated. Since my change is not entirely standard, I decided to get a court order to make it all official; that took less than an hour and less than $150. I was even more impressed with Social Security; it took me 16 minutes from pulling into the lot to leaving the lot, including dealing with a cranky government employee. My health insurance change was somewhat amusing as George had to first end our domestic partnership relationship before then marrying me. With just a few random accounts remaining, I feel fortunate that everything has transitioned so smoothly.

I'm also transitioning into my role as wife. As a girlfriend, I was the fun sidekick charged with getting to know this character I called my boyfriend. As fiance, I was the wedding queen. Now that I'm wife, I feel a lot of responsibility...not just for myself but for both of us. Although I'm not necessarily traditional and George and I don't really believe in traditional gender roles, I do feel a certain pressure to keep a nice home while taking excellent care of George (not to mention being professional Ms. S). I'm new to this, so I don't know exactly what my particular brand of wife will look like, but I'm excited to take the example given to me by my many excellent role models, mix it up with our values, and see how the whole thing evolves over time.

Just yesterday I reread my favorite article of all time (clipped and sent to me by my mother shortly after leaving home permanently and moving to California). This time, I have a little different perspective on it. It's right: I have a heck of a lot of choices and options in life. In all the people in the world, I have been blessed with the most amazing, loving husband. I picked him, and I would pick him again each and every day if given the choice. I am both excited and overwhelmed that I get to spend the rest of my life figuring out my role as his wife while we build a life, a home, and a family together. Before I know it, I'll really be Mrs. S.

31 July 2009

Little Things

I'm happy to report that we are back to reasonable summer temperatures, so I will hereby terminate my whining mode.

In other random news, we discovered last night that George and I married without first sorting out our Starburst preferences. As it turns out, we are perfectly compatible! George loves orange, hates red and pink, and is ambivalent about yellow while I love pink and red, hate orange, and feel ambivalent about yellow. Bullet dodged. :-)

29 July 2009

We're approaching the melting point.

Yes, we broke the record today. Seatac Airport recorded 103F (39C). I'm pretty certain it was warmer than that here in Kirkland since the noon news reported 103F (39C) in Kirkland at that time, and temperatures tend to peak at about 5pm here. The news has just reported a high of 107F (nearly 42C) in Redmond, the next town over. Don't worry...they're predicting some relief tomorrow: 99F (37C). :-)

How are we staying cool? Yesterday, I found my way onto an air conditioned bus (only 30% of Metro buses have a/c) for a ride to Seattle and back. I also found my way to our community's pool. By the end of the day, I'd started and finished my first pleasure reading of the summer: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. George and I spent last night in a movie theatre with lots of kiddos watching Up and then enjoyed some nice cold ice cream. George has been staying cool during the day at work. Today, I joined him for the afternoon because temperatures in our house were hovering just below 100F (nearly 38C).

Giant sigh. We are so thankful that our wedding isn't this weekend!

On a side note, I had passport photos taken today...partly because I need them taken and partly so that I'll remember this day in the dead of winter. Passport photos are never glamorous, so I might as well be hot and sweaty. :-)

28 July 2009

Global Warming

If you don't believe that there is a changing climate on this planet, you're probably in denial. You're also probably not in Seattle.

Typically, we have cool and grey conditions through June with summer arriving around 4th of July. We live for July and August in Seattle; for a few short weeks, we experience sunshine and lack of rain with temperatures in the high 70's (20 C) on a daily basis. This year, however, summer rolled into the region in mid-May and has been giving us temperatures in the 80's (26 C) on the regular basis. I could count on one hand the number of times we've had rain or grey skies since then. This week, our temperatures are flirting with the highest temperature ever recorded at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, 100F (nearly 38C). Most forecasts call for a new record temperature tomorrow. Do I need to remind you about our extreme winter weather last December?

I'm not complaining. I can deal with the heat and even enjoy having a longer summer than usual, but that's not the point. The point is that, over time, this is not the climate of the Seattle area. Our climate is most definitely changing, and I, for one, think it's high time that we make monumental changes.

Be Thankful Every Day

George's mum has given us permission to share her reading from our wedding day (below). It was such an honor to have our mothers take such an important role in the ceremony uniting us as a married couple.

