Welcome 2017!

Whew!  Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year has arrived.

Here’s random sampling of some pictures from our holiday season…

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We did two Thanksgiving!  This is a sporting event that I suggest you properly train for.  We have perfected it over the years.  😉

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We are day 4 of snow, and I am so thankful to be home {except for an urgent care doctor trip + a library visit} with these people!  The Mr. had to work both weekdays, but he played it up with Holden over the weekend (and celebrated his 32 birthday!).  I just got the call that schools are closed tomorrow as well.  I know we will have to make it up in some form…I just love this unexpected time off!

2016 was quite a year!  Holden turned four, started Pre-K, played two soccer seasons, did awesome at swimming, and just plain grew a ton before our eyes!  We can’t forget the addition of sweet Helen Elizabeth back in April 2016.  She’s such a blessing, and we are all over the moon for our little girl.  She is small but quite strong in body and spirit!  🙂

I didn’t do any resolutions directly on January 1, but I have done some thinking about it and some areas that I would like to improve upon.

  1. Gossip ~ Isn’t this just a the hardest?!  It’s not like you are stealing, killing, etc. BUT it can steal your joy, and it can kill others’ happiness.  I find this one hard, because I do actually like to talk although I’m not really outgoing with a large social circle.  I really want to make the effort and succeed to not talk about others in a negative light EVEN if it’s just recounting facts (which is how I usually validate it to myself).
  2. Respecting My Husband ~  Whew!  This is a tough one as well.  I do feel like I respect the Mr.  HOWEVER, I tend to not do the best job that I could.  I must accept that I married an imperfect man (just as he married a very imperfect woman) who cannot give me everything that I need and want at exactly every moment of the day.  Just as I cannot do that for him.  The really struggle is when he corrects Holden.  This is a very tough one.  I really feel like parenting/education/kids is MY area.  I’m the expert.  Sounds a bit prideful, huh?  Although I would say I have put lots of time and effort into this area, I want to handle disagreements or critiques of how he handles situations for a time when we can talk about it one-on-one.  It is my hope that this will make us more productive parents and more on-the-same-page.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

“God doesn’t want me to be a ‘fix him’ wife, God wants me to be a ‘love him’ wife.”

– Lysa TerKeurst

“My husband is one of my greatest blessings from God. His love is a gift that I open everyday.”

– Darlene Schacht

Do you make resolutions?  What is your favorite holiday, Christmas v. Thanksgiving?

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day?

Happy Tuesday!

We Meet Santa!

Hi there!  Wow, it was a full weekend followed by a very busy Monday.  My mom came into town on Friday evening, and we were all very excited to have her stay.  The Mr. left to go hunting VERY early on Saturday morning.  I also was up and at ’em early on Saturday to help serve breakfast at our church’s winter shelter for those who are homeless in our area.  It was an experience I hope we can share as a family once the kids are older.  I think we tend to label and put ourselves (and others) in categories.  As humans, it soothes us to organize our existence and make sense of our environment and those in it.  I think we (meaning me too) forget that we all have more in common than we think.  The people I served early on Saturday morning were just people whose circumstances are different from mine.  There were some morning-people, some cranky people, some polite people (actually no rude people), just people.  I’m very thankful for the experience.

So…after my early morning activities I picked up my mom and kids to head to the Breakfast with Santa event at my school.  It was so low-key!  It was the perfect recipe for a casual conversation with this guy…

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They both did great!  Holden asked Santa for a Captain America costume…Helen just chilled on his lap!  No spit-up and no tears!

I got to see a few students and introduce them to my kids.  We also visited the book fair, and Holden purchased a book for himself and one to give his sister for Christmas.

After a quick pit stop at home to pick up my sister, we were off for lunch at Dish.  This was a fun restaurant in Virginia Beach…”Scandinavian specialties along with our great American favorites.”  -from the website

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My delicious smoked salmon sandwich with avocado pictured below!

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We ended our celebration (it was my early birthday celebration!) with a visit to The Royal Chocolate in Town Center for fondue.  IMG_4370.jpg

I think it’s clear that Holden was excited.  🙂

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We were so full we hardly ate dinner later that evening!

Sunday was super quiet.  We (the kids and me) staying home all day except for a walk to the park.  I really hate missing church especially during Advent, but Helen is quite a wiggle worm during worship service.  I think we need to take the plunge and drop her off in the church nursery for worship service.  Clingy mom and baby problems!

Here’s Holden doing some crafting on Sunday…

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We were so glad to see the Mr. on Sunday evening…he came home with two deer!  Lots of venison in our future!

Monday was back to work/school, but we enjoyed seeing Holden perform at his Christmas program.  The Mr. was on “dad cam” duty with the pictures, but I did snap this one of the three spectators (Moochie and Poppy were present but not pictured…we were so glad they joined us!)…what do you think of the Mr.’s face?!?

