Thursday, December 31, 2009


I'm back!

Did you have a wonderful Christmas?

We had a FABULOUS holiday... but after all of the traveling and Christmas-ing I am sure glad to be back at home, and getting the house back in order.  I look forward to all the 2010 will bring, and am anxious to get back to some sort of routine.

I have a ridiculous amount of photos to post here -- Christmas parties and family gatherings galore.  They will all come in good time over the next week, don't you worry.

But for now, I'd like to share some New Year Resolutions.  Not because I think I'm necessarily going to keep them all, or because I'm super into making them in the first place, but mainly because I think it's good to have goals - and writing them down holds you a little more accountable than just verbalizing them.

Plus I am writing them in a public place... so there's really no excuse not to make an effort, right?!  : )

Here goes...

1)  I will be less judgemental, and try my best not to jump to conclusions about a person, place, or thing.  (Although I think that I am a good judge of character and situation and that is a skill that can be helpful, I am way too quick to make assumptions in my day to day life, and need to realize that things and people are not always as they seem.  I need to be open to the fact that my gut-reaction or opinion is not always the right one.  Go figure.)

2)  I will take better care of myself so that I am around for a long time to come.  (This is pretty general, but includes:  seeing a doctor when sick or hurt, drinking more water than caffeine on a daily basis, eating healthier, and making it to the gym consistently)

3)  I will take better care of my house.  (Does this need any explanation?!  I am horrible at keeping up with the house cleaning...)

4)  I will do my very best to NOT procrastinate.  (Especially with schoolwork!  I need to make a work-plan for each project and stick to it, so I'm not tearing my hair out the night before due dates!)

5)  I will make a valiant effort to keep in regular contact with my loved ones both near and far.  (I think it gets harder and harder as we get older to keep in touch with our friends and takes a lot more effort.  I have some wonderful people in my life, some of whom are very far away, and I want to maintain those relationships... even if it means picking up the phone when I'm cranky and tired after a long and busy day... it will most likely make me feel better in the long run!)

So what about you, dear reader?  Do you have any resolutions?  Do share them with us!  What goals are you setting for 2010?

Let me make a like resolution for you...  : ) 

If you're a regular reader to this blog, and haven't done so already, hop on over to the right side of the screen where it says "Followers" and click "Follow."  Yes you will be asked to create a username and ID if you don't already have a google or blogger account, but it will take you all of three minutes, and it will allow you to leave comments for me!  It will let me know that I'm not just writing into cyberspace, and that people are actually reading!  Blogging should be interactive, so I always love to hear what you have to say about my posts... you becoming a follower could even help me with my fifth resolution... so come on, help us keep in touch, and add as a follower!

Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Happy Holidays!  How quickly 2009 has come and gone!

This year we shared and celebrated lots of new beginnings in the lives of family members and friends. Joanne was honored to be a bridesmaid for our dear friends Alison and Noah Bradow’s wedding in April, and Travis was thrilled to be a groomsman in the wedding of our good friends Justin and Kristen Salava in September.  Additionally, we welcomed baby Landon to friends Justin and Kristen Salava, baby Claire to friends Adam and Carrie Kendall, and baby Issac to Travis’ cousins Grant and Emily Bowman.  So much joy! 

In March, we were lucky enough to fly out to Austin, Texas for a long weekend to celebrate Joanne’s brother Will’s 21st birthday.  Our dear friend Tim flew out for the occasion as well, and we enjoyed visiting the Alamo, the San Antonio Riverwalk, and of course experiencing the infamous 6th Street bar scene.  It was a great trip!  Now that Travis’ brother Tyler is in Texas as well, we hope to squeeze a visit in to see them both again in the New Year.

In June we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a trip to Mackinac Island.  We enjoyed a relaxed weekend filled with delicious food, sightseeing, lots of lilacs, and reminiscing about our wedding and our first year of marriage.  It is truly amazing how fast this first year has gone, and we continue to be just so thankful that we have each other to share, learn, love, and grow with.

We were hit with unexpected bad news in July when Joanne was laid off from her job.  It was an incredibly emotional time, and we were thankful for family and friends who rallied around us.  Luckily, we’ve been able to turn the experience into a positive one, as it’s provided Joanne with the opportunity to go back to graduate school full-time.  Joanne made it through a tough first semester back with good grades and now has just five classes and a thesis to go before she will have earned a Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Leadership.

Directly following Joanne’s lay off, we became parents to a litter of four day-old kittens!  After finding them near our house, we took the kittens in and fostered them until they were old enough to be adopted out. This experience led to Joanne’s active involvement in local 501c3 non-profit animal welfare organization Carol’s Ferals, where she has accepted a position on the board of directors and has been involved in kitten fostering.  It has been a challenging but rewarding experience thus far – and Joanne looks forward to working hard for the organization (and the animal population) in 2010.

