Thursday, December 31, 2015


I woke up at 5:15am today...refreshed, and ready for the day.  Out of courtesy to my husband, I laid in bed for 40 minutes - checked my phone, emails, social media, and the news (its raining again, in case you didn't notice).  By 7:30, I had already showered, ate some hearty oatmeal, unloaded the dishwasher, made the bed, cleaned out the fridge of old food, and had a cup of coffee.  This is how I envision all my mornings...up before the sun, getting things done.  Unfortunately, they are rare.  I am a morning person, but usually just take time to sit and relax on the couch with my breakfast and coffee before Emma gets up (on the days I am not working).

But for some reason, I was particularly focused and chipper this morning.  Brent is blaming it on the steroids I'm on...I like to think it is because I am filled with joy this morning...this last day of 2015.  I have so much to be thankful for as I reflect back on this year.  I can say, by far, this was one of the best, most rewarding, challenging, teaching, loving, and fun years yet.
Please, indulge me while I elaborate....

1. Family - I felt God's love for me through my family in ways I have never experienced before.  Through challenges, what I thought would be impossible to fix, God showed me that I was wrong. I don't want to divulge into details, but I found my parents and Brent to be more loving towards me than I could ever imagine.  Thank you, for teaching me that God's love is shown through others.  I truly feel that I understand God's love for me more through your actions in loving me.

2. Friends - It's no secret that friendships are a struggle for me.  I have so many facets of my life that are so scattered - skiing, work, church, family, and friends who live in other cities.  Maintaining, or making new, friendships is always a challenge with each new stage in life.  I really feel like I have come to accept this, and embrace this now.  it used to annoy me and leave me feeling hopeless.  I now know that I am very blessed to have so many people who love me, no matter where they live, or how often I get to see them.

3. Balance - I am a certified Type A personality, so balancing all the things that come with working, motherhood, running a house, and any other activities take serious focus for me.  I wish I were one of those people who could let things go, let clutter build up, or not pay attention to the to-do list.  But I am not.  It literally makes me sick to have things out of my control.  I really tried to work on this in 2015.  And it's still a daily struggle for me.  My mind is constantly reminding myself in the moment to back off, take a deep breath, and put it into perspective.  This year, we were fortunate enough to do so many things.  I spent most of my summer off at the lake, making precious memories that I still think fondly upon.  We went to the beach numerous times, spending time with new and old friends, taking precious friendships into the next generation.  I tried hard to devote fun activities for Emma and I to do together on the days I was off work - boating, museums, library, playing outside, crafting, playdates, and daytrips.  This required me to let go of the daily chores at times, live with piled up laundry, and eat non-home cooked meals:)  But I loved every minute, and I am proud of myself (is that ok to I sound selfish?!?!)

4. Going outside my comfort zone - I did a lot of things that were beyond my comfort zone this year - the above paragraph being one of them.  I joined a Bible Study at church this fall, making new, unexpected friendships, learning to open up without fear of judgement from others, and embraced a weekly commitment (I am not big into weekly commitments...I don't like the lack of control it has on me and my schedule...don't judge, please!)
I opened up an etsy shop and started selling jewelry to friends and strangers.  This took a lot of courage, and still does.  Since opening in August, I have made over $1400.  That's not a lot, but I've enjoyed making pieces, interacting with strangers and helping create pieces they will love.  I enjoy making popular styles affordable for everyone.  I have no plans to grow any bigger for 2016, just maintain my small little shop:)
I tried hard to let earthly things not consume me this year.  I like things, and usually, they are expensive things.  And I realized that my consumption had far outfetched my needs in a big way this year.  So I set out to live below my means - something that is beyond hard to do in our culture.  I learned that I am much happier without "things" and that money spent on memories is priceless.

5. Working on myself - I started working out, regularly, in 2014 and I have stayed on this track.  I have made many friends at PopUp and just feel better about myself.  I have treid to make better food choices, and really pay attnetion to what I put in my body and how it makes me feel.  I haven't gone all paleo or anything.  I just know that certain foods make me feel bad, and that I need a lot of water throughout the day...and not too much sugar or caffeine.  I am not one for self-control, normally, so this is a challenge:)  I have enjoyed reading books this year, and bettering myself as a mother and woman.  I try to take breaks and be alone when I know I need it.  (I am currently sitting at Barnes and Noble, with a chai tea latte, by myself!!)  I try and focus on others because I feel that this direction of my time makes me feel fulfilled as well.  I strived to be "present" in every moment, not thinking about the past or future, staying at a healthy distance from my phone, and tried to focus on not comparing myself to others.  I also made it a point to have daily time with God.  I failed some days, but really tried to fit in just 5 minutes for Him (5 minutes out of 24 hours...I feel so convicted writing that...)  
I didn't figure it all out in 2015, but man, I learned so much and I head into 2016 with so much gratitude and confidence.  I will never stop making mistakes, learning, and moving on.  And honestly, I don't want to.  I have come to accept who I am, riddled with all my faults and baggage.  I can accept them because I know they are just small pieces of who I am, and that the larger person of me is someone whom God created with love and every grand intention He has for me in His plan.

