Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back at 2008

Can you believe 2008 is almost over??? I am always amazed at the end of the year at how fast the time has flown. I just started blogging this year and I am so glad because I can go back and look at the year and remember all the things we did and all the ups and downs. I saw a list of questions on another blog today and I thought I would answer some of them as we are bringing this year to a close....

1. What did you do in 2008 that you've never done before?
Tried an Indian restaurant, went to a Michael Buble concert, attended Joy Prom, went to the beach with just my girls, learned how to use a Smart Board, started blogging!!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more for next year? Haha...Steve and I were just saying that neither one of us could even remember what our New Years Resolutions WERE from last year! That's sad. You start out with the best intentions, but time goes by and you forget about them. I do plan on making new ones this year, though. And this time I am writing them down and putting them somewhere that I can see them often! :)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No...but someone close to me is pregnant! My sister-in-law, Britney! She is having a little girl in May!

And some good friends of ours that have been having so much fertility trouble are now pregnant with twin boys!

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thankfully! God has been so good.

5. What places have you visited? Let's see...this year we went to Washington, D.C.,

West Palm Beach, Florida,

and Myrtle Beach. We did a little less traveling than we have in the past. Gas prices were so high this summer!!

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Less stress and more down time!

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched in your memory and why? That's easy! August 16th when we took Mark to college...

and October 10th when Ashley got engaged!

A sad day and a happy day...

8. What was your biggest acheivement this year? Hmmm...this isn't really that big, but learning to use a SmartBoard was something new that I had never tried and now I am getting pretty good at it!

9. Did you suffer illness or injury? Yes, I had a terrible case of the full-blown flu last winter. Fever, chills, throat on fire, etc... NOT FUN!

10. What was the best thing you bought? I went out and bought myself a little digital camera that I could keep in my purse and I use it all the time!! I love my big Nikon, too. But this one is just so quick and easy.

11. Where did most of your money go? College tuition, car insurance, and groceries! That's what you get for having so many teenagers! :)

12. What song will always remind you of 2008? Hmmmm...that's a hard one since I listen to so much music all the time! But I know that whenever I hear "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis or "No Air" by Jordin Sparks, I will think of 2008 since we heard both of those so much! And as far as country, I LOVED Keith Urban's "You Look Good In My Shirt"! But Steve and I both loved Montgomery Gentry's "Lucky Man". I know that is a little older than 2008, but we still listened to it alot this year. And, of course, pretty much our theme song this year was "You're Gonna Miss This"!

(Just a side note- My girls listened to alot of Taylor Swift this year! They were playing around with their friends and having fun the other night and they made a replica of Taylor Swift's album cover. Isn't this funny??)

13. What do you wish you would have done more of? I wish I would have had time for more Bible study, excercise, and reading for fun. I have never read the Bible all the way through, but my friend Nancy mentioned a Bible on her blog called The One Year Chronological Bible. I thought this would be an interesting way to accomplish the goal of reading the whole Bible through in one year! I wish I would have been able to spend more time with Steve, too! Plus, I wish I would have gotten more sleep.

14. What do you wish you would have done less of? Probably spending too much time on work and worrying about my kids. I'm not a HUGE worrier, but sometimes I fall into that trap and I don't know why. God always takes care of us!

15. What was your favorite TV program? Well, I don't watch too much TV, but I loved American Idol and I always watch The View. Steve and I also watched The Amazing Race this year. Other than that, I normally just watch news-type shows. I wish I could find a good drama that I liked!

16. What was the best book you read this year? I wish I had more time to read!! I did read The Kite Runner this year and loved it!!

17. What was your favorite film of the year? Probably 21! I thought that was fun and entertaining.

18. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I turned 44 this year.

I had such a wonderful birthday and was so spoiled. You can read about it all here.

19. What political issue stirred you the most? The whole election!! I was glued to the TV all summer and up until the election. What a historical event that was!

