Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Oh how much I love Christmas. I love the traditions that my parents keep up, I love the food and family get-togethers, I love the music, I love the decorations, I love the anticipation, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't "like" the presents (both giving and receiving). Ultimately, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I think I look forward to it now the same as I did when I was little.

As the Ernstbergers get older and more spread apart, we find ourselves scrambling to find a date to hold our family Christmas. We had the Ernstberger Christmas on December 20th-21st, which was a little early, but it was the only time we could all be together in the same place (which is what Christmas is all about anyway, right?)!. I was photographing a wedding on the 20th, so I had to come really late that night, but I was there for the breakfast and gifts the next day. We enjoyed sharing our gift exchange gifts and seeing Gus get into his presents. Christmas truly is wonderful in the eyes of a child. Last year, he was such a little guy....and this year he was so into it!

I presented the family with the annual "highlight reel" video of pictures from family events over the past year. It's always fun to take a moment to remember all the wonderful things that happened over the last 12 months. 

A few days later was the real Christmas Eve/Christmas, and I was happy my brother could come home. My parents, Chris, Luke, and I really had a great time catching up, eating, and going to midnight mass together. My parents did WAYYYYYY too much (err...I mean Santa...) for us, and ended up getting us a Wii, Wii Fit, AND Guitar Hero. I was absolutely blown away! We had so much fun playing the Wii (my dad even bowled)! We are soooo thankful for all they do for us.
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve PJs (a tradition!)

Christmas night, Luke and I headed to New Albany to see his extended family and grandma. It was wild and chaotic like always, but we enjoyed the annual Nativity play with the little kids. Again, being around kids on Christmas is exciting in and of itself. They are definitely hyper and crazy, but they make you feel young again!

The sky on Christmas night!

Luke posing with Mr. Gus at Grandma's!

We traveled a lot of miles over the last week, but we truly enjoyed every minute of seeing all of our family members and making lots of memories. We are very blessed to have such great people in our lives!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Date (and an ice storm, too)

Luke and I decided to celebrate "our" Christmas together on the 23rd. We wanted to do some fun things together around the city, so we decided to take in a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium! It was a great, hour long tour that took us to the press box, locker room (only the visiting, all the terraces, and even the field! The tour guide was LESS than impressive (I think I knew way more about the Colts than he did....), but we had a blast going places that most fans never get to go. It was a great $7 spent.

Us on the field!

My "victory dance"

Luke doing the "Dallas Clark" on the way out of the tunnel

We were hungry after the tour, so we stopped at White Castle. Why White Castle, you ask? Well, I had never had a "slider" before, so we decided I needed the experience. Why not? Gotta say...they were yummy! 

As we got back to our house, we realized there was a LOT of ice on the ground. Traffic was really backed up, and everything was slow moving. As it turns out, Luke's mom and sisters were in Indy having lunch, and it took them nearly 5 hours to get back (which it should have taken 1) because of the ice. 

We stayed close to home for dinner and just went to Ruby Tuesday's...where Luke was denied a beer because he didn't have his ID. What, he doesn't look 21? :-)

When we got back, a funny thing happened. We tried to go up the driveway, but the car couldn't get any traction on the ice! We would get so close to our garage and then start sliding backward. We were nervous we would hit the house, so we parked the car at the end of the driveway and walked up. Walking up the driveway was an adventure, too...documented with this video below. It was a fun, fun day full of laughter and love - a perfect Christmas date!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ashley's First 5k!

Sometime in October (maybe after Luke's 1/2 marathon), I got the motivation to begin running. I have never, ever been a runner. In fact, prior to starting this program, the longest I had ever run was the mile in gym class. With my short legs and less-than-stellar aerobic endurance, I just never found it that enjoyable. In fact, I found it TORTUROUS! (what the heck is a runner's high, anyway?)

Well, I found online a plan called the "Couch to 5k" running plan. It is on the Cool Runnings website. Anyway, it takes you week by week, starting very slow and working your way up to a 5k. Luke promised he would do it with me and encourage me, so I decided to give it a try. The first week had me alternating 1 minute of running with 90 seconds of walking. I remember crying during this phase because I didn't think I could get through it. 

As the weeks went on, we continued the plan (even in the cold winter weather). We would bundle up and head out for a jog each night, and each night presented a new set of challenges. I would either cry, get mad at Luke, or nearly die of exhaustion. 

We registered for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Indy. I had done this 2 other times in college (walking of course) because arthritis is AOII's philanthropy. This time, I was going to RUN it! 

The longest run, prior to the 5k, that we had been able to do was about a 20 minute run. I knew that I hadn't actually run 3.1 miles yet in one session, but I decided to go through with the 5k anyway. 

I was so nervous on race day, but Luke calmed me down and promised to stay at my pace the whole time. I turned on my iPod and listened to Britney Spears as I told myself, "just get to the next corner...just get to the next sign...just get to the next stoplight..." I refused to stop running, even to tie my shoe or adjust my iPod arm band. I just wanted to keep moving. Luke would tell me every now and then, "Babe! You made it to the next mile marker! You're almost there!"

Rounding the corner toward the finish, which was on IUPUI's outdoor track, was an exhilarating feeling. When we got on the track and close to the finish, I had this energy that I didn't think I would have. It was an amazing feeling to FINISH and know that I did it all and never quit. My time was a little less than 37 minutes, which definitely won't qualify me for the Olympics :-), but I don't care. I am very proud of what I accomplished that day (and in the cold weather, no less)!

Putting my game face on before the race!

Don't mind how horrible I look....I was just happy to finish!
We finished the race, rested up, and prepared to host about 50 people at our house for our first Christmas party. People dressed up in Christmas attire (complete with Allison and Chris as Jesus & Mary with a plastic baby Jesus), we had Christmas music, food, beer, and games in the garage. My girlfriends and I did a gift exchange, and everyone had a great time. It is so fun to have people in your home, especially around the holidays. It was great to see how our high school friends, college friends, med school friends, and our "adult life" friends would mesh together. Everyone got along great, and the party finally closed down around 3 a.m.! The clean up process wasn't fun, but that is what you get when you throw a party!

Luke and some of his old roommates at the party!

Abel & Elizabeth

Elizabeth and myself dressed as Santa bags (we were soooo excited to get these at Bed Bath and Beyond for $5!)

The girls after our exchange

Luke's med school friends

Taylor, Clay, and Luke

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like ________________

Just some photos of the Christmas decorations in our house as well as the tree lighting in Indy! I LOVE Christmas!

Our  tree :-)

Stealing my mom's idea...hanging ornaments from the chandelier

Freezing, waiting for the tree lighting!

There it is!