Sunday, December 29, 2013

family pictures 2013

Last month we took a little trip with my parents to the great southern city of Charleston, South Carolina. While we were there I was planning on taking just a couple family pictures on the beach. My dad’s an avid outdoor photographer, so I am lucky that I  could pretty much tell him what we wanted and he clicked away. I really just wanted our picture taken for our Christmas card, but I ended up taking a couple of Landon also. Since I know my way around a camera, I have such a hard time paying someone to take our picture. Normally I set the tripod up, but thankfully my dad was around to help us out with these!

I figured that since we were in the beautiful city of Charleston we should take advantage of Battery Park and the surrounding area for some shots instead of the beach. I love how they turned out, especially considering that my child was wanting nothing to do with picture taking, story of my life. What you don’t see is Landon pitching a fit because he wanted to run and chase squirrels. Instead you see these blank stares- because the only way we could keep him from squirming and crying was to tell him to watch the horses as they went by on their carriage tours. The things we do for a yearly family photo, right?

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Who else can’t believe that 2013 is almost over? This year has been so full and so blessed, and I am thankful for these pictures that document our family this year.

Stay tuned for our year in review post!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
 
Hope your holiday is filled with lots of love, laughter, and time with your families.
 
 
 
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O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born!

Monday, December 23, 2013

the family tree

It’s not unusual for our nights in our home to end in our living room, watching television for a few minutes before we go to bed. I love those nights even more this year when the lights from our Christmas tree fill the room. It just makes everything comforting. I catch myself each night just staring at our tree and the ornaments we have collected since we got married.

I married into a family that loves Christmas ornaments. My sister in law introduced me to the excitement of Hallmark ornaments and there has been no turning back. But beyond Hallmark ornaments, I have collected ornaments from just about everywhere. Our tree represents our family- our trips we’ve taken, our family, our personalities, our milestones and memories. And maybe that’s why I love it so much. Our tree doesn’t have generic red and green balls and gold ribbon, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It has ornaments that each tell a story.

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If you were to see our tree this year you’d be able to tell a lot about our family, starting with the top. At the top of our tree, just beneath the star are five hospice bells, representing each of our grandparents that have passed away. I still have to get a bell for my grandfather who passed this Thanksgiving, but I have an angel in his place. Those five bells are there reminding us of our loved ones, and family that are not here to celebrate with us, but are always here in spirit and thought.

You would see crocheted snowflakes, handmade by my grandmother. These are no doubt my favorite part of our tree each year. I could decorate the tree with just these snowflakes and absolutely love it. The fact that she made them make them one hundred times more special.

You would see ornaments from NYC, the Biltmore Estate, Charleston, representing trips we’ve taken, memories made.

You would see a scrub top ornament, and a tiny workbench which both represent our careers and passions, healthcare and homebuilding.

You would see Our First Christmas and Baby’s First Christmas taking note of our major family milestones.

There are choo choo trains, old tractors, and vintage trucks for John and Landon- some from John’s childhood, and some are newer ones for Landon.

You would see lighthouses, because of our love for the coast of North Carolina.

You would see our favorite classic Christmas movies, A Christmas Story, Charlie Brown, Christmas Vacation, and the Grinch.

There are ornaments that represent our favorite childhood things, like John’s old John Deer tractor, and my Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car and a Barbie.

You would of course see ECU represented with football helmets, a pirate Santa, and ornaments from John’s college department Christmas party, one of our first “real” dates. Those ornaments represent where we met, fell in love, and started first our life together over ten years ago.

And you’d see tiny churches, angels, and doves that remind us of the true reason for Christmas, the birth of our Savior.

I sit here looking at our tree, and I am reminded of just how blessed we are.  They’re not just ornaments, they’re tiny reminders of each memory and milestone we’ve made together, and everything in between. This Christmas I am so grateful for my life and family, for my job and our home, for memories we’ve made and those yet to come. I’m grateful for each one of those little ornaments that represent something so significant and bigger than just a tree decoration. And I am beyond thankful for the birth of Jesus Christ, that Mary’s little boy came to save the world in the strangest of ways. For love, and faith, and joy.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone.

Landon’s 2nd Birthday

Previously I posted how we wouldn’t be celebrating Landon’s birthday with a huge party this year. Just because there was no formal party, doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of celebrating! We had a jam packed day with our little boy and had such a fun time spoiling him on his big day.

