Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

It always amazes me how many memories I make from December to January. I seem to rack up a whole list of experiences with friends and family I don't get to see very often and these experiences last me through a whole year of up and downs. The most exciting experience of late has been hanging out with my brother and sister and their significant others. It seems only yesterday that we were kids and now suddenly we've transitioned into adults. We all bring our husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends to experience the Christmas we experienced as children and get to interact on a level that's still new to us. I'm sure that as we all start to have children, it will be a completely new experience, but for now I'm truly content in our relationship.
Additionally during this season, because I am blessed in a job that allows me to experience excitement through 32 pairs of eyes, it all seems to get more and more exciting: the twinkling lights, the christmas tree, decorating the home, eating dinner, opening presents with my family, the food, and ALL the smiles. The highlight of December for me was having Mr. Howard come and make gingerbread houses, 3d snowflakes, and edible snowmen with my class. To see how excited they are, makes it all worthwhile and getting to share that with him was a first this year (If his ears & throat ever recover, perhaps I can convince him to do it again next year).
A close second was realizing that it was going to be our first Christmas as husband and wife and getting to start a new tradition. It was nice to have a fresh start on our relationship. Having been together since high school, we didn't really pay any attention to traditions or rituals that we did early on. So this year, we really thought about traditions we could start and continue, perhaps including our children some day.

It's been such a wonderful year and I can't wait to see what next year brings with work, love, family, and friends.
One of the reasons we started this blog was so that we could document everything and sort of "slow down" time or at least allow us to look back at it whenever we wanted. Whatever you need to do to slow down and appreciate your life and the little experiences that make it up (for those are the things that we always forget), I challenge you to make THAT your New Years Resolution.

Friday, December 28, 2007

How was YOUR Christmas holiday?

Ours was truly wonderful!!!

Mr. Howard was originally scheduled to work from 8-5, but after batting my eyes profusely and using every form of bribery I could muster, he went in and had it changed to a 12:30pm-5pm shift. I was elated! I was even more elated Christmas day when he showed back up at my parents house at 2:00pm (after having been at work for only two hours) with the good news that he had been sent home. The Howards spent the night Christmas Eve at my parents, along with my brother and his pup Triggor, my sister and her cat Romper, and my parents cat Normie. For those of you keeping track, that was 6 humans, 3 dogs, and 2 cats. While Mr. Howard and I got no sleep with Jake frantically clawing at the door, trying to get at the two cats (which he surely thought were aliens), we had a wonderful Christmas the next day.
It's funny how as we've gotten older, it's become less about the presents (although, no one's complaining about the presents) and more about spending time together. My mom, sister, and I had A LOT of quality time together, as we accompanied her to the emergency room Christmas morning. The night before, unbeknownst to the rest of us, my mom cut herself while cleaning a knife. The next morning, after opening presents and eating breakfast, it still really hadn't stopped bleeding - so we all made the executive decision for her to go. Luckily, stitches were not needed (apparently, if you wait more than 12 hours they CAN'T do stitches because of the risk of infection. Of course, this means that Mr. Howard will now automatically wait twelve hours after cutting himself so that stitches are no longer ever an option for him).

In addition to having a wonderful holiday my sister's boyfriend, Denny, graduated from California University, Sacramento a few days beforehand. CONGRATULATIONS DENNY!!!!


How was your Christmas?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Buone Feste Natalizie

Boze Narodzenie

Feliz Navidad

Joyeux Noel


Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! We miss and love you!
Love,
The Howards

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad

Dad, you've gone through the first three stages of man:
1. Do believe in Santa
2. Don't believe in Santa
3. Is Santa
And now, you've come to the fourth stage: Looks like Santa...well, a skinny one anyway.

Happy Birthday Dad!! Hope you have a wonderful day!! We wish we could be there to celebrate it with you!

Love you!
The Howards

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Party

In addition to being Mr. Howard's birthday yesterday, it was also my work Christmas Party. In the spirit of the holiday's, I wanted to take one minute to say how lucky I am that I work with the people that I do. Some people dread going to their work Christmas parties or frantically look over the RSVP list to see if their boss or other particular people are going to be there. I have never felt that way about the people I work with and I really think you'd be hardpressed to find someone that does feel that way. I know it sounds crazy and cliche and I've only been there a little over a year, but it is a second family for me. I don't know that I'll ever find a bunch of people who are kinder, more hardworking, more dedicated to children, more professional, and yet more passionate about letting loose and having a wonderful time.

