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Gratefulness Post Week 4

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 (Day 24 of 366) - I am so proud of the kids today... Bailey came home with her test scores from school, testing out at fabulous levels in reading and math. She exceeded her mid-year goals by 6 points for reading and 3 points for math. When I told her that she rocked it, she smiled and said, "That means we are going to Orange Leaf tonight." Apparently, the last time we went, I was telling the kids that it was a special occasion place (it's a bit pricey for ice cream or frozen yogurt for 4 people)... I apparently said something about it being a good place to go to celebrate good grades on report cards and great efforts in sporting events, etc. My never forgetful daughter was on it as soon as I said she did great. So, we had Orange Leaf. Jake also impressed me today... he did fabulous at swimming lessons. He has been kind of lazy (Jake's favorite) at his lessons. He's only going to do enough to get by. But, today, I think his teacher saw that he could do more than he has been and she told him to do it all alone. He swam all the way across the pool and back, using proper stroke technique. She laughed when the lesson was over, because she had just recommended that he stay in the same class for another month. She said I could move him up, but that it would probably be good for him to have to work a little bit harder before going to the next level. So, I told him that he has to swim like that at each lesson if he wants to move to the next level. He understands that concept... I think he thinks he's moving up to a new level on a video game or something. Haha. In any case, I am thrilled to see that all their hard work is paying off... and that they are really applying themselves.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 (Day 25/366) - I say it all the time, but I seriously am grateful for my "second family" of friends. It isn't always easy to have a date night, especially an impromptu one, or to have time to go to some work-type functions that don't include kids when most of your family lives 2 hours away. I am not complaining about my family at all... they all step up and help us every single time we need them. But, sometimes, you just need to be able to leave the kids for a couple of hours to go and have adult time. That's where our second family comes in... so many of our friends have taken turns watching our kiddos from time to time so that we can spend a couple of hours out. I am so completely thankful to have them... to know that the kids are probably more excited to hear that they are spending an evening with them than to spend it with us on most days. Thanks to Paul and Rebecca for keeping the little people entertained for us tonight. I totally appreciate it. And, while I'm at it, I'm also pretty grateful for some good food and drinks with my hubby tonight. It was good to get out... to take time to talk about nothing and everything. I also am thankful to live in a city where I can always think of a handful of places that I've never been (sometimes more than others) and where we can have a chance to try new things out. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012 (Day 26/366) - Today, I'm thankful for an awesome mother-in-law, who came to watch the kids for us tonight so that we could go out with Paul and Rebecca to a fabulous fundraiser. I'm thankful for a new dress and a gorgeous husband who pulled the car around in the rain for me, so I wouldn't have to get soaked after the event. I'm thankful for amazing food, paired with delicious wine, and wonderful friends to share immature "that's what she said" looks and snickers over silly things that more mature adults would never dream of. I'm extremely grateful for a wonderful life tonight.

Friday, January 27, 2012 (Day 27/366) - Good food. A visit from family... Brad's mom, my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend... me getting to go grocery shopping alone. A good simple day. Oh... and awesome comments on my new Facebook profile pic. You guys totally know how to make a girl feel good. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012 (Day 28/366) - I woke up to the sounds of my family in the house. Not just my kids and hubby, but my brother, his girlfriend, my parents, and Brad's mom, too. Not all of them were up and at it yet, but it was nice knowing we were all under one roof. Have I mentioned how blessed I am to have a family that I love so much? My baby brother was already dressed in his running gear when I dragged into the kitchen. He was waiting for me... I had talked him into a 9-mile run. I was totally dreading the run alone, so I was thrilled when he said he'd try to do the whole thing with me. I knew it was a sacrifice for him... not only because he has no real desire to run 9 miles, but also because he'd have to run it at a really slow pace if he didn't want to leave me in a cloud of dust. So... off we went. The first 7 miles weren't bad... I thought it was great temperature-wise, but Colt was freezing. :) He'd rather run in the heat. I think I'm all alone in this love for the cold weather... but oh well. After mile 7, I could really feel the pain in my hips, which was kind of weird since they don't hurt usually, but I pushed through and finished out the complete 9. It was great running with the little brother... and it was even better to come home to a plate full of oranges and grapes that Bailey and my mom made sure were ready as soon as we walked in the door. I spent nearly the rest of the day eating, too. Gravy, biscuits, and sausage at about 11 a.m. Then, oatmeal and toast at about 1. Steak at Texas Roadhouse around 4. A bowl of cereal at about 7. Chicken salad sandwich at 9. About 30 cocktail shrimp at 10:30 p.m. I may or may not have eaten more than I am admitting publicly. :)