Luckily, John and I were both able to take the day of for Landon’s birthday, which was a huge blessing. We planned to spend the whole day hanging out with him and planned several little things to make the day even more special. We started out by sleeping in. Landon is no morning child, so it was nice for him to wake up on his own time and be happy about it. He slept until about 9am, and then we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast while watching Chuggington.

After breakfast, we got ready and, headed to a neighboring town where the North Carolina Transportation Museum is located. Before you think I’m crazy for taking my child to a Museum for his birthday, hear me out. The NC Transportation Museum is located at an old railroad station. They have tons of reconstructed trains and you can tour the roundhouse and even walk through the various cars they have restored. It’s actually a really neat place to go, especially if you’re a little boy obsessed with trains. Sadly, Wednesday is the only day they don’t offer train rides, but Landon loved seeing all the “choo choos” and exploring all the railways. And I won’t lie, John and I really enjoyed it also.

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After seeing all the trains, we went to Chick Fil A for lunch, which is always a treat.  Then came home for a quick nap. While Landon was napping, we wrapped his presents so they would be ready to go when he woke up.

Once he woke up we took him to the local bakery to pick out a special treat and a few cupcakes for dessert after dinner. Dinner was at our favorite pizza place in town. Landon loves pizza (pizzas! as he says). With our bellies full and our two year old all sugared up on birthday cupcakes, we headed home for presents. We kept it small with just a few toys, but Landon loved them all and spent the rest of the night playing. Some of his gifts included a tonka grader, wooden train, a few books, a new plate and cup with a tractor on each, and a pizza kit to go with his play kitchen. He was making pizza all night!

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While the day doesn’t sound too exciting, we spent the day with him. To me that is the best thing in the world. We spent time playing, and exploring, and spending time together and to me, it was the perfect way to celebrate our two year old.

Happy 2nd Birthday Landon!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Landon / Two Years Old

Did I really just type that? I can’t believe I am already typing your two year post. I know I say that with each post, but this two year mark is pretty big. Two years to me represents you truly becoming a little boy. I feel like we just brought you home and I can still remember your teeny, wrinkled newborn toes and yet today we’re celebrating your 2nd birthday. Its crazy how time flies.

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At two years old you are wearing size 12-18 month pants and size 18-24 month shirts, and size 4 diapers. You are a shrimp, and we are fully aware of that. But what you lack in size you sure do make up for in personality. You are wide opened, silly, loving, and independent.

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You love tractors (traa-chers), trains (choo choos!), trucks, and airplanes (panes). You are total boy all the way- if it has wheels or an engine, you are in love. But you also love cooking and can frequently be found playing with your play kitchen, or even helping us in the kitchen with supper. You love sitting on the counter and helping us bake or stir things. You love coloring, play doh, and books. And you LOVE being outdoors, even when its freezing. There are frequent tears in the morning when I drop you off and you just don’t understand why you can’t go outside right then. With the colder weather we have watched a little more television lately, and your favorite is definitely Chuggington.

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Favorite foods? Mac n cheese, blueberries, grapes, sweet potatoes, cheese toast, spaghetti, lasagna, pizza (pizzas!), yogurt, peanut butter, chicken noodle soup, cereal, applesauce, peanuts, popcorn, bananas, oranges, plums, and tomatoes with ranch dressing. For the most part you are still a good eater, but definitely have your days where you won’t eat anything I offer. I try not to make separate meals for you and let you eat what we eat- and for the most part it works. And if not, there’s always a banana and peanut butter sandwich.

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You are stubborn and independent as all get out and make it known that you are perfectly capable of doing things on your own. And more often than not, you really surprise me with what you can do. But those moments also lead to meltdowns and tantrums. Two year old and tantrum are pretty synonymous, or so I’ve heard.

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At the same time, you are the most loving, sweet child ever and there are no shortage of kisses and hugs around the neck. You absolutely turn me to a pile of mush when you plant a big ol kiss on me or squeeze my neck when I put you to bed. Which is another thing- you go to bed without issue 99% of the time. You sleep well, although you have always been a good sleeper. Lately you have taken some strange items to bed with you- like your tractors, trains, and an orange. Whatever helps ya sleep, bud. Although you’re a good sleeper, you are not a morning person and are pretty grouchy when its time to get up and get ready to go.

