Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Highlights

I've written full year-in-review posts before, but they are super time-consuming and nap time is winding down around here! Plus there are definitely some patches of 2012 that I'd rather not review so I'm choosing just to hit the highlights instead. Keeping it light as we bid 2012 adieu and welcome a brand new year! ;)

We began the year with some big projects in front of us. One of those was re-doing our kitchen. We managed to get half-way there. Can we say that's not "half bad?" I had originally wanted to replace appliances, paint the room (along with the rest of our main level), paint our ugly builder-oak cabinets white, and finally put down our tile. If you've been reading you'll probably recall that we managed to get the room painted and replace the appliances. Don't get me wrong, it's a giant improvement, but the other two items are still on my list of things to do. Here's to making them happen in 2013!

You may also recall the massive paint {in}decision of 2012 that I began the year with. While not exactly an enjoyable experience, we did finally pick a color and paint the entire main level, stairway and upstairs hall. I'm happy to report that I'm just as happy with the color today as I was the minute it went on the walls! Success :)

In the spring, C took her first dance class through our local parks & rec. council. She LOVED it. For me, it was just ok. It was a "mommy & me" class since she was barely 2 and most dance schools don't offer official lessons until 3 at the earliest. The downside for me was that we did the same exact things every single week. I didn't expect advanced instruction in clapping or stomping, but a little variety in the songs and activities wouldn't have been too much to ask. We'll be looking into actual ballet classes for the coming spring. C has since discovered/realized what ballerinas and ballet dance actually are and thinks they're amazing :)

We also celebrated C's 2nd birthday with a "Spring Fling" party. It was a fun gathering on a beautiful day with just our parents, siblings, and their children- a pretty decent crowd in itself. We had some lunch, played at the playground, and had dirt cups for birthday cake. Sorry boy cousins, but I'm pretty sure now that she's old enough to choose, this year's party will be very pink, if not totally princess themed.

This summer we did not take a family vacation. That's always a little sad for me because summer seems a little incomplete without one, but we had a great summer nonetheless. I officially started Eyeful Photography after lots of encouragement from friends and family I had taken photos for, and I bid my 20s farewell on June 1st! We also did a vegetarian challenge and tried a lot of new and amazing vegetarian dishes that we're still using, though we have gone back to including meat for variety's sake. We found that while there were many vegetarian dinners we loved, they weren't numerous enough to be enough variety for us. You can only do some form of beans/cheese/tortillas so many times before you're ready to move on. This summer also saw one of the best Os seasons of my lifetime. We went to a lot of games and had a lot of fun cheering on a {finally} winning team!

In mid-July we found out we were expecting our 2nd baby! That was definitely one of the very best parts of the year. We were hoping another one would arrive sometime around C's 3rd birthday and our due date is almost exactly 1 month before she turns 3. Perfect! Shortly after that, J had a big surgery in August and we spent 3 weeks at home together taking care of him and enjoying a new normal. I wasn't feeling my best since it was the first trimester of pregnancy but that faded pretty much on time around week 13-14.

I wish I could tell you about the month of September, but all I remember was that it went by in a blink. By the end of it, we were excitedly sharing the news of our new baby though :)

October was another whirlwind because we were not only trying to squeeze in fall fun, but we were preparing for J's sister, Jennie's wedding at the end of the month. We managed to do all the fun things we wanted to like going to the pumpkin patch with my brother and sister and their kids, having a fall-food & craft day at my mom's, half-a-gajillion family birthdays, helping my sister move, and finally Jennie's wedding on the 27th and Halloween on the 31st.

On Halloween we also had our 20-week anatomy sonogram and found out that our new baby is a girl! We decided that day to name her Reagan, and now we're just 12 weeks away from meeting her face-to-face

Much like I did on the blog, I'm skipping November. Highlights only, remember? ;)

December was full of advent activities, Christmas decorating, festive gatherings, and of course our merry little Christmas itself :)

It's hard to believe another year has passed. For many reasons I'm happy to say goodbye to 2012 and move on, but there were certainly many, many more happy moments, memories made, and amazing life events that I will always cherish. Tonight we're celebrating "in" with some close friends. That's just our style- rather than going big, we tend to go for quality with very special people (and yes, tonight that will include C!). However you'll be celebrating, I hope it's fantastic :)

I'll save a coming-up-in-2013 post for next year....  new year's eve humor :D

Our Merry Little Christmas

We've had a very busy week since Christmas, but I figured it was a good idea to get this post up before the new year! It's true that Christmas is totally different once you have your own children. I have to say that although this was C's third Christmas, it was by far the one I was most excited about (thus far) and the one that she was most excited about. There's just nothing that compares to delighting your child and watching your child be completely thrilled. Making the magic of Christmas and Santa come alive for her while at the same time introducing Jesus and His birth as the whole reason we celebrate just brought our holiday cheer to a whole new level this year.