So, you are reading this and thinking that I've lost my mind... once again. Yes, I know it sounds crazy... and I know you wonder why I'm running 9 miles. I read an article about how runners should just not tell non-runners about running anything over 4 miles, because no matter what, non-runners will think you have lost your mind if you tell them you ran that far. I get it. I really do. I think it sounds kind of crazy, too. I was thinking about all of this while I soaked in a bubble bath with exhausted muscles and an always-growling tummy after my run. I think I run because I love the feeling of complete exhaustion. I love the way my muscles feel like they've been pushed to the edge and have survived. I love the way my skin feels a little bit tighter and slightly windburned like I've been out skiing all day or bathing in the sun. I love the emptiness in my stomach... because I know I've pushed my body to the max... and I deserve to eat and drink whatever I want, guilt-free. I think a lot of it comes from my childhood... when I was a little girl, I remember my middle brother (Cory) and I would climb in the hills, playing and running, fighting over this and that, and coming home completely exhausted and completely famished. The food could have tasted like sawdust and the bath could have been lukewarm, but in that moment... when you are exhausted and starved, everything is 100 times better. I worry my kiddos will never know exactly how that feels living in a city.

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment; full effort is full victory.” - Gandhi

Why 9 miles? I'm not sure if I'm going to do it yet, but the idea of running a marathon is always in the back of my mind... I get postcards about marathons in the mail... I see articles and beautiful photos from various marathons from around the world in my Runner's World magazine. It's all calling to me... making me want to do it. But, I'm still not sure I'm ready. The 9-miler on Saturday was the first test. I made it through without injury and without feeling like I would die. So, I'm sticking with the marathon training schedule to see how far I get. I'm not committing to this 100% yet, because part of me didn't really WANT to go farther than 9 miles. Training for a marathon means running a 20-mile training run at some point... if I'm not sure I want to go more than 9, I'm not sure I want to do 20. But, there's something to be said about the fact that I didn't hate myself for running it. And, despite my tiredness tonight, I was pretty excited about the idea of running 10 miles next weekend. There's also the whole "stress fracture and weak ankles" thing to consider, too. Until I decide, I'll keep on running... 

Sunday, January 29, 2012 (Day 29/366) - Less grateful today. Had to think hard for this one... it isn't ever a FUN day when you spend most of it working on income taxes. On the brighter side, I slept in this morning. I wasn't completely sore from running. Bailey and Jake wanted to stay in all day, so we were able to be lazy. I spent at least an hour staring at a photo of Snowshoe today... crying internally... wishing we were there. Oh, I know this is supposed to be a grateful post... but geez... I would be FOREVER GRATEFUL if I could go on a weekend ski trip to Snowshoe... and maybe, just maybe, try to snowboard. Sigh. I'm grateful for other things though... Brad did dishes. I fixed myself a delicious omelet. Brad is learning one of my favorite songs on the guitar. Want more? Hmmm.... I had a dream last night that I ran a marathon... in 11 hours. I was devastated. Dawn and Maria ran it with me and were equally as slow. :) I think the marathon thing is creeping into my mind a little too much these days. :) And, I totally know that Dawn and Maria could totally run a marathon much faster than 11 hours. Oh... and really, how could I forget this... Jake can draw a stick person! He was so excited and kept drawing them. He even wrote *almost* all of his name (the K and lowercase E can give him a tough time). AND... Bailey is the sweetest sister in the world. She giggled quietly when she saw his stick man and said, "Jakey... you are doing such a great job... you are trying so hard." She was as proud as any momma. :)

