Sto Lat!

Today is my grandmother’s birthday. I keep this picture of her near my desk:

It was taken in the Wildflecken displaced person’s camp after WWII. It reminds me everyday how lucky I am, and how strong she is – strength I wish to emulate. Happy Birthday babcia!!!! Kocham Cię!

Christmas of Earthly Delights

Where the hell did 2011 go?! I’m not sure. But Christmas was awesome, as always. My family opens gifts on Christmas Eve, because we are rebels…. Ok actually it’s because we are not morning people. We drank a lot of alcohol, and my grandma and I danced to a DVD of Polish music (Mazowsze, see the video below). My brother burned stuff in the backyard. My mom made an absolutely delicious dinner. In other words, it was a typical family gathering – and I loved it!

I really love giving presents. My family and I got Eric two awesome things I’ve been dying to give him: a Kindle Fire and a gift certificate for skydiving. Now I have my Kindle back (he’s been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series) + Eric will finally be an official family member (according my dad, one needs to jump out of plane to be part of our inner circle).

This year was photography heaven for me! I got a new lens (macro), a new tripod (mine is falling apart), a lens bag, reflectors, and an old Duaflex IV. Eric parents gave me money, which I used to buy an external flash. See? Photography heaven! But really I just loved hanging out with my family!

CLICK BELOW for pictures!! 🙂

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Six Months!?

Today marks Eric and I’s 6 month anniversary. Which is crazy, I feel like we were just married yesterday! Actually, I feel like we just started hanging out yesterday…

The first time Eric called me he was really nervous and shaking. Which is kind of funny, because Eric is always cool as a cucumber and I’m the anxious shaky one. Anyway he called me up and I asked if he wanted to come with me – I was about to go take a picture of Jerry’s Drive-In Liquors sign. He agreed (thank god). Not surprisingly, I got lost but he knew the way. We drank orange soda (“I do I do I do-oooo”). I exposed him to my eclectic music collection and my accompanied crazy singing/dancing (which shockingly didn’t scare him off). Of course, I took the picture (see below). That was August 27th 2003.

We were friends for quite a while before that, but that night was our first time hanging out outside of school. I feel like it foreshadowed some things to come: me having really random ideas that Eric goes along with, me getting lost but Eric knowing the way, our love of varied music, and just our general ability to have fun together no matter what. We had a great night that night, and it was one of the many fun times we’ve had together the past 9 years!

On the way to our wedding ceremony we passed Jerry’s Drive-Thru Liquor Store and smiled.

The Wedding!

I am now and old married woman. On November 11th 2010 I got to marry the man of my dreams – which is pretty damn awesome. I have started writing this post so many times… but really, how do I describe the most amazing day of my life? It’s really beyond words. I’ll try anyway –at least the basic facts 🙂

We had a rather “nontraditional” wedding, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. First of all, I wore a black wedding dress (made by my grandma) and Eric wore a white tux. We had matching custom-made Converse with our wedding date embroidered on the side. My bouquet and was made from beads on twisted wire (as were the other bouquets and boutonnieres) that I made with my mom.
(as usual, click to enlarge)

(this post is crazy-long and riddled with pictures. click below to read the rest)

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The Stars, The Moon, They Have All Been Blown Out

Yesterday I ordered a custom credit card with a picture of my cat. When do I get my official “Crazy Cat Lady” trophy??

In other scary news, as of July 7th my brother is now legally an adult. For his birthday I got him a kick-ass shirt from Hot Topic and contributed to a sky-diving gift certificate. Jumping out of planes is kind of a family tradition. My dad got him golf clubs – maybe he can be a golf nerd like Eric now? At any rate, I love him so very much – Happy Birthday Boo!!!!

Eric and I also celebrated our 6 year anniversary! He got me a purse, and I got him a toolbox. It makes us look pretty 50’s suburbia/borderline-sexist, but hey – it’s what we both wanted (I’ve been drooling over the seatbelt purse for years!)… We also went to our favorite restaurant, Ruth’s Chris. I almost died of happiness right there in the Crème brûlée. Seriously though, how has Eric put up with me for this long? I don’t know. I do know that I love him. Muchly.

Gary helps build a file cabinet Our new house is pretty awesome. Every day we are faced with some new project – a million little things that are infinitely interesting to us but probably not to anyone else. It actually makes me feel kinda old (or at least like an adult). I never thought I’d be all that excited about blinds, but my cordless top-down-bottom-up 1/2” single cell filter shades made me jump up and down and clap like an idiot. Our cats feel the need to “help” with every project – especially when we have to build IKEA furniture. It’s adorable, but counter-productive.

We finally got the pool all clean and swimmable. Well, I say “we” but it was really all Eric. And here he is, enjoying the fruits of his labor with the first jump into our new pool!!:

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Lots of stuff has been happening!
First of all, on May 27th my baby brother graduated from Highland High School! I can’t believe it. Not that he’s stupid or anything (quite the opposite) – I just can’t believe my little "Boo" is a high school grad! Almost 18! Time flies… I’m so happy for him and so proud! Luboo!!!!