And of course, hearing the karaoke duet from Mr. Howard and Sal to "I like Big Butts" was a highlight, not to be forgotten.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, My Love

Happy Birthday!!!! I love you times infinity to the infinite power!!

In honor of your 25th birthday, here are 25 things I love about you:
(1) I love your smile
(2) I love the way you make me laugh
(3) I love how wonderful you are with kids
(4) I love your thoughtfulness
(5) I love how when you propsed to me, you knew I'd want my family and friends there
(6) I love that you are so wonderful with my friends
(7) I love your ingenuity
(8) I love how hard you work, because it shows you're dedicated
(9) I love the way you inspire me
(10) I love your sense of humor
(11) I love your spontaneity
(12) I love the fact that we will grow old together
(13) I love your confidence
(14) I love that you love my family
(15) I love your courage to be you
(16) I love your openness to try new things
(17) I love the way you look at me
(18) I love the way you won't let me compromise myself
(19) I love how you surprise me with things that show you pay attention
(20) I love how in love we still are, after 7 years
(21) I love how creative you are
(22) I love how much you love your family
(23) I love how you can't keep a secret
(24) I love how you smoosh your lips when you're thinking

And Most Importantly...
(25) I love that you made me your wife

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

And now, thanks to Mr. Howard's decorating skills, he'll be able to find us!

While it looks quite simple, that's actually a rain gutter running on the left side of the house, which is made out of metal, so there's no way to nail any hooks to it. He concocted a plan involving paper clips, a ladder, two hands, and the bed of his truck. An hour later (frozen hands and all) we had ourself a house that Santa will definitely not miss...

P.S. Look at Mr. Howard standing there in a blanket near his truck. I begged him to come out there with me, but he was too cold to get dressed (hence the blanket).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It isn't really Christmas until you spend some time in the snow!!!

After getting up early and heading to Auburn to pick up the second batch of our wedding photos, we decided to spend the day in Tahoe. We wanted to take the pups, as they've never been in snow, but decided against it so that we could drink cocoa in a cafe on the lake. :-) What a beautiful way to spend the day!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

And the house is done!

Mr. Howard, being the brilliantly handy handy-man that he is, hung our Christmas lights on the house today. Of course, he had his talented wife directing him every step of the way, and taking pictures. :-)

Friday, November 30, 2007

If only we could speak Dog...

Because we're hosting a small birthday lunch for Mr. Howard at our house, we wanted to give ourselves a little extra time to get the house settled for the holiday season (Christmas tree bought and decorated, our lights up on the house, decorations around the house...). So, Mr. Howard and I decided to buy our Christmas tree a few weeks early this year.

On Monday we headed over to the little Christmas tree place by our house and picked out a really large (it was the largest one we could find) tree. No sooner had we trimmed it, put it into the stand, and brought it into the house when we remembered the drama, surrounding the tree, that had occurred last year. Oh yes! How we could have forgotten, is completely beyond me.


First, let me give you a little background information. Two years ago, we were a very happy little family, but something was missing. We had Harley in our lives and were superbly happy, but felt like he needed someone else to keep him company while we worked. So, we thought long and hard about where to find a new member of the family (yes, I know it sounds silly...but we don't have children, so get over it). That is when we heard about Jake. A woman that works with Mr. Howard had two dogs and 2 children, with one on the way and thus needed to give one (Jake) to a loving family. We jumped at the chance to adopt an adult dog (we had adopted Harley when he was a pup and worked SUPER hard to do all the things that go along with raising a baby dog). So, Jake entered our life. Of course, having an adult dog enter our family had perks: we didn't have to potty train him, we never had to teach him pup manners, and so much more. However, there were many things we weren't expecting!!