Monday, January 30, 2012 (Day 30/366) - Today, I'm grateful for grilled salmon on the actual grill... outside... in January. Beautiful weather in the 60s. An outside run, even if I'm a little more sore than I thought. I'm really grateful for our DVR and a stockpile of shows to watch when we can't find anything else that interests us... less grateful for poor refereeing done in the WVU vs. Pitt game. But, as my dear friend Amanda pointed out, "Remember the Orange Bowl? 70!" :)

Gratefulness Post Week 3

Monday, January 23, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 (Day 17/366) - Today, I'm thankful for food. I've been like a ravenous pig since I got back into my running routine. So, I'm thankful for food... and I have to figure out how to eat more without totally breaking the bank and/or grossing out everyone around me. I am packing my lunch to work everyday, so at least there's not that huge temptation to eat out, but I still have to figure out how to get fuller faster so that I'm not eating all of my lunch before 11 a.m. :) Suggestions of good (translation healthier) foods that fill you up fast?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 (Day 18/366) - Today, I'm thankful for late night discussions with my hubby. Sometimes they don't end well, but sometimes we have a good laugh about the things that drive us crazy about each other most. I overslept this morning because of a good episode of Justified and one of those fun discussions with Brad. My best quality in his opinion - "You are never tired." My translation of this: "Please shut up and go the f*&% to sleep." :)  Which totally reminds me of this awesome video....You must watch...  http://youtu.be/cQZmU2GnUdA  IT IS NOT NOT NOT SAFE FOR WORK. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2012  (Day 19/366)- Great conversations with potential teachers. Tonight, I visited Jake's current preschool to discuss the possibility of him attending transitional kindergarten there in the fall. For those of you who haven't heard of this concept, it is basically a transition between preschool and kindergarten for young 5-year olds who just aren't ready for Kindergarten. Jake could do it... but the amount of fighting and corraling and dealing with tears every morning is just not worth it to me. One more year of growth is just bound to help. Anyway, more on that in another post. I'm thankful for teachers and other parents who reassure me that I'm doing the right thing. One parent said to me, "I've never heard of a parent who has said that they regret holding back their child." I thought that was a great point... and come to think of it, I never have talked to a parent who said that either.

Friday, January 20, 2012  (Day 20/366)- Tonight, I am grateful for fun times with great friends. Thankful for a night of Catch Phrase, a few too many drinks, and some dinner with Paul and Rebecca. I am thankful for comfortable recliners to fall asleep in and friends who are totally comfortable crashing at our place. And, of course, for mine and Rebecca's ability to totally understand each other's insane clues on Catch Phrase. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012 (Day 21/366) - Today, I am thankful for the YMCA. I am thankful for a place to go and run when I just can't seem to do it outside. I'm thankful for a place for my kids to swim and grow stronger and more confident. I'm thankful for a place to entertain our kids where we don't have to shell out another $25 just for them to consume a bunch of junk and get a bunch of cheap toys to bring home.

Sunday, January 22, 2012  (Day 22/366)- Today, I'm thankful for pinto beans and cornbread. I'm thankful for pajamas. I'm thankful for great sales at Express. I'm thankful for football playoff games.

Monday, January 23, 2012  (Day 23/366)- Beautiful weather. In January. An outdoor run on a Monday night. A girl scout meeting that my friend and co-leader, Teresa, led. An ab workout with Jillian Michael's DVD with my hot hubby (and when I say hot, I mean, sweat-dripping all over the floor I just mopped hot). :)

