Birthday: Husband style

Birthday: Husband style

Husband turned 33 on Friday and we celebrated our hearts out for an entire three days in true Husband style.

We woke early on Friday morning, earlier than intended when the puppy decided to ask Husband for breakfast at 4:30am and he subsequently coudn’t get back to sleep. We had said puppy loaded in the car and were on the road by 6:00am, headed up to the Eastern Shore.

Puppy on a roadtrip.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the Eastern Shore.

Train

We drove straight through up to Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. It’s a place mostly known for the wild ponies living there, but also known by me as a my childhood beach, where our family would go every summer to visit the shore. I hadn’t been there since I was nine years old, and when Husband told me he wanted to go to the Eastern Shore for his birthday, I might have intimated that I would LOVE to go to Assateague. Luckily for us, it was National Park week and we were able to get in for free.

Assateague Island National Seashore

We walked and drove and walked and drove around the island looking for the wild ponies and finally came across this cutie.

Wild pony on Assateague Island.

By noon, we were headed back down the Eastern Shore, meandering from one stop to another. Places like a thrift store where we bought straw hats, and the Turner Sculpture Gallery, eventually making our way to Becca’s Smith Island Cakes.

Now, you have to understand that THIS was the real reason Husband wanted to come to the Eastern Shore. Yep, we both took the day off work, drove three hours, paid an enormous toll to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel–all to get a nine-layer cocoanut cake from Becca’s.

But it’s Husband’s birthday and maybe that’s not too much to ask when it’s your birthday. We need as many reasons to celebrate as we can get these days.

With puppy.

Saturday was filled with some of the usual activities–cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, preparing for company this week, some last minute grocery shopping for the grad party next weekend. But at 4:00pm Husband’s family began arriving and we were soon gathered in the kitchen gabbing while Husband and I made a giant focaccia for dinner–fresh tomatoes, basil and rosemary with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

We sat around the table and talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other. Then Husband pulled out that nine-layer cake and began slicing it up…

On Sunday morning we rose once again while it was still dark. Over a cup of coffee (and tea for me!) we discussed the day. It had originally been planned as a hike up Old Rag in the Blue Ridge Mountains, then changed to Crabtree Falls. But it was supposed to rain there (and it was a good five hours away). So we switched to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but then it was supposed to rain there too. So we finally settled on staying in Virginia Beach.

We met up with Husband’s brother and his fiancee breakfast before grabbing a cup of coffee from Starbucks and heading to First Landing State Park where we enjoyed a simple 4-mile hike up and down the dunes and under the Spanish moss. It was a beautifully damp and overcast morning, perfect for turning a simple layer of Spanish moss into an almost ethereal experience.

Husband helping me climb the tree.

Climbing trees with Husband at First Landing.

First Landing State Park

That evening we made pizza from scratch and cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie.

I can honestly say it was one of the best and most relaxing weekends we’ve had in a long time. Just in time to recharge for the onslaught of Spring and Summer events and out-of-town guests.

I’m glad that birthdays give us an excuse to claim a three-day weekend and put off the to-do list for another day while we just enjoy each other along with a healthy dose of friends, family, and the world around us. It’s days like these that I think back to the beginning of our relationship, when we had fewer responsibilities and more time. Sometimes I yearn for those days, but the truth is that we can still have those days, if we make them. Life is different now, but we can still put spending time together as a higher priority than laundry and dishes and yard work.

In the end, it’s really all a choice. And I’m so glad that for this one beautiful weekend, we chose each other.

Happy Birthday, Husband.

Holly Combs

Walking through First Landing.

Share: The Work of Christmas

Share: The Work of Christmas

Share: The Work of Christmas

The holidays are over and we enter real life once more. January is such a mix of post-Christmas blues, New Year’s resolutions, endings, beginnings, hopes, and sometimes regrets.

But I would just like to post this reminder to “honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” like Scrooge declares in the end of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (which, incidentally, I watched for the first time this year).

Join me in keeping the work of Christmas going all year.

The Work of Christmas
By Howard Thurman on 01-06-2012

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

Source: The Mood of Christmas

Introducing…

Introducing…

Would you like to meet the newest members of my little family? I thought so =).

These adorable creatures were my Christmas present from Husband. Their names are Gidget and Fidget, and although they look a whole lot alike, there are some very distinct personality differences here–mainly that Gidget loves people and loves to curl up in my sweatshirt hood, and Fidget loves to escape us to explore.

Sugar Glider

They are Sugar Gliders, which is a type of marsupial from Australia. I still have a lot to learn about these guys, but I’ve been doing my research and they are truly fascinating characters. They love to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, they have opposable thumbs on both their hands and feet, which makes them great at climbing, hanging upside down, and holding things with their feet. When they walk, they waddle. They like to jump from one person to another and they climb up really high and glide down like a flying squirrel.

My Christmas present from Husband

In the wild, they live in tree tops and eat meal-worms and tree sap that they find under the bark. They like to sleep somewhere soft, though, so my girlies have a hanging pouch of fleece that they huddle in. Like many little creatures, they are nocturnal (you can see how adorably big their eyes are!), so I have mine set up in a room with a red light–easier for us to see them without hurting their eyes.

