This past week sure has been eventful!  From the 21st to the 28th, I've been very busy!  We started with a new family member, served a full Thanksgiving meal to about a dozen Marines, and I witnessed a very special event.  There will, of course, be pictures (but they might take a while to catch up with this post).

On Wednesday, while I was at work, Clayton adopted our puppy, Merlin.  He is definitely a yellow Labrador Retriever, with possibly another breed, but being a shelter dog, we'll never really know.  Merlin's papers say he's about eight weeks old, but the veterinary tech on base estimates him at about ten weeks.  Either way, he is a happy, healthy little dog, who wants nothing more than to be adored by Clayton and me.
Merlin's baby picture
Our baby dog, Merlin
The next day, Merlin helped me in the kitchen, while I prepared a Thanksgiving meal for the guys at Clayton's shop.  I made them two turkey breasts, carrots, real mashed potatoes, cranberry jell-o salad, succotash, and pumpkin chiffon pies.  A few of the guys brought their families, and some of them brought food, as well.  I was very proud to have my turkey proclaimed to be "cooked to perfection" by the grandmother of one of the Marines.  The carrots, which I'd cooked beneath the turkey breasts, were well cooked, but not soft and mushy.  Generally, all of my food was said to be very good.  

On Friday, I grabbed my bags, and my boys dropped me off at the airport in Jacksonville.  From there, I flew (as indirectly as possible) back to Rochester.  Clayton's mom was good enough to pick me up at ROC, and to deposit me at my sister Erin's rehearsal dinner in Albion.  The food was delicious, and I got to meet her fiance's immediate family.  Saturday, we got up bright and early, so everyone could get through the shower.  Then we went to the hall where Erin and Shaun's reception was to be held, and set everything up.  That task accomplished, we went to the rectory of the church, had pizza (chicken tenders for me, to avoid tomatoes), and got dressed.  When everyone was dressed and coiffed, we walked to the church.  Erin and Shaun had a small, elegant ceremony.  Then we grabbed our stuff from the rectory and went back to the hall.  There, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner, put on by my mother and grandmother.  After we ate and laughed a good long while, we picked up everything and went home. 

Sunday, I spent a lazy day at home with my mother and youngest sister.  We ate leftover wedding food (except cake, there wasn't any of that left) and watched movies from the 1980s on Netflix.  Monday, Erin and I went Christmas shopping at a real mall, which was exciting for me, since we don't have any of those around here.  Tuesday, I helped my mother pick up her house some more, called tech support for her printer, ordered Christmas gifts online, and made memory cards of Erin's wedding pictures for her and Mom.  That evening, I went on a great date with Clayton's mother.  We did some light shopping in Brockport's many boutique shops, had a nice dinner, and then saw the last installment of "Twilight."  Judge us all you want, that movie was actually fantastic and kept us on the edge of our seats, even though we've both read the books.

Wednesday, the 28th, I flew back down to Jacksonville, where my husband and quickly growing puppy picked me up.  We came home and played for a while, and then I went to bed early, and Clayton went off to work.  Today, we took Merlin to his first vet appointment, where he had a great time meeting other dogs and being generally adored by the techs (because he is so VERY cute).  

So, we've had a lot for which to be thankful this past week.  Our new puppy is an adorable and energetic addition to our little family, we have a great family of Marines to celebrate with when going home isn't possible, and my first little sister is happily married to a very nice guy who loves her as much as her family does.  Besides dealing with airport security, this has been the type of week that makes me feel like life just can't get much better.

That's all for now, but tomorrow I plan on posting albums of many of the events I've recounted here, so check back soon!
The 2012 Marine Corps Birthday Ball was great!  Clayton and I booked a night at a hotel within easy walking distance of the convention center, where the ball was to be held.  We packed everything we would need to get ready in the morning, and then went to New Bern to have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  Then we checked into the hotel, and I began curling my hair and listening to Pandora.  Clayton went back home to get his laptop (there was nothing on t.v., and we weren't sure how long we'd actually spend at the ball).

Unfortunately, my curls did not hold nearly as well as they had when I had tested my hair style the evening before.  I think the end product was o.k., though.  I did my eyes in champagne and purple eye shadow, with plum eyeliner and mascara.  For my lips, I used my favorite lipstick in "Saffron Silk."  The night before, I had painted my nails with clear polish.  I won't describe all my accessories, but I did take pictures of them, which you can see in the night's album.  My makeup complete, I took down the setting curls and brushed and pinned them into a side swept half-up style.  Clayton came back as I was moving on to makeup, and at this point we both got dressed, helping each other with our respective hardware when necessary.  

