Hemorrhaging bank account indeed.

I did it!

It is mine!!!!

And suddenly, I have another hobby. Thank goodness for my little business doing well this holiday season. Normally this type of purchase would send me into sequential seizures for the next few days. Instead, I'm all excited and stuff.

And if you are too lazy to click my above link, this is it:


A Southern Christmas

I have returned to America's northern limits [well, it's my northern limit at least]. Our trip down south was freaking fabulous. A gift from the good Lord himself, really, considering that Friday yielded temperatures in the 70s. THE SEVENTIES, PEOPLE.

It was actually hot outside and you better believe I soaked in every breath of fresh air. I went for not one but two outdoor runs. And there wasn't even death-trap-ice on the pavement. Sigh. I loved it so much. I should have brought my bikini for reals.

Okay, so it was a great trip. I even managed to snap a few pictures long the way.

We arrived in Jefferson City a day early because the forecast up here wasn't looking pretty. The plan was for me to work all day on Tuesday and we'd head down after. But instead, I got an extra day off at work [WHOO HOO!] and we were able to drive on Monday night after work. We arrived just before the next snow storm hit Milwaukee, again proving that there is a God. :)

We entered the house to find 2.5 Christmas trees. The 0.5 comes in if you consider the 'wedding tree' a Christmas tree. I do not suggest using this term around my mother. It's a lost cause, folks. In fact, I think the whole room has become a wedding room.

Here is the 'vintage silver' Christmas tree, which is new this year. I love how she decorates the trees in themes and this one is a blue theme, obvi.

And downstairs was the other 'traditional' tree full of red, and a few less ornaments than last year:)

Of course, Henry donned his Santa costume and Lucie looked on with disdain.
Sometimes I like to play around with the settings on my point-and-shoot, can you tell?

--------------------------------- MAJOR A.D.D ALERT-------------------------------------------
Okay, this is totally off the subject of Christmas but these long posts are so not me anymore! I need to warm back up to this blogging thing, huh? So for your entertainment, I present to you a real jewel:
In the hall closet at my parents' house I found my high school letter jacket [symbolically hung next to my wedding dress.....just a few of my many 'costumes' I've worn in my life].

You guys, I was a total jock in high school and was a volleyball and basketball star. The star on my sleeve says so. [Technically it means I was captain but whatev]. Also, you would like to view my patches, I'm sure:
You know, no biggie....just 'District Champs' and "First Team All District" types of patches.

Nate could not believe his eyes when he saw this beaut.

"You actually WORE a letter jacket?" [Why yes, dear. Does that make me a total loser?]

"Is it yours?" [no duh, Nate.]

"Only dorky hoosier girls wore letter jackets in my high school." [I'm sure the Wisconsin state rules do not apply to Missouri in this case, right?]

So yeah. Enjoy that, my friends. I admit, it's pretty hoosier:)

Where was I? Oh yes, Christmas. Memaw and Pepaw made the trip up to see us, and my little brother was back from college as well. Here is the whole crew [dogs included] before our Christmas Eve church service.
My handsome hubby and me in front of the tree at church. Note to self: get a new 'nice' sweater, you cheapster. This is the same one I wore last year....but at least I bought new black boots to add variety:)

Have I ever mentioned that I love Memaw? I won't tell you her age on this very public blog [she might kill me!] but I will say that she is the hipest, coolest grandma out there. She has a facebook account. Enough said.

So then came Christmas morning. After shoveling disgusting amounts of food into our bellies yet again, we opened gifts.

My brother and I are 6 years apart from each other and we are complete opposites in many aspects. For instance: I wrap my gifts like this.I obsess over fun little details like a name tag, and truly enjoy this part of Christmas.
My little brother? Here is his version of wrapping a gift [click to make bigger]:
A sharpie, written directly on the paper, with a random bow slapped to the bottom of the oddly shapen gift. Are we from the same parents??

Are you dying to know what I got this year? Of course you are. Mostly I received lots and lots of cold-weather running gear, including these pimped out gloves from the dude sitting next to me.

