Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot…

…as 2011 draws nigh…

It seems that as soon as one gets used to writing one year at the end of a date that another comes strolling in to confuse us all over again.  If you’re like me, you will be writing/typing “2011” after the month and day (and for some folks in other cultures of the world, before the month and day) mistakenly for a while longer before your mind adjusts to the new year and then (within another month or two) translates that information down to your hand (which has already devoted “2011” to it’s muscle memory).  So those of you who (like us) are still writing paper checks to pay certain bills (for us, rent and utilities), think twice before you put pen to that 3″ by 6″ piece of paper.

And thus, time marches on, just as sure as I will be shredding 
many a check before finally getting used to this new year. 

Our 1st Christmas Tree!!

So this past month brought about many “firsts” for the An family.  For the first time while together as a family, we celebrated Christmas with just the two of us (and our resident hound, Hudson).  It felt a bit weird not to be traveling down to Tampa, FL to be with the ‘rents (InChul’s parents) – working at their store(s), eating Korean food, visiting the aunt & uncle (and cousins) in Orlando, and shopping at the Orlando Premium Outlet Mall.  Instead, we spent the day at home, waking up late, opening gifts, and then cleaning the apartment and cooking up a storm (well, I was cooking up a storm, anyway) to prepare for our guests who came to enjoy Christmas dinner with us.  It was a simple day, not feeling at all like Christmas…both because this was our first Christmas alone, but also because this was the first Christmas in a LONG TIME that wasn’t white here in East Lansing, MI (ooo…another first!).

Speaking of gifts…another first for InChul!!  Like many people who have birthdays around Christmastime (his was yesterday…December 31st), InChul has not received separate gifts for Christmas and his birthday.  Usually, he will simply get one BIG gift for both days.  NOT THIS YEAR!!  This year, I decided to surprise him with a separate Christmas gift (he already got an early birthday gift of a Kindle Fire late November).  He had been wanting so badly to play NCAA Football 12 (so he could build his own MSU football dynasty).  However, the game was not made for Nintendo Wii, and our Xbox 360 had died a long time ago (we bought the original version…the one that was a piece of crap because they rushed to release it before Sony released the PS3 console).  So, with the help of the ever awesome brother-in-law, we purchased for InChul a brand new PS3 with the game he SO desired.  I purchased it online about 3 weeks before Christmas, so the trick was to keep him from finding out about it AND making sure he didn’t buy a console and game himself (not easy!).  In the end…it worked out…and InChul got his very first Christmas (NOT birthday) present.

And this may just put me in the running for “Wife of the Year”…HAHA!!  (kidding)
All wrapped in Spartan regalia…yes, we are obsessed!!  🙂
…lest ye suffer the consequences…BWAHAHAHAHA!!
What was inside the package (well, not the dog and ZUMBA)
Let the Spartan domination COMMENCE!!  AH-OO!!

…the Wii Zumba 2 pictured above was actually a surprise gift that InChul bought for ME for Christmas.  While it wasn’t wrapped (boooo!!), the fact that he surprised me with it ON CHRISTMAS was an AWESOME gesture, and I am grateful (I’ve been wanting this since I saw it at Best Buy…WOOHOO!!).

Another awesome experience from this past month was getting to be part of the worship team for the Christmas Eve services.  This is another first for me in a LONG time because, in past years, we were routinely going to Tampa for Christmas and attending Christmas service as a first generation Korean church (early morning, and all in Korean…which I do find difficult to follow at times, making worshiping itself a wee bit difficult).  Even though most of the songs were sung as traditional Christmas carols (Joy to the World, Hark the Herald, O Holy Night…sung with VERY traditional, straight forward harmonies), being able to sing in my heart language made it so much easier to worship…an experience I did not take for granted.  
Little Drummer Boy” (complete with three drum sets, 
a bass drum, and percussion set) was amazing too…WOW!!

Hibernation seems a good alternative
In canine news,  Hudson is bearing through the BLAH-dom of winter in stride.  While we do try to make sure he gets out into the elements as often as possible, freezing temperatures and/or rainy/snowy weather makes it difficult to take him outside regularly for extended periods of time.  However, when the sun DOES come out (and temperatures rise into the upper 30’s/lower 40’s…practically WARM in Michigan winter standards), we make sure we give him opportunities to take FULL advantage of it.  I’ve even been taking my lunch hour (on weekdays he DOESN’T go to Annabelle’s Day Care) to take him in short walks to burn some energy and allow him to exercise that nose of his (once around the lake out back is as much time as I have, though). 
Playing with mom & dad, on a somewhat warm winter day…
The gift (topped with a frisbee from his friends at Annabelle’s)
Hudson’s LOOT (mom took the ball away for a while)
Hudson looking spiffy in his new Spartan jacket…that fits!
Every year, the holiday season ends with a very special event – InChul’s birthday (December 31st).  Just like all the other festivities this year, this birthday was the first InChul spent without his parents and brother…and uncle/aunt/cousins, whom we tended to visit while in Florida as well.  This year, it was just the two of us…and Hudson…and our friend Joon (who despite being on Night Float tonight, sacrificed precious sleeping time to be with us on this day).
The day began with a run to the Birch Run Premium Outlets (an hour drive away).  We spent a couple of hours perusing the stores, buying clothes for me (it always happens) and unsuccessfully attempting to buy InChul a new digital watch (those things are difficult to find in stores, we found), but instead purchasing a couple of pairs of Crocs for him (to wear when he is working nights or is on call). 

From there, we headed to SanSu (where Joon met us) for a lunch of sushi, Chicken Katsu, udon, and Chirasi…YUMMY!  The sushi rolls were the biggest we had ever experienced (The SanSu roll was the size of three average Rainbow Rolls in one), and left us feeling quite full.  However, I insisted that we head to Chapelure to purchase a cake (mainly because InChul whined last year because he didn’t get a cake period).  Funny enough, this Korean bakery (with the typical French name) did not have birthday candles or plates we could enjoy the cake with…so we headed home where we divulged in cake, watched the MSU @ Nebraska Basketball Game (MSU won…naturally), and gave InChul his last two gifts…a MSU sweatshirt from Joon (one that Dantonio wears frequently on the field at games) and tickets to the Wisconsin @ MSU basketball game on February 16th (and InChul now has MSU apparel to wear to the game…THANKS JOON!).
InChul’s idea of a GREAT birthday!!
MSU @ Nebraska game…MSU won for InChul on his b-day!
Hasn’t taken off the Dantonio sweatshirt (from Joon) yet!!
InChul gets kisses from Hudson for his birthday gift…sweet!
Of course, now we are debating whether to continue the celebration by joining some of his co-interns/residents for a NYE bash…or stay at home and continue watching all the college games on tonight.  We shall see what the night has in store for us…


So, with that, we bid farewell to 2011.  With all of the blessings, goodbyes, hellos, and new experiences that we’ve had this past year, we can anticipate that the new year will be filled with even more blessings and renewed hope…the excitement that accompanies the beginning of a journey into the unknown, but knowing that we are going forth with loved ones at our side.  Resolutions to come up with (and stick to as best we can), new experiences to try, new places to see…and all along the way, sharing all of this with those who we hold dearest in our hearts.  There is much that 2012 has in store for us…so many potential changes (hopefully for the better) and endless possibilities.

From the An family, we wish all of you a blessed New Year and pray that God has amazing things in store for each and every one of you!


Lydia     =)

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