Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back at 2013

Every year I do a post looking back at the year that was.  Most of the memorable moments after Disney aren't on the blog yet, so this may suffice for that.  :-)  I'm still hopeful I get them blogged soon!  :-)  I made a slideshow with some of my favorite memories for Instagram and FB, but I also had one that was a little longer, so I thought I would share that with you here!

January - celebrated 8 years of marriage by taking a weekend in Gatlinburg (Yes, EIGHT years!) although I got sick halfway through the weekend and ended up with pneumonia by Tuesday.

February - threw a surprise party for my Dad's 60th birthday and the following week Nicholas got to go to the toy store and pick a Jake toy as a reward for throwing away all of his pacis!  It was a busy week!

March - We enjoyed Spring weather and played outside A LOT!

April - Michael and I turned 32 and we celebrated Easter.

May - began Summer a little early with a shrimp boil with friends and a few pool days!

June - Enjoyed the lake and pool!  Michael also took a new job that allowed him to be home more and to have a job he really enjoys.

July - Nicholas turned 3!  How is that possible?!  At work I got a new office...complete with a window!

August - My mom and I threw a bridal shower for my cousin's fiancee Dani.  Football season kicked off and we got started with a 2-0 record!

September - Our most memorable moments for 2013 definitely occurred at Disney! I will never forget that trip and how much fun we had!

October -  October brought some changes for me...and with it, my blog.  I accepted a new position as OSHA officer of my company and with it came a lot more stress and work.  If you notice once that happened on October 2, the blog fell apart! Haha!  My Mom met a HUGE milestone at her job!  She celebrated her 35th anniversary at work, she has been there longer than anyone else!  She was also the 1st female associate and has outlasted everyone else!   My cousin Cameron got married on the 26th and Nicholas was his ring bearer.  This is a family tradition:  my mom was his grandmother's flower girl in 1960, his dad was my mom's junior groomsman, I was his parents junior bridesmaid, and Cameron was a groomsman in my wedding.  We spent Halloween trick or treating with our good friends.

November - My dad's team finished the regular season at 9-1 after a 9-0 start and made it the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.  We also hosted a "big old fashioned family Thanksgiving" for all of our family.

December - Enjoyed every minute we could of our sweet boy's 4th Christmas!

Christmas Week 2013

We had fun and exciting Christmas week at our house!  I took off the entire week just to spend some good quality time with Nicholas without work stress or feeling like neither of us were getting the best of each other.  It was the best decision I've made in a long time.  We had so much fun just being together!  When we got home from our last day or work and school on Friday, December 20, we kicked off our Christmas break by spending the evening making cookies together.  SO FUN!

On Sunday we hosted Michael's family for Christmas.  I made several appetizers and Michael made his famous eggnog and Nicholas had a great time.  He really got into opening gifts this year!  

He loved that Daddy wore the elf hat to hand out gifts!

Monday after Michael got home from work we took Nicholas to Rock City on Lookout Mountain...in 35 degree weather...to see the garden of lights.  It was so magical for him.  He LOVED seeing all the different scenes and lights.  My pictures aren't that great (have you ever tried to take pics of a wild 3 year old with Christmas lights, at night, without a flash?) but you get the idea.

Christmas Eve was a day of regrouping and getting ready for round 2 on Christmas Day at my parents house.  I got up early and went to Walmart to finish some last minute things, prepped breakfast casseroles, and in the afternoon, took Nicholas to our neighbor's to decorate cookies!  Nicholas LOVES the older kids in the neighborhood and getting to hang out with them and this was just the best afternoon to him!

Needless to say, we made a huge mess around the area where Nicholas was sitting!  Haha!

That night we made our traditional pot of gumbo and watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Nicholas is OBSESSED with "The Grinch" (not sure if I should be worried about this or not?!)  We have watched the movie approximately 20 times and he can sing the song almost word for word because we STILL listen to it in the car every time we are in it!

Nicholas left Santa a note, cookies, eggnog, and a carrot for Rudolph.

After we got Nicholas in bed Santa came to visit!  He must have thought Nicholas was good boy this year!

Nicholas got up around 9:00 Christmas morning and he was excited to see what Santa left him!  He LOVED his new pirate ship, Batcave, and jeep the best!

We went to my parents house at 1:00 for Christmas with them before my extended family got there at 3:00.  Nicholas helped my Dad open the gift we got him...a mug of some pictures from football season.  I think Nicholas was more excited about that than my Dad was!
Ever since we returned from Disney, Nicholas asks several times a week for "Mickey Waffles".  My parents just happened to have found a Mickey waffle maker at Toys R Us and gave it us together.  
 Nicholas was so excited for his new Mickey waffles!  Needless to say, we made a batch the next morning!

