Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Card Photo Session + Two Dogs = Fun, Fun!!

Last year, I used one of our wedding photos on our Christmas card-- simple and quick. This year, I wanted to do something different and include our dogs in the picture-- not so simple and quick. :)

I had planned a few weeks ago to set aside part of an afternoon and get our little family together for pictures. It was Zach's idea to take it in front of our Christmas tree (which I loved!), so we waited until this Sunday when we had the tree decorated and were already fixed up from church that morning. I think Zach had been dreading this for days, since I wanted to include both of our dogs, Cosmo and Daisy, in the photo. Daisy is usually a little hyper when Cos is around, so we didn't really know how this was going to work. We took some 30-50 photos of us sitting in front of our Christmas tree with our two babies. I posted a few "blooper" photos to enjoy. Poor Zach pretty much gave up on the last few and walked away. I also included the only two really good ones. The first one is the one we ended up using for our Christmas card. I actually liked the second one better, but Daisy wasn't looking at the camera. Thank goodness for Zach's camera and tripod, or this would have never worked. We decided that if we were going to include them in the Christmas card photo next year, we would have to have a third party to man the camera. However, it was pretty entertaining watching Zach race from his spot with Cosmo in the floor to the camera and then back, all while I was holding Daisy and trying to keep Cosmo in place. All-in-all, it was a funny experience and I can't wait to get the cards back! I hope they turn out well!!

Thanksgiving 2009

This Thanksgiving was just as busy as last, but it was great as always! We had three stops to make during the day. First, we went to Zach's mom's in Chattanooga and enjoyed lunch with her, Ashley, Marissa and Ella. We had a great time getting to see them! We had taken some pictures of all of us there last year and wanted to do so again this year, so it's kind of become a little tradition. Zach brought his camera along and took some really great pics of all of us. I posted a few of my favorites. I was actually thinking about using the close-up of us for our Christmas card this year...if our "photo session" with our dogs didn't work out. Luckily, we did that on Sunday afternoon after church and were able to produce about TWO decent photos (we took tons and yes, there were only two really good ones!) Anyway, I will post those later for your entertainment.

After his mom's, we traveled back to Fort Payne to my grandparents' house where we enjoyed a late lunch with my parents, two grandmothers, my grandfather, my brother and his sweet girlfriend Amanda. They decided to be unconventional this year and grill steaks. I liked the idea of being different, but it was just hard to have a delicious steak on the plate in front of you and not be able to eat much of it! We had a great time with them, as always. I am so thankful for my wonderful, loving family and how we're always growing! *Sidenote: I'm not implying anything here--just referring to Zach and Amanda as our additions to the family! I read this back and was afraid someone might assume something! Haha!! :)

Our last stop of the day was Aunt Gail's house where we had dinner with her, Zach's dad, his grandma Grace, and Gail's three girls and their boyfriends. We always have a fun time catching up with everyone there. We even played a game which definitely kept everyone laughing. We usually stay rather late when we're there since we don't see them as often, so we didn't get in bed that night until about midnight.

Just as last year, I wanted to hit the Black Friday sales hard with Mom and her best friend Debbie, so I woke up at 3:00 that morning. Actually, let me rephrase that...I "got out of bed" at 3:00. I didn't really "wake up" until later that day. We really had a great time and I think it was well worth it. (Believe me, I absolutely hate getting up early, so I wouldn't do this if it wasn't worth it.) We got tons of stuff at Old Navy and spent most of our time there where we stood in line to check out for 45 minutes. Needless to say, we had plenty of time to talk and I made a lot of friends with the people in line there, so that was a bonus! While I was out shopping, Zach got our Christmas tree and wreath for this year. It was so nice coming home, opening the front door and smelling the fresh tree. I argue every year about getting an artificial tree just because of the convenience, but when the real one is standing in our living room decorated and the house smells like Christmas, I forget all about it. That night, we went to Zach's dad's to have pizza and watch the Alabama game. All I'll say about that is this: Auburn really fought hard. If I were an Auburn fan, I would be proud of my team. Alabama thankfully pulled out the win in the end, which we were jumping up and down and yelling about, so it was a great ending to the day!

I caught up on my sleep on Saturday morning and then Zach and I brought out the Christmas decorations and turned up the Christmas music. It was so much fun decorating the house once again. I can't believe this is our second married Christmas! The year has flown by!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sad News

I posted last week on the Martin twins who were born prematurely and were being hospitalized for numerous complications. Sadly, one of the twins, Campbell, passed away yesterday. Please continue to pray for this precious family. I cannot imagine the grief they are experiencing, especially during this Thanksgiving week. Through it all, they continue to be thankful for the blessings they have through Joseph. Continue to pray that God will strengthen his little body so that his parents can bring him home! What a great Christmas present that would be!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Nice Surprise

We've been recovering steadily for the past few weeks from both of our sicknesses, so life is great right now! We went back to church this past Sunday morning for what seemed like the first time in forever. I had been back to children's choir practice last week to help get ready for our Christmas program, but it's just not the same as enjoying our services. I even got to sit with Zach since I am still not able to sing, so that was really nice! I returned to choir rehearsal this past week to just read along so that I wouldn't be really behind in our Christmas music, but it was a little sad. You don't really appreciate your voice until you don't have it, but we're getting there.  

