Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Thoughts of 2011

On the last day of 2011, instead of making a bunch of small resolutions that will be long forgone after a week or so, I choose to pick one word that I'll continually reference for my overall goal of 2012.  The word is....
Although 2011 was a great year, it's also a year that got out of balance, as I worked a lot more  than I intended (albeit mostly at night when the boys were asleep), and struggled (like most working moms) to balance home, a growing family, marriage, work, expectations, etc. Nevertheless, in 2012, I want to strive for more balance in my life.  This will require me letting some things go...which also will include telling some people no.  This will also include me doing some things JUST GOOD ENOUGH,  rather than doing things perfectly.  This will include asking for help, delegating, giving up some control, and continually reflecting on "the big picture."  This will require me to stop my "all or nothing thinking" and making serious strides in decreasing procrastination and increasing organization...two topics that don't come easy to me! This goal for balance extends to every facet of my everything.  I am a work-in-progress, and the goal is PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION! But, just by writing this down, and reflecting upon what REALLY matters, I have set my intention into the universe.  And I know, I must maintain focus. I know I'll lose focus at times, and that's o.k.  Then, it'll just be time to reflect, and regroup.  I will remember..."What you focus on....EXPANDS."
So there it is...a one-word intention for 2012. 

Love is a verb.  Take action.

Life is dessert. Make it sweet!

Poor Sick Noah on New Year's Eve 2011

"Mommy, I'm so sick." Not exactly the words you EVER want to hear from your child, particularly on New Year's Eve.  But that's exactly what we heard. Poor Noah. This kid seems to be sick for some big winter holiday every year! This was the 1st year he's been well for Christmas, so New Year's Eve was the unlucky holiday, this year.  Susie & the boys came for a little New Year's Eve "party" today. We counted down 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1...Happy New Year! Except, we did it at 12 noon instead of midnight. The boys didn't care! They were just happy to have gingerale, balloons, cupcakes, & cookies. Poor LOVER of ALL THINGS sick right during the party with a 101 fever.  He fell asleep during the festivities. When he woke up shortly thereafter, he ate a cookie and vomited it up 30 seconds later. Happy New Year, right?!?  Well, it gave me pause.....YES, Happy New Year indeed. There are so many parents out there with chronically ill and disabled children...and I have been blessed with a healthy child...minus the annual winter holiday sickness.  So, for that, as I sit here in my living room on New Year's Eve, I do not feel sad or bitter that I'm not out having drinks and partying it up.  I can hear the fireworks from Hollytree right now.  And I don't feel that I'm missing anything at all.  In fact, if I really want to see the fireworks, I just have to go to my upstairs patio and I can see them. (The truth is, I'm hoping the fireworks don't wake my sleeping Jackson, or my darling Noah...who just told me again, "Mommy, I'm so sick," as his fever spiked again.) My fireworks, my blessings every day & all year through...are my boys.  And no glittery ball in fabulous New York City can hold a candle to them. Speaking of which, Noah is awake again. I'm off for now... 
Poor sweet, Noah; literally fell asleep on the couch during our New Year's Eve "party" with Susie & the boys.  He must've been sick, because this kid LOVES a party!

After he woke up, since he couldn't join the party, we brought the party to him on the couch! He was happy to toot his noisemaker horn!

Reflections of 2011

Have a sparkling new year!