 My mom got me a new fleece throw that we can use next football season!  I was slightly excited about my new fleece blanket, especially at the thought of using it at cold games!
 Because I am a HUGE dork, I couldn't wait to get these two gifts out.  The British history nerd and type A planer in me were THRILLED to get these!

This year I ordered all the women on my list a monogramed scarf.  These were a HUGE hit and I think they all loved them!  Clearly, the Ross family posers had to pose for a picture!  The three of us never miss a chance to pose for a picture!  Haha!

 Nicholas went hard all day long!  He had such fun and it was definitely a Christmas to remember!  One thing we always try to get him to understand is how fortunate he is and that he should be very thankful.  I made sure he said thank you before everyone left and he went around and hugged everyone to tell them thank you!  Made my day!  I always want him to be thankful and not expect gifts or attention, especially on Christmas when we want him to understand the true meaning of the holiday.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  
Luke 2:14

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

In our Christmas Eve tradition, I'm posting this year's Santa picture.  We actually had 2 this year, one at school and one at the mall, but the day we saw him at the mall was awesome! Nicholas woke up yelling from his room "get up Mommy! It's a special day! I'm going to see Santa!" So, we got dressed and Nicholas insisted he wear his elf hat, which was a huge hit when Santa came out and saw him wearing it and said "even an elf came to see me!" It made our day!

Nicholas was so excited to sit in his lap and tell him everything he wanted. It was everything I've always dreamed my child's interaction with Santa would be...including a huge hug from Santa! 
Nicholas asked for a few things this year consistently: power ranger, Jake Legos, and nerf guns. This was his list from school

We will see tonight just how much of that he gets! Hopefully he has been a good boy because we have our milk and cookies ready, Nicholas is in bed, and mommy and daddy are relaxing watching a Christmas movie in bed. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

10 Years

10 years ago today I made the best decision of my life, I said yes to Michael's big question and agreed to marry him!  What a 10 years it has been. I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking back through old pictures last night and I couldn't help but notice how young we looked. We were 22 in this picture from the night we got engaged and we couldn't have dreamed of the wild ride we have been on. 

We have survived the loss of a parent within 6 months of marriage at 24 years old, multiple job changes, periods of time where we weren't sure if our marriage would make it (we actually had a stint in marriage counseling at the end 2006), two years of infertility, economy collapse while depending on an income from sales, and a house fire. Y'all, this was ALL before 28 years old!  If you had told those two skinny young kids that all that was headed their way, they would have ran screaming away from marriage. I am so thankful we didn't know the road God had for us. I am also thankful that divorce was never an option to us, only working it out. 

I cried a little looking back at how we were back then, so full of hope and optimism. We were constantly planning how we wanted our life to be. When we would buy a house, have a family, we had huge ambition. I missed those days a little. I laughed when I compared our Christmas pictures from each year. In 2003 and 2004 we were engaged and all but sitting in each other's laps, 2005 we had been married almost a year and we were cuddling or holding hands in every one, 2006 we were in the middle of counseling and I can tell a little strain in our faces, and by 2007 you could tell we were just an old married couple who were enjoying successful careers and trying to have a baby. Times had changed, but I could always see love when you look at our faces. 

I look at us in 2013. I honestly believe I'm more in love with Michael today than I was on this day 10 years ago. Our marriage has survived insurmountable odds and lived to tell about...still married. I've cried a little thinking about that and how much we have grown together. We not only grew as a couple but as individuals and didn't let that ruin our marriage. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for giving us the will to push through and still be a couple. I'm thankful for the turns and bumps along the road we have traveled. I'm thankful for a love that survived it all. I will always say that God gave me Michael to balance my type A, calculated personality. He knew exactly the person I needed and it is definitely Michael. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013

Be patient with me over the next few days as I attempt to get the blog caught up!  2 posts in less than 12 hours isn't bad for me!  Haha!  Yay insomnia!

The last weekend of September we made the decision to go to the pumpkin patch a week earlier than planned.  It was a day in the low-mid 70s and gorgeous sunshine, so we couldn't pass up such a nice day!  We went back to Old McDonald's Farm that we went to last year and it was so much fun!!!  Nicholas had so much fun and we did too!  We got there right after lunch and stayed for almost 3 hours!  There is a lot for kids to do there.  Nicholas spent an hour just going up and down the big slide and playing in the corn cribs!

Last year Nicholas could have cared less about the petting zoo, but he loved seeing the animals this year.  This age really is a fun age!  I love seeing all the new experiences and fun in his face every single day! We finally got him to sit still long enough to eat a hot dog before we went on the hayride to the pumpkin patch.  

The hayride is definitely my favorite part of our day there.  The entire ride to the pumpkin patch Nicholas kept telling us he was going to get "a giant pumpkin" like the one in a Bearenstein Bear book he loves. Haha! 