Gratefulness Post Week 2

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Still grateful... :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 (Day 10/366) - Sometimes it is the really little things in life that make me smile. Today, I truly laughed because of a package of peanuts. I had stopped at the gas station for gas and ran in to get a drink. I saw packages of peanuts and just had to have some. In the car, I decided to break them open (I am constantly starving when I have been on a running schedule). Upon opening them, I debated how to eat them... I could use my hands, politely picking one or two at a time, or I could just pour them into my mouth. I was on my way back to work and didn't want salt all over me. So, I broke out my redneck childhood moves and tossed them in my mouth. I laughed when I looked up and saw the man in the car behind me straining to see what I was doing. Immediately, I laughed about how I must look... all dressed up, tossing back peanuts from the package. And, all I could think was, "Man... if I had bought a Coke, I could totally channel my childhood and put a few in." Disgusting? Sure. Fun... ABSOLUTELY.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 (Day 11/366) - I am grateful for phone conversations with my best friend... the way she laughs and asks if Jake is OK as he throws a fit in the background and I just ignore his whining so that we can continue our conversation. I love that she knows when I say, "He's fine..." that it really means, "I'm going to have to put you on hold in about two minutes to yell at him and then I'll come back and pretend that nothing just happened."  I can't wait until I can return the favor for her when Steff is pissed off in the background of our conversations. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012 (Day 12/366) - I love my husband's truck... and I am so grateful that we had it today, even though we didn't really need it. When I came out of work at 2:30 today, it was pouring the snow and I had to go all over the town to pick up the kids from school. My tires on my car are bald... I mean, really bald. So, I've been sliding a bit here and there in the rain. As soon as I saw that it was snowing, I called Brad to see if I could pick up his truck. Have I mentioned that Brad's work is about a mile from our house... and my work is about a mile from his work? Have I mentioned loving his new job? :) Anyway, I swung by and picked up the truck. It quit snowing about 10 minutes later and didn't snow again until we were all safely at home. Even though I didn't really need it, I love knowing that the truck has four wheel drive... that it can haul stuff in the rare event that we need to... and that I feel like a badass woman when I'm driving it. Haha. Really, I do... that is until I have to park it. Then, I feel like an incapable idiot. :) Also... today, I'm grateful for Kroger's sushi and for our DVR filled with new shows to watch when we are cuddled up because of snowy weather.

Friday, January 13, 2012 (Day 13/366) - I am grateful for one-hour delays at school... for complete tears from Bailey when she realized school wasn't out for a snow day... for complete belly laughs when she got to whiz a snowball at my head (and missed). I am grateful for salt trucks and underground utility wires (where I grew up, the snow often kicked off our electricity). I am grateful for the long list of friends that our kids have and for all the playdates, sleepovers, and party invitations they get.

Tonight, I am so grateful for the chance to have a date night with my husband while our kids have a sleepover at a friend's house. While Brad and I aren't the most romantic couple in the world, it is nice to get a chance to spend time together, just the two of us.

Saturday, January 14, 2012 (Day 14/366) - Today, I am thankful for so many things. I am grateful for my kids and their awesome ability to go and spend the night for the first time at their new friends' house. I'm am thankful that the parents of our kids' friends treat them so wonderfully and made them feel so good that they didn't want to leave when I went to pick them up this morning. I'm grateful for a morning at the salon, where I felt pampered just getting my haircut. I'm grateful for an evening of kids' activities... Brad taking Jake, meeting up with DW and Warren, and going to the Monster Jam at Rupp Arena; Me taking Bailey and two of her friends to see Dolphintale at the dollar theater. Jake had an amazing time, telling me when he got home all about the big trucks, the girl driver who he was rooting against only because she was a girl (yes, I'm confused about how he can be a sexist pig), and explaining it most simply by saying, "Mom... it was totally awesome." :) Bailey and her two little friends also had an equally fun time, giggling the entire way home. Their laughter is contagious and I was laughing about their silly little nonsensical jokes just as hard as they were. In a nutshell, today, I am grateful that I'm a mom... and that I married a man who is an awesome dad... and that we have two kids who appreciate the things we do together. :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012 (Day 15/366) - Church messages. I woke up this morning not wanting to crawl out of bed for church. But, I made myself go anyway. I am glad I did. Sometimes God just wants you to hear something and you just can't see it or hear it sitting at home. God - message received. :)