In other news, Eric and I went to Vegas to see Flight of the Conchords. They were in Phoenix a while ago, but Eric got sick at the last minute and we weren’t able to go. He felt really bad and surprised me with this trip to make up for it 🙂 The concert was AMAZING. They played a bunch of old favorites and a few new (hilarious) songs. We both grinned/cracked up like an idiot the entire time. You need that once in a while, you know?
We stayed at the Venetian again. GOD I love that hotel! We got $25 of slot credits with our room reservation, so we decided to try gambling for the first time. After $6 we stopped due to boredom and never spent the rest, lol. We went to the Cabo Wabo cantina (Cabo is my fav alcoholic drink) a couple times and got blasted on delicious margaritas. All in all, it was just the relaxing weekend we needed. And this trip is just more evidence that I have the best fiancé in the world. Just sayin’…

I suppose the craziest news is that.. Eric and I finally got our house!!! It only took 14 months of waiting, despairing, yelling at the bank, etc… but really, it was worth the wait. We signed the papers a little over a week ago and moved in IMMEDIATELY afterwards. We’re still not done moving – turns out we have a lot of crap. However, we’ve bought most of our furniture AND put it together. The most recent thing we got was our patio set, and the "no assembly required" sticker just about brought me to tears (of happiness). Damn you IKEA! (I still love you<3)
The most difficult thing to move were my books. Books are rather heavy en masse. They are currently strewn all over our front room/dining room while I work on cataloging and arranging them (see picture). I’m kind of putting that off until later this week when Eric is out of town for an actuary seminar) for 5 days. Arranging my books will keep my mind (some-what) off missing my love 😦
Basic info on the house: in Gilbert, 3 bedroom, 1650 square feet, pool/spa, awesome, cantbelieveitsfinallyours. The rest you will have to find out when Eric and I throw our housewarming party 😛 … or when I post pics eventually.

You’ll Lose the Blues in Chicago

Unfortunately, I grew up knowing next to nothing about my Dad’s side of the family. He moved from Chicago (and his family) to Arizona in 1984 and lost contact with most of his relatives. The only exposure I had was his parent’s wedding photo and a group picture taken around 1900. Then, a few years ago, I found boxes of old photos and papers in my dad’s storage. I started piecing things together and, with the help of places like ancestry.com, created a family tree going back as far as my great-great-great-great grandparents. As a graduation/Christmas present my Dad took me to Chicago so we could meet some of his cousins. I was really nervous… I thought it was going to be awkward and they would think I’m some weirdo. Instead I discovered I have a huge extended family of AMAZING people!! I seriously had the BEST time hanging out with them, even though it was only for a few hours. It was amazing to meet people with my same last name and that looked like my Dad! I grew up with a Dad that seemed to come from nowhere – no similar looking parents or siblings, or even aunts and uncles. Needless to say, it was bizarre to be confronted with this:

(my dad is on the right)
They even have the same name! I also met my Dad’s cousin on his mother’s side. He was really cool too! I learned a lot about the Persian side of my family from him.

  
(please ignore the 1986 jacket I had to borrow from Scott, lol)

So, aside from spending time with my awesome new relatives, we did quite a bit. My dad drove us around so we could re-visit all the places of his and my mom’s childhood/teenage years. We visited many graves of relatives I’ve been researching, including my great-great-grandmother who is a hero of mine. I had so much delicious food (Italian Beef, gyros, Chicago pizza) that I almost burst. I even had my first White Castle slider! We went to the Sears Tower, of course, and rode the L. We also went to The Art Institute of Chicago where I saw artworks I’ve been studying for years. I spent WAY too much money in Little Poland on Polish books and paraphernalia.

As fun as all that stuff was, the best part was meeting my “new” relatives and visiting graves of relatives I never got to meet. Easily one of the best trips of my life!!

(click to enlarge)

Engaged!

Eric and I are engaged! You probably already know, because I’ve splattered it all over every social networking type site I’m a part of … sorry about that, by the way. I’m just so excited and happy!! I’ve been smiling uncontrollably, randomly dancing, and clapping like an idiot for a week now…

Many of you have asked how he did it, but it’s kind of a long story. I’ll summarize it like this: he took time off work when I didn’t have work or school. So last friday (the 13th, haha) we spent the whole day together doing a bunch of my favorite thing, including: playing video games, watching spongebob, going to my favorite restaurant (Ah-So). Then he took me to my favorite place, a bookstore called Half Price Books, where he bought me books (the best way to a Susie’s heart). On the way home I was thinking about how it was one of the best days EVER, when Eric drove right past our house. and took me to a park right next to our house instead. He then took me to the exact spot (in the park) where he first said “I love you” to me years ago. There he gave me an amazing speech (I’ll spare you the mushy details), and asked me to marry him. The ring was my grandmother’s wedding ring (whom I am named after but never met), and my mother’s wedding ring. Now it’s mine and I love it! Not as much as I love Eric :) 

The ring: (as usual, click to enlarge)

 

I can’t stop daydreaming about Eric, so I constantly have this brain-dead look on my face, like so:

When I don’t have that far-off look in my eye, I have my “OMG WE’RE ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” face:

 

The wedding won’t be until next fall, because we’ve been saving up money for a house, plus I’m graduating and Eric has exams… I’m really in no rush to start planning a wedding anyway hahaha. Anyway, YAYYYYYY!!! I’M SO HAPPY!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