New family members!

New sugar glider

Many more pics to come, I’m sure. They’re too adorable not to photograph!

Creating traditions

Creating traditions

This year Husband and I are celebrating our second Christmas together. Right now, life is full of flux. We ebb and flow, we try to keep up, we try to slow down. Husband has had four different jobs since we married just over a year ago and I have gone from part-time work/full-time student to full-time work/part-time student. We have moved, added a puppy to our home, and so much more.

That said, Christmas is hardly “established” in our little family. And I am determined not to force us into establishing all of our Christmas traditions all at once just because of my inexplicable fervor for holiday traditions.

When we were dating, we made a gingerbread house together. We did so again last year, on the day we brought our puppy home (hence the name “Ginger”), and we made another one this year. It’s a lovely tradition–fun and not too difficult, great to do with other couples or families or whatever.

Our first 3 gingerbread houses

Last year we traveled all the way to the mountains to cut down a real Christmas tree (we went to the Blue Ridge mountains about 3.5 hours away from our coastal city), and we did it again this year. The smell of fresh pine in the house is divine!

Cutting down our first Christmas tree

We have gone to visit “the lights” every year. When we were dating it was the lights on the boardwalk at the beach. Every year they do a big lights display and close the boardwalk in the evenings so cars can drive down it. Last year we went to Norfolk Botanical Gardens where we were delightfully impressed by the array of lights as we drove through the park. We’re planning to go again this year, hopefully with Husband’s brother and Husband’s brother’s fiancee. Someday we’ll get up to Busch Gardens for their Christmas celebration, we’ve heard it’s truly inspired. It also costs about $25 a person and we are, after all, poor newlyweds.

Giving chickies from World VisionAnd we gave each other (sort of) a chick for Christmas. It’s a great way to give without adding clutter and unnecessary consumerism to your life. Instead of stuff, you can give a gift that can truly change a life, and help children escape the cycle of poverty and hunger. Learn more at World Vision.

This year we’re adding baking gingerbread men to our list. Husband loves gingerbread men decorated with Royal icing, and I have never made them (although I bake an array of other Christmas cookies), so I agreed to make them if he helps =). We’re going to work on them this weekend…

And I asked Husband to make crepes on Christmas Eve (he hasn’t made them since we were dating, and I do love crepes).

Our HO scale trainWe have also brought over a few traditions from our childhoods, and modified them to fit us. I LOVE having grapefruit on Christmas morning, so Husband preps one for me =). And last year we started having fondue for Christmas dinner; my family used to have it on Christmas eve. We attend the Christmas eve service at church. We visited a few train stores this year and bought a little building; my family used to spend an entire day building new model pieces for our train set (and we received a train and track from my parents as a Christmas gift last year which Ginger somehow feels the need to attack).

Now that we have these traditions established and a few modified, I’m looking for additional unique ideas that will work for our crazy, delightful little life.

We’ve talked about celebrating the 12 days of Christmas (like they do in parts of Europe), but I haven’t been able to find a lot out about those traditions, it seems they are as varied as the groups of people who celebrate Christmas.

Last year, we received several ornaments as gifts (apparently it’s popular to give “First Christmas” ornaments to newlyweds). If we don’t receive one this year, we might have to go in search of one. Having at least one ornament from every year can be fun. I have them from my entire childhood.

We’re working toward decorating our tree together. Last year Husband was so busy with work that I did the decorating alone. But this year we managed to do it together by working on it in stages: putting up the tree one night, hanging lights another night, adding ornaments on a third night, etc. Maybe someday we’ll be able to do it all at once!

Maybe we’ll get to take Ginger on a special walk Christmas day…last year it snowed Christmas evening and we were able to take a walk on the beach in the snow! Unfortunately, white Christmases here are rare.

And who knows what other lovely traditions will join our repertoire over the next few years? I’m looking forward to every minute of it…

Puppy in the snow

48 hours of celebration!

48 hours of celebration!

Changing traditions come with growing, changing families. This year our Thanksgiving was anything but usual. We all gathered in Ohio from our respective homes (Georgia, Ohio, Washington DC, and Virginia). And the 48 hours that we spent in each other’s company was hectic, chaotic, and priceless. Our family now includes three “in-law” siblings, six little kids (soon to be seven) and numerous dogs.

The amount of noise and activity would have given anyone a headache, but it was also something to treasure. I love my brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces and nephews more than I can say and I truly cherished getting to celebrate Thanksgiving and six (yes six!) family birthdays in the span of 48 hours. It will be more than a year before we will all be together again as the Georgia Drakes are moving to England in January. So these memories are going to have to last me a little while.

Here are a few photo mementos from our trip…

Thanksgiving dinner with the Drake clan.

Birthday party!

The nieces and nephews

Spending time with my best friend.
I was blessed to be able to also spend some time with my best friend who is soon moving to Florida. Thanks for being an honorary member of our family, Amber!