I'm also thankful for friendships. Rebecca gave me a shout this morning to see if we wanted to carpool to Hamburg to run errands. I had lots to buy at the grocery, so I warned her. She said she'd go anyway. I'm guessing she'll be more hesitant next time. haha :) But, we had a great time perusing some clearance racks at Target and talking girl stuff for a few hours. Then, we came home (Brad kept Bailey and her friend, Megan, and Jake and Joseph at the house), unloaded our groceries and headed to Rebecca and Paul's for dinner. I came home feeling very content. It was a great weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2012 (Day 16/366) - I am thankful for days off... for kids that are of the age to sleep in. For a good 3 mile run at the Y. For Bailey trying out new foods. For our dinner guests (Tara and family). And especially for my new food processor. Oh you know me... had to have a new project. So, this time it is all about hiding veggies in the kids' food so that they eat healthier without the uphil battle. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. :)

Gratefulness Post - Week 1

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
In case you just started reading or didn't make it through my last LONG post... I'm trying a new project where I post pretty regularly (like more than once a month... :)) about the things I'm grateful for. In a nutshell, I'm doing the 365 (366 this year) Days of Gratefulness. However, I'm just not posting them everyday because I KNOW that won't happen. :)

Here goes!
Saturday, December 31/Sunday, January 1 - I am grateful that we had a house full of kids and adults who we love as our extended family. I am grateful that we can all make the time to be together, let our kids run amuck, shrieking, blowing horns and making entirely huge messes, making the best memories, while we pretty much do the exact same thing. I am so thankful, especially for my husband... who despite the good and bad, continues to love me and tolerate my insane antics (like taping up black table runners on the ceiling so that we can fill them with balloons to drop at midnight). I am thankful for two awesome kids who loved decorating and celebrating just as much as we did, who are low maintenance, easy-going, and don't crash and burn when we expect them to stay up to late hours to celebrate the beginning of a new year (when I'm pretty sure that they could not care less). :) I am so completely grateful for old(er) friends, Cilla and Bret, Rebecca and Paul, and Dawn and Brandon, and John... and the fact that they came from all over to celebrate with us, laugh about all of our crazy stories that they have already heard 100 times, and who have been there for us through so many of our lowest and highest points. I am equally as grateful for the many new friends that are in our lives... Kristyn and Lance, Steve and Hollee, Shane and Tatiana, and Tara and DW(even if some couldn't make it!)... for coming and having fun with us crazy people at NYE and because I know there are so many good times to come. I am thankful for our friends bringing a variety of different beers so that we could have a beer-tasting (marking off a list item before the end of the year) and for Rebecca's organization skills in making sure that I didn't forget it or the champagne/sparkling cider at the stroke of midnight. Oh... and I'm thankful that my uncles taught me how to gamble when I was a kid and I totally took Paul's money playing poker. :) Finally, I'm thankful to have my three best girl friends to wake up to on New Year's Day, knowing that we have all grown so close and so comfortable with each other's families that we all could have spent the entire day together and we still would not have been tired of each other. I miss you guys already. :)

Monday, January 2 - I am thankful for gift cards to the Outback... for cheese fries... YUM... for snowy nights at home with the kids... for my beautiful babies and their love of the snow and their excited hopefulness that we will have a snow day that closes school.

Tuesday, January 3 - I am thankful for indoor swimming pools and a successful first day of swimming lessons. I'm thankful for a hubby who brought me lunch to work when I forgot to pack my own. I'm thankful again for his new job. :)

Wednesday, January 4 - I'm thankful for a big WVU win! Records destroyed in the Orange Bowl... making an ordinary day very memorable. In case you live under a rock... here ya go:

Thursday, January 5 - I'm thankful for the chance to start running again... on a regular routine... and a schedule that allows me to still be able to watch those awesome kids do great in their swimming lessons, too.