He also gave me a pair of tight running capris, a new ear-warmer headband, and my first pair of freakishly-tight long running pants! Oh so flattering and warm, too. Yay!Amongst other goodies, my parents got me my new automatic car starter [squeeeeeeeee!] and Nate is going to get it installed tomorrow while I'm at work. He is contributing to the cause......the 'help Julia acclimate to this crazy weather so she doesn't demand that we move south again" cause. First the warm weather clothes and now the car starter: I must admit he's doing a pretty good job.

I don't have the energy to list everything that I received but I'll just say that I am incredibly lucky to have such generous family members. And we won't even get started on how cute our dogs are:

And now for the two traditional pictures:

1. The kids with all of their loot.
2. The kids under all of the wrapping papers. Henry is totally losing his mind in this one.

Our biggest meal was lunch on Christmas Day. My mom went all out as usual. She fed us enough food to last us all winter and I could feasibly hibernate until March without consuming another morsel. But that is what moms do, right? They feed you until you have to moan and groan and roll yourself downstairs, then they do it all over again the next day. You will not hear me complain until I step on the scale and shed a tear....mark my words.

So after we emerged from our food comas, and said goodbye to Memaw and Pepaw, my mom and I somehow convinced the boys to see Marley and Me with us. All I will say is this: the book was better and full of more alluring details about Marley, but the movie still made me sob like a baby. It didn't make me as hysterical as the book but I did catch myself muffling an actual wimper in the theatre. As in, I was afraid I was going to howl from the bottom of my soul in front of a bunch of strangers [just like I did on the plane back from San Diego while finishing the stupid book]. Read the book first, then go see the movie....but don't say I didn't warn you.

Finally, the trip morphed into a 'Puzzles bring out the OCD in us all" kind of time. As you can see, Nate refuses to look up for one second or he will lose all concentration. Henry is determined to eat a puzzle piece in defiance.

We discovered the soggy half eaten puzzle piece eventually and were able to complete the entire 1000 piece puzzle in less than 24 hours. I call that psycho, don't you?

Then Nate decided to do this in the name of a good picture.......and shortly thereafter the bottom half of the puzzle eroded into a chaotic pile of crap. At least we got the picture, right?

So that was it. We left J-town and drove to St. Louis on Saturday for a little friend reunion, including a holiday bridal shower, a disgusting amount of red wine, and too many hugs to count.

Pictures to come.

About the hugs....did I mention that Kim is leaving for a year long trip to Korea on Friday? She is leaving us until Spring of 2010! I'm so excited for her but obviously I'm sad to see her go. More on this later since I cannot wrap my head around it all just yet.

Now I must rest my weary eyes after this mega post. I'm such a wussy.

Tag, Santa drama, and bitter cold.

Although I'm usually a party pooper when it comes to being tagged, I decided to follow through with this one. Lauren over at LiveLaughLove tagged me to talk about our Christmas Traditions.
This is our second married Christmas we've spent together and our seventh as a couple! Wow. Even though we've logged many holidays together we have yet to nail down actual traditions as a couple. After all, when one set of our parents live 8 hours away it always make the holidays a little more hectic. It's not like we get to stop by both parents' houses on Christmas day...we have some decisions to make, people!

This year we chose to stay in Milwaukee for Thanksgiving, Missouri for Christmas and then New Years back in Milwaukee for a belated Christmas celebration.

Also, we are continuing the 'yearly ornament' tradition that both of our mothers did for us as kids. They gave us one ornament per year of our lives and we now have an ornament for each year of marriage. Give us a few more years and our Christmas tree will look like ornaments puked all over the branches. But that puke will be full of memories so I'm all about it.

I'm bound and determined to send Christmas cards to our friends and family each year and so far so good. I freely admit to spending way too much time on the handmade ones from our first two years of marriage together and will definitely utilize some of the fabulous online stores in the future. At least I'm realistic, right?

In my family we ALWAYS opened all of our gifts on Christmas morning. This meant that my brother and I would wake up at the crack of dawn and bug my parents until they woke up. However, Nate's family opened most of their gifts on Christmas Eve which meant that he and his brother stayed up really late to enjoy the plethora of boyish toys they received as gifts. They also opened a few gifts specifically from 'Santa' on Christmas Day, so I guess they got the best of both worlds. Are you a Christmas Day or Christmas Eve gift opener? Such strong beliefs behind both choices, I know.

