christmas recap

So I got ahead of myself and posted my year in review post before giving you a glimpse into our Christmas.  Oops! Oh well...thought you would still want to see!

Of course, as always, we were very busy...however, just as the saying goes, 3rd times a charm.  Our 3rd Christmas together went very smoothly as far as dividing up our time between our families and remaining relaxed and stress-free throughout it all.  What a blessing!

 Christmas Eve Eve
(yep, this is a phrase we use...in order to fit everything in...we start early.)

We went to our annual play tradition to see A Christmas Carol.

from left to right--Chad (my brother's best friend), Matt (my brother), me, Justin, Mom, and my aunt
That same evening we exchanged presents with just my immediate family.  

Boone snuck in at the last minute

with our Christmas PJs from Mom
We ended the night back at home reading the Christmas story from Luke to get our minds and hearts focused on the true reason we celebrate...the birth of our precious Savior. 

Christmas Eve

We started at my grandpa's (on my dad's side) for his annual Christmas Eve breakfast (yum!).

left to right--my uncle, my grandpa, and my dad
Next, was the annual tradition of Dollar Gifts at my grandparents' on my mom's side.

Dollar Gifts under the tree at my grandparents'
by the tree
my parents
my aunt
my grandparents
Our next stop was Justin's aunt's and uncle's house for a Christmas Eve dinner of wonderful lasagna and garlic rolls, plus lots of entertainment by adorable kiddos.

from left to right--Jennifer (my sis-in-law), Gentry (niece), Emma, Cooper (nephew), Alex, me, Hadley (niece), Ella, and Nicki (Nicki is Justin's cousin's wife and the other three kiddos are their little ones)
We had time this year to come back to our house and open up gifts between just us two (and Boone).  Justin's "big" gift was a new Fossil watch and mine was an art easel!

by our tree
hubby with his gifts from me
he wrapped these himself!
my easel!
Christmas kisses
Our evening ended with our candlelight service at church (and traveling in a winter wonderland to get there...yep, we had a white Christmas!)

Christmas Day

Our morning started early...we headed to my mom's and dad's house to open "Santa" gifts with my brother.  (This is a tradition that my mom and dad have carried on from our childhood.  Such fun!)  Our "big" gifts included a KitchenAid mixer for me, a compact drill for Justin, and a new flat screen TV for our bedroom for both of us.

waiting to open gifts
We then went next door (yep, next door) to my grandparent's on my mom's side to open up gifts.  This was just round one for the day, as we take turns opening up one gift at a time.  Takes lots of time...but I love being able to see the expression on everyones face as they open their gifts...plus it allows for tons of stories and laughter as we share where we found the gift, how we found it, or listen to my grandpa explain with each gift that he opens that he really doesn't need it...plain and simple. Ha!

back at my grandparents'
my grandma always stuffs stockings for all of us (which she made)
with my aunt
We left there and headed down the road to open gifts with Justin's immediate family.  Our nieces and nephew made that a fun, exciting time as each toy they opened lit up their faces with excitement.  Later that day the rest of Justin's family came over to his mom's and dad's for a Christmas lunch.

Gentry opening
Hadley opening
Cooper opening
Our day ended back at my mom's and dad's for a nice Christmas steak dinner (a tradition we started a few years ago) and the completion (round 2) of opening gifts with everyone from that morning.

around the tree at mom's and dad's
the pretty table...love my mom's Christmas china!
It was such a blessed, enjoyable time. As always, we loved every moment of being with family.  Both sides are always so wonderful and flexible to help us include every festivity possible.

I have loved reading about your Christmases as well.  
Praying you have a blessed and Happy New Year!

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a year in review

I cannot believe 2010 is almost over! I feel like it was just 2000.  It's crazy also, because in this past decade, a lot has happened.

2000--Graduated from Middle School
2004--Graduate from High School
2008--Graduated from college, got my first teaching job, bought our home, and got married!
2009--Adopted Boone

I mean really, the past decade has included all the big life changes that have happened in my 24 (almost 25) years on earth.  I'm so excited to see where God takes us in the next year...and even decade!

So let's recap the past year...

