2008 was a massive year for us. I finished my Masters in May and started a new job two days later. Mike is now halfway done with his apprenticeship classes. We got married on October 4th. We lived through a hurricane on our honeymoon. Mike lost his cousin Sarah in a car accident in December. We traveled to Virginia (twice), Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, and St. Martaan. I traveled to Colorado with my mom. We bought a new car and sold the old one. We remodeled a house and moved (and are in the process of purchasing it). We did a lot of camping and discovered a new "favorite" state park (Perrot, near La Crosse). We spent time with friends and family and the dogs. We laughed, cried, lost ourselves, found ourselves, and got lost again. (But we have a GPS now, so it will be okay).
Hiking near Fort Collins, CO with Brendan and Loki. (March)

All ed-u-macated. (May)
Climbing trees at Perrot State Park. (June)
Canoeing the Black River. (July)
Mike and Abby in Vegas. (August)

First dance. (October)

Hitched. (October)

At Auntie Julie's while we are on our honeymoon. (October)

Snorkeling on St. Martaan. (October)

"New" house and backyard. (November)

"New" car...2008 Ford Escape Hybrid. (November)

In many ways, I hope 2009 will be a little less eventful; I think I'd like to limit things to one life-changing event per year, thank you very much. My plans/wishes for 2009...

1) That we are able to take a camping trip in the Black Hills/Rockies, tentatively planned for around Memorial Day.
2) That our jobs are secure in the face of the economy.
3) That we get in some winter camping now that we've got the time and the equipment and get more summer camping in than last year (since wedding events got in the way).
4) That I can get a part-time (or full-time, even better) teaching position at SWTC.
5) That we get the mortgage all finalized (I've been dragging my feet on this one).
6) That Mike gets all the apprenticeship stuff straightened out and doesn't have any more issues with the DWD.
7) That our family and friends stay healthy and safe and secure in their jobs.
8) That we are able to continue increasing our savings each month.
9) That my brother gets into the physical therapy school of his choice and Mike's sister gets into the nursing school of her choice.
10) That our marriage continues to grow, deepen, and thrive as life happens.

Happy New Year!
Have a glass of champagne for me at midnight.
I'm sure I'll be asleep by 10:00!

Fifteen hours of flights, layovers, and car rides later we are finally home. Although the trip was blissfully delay free (we deserved some good karma after the horrendous trip last week), it still involved a three and a half hour layover in Newark. On the other hand, Continental is still giving out FREE (!) drinks and those miniscule bags of pretzels in-flight, so I guess it is all worth it. Right.... On the actual upside, the plane touched down in Milwaukee ahead of schedule and we managed to beat rush hour traffic, so we made it home in fairly good time. We picked up the poochies from Auntie Julie's house (she and Auntie Sarah puppy sat), so our little pack is reunited. As the weather forecast looks relatively decent for the rest of the week, I think a hike or two at Governor Dodge/Wyalusing may be in our immediate future. Frankly, any activity that doesn't include a presentation on the proper way to buckle a seatbelt or use an emergency oxygen mask will be most welcome!

Another family infused holiday has come and gone. We had a lovely time at my aunt's home on Virginia's Northern Neck, the food was great (and plentiful), the company wonderful, and the weather...well...it was 70 degrees today...what more can I say?

Tomorrow brings many exciting possibilities as we make our way back to the frozen tundra via Newark (oh, I cannot express my excitement about traveling through Newark). What adventures this will bring us I can only wonder!

Mike is back to work on Tuesday, but I have off until at least Friday, so I am looking forward to spend some quality time staring at my dogs. I've missed them!

Spending time with family in rural Virginia... Boys + Christmas Decorations = Hilarious (or so they seem to think)
A whole lotta argyle. (I can guarantee Mike's socks match).

More hiking.
Photo opp.

Day-after-Christmas dinner.

The other side of the table.

The other other side of the table.

Merry Christmas from Farnham, VA.

It is hovering around 50 degrees here in Farnham. After gift opening and some urging from my mother, it was decided that Brendan should probably jump into the river.
Running...Jordan style...
Enter expletive regarding water temperature here.
Getting some help out.

Just happy he didn't go into cardiac arrest.

Our Christmas Eve adventures...

We arrived at the Milwaukee airport at 7:00am, hoping to fly out at 8:30. We snaked through the line and reached the ticket counter only to discover that our flight was delayed enough that we would miss our connecting flight to Richmond in Cleveland. As we were not particularly interested in spending the night in Cleveland, and there wouldn't be another flight until tomorrow afternoon we considered canceling altogether and driving home. This would have required driving at least three hours through a winter storm, so it wasn't our first choice.

