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A few months ago, Mike and I were having a discussion regarding family heirlooms and how they have begun to slip away from our generation.

This discussion sparked from the recent passing of our grandparents.  For him, a grandfather and for me, my last grandparent; grandma Rosie.  Not a happy beginning to a Christmas post, I know, but I’m setting the scene…

This year my mom spent the holiday in town and came over Christmas day.  She brought along with her a nativity full of gifts for our exchange.  Since the nativity was unwrapped, I had an inkling of what was in store for me.  However, I did not realize it would be so sentimental in nature.

She wrapped each piece individually, and as I opened them, she told me the story of how my grandfather bought a single piece each year.  Each is hand crafted and truly beautiful.  I’m not sure how many pieces are available in the collection, I know there are more than I have, but at some point my grandparents must have elected that ‘their’ set was complete.

Inside the nativity my mom tucked away a few pictures of my grandparents and one of the nativity scene, set out in their home.  I can’t explain how precious it is.  All I know, is I will do my due diligence to keep it safe so that I may one day pass it along to my hypothetical children.

Christmas Bazinga

While you may have read about the Christmas prank on Mikes blog, here are the events from my perspective.


  1. I love (love, love, love, love, love) Christmas.
  2. I hate missing family events.


  1. I woke up at 4am to travel to the airport so I could depart at 7am (and be home at noon).
  2. I spent 9 hours at the NJ airport before I got to board my first plane.
  3. After determining that I would not make it home in time for the an annual gift exchange, I instructed my darling sister-in-law to send me text messages of the festivities, so I wouldn’t feel so far removed.
  4. After an endless series of layovers, I finally reached my destination (it is now 9pm).
  5. Upon landing I receive the following string of text messages.


  1. All hope of salvaging this day is gone.
  2. Christmas officially sucks.

Timeline upon arrival in Sioux Falls:

  1. The airport tried to steal my luggage.
  2. Mike arrives at the airport to collect me and bring me to what’s left of the family gathering.
  3. He furthers my disappointment by siding with the in-laws stating they were bored and questioning what else would I have expected them to do?
  4. I declare I am no longer in the holiday spirit.
  5. Upon arrival to the family gathering I am informed this was all a hoax and they did not, in-fact, open my presents on my behalf.

Final conclusion:

  1. My family is comprised of a bunch of bungholes.

Merry Christmas.

NYC (2011)

Several years ago, Annie and I took a cruise to the Bahama’s, on which we met 3 brothers from New Jersey.  12 years later, we’re all grown up and reconnecting over Facebook.  Fast forward 4 years and the eldest brother is getting married.  Enter trip to New Jersey/New York.

Apart from the wedding, catching up with friends whom now live in the city, shopping and dining, we also saw:

  • The Radio City Rockettes
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
  • New Jersey Devil’s Game
  • 30 Rock: Top of the Rock
    • A great alternative to the Empire State Building.  It’s less crowded and you can reserve viewing times, which makes scheduling other activities easier.
  • Discovery Channel Museum: Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit
    • Amazing exhibit for history buffs.  I wouldn’t consider myself this, but I still found it to be awe inspiring.
  • Broadway: Phantom of the Opera
    • I wish I could take a trip to the city on an annual basis just to see a new play each time.  Absolutely outstanding production.
  • 9/11 Memorial
    • Quite an impressive memoriam.  It will be an amazing place once the museum is complete (projected for fall of 2012).  The memorial they had set up in the gift shop moved me to tears.  I can’t imagine the impact of an entire building.
  • Central Park
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Apparently this is a donation organization, so it would be an excellent stop if you’re traveling on a budget.  Note: it is massive.  We only made it through about a ¼th of the wings; that was about 5 hours.  Tired feet.

Just a few pictures from our week (click to enlarge).

In The Clear?

I am leery of a premature celebration (mostly because I am afraid I’ll jinx myself!), but I am comfortable reporting that I am probably in the clear!  This morning I had a follow-up appointment with my Rheumatologist.  She reported my x-ray’s were normal and all of my lab work came back negative.

My 6 week steroid regimen ended Monday and I haven’t had any return of symptoms.  To top that off, I didn’t go through withdrawal this time, which truly was a less-than-stellar experience.  I’m not sure how long steroids stay built up in your system, but the Rheumatologist seemed fairly confident that this confirmed some kind of bizarre, long lasting virus.

My parting instructions are to make another appointment if symptoms return.  If this were to happen, she thinks I may have seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.  Basically, a trixy version of RA.  Thankfully, I don’t think my body is that sly.