{Happy Christmas!}

Happy Christmas from the Finstad Homestead!

{Joy Is A Gift}

Mandy & Jean made a list,
Of every Christmas wish.
There was a pony, a seahorse, a gnu,
A doll, paddleball, and a hot air balloon.

But when they started to see,
Their friends...

and their family...

They said whoa!
How happy can one girl be?
And how happy can one boy be?

Joy is a gift :)

(Yeah, so I ripped this from a McDonald's commercial. And...?)

{Need Some Extra Christmas Cash?}

Well, so do we! So do us a favor and click on that little ad just there to the right (yes, I realize that as I post more, the ad will not remain directly to the right. You're smart people though, and you get the point).

Don't delay! You don't have to buy anything or sign up for anything or promise your firstborn, just click the stinkin' ad and we made a few cents. You never know, you might enjoy what you discover...new kitchen cabinets, anyone? Need a wedding planner? We've got an ad for you! And who knows, it just might be your click that enables me to stay home and keep writing this mediocre blog :)


11 days left until Christmas. 11 days. Christmas. 11. Are you ready?

Needless to say, we're not exactly 'ready' here at the Finstad homestead. Between an end--of-year honeymoon for us, work for Jean, and trying to get out the next issue of the NSA newsletter for me, Christmas seems to have slipped further and further down the priority list this year. Or has it? Looking back on the last week and a half since we've been home, it seems that perhaps we've got our priorities exactly where they need to be...

We've set up - and decorated - our tree...

Including a few special ornament additions ...

...to commemorate a few special occasions

In the last few months, we've also become involved in a local church. Neither of us were raised Methodist, and to be honest, we originally only chose this church because it was walking distance to our house :) However, we've come to really enjoy the Sunday morning services!

Earlier this week we attended the church's annual Christmas dinner and concert, and had a great time! The delicious Mexican meal was provided by the Hispanic congregation of a sister church, and the music was provided by the amazing church choir and brass (plus a few carols sung by us attendees!), and the yummy dessert cookies provided by all of us who came to enjoy the dinner. We also participated in the church's 'Angel Tree' program this year, picking an ornament off of the tree and buying the gift specified for the needy family listed. We've met lots of friendly people, and are really enjoying our new church home!

{Honeymoon Hiatus}

Weeeee're Baaaaack!
Sadly (for us, but not so much for our dogs), we have returned from our oh-so-surreal honeymoon in the Caribbean. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Mr. Finstad & I at Dulles Airport REEEEAAAALLY early, waiting for our flight to San Juan, PR

This is our ship, the Celebrity 'Millennium'. I had to live on it for 12 days before I could correctly spell 'Millennium'.

I took this shot of our suite's balcony the first morning, just after my breakfast had been delivered. I believe that that is St. Kitts in the background. What you aren't seeing is the private whirlpool off to my right. That's right boys and girls, I said whirlpool.

St. Croix!

I love these hats. Love, love, McLove. We bought them in St. Croix, and I'm pretty sure we would live in them if it were socially acceptable. And yes, I called Mr. Finstad 'Panama Jean' the whooooole trip.

This is how we spent our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. No complaints here! The photographers for this shot are our new friends Kevin and Janice, who we formed an unnatural attachment to and miss very much. Luckily for them, they live thousands of miles away ;)

I happened to wake up bright and early one morning and see this outside our window. Because we were out to sea, we were able to see the entire arc of the rainbow (damn you, non-panoramic camera!).

The Finstads all gussied up for dinner one night. Mmmm...Metropolitan Restaurant, where one can have steak EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT (loved that pretzel bread, too!)

Caught a few naps here and there. Hey, it's hard work eating non-stop and lying by the pool!

Speaking of pool, we did a LOT of this (drinking poolside). I wish people would walk around my house and offer me fruity drinks.

OK, OK...it wasn't ALL eating, napping by the pool, and enjoying fruity frozen deliciousness. We were able to swing an invitation-only tour of the bridge, and they even let me drive the ship! Not...

This is Steve, our Cruise Director. I am almost as sad about leaving him as I am about leaving Kevin & Janice. Despite the fact that he is an exact look-a-like for one of my exes, I really enjoyed waking up every morning and turning on the TV to his show, which would tell me what was going on on the ship, what shows/classes/events/diamond sales were happening that day, and what I should be sure to check out. I miss him coming over the ship's PA system to remind me of events. I miss him meeting us at the port terminals after an excursion with champagne spritzers and iced towels upon our return. Picture it...wouldn't it be nice for someone to greet you with a drink as you return from the grocery store? Wouldn't you enjoy having someone make announcements and reminders throughout the day ('Hey, Mandy! Just a friendly reminder that Jean will be home in 10 minutes!). Ah, Steve, we'll miss you...

Speaking of excursions, we enjoyed some GREAT ones. Here's one of our favorites, the 'Kukoo Kunuku' party bus tour and beach stop we enjoyed in Aruba.

I am REALLY excited about being on this cruise. REALLY excited.

Jean and I on our last night of the cruise, in front of our suite (#6139). Despite the smiles on our faces and the free champagne in our hands, we were pretty darn sad it was over.


Lastly, I'll leave you with this video. It's a 180* view from one side of our suite's balcony to the other one late afternoon while we were at sea. Yes, it's windy (and therefor loud), but hey, we're in the middle of the ocean, what do you expect? That being said, it's a pretty accurate view into what it's like to BE in the middle of the ocean. Amazing, terrifying, beautiful, peaceful, exciting.
We will be back because you did, in fact, make us feel like a celebrity.