20. Who was the best new person you met? All my blogging friends! I would have never guessed that I would get to know so many sweet and wonderful people! :)

We are so blessed. Every year God gives us so many blessings in our lives. 2008 probably wasn't our BEST year ever just because of some of the stresses we have been under. Steve's job hasn't gone too well this year and I have been working really hard, so we are excited for a new beginning and the fresh start you get with every new year. But I can't complain. We have a wonderful family, our health, sweet friends, and every need we have is met. I am thankful for all God has given us!

I hope you have the BEST year in 2009!!!! Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Calm After The Storm :)

Things are finally starting to settle down now after the Christmas craziness. Our house is pretty quiet. We have been going to movies. Ashley saw Marley and Me yesterday and LOVED it!!!

And Laura and Lindy saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

They liked it but said it was kind of long. I want to see both of those movies! We have also been just reading, playing games, watching football, and we are beginning to put things away. I am hanging onto the Christmas tree a little longer, though. It is so pretty and it takes so long to put it up, I just hate to take it down! But I am planning on doing that in the next day or so.

I have been trying to think of ways to make Christmas run even more smoothly next year and I know I definitely need to try to shop earlier if I can! I am just not one of those people who thinks about Christmas throughout the year and shops along the way. I always have so much other stuff going on that I don't really think about Christmas until at least late November! But maybe I can change that a little bit this year.

I know you've heard me mention one of my favorite bloggers, Sophia, before.

She always has the BEST ideas for Christmas. One of the ones I liked the best was this:

She thought about purchasing three gifts for her children...a want, a need, and something to use for a talent. Then she decided to embellish it a little bit by doing a want, a need, a talent, a book, a movie, something to wear, something spiritual, and stocking stuffers.

She said her kids loved it! Read more about her idea here.

Yesterday I went to Super Wal-Mart to do my grocery shopping for the week. I wish I could go there more often but it is totally not convenient for me. But since I had more time yesterday, I decided to try and save some money and head over there. And, wow, did I save money!!! I comparison priced everything I bought with what I normally pay at Harris Teeter (where I normally shop). I figured out that I saved over $60.00!! That is so worth the inconvenience!

Anyway...while I was there, I was walking through the Hispanic section and I saw this Mexican hot chocolate.

It is really good! I have been wanting some ever since I saw this on Holly's blog.

I'm planning on two more days of R & R before I have to go back for a teacher workday on Friday. :( I hope you are enjoying this quiet week after Christmas!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Can You Do With $50?

Around Thanksgiving, I decided to try something new with my kids. I gave them each $50 and told them that they could spend it any way they wanted as long as they used it to help someone in need this Christmas. It couldn't be a had to be someone who really needed it. I told them to keep it a secret until Christmas and then we would share it together.

It was so much fun to go around on Christmas Day and hear what they each did!

Ashley decided to use hers to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I love this hospital because of all it does in the area of medical research...not to mention that all patients accepted there are treated regardless of their family's ability to pay.

Mark chose to give his money to the V Foundation for cancer research. Of course, this means alot to us since Jim Valvano was the coach at NC State when Steve was in college there.

Laura left a $50 tip for the waiters at La Unica where we eat probably about once a week!! They work so hard and I know they appreciated the extra Christmas money! I saw the girl that picked up the tip and she had the biggest smile on her face. :)

Lindy decided to buy toys at Wal-Mart and take them to the kids in the hospital at the Hemby Children's Hospital.

Steve went with her and they took the toys up there personally.

When Lindy was about four months old, she got pneumonia and had to be in the hospital for about a week at Christmas time. It was so sad. We were blessed to be able to go home before Christmas day, but I felt so sorry for the families that didn't know when they would ever be able to leave! I remember that the Charlotte Hornet (the mascot from our pro basketball team at the time) came up to the hospital and gave Lindy a stocking with toys in it. I thought that was so sweet. So hopefully the toys she brought with her helped brighten someone's Christmas!

What can you do with $50? You can make someone's Christmas a little merrier!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008!

We had such a wonderful Christmas! When I woke up this morning, it felt so weird to not have anything to think about or do related to Christmas! But Steve and I were talking the other night and saying what a really nice Christmas this was...full of lots of family and friends and yummy food and shopping and services. I felt a little stressed in the month leading up to Christmas, but once I got out of school, everything slowed down and I totally enjoyed this past week.

