Yay!  We finally have our computers back from the repair shop.  This morning, I finished uploading the pictures from Erin's wedding.  The rest of the day has been spent making Christmas goodies.  Earlier, we wrangled up our puppy and attempted to take some family pictures in front of our tree.  Later, I'll add more albums of our Christmas decorations and Merlin's baby pictures.  Come back soon!
Click here to see Erin & Shaun's wedding pictures.
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!
Wow!  The last two weeks have been super busy for us!  This was a two-part vacation.  We spent the last week of June in New York, with friends and family.  The first week in July, my mother and sister followed us back to our place, and the four of us had all sorts of fun.  Since this vacation was so long, and we did so much, I'm going to cover it in two posts.  So, let's try to go in chronological order.

First of all, I have two newly married couples to congratulate.  On June 30th, my Uncle Mike married the charming Anne-Marie, in a ceremony that was, by all accounts, as fun as it was unique.  Clayton and I did not attend those nuptials, however, because he was a groomsman at his younger brother David's wedding.  David and Rachel's wedding was, after all, the main reason we returned to New York.  Before I get to that, though, we have a week to get through.

Since David had secured a home for himself and Rachel before the wedding, they planned to move in almost immediately after.  To do this most efficiently, Dave hitched a ride up to New York with us, and then planned to come back down, with his new wife and all their stuff, in a rented moving truck.  Both Clayton and David were permitted to check out on leave at their respective bases at noon on Sunday, the 24th.  David would be coming to our house from Camp Lejeune, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away.  The plan on our end was, Clayton would check out at noon, then we'd pack the truck with our luggage and finish cleaning the house.  Once Davy arrived at about 1PM, we'd feed the three of us some hot dogs and leftovers.  About 1:30PM we expected to be on the road.  This, of course, would have been too easy.

At 11:00AM, an hour before Clayton could check out, I had our bags ready to go, and was making the beds upstairs.  Clayton came in to the spare room, and took in the glorious sight of an air mattress made up with its fitted sheet.  When I asked him to go make the bed in our room, he decided to be difficult, and instead dived onto the air mattress with outstretched arms.  The pop I heard was so loud, I instantly started scolding him and looking for the hole in the mattress.  The mattress didn't have a hole.  Clayton had dislocated his left (dominant) shoulder, again.  So while we were supposed to be chilling and waiting for David, I had to drive my mischievous husband to the emergency room.  A few hours (and lots of drugs) later, we were back at home.  Clayton checked out, I finished putting the beds together, and David and his friend (who'd given him a ride to our place) were good enough to eat all the left overs in our fridge for us.  So it was, that only three hours later than planned, we set out for New York.  Dave had to drive first, because Clayton was still pretty drugged up.

The drive itself wasn't bad, though we hit lots of rain the whole way up.  We rolled into the farm at about 8AM on Monday, and spent most of the day alternating between visiting with whomever came in and sleeping.  That night, Clayton and I enjoyed real chicken wings for the first time in ages with our old friend, Josh.  The next day, I zipped around with Clayton's mother and sister, Ani, shopping and tying ribbons on favors, before meeting my friend Jeanine for coffee.  Jeanine gave me a tour of the new home of the library where I used to work.  During the tour, I got to visit briefly with my former coworkers and catch up a little.  Then we went to Tim Horton's for some of that delicious Canadian coffee and donuts!  After sipping and talking for a few hours, I had to leave Jeanine and meet up with Clayton for dinner with my mother and sisters.  Unfortunately, this was the only chance I got to see my first sister, Erin, as she is a very busy girl.

Wednesday, I spent the morning shopping with Clayton's mother and grandmother.  The guys took Dave out to dinner and drinks at the nicest place in Hamlin (in lieu of a raunchy bachelor party).   I met up with my friend Ann at another Tim Horton's (their dinning room is open 24/7!) that night, and the two of us stayed and caught up until late.  When I got back to the farm, I talked to Ani for a few minutes and then went to bed.  

Now, you may have been wondering what Clayton was up to in this time, besides going out to dinner a couple of times.  His task was primarily to clean out his room, which he hadn't done any of the times he was home before we got married.  When I moved down to Cherry Point, he wondered why I had brought so many of my things, and so little of his.  No one had any pity for him, however, since those last few months between the wedding and moving had been so crazy for me, and since he hadn't even tried sorting through his room in years.  Needless to say, doing so in a couple days, while trying to do all the usual visiting that comes with going home on leave, was a bit hectic for him, but he did it!  Or, at least, he put a REALLY big dent in it.  With the back seats removed, and the middle seats folded down, he managed to fit his dresser, desk and a cabinet (not to mention all of our luggage and the last three much smaller things I'd left at my moms's house) into the back of his Tahoe.  Clayton was very proud of his Tetris skills when he had accomplished this, and without blocking the view of his rear view mirror.

