It has been a while, but the update and pictures below will be worth the wait! I hope this email finds you all as healthy and happy as we are!
We've had an exciting and busy 2009. We have been so busy, in fact, that we are forced to send you an email greeting/update rather than a traditional Christmas card. This gives us some extra time to update our address book with new addresses (so, please reply with any new information). The plan is to get paper cards in the mail in time for the New Year! In the mean time, enjoy our heartfelt warm wishes and the cheesy pictures.
We rang in 2009 the same way we plan to ring in 2010: at Ben and Katie's Annual Karaoke Death Match in Memphis. This year I am sure that Michael will belt some more tunes while I shyly hide in the corner with my noisemakers and silly party hat.
Brian, my oldest nephew, graduated high school and entered college while my youngest niece, Allison, entered kindergarten. Niece Natalie got First Chair flute and went all the way to NYC with her dance troop. Nephew Matt got his driver’s license. Niece Amy is a Duke Scholar. Niece Emily competed in Junior Miss. Michael won’t let me brag about his nieces and nephews—he seems to think he has too much class for that. But, we did get to spend time with most of them in the past year, and they are awesome, I assure you.
Michael and I actually completed the Grandman Triathlon again, but MY biggest accomplishment of 2009 may have been getting Michael to help chaperone a Homecoming dance and a prom! Tee hee.
We took a trip to Los Angeles to watch some of my old students graduate.
We stayed in Lauren and Craig’s amazing house and played with their amazing animals.
We enjoyed a party at Ms. Cao’s, visited with everyone we possibly could, and shared a few fantastic meals with good old pals.
Johana and Stage flew in from New York and we road-tripped with them all the way from Los Angeles to Monterey, CA via Route I (the Coastal Highway).
We stayed with Brad, Jennifer, Jake, and Will Tonder and saw Brad graduate from the Naval Academy.
We then drove Brad’s car from Monterey back to Mobile.
We saw the Grand Canyon...
...where we bumped into Paul and Susan Tonder.
And had a brief visit with the Houston Tonders (Matt, Jennifer, Tristan, and Maelyn).
We came back to Mobile and promptly moved into our first house! The Red Brick Dream.
Six days later, we adopted our three-year-old pound puppy, Red. He is a lab/hound mix who gets into everything. He is perfect.
Before saying goodbye to our tiny old apartment, I took up gardening on our old apartment balcony. The garden did pretty well, actually, and I have done a pretty good job of continuing it in our new yard. Cooking is so much more fun when you can pick some ingredients instead of shopping for them!
Michael has done a bit of beekeeping with my dad this year, and he spent a lot of time coaching the University of South Alabama’s Club Football team.
We celebrated our one-year anniversary and became Oldlyweds.
We (Flo, the Grim Reaper, and the Red Pirate Roberts) threw our first (tiny) Halloween party in our new house. Ben and Katie came all the way from Memphis for it because they rock.
Michael and I became board members of the Historic Murphy District Association (our neighborhood watch-type thing), and I somehow became Secretary. Writing newsletters and attending meetings is a fun way to procrastinate instead of lesson planning.
Mostly we are just having a blast painting and fixing up our house. It’s a lot of work, but our Red Brick Dream is slowly turning into the House of Many Colors.
I am still teaching high school English in Lucedale, Mississippi, Michael is still the best attorney in Mobile, and we still wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
You may be wondering--as am I--why bother with a blog when everyone is on Facebook now?
I thought about that during my many months of not updating this blog. I wasn't sure if I should ever post again. What's the point? But then I decided to for a few reasons:
Everyone is NOT on Facebook. My mom, some relatives, and some good friends have managed to resist the call of that time-waster/keep-in-toucher we all love to hate.
I never really provide any detail or substance on Facebook. I just throw a few thumbs-ups at people, write the occasional line about my day, and slap a few pics on there. My Facebook profile doesn't really give anyone a clue about my life--and I really don't feel like it helps me keep in touch on a personal level with anyone.
I feel that if I actually take the time to post a blog entry every few months or so, rather than just quickly updating my Facebook status, maybe my friends and family will also take the time to read it and be more personal in their responses. I'm too lazy to go back to the days of old school letter writing, but I truly miss it, so the blog is the most personal update I can think of.
