Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving #2

On Thanksgiving day, we traveled to Russell Springs, KY to spend time with Mark's dad's side of the family. His Aunt Sue Ann made an amazing spread as usual and we all enjoyed each others' company. Mark's cousins have some new babies so we enjoyed playing with and spending time with the little ones.

That evening we went to the Movie Tavern to see Fred Claus with Ticean and Amy. Ok, they advertised that movie like it would be for kids and adults...nope. Totally a kid's movie!

I'm still going strong in the Turkey Quest 2007. I've eaten from 2 turkeys with 2 left to go! Now I'm off to make start preparing food for T-giving #3 & #4.

3 Years and Goin' Strong

As I mentioned before, Mark and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary this past week. If you can't tell by now, I love pictures. And one thing I love to do is go back and look through pictures of Mark and I through the years. We've actually known each other for 8 years (in January) and we started dating over 5 1/2 years ago. We were 15 when we met (I became fascinated since the moment I saw him....ask Em) and we started dating at the ripe old age of 17. We also got engaged at 19 (hard to believe) and married at 20. It's great to see how much we've grown together through pictures, so I'm doing this more for me than anyone else. So, here are some pics through the years.... Our 3rd or 4th date together (2002)Mark's sister's wedding (2 mo.-2002)Mark's graduation (3 mo.-2002)In Louisville together (6 mo. or so-2002)On the winter retreat where we were leaders (almost a year-2003)
My 19th birthday (2003)
Babysitting for the Alexanders (2004)
Engagement picture (2 years-2004)Wedding day (2004)
On the subway in NYC (2005) Our first wedding anniversary, in Gatlinburg (2005) At Jeremy and Aya's wedding (2006) Our second wedding anniversary, in Cincy (2006)Santa's helpers (2006) Valentine's Day (2007)Our 3 year anniversary (2007)
There it is...5 1/2 years of Mark and Maria.

Anniversary Weekend

So on Saturday, with our bellies still full from turkey, Mark and I headed up to Cincy for to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary (the actual day was Tuesday, November 20th).

It's so hard to believe it's already been 3 years of marriage (but then other days it feels like it's been 6). It really has been a great marriage. There have definitely been ups and downs and it's something we have to keep working on every day, but my life would be so incomplete without Mark. He's my best friend, my knight in shining armor, my rock, and he lightens up my days.

We spent the evening just enjoying each other as well as the city we love to be in.

We visited Hofbrauhaas in Newport, KY. There was dancing on the tables, steins, and a good time had by all (I know...we're so romantic). Mark and I drew on the tables so if you go there, you can find our table!

And the highlight.....great seats at the Cincinnati Bengals game!!! I don't even have to tell you why this made it the best anniversary yet! Even though it was a loss and it was VERY cold down by the river, we had a great time!!!Look at him. He's just as cute as when I married him!

Friends Thanksgiving (#1)

This year, all of our friends got together to celebrate Thanksgiving together. We're all thankful for each other and thought we should have our own Turkey Day. Jen made a turkey, stuffing, Sissy's mashed potatoes and rolls (and hosted it) and everyone else brought a side dish. We had SO much yummy food!!!
Jen's contributions to the night (minus the turkey). Although the turkey was delicious, whoever cut it was a rookie and it looked disastrous...Look at all those casseroles!!! Green bean, broccoli, and even hashbrown! Brit also made macaroni and cheese (not pictured here).

Seth said it's time for me to start having kids if I've resulted in taking pictures of food.

The night progressed into some intense Family Feuding. So intense that the Sticky Keys feature was activated several times (I'm gonna have to have a talk with somebody about that feature...what's the point of it other than to frustrate the opponents?)

(The Beta Boys getting a problem wrong!!!)

The night ended with a birthday cake for Tim to celebrate his turning of 24. Happy Birthday Tim!I'm so thankful to have such great friends. I've had so many people tell me I have awesome friends and I couldn't agree more. I love and care for each and every one of them and my life would so boring without all of them. Next get-together....tacky Christmas sweaters. (I'm so going to win this one!)


Ok, ok, I know I've been bad about posting in the last week. It's just that we have been going non-stop with so many exciting things! Here's my recap of the previous week....

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This year has been a year of an equal amount of highs and lows. Both have been substantial and have caused me to do a great deal of reflection. With this year, I have come to depend highly on the people closest to me. I have learned to love and appreciate my family in a whole new spectrum.

This year has been full of some fantastic blessings! I received both a brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Both of Mark's siblings got married and really solidified our family. As I've mentioned before, my cousin, Nick, had a baby boy on September 1st. My other cousin, Andrea, and her husband are expecting a baby in June! And to top it all off, my great-grandma turns 100 on December 17th and she's still going strong! I'm excited to share these upcoming events in my family's lives.