Thursday, we stayed at the farm, where I continued to tie ribbons on fans for the wedding.  More family members and wedding party members came in.  We had a fire, in which Clayton and David (who was also cleaning his room) burned a lot of useless papers from the last five years, along with Ani's old notes and quizzes from the last school year.  Friday we packed up everything, drove down to Canandaigua, and checked into our room for the rehearsal and wedding.  We attended the rehearsal, and then joined the other immediate family members and out-of-towners at the rehearsal dinner.  That night, we shared our room with Clayton's uncle and aunt (Derek and Desireé), which was nice and convenient for all of us.  Saturday morning, the four of us found a charming little cafe for what may have been the best breakfast ever.  After an inquiry to the man running the cafe about maple syrup, we were directed to a tiny little farmers' market going on that morning.  It was one of the smallest such markets I've ever seen, but all of the booths were good and relevant, which is becoming more scarce.  Derek bought us some syrup (because Clayton had sneaked off with the bill at breakfast), and we bought ourselves some unique jams, including strawberry rhubarb (which has me very excited, since I can't grow rhubarb down here).

While Clayton and Derek got their hair cut, Desireé and I stopped into a drug store for some last minute beauty products.  We also checked out a place called Tuesday Morning, which is, in fact, a store and not a restaurant like I thought.  There I ended up finding the perfect dress for the wedding (I was worried the one I'd brought would be too hot).  When we found the guys again, we went back to our room, ordered some pizza and got ready for the wedding.  Canandaigua was hot that day, but God was merciful enough to send us a breeze off the lake.  The wedding itself was beautiful.  Rachel was as gorgeous as I'd imagined she'd be, and I loved the girls' bouquets.  Oh, and Clayton's youngest brother, Richard, surprised us all by somehow getting out of his training in 29 Palms for a week, and made it to New York the day of the wedding (and he remembered to bring his uniform)!  I can hardly think of a better gift for Richard to have given Rachel and Dave, than showing up to their wedding.  He was squeezed into the wedding party, which made it slightly lopsided, but all the more stunning.  
Clayton and Brianna at Dave and Rachel's Wedding
What an awful picture of us! You duck hunters must be freaking out!
After the ceremony, I hung out with Clayton and watched the formal pictures being taken.  Cocktail hour was a great meet-and-greet time, with lots of sunshine, munchies and free drinks.  Dinner was inside and very fancy.  Even better than dinner, though, was the dancing and general merry-making that followed.  Clayton was excessively good, and danced even more that night than he had at our own wedding.  People tease me for having the style of a girl from the 1940s, but my husband roughly has the dance moves from the disco-era, though with absolutely none of the rhythm.  I'm still not sure which is stranger.  

After partying late into the night, we returned to our room and went to bed.  Richard, who had no room, joined the four of us and spent the night on our floor.  The next morning, we woke up bright and early and packed our things.  Once we'd said good-bye to Clayton's family (we had to track his father down in the diner where he was holding court, at an impossibly long table with the rest of their family's wedding guests), we headed for Cortland, where we'd rendezvous with my family.

This concludes Brianna and Clayton's Summer 2012 Vacation Part I.  Check back soon for Part II.  In the meanwhile, check out some new pictures and recipes
As I promised last week, I have some big news this fine day!  It's been really hard to keep this in for what felt like so long, but Clayton asked me to keep it more or less under my hat until now.  This morning, Clayton signed the papers to secure for us a house on the base.  We'll be in a neighborhood called Lawson Village, not far from some friends of ours.  The homes in that area are quite new, and we're very lucky to be getting one.  If all goes well, I'll be moving down there mere days before Christmas.  Possibly accompanying me will be our parents and the only two siblings left at home, Ani and Shannon.  So we're looking forward to a very unique and memorable Christmas in a house with no chairs or beds; it should be great!  Now for the really cool part, here's a link to a virtual tour of the model home in Lawson Village.  Clayton and I are super excited to finally be moving in together!  Now we just have to find out what our moving options are.
Not much to report this weekend, except midterm projects that I'm working on.  The professional pictures should be up soon.  You can sign the guestbook early and be notified by email once the pictures are available for viewing if you go here (pictage.com; event is Brianna and Clayton Leverenz Wedding).  Personally, I'll feel a lot better about the entire event once I've seen more pictures. 

Also coming soon are the thank you notes.  Don't worry, I've made thorough notes on who was in attendance and which gifts they brought.  However, I didn't order my notes until after the wedding (silly Brianna!), so I've been waiting for them to come in the mail.  Luckily, they should be here on Monday, so I'll be sending those out just as soon as I can.

For now, I'll try again to shamelessly elicit some comments from you, my trusty readers.  Clayton and I insisted on having sushi at the wedding, because we both love it, and we've even gotten our families hooked on it.  Now, I know that before the wedding, only a handful of our guests had tried sushi before.  After the wedding, though, the mothers were very disappointed to discover that there was NO sushi to be taken home.  This tells me that probably a good number of you tried out the sushi who hadn't before. 

So I was hoping a few of you might be good enough chime in and tell me if it was your first time trying sushi, and whether it was your first time or not, what you thought of it.  Also, would anyone be interested in me listing some or all of the vendors we used?  If no one wants a published list, know that now that the party's over, I would have no problem telling you who I used; so feel free to shoot me an email if you're interested in a particular service.