Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I started worrying about our trip to Ohio in May when I booked the red-eye flight from Seattle to Columbus via Washington D.C. Despite some inclement weather the weekend before, all our prayers paid off and we arrived safely at CMH on Christmas Eve morning.

After brief naps and a remote work day, we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Lord of Life Lutheran Church. It was the first time we had been back since the wedding ceremony and the sanctuary was as beautiful as ever. It was strange to miss Pastor Jim, who is on a five month-long sabbatical, but we enjoyed seeing long-time family friends and worshiping as a family.

I knew that Christmas with the Zaengers would be very different from Dominic's experiences in the Monley family, but we had a wonderful Christmas day. We took my grandparents to Catholic Mass and then spent quality time visiting with family, exchanging gifts and eating. Exhausted, we collapsed into bed relatively early.

Bright and early on the 26th we got to celebrate another birthday -- Dominic's! Starting at 9 a.m., he was able to open a birthday card from a friend or family member every 30 minutes. The cards helped remind him just how special his day is and how, despite being away from others, he's remembered.

My Mom and Dad received a lobster gram for Christmas and generously shared with us for Dominic's birthday. Here he is reading a card and protecting his OSU t-shirt from clam chowder.

Dominic liked to tease: "Don't do anything special for my birthday. Knowing you, I'll end up with a petting zoo and a bouncy house." To prove him right, we took him to the Columbus Zoo. The animals were out and about, the carousel was spinning and the new LED lights were shinning bright. It was a fun visit.

Jill and Rachel generously hosted a pizza party and bowling night for Dominic. We aren't the best bowlers, but it was a great time.

Next year... bouncy house...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Sabbath

There's a new Chipotle at 3rd and Pike and Dominic decided that today it was time we make our inaugural visit and celebrate the spirited Christmas decorations in downtown Seattle. 

We've been trying our very best to take the advice of a recent Bethany sermon series on remembering the sabbath and keeping it holy. After a nice advent worship service this morning and a warm day inside relaxing and writing Christmas cards, Dominic and I ventured downtown for dinner and Starbucks (hey, it's Seattle).

At the new Chipotle we made friends with Jacqueline, the restaurant's manager who hails from Cleveland. The bright-eyed employees showed us the new Chipotle salads (we'll see if I can branch out and sacrifice a burrito for the new menu item some other time) and chatted with us about how nice it was to have a downtown location. I couldn't agree more. 

We went out to the second-busiest Starbucks in the U.S. (second to Times Square) and got peppermint hot chocolates for our self-guided tour of lights. We enjoyed the Westlake center and then made our way to 6th and Union: The Sheraton Hotel.

The Sheraton has a gingerbread exhibit I had heard about at my work party last week. I thought it was an outdoor light display, but after one unsuccessful lap around the building we realized it was inside the hotel lobby. 

Here's Dominic with his favorite creation: a Muppet house. I liked Snoopy's dog house. There was a Charlie Brown christmas on a mini DVD player on the inside!

We hope you're enjoying the advent season as much as we are! 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

You try your darndest to get everything out and on the table before committing to that largest of commitments; the covenant of marriage. Truly. Children, Religion, expectations, living situations, shower schedules… we went over all of ‘em. Or so I thought. We tweaked our work schedules weekly to make room for pre-marriage counseling, read books, arranged and met with a mentor couple who had already waded through the vicissitudes inherent in the initial years of marriage. But you’re bound to miss something I suppose. It’s how you deal with those challenges that define the success of a budding marriage.

Frankly, I don’t know how we missed it. But when the subject of getting a Christmas tree for the holiday season came up Sarah stated off-handedly, “I’ve never had a real tree before.” I could have sworn I heard the Christ Child shudder in the crèche already laid out on our coffee table in expectation of advent. I knew Ohio was perhaps not the most verdant of the lower 48, but really….never a real tree?!

Luckily we live in Washington State where the state flower, bird and song are Norway Spruce, Balsam Fir and Colorado Pine respectively.

We headed up to the local mountain range-battery powered saws-all in hand-ready to conquer this marital obstacle with all the spit-and-vinegar of a young couple in love threatened.

It’s really a great process here in Washington. You merely stop by a ranger station and pay $10 dollars for the license. They then direct you to a fire road and you drive until you feel like you’ve reached the ideal altitude. It is then up to you to locate the perfectly shaped tree of ideal height, cut it down and haul it out. Unfortunately the aforementioned well-shaped trees of ideal height do not really exist out in the wild. We settled for a Charlie Brown-esque shabby looking thing with branches protruding from 180 degrees of the trunk (it was growing on a hill.) But just as a young starry-eyed couple can go to the pound, pick out the mangiest mutt in the place and love it sincerely, we can’t sing the praises of our tree enough. Because it lacks branches on half of itself, it pushes nicely up against the wall, saving us valuable space in our otherwise cramped apartment. The challenge of our shortage of Christmas ornaments was rendered insignificant as, in all honesty, the tree only has about 10 to 12 branches from which to hang anything. But it’s enough. And we love it.

The smell that greets us every day when we come home gives the requisite boost to our mood that the realization that it is once again the Christmas season rightfully brings. Nothin’ better.