ready . . . break!

Miles and Otis moments before we left for Kansas …
Cute, but they're going on diets in 2013!
Our work schedules panned out this year, and we were blessed to take nine days to travel back to Kansas to visit our families. We flew from Nashville to KC and rented a car, and then we drove to Wichita. (Thanks to our Southwest Visa points, the roundtrip + 9 day rental car cost us $10!) Our awesome friend Kierston (who I grew up with and who recently moved here) checked in on Miles and Otis for us. I missed them! They were happy to snuggle with us when we got home.

Me and Nate outside the historical museum in downtown Wichita

Nate's immediate family is in Wichita … familiar stomping grounds to me because my grandparents used to live there, and my parents grew up there. We had a lot of fun hanging out and seeing movies and eating delicious food and napping and doing puzzles and playing dominoes. Fortunately we flew in Tuesday night, missing the Wednesday night snow that stranded my brother in the northeast for three extra days.

One afternoon we went downtown to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum where someone was playing Christmas songs on the tower bells. Some other people were there to listen too, and Nate's dad struck up a conversation with strangers. We love that about him.

Nate, Tofer, and Michael
One day, Nate's friend Michael drove down from Manhattan for the day. We watched the KU basketball game and took Tofer on a walk. Tofer is part Irish wolfhound, they think. Nate's sister, Hannah, adopted him, and he really is a great dog. He just doesn't know how to drop the ball after he fetches it!

Then we met up with my extended family at my grandparents' house just east of Wichita before looping around to Burlington for a few days. Both of my siblings were home and we did the traditional Christmas Eve meal, Christmas Eve church service, presents at Mom's, Christmas morning brunch at Dad's, presents, and relaxing. Nate watched football while I worked on some family tree leads from my dad.

Our flight on Thursday morning was at 6:05, so we drove up to KC Wednesday evening and stayed with two of our favorite friends, Sam and Anne (originally Kansans, but they lived in Nashville for a year and we love them). Anne made dinner, and then we went to The Roasterie for coffee (hot chocolate for me) and a few rounds of Mexican train dominoes. We had to get up at 3:30am, so we were in bed early.

KCI—even at 4:30am—was nuts. The line to check bags was loooong, and of course we were checking bags. In Nashville, if you've already printed your boarding pass (we had), there was an express line where you could just scan your pass to check your bags. But we got to KCI plenty early and made our flight with no problem. Two of our friends from our church here were on the flight. They come from the KC area.

When we got home, the house was 42 degrees. We made it a month without a heater, but we called someone the day we got back and had him give us an estimate. He installed a new furnace the next day. It is sooo good to have heat! You don't appreciate it enough until it's gone. So we got the new furnace Friday, and on Saturday it snowed. Didn't really stick until the sun went down, but it was beautiful: fat flakes dropping very slowly.

We had Thursday off to get settled back in, and I worked Friday. Me and two other coworkers (everyone else took vacation) so it was so quiet. I loved it. I worked today, too, and there were just a handful of us. I really do think we should institute no-talking days two or three times a month because productivity would sky-rocket.

Tonight—New Year's Eve—will be fun; I have tomorrow off as a holiday, so I can stay up. Nate and I are going out for thai and then going to see Les Miserables. It'll be fun. I had all these ambitions of entering 2013 with a completely organized house and meals all planned out and a budget I can keep track of … we are headed in the right direction on those things but I think my unpreparedness reflects the pace of our lives in 2012. Maybe one of my resolutions will be to do a better job blogging regularly! :) Happy new year!


this week.

So, this is how this week went down. Sunday, one of our sweet college students gave Nate and I a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory. Yum! So Monday night was date night. Nate was finishing up some work in the kitchen from an afternoon project, and I saw something black on the cabinet/under it. It may have been small, but these eyes are trained to notice anything that does not belong in our house. Spider! We don't have spiders inside very often, and Miles and Otis are pretty good about taking care of crickets and flies and other occasional uninvited guests. But spiders are another story.

Of course, I won't get near them, which is one of the reasons I'm so glad to have Nate. :) He hates spiders too, but he loves me more than he hates them, I think. I directed him to the big bottle of bug spray under the sink. He squeezed the trigger and soaked that sucker … and soaked all the front of the cabinet and probably some of the utensils inside the cabinet, so we pulled those out to be cleaned.

It was just a big black scary spider and it made a dramatic drop to the floor in its final moments before turning over on its back and revealing … THE RED HOURGLASS OF DEATH! That there, folks, is a black widow spider. Neither of us had ever seen one in real life, but a quick Google search confirmed our suspicions. And apparently this is a female, because the males have orange markings on their backs and aren't as dangerous as the red-bellied females.