Me & My Boys...last day of 2011
It's the final day of 2011, and as I take a brief moment to reflect on this past year, and ponder hopes for 2012, I pause....breathe in........breathe out, and thank God for my many blessings.  This year went by in a blink of an eye.  It was just the beginning of 2011 that Jackson was just 2 months old.  It was just the beginning of 2011, when we were transitioning from a family of three to a family of four.  As the year closes, I now have an almost-four-year-old in Noah, and a one-year-old in Jackson! Having a baby brings lots of firsts---2011 there were lots of firsts for Jackson...first sit up, first roll, first crawl, first word, first walk...eventually...first birthday.  Watching his firsts and watching him explore his year of firsts has been something I will forever treasure.  He is simply goodness. He loves his big brother, Noah, and seeing these two together is nothing short of joy rising (except, of that they're both bigger, we have the beginnings of the brotherly roughousing! That's not so joy rising!) Noah is little me.  He is always on the move, outrageous, spontaneous, spirited, stubborn, full of passion, and wakes up every day just ready for fun.  He's my son who will bust out a song or a dance, for anyone, anywhere. He sings about everything! He loves to be outside! He loves his Daddy and his brother.  I hope he never loses that enthusiasm. Sometimes I just stare at his gorgeous blue eyes and copper locks, and am genuinely stunned by his beauty. 2011 was the year that I became a part of Judge Clark's Drug Court team.  I never thought I'd want to work with "drug addicts," but I've learned so much this past year about recovery through this amazing opportunity.  I have learned more about resiliance and the power of God and abundance from "drug addicts" than I ever learned in school or anywhere else. It's truly GOD's work that I'm doing, and it's THE MOST VALUABLE work I've ever done. Hands down.  The best part of it is...I'm a big part of putting families BACK TOGETHER.  Judge Clark is a big picture thinker, and I love her dearly. And speaking of husband of 13 years. I love that man. I simply do not know how I would've made it...physically or emotionallly, without his support in my life.  Love is a verb. I love you, Michael.
  • The year Jackson turned 1; the year Noah turned 4.
  • The year that Elizabeth turned 40 & we gave her a 40 & Fabulous Birthday Party
  • The year that Grandma Kreger died
  • The year that Judge Clark & Drug Court became a part of my life
  • The year that I realized Mary Beth was not coming back to Texas
  • The year that my dad fought like hell to honor my mother's memory after some shady dealings from some Michigan family
  • The year that I completed a 1/2 marathon 4 months after having a baby
  • The year that I worked more than I intended
  • The year that I traveled to D.C. with Judge Clark & had a private tour of the capitol by a Congressman
  • The year that I discovered Pinterest
  • The year that I found my home gym...XTC, and got re-introduced to kickboxing, which I heart
  • The year that I breastfed...for over a year, thank you very much
  • The year that I spent countless nights rocking babes, singing Silent Night, and squeezing precious baby skin
  • The year of watching my boys together as siblings
  • The year that I made some priceless plates and canvas prints from the boys handprints
  • The year that Elizabeth found the courage to file for divorce
  • The year that Michael got season tickets to the longhorns
  • The year that Michael also bought me my Canon...coincidence?
  • The year that I grew even closer to my sisters, which includes my sister-in-law, Rebekah.
  • The year that I made Noah & Alice a 12x12 Shutterfly Book explaining how to make my mom's sugar cookies
  • The year that my house became a complete mess...
  • And the year that I hired a housekeeper without guilt.
  • The year that we took our 1st trip on the Polar Express
  • The year that we were all WELL for Christmas
  • The year I met Courtney Stafford. The year Thomas Thedford celebrated his 1st birthday.
  • The year Jackson completed so many "firsts."
  • The year we took our 1st vacation as a family of four.
  • The year I did more public speaking 
  • The year Michael & I celebrated our 13th anniversary
  • The year that marked 14 years since my mother died
  • The year that priceless pictures were taken of our family
  • The year I will treasure, ups and downs...highs and lows...because I was blessed with my three loves, (Michael, Noah, & Jackson) my extended family, and good friends. 

Thank you, God, for allowing me to be healthy throughout 2011.  Thank you for my life and the chance to live each day. 

Happy New Year 2012

Matthew (7), Nicholas (4), & Noah (3..almost 4!)

Susie, Matthew, & Nicholas came by for a fun little New Year's Eve "party" today, but instead of ringing in 2012 at 12 midnight, we chose 12 noon. Poor Noah got sick right during the party, but managed to get up briefly for a couple pictures after he heard the noisemakers. So we counted down again...and again...and I think, again! Happy New Year! Welcome 2012!
My New Year's Kiss from Noah.  A picture of me with my boys on the last day of 2011!
Susie & I toast the New Year! Welcome 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sister trip to Dallas

Denise, Susie, & I took an impromptu trip to Dallas for a 24-hour respite & shopping extravaganza! We ate great food, got to catch up, & actually slept in to all of 8 am! Fun times with my girls!! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Special Gifts- Hand & Footprints I Heart

This Christmas season, I used the boys' hand prints to make a Christmas tree on a 16x20 canvas.  (Pinterest, not my bright idea.) I loved it so much, I sneakily used Matthew & Nick's hands to make one for Susie on Christmas Eve. She liked hers so much, we decided to make one for Denise & Grampa, too. Grampa's canvas had the hand prints of ALL his grandkids on it! When I gave it to him, the paint was literally still wet...but he loved it.

3 blank canvases=$15
Red, Green, Yellow, & Brown Paint= $10
Having your children & grandchildren's hand prints forever=PRICELESS!

We also made some special plates at Pottery Cafe using the boys' hand and footprints as well as mine & Michael's hand prints. We'll have these forever, and I can't think of a more wonderful gift than these forever-captured moments of our perfect little family.  Every year, it'll now be tradition to get out these special plates that we made together this Christmas of 2011. Don't you just LOVE making memories?!?!?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My AMAZING Michael