When we came home Nicholas proudly displayed his pumpkins for all to see on the front porch!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend 2013

This is my 1st of 6 catch up posts. We have had so many wonderful moments this Fall, I can't do just one big post!  This is a good thing and I hope to have them all up and posted by December 15...but we will see!  Since we just finished Thanksgiving, we will start there and get caught up from there.

Nicholas has been ALL about holidays this Fall.  He LOVED Halloween and Thanksgiving. All month he would ask if it was Thanksgiving day yet.  He kept telling me he wanted to eat some turkey!  Haha. The month of November flew by for us thanks to a long football season, but last week we made sure Nicholas understood that it was finally Thanksgiving week!  They spent the month talking about it at school and he actually started telling me all about how the "pirgrims came to Amerca on the Mayfrower to Prymuth Wock, then the Indians came to Amerca and they showed the pirgrims how to grow corn...which we have to eat on Thanksgiving." That was exactly how he said the words and told the story, even though he didn't understand the Indians were already here. Haha! 

Last year after all the insanity of 3 years of taking Nicholas to dinner after dinner, we decided to host one big family Thanksgiving.  We hosted 13 of our family for dinner at 4:00 and it was perfect!  Everyone got to spend time with Nicholas, no one felt rushed or hurried to get to the next meal and we were blessed to have all of our immediate family in our home at one time.  It was definitely the way to go and plan to make it a tradition!

My mom and I split up the meal.  Thankfully I have a large refrigerator in my garage, so we got together on Wednesday and made all of our sides and desserts.  I made sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, cranberry salad, pecan pie (truth, I bought it, something had to give and I chose for it to be the pie), pumpkin trifle, corn (because you apparently HAVE to have to it according to my 3 year old!) and deviled eggs.  My mom made dressing, mac and cheese (it is fabulous! Look for the recipe soon!), pumpkin pies, and green beans.  Michael smoked our 23 pound turkey all day and it was so good! 

Needless to say, no one left hungry!

Nicholas watched the parade and there is just something so special about watching the parade you watched every year as a kid with your own child.  This was his face when he saw Santa!  Priceless! 

My little cousins dressed as a pilgrim and Indian one year when they were little (they are now 19 and 22!). Their mom wanted me to dress Nicholas in Cody's old pilgrim costume and I will tell you, it was the sweetest thing ever!  

I love this picture using both Nicholas this year and Cody in 1997!  Again, priceless memories that are being passed down through generations. 

Thanksgiving night my mom and I kept our own tradition...Black Friday shopping!  I know it isn't good that stores open on Thanksgiving night, however for those of us who have limited time to shop, decorate, and pull off holiday gatherings, it works great for us. We started at Target around 8:30.  We loaded up on some toys, gifts, and Christmas lights and got in line. This was my view from the back of line. Haha!  It only took 40 minutes to weave in and out of every aisle from the front right corner of the store to checkout. 

From there we went to the mall.  We found some wonderful buys off our lists and the only line we waited in was for Pandora to open at midnight.  They let 2 in at a time and it was great. No crowd, no line (other than outside) and much less stressful than Pandora is on a Saturday in December! 

We actually got hungry and had a snack at 2am! Haha! 

I got in my bed at 3:36. It was a successful night and I felt much better knowing my shopping is 90% done!  Nicholas slept until 9:00 Friday, then it was up and time to decorate for Christmas! We started in his playroom with his Disney and pirate tree. I love how it turned out! So fun and festive, just like a kid's tree should be (I'm saving a picture of the final product for my home tour, but here is a sneak peek!)

Next we tackled the "big tree" in the living room.  I had more help than I could ever imagine. Nicholas didn't really want to help with his tree, but he was ALL about our family tree!  He pretty much decorated the bottom 1/3 with all of the plastic glittery ornaments while I worked on the tip 2/3 and the topper.  4 hours and 5 broken ornaments (luckily only 1 "good" ornament!) and we were finished!

I had quickly put up the 4ft tree I usually put in my room in between the two larger ones, but after looking at it from bed Friday night and Saturday morning, I decided we needed to upgrade to a 6ft like the playroom tree. Nicholas and I went to Walmart for stakes to stake down our exterior lights for Michael and came home with a new tree. Oops! :-) 

Nicholas quickly took claim to the small white tree and it is now in his room with his Cars ornaments, red, green, and gold. Next year I plan to make it a little more boyish, but for now, it's cute!

I will do a tour of our house and all of  the details closer to Christmas, but this is how we spent our long Thanksgiving weekend.  Yesterday we had a lazy pj day. It was definitely needed. This was view as I laid on the couch in sweats with my boy watching Disney Christmas movies all day! Perfect!