I have decided to take on a New Year's challenge for the 2012 Leap Year. I've moved my blog and you can find me over at http://alittletimeout.wordpress.com/. I hope that you follow me as we move into this New Year!
It is always SO much fun decorating our house for Christmas each year. My goal this year was to have fewer Christmas ornaments broken, than I had last year. I am happy to report that we met that goal. I believe that only 1 ornament broke compared with last year's 5 ornaments! The kids are always so helpful and we really enjoy making our home full of Christmas cheer. Here's a tour around our home after "We Decked the Halls"!
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
I love looking back at all of our Santa pictures with the kids. Lots of memories with each one.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care....
Side note: My stocking is on the end to help with the coordination of the stocking pattern.
So many favorites here: Snowmen - they are my favorite! The skinny snowmen group - I remember shopping with my mom when she bought these. I was delighted that she gave them to me when I left home. The Santa boots - Jason and I both have these and they are from our childhood. The picture of Abby Kate - priceless picture of our passionate child and what Santa thought of us for putting her into his lap.
Some more favorites: The picture of Jason, me, and our Cocker Spaniel, Andy - our dear friends took this picture of us for one of our Christmas cards. Little did we know that I was pregnant with the twins when this picture was taken (2003). Abby Kate and Joshua with Santa - they were 5 months old in this picture with Santa. Our first Christmas with babies (2004). The picture of Joshua and Abby Kate with the red frame - love their little personalities that were captured here. Joshua is fascinated with the ornament (ball) and Abby Kate is inquisitively trying to figure out who has her (2005).
Our little first Christmas tree. This tree has our Precious Moments ceramic "Our First Christmas Together - 1999" ornament and last year I found the Precious Moments nativity set. It is a small one, but I love Precious Moments and have always wanted a "small" nativity set for our home. This tree and the special Precious Moments stay in our room during the holidays.
Joshua's Christmas tree
Abby Kate's Christmas tree
Jackson's Christmas tree
And what's Christmas without a house full of Christmas goodies? Our kitchen table was converted to our sweets' and appetizers' table for the duration of the Christmas celebrations.
It's been a long time since I last updated my blog. And, we've been extremely BUSY! So many wonderful things have happened this year and then we've had some really hard times as well. Here is my attempt at highlighting some of our great memories and these are in no particular order.
1. This time a year ago, Jason and I were somewhere mid-flight from the United States to South Africa. It took us a VERY long time to get there, but when we did, we met some of the sweetest brothers and sisters in Christ. I love the fact that facebook allows me the privilege to keep in touch with my friends from so far away. Jason was invited to preach at the South Africa Area Wide Preaching Workshop. I had the opportunity to teach the ladies a class on teaching young children. I gained some great friends during our time away and I still treasure our time abroad with the sweet people of South Africa. AND, it was really cool celebrating New Year's Eve in two different time locations!
2. We had SO MUCH SNOW last January! 7 1/2 inches at our house! We woke up to a White Christmas on Christmas Day and then a few weeks later, experienced the greatest snowfall I ever remember. It was awesome! We were out of school for little over a week and our town was basically shut down. Our days were spent together with each other, lots of fun in the snow, hot chocolate, movies, and pj days. Those days are still some of my favorite memories of our family time together.
3. Our family went to Knoxville for our very first UT basketball game. We had so much fun cheering on the Volunteers and enjoyed being on campus without the huge crowd that the football games usually bring.
4. SEATTLE! We spent our Spring Break in Seattle and the kids are still talking about our trip there. We had such a great time out there and loved every minute of it. We visited Mt. Rainier, the Hammering Man, Pike Place Market, the FIRST Starbucks, we also toured Seattle duck style-"Ride the Ducks", visited the Childrens' Museum, and took a moment to watch the water display at the "International Fountain". We also visited the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, the Elliot Bay Book Company and we caught a Mariners Game at Safeco Field. On our final night in Seattle, we watched the lights come up on Seattle from Gas Works Park. We had an incredible trip and a wonderful time in the city with our family!
5. We began the process of building a house! It was so much fun, but with a terrible housing market, we lost that house and are now continuing to rebuild - the exact same house, but in a different location. It is stressful, but definitely fun seeing all the hard work that you put into creating a house turn out beautifully. Hopefully we will be able to actually move into this house and our current house will sell. At least, that's what we hope.
6. We took our annual trip out to St. Louis to catch a few Cardinals' games. We saw 3 games, went swimming, visited the St. Louis Zoo, and took the kids inside the Arch for their first time. We love St. Louis and we love baseball, so we enjoyed our family vacation time in this great city!
7. The twins started first grade at the "Big School" this fall with ME as their teacher! I absolutely LOVE teaching my own children in my classroom each day! What a unique opportunity I have been blessed with.
8. Jackson and I joined Jason out in Texas for a weekend while he was away for two weeks of Doctoral work at ACU. Jackson turned 4 during our time out west and we wanted to be together to celebrate. I am proud of Jason for working towards his Doctorate, but it is definitely hard and time consuming. Hopefully Jason will graduate in 2014 with his Doctorate of Ministry. AND then, I receive my reward of "Putting Hubby Through School" with a trip to Hawaii. But, I'm not counting down the days or anything. :)
9. All 5 of us ventured out to the UT/Georgia football game this fall. Jackson had never been to Neyland and the 5 of us had never been to a game together. We always love going to Knoxville for some good fall football.