So, Happy New Year, new day, new minute....I thank you so much for reading this, and wish everyone a most blessed life ahead.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas week - Part 2

I am a bit behind on posts, so this one may be a little long.  Fortunately, for yall, I did not take a ton of pictures Christmas Eve and Day.
It has literally been raining non-stop here.  I think we had one 24 hour period without rain, but otherwise, RAIN.  And I am SOOOOO over it.  It's also been hot, like so hot that I want to be sick.  My version of hell is a hot Christmas, and I got it this month.
So, we've resorted to Pinterest for crafts inside.  Emma and I made these paper plate people and they've been cheering me up in the dining room all week:)



This is the was so bad Wednesday that it was flooding our neighborhood, which rarely happens.

After working out, I decided I would take Emma to the new movie theater at University Mall to see the Chipmunks.  University Mall is a go-to for us, because I feel like Emma can run around and not bother anyone, or break anything.  Plus, she's always up for some goodies in Southern Season, or playing in Glee Kids.
Emma was allowed to take one animal inside.  She has a bad habit of wanting to pack her entire life into the car with us for a 10 minute trip down the road:)
The New theater did not disappoint....these are the seats!

 I took a selfie and sent it to Brent..who gets to live vicariously through us when he's working!
Emma had gummy bears,,,,I had Prosecco:)

She did REALLY well throughout the whole move...danced around, cuddled with me in my seat a few times, and laid there relaxed.


When we came out of the theater, it had stopped raining, so we went home to get dinner ready.  After eating, we all piled in the car to go look at lights.  I love doing this....I could drive around backroads or neighborhoods for a living.
This particular house in Parkwood never disappoints!


Christmas Eve, Brent was finally off work, so we could enjoy being together as a family.  We went to Target and the grocery store for last minute shopping. 
We also made a gingerbread house!
Church was at 5:30pm, and it was not a fun time. Emma acted like she had never been in a church before, and was so unruly.  None of us could pay attention to the service at all.  I think she may have been feeling bad, since we are all fighting colds...but still...
We all got dressed up and fancy, and this is the only picture I took....a selfie, in church.

That night, we made cookies for Santa, and Emma kept going over to the fireplace to see if Santa was coming down the chimney.


After she went to bed, we set out Santa's loot, and wrapped a few more gifts.  We didn't have anything to put together this year, so we were able to relax!


I didn't feel good all night, but rallied Christmas morning!  It was so fun seeing Emma get so excited about each new thing.  It took us about 2 hours to unwrap everything only because she would open something, then play with it for 15 minutes, not wanting anything to do with other gifts!
I snapped a shot of some new books I had asked for...I have already started 2 of them and LOVE them!  Every year I say this, but I am really trying to read more:)

Later that afternoon, we drove to Washington to have Christmas with Brent's family.  It had not rained that much down there, so we were able to play outside some the next morning.  These are the only pictures I took the whole time there.  Love my little country girl:)



Saturday afternoon, we drove back home to celebrate with my parents.  It was a wonderful night, and I did not take one single photo (I like to think it was because I was too busy being "present"!)
Emma got my old L.L. Bean bears and all their clothes and camping gear.  She has not let them out of her sight since.  I had to take all 3 bears with us into Target the other day.  I had no room for my groceries.

Brooklyn came over one afternoon for some playing and Grinch watching.  These 2 are playing so well together lately, despite their age difference:)


It was a wonderful Christmas, and I really enjoyed spending so much time with Emma and family.  The week after always seems to depressing for many people, but I am learning to find it more refreshing and peaceful than anything.  I feel like I can finally relax, now that gifts and parties and obligations are over.  I am still enjoying the coziness of our tree and decorations in the home.  I am off work until next week, so I can spend quality time with Emma and Brent.
(Ohhh..and on a sidenote, my pleurisy came back, or never went away after early I am on a new round of meds and hoping to feel better soon.  I am sure Brent and others are sick of me worrying about strange ailments that cause chest pain...DON'T Google that one!  I am super bummed because I can't workout and I am not sleeping well because of the pain with breathing.  The doctor said it can take up to 3 months to heal...I proceeded to slap her...kidding!  But seriously, pray for me!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas week - days 1 & 2

Monday was our first day of vacation, and I will was a long, rough day. I don't want to dwell on it, but let's just say I spent 20 minutes in the parking lot of Food Lion trying to convince Emma to sit in her car seat so we could go home with our groceries. And I also seriously considered asking strangers to scare her into listening to me. And I may have threatened her life once or twice.  Oh, and it took us 45 minutes of screaming to get dressed in the morning. Emma can be very sweet but she is also very, very strong willed and I have yet to find the magic thing that gets her attention in obedience. 

