Happy 2013!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's a new year and a new beginning: make every second count!

Best wishes for 2013, friends!

2012, you were one heck of a year

Happy New Year 2012! Doesn't seem like so long ago!
I have to admit - New Year's is not my favorite holiday. Even though it's exciting to look toward a new year filled with new possibilities, it's tough to have another year behind us. I always feel like a new year comes just when you're finally comfortable with the fact that it's 2012 - know what I mean? Plus, I am a very sentimental person and I get all nostalgic and everything when we usher in a new year.

However, I do like to look back on the things we've done, places we've gone, and the fun we've had in the last 12 months!

My 2012 in review:

I started this blog in January as a way to keep up with our lives and record the day-to-day. Although it was neglected for about 6 months, it's now something I love and I love reading about all of your lives as well! 

We took the Alpha Course at our church in the winter (I highly recommend if your church offers it!!). Not only did we learn more about Christ's love for us, we also met some great people who have become good friends!

Me and the Mister at Disney
We went to Disney World (Magic Kingdom and Epcot) in April while visiting my family - Alex's first trip there since he was 5! And I always love me some Disney time :)

I started a new job in April, which I love. It was such an answer to prayer. Better pay, better hours, awesome people, and I love what I do. You can't beat that!

In May, I finished my provisional year in Junior League, and began my first Active Year in August. I love the League and all the amazing women I am meeting through it!

We bought a new car in June and now drive His and Hers Volvos. How cute. awwwwww

Me and my girls at Edisto Beach

We took a long weekend to Edisto Beach, SC at Alex's family beach house over the 4th of July. The pups loved it and we had a blast, too.

We celebrated our First wedding anniversary July 9! So hard to believe that our first year of marriage went by so quickly. It is so much fun to be married to your best friend!! Meanwhile, this year my mom's parents celebrated 60 years of marriage and my dad's parents celebrated 65 years. They are such an inspiration and a testament to what marriage is all about.

First Anniversary: the cake was still delicious a year later!

In August, I went to Dallas for my sorority's (Sigma Phi Lambda) national officer retreat, since I serve on the Board of Directors for our Alumnae Association. It was a nostalgic weekend - I felt like I was a college girl again!

For Labor Day weekend (also my 28th birthday weekend), we went down to Gainesville and enjoyed time with family, friends, and the Gators. What a great combo!


Alex switched careers, going from a professional golfer to a medical sales rep in September. A huge change for both of us and the end of an era. I am so proud of him for making that bittersweet decision.

We went to Washington, DC in September for a fun weekend in our nation's capital. It was the first time I had been since my 8th grade field trip (talk about change in perspective).

Ellie turned 1 in September - we don't really have a "puppy" anymore! (And Penny turned 8 in June - *sniff sniff*)

We went to several football games to watch our Gators and Gamecocks. It doesn't get better than SEC football, folks. 

We celebrated with many friends who got married, bought houses, and had babies (especially my Bestie Lesley, who had little miss Avery in October!)

In October, my mom bought a mountain cabin that belonged to my Great-Grandfather 40 years ago. We have already enjoyed it so much and look forward to making many memories there.

Heading to my 10 year HS Reunion
I planned my 10-Year High School reunion and partied with all my classmates in October (even though Hurricane Sandy cancelled half the plans). My how things change in a decade's time! It was so much fun to reconnect with so many people. 

We spent our first Thanksgiving as a couple with Alex's parents, and our first Christmas with my parents in FL (it was flip-flopped last year for our first holiday season as a married couple!). Alex spent his first Christmas in sub-tropical Chobee - and despite the heat, I think he liked it!

In December, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. While this isn't a "highlight" by any means, it did give me a great sense of relief that after 15 months of trying to figure out what was going on, we now know and can treat it. Praise the Lord!

We're finishing off the year at Mom's cabin in NC - Alex and I, my Mom and stepdad, and my in-laws: just a small group of us to ring in the New Year. I'm sure there will be champagne and goodies, and we'll probably watch the ball drop. What really matters is that another year has come and gone and all the blessings I've received this year are overwhelming. Just when you think God has given you more than you deserve, He blesses you with something else.