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Your speech has really come a long way. For a while there I was writing down words to keep track of how many you said, and I stopped a month or so ago. I just couldn’t keep up. You are constantly saying new words and expressions, and you keep us laughing with the things that you’ll say from time to time. You also have learned almost all of the alphabet with the exception of the hard letters like Q and W (which you call an M). And you really have taken more of an interest in reading, which makes me excited.

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Next month you start preschool two mornings a week, and while it makes me so sad that you’re growing up so quickly, it makes my  heart swell with pride watching you go. I know that you will do great and learn tons and make friends quickly. You love playing with other children already, so I know the interaction will be good for you.

We love you sweet boy, and we are so proud of you each day. You make us enjoy life and soak up the little things in a way that we didn’t before. Happy 2nd Birthday Landon, we are so thankful God chose us to be your parents!

We Love you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the year of the non-party birthday

So Landon turns two on Wednesday. I still can’t wrap my brain around that one. I mean, how in the world has time gone that quickly? I can still remember those sweet, wrinkly little newborn toes like it was yesterday. And now? I continually find myself saying “geez you’re getting heavy” every time I pick him up.

Last year we threw the big first birthday party. We invited our family and friends, ate lunch and celebrated Landon.  It was great, but when we got home that night I realized I didn’t have a single picture of the three of us from his birthday. Not one. Talk about mommy fail.

Here’s the thing, I think that birthday parties are great. I think every little kid needs to know they are special and loved and have a day to celebrate just them. But I also think that living in a world of Pinterest crazed mommies has made birthday parties go a little out of control. Everyone is so focused on having that perfectly planned, color coordinated, pinterest-y party to the point that I think we lose sight of what, or who, is really important here. 

Are we planning so much that we’re losing sight of the fact that our kids are kids? They couldn’t care less about centerpieces or decorations. They will not know the difference if they drink out of a mason jar or a solo cup from the dollar store. Landon could care less if his party is themed or not and if everything looks like those that we see on the internet. At the end of the day, Landon cares about playing with his new toys, eating a cupcake, and having fun. And at the end of the day, I want to be there right next to him enjoying it all also, not stressing over my chalkboard signs and bunting banners. Last year I kicked myself for getting so wrapped up in the planning and organizing and entertaining of our guests, that I really felt like it was a blur, and that I missed truly celebrating with Landon.

With two working parents, its not often that he gets an entire day of our undivided attention. And so this year, that is what we are doing. I’ve declared his two year old birthday the year of the non-party birthday. Will we celebrate? Of course we will! But I am not pinning a single pin on Pinterest, or ordering any special decorations, or worrying about a theme. I think that this year, a day well spent together way more important than a party he won’t remember.

Currently we don’t have any set plans, but I do know we will squeeze in a trip to the bakery to share some sugary goodness, and if the weather is nice we may go to the park. And on the weekend we will see the grandparents so they can spoil the birthday boy also.

So here’s to Landon turning two!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dear Landon

Let me start this letter by saying that I love you more than anything in this world. You are a GREAT little boy, and have filled my heart in a way that I really didn’t know was possible.

Now that we have that out of the way…

You are about to drive me crazy. I am sure I will have gray hair by my birthday in a few weeks, I will have stress induced wrinkles and bags under my eyes before we ring in the New Year. And yes, it will all be because of you, my sweet little pint sized toddler.

Raising a toddler is kind of like voluntarily choosing to bang your head up against a wall. Maybe that’s a little dramatic. But it surely isn’t a walk in a park. It takes more patience than I know I have, and each day is a constant battle of trying to train my brain and my heart to deal with your two year old brain and heart. You are SO independent, which leads to an endless amount of meltdowns and tantrums when you don’t get to do what you want or don’t get your way.

Something I have figured out that will cause an instant meltdown? Helping you peel your banana. Yep. You read that correctly. You are big enough to do it yourself, apparently.

Other tantrum-inducing parts of our day? Dropping you off at the sitters house and then again picking you up from the sitter’s house. Helping you put your milk in the refrigerator  (even though you can’t reach the shelf). Cutting up your food for you. Not giving you an entire slice of pizza and not letting you stir boiling noodles when we cook spaghetti. Crazy, I know. Putting you in your car seat is a cardinal sin, and don’t even think about changing your clothes or diaper. All of these seemingly innocent things will no doubt result in a tantrum.

Most of these meltdowns occur in the morning when you wake up, trust me son, I know what it means to not be a “morning person.” But we’re just going to have to get over that. It just isn’t acceptable in this world to run around in pajamas all day. I know, I’m just as disappointed as you are.

