2017 in Review

By 2:52 PM , , ,
It’s hard to believe that today is my annual year in review.  How is 2017 almost over?  When I think back on this year, I have a lot of mixed emotions.  It was a year full of some really low-lows and some really high-highs. 2017 was packed full of change we never anticipated this time last year.  God has used this year to teach me to rely deeper on Him and TRUST Him as His plan is always so much better than mine. 

2017 marked some crazy events for our family:
  • It was the year that we were told after over a year and half of trying to get pregnant, lots of tests, doctors, etc. that we would never be able to naturally conceive again.
  • It was the year I was approached about a new job opportunity (which would mean much more travel but also a great new opportunity) and decided after much prayer (and the news that there would not be a newborn in our future) to step out in faith and accept the job opportunity which also meant leaving a job and a work family I loved. 
  •  Fast forward to only one month (3 weeks to be exact) after starting new job when we found out to our extreme shock and complete delight were (totally naturally) expecting a baby. I then got to share that news with my brand new boss. 
  • Starting a new job meant six weeks of intense round the clock very strenuous but also very rewarding training for me. It meant lots of sacrifice in being away from my family and also lots of prayer in making it through long hours of work and study while very sick during the first half of my pregnancy. But it also resulted in creating new friendships with fellow classmates that will last a lifetime and learning and experiencing lots of new things. Ultimately it led to the most professional growth I have experienced in the last 6 years and while I miss my old team has been such a huge blessing.
  • A few months later we found out God had again answered our prayers and was blessing us with a baby girl (which our son had so preciously been praying for specifically).
  • We began making plans late spring to put our current home on the market, completed countless home remodels/repairs including a full kitchen remodel in our current home, staged the house, put 80% of what we own in storage, and listed our home. Followed by that we had over 70 showings. 
  • We worked with an architect to design our dream house plans and began getting estimates on building but decided to hold off to move the needle further until the house sold. Fast forward five months later to the week of Christmas, house still on the market, and we decided to pull it off due to the upcoming arrival of a new baby. 
  • This year also brought the tragic loss of one of my Uncle's from a horrible death and also the loss of one of my husband's Uncle's from Alzheimer's. 
  • It also brought the birth of several of my closest friends babies, a new niece, and new friendships. 
  • We mastered potty training this year! Praise the lord! And moved up to a big boy bed.
  • This year included some great vacations and travel including a trip with my man to Waco in February, lots of incredible time spent in the north GA mountains, an awesome trip to Clearwater/Disney, a fun trip with co-workers to Chicago, an awesome trip with my new work team to DC where we toured the HMX helicopters VIP, a trip to Chattanooga to tour Rock City, a trip to Dollywood, a trip that included unexpected snow while adventuring to Tennessee for the Polar Express, a short stint in Marko Island, and countless other great memories. 
  • My sweet husband and I celebrated six years of marriage and 11 years of being exclusive. 
  • OH and not to be left out we watched the University of Georgia (my alma mater) become SEC National Champions! 
Here are a few of my favorite photos from this year:

While I am sure I am missing some of the events of this year all in all this year was just different, hard, and a blessing at the same time.  It was most definitely a year of growing, learning and relying on the Lord even more than normal.  If I had to pick one word to sum up what I learned in 2017 it would be trust. I always get a little melancholy wrapping up one year and beginning the next…because if this year taught me anything it is that you just don’t know what’s in front of you...while we have many hopes and dreams for 2018 (such as putting our house back on the market once the baby arrives and we can get our feet under us this spring and begin building our dream home/ welcoming a new baby girl and adjusting to life as a family of four, continuing to grow and expand in our new work roles, etc). here is what I know for certain...  I am thankful each and every day for my Savior, my family, my friends, my health and for you guys.  I do not take this relationship here lightly.  This blogging community blesses me more than I could ever explain.  You love me, you love my kid (soon to be kids), you pray for us, you encourage and support us too.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  This year was my 6th year as a blogger and none of it would be the same without YOU.  Thank you.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

By 10:00 AM ,
Hard to believe that Christmas is in 3 DAYS!!! 