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Whew!  I can’t believe it’s only Monday evening!  I’ve got THREE meetings this week plus just regular school stuff.  I can almost taste winter break AND am so excited!

My Christmas fun list still has cookie baking and some Rudolph watching on it.  🙂  What are you looking forward to in the Christmas celebration season?

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

5 for Friday (Catch-up Edition)

Whoa!  It’s a crazy day!  I’m actually writing a blog post!!!  The perpetual excuse is I’ve been WAY too busy.  It seems like every moment is scheduled or that I’m absolutely exhausted I do have a moment (and therefore immobilized by all the many other moments of the day).  I can only give credit to this post due to my day off yesterday.  So let’s jump into my 5 things on my mind this Friday….

{ONE}

Yesterday was surprisingly hectic since it was a day off.  I joined big H’s class at a holiday performance at a local theater.  It was a family theater group, so adorable (and very talented kids) little ones were actually a part of the action.  Unfortunately, chaperones had to drive themselves.  I like to ride the bus with kids!  It lets me get to know all the classmates that H mentions at home.  Although it was a lot of sitting for those little bodies (3 hours! by the time they were dismissed), they did a great job!  I think the fake snow machine, Elsa signing “Let It Go,” and a couple visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus helped.  😉  No photography was allowed during the performance, but I snapped this pic prior to it.

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Our faces were all red from the reflection of the light off the curtains.  H was very inquisitive about this, so we had a little mini science lesson while we waited.  Anything to keep him occupied!

{TWO}

I’m so thankful soccer is over!  I know that may be terrible to say, but I’m actually thankful it gets dark earlier.  We start settling down sooner (aka I may have put my PJs on BEFORE 5 pm one night this week).  He had a great season that wrapped up in mid-November.  While we were waiting at the performance yesterday, I asked him what it was going to be for the spring, try T-ball or soccer again.  He said, “Soccer!”

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H’s fan club pictured below…

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{THREE}

I’m looking forward to a visit from my mom this weekend.  We are taking the Hs to see Santa at my school bright and early tomorrow morning AND trying a new restaurant for my birthday.  We’ll have the littles in tow since the Mr. is in hot pursuit of a deer.  We always have a good time!  My mom, sister, and I took a little day trip back in November to Lee Hall (family home of Robert E. Lee and former plantation home outside of Richmond, Virginia).  We also enjoyed lunch and a wine tasting at the nearby winery.  It was such a beautiful fall day and fun to be with them without little people in tow!

My mom and sister

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This side of the house faced the James River

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My mom and I

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{THREE}

Helen is 9 months tomorrow!  I’m so happy that she is growing (although I confess to wanting to weigh her CONSTANTLY!)  and developing!  Plus, I’m excited to be coming to the last leg of breastfeeding.  Here’s a few pictures of our baby girl!

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{FOUR}

We took the kids to the Garden of Lights at the Norfolk Botanical Garden this weekend.  It is always so beautiful and a tradition we have done since Holden was 1.  My lap and hands were full with Miss Helen while we were going through the lights, but I had the Mr. take a few while we were waiting…You can definitely tell Helen is growing!  Look at those high-water pants!

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{FIVE}

I’m so excited for Christmas vacation this year!  We are spending our very first Christmas at home in exactly 10 Christmas of living in our home aka two apartments and two houses total.  We are doing a Christmas Eve dinner that will follow our church’s Christmas pageant.  Holden will be a shepherd most likely.  All my motherly dreams are fulfilled!  I’ll see my number 1 baby in a Christmas performance!  I’ll also use fancy dishes that haven’t seen the light of day in my home!  My Christmas is fulfilled already!  The Mr. is going to be in charge of the meat, and I’m in charge of the sides.  I’m not sure he’s totally OK with this.  He’s rather partial to my mom’s cooking and a bit skeptical of the new dishes I want to try.  However, I’m standing my ground and new dishes we shall try.  Can’t wait to be off from work and spend time with these guys with no schedule (sort-of…if you know me personally, you know we’ll have some type of schedule going on!)!

Advent wreath making at church

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Decorating the trees!  We have two this year.  One has our sentimental ornaments on it plus some other pretty ones.  That’s our real one.  The fake on has the old ornaments of my grandmother and the Mr.’s grandmother.  These are all the glass/delicate ones.

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Well, there you have it!  A quick catch-up from the past month + some!  I hope you have the best Friday!  Only 16 days until Christmas!  🙂

Natalie

Christmas/December Recap

Hello and Happy New Year!  I’m so excited for 2015!  We had a great Christmas break spending time enjoying family, friends, and food.  It does feel nice to start a new year.  I love making goals, resolutions, fresh starts, etc.  Before we go into that, here’s a little photo journal of our Christmas…

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Confession:  Most of these are on my Instagram!