At this time, we were ready to just burn down the house and move to a new one, but we decided we kind of like having a house to live in, so we went on and enjoyed our evening at The Cheesecake Factory.

Tuesday I came home and got into bed with blankets, my coat, the space heater, and Odie. We still haven't fixed our furnace. Mostly because it's so stinkin' expensive. The space heaters keep us warm, and I'm perfectly comfortable at night with an electric blanket, it's the opening the bedroom door and stepping into 55 degrees on my way to the shower that is hard.

We are hoping to be able to make it through this winter so we have several months to build up a furnace fund. It's frustrating too because our neighbor's furnace is real close to ours and it looks like it's 30 years old! Our looks almost brand new, but the furnace guy said it was 11 years old. The home inspector in 2009 said he thought it was from 2005. So whatev. Fact is, there's a hole in the heat exchanger, and the heat is off.

Thursday I took a Family Care Day so I could be with Nate at Vanderbilt. He had another endoscopy scheduled for Thursday morning. For the last few months, he has been on high dose Prilosec for eosinophilic esophagitis. The bad news is that he is still regurgitating when he eats. The good news is that the photos of his esophagus look way better/normal than last time, so the meds have been helping. They did another biopsy and will wait for those results before deciding what to do next. His doctor said we might have to do an allergy test or some other kind of test to check out how his esophagus works when he swallows.  

The procedure went really fast, like 30 minutes or so. Nate was asleep in recovery when I went back, and as he woke up, he was pretty out of it. I think he was more out of it this time than last time. Last time, he woke up almost right away.

Ha! He will hate me for posting this, but this is the blank stare I got when I said, "Nate, look at me." He asked if he had oxygen in his mouth, and I told him no, it's in your nose. Then he proceeded to tell me about his great grandma Elsa who had oxygen that she carried around everywhere. And his great grandpa Jack who would draw letters and numbers with Nate using a yellow pencil. And Nate would sit on his lap.

Nate also told me he was going to audition for the TV show "Duck Dynasty." I said, "What's that?" And he said, "A beard show." OK, so we've never watched that show because we don't have cable but apparently the characters on the show have big beards, and the male nurse who took Nate back from the waiting room was talking to him about it.

The nurse got Nate to sit up and he slowly mumbled, "I need to work out more." The nurse said, "What?" And he said, "I need to work out more."

She was ready to take his IV out and asked what his favorite color was. "Orange," he said. "For the Denver Broncos." She said she didn't have any orange bandages, so he said blue. She also offered red. So he said, "Not blue, red." The nurse used red and blue bandages to wrap his arm, for KU.

My mom sent us an early Christmas gift: a cat condo! It has a platform on top with a ball attached by a spring. Miles plays with the ball and sharpens his claws, and Odie does that and also gets inside of it. (I think Miles would barely fit.) Otis was sleeping on Nate all day yesterday when Nate got home from Vanderbilt, and when I moved him so Nate could get up, he got in his house.

Just a few more days until we're off for Christmas vacation! This weekend I am planning on doing some crazy cleaning around the house. Like pulling everything out of the kitchen and cleaning like we are moving. I don't want to be overwhelmed by a messy house when we get home and start a new year.


odie the model.

I washed our bedding yesterday and when Nate and I went in to make the bed, Otis thought it'd be fun to play between the sheets. When he does this, don't wiggle your finger around or he will pounce on it and he will draw blood. Kid's got talons. Anyway, last night he decided he liked laying on his back and holding the sheet up with his paws. Exhibit A:

Yeah, he puts little holes in the sheets with his claws but there are more important things. I wanted to get a photo of him with his legs up like that, and when Nate lifted the sheet for me to snap a pic, I discovered the white sheet above and below made for some pretty nice lighting. So I did a little Odie photo shoot.



I spent some time Saturday scanning all the family photos my mom brought me over Thanksgiving. This photo is of my grandma, Flora Elizabeth "Bettie" McClain, her father William "Bill" McClain, and her sister Willa Irene McClain. I like the little cat at the bottom and its shadow on the steps. My grandma was born in 1925 and her sister died in 1938, so this photo is probably circa 1937.

I've really been enjoying digging into our family tree. Saturday evening I discovered a college acquaintance on the tree. (She married my fourth cousin, once removed.) I discovered that Nate is related to NBC anchor Jenna Wolfe (of the Wolfeld family … the maiden name of Nate's great grandmother). Her father's name is Wolfeld, so she must have just changed her name for TV.

I'm glad to have these photos digitally now, but I'll have to get a nice album for keeping the originals. Right now they're just in an envelope. If you're my Facebook friend, you can see all the photos in my "Family Photos" album.
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