Wednesday, December 31

Auld Lang Syne

Old days gone by. I can't say that part of me isn't ready to bid farewell to 2008. My family's business has suffered tremendously, and of course personal finances have become so burdensome and taken years off my life. I see greater worry in my husband's eyes and more gray hairs on my sweet mom's head. That said, our healthy children, family and friends are greater blessings than we deserve.

This past year has been short, chaotic, whole-hearted, thoughtful, hopeful, reflective, doubted, exciting, anxious, loving, generous, forgiving, amazing, spiritual, encouraging, off-balance and fullfilling.

My short life has not been without sweet and sour, and for that I am stronger. This was a year filled with personal growth opportunities for me in my professional world, as I learned about sacrifice and loyalty, my home life with a new 1st grader to learn about responsibilities and an infant transitioning to toddler demonstrating his very own personality and spirit. Also, my tender hearted young husband struggling with his golf deamons and being a part-time single father, while I serve the Junior League in a whole new capacity. My volunteerism with the JLGWH has been such an opportunity and learning experience this year. My heart has been replenished by the rewards of helping others and the friendships that have grown out of this experience have added so much to my life.

Most significant this year, above all those useless earthly concerns, was the peace and love we experienced as Justin and I continued our spiritual journey at Grace. After becoming members last year, we then resolved to re-direct our family's focus on our Heavenly Father and our family's life has been so enriched by our faith and worship of His love. Here is wishing you and yours a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 29

Noni Visits!

New visitor from up North, on Friday we took Uncle Phillip to the airport and upgraded a guest (no offense P, but she did bring us great stuff!!) LOL. Justin's mom, more fondly known as our "Noni" arrived and we were so excited to have something to look forward to post-Christmas. We opened gifts, and caught up on all the So. MD happenings and we are enjoying Grandma Noni's visit, and she simply adored her picture of the boys!

Mimi's BIG gift

As many of you know, the end of the year has been a bitter sweet arrival for my family as we prepare for my sweet angel sister and Bro-in-law to leave for the Caymans. Uncle Chad put on his Elf hat for one last bang before Christmas and at my mom's idea, for the perfect gift for Jackson this year. Our handy Uncle C built his a half pipe. That's right, a skateboard ramp which is sure to guarantee a broken bone or two ... you can imagine my excitement! Jackson, however, was elated and when he opened the door to the garage at Mom's on Christmas Day - he knew right away that this must be St. Nick.

Saturday, December 27

5:30 am: "Guys, Santa came!!"

We were so exhausted and sleeping so soundly that we didnt even feel Jackson squirm out of bed and into the living room. He ran back into our room yelling and almost gave us a heart attack! Suprisingly, he was content enough for the moment to go back to sleey until the sun came up and we could get little Dane to see just what Santa's visit brought. Santa always leaves the boys a special note which of course I keep each year and this was the 1st year that Jackson could read the letter himself. What a moment that was... our morning was so magical.

Dane has earned a new nickname lately, "rainman". Our little artist just draws and draws, on the walls, the tile, paper, himself, anything he can. He of course loved his doodle pad.
He asked Santa for an alarm clock this year, so he could wake up like a big boy for school.
Aunt weeble was styling her adorable Cowboy Santa PJ's, compliments of Tiger Lily designs! She and Chad looked so adorable Christmas morning. Everyone comes over in the PJ's to watch the paper fly and boys sqeaul!

Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

Our Stella girl is in heaven with all the extra little "toys" around to chew up!

With a tough economy Justin and I definatley were more conservative with our spending this year and had the Christmas eve panic attack that Jackson didn't really have many presents to open. While Dane is still at the age, that the boxes are as interesting as their contents, Jackson's gifts are more expensive so a PSP and a few games don'tmake for many packages. However, when Jackson yelled out that "I am the luckiest kid in the whole world" on Christmas morning, Justin and I just looked at each other and our holiday was complete!
We are so blessed with a generous loving family. Every Christmas Eric (Jackson's dad) and his fiance, Allison, come over early Christmas morning to share in the Santa experience. We all go in together on our little man's gifts, and it is so touching when I look over to see 2 dads simultaneously recording with the video cameras. It is definately a wonderful life!


Poppa Duke always knows just what to get! He makes special times so fun!

The P.J. pants that I made for the boys to wear the night before Christmas... unfortunately the seam of Jackson's crotch didnt hold up and as he sat criss cross opening gifts, we all saw his little boxers underneath! I keep learning as I go!

Christmas with the Waters family lots of kids = lots of fun!
Blended families make for busy Holidays... and spoiled little ones! My boys opened presents for days and the celebrations just kept coming.

Sunday, December 21

On the 5th Day of Christmas

Justin and I have the sweetest tradition, and each year he and I do The 12 Days of Christmas, which we started last Sunday. Small ($5 or less, even free) thoughtful gifts are the purpose that are a sweet little suprise each day that keep us connected during the holidays. It is so great for showing each other that the little things are noticed! Being on the run, I had been out of coffee for like 2 days - ugh. This was my gift this morning =) my favorite Columbian from Richard's.

Good Cheer

We have been sharing the joy of the season and preparing for the big guy's arrival! Uncle Phillip, Justin's BFF (yes they are totally metro) arrived into town on Wednesday, and the boys were so excited. I just love Phillip, and seeing him and Justin together truly just warms my heart. They are like big 7 year olds that just play video games, golf and wrestle with the real kids in the house. We are glad Phillip will be here for Christmas. He has definately gotten a tast of life in the "crazy house" as my sister calls it, and we have been on the go.