There is so much to share over the past few days. I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves! :)

Christmas Eve

We went to the Christmas Eve service at our church and then over to Steve's sister's house for soups and dessert. Then we headed back home to watch A Christmas Story and wrap a few last minute presents!

Steve's mom and dad

Laura and Lindy

Ashley and me

Steve's brother, Mike and sisters, Angela and Debbie

A pretty table...

Lindy and Ashley with Granny

Grandaddy reads The Night Before Christmas...

Christmas Day

We got up around 7:30 on Christmas morning. That is probably the latest we've slept on Christmas morning ever!! Santa was so good to everyone. Here is what it looked like when we got up...

Our family opened gifts together first, then my parents and Brent, Britney, and Bailey came over. We had breakfast together...I made a breakfast casserole, grits, fruit salad, coffee cake, cider and coffee. Here is our Christmas table.

Here are some pictures of our morning together.

All the kids with my parents...

Brent and Britney surprised us with the news that their new baby is going to be a girl!! :)

Bailey got animal masks from Santa and she insisted that everyone wear them! So funny! :)

We hung out and opened presents all morning. After my parents left, we were wiped out! We all took naps and watched movies all afternoon. Then it was time to head over to Steve's parents' house for dinner and presents.

Christmas Night

Me with Lindy, Angela, and Ashley

Steve and me

Steve's sisters Debbie and Angela

Lindy and Mark

Debbie and Bob

Steve's parents and Mike

Ashley and Debbie's daughter, Rebeccah

Laura and Uncle Mike

Whew...that is alot of catching up! Today we have done pretty much nothing except go see Valkyrie. I thought it was really good, but it is intense! I do not really have any plans for the next week, which is completely out of the ordinary for me. I just want to relax and enjoy my time off.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Early Christmas

Tonight we went over to Blake and Angie's (my brother and sister-in-law) for an early Christmas. Steve and I both have large families and there is a lot of coordinating to try and make time for everyone at Christmas. Since we are all busy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Blake's family and my family just decided to get together a few days before Christmas.

We decided to just have appetizers tonight. I love that! We had so much food!

Angie is a great cook and always has new recipes to share and tonight she made three new recipes that I had never tried. I will share them with you at the end of this post!

We just hung out and exchanged presents and visited together. That is my favorite kind of get together. Low key and laid back! :) Here are a few pictures of our night.

All the cousins! Blake and Angie have four kids just like we do--only he has three boys and one girl and we have three girls and one boy! Blake and Angie's kids all have "B" names, just like my family growing up. My family had Betsy, Blake, and Brent. Blake's kids are Brianna, Bryson, Brett, and Brad. (And my little brother, Brent is married to Britney and their little girl is Bailey! Plus their last name is Bouldin!)

Steve, me, Angie, and Blake

Ashley and Bryson

Mark and Brianna

Laura and Brianna

The girls...

Ashley, Brianna, Brett, and Laura

This is one of their boxers, Lexi. She fell asleep in the chair. :)

When we left, we HAD to drive by a house in their neighborhood that is seriously lit up like the fourth of July. I tried to take pictures but it really doesn't do this house justice. haha I love it when people get so decked out for Christmas! That is so much fun!

Here is SOME of their backyard. I couldn't get a clear picture, though.

This is the front yard! Can you believe??? are the recipes I got from Angie tonight!

Broccoli Dip

Saute one onion with 1 1/2 sticks butter.
Mix in:
1 4 oz. can mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 4 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese or jalepeno cheese
2 frozen pkgs. chopped broccoli
Add cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste

Serve hot with corn chips or crackers.

Apple Cherry Cider

1 gallon apple cider
1 small pkg. cherry jello

Dissolve jello into cider and heat. Add sliced oranges. Serve hot.


Tomato-Cheese Salsa

1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing, prepared using red wine vinegar
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 4 oz. green chiles
1 4 oz. sliced black olives
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

*Combine, marinate for one hour, drain slightly