I say all of this to say, that I promise we will get through this. There will be, and have been already, days where we are both in tears. These growing pains? They affect all of us. They’re not just hard you, but are hard for me and your daddy too.

Here’s the thing:

I am impatient, just like you. I am independent and stubborn, just like you.  I am not a morning person, just like you.

I get it, Landon, I get it more than you know.

And I love you, I love you more than you know.

Love,

Mommy

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Tree 2013

We usually try to make it up to the mountains the weekend after Thanksgiving to get our Christmas tree. We’re lucky that North Carolina has an abundance of Christmas tree farms, and it is absolutely beautiful driving up the mountains seeing them all. For five years now we have gone to the same little tree farm in the mountains of North Carolina. Owned by a sweet elderly couple, we love going each year to Sam and Edna Miller’s to find our perfect tree. I get excited every year about our little day trip, and each year seems to get even more special as Landon is making childhood memories and forming what he will know as our Christmas traditions.

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This year we arrived to the same location we have the past two years and hoped to find a tree between 7-8ft tall. We don’t mess around when it comes to our trees. First off, I can’t imagine ever having an artificial tree as our main tree, for Landon’s room it is fine, but for our living room- it has to be real. I need to smell that smell and an artificial tree and candle just don’t cut it! Landon still doesn’t fully understand the whole thing, but it is so important for him to be a part of it all. He loved watching them chop it down, and haul it up to the machine that wraps it for us to put in the truck.

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I’ve been pretty surprised at how he has handled the tree in our house. At first, he wanted to pull off the ornaments that were “toys” like trucks, tractors, trains, etc. But eventually he got the hang of putting them on the tree and has pretty much left them there. He loves the Hallmark ornaments that make noise or play music, and his other favorite is the train. His contribution to the tree was the styrofoam ball that we use to make our Christmas ball with the trimmings. He is quite the helper. :) IMG_4069

Going to get our Christmas tree is just the beginning of the Christmas season for us, it really signals the start of it all, and every year I find myself more and more excited about this time of year. What is it about having kids, that brings out the kid in us all over again?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

thankful

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Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend, I can’t believe it is already over and here I am, watching my husband put the lights on our Christmas tree. Every year I seem to fall in love with this time of year even more. This year was an especially difficult and special time for my family as we said goodbye to my grandfather on Wednesday. But even in the midst of sadness, there was so much to be thankful for. I figured I’d take a little time here on the blog to think about the many blessings we’ve been given this year.

I am thankful for Dandy, and my grandmother Nana. Dandy would have been 91 on December 12th, and they would have celebrated 70 years of marriage on February 26th. If that’s not amazing I don’t know what is. Nana is quite possibly the strongest lady I know.

I am thankful for incredibly good food, and that we are lucky to have a stocked refrigerator in a world where far too many are bare. We take for granted our little luxuries like a warm meal, but in reality we are so lucky to have that every day.

I am thankful for the grace that only comes from our Heavenly Father. Lord knows I couldn’t make it through each day without such grace.

I am thankful for my sweet family, my husband and son. They have filled my heart in a way I didn’t know was possible. Being their wife and mommy is the absolute best job I could ever have.

I am thankful for a job I truly, truly love. For coworkers who are family and love each other. For patients who teach me about strength, and how a positive attitude literally can change your life.

I am thankful for the smells of the holidays, cookies, pumpkin spice-ness, and Christmas trees. Those simple smells are so comforting.

I am thankful for photography, and the gift that I have to capture every single second of Landon’s childhood. Those memories are so incredibly precious to me.

I am thankful for the health of my family, that we are so lucky to not have the burden of sickness and medical bills. That my child is thriving and happy and healthy is the greatest gift I could ask for.

I am thankful for my marriage. That even though we bicker and have our faults, we are in this together and I am reminded of that each day. I am so lucky to have John as my best friend and husband.

I am thankful for coffee…I know its a simple thing to put on the list, but it sure does make life better.

I am thankful that Landon has four grandparents who think he hung the moon. That little boy has no idea how lucky he is to have that.

I am thankful for my sister- that even though our lives are busy and crazy and we don’t get to see or talk to each other as often as we would like, she’s there- always.

I am thankful for the simple joys that life offers me each an every day, all the laughter, and tears, and kisses, and tickles that our little home has inside. I am so thankful.

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