From the Caribbean to the Pacifico, sand crabs, and a pup.

We have seen the mundo in the past few months, hence the blogging hiatus. There is not a good way to organize and blog about two trips, a new pup, the holidays, and a house project in one post but, here is an overview of the crazy, busy, breathtaking, fun-loving, work-a-bunch past few months.

We enjoyed the Christmas holiday with my extended family, the Lokers, on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas:

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It was a blast with 27 Lokers all in one place.

We came home and worked, lots, for 5 weeks. During the 5 weeks at home we decided Stella needed a playmate. We checked out all of the local animal shelters and ended up at the Ann Arbor Humane Society. For those of you who live in the area and haven’t been there, check it out! We were extremely impressed with the staff, the way the animals are cared for, and the gorgeous building. We also met “Moogie,” a scared, matted, ball of fluff with sad eyes. Three days later, Moogie, who we re-named Lulu (yes this has to do with my Lululemon obsession) came home with us:

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Yes, I know you’re thinking it, I married the best man (who is ok with toy poodle rescues and puppy sweaters). Lulu is doing awesome, even with her quirks, fears, and heartworm (another topic for another post).

We then left the pups with my mom and dad (HUGE HELP) and took off for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for an anesthesia conference. We stayed at the Hotel Fiesta Americana which was gorgeous:

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We breathed in pacific salty air, tasted sweet churos, watched a man walk around with a bald puppet, and almost stepped on translucent sand crabs and it was glorious.

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We also went on a few excursions involving mules, whales, zip-lining, and repelling.

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But one thing I can’t wrap my head around since our Mexican vacay is that while I was eating jumbo coconut shrimp and drinking pina coladas, Edgar, one of the pool waiters, was making mas or menos 7 U.S. dollars for serving upwards of 50 people. That’s $2 less than one pina colada (but again another topic for another day).

Last, but not least, Matt has been hard at work finishing off our kitchen. He had an awesome idea to make a rustic-looking chalkboard to frame in our refrigerator:

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Kitchen FUN.

After 1.5 years our small kitchen is ALMOST finished.  Here is a glimpse of where we started:

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(you’re looking into the dining room)

Leading up to today, here are several phases this small house has been through, like staining our cabinets brown (action shot):

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A splash of paint and new light fixtures:

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New flooring (engineered hickory hardwood) and knocking out 27 inches of the wall between the kitchen and dining room:

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Repainting the cabinets and ripping out the formica counter tops:

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It was an exciting day when this truck showed up:

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 Plus a white subway tile backsplash with Dove Grey grout:

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And the finished result is:

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 We have one or two minor kitchen/dining room projects left and then we are DONE!  It has been a blast dreaming and creating.  We find ourselves sitting in our dining room just staring into our new kitchen.

Lastly, we have also been celebrating birthdays!  My Gramps turned 95 years old this past Sunday:

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He is strong, athletic, good looking, and truly a man of God.  We are blessed to have him as the head of our family.  We love you Big G.

A big ROCK.

Since June 8, 2012, we have been dreaming about our kitchen redo.  Purchasing different back-splashes, choosing and re-choosing countertops, and selecting appliances, the Jackson Road Lowe’s Kitchen Cabinet Department has come to know us by name, for real.  But today, 1.5 years later, we finally committed and tagged our “slabs” and I’m in love:

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We ended up choosing Brown Persa granite, a semi-exotic granite, that we purchased from Lowe’s.  Lowe’s uses a supplier ILSD–International Logistics and Stone Distribution–in Canton, Michigan.  So we headed to Canton this morning to tag our two slabs.  ILSD is awesome.  When we arrived, Rob pulled two slabs of the Brown Persa, explained the composition of the stone, and even took our picture, twice (the “better” photo is featured above).

Now we wait 2.5-3 weeks for the installation of our “big rock,” Matt’s term, not mine.

Meanwhile our 1/2 marathon is NEXT weekend, which I am excited and semi-nervous about.  We have the gear: the water belt, the right socks, shoes, and some Lululemon lovelies (not Matt, he’s all about Adidas); have almost completed the training plan; and I can’t wait to cross the finish line, together.

If you have any last-minute tips for us, I would love to hear them!  So far I have been specifically told about wearing socks on your hands to start, and not overdressing, but I would appreciate any others!

 

Running, walls, & family LOVE.

You know you have seen it.  Typically worn by tall, skinny, fast-running men, the “dorky” water belt.  Since I started seriously running this past spring, I have silently judged anyone wearing one.  Toughen up, dig deeper.  I was not going to run with the dorkish water belt around my waist.  Not this girl.  Then I learned the hard way.

It was an 86 degree, humid, sticky day in AA.  Too humid.  Determined, I put on my running gear and took off down the trail around the pond.  At mile marker 2.2 of the 4 mile run, I started feeling awful.  Failing to use common sense and STOP running, I kept going and going.  Finally back at home, I couldn’t get warm enough.  Weird, because it was extremely hot outside and I was sweating profusely.  I figured out I had a fever, I was likely dehydrated, and my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering.  Fortunately my husband is a doctor.  Unfortunately, he is a resident and basically works all the time resulting in him not being home during this “episode.” Via cellphone, Dr. husband diagnosed me with heatstroke.  With a horrible headache and chattering teeth, my perspective on water belts changed.