Christmas eve surprised us with some snow flurries. Although it hardly appears to be snowing in these pictures, there was a light dusting on the ground when it finally stopped and there were even some leftovers (especially further north where our parents live) on Christmas day. Regardless, C was totally excited about it.

Later that night...

We spent Christmas day celebrating first at home, then at Josh's parents' house, and finished the day at my parents' house. It was a stellar day all around filled with fun, food, and best of all our wonderful families!

Side note: Please forgive the world's worst white balance in these photos. Josh insisted the blinds be closed with indoor lights on even though it was daylight outside, so my white balance was horribly confused and off kilter. I chose orangey on the daylight setting over bright blue on the incandescent setting :-/

New boots!

The "Christmas Barbie" she had been asking for. We went with Skipper since C is only 2.5. Bonus- she has a pug puppy :)

Daddy may have also picked up the Barbie & Ken set from Toy Story 3, one of C's very favorite movies. 

And finally, her "Christmas Bicycle!"

For the first time this year we did breakfast at home before heading out to our parents' houses. I prepped it the night before (in about 5 minutes, not counting the bacon cooking) and then baked it in the morning while C was opening her gifts. It was really good. I'll share the recipe later!

Off to Josh's parents' house!

Her Jessie doll was the toy that she wouldn't put down all day.

It was a quieter celebration at my mom's. My sister had a sick kid so she and her 5 munchkins stayed home. It was just us, my brother, his wife and their 1-year old. We still made an amazing dinner of locally-known-as-the-best-around crab cakes and filet mignon with salad, potatoes, and green beans. Once we were sufficiently stuffed we opened presents, enjoyed some pie and coffee, and then called it a night.

Merry Christmas, Eli!
{Blurry, but so cute :)}

Pretending she's drinking from an Orioles shot-glass mug my mom gave to Josh. C totally thought it was just a coffee mug made for her.


And thus concluded our very blessed, very yummy, very merry little Christmas spent with the people we love most. We certainly couldn't ever ask for more than that :) 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DIY Gift Tags

As the gift wrapping gets under way around here, I thought I would share the one aspect of my wrapping that is DIY this year! I am using all of my white card stock scraps to make gift tags! What else do you do with all those remnants anyway?? It's the easiest thing in the world. I'm not measuring or anything, just cutting my remnants (mostly big strips/rectangles) into small rectangles and trimming the corners on one end. They're somewhat imperfect, but close enough that you'd never be able to tell unless you really looked hard. To add a little festive touch, I'm using a silver Sharpie to make a border just away from the edge. You could use any color you wanted to suit the occasion or match the gift wrap you're using.

Since I'm a recycler/re-user, I totally re-use gift bags that are in decent shape. I just hate when I have a perfectly good gift bag but the tag has already been written on. These gift tags are super easy to attach to gift bags, solving that problem! I just use a hole punch to make a hole, and then cut a slice from the edge of the tag into the hole. You can easily slip the handle of the gift bag into the hole but it closes up well enough that the tag stays on.

I've seen a lot of great ideas for DIY gift tags out on Pinterest but I must admit I haven't looked at many of them. This is a great way to save yourself from having to spend an extra $5-$10 on gift tags considering an entire pack of 50 sheets of white, 8.5x11" card stock is $1.99. That's practically gift tags for life. My husband asked me to make some for him and I had 10 of them ready in less than 5 minutes. They could easily be made while watching a Christmas movie or catching up on your DVR, then when you're ready to wrap your tags will be there waiting for you :)

Happy wrapping!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Valley View Farms

Yesterday there was a water main break at J's work and his building was without water. He had to come home at 9 anyway because I had to go do my 1-hour glucose challenge test, so he decided to just take the day. We thought that would make it a perfect day to go visit Valley View Farms!

Originally a roadside produce stand, this place has grown into a gigantic garden center famous for their extensive display of Christmas merchandise during the holiday season. Since C asks to go see the Christmas trees on display in Target every. single. time. we're there, I knew she would be completely in awe of the endless aisles of Christmas trees and decorations at Valley View Farms. I was right ;)

Checking out an all-pink Christmas tree

One of the many intricate Christmas villages they have set up on display

Peanuts! We love the Peanuts :)

No surprise these two were drawn to this display

"A BIIIIIIIIIIG ice cream cone!"

She had to touch every piece of "necklace" she saw

More necklace

And even more necklace

She was a little unsure of the Nutcrackers after I made one say hello to her

All pink ornaments and decorations for breast cancer awareness

They even had a decorated dog house. I think she thought the puppies might be real

There were many themed trees. 
Yes, this one is "Jersey Shore" themed - like the tv show, not the actual place.

The Elvis themed tree

A "Yellow Submarine" themed tree (really?!)

I think you get the idea

Once our senses were thoroughly overloaded, we headed back home for lunch and happy nap! Another advent activity success :)