Our teacher gift this year was so great! Creative HR moms made this photo wreath with rolled bills for our teacher. This certainly beats 19 candles or "teacher's have class" ornaments! Mrs. A loved it!

Jackson's 1st Grade class Christmas party

This is our family tree with all of the kids' ornaments and home made ones from all the years, and those passed down from tradition and grandparents. Yes, fragile and irreplaceable. So, you can guess which tree all suddenly fell last week, breaking a number of ornaments... the next day one strand of lights went out on the house - making them all dark. "It's the most wonderful time of the year" - that is what we sing during these moments, you know to avoid an obscenity in front of the children!

Mommy's Tiger Tree

Christmas Tree Lane is actually a combination of streets in my hometown of Bartow, where the houses deck the halls and even Chevy Chase himself can't compare. It is so gorgeous! Horse drawn carriages also take cozy passengers should you choose. My first house after moving home from college was on CTL, and we loved it. On Thursday, our "pop-pop" and 'Mi-Mi" (aka mom and jimmy) took us on a hay ride to see all the gorgeous lights.

Sunday, December 14

LRYCC Holiday Party 08

We "rocked the party" last night at Lake Region Yacht & Country Club's annual Holiday Party. An elegant evening with four course meal, swing band, and of course the cocktails and champagne were flowing. We shared a table with the Myers and Fischers which ensured that no moment was dull. The club was packed and the staff was on top of their game, our new Chef LeeAnn prepared the most yummy lobster ever. In the Pro's Nest next door the boys enjoyed the kid's festivities with their friends eating pizza, playing video games, and watching movies. How i love a good party!

Saturday, December 13

Christmas party circut in full swing!

(justin thinks he is funny impersonating me in this picture - hmmm not so much)

My dear friend Jennifer recently went to NYC and brought me back the most gorgeous silk from our favorite store Mood (as seen on Project Runway!). I was so proud of how this dress turned out, it is my favorite design to date, though I have to admit the fabric gets all the credit. (pay no attention to the half decorated tree in the background-one down, one to go)
Justin and I enjoyed the East Polk County Assoc of REALTORS (EPCAR) party at Tanners last night. Their are few of us real estate industry pros left due to the current market, and those who are left... know how to party, we all could use a drink lately! We decorated our tabletop tree for the mission donation, while it did not win, it was meaningful to me donning minature musical instraments for ornaments and entitled "make a joyful noise unto the Lord". The entry "fee" was a bag of canned goods that will also be donated to the mission and they we piled high at the entry. Party with a purpose are always the best kind. After the party we walked next store to Tsunami Sushi for our favorite Mexican roll!

Friday, December 12

Angel Alert

Jackson's Christmas program was Wednesday at Grace Lutheran and the Music and program were the best I've seen. He was so "into" it and his moves and singing, so intense. I was all tears as he and the other angels proclaimed the birth of precious baby Jesus. I am so proud of the school's music program and of course we just love the church as well. I think both of boys have thrived and grown up in his glory due to the solid spiritual foundation we have enjoyed at Grace Lutheran. No pictures are allowed in the Sanctuary, but here a couple of my cutie pies at our post-program dinner.

Monday, December 8

Happy Birthday Dane!

Our celebration of Dane's birthday weekend was absolutley perfect. The boys had a wonderful time and Jackson told me often, that this was "the best weekend of his entire life". When Dane saw Barney up close and personal that wonderment look on his face, mezmorized by the magic of the moment, it literally brought tears to mine and Justin's eyes. We made so many wonderful memories and it was a much needed getaway for the four of us, to reconnect during this hectic time of year. It was pure bliss all weekend, and since we decided to upgrade to annual passes we plan to enjoy both parks a lot more. We stayed at the Royal Pacific hotel which made both days much more relaxing. The gorgeous hotel is at Universal Studios so we could simply walk back to the room when the boys needed a rest or nap (or when mom and dad wanted to watch the gator game and enjoy a drink!)and then headed back to the park for the extrordinary holiday parade. The room key doubles as your fast pass in both Universal and Islands of Adventure, so not only a money saver, but saved tons of time. Both parks were great we loved the Macy's Christmas parade, the perfect weather, the Barney Show, Grinchmas (this was the very first weekend of this new debut program and it was awesome), Who-ville and Cat and the Hat, Jurassic park (Jackson was obsessed with the Egg Scan) The Hulk, Superheros, Shrek, Spongebob - what a blast!

Wednesday, December 3

Cat in the Hat Celebration

The people have spoken! and Cat and the Hat it is! Though, I am wondering if my husband just kept going on to vote, he just loves that movie with Michael Meyer. However, after much consideration of what will be the best possible birthday for my (almost) 2 year old, we decided that our family could use a little get a way. With the stress of the holidays, visitors, and crazy schedules, we decided that a weekend at Disney for Dane's birthday would be just what the 4 of us need. This will be Dane's first trip to Disney! Now that the *pointe* is all a glow with holiday lights, we have been taking the kids on a golf cart ride every night to look at Christmas lights, and Dane is in awe. He howls and points at every house and I just know he will love Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade, and the magic of it all.

Of course, I wanted to Dane's special day to include it all, so we are having an early morning "send-off" party, featuring... you guessed it, Green Eggs and Ham - anyone have a good recipie!?

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