Here are some of my favorite thoughts to go a long with the pictures…

1- Favorite memory:  I have two.  Holden yelling what all the lights were supposed to represent at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  He did this so loud that I’m sure everyone on board the tram “Polar Express” heard him.  Then, H asking Santa for a dump truck when we met the big guy this year at the Founders’ Inn.  Then, his utter confusion why this Santa did not produce a dump truck on the spot.

2- Favorite Food:  Very hard to say!  I would have to go with my mother-in-law’s beef, my sister’s mac and cheese, and my mom/dad’s creamed corn.  I also had a fabulous banana cake by my cousin.  Seriously, this banana bread was like dessert!

3- Favorite Down Time:  On Christmas Eve, Jake, Holden and I were left to our own devices as some people were traveling/working this day.  It was rainy, but we hung out and even got outside some.  The Mr. and H were my work out buddies and followed me on the ATV.  I even convinced the Mr. to do some lunges across the yard with me!  We also visited the grocery store and cruised backroads for a bit.  Quiet time with just the three of us is so nice amidst all the holiday craziness.

4-  Favorite Gift:  My sister was a my “Santa” for Secret Santa.  She went a little off the list but picked items that I really needed/wanted.  It made it extra special.  I also got a quilt and afghan from my parents.  These were both made by grandparents/extended family.  The quilt is so cozy, and the afghan has a chevron print!  Everything becomes new again in the style department.

5-  Favorite Celebration Time:  I was able to go to the Christmas Eve service with my parers and sister while Jake stayed home with H’s uncle to assemble some toys.  It was so nice and meaningful.  I hadn’t been since before H was born.

We celebrated last night (New Years Eve) with dinner and sparkling cider.  H was off to bed, and the Mr. and I enjoyed a movie with some gas log ambiance.  It did go down hill at about 10:30 when the hooligans our neighbors started to set off fireworks.  Poor Roscoe hates fireworks and has a complete meltdown anytime he hears them.  This resulted in about a 3 to 4ish hour struggle to get everyone (yes, H got in on the wake up action too!) back to sleep.  Finally, we were all back to sleep with the exception of a 5:30 leg ache from Holden.  We slept in until 9 (this NEVER happens!) and soothed ourselves with some waffles from our new waffle maker (Another great gift!).  We followed that with a nice walk to the local park/playground.  Despite the rocky start, I/we have high hopes for 2015 and the fresh start it brings.

Best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Natalie

New York at Christmas

Hello!  I hope everyone is having a good holiday season so far.  We had a great Thanksgiving filled with food and time with family.

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We got a REAL TREE this year for the first time ever.  I’ve had a fakey since before I even graduated from college, and I haven’t had any luck convincing the Mr. to deal with a live tree until this year.  It looks so great and smells pretty good too.  We’ve also started the Elf on a Shelf tradition this year.  My sister gave it to Holden last Christmas, and I confess that I had been pretty Grinchy about the whole thing.  So far, Alf aka “The Man” has gone for a tractor ride, had a Cheerio party with others, climbed up in our peppermints, baked us cookies, and played with blocks.

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Even though we traveled for Turkey Day, I also traveled this weekend.  My sister and I took a bus trip from Salisbury, Maryland to New York City.  A bus trip is a unique experience for sure.  Although it can be comical {your fellow passengers can make all the entertainment you need!} and a little painful at times {hello seat with little leg room!}, it is relatively inexpensive way to travel.  Our bus fare was about 55 dollars for each of us.  We started off with a little church visiting.  We saw St. Thomas Church which is an Episcopal church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was in the midst of a renovation.

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We popped into Henri Bendel just to see the decor.

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Then, {despite lots of rain} we walked all around Central Park.

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We saw it all…Strawberry Fields, the Swedish Cottage, Jackie Kennedy Reservoir, the Belvedere Castle, the Loeb Boathouse, fountains, statues, runners, squirrels!  Central Park Check!  We did miss the ice skating rink (it was way to rainy for anything like that!).  Although we did not go in the actual zoo there, we did walk around it, and I was able to get to top pictures of the playful seals.

We ate at Le Pain Quotidien on the Upper East Side.  We both had a frittata with a salad and bread.  I had mint tea that was nice on such a chilly day.  Sadly, we did not get a pastry/dessert here, but they looked amazing.  We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after lunch by way of the Guggenheim.

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You could easily spend a couple of days in the place.  We just had time for a couple of hours, but it always makes me feel very cultured {said in a nasally voice} to go to an art museum.  I also like to read every thing on the little wall plaques.  That was so not happening in this busy HUGE place.