Horseback riding for the kids' birthday

Giving my niece a ride

Husband and I were also able to sneak away for a little bit to go antiquing (the antique stores in mid-Ohio are great!). I’ll share more about what we found soon…

TC 1: Blessings

TC 1: Blessings

It is Thanksgiving and as I spend the day driving to Ohio and anticipating the fabulous family meal we’ll have when we arrive, I want to say that I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life.

There are so many things to be grateful for, even amid struggle and strife. Hopefully I will remember this little Thanksgiving lesson all throughout the year. Instead of grumbling and complaining, I should be rejoicing in all the blessings the Lord has given me. Here are a few that I am particularly thankful for today:

  • Family
  • Husband =)
  • Good Friends
  • Adorable, Loving Pets
  • Love
  • Home
  • Travel
  • Laughter
  • Joy
  • Adventure
  • Together Time
  • Christmas!
  • And above all else, Christ.
  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    “Home” for Thanksgiving

    “Home” for Thanksgiving

    I remember so fondly the moment I arrived in Montana for college, it was a whole new world, and a wonderful adventure awaited me there–I was sure of it!

    At the age of 18, I was on my own, and I was 41 hours from home.

    Montana was the right choice for me, the best place for college. Sometime I’ll have to tell you more about it. For now, suffice to say that it was a dream come true and I now have “Live in Montana” checked off my bucket list.

    That year was the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from my family. Before long, my best friends and I had established our own little Thanksgiving traditions and the day was a greatly anticipated one. After undergrad, I was only home for the holiday once before heading off to graduate school.

    My first “married” Thanksgiving was spent at my mother-in-law’s house. It was a whole new experience for me–somewhat unlike my own family Thanksgivings, and wholly unlike the holidays my roommates and I created for ourselves in Montana. But I loved the chance to peek into Husband’s world and see things the way he sees them.

    This year will be the opposite, circumstances are taking us to my family for Thanksgiving this year and Husband will have the chance to take a look into my family’s traditions. Of course, my family has changed a lot in the last few years, what with the addition of six children and another on the way.

    I am excited to be visiting my family–we’re all going to be there, something that doesn’t happen very often. But at the same time, Virginia has become my home and I will miss home.

    Is it terrible to admit that I am glad we will be staying here for Christmas?

    So often people ask where we’re going for the holidays. When have the holidays become such a popular time to travel? The holidays I remember were spent at home, with family, all hunkered down together enjoying the warmth of a happy house and ignoring the often cold and snowy outdoors.

    As much as I am excited about heading to Ohio tomorrow, I want to have those homey kinds of holidays in my life. It’s not that I don’t want to see extended family, but there is something special, something magical, about home, especially at the holidays.

    So here’s to finding the right balance this year–traveling for Thanksgiving and staying home for Christmas!

    Three days away

    This past weekend was truly wonderful. In celebration of our first anniversary, Husband and I took a long weekend away from civilization.

    We packed up the car (my tiny, two-door Mitsubishi) with everything we needed for three days in the woods. I wish I had taken a picture of how stuffed my little car was, but somehow we managed to fit it all in. (The other vehicle option available to us was Husband’s truck which doesn’t have a back seat, so Ginger would have been sitting on my lap the entire way…very bad option considering her propensity toward car sickness).

    Both Husband and I grew up in camping families–it was probably the most affordable vacation option considering the size of our families, but it was also just plain fun. Already one year into our marriage and we had never gone camping together, only cabin-ing, which is fun, but it isn’t camping. Read more

    Celebrating our first year

    It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since my wedding. Sure, some things have become utterly comfortable—wearing two rings on my left ring finger, sharing a bed with a boy who rolls around in his sleep, the smell of coffee in the morning, etc.

    Yet it still somehow feels like the wedding was just yesterday.

    We watched the movie Julie & Julia last night. It was a film we saw almost two years ago in the theater, before we even started dating. That night Bob slyly talked me into going to dinner, coffee, and a movie with him. We were the only two people in the theater and he talked through the whole movie—all about French cooking and how awful it is.

    I didn’t get to really watch the movie itself until last night. I liked it =).

    Things I love about our marriage:
    • Living with my best friend
    • Doing yard work together
    • Holding hands while we walk the dog
    • Picking pumpkins on a chilly Sunday =)
    • The little gifts and “I love yous”
    • Pausing to slow dance in the kitchen to Miles Davis’ It Never Entered My Mind whenever it comes up in the iPod playlist
    • Weekly date night
    • Weekly day of rest together
    • Planning for our future, even if it does include budgeting
    • Encouragement
    • Nesting—I’ve always been a “nester” (since I was about 3 years old), now I have someone to do it with and for
    • Camping together on the living room floor because the bedroom is filled with paint fumes
    • Driving 3.5 hours to the mountains just to cut down a Christmas tree
    • Eating breakfast together every morning
    • Adventure
    • Opportunity
    • Life

    There are so many more things that I could add to this list. I love the small things, the little moments, creating traditions, forging through life together, and having many adventures.

    Here’s to another year of adventure!