-Finally hung wedding pics in our bedroom
-Tutored for the first time
-Attended Winter Blitz with our church youth group to help out

-Took GRE
-Got super sick with the worst stomach virus of my life.  (This made Valentine's Day a little less enjoyable. Poor hubby.)
-hung wedding pics in living room

-Celebrated Boone's first "Gotcha Day" on March 5th (the day he was adopted)
-Celebrated my grandma's 80th birthday
-Celebrated my 24th birthday with dinner at Macaroni Grill with the family
-file cabinet makeover

-After much changes in our school, I found out my teaching assignment for this year would be 4th grade
-Helped lead a Middle School church retreat
-Hot water heater and AC went out in the same day

-accepted into masters program (Masters of Education with a Reading and Writing Endorsement)
-Derby party celebration
-Celebrated my grandpa's 87th birthday
-Took first masters class
-two year anniversary of closing on our house
-had AC repaired
-bought HE frontloaders after washer went out
-helped organize huge yard sale at our church to benefit our women and youth ministries

-celebrated the end of a my 2nd year of teaching
-visited Farmers Market regularly on Saturday mornings
-started our garden
-mini-makeover to office (including bookshelf makeover)
-hubby started a lawn care business on the side with his friend, Chad
-took more classes
-created DIY curtains for the living room
-road trip to Frisco and Paris, TX for Justin's best friend's wedding
-visited my first IKEA in Frisco, TX
-mission trip with our church youth group to Hartselle, Alabama

-started my Etsy shop
-celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary
-family vacation to Washington D.C.; also visited Baltimore, Maryland for the first time

-started the couch to 5k training program (sadly, didn't complete it all the way)
-got my classroom ready for the upcoming year
-celebrated the blog's one year birthday
-started my 3rd year of teaching

-created a little storage DIY for the kitchen
-started cutting Justin's hair at home
-hosted a Fall decor link-up on the blog
-started teaching the young adult Sunday School class at church

-visited the pumpkin patch
-spent Fall Break in Disney World!
-started Thursday Questions with hubby

-celebrated hubby's 25th birthday
-hubby got his first guitar as an early graduation/bday gift
-created my chalkboard ornaments
-started 30 for 30
-celebrated Thanksgiving with family

-hosted the 12 Days of Christmas link-up
-saw Christmas lights in the mega cavern
-first snow day of school year (3 the week before Christmas break)
-celebrated Boone's 2nd birthday
-Justin graduated with his bachelors
-celebrated my little brother's 21st bday
-of course...Christmas celebrations!

And just for fun....

2010 Top Posts:
1. Disney World--in just one post?!
2. deals and steals
3. decking the halls

2010 Top Referring Sites:
1. Page's Crazy Joy blog
2. Katie's The Burt Hive blog
3. Chelsie's ...love, Chelsie blog
(thanks ladies!)

2010 Top Visiting Countries:
1.  United States
2.  Canada
3.  Puerto Rico
4.  United Kingdom
5.  Russia
(how fun is that?!)

Happy New Year to you and yours! May 2011 be the best one yet...filled with God's abundant grace and blessings! I look forward to another year of posting and reading! Thanks for being such a special treasure in my life as a supporter and reader of this blog!

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Congratulations to my hubby...

He graduated with his bachelor's in business management this past weekend! What a testimony of perseverance, determination and hard work! I'm so proud of him and the amazing man of God that he is!

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ice, ice, baby

Santa came to town early here and delivered three, yes three, snow days for us teachers this week! Crazy since I can't remember ever having a snow day before Christmas break,even as a kiddo. And even though I had mixed feelings about it, I'm celebrating that I just got a call that our third snow day will be tomorrow, which means my break has started two days early! Earlier in the week we were dealing with snow...and then last night, we got sleet and freezing rain...so our neck of the woods is like one big ice skating rink.  I thought I would have a go with my first video post to share our pup ice skating on our steep driveway!

So it's probably one of those things where we think our kid is the cutest...and you may not be as impressed.  But we love our pup and think he's something special. :)
(His 2nd birthday is Saturday, too!)

Happy early birthday, Boone!

(Seriously, it just feels like no time at all since we adopted him and brought him home looking like this...)

We have lots of celebrating to do this weekend...and I will update in a couple days or so with details!

Have a wonderful weekend!

p.s.  I'm featured over at Thankfully Thrifty today! Thanks, Ashleigh, for the shout-out!

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I'm loving...


(Linking up the the sweet Jamie today!)

I'm loving that I finally had time to wrap some presents!

I'm loving that we had a snow day on Monday which made my weekend 3 1/2 days long since I also took a 1/2 personal day last Friday afternoon.  Embarrassingly, I slept until 9:44 and got up just in time to get ready to go to brunch with my family.  Love it! (Crazy thing is we may have another one on Thursday b/c they are calling for ice in our area.) This is so early to have snow days in our neck of the woods!

I'm loving these boots.  I cheated a tad with 30 for 30...and swapped out my jean jacket I hadn't worn at all for the 30 days for these boots since we are now about to have our 3rd snow (all 3 inches or so at least).  I wasn't planning on that when I picked my 30.  Forgive me.  These are to.die.for comfort with leggings.  Flip flops for winter.  Seriously.
from Target

I'm loving that I have at least two get-togethers planned with friends over my Christmas break that I have not been able to spend enough time with at all lately.  Love that!