We finished out our NYC day with a so-so dinner at Fluffy’s Cafe.  Despite the dinner and the rain, I had a great time visiting the city and most importantly catching up with my sister.  So glad we went, but {oh my goodness!} so sleepy from our long day in NYC.

Have a great week!  Happy Sunday.

Natalie

Seeing Old St. Nick

It really feels like Christmas season is upon us.  There are Christmas trees all over Facebook.  The mall was insane this evening, AND it was absolutely chilly this weekend.  We started off the season with a trip to visit Santa at the Founder’s Inn in Virginia Beach.  It was a fundraising event for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.  We enjoyed French toast, eggs, breakfast breads, fruit, sausage, and even a hot chocolate bar!  Everything was decorated beautifully!  Holden loved the model train with his favorite characters from Thomas the Train.  The only cray cray part was the line to see Santa.  The event staff had a text message plan set up that quickly fell by the wayside as it be came a free-for-all to get in line and see Santa.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make the whole magical thing without a slight bathroom meltdown due to the automatic flushing toilets.  They are way, way, way scary by the way {to a 2.5 year old!}.  We did disengage from the toilet bowl in time to get up there with Old St. Nick.  He was wonderfully authentic, and I must confess the whole thing made me wish I was a little girl running around there.

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It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.

Happy {almost} Holidays!

Natalie

Goodbye Christmas Season, Hello New Year

Hi there!  I admit that it has been quite a while since my last post!  The holidays were the holidays.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Christmas along with all special days that dress up the ho-hum of everyday life.  However…the holidays are very full for us.  There is wonderful time with family, delicious eats on every table, and late night (like after 9 o’clock for us!) catching up.  All this excitement and togetherness is so wonderful.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the full-ness of it all.  I fantasize about “Next year, we’ll do this ____.”  We’ll stay home.  We’ll only visit one branch of our families.  We’ll visit only for the big day.  Truth be told, I am usually very sad to leave despite my feelings of overwhelm-ness.  This year was no different.  I started out enjoying all the fun times that Christmas brings as we travel and stay with family for the weekish period of time.  Then, I get a little crazy from all the stimulation.  (I’ve been known to shower in the dark just to get a little peace on a particularly chaotic day.)  Finally, I ended up with just an feeling of gratitude for time spent, a craving for more family time, and an understanding that even though all the travel and packing and chaos can be challenging it is worth time spent with those special people.  I’m so grateful to have so much family in one area.  I’m grateful that Holden can see all of his immediate family in a day’s time.  I’m grateful for new traditions like Christmas morning brunch at my brother and sister-in-law’s beautiful home.  I’m grateful for kind words from unexpected places.  I’m grateful for opportunities that nurture my son’s connection with his family and where “his people” (as my mother would say) come from.  

I hope you enjoy these pictures from our holidays.  I don’t have many, and I’m actually thankful for that as well.  I wanted to take the pictures with my mind instead of reaching for my phone.  The moments I did capture were very real and mostly of Holden.  He is by far the most photogenic of the bunch.

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To celebrate the New Year, the Mr. and I had some takeout sushi and Bloody Mary’s.  Both were delish, but I really have been eating a lot less “meat” recently.  I enjoyed a vegetable roll with just a few pieces of fish.  Holden also tried sparkling grape juice for the first time, and I rediscovered a love for it!  I’m thinking this needs to be a once a month purchase!

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I added some pretty raspberries for color.  We also completed the New Year’s worksheet below…

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Here is the link to my pin on pinterest if you’d like to click there and then click the image to get a printable version from the original source.  My answers were as follows…

  • A bad habit I’m going to break…Stop eating when I’m tired and rest instead!  (Even a five or ten minute breather)
  • A new skill I’d like to learn…I’d like to successfully make yeast bread.  I’ve tried before and totally am intimidated by it!
  • A person I hope to be more like…I’d like to be more patient and careful with my words.  So basically anyone who demonstrates those characteristics!
  • A good deed I’m going to do…I’d like to volunteer at the Chapel Pantry again this summer break for a day.
  • A place I’d like to visit…Maine or New Orleans.  On a smaller scale, I’d like to take on a boat ride, like canoe or kayak!
  • A book I’d like to read…Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • A letter I’m going to write…One to Holden on his birthday and another secret one.
  • A new food I’m going to try…Thai Food!  I can’t decide if I’m going to make it or try it out.  Maybe both and compare!
  • I’m going to do better at…Not raising my voice when I’m upset.  This goes for all people and all places!

What are your goals for 2014?  Do you make resolutions?  I just love a fresh start and new plans!  Have a wonderful Day 1 of 2014!

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