Be Thankful Every Day
by Patricia Harvey

This is a special day, when two are joined as one
I love my new daughter, Amanda, I’ll always love you George
Care for each other, be faithful till the end
Follow what’s in your heart, may you always stay best friends

It’s the start of your new life , as husband & wife
Hope the good days outshine the bad
May laughter brighten the sad
Know I’m here for you, to help or just talk to
Believe in each other
I’ll always be your Mother (Mum)

The day will be here soon, when you’ll have children to love
God will watch over you, love and comfort you
Pray for patience and wisdom, to give each other your best
I’ll always be your mother, it fills my life with happiness
My tears are filled with love, for you & Amanda
You are a caring son, I’ll forever be proud of you
Cherish Amanda, always share your love

It’s the start of your new life
Believe in each other and
Be thankful every day you have together

Pray every day
For Christ is always with you.
God be your comfort, your strength
God be your hope and support
God be your light and your way
And the Blessing of God,
Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life,
Remain with you now and forever.


14 July 2009

First Look at Professional Photos

Did we mention that Aaron and Meg of Evantide Photography rock? They do! They happily shot for 12 hours straight on our wedding morning/day/night, and they've managed to pull together a lovely collection of photos for a sneak peek on their blog in less than three days. I'll rave more about these two later. In the mean time, head over to their blog and check it out!!

13 July 2009


Some of you requested a copy of our vows and the heartfelt presentations our mothers gave. We'll start with my mom's words:

Musings by Janie Gildersleeve

Musings are defined as calm, lengthy reflections; the process of giving serious thought to something. Musings best describes my words for you today, George and Amanda.

You have decided that your love for one another is important enough to make a life long commitment. Take your commitment seriously. Cherish and honor your commitment. Make your relationship a life priority.

I challenge you today with two scriptures:

The first is Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 10. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.” Focus on and learn from the positive examples you both have in your lives. You, Amanda, have grandparents in their 61st year of marriage. Be patient with one another. Although you have been together for years, there will be many new discoveries in the days and years ahead. Grow personally. Grow as a couple. Keep romance alive. Be best friends. Be encourager's of one another. Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages, describes couple interactions and ways of relating to our spouse. Learn each others' love language....do you love to be touched?....do you more value a gift?....do you most appreciate words of affirmation or the gift of another's time?...what about being surprised by a chore being done without asking? I challenge you, George, to ask Amanda---as David often asks me----these three questions. What can I do to be a better husband? What can I do to make your life easier? How can I help you? Amanda, ask the same of George.

The second verse I give you as a challenge is Ephesians 4:26. It simply says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Don't be afraid to apologize. Likewise, learn to forgive. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Talk about differences and disagreements as they surface. Deal with them and don't let them fester. Also, celebrate and share your joys, successes and accomplishments. Work hard at your marriage but don't allow your marriage to become work. Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, speaks of emotional bank accounts and how relationally we should strive to keep this account balance high. Deposits are made by acts of kindness and acceptance as well as words of praise. Make regular deposits in your marital bank account. George, Amanda continually praises you for your support of her and the kindnesses & respect you show her daily. You already have a head start on this account!

Amanda, you have always been my traveler. By your picture in the family room is a plaque that says, “Though distance may come between a mother and her child, the bond that holds them close will never weaken. The love they share will never be more than a memory apart.” Amanda and George, wherever you go, wherever life takes you, we will continue to make and share special memories. God bless your marriage. I love you both.

Love, Mama

Groom's View

Anybody who reads this blog regularly will know I don't usually post... OK, this would be the first time ever. (I have a draft ranting about the bathroom remodels somewhere, but I never finished it). Our wedding seems a suitable occasion for me to break my silence.

ALKS gave a good synopsis of events and will no doubt be posting some of the details, including some of the vendors who did an absolutely amazing job on the day.

All in all everything went perfectly (well, less a few hitches with transportation, but, shhhh, don't tell ALKS). The weather could not have turned out better, my concerns about crowds at the park getting in the way turned out to be totally unfounded, the limo and bus drivers knew how to deal with the circuitous route to Canlis, ...

While great, none of this stuff really matters... what is important is that ALKS and I were able to celebrate our commitment, our relationship, and our marriage with the friends and family who mean so much to us. She is a wonderful, wonderful woman and I cannot think of anything better than being married to her, and spending the rest of our lives together.

12 July 2009

Wedding Synopsis

I hesitate to review the wedding so soon, but I don't know when I'm next going to have the opportunity write about it. This morning, I was reminded that my summer exam is just more than 10 days away...so I need to concentrate on that starting tomorrow morning. In the mean time, here is a very general overview of our day:

Morning and Pictures

On Friday night, George stayed at our house with Pierre, Peter, and Heath while I stayed downtown at Hotel Andra with Denaye. From all accounts, the boys had a pretty smooth morning. They ran ahead of schedule and arrived downtown well before 12noon. Denaye and I had coffee and breakfast with my mom and George's mum, Pat, picked up the flowers, had our hair done, and had our make-up done. One o'clock arrived quickly!

