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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.