 I just have to say a few words about my amazing husband, Michael. I often say, "Love is a verb."  Well, let me just give you a few examples.  He wore pajama pants to the Polar Express! (Clearly not his desire, but the rest of us were doing it, so he gave in and had spirit!) How many non-outgoing men would do that? That rocked! Love is a verb, indeed.
Christmas Eve 2011-
I got into a baking frenzy, as I had  chose  to make homemade sugar-cookie dough for Christmas.  This is a big, long process in case you didn't know.  He jumped right in and started helping mix the ingredients.  He even got Noah into the fun. Love is a verb!  Then there were mashed potatoes to make. NOT the box kind. My mashed potatoes are legendary! We are talking 3 sticks of butter, here! Without asking or being told, he peeled and boiled the potatoes so that I could be busy with our other Christmas preparations. (Plus Jackson is a "Mama, hold me all the time" baby, so when he's up I'm minimally able to do anything like that!) Love is a verb!
Christmas Eve night--He stopped by the Athens gas station to pick up some of that Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade after he saw how much I liked it.  Love is a verb. This next one is a big one---one that I didn't even KNOW about until Christmas day---He opened and assembeled almost all the boys' new toys and then (somehow!) placed them neatly back in their original container so that when the boys opend their presents...there was NO NEED for batteries...or scissors...and no injury from trying to open those deadly child-proof toy containers!!! SERIOUSLY?!?!? Yep. LOVE IS A VERB.   He stayed up until 3 am on Christmas Eve, rather Christmas Day, so that his presents to ME were all wrapped! I told him NOT to bother, that I didn't care one bit.  But he wanted it to be special. And it WAS! Love is a VERB!
Then on Christmas Day, I opened up a brand new, AMAZING Canon Rebel camera...THE ONE that I've been wanting for years...and constantly have complained about not a total surprise. Now I'm not missing ANY moments, because that Canon is the bomb-diggity!!! The point is...he shows us he loves us not just with words but with his actions, as a verb is an action word.

Thank you, dear Michael, for being an amazing husband and father. I love you. Our boys love you. You bless our family.

Christmas Day Photobooth Fun

Dad & I
Grampa & Noah
Dad & Denise
Grampa & Ella
My wonderful father with his 3 girls! We love you!
Just before we left for Susie's house for Christmas with Grampa & my sisters and their families, I threw this picture frame and some photo props into the back of my vehicle, just in case we had the time, energy, and desire for some funny Christmas-themed photo ops.  Of course, my dad, EVER the wonderful sport, jumped right in! It's little details like this that make looking back on our Christmas so special. I mean look at these pictures! It's just non-pretentious, FUN! I LOVE that my family is not stuffy or too uppity to just act silly and enjoy life! Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day with Grampa, Oma, The Runtes, & Seidels

Grampa & Noah---CLEARLY, related! XOXOXO!
Grampa with all his grandkids---poor Jackson was WAY past a nap and was in meltdown mode!
Christmas feast!
Grampa's grandchild on each knee, "This is my girl....This is my boy...this is my girl....this is my boy..."
Dad (Grampa) with his girls
Grampa with his ornament made by Noah & Jackson
Noah's 1st game of Twister! Clearly, he didn't care if he fell down! He had a blast!

Christmas Day 2011~
After Christmas morning at our house, we traveled to Athens to have lunch at Susie & Doug's house.  It was a near-perfect afternoon! Sometimes, we have a "vision" of how Christmas with our families "should" be, and then we get utterly disappointed when there are tensions or hurt feelings, etc.  Well, I'm happy to report that with my family, that is most definitely NOT the case! It's come as you are, flaws and all, with the goal being just spend time together and enjoy each other.  We ate a big feast, and everyone brought a dish so that Susie didn't have to cook it all herself.  Noah was SO well behaved, even without a nap...and we just enjoyed ourselves.  There's a real relaxed feeling with my family...probably because we're so close.  Spending time with my dad, watching him with his was just perfection. The kids had a great time playing together, and it was just about as picture-perfect as I could've hoped for. When I left, my heart felt genuinely FULL! I only wish I didn't leave Susie with a mess to clean up!  

Christmas morning 2011

Our Family- Christmas 2011
Noah (3) Jackson (1)

Jackson carryied around a bag of wrapping paper trash; Looked like Santa carrying his bag of prizes!
Santa brought Noah his 1st set of golf clubs this Christmas---complete with UT putting green. Daddy had LOTS of fun showing Noah how to golf!
Christmas 2011 was the FIRST Christmas that we've all been HEALTHY since Noah was born! Hooray! We opened up stockings first, as is tradition, and it was such a JOY to watch the boys open their gifts.  Michael & I thought the gift-opening segment of Christmas would go by swiftly....We were WRONG! Noah would open a present, and then just wanted to play with whatever present he opened.  When I asked him if he wanted to open more presents, he replied, "No." Isn't that sweet? Isn't it refreshing that he was so content with just one gift?  Jackson just climbed on the boxes initially, but when he discovered ripping paper, he got into the action for a while.  It was magical to listen to Noah. His pure excitement and happiness was contagious! As I looked around my living room, surrounded by my 3 boys...I felt so content. So blessed. This, my friends, is just about as good as it gets! Merry Christmas, 2011! 
More special moments of Christmas 2011