Christmas for us actually starts tomorrow with my husband's family. If you are still looking for a perfect last minute Christmas gift for the ladies on your list check out these awesome NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bibles. They are awesome. Absolutely beautiful Bibles with scriptures you can color. I think my family is going to love them. 

I am officially 30 weeks pregnant and crazy uncomfortable. I was having contractions the majority of yesterday which really put a damper on how much I was able to get done for Christmas as I had to spend most of the day off my feet. Praying she holds out at least 8 more weeks as we are way too early and have nothing ready for her arrival yet. This picture was taken last week at 29 weeks and I swear I am now double that size. 

Speaking of babies I am loving Christmas with this guy...3.5 is such a magical age for Christmas and Santa and we are so looking forward to Monday. Elf on the Shelf has been so much fun this year and last night we Facetimed Santa which was a huge hit (there are tons of great apps out there for this).

Last week was crazy busy but fun. I spent the first half of the week in Marko Island in Florida and even got to go kayaking and see dolphins. The only not so fun part was not having access to a bathroom for several hours - at 8 months pregnant that is not ideal.

My sweet hubby and I were also able to get in a date night last Friday night to see Snow Queen at a local outdoor theater. For those not familiar with Snow Queen it is the story Frozen is based on...we had a blast and literally froze while watching the show.

I hope everyone has the Merriest Christmas!

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Our Magical Weekend at the North Pole

By 10:42 PM , , ,

Last weekend we had the most magical weekend at the North Pole. You can read about our first half of the weekend and our snow adventures in my post (here). We adventured up to Bryson City, TN to ride the Polar Express and literally had the best, most magical time. I couldn't help but write about it even though this is in no way sponsored by the Polar Express or Bryson City but we had SUCH a great time I couldn't help but share. 

One of the highlights of the trip was an unplanned stop at the Toymaker's Shop in downtown Bryson City. You guys...I honestly think this man may be the real Santa. This sweet old man (see photos below) sets up a toy shop in downtown Bryson City November-year end because he says he loves children and wants children to see someone who can make toys with their own hands. The entire store only has handmade toys (although strangely none are for sell). The Toymaker sits down with each child and writes their name on a chain link and uses "magic glue" to glue the chain together. He then adds it to a master chain of all the children who have visited his shop and has a registry so if you come back years later you can look up your previous chain. He wants all the children to be "connected." Truly magical to say the least.

The Polar Express itself was also a great, magical experience. So much so that we have already decided we will take our daughter back when she is 3 and E is 6.5 (we felt like 3 was the perfect age). E's favorites parts were his golden ticket getting punched, receiving his bell (we could all hear it ring), drinking hot chocolate, and of course Santa coming on the train at the North Pole.

If you are at all considering going I really can't recommend it enough. We had the best time!

The only piece of advice I would give you is to book early if you are considering going in 2018 - we booked back in June and tickets were very limited. Also, the 5:30 train would be best. We did the 7pm and couldn't see anything on the way out because it was too dark. 5:30 would be perfect as it would be light-ish on your way out and dark on your way back. 

On that note I will leave you with this...

Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me...as it does for all who truly believe! 

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Christmas Card 2017

By 9:00 AM , ,
I love sending and receiving Christmas cards.There is something so very sweet about getting old fashion mail and I truly look forward to checking the mail everyday this time of year. I believe I have shared with you before that our family hangs ribbons up on all of our kitchen cabinets and attaches each card we receive to the ribbon with clothes pins. They stay that way until after Christmas so we can look at all of them everyday. After Christmas is over and the decor comes down we punch a hole in the top of each card and make a book out of a ring binder clip of the cards. We spend the next year praying for one family from our binder book each night. It's such a fun way to remember to pray for our friends and family and a tradition we love.

I wish I could send each and every one of you a Christmas card this year.  From the bottom of my heart, Merry Christmas to you and your family and thank you for reading along and sharing in our family's adventures. 

And as always, a big thank you to our photographer and friend Alena for capturing these beautiful pictures of our little family.  

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