Anywho...we started the day at our neighbors, playing with some friends. To her credit, Emma did a very good job of sharing and being nice while playing. I'm convinced she puts on an act in front of others....

We then went to the Carolina Inn to look at the gingerbread house display. I originally had planned for us to have a girls lunch there, but decided to cancel it that morning. (And I'm glad I did with the rate of disobedience we were having!)

I will say that I was disappointed with the display this year. The man said they didn't get as many this year, and he was right. Emma enjoyed looking at the 4 houses and walking the halls, while I checked out the renovations in the Inn.

Tuesday, I had made reservations to eat breakfast with Santa at the Weathervane.  We eat there a lot with my parents, so I knew it would be a fun time. I was a little worried with the way the previous day had gone, so I turned up my mom skills and tried to make sure the morning went smoothly. 

As soon as we got there, the hostess showed us to our seat, and we passed Santa.  Emma jumped right in there and ran up to him and gave him a hug. I apologized to the other people waiting (whoops). But I guess I could be battling her freaking out every time she sees him, so I'll take her recent fondness of the big guy. 

They had a yummy buffet set up, so we got our food and while we were eating, Mrs. Claus came over. 

Then they gathered all the children around on the floor and told stories, sang songs, and read The Night Before Christmas. It was really cool!

When they were done, they said the children could give Santa a big hug..,so of course Emma shoved her way up there for one. 

And then, on our way out she wanted to give him a goodbye hug. 

So I'm not sure whether I am creeped out by her love of Santa or not. I've never seen her be that into a "stranger" and really forceful about it too!  She managed three good hugs with Santa in an hour...I'd say we got our money's worth:)

We have one more day before Christmas Eve, we are ready for dad to be off work!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NOT a Charlie Brown tree...

(Again...something must have for wrong with my blogger app on my phone because I wrote this last week and thought it was apologies if it's a duplicate post!!)

I have already said that I'm super proud of my tree selection this year. The Nordmann fir does not disappoint. 
For starters, I haven't vacuumed a single needle since we put lights on this baby. Go ahead be jealous:) 
And second, it's so full and the needles are so big!! I should be getting some sort of commission from the tree gods for singing so many praises about this tree specimen ...but I swear, so far this will be the tree we buy every year. 

It's a iPhone don't get too excited. And notice...a certain furry creature loves to sleep under it:) 

We use a tin bucket we bought at a hardware store as a tree skirt. But it also serves to protect our carpet from any leaks or spills. I just got tired of vacuuming needles around a tree skirt...and truthfully, tree skirts are not made for life with kids or pets :) 

Below are some pictures of my favorite ornaments...mostly made by me or Emma. I just love thinking back at all the memories each ornament brings. 

Emma's very first Christmas....

Brent and Emma made this for me for her  second Christmas...

I made this out of cedar in elementary reminds me of days spent outside with my dad while he worked in his shop:)

I don't know who made this...but it's absolutely beautiful. Probably my mom or grandmother. 

I love these laser cut ski ornaments. I have 2 and they are such a great reminder of all my many, many years spent on the water. 

I am working one more day this week then off for 2 weeks!! I am planning on doing crafts with Emma and sitting on the couch gazing at this beautiful tree. And if you're wondering...this thang ain't coming down until January!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Weekend recap

(I thought I had published this from my phone yesterday...but realized it never went through!) 

Emma had a big weekend - filled with her first manicure and cookie decorating. I am soaking up all the Christmas and family time I can this break!

I went to Emma's holiday party at school Friday. It's always so fun to see her with her friends and see what her life is like when I'm not with her. 

Saturday, Emma and I got manicures while Brent went and watched the UNC game at a bar:) It was a win-win! 

I was unsure if Emma was really old enough for this. But she did really good, up until she had to wait for them to dry and the lady had left (therefore not having anybody to entertain her) I chose red (duh) and let Emma have a sparkly light pink.  I had a glass of wine, Emma enjoyed a juice box. It wasn't as relaxing as my normal mani-pedis but it was so neat to watch her get excited and into it. 

It was not expensive, and I think we will make it a special occasion event going forward.  Emma had the best time showing everyone her nails that night :)

We went to my parents to make cookies and I fought my inner type A and let Emma have complete control over the decorating. She loves sugar sprinkles and chocolate...the more the better! 

And no weekend of Christmas fun is complete without eating cookies for breakfast!!

Merry, merry everybody!!!