I finally got to venture out of the house for a full day this past Saturday. We had a great, busy day! We headed to Chattanooga to see Zach's mom and take her out for her birthday--finally! We had a delicious lunch at J. Alexanders and then went to the movies to see Disney's "A Christmas Carol" in 3D. The movie was absolutely wonderful and the special effects were amazing. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit...if you weren't already! I highly recommend going to see it if you haven't yet. However, Zach and I wouldn't recommend taking your children. There were some young kids sitting behind us and they were really scared at a few parts in the movie. Anyway, after the movie we went to Zach's mom's house for a while and then, after a quick stop at our house to let little Daisy out, headed to his dad's for the Alabama game. Speaking of, Roll Tide Roll, 10-0!! :)

Yesterday after I got home from work, I was looking through the mail and noticed a card addressed to me and Zach. It was from an old friend of mine who I recently reconnected with on Facebook. The card was to congratulate us on our marriage and our recent one year anniversary. It was also filled with really sweet comments and special Bible verses. There was also a gift card inside to Bed, Bath & Beyond, where we had registered. Zach and I were so excited when we were opening that gift card that we didn't even notice another card inside. When we opened it, it was a gift card to Olive if the first card wasn't too much alone!! It was such a nice surprise to get just the sweet card out of the blue, but to get belated wedding and anniversary presents was even better! So, it looks like we'll be going on a shopping trip sometime in the near future. We're so blessed!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pray for the Martin Twins!

I am a member of a group on Facebook that was formed to keep  followers up-to-date on a certain couple's story. The girl actually went to school in Fort Payne many years back, so many people from Fort Payne around our age are members of that group and are trying to get the word out to people about their story so prayers will be sent up! A basic background of the story is that she started their blog when she found out she was pregnant. She had their little twin baby boys very early at 24 weeks, and both had complications from the beginning and are still suffering from those complications. They have both already had to go through blood tranfusions, surgery, and are still hooked up to countless tubes. The mother, Laura, did post yesterday that she finally got to hold one of her sons!

I cannot imagine having a baby, much less two babies, with so many problems just in their first few days of life. So many women have their baby(ies) and get to hold them immediately. With this mother, that privelege wasn't possible. A few days later, babies get to come home from the hospital and the rest is history. With these parents, they have had to go home from the hospital without their baby boys--which is unimaginable to me! In their blog, they mention how they talk a lot about finally getting to bring their sons home, their first day of school, the boys getting married, etc. I know all moms and dads think about and discuss things like this about their children, but in this situation, it just seems so bittersweet.

I encourage you to either read some of this blog if you have the time or just say a prayer for this sweet family. I read most of this blog today and had tears well up in my eyes while sitting at my desk. It is incredible the faith and positive attitudes this new mother and father have!! Please pray for the twins, that they both continue to strengthen and are able to come home soon, and for the new parents as they deal with this difficult situation mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Station

The following is an essay by Robert J. Hastings entitled "The Station." My Sunday School teacher sent this out as a note to our class members on Facebook and it really meant a lot to me when I read it, so I thought I would share. Hope you enjoy it and take it to heart--especially the very last paragraph! :)

Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.

"Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!"

From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion--it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween '09

Sadly, we didn't even plan for any trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, because of us still being sick. We had some family friends who were planning on coming to visit with their kids, but we had to cancel it for this year. Daisy didn't have a costume this year (which Zach was happy about), but she did have her Halloween shirt from Old Navy. I bought this about two months ago and was so excited about it, then ended up not even putting it on her on Halloween night! I'm a bad mother, I know! (I think I had a perfectly good excuse though! Next year, I will try to do better.) I did manage to put it on her a few days after though and I got some cute pics of her. Next year, I think I'll break down and buy her a costume, much to Zach's dismay.

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like...Autumn

I know I've said this many times before, but I am so ready for Fall this year! The leaves are changing and some have already fallen in and around our neighborhood, so I posted a few pictures of those. I'm going to try next year to "go all out" and do an Autumn harvest display in one of our front islands in our yard (which will probably begin as a do-it-yourself type project, but turn into a "Please help me with this!" type project.) :) This year, we went the easy route and I just bought a few things to make an arrangement at the foot of our front steps. I also remembered to hang the wreath that I had bought last year. It was one of the first "girly" things I bought for our house.

We also had a guy come in our office a few weeks ago selling harvest arrangements. He had been to Woodson Jones when I worked in the office a few years ago and I had bought one from him then. They are gorgeous arrangments of pumpkins, corn, gourds, etc., that he grows in his own garden and puts together himself. When he came to Woodson Jones the first year selling them, he told us he was selling them to raise money for his wife's medical expenses. She was battling cancer at the time and they had three young children at home. (Sidenote: I am really skeptical of people that say things like this when trying to sell something, but a lady in our office goes to church with him and his family.) I had not seen him since then, which was about two years ago, until he came in our office recently. He was talking as if his wife had since passed away, but he obviously still wanted to continue creating the arrangements because he enjoyed it so much. He said that the money he raises this year was going toward a trip to Disney World for himself and his three kids. I thought Zach wouldn't object to me buying an arrangement this year, since the money was going toward one of his favorite things! :) Anyways, I posted a picture of the basket. I have his name and phone number, so if anyone is interested, just send me a message/email and let me know!

Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine. I'm usually just ready for it to be over with, then happily move on to Thanksgiving next. Then, after Thanksgiving, it seems like you blink twice and Christmas time is here, which is my absolute favorite time of the year!

Speaking of Christmas, we have already started our Christmas program music at church!! I have been asked to be one of the two Second Sopranos in our mixed ensemble this year and I can't even describe how excited I am about that! We'll have a group of about 8 men and 8 women and we're singing variations of "Jingle Bells," which I realize is a little unorthodox for a Baptist church, but it's something different and peppy, and that's what we love! I am hoping that our families and friends will all be able to be there for our program! It was such a blessing last year and this year should prove to be even better! We have more songs that are familiar to everyone and the theme is "Christmas Bells," so the handbell choir will have an integral part in it too! I love how I am already pumped for Christmas to be here and we're barely past Halloween! Oh well, it only comes once a year, so I'll enjoy it as long and as much as I can.
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