I'm loving that my 2 week long Christmas break starts Friday at 3:00.  Lots of relaxing and festivities to come! Whoo hoo!

And I'm loving that my handsome hubby has baked cookies (you're reading this hours after I've written thanks to timed posts)...so excuse me please...I'm going to go enjoy them.

What are you loving?

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date night blessings

Today, I'm linking up with Natalie's Blessing Box.

I need to share this blessing with you in hopes that it may also bless you.  (It's one of those things way too great to hold onto as a secret.)

Justin and I have started "Thursday Questions"...an idea I got from the fabulous Loerke's from Today's Letters.  This fab couple started asking four questions to each other each week in which they coined as "Tuesday Questions".  They've shared their questions on their blog and encouraged other couples to use them.  They have been such an amazing blessing and inspiration to Justin and me.  Now each Thursday, whether it's on a walk, at a restaurant, over dinner at our kitchen table, or just sitting on the couch, we ask each other these four questions....

1. How did you feel loved this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy this week? 

Seems simple? Maybe it is...but it's exactly what we needed to stir up more intentional communication in our marriage.

This past Thursday, our date night included dinner out (thanks to a gift card from last Christmas).  Next we went to a special light show that is in a mega cavern that runs under our city.  Crazy, huh? It was so neat to drive through this awesome light display.

Justin was excited to be driving underground

We ended our night shopping at Kohl's for our Angel Tree kiddo from church.

What a blessing of a night with my hubby.  Love you babe.

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on a normal day

this is what our house looks like.

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

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merry musings

Today's topic...

Christmas Musings!
(anything else you want to share)


Grab the button and link-up for the fun!

Now that our friends and family should have received our Christmas card in the mail, I'll share it with blog world to send greetings your way too!

created at shutterfly

 Thanks so much to those of you that linked-up to the fun and those that took time to comment and read through the 12 Days of Christmas! What fun it was!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!
May it be a blessed one.

Rejoice with great joy!
Nehemiah 12:43

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christmas spending savvy

Today's topic...

Thrifty Christmas Tips!


Grab the button and link-up for the fun!

If you've read my blog for long, you know that I'm all about being thrifty and saving money! Our budget is our friend.  And that fact doesn't change around the holidays!

A few things that keeps us budget-focused during the holidays...

-First things first...create a Christmas spending budget and stick to it.  (We go as far as setting a specific amount we're spending for each person.)

-Pay with cash.  (If you've budgeted for an item, you can easily pay cash for it.  If you pay with cash, you won't feel the expense after Christmas, too.) 

-Keep a record of every gift you buy so you see how much you have left to spend on someone.  It helps you stay focused when you shop and allows you to easily see how much you can still spend.

-Go in together with someone on a gift that may be too much to spend.
-Make a gift.  Handmade is always cherished!

-Buy in groups.  For example, Old Navy recently had a buy one, get one free sale on sweaters...there you can get a better deal on an item, plus you will have an item for two people on your list.  Or many times Bath and Body Works offers deals when you buy three or more of something.  If it would be a nice gift for more than one person on your list, go ahead and buy three of them (as long as you have a recipient in mind).

-Hunt for deals.  If you've vowed to be more crafty with next year's gifts...hit up the day after Christmas sales for 50% off items.

-Host a Christmas party together with a friend or another couple.

-If you can't afford it...don't buy it.

And really...remember things are just things.  Giving should be joyful, not a budget burden.  The real gift of Christmas is that God's love was given to us in a manger.  His love and grace are ours for the taking and giving.  Share that priceless message with someone this Christmas.  It's absolutely free.  How much better does that get?

What are your thrifty holiday tips?

Link up your Christmas musings (anything else you have on your heart/mind) tomorrow for our final day of the 12 Days of Christmas link-up!

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decking the halls

Today's topic...

Your Christmas Decorations!


Grab the button and link-up for the fun!
our tree!
my grandma made our pretty tree skirt
the stockings were hung...by the tv with care (we don't have a chimney)
end table
this arrangement was made by some of the ladies at our church
foyer (the runner matches our tree skirt and was also made by my grandma)
this arrangement was also made by some of the ladies at our church; this is the first time we've used the lantern (love how it looks with ornaments inside it!)
and another pretty arrangement from church (we have a bazaar each year)
hubby picked this beautiful poinsettia up for me the day after Thanksgiving and the sled was picked up the day after Christmas at a sale...love it!
above our cabinets in the kitchen (pretty plate was given to us from my mother-in-law)
took this pic before December...we change his heart each day in December
arrangement walking into eat-in area of our kitchen
even the bathroom gets decked for the season!
extra bedroom
christmas decor in the master

Can't wait to see your decor!

Tomorrow...we're getting thrifty! Share your money-saving tips for Christmas.

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