But with all the good, this year has simultaneously been very difficult. While the quantity of uplifting events has outweighed the discouraging, the impact has been enormous. My Grandpa (my dad's dad) was diagnosed with lymphonic cancer. He has undergone chemotherapy and is now in remission. He is recovering well (so I guess I could put that in the blessings category).

In September, my Grandma (mom's picture above) was unexpectedly diagnosed with squamous cell cancer. My Grandma means the absolute world to me. I think the hardest part has been knowing that she's struggling and going through so much and I'm not able to be there. If you know my Grandma at all, you know she is full of life, she's fun as can be, and she is THE most genuine, caring person I've ever met. If I become half the person that she is, I'll be alright...

It's been a tough year and I've been pretty introverted about it. I've really had to rely on my family and I have come to appreciate them beyond words. They provide so much strength on a daily basis. This has also been a struggle between myself and God. I've been asking a ton of questions and not fully trusting Him. I've come to realize that I have to give it to Him and that I'm not in control (one of the hardest things for me to embrace).

If you think of it, keep my family in your prayers.

As a direct quote of my Grandma "You can't tell your God how big your trouble is. You gotta tell your trouble how big your God is."

My Grandpa in remission with his new great-grandson, Jonathan

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Longest Post Ever, Lots of Pics...Worth the Read

Jen and I spent Saturday in Louisville with big plans. We were minus our other key member (Em), but we managed OK knowing that she was with her "cracker" for the weekend. Let's just take a timeline journey of our crazy Saturday...

For Christmas, Jen bought me tickets to see Paula Deen at the Palace Theatre in Louisville. One thing you must know, Jen and I share an immense love for all things Paula. We've already seen her once this year and we got hooked. And let me say, I don't think I could receive a gift quite as amazing as this one. When I say we were were 3rd row center...

...I mean, we were 3rd ROW CENTER!!!! Look how close we are!

She's so cute with Michael! They were so funny and just had a great time!

I even got video of her dancing!

After seeing Paula, Jen and I went for one of the Ville's staples, The Old Spaghetti Factory. We were STARVING at this point because we had just been subjected to smelling all of Paula's marvelous cuisine creations only to leave on empty stomachs. We were ready to eat!

Jen and I enjoyed vanilla and spumoni ice cream after our wonderful meals.

We even had our leftover spaghetti put in a to-go box and stumbled upon a brilliant idea...spaghetti in a cup. A wonderful meal on the go. What do you think?

(However, FYI, do NOT reheat those cups in the microwave...they char)

Here's Jen's Honda waiting instruction while parked hastily outside the door as we got directions for its next destination.

This is where it gets real fun! After dinner, we decided to do some exploring in Louisville. We had heard Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was in Louisville building a house for a 19-year-old boy and his family. He was born without eyes and cannot extend his arms or legs. He is a wonderful musician and plays in the U of L marching band. He's confined to a wheelchair so his dad wheels him around during the performance. I had heard one of the projects was to remodel and add lights to the U of L's marching band field. We set off to see if anything was going on. Everyone had left for the day except for a great security guard named Richard who let us on the field.

He even took pictures for us!
Here we are displaying the new work done to the field.

He told us we should go look at the house and gave us directions. He told us who we could go talk to, so naturally, we headed over.

Here we are with our new shirts, hard hats, gloves, and lanyards on the shuttle bus to go work.

They gave us security vests and flashing cones and we spent the evening patrolling the street's traffic.
People need to slow down!!!

(I got really good at directing traffic) We made a great team.

We were so much fun and got to know all the security guards. Here we are with Robert a.k.a "Rico" (We gave him that name).

After being "angels" and delivering all the free Wendy's you could want to all of security, we got access into the "Production Crew Only" area.

Becuase we were so much fun, the head Security guy (I won't say his name so that he can keep his job) took us back to see Ty's secret project tent. I totally know what the secret room looks like!

Needless to say, we had the time our lives and learned all the inside behind the scenes things. We ended up staying and helping for about 4 hours. I finally got home around 4 AM.

Here's a few more pictures from our amazing night that was full of adventure.

Snapping some good pics in all my excitement.

Standing in the middle of the logo in centerfield.

In true worker form, I'm taking a break. On the phone with either Brittany or Jordan telling them what was going on.

The beautiful house for the Hughes family.

In the VIP tent.

Everyone there was so generous and so kind to us! We had one of the best nights ever and the adventure was completely worth it. I definitely have many memories and I wish the Hughes family the very best! Glad I got to be a part of it!

If I missed anything, you can read about it here at Jen's blog.