This fall, Travis joined a local chapter of United States Masters Swimming.  USMS is a national organization that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adult’s aged 18 and over. Programs are open to all adult swimmers (fitness, triathlete, competitive, non-competitive) who are dedicated to improving their fitness through swimming.  While it was certainly a challenge to fit into his busy schedule at times – Travis really enjoyed getting back into swimming.

We are still enjoying our “new” home – and are finally settling into the roles and responsibilities of being homeowners.  Although our to-do list of house projects is still long, we were able to get a good amount of painting done this year, as well as put in a new fence in the back yard and have the back yard landscaped.  We celebrated our back yard’s evolution from “mud pit” to “party space” at the end of the summer with a BBQ for family and friends.

We are so very thankful at this time of year for all that we have, especially when many around us have so little.  May this season bring much love and joy to you and yours, and 2010 be your best year yet.

Travis, Joanne, Bella and the Cats

Joanne, Travis and Bella -- December 2009

I'll be taking about a week or so off blogging while we travel up and down the state to spend time with each of our families.  I look forward to sharing our Christmas celebrations with you, and welcome in 2010, upon my return.  My very best holiday wishes to each and every one of you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrating the Season with Friends

Although it sometimes get hectic, running from place to place to exchange gifts and catch up with friends old and new, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's worth it.  The holidays are a beautiful time of year to get together with dear friends.

Joanne, Travis, Kelly, Seth -- December 2009
(Christmas gift exchange)

Joanne and Kelly -- December 2009

Joanne, Allison, Angie and Kenyon -- December 2009
(Angie was home to visit all the way from Kansas!)

Anthony, Travis, Anthony, Heather, Lily, Joanne, Mariah -- December 2009
Roehm-Hill Family Christmas (Part Two!)

Looking forward to much more memory making with these dear friends and many more in 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas at Home

I am always impressed by the folks who are able to take beautiful holiday pictures with everyone looking smiley and their dog sitting nicely and looking at the camera (ahem... Meg and Matt Herr!)  For us... it's not so simple...


Ah well.  There's always next year!

Since we travel to both of our families during the holiday season, Travis and I do our "own" Christmas at home before the rush of Christmas begins.  For the past couple of years we've introduced stockings in lieu of a large gift.  I think it's fun to have multiple things to open - you can really take your time and make an evening out of it.

This year, we celebrated Christmas together in Grand Rapids starting with dinner at our local Indian place.  Yum!  We enjoyed a couple of martinis and some delicious grub.

We then headed home to open our stockings!  They looked so pretty sitting on the mantle...

It's so much fun to opening gifts together!  I got Travis Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation -- it's a tradition to watch it every Christmas at his parents' house.

I got a new wallet and some candles....



Travis LOVES olives... especially in bloody mary's!

And Bella just loves the wrapping paper...  : )

Travis' reading library is now stocked for 2010...

Woah... not sure what this is all about...


My loot...

Trav's loot...


But wait!  Santa came by a little early and dropped off a gift for BOTH of us!  Wasn't that nice of him?

And Bella and the cats were thoughtful enough to get us something as well.... aw....

We finished the night with popcorn and a flick... (I was REALLY excited about my new cozy socks!)


I hope that you and your spouse carve out a little holiday alone-time for each other this year!  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ornament Exchange

Every Christmas, Cindy and I exchange ornaments.  It's a really sweet tradition that I'm very thankful for.  This year we went out to breakfast and did our exchange there.  It was a fun morning of catching up!

Thanks, Cindy!  For this lovely tradition that we share!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Roehm Hill Christmas 2009

For the second year in a row, we got together with the Hill Family to celebrate the season.  Heather and I met while working for the YMCA three (or so?) years ago and over the years Travis and I have become very close with Heather and her husband Anthony and with their kids Mariah, Anthony, and Lily.

It is SO much fun getting together with them for Christmas.  Something about watching kids open presents is just wonderful.  I especially enjoy our time together at this time of year.

This year we celebrated at Heather and Anthony's home, and feasted on chili and cornbread and an array of cookies and sweet treats.

 I spy a kitty cat!

There were gifts for everyone!

We got Lily a mini Bella!

Travis loves his bloody mary's!

And I was REALLY excited about this punch!  Yup, I'm a crafty dork!

The boys got each other the same thing!

We ended the night with a rousing game of Pictionary Man.  Soooo fun!  Thanks so much, Hill's for having us over!