Once we were all ready, we double checked that everything we needed was in my clutch, and then we walked over to the convention center.  We located our table, and it wasn't long before we found some friends.  There was a large (but expensive) bar, and a few tables of veggie trays.  The tables and chairs were done up beautifully, but our red table cloth made everyone's faces red in the pictures.  Oh well!  

From there, the night was very regulated.  We ate our salads, and then the ceremonies began.  Several things were read, the cake was cut (the youngest Marine present was scarcely 19 and from Clayton's shop.  When I asked if I had met this one before, Clayton replied "Of course not!  How could you?  He was only born five minutes ago."), and we watched the 2012 Marine Corps Birthday Message.  Our guest speaker was very good.  He was equal parts salty and funny, and he got a very loud standing ovation at the end.  Then we were released to get a delicious dinner at the buffet, and dancing began as soon as people finished eating.  We actually did dance quite a bit, as this D.J. was pretty good about taking requests and picking dance-able songs.  A and bit after 10 PM, we said our good-byes and walked back to our hotel, where we watched anime on Clayton's computer and slept on a nice soft bed.  

This morning, we packed up everything we'd brought with us (which went surprisingly fast, considering how my makeup bags had exploded in the room while I was getting ready) and checked out.  We went back into New Bern for a delicious breakfast at another favorite restaurant.  After breakfast we took a turn around the block in the crisp, autumn air.  As soon as we returned home, we got into pajamas (we've got nothing else going on today) and started chilling on the couch with more anime.  I was excited to post our pictures, since I know a lot of you were looking forward to ball pictures.  Hope you like them!

Click here to see the Marine Corps Birthday Ball 2012 Pictures
Hello, dear readers.  Clayton and I are chilling out in our living room, watching the presidential election results coming in (I was planning on avoiding this, but he had it on when I got home from work).  I have just a few updates for you all, so I'll list them off quickly. 
  •  Clayton finally broke down and took our punch bowl full of leftover Halloween candy in to work, where it quickly disappeared into the bellies of his Marines.  Thank goodness! because I've been working really hard at watching what I eat and getting my butt into the cardio room, and that candy was NOT doing me any favors!  
  • I decided to keep my new tea kettle.  It does bug me that the whistle doesn't work, but other than that it is a very nice, large kettle that looks nice on our stove.  Also I used it several times before I had a chance to take it back, and by then I figured if I'd used it that many times, it couldn't be so bad.  
  • Finally, I picked up my ball gown from the alterations place a while back.  However, my dear husband didn't use the camera I brought to document my awesomeness in daylight, and I forgot to remind him.  However, I do have a picture of the dress on a hanger, which David's Bridal was nice enough to send me in answer to my request.  I'll add it here, and if you have any ideas for hair and accessories, please feel free to send me a link in the comments (that would seriously be such a big help).
First and foremost, yes, Clayton and I are just fine after Sandy came through our area.  We had heavy rain and winds for a couple of days, and there was some flooding in the area, but no worse than when it rained every day in August.  I felt the need to announce this, because people have been calling and texting us, asking if we were all right.  We felt rather sheepish when we realized that we were so o.k. that we had neglected even to call our mothers and let them know we'd made it through the storm.  It was so not a big deal, that it hadn't even occurred to us to let people know we were fine.  

Today I added a bunch more pictures of our October activities.  We had a lot of fun prepping for Halloween, and Clayton bought WAY too much candy.  We actually did have Trick-or-Treaters, but only six or seven.  They barely put a dent in the heap of refined sugar Clayton bought for us.  So before even opening all of the bags, I'm already sick of eating chocolate.  A few days before Halloween, we went with our friends, Dan and Brittni, to Mike's Farm to pick out pumpkins and eat a fantastic dinner at their restaurant.  
Those are the pumpkins we chose.  Clayton's pumpkin is on the left, and mine is on the right.  Click here to see our October pictures, and see how we carved them.  That's it for now, but November has filled up fast, too.  I'm going to try to keep up taking lots of pictures, so you all can see what we're doing.