Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Thanksgiving Post

I know, it has already been a month since Thanksgiving and I have already posted about this, but we have so much to be thankful for at Christmas this year, that I must label this post as being thankful yet again.

As I have mentioned, we decided to stay in the Twin Cities for Thanksgiving so that we could have more time off to visit friends and family at Christmas, and actually enjoy being "back home" instead of simply being caught up in the rush of last minute holiday preparations and events-- which we still managed to do somewhat. Our first major blessing came in the way of the weather for our drives, both to MI and back to MN. We were so worried and hearing about storms across the country-- including co-workers of Jim's who were stuck in Chicago and had to drive back to The Cities because all of their flights had been cancelled because of the ice storm. Indeed, we saw ample evidence of the ice as we circumvented Chicago, but drove the whole 2 day trip (we have begun to take 2 days because it is so much less stressful and is easier on my preggo back) in between two severe storms. We arrived on Saturday and that night the snow began.

Unfortunately we had to miss church at The River and various other plans were cancelled on Sunday, but it turned out to be exactly what we needed as we finished up most of our Christmas shopping and got to spend some time with my parents.

It was so wonderful over the next few days to have weekdays free of work, and for Jim to see daylight, and for me to see my woman friends that I have missed greatly. It has been difficult at times to be pregnant so far from a support netowork that has taken years to develop, and it was great to simply BE around women that know me and have seen so much of my life and journey up until now. I got to have coffee and snacks with Melissa and with Val, who was visiting from Alaska. Of course, talk ranged from babies to how cold it is in both of our new homes, and we caught up on how big both of Melissa's kids are getting. Jim and I were also able to have dinner and talk with Melissa and Paul, which is something we had just started to do as couples before we were offered the promotion out here.

We were also blessed to spend a lot of time with Jim's mom while we were back. She is such an amazing cook and taught us how to roll Filippino egg rolls and make the filling. We joked that she could roll cigars with how fast and tight she creates them. We are going to try our own soon, and although I am sure that ours won't be the same, it is going to be so soothing to have Connie's egg rolls here in MN. They have sustained us through 2 trips home from MI, and are actually perfect car food with how self-contained they are.

Speaking of cars, a few days before the holiday, my parents decided to surprise Jim with his biggest gift-- a present that he has said, "If I had gotten just this and that was all, I would have still said that Christmas was amazing." They decided to gift him (Well both of us) with a remote starter for our car, so that when the wind is howling and the official temperature is -20 or so, before work he can start our car warming up from our dining room. This has already been such a blessing, and is something that Jim uses even if we have only run into a store for 10 minutes and the car is still warm. It also proved very useful in the Mall of America parking garage today when we were looking for our car. Another great feature we use on a daily basis is the remote lock. This will become even more important once we are laden with a car seat and diaper bag for our little one, so it will serve a purpose even in the warmer months.

Even aside from this gift we were abundantly blessed by our family for the Christmas holiday. Gifts included a video game chair, a sewing machine from Honey for me (I'm learning to make baby clothes) a handmade pipe from Andy for Jim, a monopod and new strap for my camera, computer software and a webcam so my family can keep abreast of the changes in my baby bump and say hi to their grandchild by using Skype, baby pants made by Jess (my sister in law) which are so cute and are helping me learn to make baby pants, a wok and tools for Jim, and a clothing steamer. I had actually bought him one, so that he could steam instead of lugging out our ancient ironing board and iron every morning, but then his mom already had one that she could give him. We decided to simply return the one I'd bought and save the money or judiciously use it for baby stuff.

We were also blessed financially, which helps to defray the eekish cost of 2 nights in hotels and the cost of gas to and from MI. My grandma sent us money that we used on a trip to IKEA today. We decided to buy new silverware we have been longing after; we were embarrassed when our small group visited that we ran out of nice utensils. At $7.99 for a 20 piece set, we decided to get 2 and when our turn to host group rolls around again we may get another. We also got some baby storage because "Junior" as Jim has taken to calling him in a way that reminds me of my cousin Eric, has begun to gather a small collection of clothes. It is kind of funny that he has 2 pairs of shoes, a baseball cap, books, washcloths and a BRIO train set, but no place to sleep yet, but all of that will come in time.

Looking at cribs and bedding and curtains made me even more longing for a house, but that is going to have to wait too. Jim and I were convicted by the wisdom of some conversations when we were back home that we need to become even more diligent with our savings if we want to buy a house out here. It is too easy to rationalize small purchases when a house seems far away because housing costs are so crazy out here, but it is increasingly important to us to have a yard for our little one, and we recently discovered that costs are going down (thank you crappy economy I guess) and once we save a down payment we might actually be saving money when we buy a house. There are homes that are now-- gasp!--just less than $100k out here that aren't condemned or filled with toxic mold, or in a location that would make my former law-enforcement officer father abduct me and carry me back to MI.

Our purchasing pursuit is also assisted by the fact that just before the holidays Jim recieved a very good review and even a raise. (He may make me delete that because he hates to tell this stuff online, but I just have to share a bit of my pride in him for all of his hard work.) It feels so great to have everything that he has done and all of the extra work he has taken on be recognized and acknowledged in a time where the economy is struggling so badly. His work also gave everyone a gift card to the MOA that we spent today on a membvership at "Underwater Adventures," the world's largest underground shark tank. We can visit for a year for free and touch sharks and watch them swim overhead. Our little one will get to come for free and will be about 7 months olf before our membership expires. This also gets us half odd anyone else that wants to visit. However, that is a topic for another post.

Blessings to you all!


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