Last year we innocently and lovingly brought a Christmas tree into our home. We smiled to ourselves when it was all set up, excited that Christmas was finally upon us and that we could celebrate in our beautiful new home, never knowing what true drama lay ahead. While we were busy smiling at our fabulous decorating skills, Jake was seething mad. If we could have read his pup-brain, surely he was thinking, "What is this friggin tree that they have uprooted and planted firmly in our living room? Why do they decorate it with these balls that surely should be licked, chewed, and buried in the backyard? Why does no one seem concerned that there are flashing lights coming from the tree?! What on earth is this glittery blanket that they have placed around the base of it and why can't I put it in the bedroom and sleep on it? Why have mommy and daddy put this water underneath the tree - where I CLEARLY can't reach it? Despite their stupidity, I'm determined to play with the balls they've put too high up, bring the blanket into my puppy bed, and drink out of the extra water they've given me in the living room!" Seriously! It took us three weeks to get Jake comforable with the all-consuming presence of the tree in the home!

This week has been a challenge, but we're diligently trying to explain to Jake that it is not an invasion of his home, although the process would be a heck of a lot easier if we could bark.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Poor Hubby

Mr. Howard has had a really rough week! He, unfortunately, had to work through ANOTHER Thanksgiving and has recently been told that he might have to work through Christmas this year. Additionally, he received no time off this weekend! As many of you are quite aware, my husband is great at what he does. He has such a positive attitude and has always loved going to work. He is one of those people who has found a job that completely defines him, motivates him, and makes him whole!


Unfortunately, the joy has been sucked dry from his job (which shall, for the purposes of this blog, remain nameless) by some individuals who aren't very kind or equitable. He is exploring other venues and has been in the throes of resume writing for a few weeks now (and when I say "he has been," I mean I've been doing all the work and he's been providing the basic details). In an ideal world, he would find a Monday-Friday job but at this point he'd settle for not having to work EVERY SINGLE weekend and time off to spend with his family on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Any extra prayers and good thoughts you can throw his way would mean the world to him and, of course, to me as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

What We're Thankful For:
Each Other
Family

Friends





We're so thankful to have such loving friends and family and can't wait to see what next year brings us!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mrs. Howard, M.A.

My beautiful wife just picked up her Master's Diploma yesterday and in honor of the occasion, I wanted to tell her how proud I am of her! She put in so much time and effort, while working full-time, planning a wedding, and doing BTSA. I know how hard it was for her to write her thesis in the evenings after working all day and I know how happy it makes her to have proof of that degree proudly hanging in our office.

I love you, sweetheart, times infinity to the infinite power.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Stars Aligned

It is a very rare occasion when the stars miraculously align and allow us to have the same day off. But we must have pleased the work Gods because today was one of those days! Normally when these occasions avail themselves, we spend the day doing all the things that NEED to get done that require two of us. In fact, all week we had planned a long laundry list of to-do's (hanging the Christmas lights, tackling the gift list for x-mas, moving the entainment center, etc.). But we threw caution to the wind and decided to go for a drive. I know...we live a life full of serious dare-devilish behavior.

On a whim this morning we decided to take the scenic drive to Chico to explore the quaint college town. We thought we'd stop by Marysville on the way there and Lake Oroville on the way back. While we were in Chico, we went by the Bidwell Mansion (above), the Sierra Nevada Brewery (a must-see for Mr. Howard), and Cal State Chico.

We had a lot of fun sight-seeing, but an even better time just being together. It reminds me how lucky I am to like my husband. I know that sounds funny, but I'm just so in love with him and feel blessed that I can spend a whole day doing nothing with him and have it be the best day!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Go Kings

Alright, so we aren't really Kings Fans. I know, I know... somewhere our Sacramento friends are gasping and shaking their heads in disbelief. :-) It's always a fight to explain to Northern California folk that it would be unreasonable for us to be Kings fans, having grown up in So Cal for 21 years of our lives.

But, we thought we'd get into the Northern California spirit and go to a game! I sucked it up and rooted my heart out for the Kings, but Mr. Howard couldn't be swayed. He silently cheered for the Pistons (silently, because the two uber fans behind us seriously might have shot us had they heard him say one positive thing about the Pistons). What is it about Kings fans that sets them so far apart from any fans I've ever seen before? Perhaps its all the booing and complaining after EVERY single ref call! Do they really think that the refs are out to get them???? Mr. Howard would say it's because they need a reason for their crappy playing. ;-)

Wow, what started as a GO KINGS entry has slowly turned! Sorry to our Sacramento friends, but I'm sure my dad and brother are grinning from ear to ear!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parent Conferences

Talking to parents isn't a strength of mine, but every year I make it a personal goal to do the best job that I can do.

