Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas in Texas

Every other year, we go to Texas to see Dustin's extended family for Christmas. This year, our trip was a bit shorter due to me having to go into work for a little while on Christmas morning, but we were definitely able to pack a lot into three days. Unfortunately, I didn't take too many pictures, but here are a few from our trip.
Dustin, Burson, Blake and Seth with Pops
Cooper and Mason got swords for Christmas. You can almost hear the war cries in this picture.
Dustin with Hallye
Burson and Blair, Dustin and me, Blake and Heather
Dustin and me with BB and Pops
Dustin and I will be ringing in the new year at home. Ten years ago, I would have thought my world was ending if I was home on New Years Eve, but I must say I'm pretty excited about it.  2011 taught us a lot of things, but I think we are both ready for 2012 and the new adventures that will come with it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Christmas Letter

Every year in our Christmas card, I like to include a letter that recaps our year for friends and family. I know they care about us and want to know what's going on in our lives (why else would you be reading this?) so it seems to be a nice tradition. When I sat down to try and write our letter for this year, I found it very hard to put into words the year that we've had. I thought the best way to share our year with everyone is to share a few blog posts from this past year in addition to a letter.

Our year started off with a good old fashioned southern snowstorm. You know, the kind that makes bread and milk disappear from the grocery store shelves, brings the ciy to a halt and grounds the world's busiest airport? Dustin and I were forced the cancel all of our plans and spend the week with each other at home... it was wonderful.

In February, Dustin was promoted to the Area Director of Atlanta K-Life for the following year when we made the decision that he would stay on staff. The Lord made it clear that He was not finished using us to further the ministry and impact the kids here in Atlanta. It has been very apparent over this past year that this was the right decision for us and God has blessed us through it.

In May, we celebrated our 4th anniversary, our first year in our new home and went on a wonderful cruise with my side of the family. We also had something else to celebrate. On April, 26th, we learned I was pregnant and we could not have been more excited. In addition to planning some really fun events at the hospital and with K-Life (this was the first summer that Dustin was full-time with K-Life and he really enjoyed being able to plan summer activities and spend more time with the guys), we were busy making plans for our little one that was to come.

At my 12 week doctor's appointment on June 24th, we learned some heartbreaking news.  The rest of our year (and really our lives) will forever be changed because of this day. In a moment, we went from being excited parents to experiencing a loss that neither of us was prepared to handle. Because of the specific type of miscarriage I had, the process after was incredibly long. As I write this almost 6 months later, some of the pain is still there, but there is also hope and trust in a God that is in control. Dustin and I grew closer together as we learned daily how to get through this. Psalm 34:18 says "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" and we never knew just how true that was until now.

For highlights from the rest of our year, feel free to read some of my previous posts. I can recommend this one, this one and this one.

Last year, the title of our Christmas letter was "Blessed Beyond Belief". If I had to make a title for this one it would be "Still Blessed". Through all of this we've learned just how big our God is and what he is capable of. We've learned the value of loving friends and families that God uses for comfort and encouragement. We've learned to not take a single thing for granted, and we've leaned that no matter what happens, God is still God and God is still good... always.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Favorite Things: Holiday Edition

I always wanted to go to Oprah's "Favorite Things" show. It used to be this time of year and nobody could predict exactly when it would happen. I heard on the radio this morning that one time, Brad Pitt tried to get tickets for his mother and Oprah producers wouldn't budge or tell him when it would be. My list isn't quite as extravagant and while I can't give each of you my favorite things, I would still love to share my list, so here goes it:

 Tan Tory Burch Reva Flats go with everything.

Echo Touch Gloves. Not only are these darling (and orange) but you can use your touch screen devices while wearing them.

Starbucks Skinny Peppermint Mocha- YUM.

Steve Madden Intyce Boots (Yes, I've included these on a previous FT post, but we are full-swing into boot weather and they are good enough to repeat)

The Holiday- if you haven't seen it, cancel your plans for tonight and rent it. You won't regret it.

Grey Toms. Super cute shoe with a great cause.

Stella & Dot charm necklace. These are so cute and you can personalize them however you like.

White Puffer from JCrew (this is another repeat, but now it is on SALE)

Grey Michael Kors watch
Water For Elephants, I read this earlier this summer and recently saw the movie. This is a great book that is a fairly quick read.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deck the Halls

Our house has been fully decorated for a week now, and I feel like our house is happiest when it's full of twinkling lights and the scent of Yankee Candle's "Christmas Cookie" ... ok, maybe I'm happiest. This really is my favorite time of year and my husband would attest to that.

We loaded up in Dustin's expedition and merrily made our way to the tree farm Home Depot to pick out our Christmas tree. We went on a Monday night when it was 38 degrees and drizzling because it was the only available time we had and picked out the first one we saw. I'm all about traditions, but I'm totally fine if this one changes when kiddos come along.

He was thrilled.

The finished product wasn't so bad though.

The garland on the bannister could be considered a marital test... seeing as how it took two trips to Home Depot and we had to have it up by the time the ACC Championship started. Husband stayed very positive and Clemson's W made it even better.

We go all out for the kids at Children's. This year Santa made an early appearance along with his elves and two reindeer (two very large elves and two very small reindeer).

The big man was busy, so I took his sleigh for a spin.

Lastly, I will leave you with this. We had a tacky Christmas party for K-Life and husband likes any opportunity to sport a comb over and a turtle neck.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Peppermint Bark

We are now almost a week into December and I have yet to write a Christmas post. This is my busiest time of year at work, so I am lucky that I have time to sit down at my computer at all. This recipe is worth it, though. If you need a festive candy to make for entertaining, this is it.

Peppermint Bark
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
1 bag of white chocolate chips
8 candy canes (crushed)
vegetable oil

1. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with foil so it doesn't stick.

2. Melt the dark chocolate chips and a splash of vegetable oil (this keeps it from sticking and makes it smooth- don't skip!) on the stove top over low stirring constantly.

3. Once melted completely, pour into the baking dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Repeat the same process with the white chocolate chips and pour over the dark chocolate chips. Smooth it out, but be sure not to mix the layers.

5. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top while it's still hot.

6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and then break up into smaller pieces.


Yes, our house is fully decorated but I have yet to take pictures. Don't you worry, though- that post will be next!