As I wrote before, I've been a bad blogger. Life has been very busy, and I haven't made blogging a big priority right now. In all honesty, in the ranking of important things happening right now, blogging doesn't really make the list. My life is in a huge state of transition right now, and balancing all that chaos with blogging doesn't really happen all that well. In all honesty, I'm treading water right now and regular blogging would be just enough weight to push me under. But I have a few moments now to do a quick catch up of events. So that's what I'll do.
Thanksgiving - JD and I traveled home to CNY with Bailey and Pickles for Thanksgiving last month. It was the first time I had been home for that holiday in 7 years. It doesn't seem like it had been that long, but it has. Seeing how big all my nieces and nephews had gotten was confirmation of that fact. The last time I was home for Thanksgiving, my youngest nieces were toddling or just out of that stage. My oldest nephew is now in college and drives. So does his little sister. All of the kids were old enough to feed themselves and even sit alone at the kids' table. Time certainly has passed quickly.
As always, the food was great. I've missed the chaos and indulgence of Thanksgiving at home. I'm pretty sure JD's experience was pretty different. As everyone talked (often rather loudly) at the Thanksgiving table, he ate in relative silence. Apparently southerners don't talk at Thanksgiving; they just eat. Either that or he couldn't get a word in. Which is highly probable. But having everyone gather together to talk and laugh over good food was pretty great. Especially since I won't be home for Christmas this year (see next section). I needed that dose of family. Momma made me traditional Christmas cookies and treats that we were able to bring home with us. I've got lots of pictures, but they aren't getting up here anytime soon.
JD spent a lot of time with my dad and brothers which was really important to me. I love that family -- even mine -- is really important to him. I've realized over time that this is essential in a successful relationship for me. I adore my family and love the time spent with them (and I love the time spent apart as well), and it is really important for me to be with someone who has the same values. JD certainly does, and he really loves my family (or is a great actor). Having him around my family feels natural and comfortable. It's all good.
Moving - Speaking of JD, we are in the midst of moving. We've known from the get go that we were going to move and we wanted a bigger place. Sadly, the timing of the move really sucks. My lease expires on the 31st of December (what was I thinking when I did that?), so we'll be moving over Christmas break. It actually works well in respect to having the time to move -- I've got almost two full weeks off -- but it is horrible in the respect that it means we won't have a tree or other festive decorations. Plus, we'll be moving twice. My apartment will be moved on the 22nd and all of his stuff in his storage unit in Charlotte on the 29th. At least there is some unpacking time between the two moves so we can start to settle in.
The new place is pretty great. It has a decent back yard that is fully fenced, perfect for the three pups. There are hardwoods on the first floor and three decent-sized bedrooms upstairs. It will be nice to have an office and a separate guest room. We'll have our first guests on the Charlotte moving weekend (JD's dad and step-mom), and my mom and my niece have already made plans to come and visit. Having some outdoor space and a lot more space inside will be pretty awesome. We're increasing our living space by about 500 feet. While it doesn't seem like much, it makes a huge difference when you've got three crazy dogs running around. One of the greatest things about this house? We'll be about five minutes from JD's brother's family. It'll be fun to see them more often and have family dinners on a regular basis.
Dissertation - It goes slowly. I applied for an additional extension (hopeful graduation will be May 2014), making my grad school experience a 9-year adventure. Good God, that's ridiculous. Anyway, working on the diss with everything else that goes on in my life is challenging. I definitely need to be better about setting a schedule and sticking to it, but I've also got a lot to balance with work and everything else. I also haven't had a desk to work at (other than the one in my classroom) since late September, and that makes productive work impossible. I've got a deadline for a chapter on Saturday, and I've made some really good progress. The first draft was about 10,000 words and was ripped apart by my committee. They wanted more analysis and critical engagement and revision. I've written an additional 4,000 words and still have more to go. I feel much more confident about these changes, and I'm actually excited about submitting it on Saturday. Once this move is over, I'll be establishing a pretty rigorous writing schedule in my fancy new office.
Christmas - Not being home for Christmas is hard. There is no other way to put it. Christmas is my most favorite time of the year, filled with family and joy. I love attending church during Advent and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I love the smell of pine and the twinkling of lights. I love the shiny wrapping paper and the sound of carols and Christmas hymns. I love being with my family and sitting around the Christmas tree together, just being with each other. I'm certainly going to make the best of the holiday this year and focus on the excitement of moving to a new place and starting a life with JD and our furry kids. I'm also going to start some traditions this year that we can celebrate every year to come. I'm attempting to incorporate the heritage that JD and I have into some established cultural traditions that we can enjoy. He's Scots Irish and English and I'm a lot of things, mainly German and Dutch. So I'm pulling from those. I've already started with St. Nicholas' Day on December 6th. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in different European countries, primarily in Holland and Germany. Apparently all the kids and JD were good this year because they all awoke to special surprises. St. Nicholas brought Pickles and Bailey carrots and bones with peanut butter. JD got a bag of sweets and some coffee. We'll be lighting a candle and leaving it in the window on Christmas Eve to light the way for the Holy Family and to invite them into our home. (I'm not sure on the logistics on this one since it will leave a candle lit overnight.) Once the move is over, I'll be baking a Dundee cake (a tasty Scottish fruit cake) on Christmas Eve to be enjoyed after Midnight Mass ... along with champagne. We'll of course celebrate Epiphany (little Christmas) on January 6th with little presents. And I'll be attempting an authentic King Cake then as well. (I'm debating on whether to make it French style or NOLA style.)
So that's what's going on here. Once the move is over, I'll try to be back to regular blogging.