Friday, December 19, 2008

A Wedding, A Move, & A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

We mailed out our very first Christmas newsletter as Man & Wife Blankenship this Christmas. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors (ie: poor time management, a very limited number of stamps in our household, and a sheer lack of manpower a.k.a. no Christmas elves) we managed to actually mail them out to a very small handful of people. If you received one, well then you're a very lucky lady or fella and you should now be jumping up and down with joy! If you didn't get one, it's not because we don't love you so please don't cry, pout, and bang your fists against your carpet (or someone else's carpet). Either way, here's the newsletter in blog format for all to see.

Our Very First Newsletter...EVER!!!

That's right! In case you hadn't heard, we got married. The whirlwind romance that began on the slopes of Steamboat Springs, Colorado in February of this year and blossomed over the course of cross-country trips, phone calls, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 emails has indeed transpired into a blissful marriage.

On November 8th of this year, Dan and I tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony in Winter Park, Florida. Surrounded by hundreds of friends who had literally gathered from the far corners of the country, we became man and wife. Mom and Dad, in true "Tyckoson tradition," went above and beyond their parents- of-the-bride obligation to spoil us and our guests with an elegant, lavishly decorated dessert reception. It was amazing!

A beautiful, week-long honeymoon was next on the agenda. Dan surprised me with a Caribbean cruise with ports of call in Key West, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Our honeymoon adventures included cave tubing, lounging on a private beach, and visiting ancient, Mayan pyramids. The week was lovely in every way. We had phenomenal weather and came back rested, sun-kissed, and more in love than ever before.

We stuck around Orlando for a few days to spend time with my parents and my sister Julie, say goodbye to friends, and visit Disney. Then came the 3,000 mile move from one corner of the U.S. to the other!

Dan's parents had graciously offered to drive my car, along with a U-haul trailer in tow, all the way to Washington for us while we were on our honeymoon. What an amazing blessing that was! Dan flew home to Washington a few days ahead of me, but by November 22, I too was calling Washington home.

Next came a frantic (on my part) search for "the perfect apartment." I quickly came to the realization that apartments in Washington are nothing like those in Florida. There was a great deal of mumbling and fist shaking as I attempted (rather unsuccessfully) to navigate the confusingly-numbered streets of the greater Seattle area. Somewhere in the midst of all the U-turns, I stumbled upon what was indeed "the perfect apartment" in downtown Edmonds and, with the help of Dan's parents and brother Joel, we happily and briskly moved in on December 2.

We've fallen in love with the cozy, small-town charm of downtown Edmonds. Nestled along the Puget Sound, with a view of the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades, downtown Edmonds is the kind of town where you can walk to the local grocer, bank, movie theater, or Starbucks (my favorite). Dan and I have enjoyed exploring Edmonds on foot and then coming back to our place to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.

I am loving my first Washington winter season. The irregular sunny days and days of snow have been accompanied by much oooh-ing and ahh-ing on my part. I'm enjoying the need to bundle up in hats and scarves before we walk the streets hand-in-hand while smoke curls up from nearby chimneys and Christmas shoppers scurry from shop to shop. Our tea kettle is always hard at work in effort to keep us warm while we watch Christmas movies beneath the glow of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Yep, we have our own Charlie Brown tree. Dan and I decided to drive up into the snow-dusted mountains to cut down our own tree. With our tree permit in hand, we proudly procured a tree that sucks up water like a sponge and incessantly sheds its needles on our carpet. We've lovingly decorated it with homemade and collected ornaments and white twinkle lights. We even wrapped a blanket around the bottom of the tree, just like Linus did.

We think we've found a home at the Shoreline campus of Mars Hill Church under the preaching of Mark Driscoll. We've joined a small group, consisting mostly of newlyweds, and we plan to take home the trophy this weekend at our first church function, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

I continue to search high and low for a job and ask for your prayers as we trust the Lord to provide for us financially and as we embark on married life in Washington.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and pray that the Lord blesses you in the New Year.

With much love, Dan & Jill

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Well, Dan told me before I moved out here to the Great Pacific Northwest that we probably wouldn't see the sun until July and that we wouldn't get much snow and when we did get snow, it probably wouldn't stick. Well, this year is a little unusual. I've had countless sunny days since my arrival on November 22 (I keep telling everyone that I brought the sunshine from Florida) and currently there's about 8 inches of snow outside my door with more snow on the way.

Needless to say, my cravings for seasonal weather are being met and I still find wonder in walking around in the snow and watching it fall to the earth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

We wanted our first Christmas tree as a married couple to be a special one. And special it is.

After church, we went out and bought a $10 "cut down your own tree" permit from REI and headed North in search of mountains and snow, which we thought to be the perfect backdrop for procuring our first Christmas tree.

Two hours of singing along to Christmas songs on the radio later, we had arrived at Stevens Pass. We chose an obscure trail and drove precariously with my front-wheel drive compact SUV up the path as the amount of snowfall steadily increased.

After only one near-death incident with turning our truck around, we found it! Not just any tree, but THE tree!

We pulled over, grabbed the hacksaw from the trunk, and began feverishly sawing away at the trunk of our glorious tree. (Well, Dan sawed and I took pictures and caught snowflakes on my tongue.)

After an exhaustive amount of sawing (our borrowed hacksaw wasn't at the top of its class), I yelled "Timber!" and the tree finally came crashing down to much applause and cheering (mine and Dan's).

We trimmed it down to a more manageable height (again, Dan sawed while I took more photos), dragged it along to the truck, hoisted it up onto the roof rack, and tied it down tight! We were officially the cutest Christmas couple ever with our tree atop the car.

We made a pit stop to sit in Dan's cousins' hot tub and down some hot chocolate on the way back. Second stop: Target! We bought our tree stand and ornament hooks. We were off to a great start!

When it came time to trim the tree officially and bring it inside, we used only the most modern methods of technology. I had Dan lay down next to the tree and raise his arm above his head so that we could make sure the tree wouldn't be too tall to fit inside. (It worked. Don't knock it 'til you try it.)

Then came the moment we'd been waiting for. We stood back and observed our tree....its snow had now melted. Its branches had dropped. It was....well, it looked just like the tree in Charlie Brown's Christmas movie.

Appropriately, we put the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD in the TV while we hung lights and carefully placed our ornaments, both new and old. We wrapped a blanket around its base as only Linus would do.

Our tree rocks!