One day I will look back at this electronic diary and be greatly amused/embarrassed.
I don't promise any deep insights on the meaning of life on here, and I guarantee you will encounter some duplicate pictures, stories, and even typos, but I hope you will continue to visit my cheesy li'l blog whenever I update it. Don't think of it as a waste of your precious time--but as experiencing several months of my life in a Scraption of the time it took me to live it!
Also, for some reason, when I added the pictures everything came up in reverse order. Technology is Amazing. Thus, below you'll find the summary of the months since New Year's Eve in reverse order!
There is a chance, and a very good one at that, that we will be moving into a house soooooonish! We are not positive when/where YET, and I have no desire to jinx our dreams, so I will provide no details for now. But, we will be moving out of here soon regardless, so feel free to say goodbye to the tiny one bedroom apartment lovingly known as The Nest:
No more tears, please. Parting is such sweet, sweet, sweet, SWEET sorrow.
A few days ago Michael had to travel to Selma, Alabama for a work trip. Since I am off for the summer I went with him. I wandered the city, stopped at a diner for homemade ginger beer, and experienced the Voting Rights and Civil Rights museums while he worked. The museums were humbling and powerful to say the least.
Below = my first tomatoes! I also FINALLY have a green bell pepper growing! Yum. I cannot wait to have a yard to plant the garden in.
Some highlights from our LaBama Road Trip 2009 (in reverse order).
Mike and Brother Matt in Houston:
Spooky Fun Area 51. It was actually on the way this trip!
The tour lady promised that the "fact" that I was being floated by an alien's mysterious powers would be obvious in the above picture.
Ah, the Grand Canyon.
We bumped into Mom and Dad Tonder at the Grand Canyon. Their camper is awesome!
Hoover Dam: The new bridge being built above the dam below. THAT was an awkward sentence.
Scenes from the passenger window during the trip home:
In Monterey, we saw Michael's brother Brad graduate.
View from restaurant at Cannery Row in Monterey. Can you see the otter?
On the road again....somewhere between LA and Monterey:
Sea Elephants (behind us!) near Hearst Castle.
Attack squirrels near the Sea Elephants.
A view of Hearst Castle on the drive up:
Creepy statue in Hearst Castle:
More scenes between LA and Monterey...
Us at Lauren and Craig's in LA:
View from Lauren and Craig's:
Iggy: Buck and Lucy: I miss LA billboards... Ms. Cao threw me a party (well, she threw a party and I was invited):
The Summit View graduates:
I had such a great time visiting the peeps in LA (why wouldn't you let me take a million photos of all of you???), driving up Route 1 from LA to Monterey with Johana and Stage, and on our road trip from Monterey back to Mobile....
Before the road trip, Niece Emily competed in Junior Miss Mobile County. She was brilliant, beautiful, and talented--as always. She won tons of scholarships and made me cry. She rocks:
Niece Allison had her first dance recital. Precious...
Dad and I got banjos! I still haven't found lessons yet, but I look good holding it!
Michael and I both finished the Grandman Triathlon, again this year! 1/3 mile swim, 16 mile bike ride, 3 mile run. I almost died, but I DID finish--and wasn't last! We even recruited Cindy this year!
I got this fortune cookie the next day: That about says it.
Still working on the garden and improving my cooking skills. The two kind of go together:
Almost everything in this seemingly boring meal came from the GARDEN! So, you may think it's just spaghetti with a sad excuse for garlic bread, but really it's:
spaghetti with chives, basil, rosemary, and thyme from the garden. bread with parsley from the garden. salad with chives, basil, peppers, and cucumbers from my garden--and blueberries from the parents' yard--with homemade salad dressing
Simple, yes. Fresh and delicious, yes and yes.
The modest beginnings of my Garden of Earthly Delights:
the first cuc!
the first pepper!
I was on the Prom Commitee, so poor Michael got to chaperone another school dance...
Michael did some beekeeping with my dad earlier in the year. He had a blast and now, of course, he wants to start a bee farm when we retire!