Friday, January 6 - I'm so thankful for a little boy who loves to cuddle with his mommy, watching movies like The Hulk and asking me, "Want me to shake my butt?" for absolutely no reason at all. I'm also thankful for ice cream and frozen yogurt and delicious places like Orange Leaf. :) And some pretty nice weather... and two kids who love to dress up just to play outside.

Saturday, January 7 - I'm thankful that our kids are great travelers... that they can easily go on a car ride to eastern Kentucky for a post-holiday dinner and then turn around and make the trip home without complaint. They rock. Also, thankful for BEAUTIFUL weather... and a nice 6 mile run. I didn't think I had it in me anymore... but there it is. Now, the road is calling me again. :)

Sunday, January 8 - I'm thankful for lazy Sunday afternoons... for family nights with the kids... for a daughter who insists that we have family nights... for a daugther who would prefer to spend every waking moment trying to make everything special than to spend one second of her life bored. She is her mother's daughter for sure. :) We gotta love our Just Dance 3 and might understand why Jake insists on shaking his butt at us all the time. :)
Monday, January 9 - I'm thankful for Girl Scout meetings where the girls are awesomely sweet. I am thankful for my beautiful daughter who helps me put out the chairs and tables and then listens intently when I read them stories. I'm thankful for hand-drawn pictures that they bring to me each meeting... hugging me and smiling so sweetly. As much as it drives me crazy to be a Girl Scout troop leader, I love those little girls so much. Want to buy cookies? I'm ready to take your order. :)

I am... Behind... but Grateful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
It hasn't been easy to sit down and write lately. I'm sad when I look back and realize how many good posts I could have written about the kids... the holidays... Brad... my friends... etc. over the past few months.

I might just write little snippets about things from the past couple of months for the next couple of months... or they might just go out the window and into the black hole that is my memory. :)

The past few months have brought some changes to our lives, but none bigger than Brad's new job. He started in early December and I simply cannot express how wonderful it has been for us. His new job is about a mile from our house and has strict Monday-Friday, 8-5 hours. He is home by 5:15 everyday... he has energy again... he seems so much happier and much less stressed. To put it simply, it is wonderful. I feel like I got my husband back in December.

While that makes me extremely happy, it is kind of bittersweet. I always knew how much I missed him when he was gone, but now I feel like we've missed out on so much over the past few years... and now we are "reconnecting." I feel like I found my best friend again. And, while I'm totally excited about it, I'm also a little nervous that we'll get into that rut again and we'll both forget how good it is to just hang out together. I'm hoping that 2012 helps us keep that rejuvenated friendship strong.

The holidays were wonderful... busy... and I procrastinated way too much to the last minute, but it didn't mess up a thing. The kids were so excited about it all this year. They finally understand the meaning behind it all (especially Bailey), and they really enjoyed everything we did to celebrate. This year was the first year that we have done an advent calendar. It was fun (although I was a bit ready for it to end going into the last week). We did ours a little differently than most people; I created a table of decorations with envelopes and packages that were numbered for each day in December leading up until Christmas. In each "decoration" or "package," I placed a piece of paper that said how we were celebrating the holidays that day. For example, one day, we had to bake cookies... on another day, we went to see the Christmas lights at Southern Lights. It was kind of tiring, but it was also a great way to make sure that I didn't procrastinate all of the "traditions" we celebrate until it was too late. I loved that we really did do each and everything that we love to do to celebrate.

Our Advent Calendar

Southern Lights 2011

Southern Lights 2011
Southern Lights 2011 Pony Ride
Southern Lights 2011
Jake's Pony Ride 2011
Jake Singing in Preschool
Christmas Tree 2011
The stockings were hung