Which brings me to my question: did your parents let you believe in Santa?

Mine did not simply because they didn't want my brother and I to forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, not Santa. Also, my mom didn't want to lie to us about Santa only to see us get let down once we found out it was a hoax [I hope I'm not spoiling this for any of my readers out there:) ] You know, the whole honesty thing they teach kids these days.

Nate's parents did let the boys believe in Santa and sure enough, they turned out just fine. I realize it's harmless and most families let their kids dream of the big fat guy in red. But I'm just not sure I want to go that route with our future children. I certainly didn't miss it and still loved Christmas time with all my heart. Any thoughts on this one?

And finally, me and Mother Nature need to sit down and have a talk. This is just ridiculous. As if our foot of snow wasn't enough, it snowed AGAIN on Saturday night---another 2-4 inches or something. Whatever, no big deal. But then the crazy biyatch sent this our way:

Negative temperatures......not even counting the windchill? Seriously? I forgot that it could even be less than 0 degrees outside but thanks for the reminder M.N. [that's Mother Nature, in case you were wondering.] The wind is blowing so hard it's getting up to 40 mph at times and it's so freaking cold that it literally takes my breath away. The temperature gauge said -8 today when I drove to work and I actually had to chuckle at the sight. This was after I scraped both the outside and inside of my windows for almost 30 minutes. Did you know you might have to scrape the inside of your car when it gets this bad? It was news to me.

35 below zero is a horrible place to be--I know I mentioned that the 20s were rough but I retract that statement altogether. It was in the 20s on Friday, the day of our blizzard, and I was perfectly content to hang around outside and take pictures all day long. I yearn for the 20s again and if the weather is over 32 degrees in Missouri I vow to enjoy the warmth with outside runs. True story. I might even bring shorts and sunscreen:)

Did I mention that I'm excited to go home for the holidays? Tuesday night, baby. I cannot wait.

More of the same

I know you already saw a ridiculous amount of pictures from the blizzard but I just couldn't help myself. It's so cool!

Grand total at our place: 12 inches! Some places got up to 14 and of course, with drifting there are spots well over 2 feet. For instance our trash cans:

Now that people have plowed the sidewalks Henry can navigate a little better. Doesn't this look like he is walking inside the parted Red Sea?

My favorite little nose:

If they didn't snow blow around this fire hydrant it would definitely be totally covered. Our neighbor's house. I thought this was fab.

I became enthralled with the snow inside trees.
I measured 15.5 total in the same spot as last night, where there was only 4.
But in front of our house, after the snow blowing escapades, there was over 20 inches.

Instead of sledding we got a workout by shoveling. And then shoveling some more once the snow plows came through and added to our piles. Henry and his cold mommy.

Tell me he isn't the cutest.
We had to dig the dogs a path in which they may pee. This is Henry inspecting his new trail through the front yard, thoroughly confused.
Love this one.

Snow blowing and shoveling takes a lot out of a guy. But it will always beat studying his face off. Always.
Posing for a snowy family picture, Henry decided my snotty nose needed a cleaning.
There we go, much better. That is one large pile behind us...a perfect snowy backdrop for a day like today.

And now, two pictures that have solidified my decision to get a dSLR after the holidays. I have more than enough money in my J.Lorene fund and it's time that I take on yet another hobby, right? Surely I can find the time. I can't wait! More on that later.

These are not my pictures but were yanked from a local news website. If these pictures don't make you yearn for a snowy day then nothing will.

So that's it folks. I know some of you are jealous and some of you feel distinctive pity for my poor soul. Overall, I'm coping well right now. In fact, I even drove to the gym and back today and thought to myself, "It's so freaking pretty when it snows like this."

The Julia from last winter would not have formulated that thought in her brain. I was still in shock adjusting to my new climate. Now...I think I can finally appreciate it for what it is: bitter cold, dreary, and never-ending but still pretty. I'd like to think I can find the beauty in a lot of nasty situations:)

Winter wonderland, indeed.

Did you notice I was missing? It's been 8 days since I posted which I'm sure is a new record for me. Let's just say that the holiday hustle and bustle is making me a crazy person and I have had zero desire to blog. Tis a shame, I know. But I am making an appearance today with one purpose: to show you our blizzard. What? You thought I would stop with the snow pictures? Bah.