Since the heat stroke no joke episode, here is my new gear:

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I am the proud owner and wearer of the Nathan water belt.  A few other tips if you are running more than forty-five (45) minutes at a time: (1) eat Sport Beans–watermelon flavor (made by Jelly Belly); and (2) buy Smart Wool socks:

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Since my new purchases, my long runs are better.  Drinking water, eating the appropriate number of Sport Beans, plus the wicking socks, really does make a difference.  I’ll post about the amazing Lululemon running clothes I recently bought at a later date (Matt has started calling our 1/2 marathon the $1,000 half).  

In all seriousness, it has been awesome to have another goal, together.  Matt has been training with me, and although he can literally run circles around me, for real, it has been great to train as a couple.

But, we haven’t just been running.  Another goal of ours is FINISHING the kitchen.  It has been a bit touch and go, plan and re-plan, but we think we are good to go in tearing down 27 inches of this wall:

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Basically the wall will be torn out to the refrigerator.  This will allow most of the dining room to look into the kitchen and vice versa.  It will be fabulous not to be “boxed in” the kitchen while entertaining or even just when cooking.  Less wall will also allow for more natural light to flood the kitchen.  Winning.

Lastly, I can’t end this post without some family love.  I have been able to spend lots of time lately with my favorite sister:

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And we had special visitors today, Gramps and Gramisebaby:

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We also celebrated our sweet niece’s second birthday.  Life is full of good things.

bitterSWEET.

A common theme in my writing for the past several months has been the joy of consistent life, settling into a routine, exploring what this “adult” non-student life is all about.

Well, God had other plans for me and our family.  I am so excited to share that I will be joining a firm in Ann Arbor!!  I am thrilled about this next step. I can’t wait to begin working and investing in the Ann Arbor community!!

Of course change is bittersweet.  This one-word oxymoron sums up my experience the past two weeks.  I will truly miss my former firm, my co-workers, and my friends, but the “bitter” doesn’t trump the “sweet.”

old friend, NEW friend

This post will not be written in Dr. Seuss style continuing “one friend, two friend…” But rather is a short tag-on to my last post.  I blogged a bit about our trip and July adventures, but didn’t emphasize the blessed time we have been able to spend with OLD friends.

People that have known us since before there was a Wixson family, when we were Wix and Sar.  When Matt bustled around Hope College with a FRO and I wrote short stories and enjoyed JP’s on an almost daily basis.  People who supported us while we were dating, stood up in our wedding, and who have rallied for us during the past 4 years of marriage.

For some reason, we have been able to see MOST of these beloved people in the past 2 months and it has been refreshing.

This post isn’t meant to discount the awesome community we have here in Ann Arbor, but is a reminder that lengthy friendships are important.  Solid.

It is so easy to let friends “slip away.” It becomes too hard, or too much work to keep in touch with everyone, or at least that is what I tell myself.  But the last two months have been full of conversations with people who truly know us.  After three years of being buried in books, it is heart-warming to know these people didn’t give up on us because it was “too hard,” but were cheering us on.

I want to be that friend.

On a lighter note, I can’t help but post a few pics of the MOOSE friend we met in the mountains (somehow he was left out of my last post):

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We saw a few Elk too, but they weren’t as impressive as the MOOSE:Image

There’s No Place Like HOME!

This month has been crazy, crazy-fun!!  We have enjoyed a trip to the Rocky Mountains to celebrate Tommy and Kristy getting hitched; spent time with good friends and babies; celebrated our 4th anniversary; spent a happy birthday with my favorite sister; and relaxed with family at the Holland beach.

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The highlight for us was celebrating 4 years of being married!  It was fabulously sweet.  The night before our anniversary we ate at our favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor, Pacific Rim:

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I had the best meal of my life–Japanese Sablefish.

The night of our anniversary we dined at Sunnybrook Country Club, where our reception was:

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Although it wasn’t quite the same as our reception, where we were surrounded by the 224 people we loved the MOST, it was good.

And we spent lots of “quality” time re-living the past 4 years through memories and photographs.  

But one of the best moments has been coming HOME, with my man, and my pup.

ImageBecause of this small house, I have learned a few NEW things about Matt in our 4th year of being married.  

Number 1: he’s handy!!  WHAT?1? I always knew he was “book-smart,” the whole medical school thing and all, but I had no idea that he would be able to re-do our entire house!! 

Number 2: he’s veryyyy patient.   I knew this, but not exactly HOW patient he is.  He has painted, repainted; stained, re-stained; and finished, re-finished numerous projects, all because of my indecisiveness.  

This house has been our project TOGETHER.  Our lives go in such different directions 80 percent of the time.  Matt spends most of his days at the hospital and I spend mine at the office, but this house is just ours.  A respite for which we are thankful.  It has been such a blessing to “invest” in this house with each other.  It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.

I pray that 50 years from now we will still have projects together (and that Matt doesn’t lose his patience).