Milwaukee Airport



We ended up getting a direct flight from Milwaukee to Washington National which, after being de-iced, miraculously left and arrived on time. We rented a car from the airport (at Christmas Eve premium prices, I might add) and drove down to the Northern Neck where my parents, brother, grandmother, and many small dogs awaited our arrival.

We are now several hundred dollars poorer (thanks, Alamo Rent-a-Car) and spent several more hours traveling than intended, but we are home (at least at somebody's home) for the holidays.

Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. Particularly toward the lady at Continental Airlines who found us a flight.

We spent the evening at Sarah's wake in Reedsburg. Amongst the many pictures and reminders of her childhood and young adulthood were two black and white photos of Sarah in her wedding gown taken during a recent fitting, and hanging near the container holding her ashes was the academic regalia that she would have worn to receive her PhD this past Saturday. While the other photos and beloved objects represented memories of happier times, these particular items spoke of a lost future - the future of a 27 year old woman who was just coming into her own. Sarah should be, at this very moment, celebrating the completion of her doctorate and planning her wedding. In the next few weeks and months her family should have gathered to celebrate these accomplishments, and it seems downright perverse (not to mention unfair) that instead, we are mourning her death.

Winter officially arrived in Wisconsin today. (Winter unofficially arrived in Wisconsin a month and a half ago.) It is currently -6 but feels like -35. Apparently Winter enjoys showing off. MAXIMUM temperature forecast for our area. Notice that we're in that -10 degree range. Ugh.

The dogs refuse to go outside to pee, and once forced out attempt to stand on one leg and look at us like we've sentenced them to the gallows. On the upside, Mike has decided not to brave the weather to go to Madison tonight (he had a DJ-ing gig at Granite City Brewery). After a take-your-breath-away-snot-frozen-in-your-nose trip to the grocery store (I wore snow pants just so my legs wouldn't freeze off) we are bunkering down, staying in, making tortellini soup in the slow cooker (my favorite appliance) and playing board games. As always the dogs are assisting.

A few photos from the Mayne family (Mike's mom's) Christmas Party. Compliments of Lacy Taylor.
Me opening "The White Trash Cook Book." Let me know if you're interested in a recipe for squirrel or snapping turtle.

Grandpa Mayne and babies Marshall and Jackson

Madison and Hannah with their Grandma Julie ("Grandma Benelli"...apparently that is a gun).

Grandma and Grandpa Mayne opening their new laptop and GPS.

Katy and baby Jackson

I woke up this morning at 5:45 to one of my new favorite sounds...the text alert on my phone. "SWTC will be CLOSED today due to weather."


Below are some photos of the dogs enjoying the 10 inches of snow we got last night. Unfortunately plumbers don't get snow days and Mike couldn't stay home and join in the fun.
I'm still waiting for a phone call confirming that my parents have made it to Virginia safely.



A few photos of our house, which is coming along nicely.

The living room. Still needs some furniture and wall decorations.

The kitchen and breakfast bar (ie. "laptop station").

My "wine shrine".

The office
Guest bedroom
Our bedroom

Our bedroom

This morning, December 17th, 2008, Mike's cousin Sarah and her fiance Sean were killed in a traffic accident on Highway 965 in Iowa. Their wedding was planned for October 17th. Sarah had just completed a PhD in Microbiology and was going to graduate from the University of Iowa on Saturday. I can only express the deepest sympathy to their families. A video which includes details of the crash and an interview with Sarah's sister Meg can be seen here: http://www.kgan.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/kgan_vid_1699.shtml

Took a lovely snowy walk with hubby and the poochies this evening. Snow was light and fluffy, Christmas lights were glowing, Gatsby was a little snow plow, and everyone's booties stayed on (yes, my dogs wear booties in the snow). Lambeau even off-leash heeled for the first time...two blocks! Hoorah!
Had we been able to stop for hot cider it would have been perfect, but Cedar House was closing just as we walked by.
This is not my house. This is our neighbor's house. It is quite pretty and makes me feel guilty for not putting up any Christmas decorations this year. We had every intention of putting things up and then the window of opportunity sort of passed us by...we'll be at my family's in Virginia for Christmas over the holidays and it just seems like a waste to put anything up for less than a week at this point.