Let me start by saying that I took off work today many weeks ago, and I picked a FABULOUS day to stay at home. Especially since the whole freaking city is shut down. Milwaukee Public Schools?! I didn't know they EVER closed! The highways? Their on and off ramps are even closed. It's pure chaos and I love it because I don't have to brave the blizzard. I do feel sorry for my co-workers today because hospitals never close, and therapy must go on. We don't get 'snow days' and if I were working today I would be in a hellified mood for sure. So everyone is lucky that I'm off today so Julia-the-biyatch can hibernate a while longer [for a few hours at least.]

Also, Nate took his last final of the semester yesterday. Do you know what THAT means, my friends? I got my husband back from his deep abyss of studying his face off. I was starting to get worried he'd never return and I'd be stuck with the shell of a man he became. I'd talk to him about his day and I would get that glassed over stare in return. Not good. I missed him! And now we get to play in this ridiculous snow together. More pictures to come, I'm sure.

So anyway, they've been predicting this blizzard for a few days now. It was supposed to start yesterday with the potential for 9-12 inches total.....2-3 inches coming down each hour. Last night before bed there was not a flake in the sky and I was feeling a bit skeptical. When I woke up this morning, this is what I saw:

Um, is that our patio furniture almost completely blanketed by snow? HOLLA! I grabbed the camera and volunteered to take Hank out for his first whiz of the day.

Last night I documented the depth of our snow at that point: a measly little 4 inches. Basically nothing, since a lot of our previous snow had melted.

This morning: 13 inches. And this is not in a drift zone and it is still coming down hard, my friends. We've easily gotten 10 inches so far and I can't wait to see how much more comes by the end of today.

Last night: our neighbor's stairs had a puny cover of snow on top.

And this morning: do you even see the stairs? Cause I don't.

Last night the patio table looked a lot like this:

And now you can't even see the chair legs. Ridiculous!!

Last night Henry could strut around our sidewalks without difficulty [except for the cursed leash getting in his way].
And this morning he had to hop around like a maniac to avoid becoming fully engulfed in the white stuff. He freaking LOVES it, you guys. It's so cute.
Again, our pathway last night:
And this morning: just a bunch of white.

So those are my comparison pictures. I think they give you an idea of the massive dumping of snow but nothing compares to physically walking around in the stuff. I mean, the snow is coming down sideways from the nasty winds and I was completely soaked when we came back inside. Can you see the foggy effect of the snow here?

Henry is losing his legs while hopping about.
Oh, and our cars? Yeah, they don't get the luxury of being in a garage so this is what we face today. Please note that my tires are nearly covered as well.
Hello, snow drift on the side of Lois' car!
I like how there is a shovel next to the car on this one. We've got some work to do when you can't even see the wheels of our cars.

The famous patio furniture, complete with the sad/lonely grill. Anyone want to BBQ today?!

This would be the side table without legs. This guy usually stands about a foot and a half off the ground, FYI.

Henry plus snowflakes equals snow dog!

He's in heaven, for reals.

My hard core snow boots [Uggs] are completely covered. And they are pretty freaking tall even for me.

I wanted to show you our outdoor decor but opening our front door was a challenge.

I like the snow in our garland with the lights, don't you?

Agh! My wreath! I mean it's pretty and all, but it better not disinegrate into nothing with all this snow!
So yeah, still weathering the conditions up here but as you can tell, I'm handling it much better on a day when I don't have to work. In fact, I think we might go sledding today---how fun is that?!

And because I know you care so much about my holiday plans: I work Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday then we are headed 'down south' for Christmas Tuesday night. I cannot begin to describe my excitement to see my family and friends. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it [what, I'm allowed to be a little emotional aren't I?]. This means I might not be hanging in the blogosphere for awhile since I only have two days to pull my stuff together for our trip [eek!] but I will be back bearing tons of pictures from our Missouri festivities. Just a hint: there will be a heroic bridal shower to share, saying goodbye to a friend who will be overseas all of next year [sob!], presents, family time, and plenty of pictures with the dogs. Yep, it's going to be fab.

So freaking ready for this trip.

Now I'm off to pelt Nate with snowballs!
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