This year was also fun because Brad and I were able to make some homemade gifts for the kids from us. And, they loved them. Brad made a gorgeous art desk for the kids. I made them both game bags, embroidered with their names, that included a hopscotch kit, tic-tac-toe set, and bingo cards. And, of course, I made them some Angry Birds... and they were totally pumped about those. All of our gifts eventually got overshadowed by the air hockey table that Santa brought and the slew of superhero sets, video games, and art supplies that they received from Santa and many family members. But, Brad and I love the idea that they will enjoy these gifts for years to come... and one day they will both look back and smile thinking about how special these gifts are. And, while the gifts were great, hearing Jake wake up Bailey to tell her that Santa had come might have been the highlight of my entire Christmas. He was so cute telling her to wake up and watching her cuddle up closer to her daddy to go back to sleep. Then, he whispered, "Santa came." And she was up and ready to roll. :) Their believing in Santa is probably one of my favorite things about Christmas with kids. They were so excited when he came... they were so excited when he left a note and picture telling them that they had an air hockey table waiting on them when they got home... they were so completely excited and nervous when Santa sent them an e-mail video a few days before Christmas. Memories that I know I will cherish forever; years that will quickly fly by.

Enjoying her art set...

Santa brought the huge batcave... and some Reese's!

Karaoke to some Taylor Swift (mom likes this gift as much as Bailey)

Artist at work... no interruptions please

The cherished "hugest batcave ever"

Have I mentioned how much I love spending time with my family around the holidays? This year was no exception... as a matter of fact, it was better than usual. The past few years, I've been chasing kids and trying to prevent major injury to someone or something at each home we visit. This year, we were able to just let the kids go and play while we got to have real adult conversation with our family members. We weren't rushed... we were able to really just enjoy our time. It was so nice to visit with my aunts and grandmother, with my cousins and aunts and grandfather, with Brad's family... it was just really nice. Again, a reminder of how great it is that the kids are indeed getting older. :)

Gifts... well, I would be lying if I didn't love some of my gifts this year. Actually, I loved all of my gifts this year... and I kind of feel like I just have to tell you how much I loved them. Brad totally shocked me... surprised me with his thoughtfulness... and got me an awesome gift. He got me a Nike Plus Sportwatch (all of you non-runners may not know, but this is a GPS watch that tracks your mileage, speed, calories burned, etc.). I'm so excited about it. :) Colt also got me a really thoughtful gift... a new armband for my Ipod to use when I'm running, since my old one that Rebecca bought me has been through so much weather and sweat that it has started to crack and totally stinks in a disgusting way. :) Brad's mom helped us buy the most beautiful table and chairs for our dining room... I just can't tell you how much I love it. And, the kids love it... everyone who has visited has loved it. My parents always hook me up with the best clothes and they didn't fail me this year either. My brother, Cory, and his wife, Angela, got me an adorable nightshirt, a holiday planner (that I LOVE) and jewelry, which just so happened to coordinate with the clothes my parents got me. We have put my ipod speakers that Ryan and Jennifer got me to great use... Jake dances around singing, "I'm sexy and I know it" all the time. :) And, I have to mention the three crock pot set that I got to use for parties and tailgating. It has already come in handy... and I love it! It makes me feel incredibly spoiled when I list all of this... incredibly spoiled and incredibly loved... and maybe just a little bit sad for those in the world who have sincere needs while we are so fortunate to have so many things that we just want. It reminds me to be grateful for everything we have in our lives... love, health, wealth, and happiness.

And, I suppose that brings me to New Year's. Did you have a resolution? I don't really. I mean, I've been thinking about it, but I just haven't been able to come up with what I would do exactly. One of my goals is to really enjoy something everyday and really take the time to appreciate it. So, I'd like to do a project that Priscilla started doing a while back and that I'm pretty sure is pretty popular... the 365 Days of Gratefulness. Since it is a Leap Year, I guess I'd have to do 366 Days of Gratefulness. :) So, I'm going to try and post at least once every week something that I'm grateful for, at least one thing for each day... it might be short posts or long posts... and it might be related to my list, the kids, or something else entirely. But, I'm hopeful that by focusing on all the good things in my life, I can maintain a positive and happy world... and that I can maybe spread some of my happiness with someone else. I don't want to take all that we have for granted... I want to appreciate it daily.

So... my next post will include my first week of Gratefulness posts...

Here's hoping that all of you had a wonderful Christmas... an awesome New Year's... and will have a very blessed 2012.