10. Family time at Thanksgiving and Christmas - We enjoyed Thanksgiving Day with Jason's side of the family and dinner with my parents and grandparents. For Christmas, we enjoyed a 3 day celebration. I was surprised a little early with my Christmas gift - a beautiful little Shih Tzu puppy that we named Sadie - Sadie Belle for the full name. :) I loved making all kinds of Christmas goodies and treats: chex mix, puppy chow, fudge, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered peanuts, and sausage balls. And then we enjoyed some great meals together. For Christmas Eve breakfast, we had eggs, bacon and chocolate chip heart-shaped waffles. For Christmas Eve dinner, Jason grilled some ribeyes and I made salad and baked potatoes. We awoke Christmas morning to some great gifts from Santa! We must have been really good this year. My mom, dad, and Mimi came down to join us for church Christmas morning and then we ate a feast of chicken and dressing casserole, green beans, fresh corn, mac n' cheese, deviled eggs, rolls, and my mom brought her sweet potatoes. I truly enjoyed our time with my parents and grandmother. On Monday, Jason's family came down to join us for a Christmas celebration. Jason really wanted a turkey, so I went to work on making sure the turkey was just perfect, and I think that I succeeded. Tara brought down her dressing and I fixed cowboy potatoes, mac n' cheese, green beans, fresh corn, deviled eggs and we had some rolls from Jason' aunt. We had fun exchanging gifts and enjoyed our time together. We are very blessed to be surrounded my our wonderful family.
11. There are always several small little things that we do every year. Here's a list of a few....strawberry pickin', Fun Fest, Chattanooga Aquarium, Halloween, Tate Farms, Easter, shooting guns, Birmingham Zoo, US Space and Rocket Center, diggin' and pickin' taters out of the ground and pickin' fresh vegetables, spring and fall baseball for Joshua, the Fourth of July with dear friends, swimming days in the summer, Summer Celebration at Lipscomb University, a trip to Kentucky for some fresh corn and veggies, surprising Jason with his Dad's guitar for Father's Day, watching the kids' celebrate their 4th and 7th birthdays this summer, VBS, beach trip, Kindergarten graduation, and many more wonderful memories of our time together as a family.
It is no secret that Jackson's bedtime habits have drastically changed this year. He has worn both Jason and me out come bedtime. Jackson can't stand to be alone when going to bed and has turned bedtime into a very trying time.
This summer we were all out of school and we tend to let our hair down a little more. Plus, Jason was gone out of town for 3 weeks. Needless to say, I was not as strong about enforcing a consistent bedtime routine. We were fortunate enough to have a Parenting Conference this past weekend and I am happy to say that Jason and I have commandeered our nights back this week. I captured most of the pictures below after a couple of hours of going round and round with Jackson to go to sleep. Even though I was worn out each night, he still has a way of melting my heart!
the reclining chair in our hotel room in St. Louis
mom and dad's bed with his night-night and monkey
fell asleep at my feet while I was on the phone with Jason
in the den outside of his bedroom
asleep in the den just right outside his room
asleep on the couch beside me
I love the sweater vest that he chose to put on
he surprised me by actually being quiet in his room
I had to check it out (because I thought that he had actually fallen asleep)
Jason and I recently celebrated our 12th anniversary! In so many ways it seems like only yesterday that we were standing before an audience, at the Mt. Juliet Church of Christ on a hot summer day in August, pledging our love to each other. In other ways, it seems like a really long time ago. Our lives have been so richly blessed by each other. I am thankful for the family and friends that God has placed in our lives over these last 12 years.
We were able to celebrate our anniversary with a getaway to Nashville. The kids stayed over at Uncle Richard's and Aunt Tara's house and had a blast!!! They went to a football game and went out on the boat for their first time. They loved the water and had a great time! Jason and I stayed in Nashville and enjoyed our time together. I am so grateful for the opportunities where Jason and I can just get away together; just the two of us. We enjoyed meals together, saw The Help, did some shopping, and Jason took me to my first Grand Ole Opry show! I loved visiting our old stomping grounds...the same restaurants, the same movie theater, the same mall....it's fun strolling down memory lane.
I have been to the Opry house on several occasions, but I had never actually been to the "Grand Ole Opry". One would think that for living 21 years of my life in Nashville that I had actually been to the Opry, but I hadn't. We saw Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Martina McBride, and countless others. I loved every minute of it!
Jason, I love that we share so many common interests. We love to travel, watch the Cardinals play ball, visit baseball stadiums, go to concerts (there's just something about live music), go to the movies, read, share some time together over a cup of coffee, and just being together. Jason, I love you more and more each day! I am so grateful that I have you as my one true love. "Baby, you're the greatest!" Happy Anniversary!
The Grand Ole Opry
They were honoring his 20 years in The Opry the night we were there.
I'm really excited to have a date at The Ryman in December to see
Vince Gill and Amy Grant's "The Twelve Days of Christmas" tour.
We started school last week and we are all of to a great start! Jackson has "Mrs. Rufie (Ruthie) as his teacher this year, and he is loving every minute of it. Joshua and Abby Kate are excited about their teacher this year...ME!!! I'm am beyond excited to be sharing Joshua and Abby Kate's first grade school year with my babies! I still cannot believe that they are old enough to be up at the big school and to be in my classroom. I know that we will have a great year! Here are some pictures from our first day!