On the way down the elevator, I was suddenly filled with emotion. George was waiting just a few steps away with his back to me, and I could not hold back tears any longer. We shared a tender moment, and then joined our wedding party for a walk through the lobby filled with our family. It was picture time!

My cousin, Kristi, took this photo from the lobby below during our first look:

First, we went to Kerry Park. It wasn't part of our original plan, but we couldn't pass up the best view in the city on one of the clearest days of the summer. I can't wait to see the photos!! After that, we went to Gasworks to take lots of pictures on the hill and around the equipment. By the time we'd been taking pictures in the hot sun for two hours, we were ready for a rest. On one hand, I wish I would have felt "fresh" for the ceremony, but I think the reduced nerves of having seen each other was worth it.


The guys took on their greeting role while I went to the limo for air conditioning and a lot of nerve control. This was, by far, the slowest part of the day for me. It seemed to take forever for 4:45pm to arrive! Finally, our friend, Theresa, signaled that it was time to line up...so, I joined the parents, lined them up, and prepared for the longest walk of my life. Really - the aisle was way too long. By the time I approached the chairs, I desperately wanted to break into a run...but I resisted.

Our friend, dive instructor, and real estate agent, Fred, officiated over the ceremony. Although Pierre tells me that a nice man in a boat drove by just after the start and yelled "don't do it," I didn't really see anything during the ceremony aside from George's eyes. Fred started with a nice message, which was followed by tender readings by our mothers. We asked each of them to prepare something as part of the ceremony, and they both came through with fantastic and emotional readings. Yes, I lost several tears. From there, George and I shared our surprise declarations of love for each other, said our I do's, recited our vows, and exchanged rings. It felt both unique and like we were joining a large club. I feel even more like that with our shiny new rings. Cool!

Our photographers, Aaron and Meg of Evantide Photography, took control to capture a few (undoubtedly fantastic) photos of the entire group and a collection of family photos. It all went smoothly and more quickly than I expected. In that time, though, the sky filled with beautiful clouds, so George and I called our grandparents and posed for an extra set of photos while everyone else went on to the reception cocktail hour.


We arrived at Canlis with just a few minutes to enjoy the final round of drinks and appetizers before sitting down for dinner. As usual, everything was fantastic. I was particularly excited by the surprise sangria and the short ribs.

The evening included soup (seafood chowder), salad (Canlis salad without egg), choice of salmon or filet mignon, and fresh pavlova. All of the food was delicious and enjoyed by the masses. We also had pinot grigio and cabernet savignon flowing. As always, Canlis provided superb service. No one had water glasses less than 100% full; the whole party was served within 5 minutes of each other for each course; and each table was served in its entirety at once. They really took care of us!

We had some spectacular speeches as well. Peter was the master of ceremonies, and he did a great job reading the crowd and playing to it. Both of our fathers gave speeches, along with Pierre and Denaye. I laughed a lot, cried a lot, and even put my hands on my face...so it was a great success!

Truly, I felt like the time between arriving at and leaving the reception was five minutes rather than five hours. Everyone told me that it'd fly, and they were 100% accurate. We did, however, get a chance to eat our dinner, so that was a real treat. Now, I just have to find a way for us to re-create having many of our friends in a beautiful room more often!

I'm not the one to ask for a neutral opinion of the day, but I thought it went off fabulously. Aside from not getting to spend much time with most people and having the day go by so quickly, I felt like George and I were really able to enjoy the day. I've been assured that marriage is different than dating or engagement, so I know we'll be in for some changes. Nonetheless, I also feel like we've been seriously committed for a while now, so yesterday was just as much about celebrating that commitment as it was about starting a new commitment.

I look forward to passing along photos and some of the details we included in our special day.

Pre-Wedding Week

We had a fabulous time on our wedding day yesterday, but more on that later.

The week before the wedding was full of friends, family, and the creation of the most amazing memories! It was great to spend time with our out-of-town friends and local friends, and I really enjoyed watching the two groups become friends in their own right. We also enjoyed introducing our parents to one another and watching them bond.

Since I can hardly begin to describe all that we managed to fit into the week, I'll just tell the story with photos (excluding our respective nights out).

Seattle summer:

A visit or two to the ceremony site:
A soaking wet hike:

Many good meals, good wine, and good laughs:
Rock Band fun:

Checking out bridges, buildings, and other engineered structures:

04 July 2009

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!

Our day will be complete with burgers, apple pie (above), a visit to Pike Place, a trip to the airport, and perhaps some fireworks if everyone can overcome the jet lag.

As you can see, these two (George and Pierre) aren't having any fun at all hanging out together. :-)