Wish me luck for the next two days and pray that I make it out alive!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Allison's getting me a job and Sara's finding us a house! ;-)

How to have a truly fun weekend with your friends:
(1) Paint pottery with your best friend and husband:
(2) Go to Pinkberry to see if the LA hype lives up to its reputation:
(and it does)
(3) Walk the promenade in Santa Monica!!
(4) Give a monkey $1 & get a great look at Mr. Howard's bottom:
(5) Celebate Jen's Birthday dinner with her:
(6) Get marriage advice from a happy couple married for 4 years:
Drew and Jenny
(7) Talk to Jessica and Nick about their upcoming wedding:
(8) Watch Brett's brother, Eric, belly dance:
(9) Catch up with Allison Robbins!!!
(10) Talk to Sara and Nate about their wedding in June:
(11) Laugh with our good friends Allison and Jack!!
(12) Celebrate Jen and Brett's engagement


(13) LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT!!!!!!!

It's easy to forget how much I love my friends and how much I want to move back to Orange County. We get so wrapped up in our jobs and life in Sacramento, that it's always a bit of a jolt when we hang out with the people we care so much about and realize HOW much we actually miss everyone. The weekend ended with Sara & Nate promising to find us a house, Allison promising me a job in her school district, and Jen and Brett offering us a place to stay until we move back . :-) I love you guys!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Secret She Managed to Keep for 24 Hours!!!!

So I've been dying to write about our trip down to Southern California, but wanted to give the future Mr. and Mrs. Jaffe a chance to tell people their way. But now I think I've waited long enough!! So... CONGRATULATIONS Jen and Brett!!!!

They got engaged the night before we arrived and we were able to spend the whole weekend with them while they told thier friends the fabulous news. Brett gave her a gorgeous ring, but an even more spectacular promise and commitment. I'll leave the story of how he proposed for Brett and Jen to share, but it's a fabulous story with an even more fabulous conclusion. I will say that Jen's response was utterly perfect. In her most excited voice, she said "OF COURSE!" Why didn't I think of that?!?

WE LOVE YOU!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Because we don't have children, we are those people - you know the ones you make fun of behind closed doors, the ones you think are crazy, the ones you laugh at when they pull out the rolls of film. And before I tell you what type of people we are, let me first tell you, I'm proud to be one of those people.

Every year we dress up our pups for Halloween. It started as a joke. We got a costume one year for Roxie and she loved it. She wore it all day proudly, saying with her tail and smile "Look at me! Look how cute I look!" Then, when Harley came into our lives a few years ago, we got a Dracula costume and continued the tradition. This year, we got three costumes. Oh yes, we wanted our pups to have options. So, Jake ended up Frankenstein, Harley ended up a hot dog, and mommy and daddy ended up costumeless but with several adorable (and creepy, depending on what type of person you are) pictures.

Maybe when we have children to torture and force into ridiculous looking costumes, we won't feel the need to dress the pups up, but until then I'll relish (pardon the Harley pun) being one of those people. :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Girls Weekend...Well Almost

On Friday evening, my mom and I attended a dinner for the Kidney Foundation and were able to sit with Matthew Polly who recently wrote a book called American Shaolin, which you seriously have to read. The book chronicles Matt's journey to the Shaolin temple in China to be a monk (an idea he got from watching the TV show Kung Fu). Check him out at http://www.mattpolly.com/

Then the next morning my mom, sister, and I went to the Author's Luncheon and sat with Mariel Hemingway who is the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, a Golden Globe Winner, the recent author of Healthy Living from the Inside Out, and an Oscar Nominee. It was a complete surprise to have her sitting at our 10 person table and I have to admit I was completely star-struck. http://www.marielhemingway.com/

We ended the evening with the boys at my parents' with an amazing dinner. I feel slightly bad because we didn't attend our neighbor's halloween party, but you have to be in the mood to put all that work into halloween costumes and we just weren't. Today is all about cleaning, taking care of the filing I've been putting off for weeks, and then when Mr. Howard gets home we're going to go shopping to spend the $200 I have for books for the classroom. What a fabulous weekend!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Who would want to leave this angel?

Considering my October theme has been all about babies, moms, and new moms, I thought I'd make a little dedication. :-) This one goes out to Kirsten, Steve, and Jack.

Today, Luke's cousin (Kirsten), and my friend, who is a new mommy went back to work for the first time after having her little one. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to leave and go back to a job where ooohing, ahhing, and giggling aren't the major forms of communication! :-)


There is no more difficult job than staying at home and I applaud her for surviving for, I think, 2 1/2 months. I'm sure, however, that the next few weeks are going to be rough leaving Jack behind (what woman in the world would want to separate from that little stud?). So, on behalf of all the mommys and mommys to be, we wish you good luck!!
PS - Look at me, miss blogging queen. Really, it's just my excuse for not doing the housework or the scrapbook I've been putting off for months. My poor husband!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Congratulations New Mommy

It's only fitting that right after I wrote my blog below (titled "isn't that supposed to cure us?), I found out that my fabulous friend is expecting! I truly couldn't be MORE excited for her!! As I've told her, I'm selfishly excited because I can live vicariously through her for the next year. Perhaps that will cure me. ;-)


Diana, I know that when people are expecting, it's common to hear people say "You're going to be such a wonderful mommy!" but that couldn't be more true for you! Honestly, with as much care and thought you put into your students at school, your family, and your marriage, I know that your new little one is going to be so lucky to have you! Congratulations!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where the magic happens!

We have been talking for a while now about what we are going to ask for Christmas from my parents. Every year it's such a hard decision...do we go for a few smaller items (like clothes, movies, books) or do we ask for one big item for the two of us? Mr. Howard's birthday also falls right around Christmas time, so it's doubly hard to think of things. This year we came up with a brilliant plan: Let's ask for a bed. We've been wanting a nice bed ever since we moved in together about 4 years ago. We bought an IKEA bed when we very first moved in together and have been using that one since, but it's straight out of the 70's. I seriously think we only paid $100 for it (in the good old "as is" section). We've hated it ever since we brought it into the home, but beggars can't be choosers. So, we lovingly ignored it every time we passed by the bed.

After coming up with our BRILLIANT Christmas plan, we decided to make sure we would even be able to find a bed in a reasonable price range (there's no sense in asking Mom and Dad for a $1200 Christmas present). We looked high and low and, in our quest, stumbled across a beautiful sleigh bed in a Macy's catalogue. We were thrilled: it was gorgeous, it matches a lot of our other furniture, AND it was affordable. The only problem: it was on a ONE DAY SALE. Of course! So, what were The Howards to do? Pass up the perfect pricing to wait for a more expensive, less beautiful bed?

Oh yes...you've figured it out! We bought it! We bought our Christmas present in the middle of October!

Now, we have another month to think of something else we can ask my parents for.....GREAT! But in the mean time, we can sleep on the beautiful bed above!! :-) And can put our old one (seen below) on Craigslist!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Isn't that supposed to cure us?

On Sunday evening, we attended an impromptu barbeque at my sister's and we had the pleasure of playing with an absolutely precious and adorable eight month old. And by "we," I really mean "I" and by "playing," I mean crawling around on the floor like a silly person oohing and ahhing over her. I have friends who tell me..."Oh just spend a few hours with a little one and then you'll be happy you get to go home to an empty house!" But let me tell you, I am not one of those girls. I fully understand the enormous amount of responsibility it is (well, as much as a non-mommy can understand). Having been a nanny for a few years to Emma and William (both under the age of 5) and spent several weekends by myself with the two of them (while mom and dad were out of the country), I am not one of those women who want a baby so I can play "dress up" (I have pups for that) or to have someone to love unconditionally (I have Mr. Howard for that) or need attention or company in my life (I have a phenomenal family for that). I am, instead, one of those women who was just born to be a mommy. I'm not saying that I'll be the most amazing mom in the whole world or that I'm not going to be scared when that day comes. What I'm saying is that I truly believe that I was put on this earth to be a mommy and that there is no more difficult and rewarding experience in the whole world. And until the day comes when I can experience it for myself, my job allows me to play mommy from 9am to 3:30pm - Lucky me!

All in all, I left happy that I got to ignore the world (and by world, I mean my husband, sister and Adeline's parents) to pretend she was mine, devastated that I haven't yet entered the world of mommy-hood, and excited that someday soon I will get to. And until that day, I will have to settle to being mommy to Harley and Jake.

((I wish I could say that Mr. Howard too had some epiphany about daddy-hood, but the truth is I didn't give him 2 seconds to play with her. I didn't mean to, but I kinda hogged her. Sorry, babe!))

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