Not a bad place to begin 2013

I wish you all the best in this New Year. I hope this is the year you get your dream job. Or meet your Mr. Right. Or make your goal weight. Or have that baby! Or take that trip you've been dreaming about. Whatever it is, whatever your goals, I hope you exceed them and this is your best year yet.


Merry Christmas from our home to yours

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas! 

I'm sharing this picture with you today because it's the one we used on our Christmas cards this year, and I wanted you all to "get" a card from me!
To get one where both dogs are actually looking at the camera is a small miracle!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

It's 80 degrees - it must be Christmas

Since we got married last year, Alex and I have instituted an alternating holiday schedule with our families since they live in two different states. This year, it was my family's turn to host us in Florida, so down south we went!

Lindsey, Lesley, baby Avery, and I. Besties + baby = LOVE
First stop: Gainesville to see my besties. We finally arrived around midnight on Friday the 21st, after both of us worked all day and then drove for 7.5 hours. But we made it! And to see my girls and snuggle baby Avery, every minute in the car was worth it.

Saturday morning we had "Bestie Christmas Morning" and exchanged our gifts in our Christmas PJs. Yes, that happened. Then we had lunch at The Swamp, a Gainesville tradition, before hitting the road again.

I mean look at this precious face!! Oh I love her!
Saturday afternoon, we drove 3 more hours down to my hometown of Okeechobee, where the cows outnumber the people (quite literally - my guess is at least 2 to 1 - and my family's dairies and ranch have something to do with that!). We went to dinner with my Dad and his wife over on the coast, and I was surprised (or impressed?) that it was a chilly 50-something degrees. I was hopeful it would stick around for Christmas...

Sunday was my dad's side of the family's Christmas party with loads of cousins, and cousin's kiddos, and aunts and uncles. It was so fun. We even had a nativity play with all the little ones, including shepherds, angels, and a live baby Jesus. Too cute! The weather was warming but was still pleasantly in the 60s. Nice!

Merry Christmas!
Monday, Christmas Eve, was spent catching up with my grandparents, my brother, and stepsister/brother. And relaxing. Traveling takes it out of ya! Then we had dinner with my Mom's side of the family: cue more cousins, cousin's kiddos, aunts and uncles. Being around little ones at Christmas is so much fun: they love that man in the red suit. The temps were starting to warm up, and I was fearful that the weatherman's prediction for Christmas would be right...

And then it was Christmas! Christmas Day was awesome, for so many reasons. It was Alex's first Christmas morning with my family, and I had told him that my Mom gives the BEST stocking stuffers ever. She didn't disappoint, once again. We got gift cards, scratch-off lotto tickets (and we won $26 between the two of us - I'll take it!), our favorite candies, and lots of little cutesy things that I absolutely adore. 
At my family's camp house on the ranch
But the best thing? Mom had designed a scavenger hunt for my brother, Alex and I that we had to complete to get our gift. The only rule was that we had to do it together. We had a blast galavanting all over the house, yard and barn to find the next clue. Our gift? Cash money, my personal favorite! Thanks, Ma! :) Then my grandparents came over for Christmas brunch and a little fellowship! And yes, the weather was quite warm. I wore a long sleeve shirt out of principle, but it definitely got up to 80 degrees. Bleh. I guess it wouldn't be Christmas in South Florida without the possibility of swimming on Christmas Day, right? Since it was warm and sunny, we took a ride on the ranch where we picked some oranges and grapefruit to bring back to SC. Then it was time for Christmas #2 at my Dad's house. We had another delicious meal, opened gifts, and then played Rook (does anyone else play Rook?? Kinda an old-school card game but really fun!). Then, just like that, Christmas Day was over! 
We left early the next morning to head back to SC. We stopped in Gainesville for lunch and one more snuggle of Avery, and finally got home around 10 Wednesday night. 

As always, it was too short of a trip and it's always hard to leave, especially knowing that we won't spend Christmas with my family again until 2014. However, I'm thankful for the time we did have and the memories we made!

I hope your Christmas was very very Merry! 

I'll be home for Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

Well here we are - on our way to the Sunshine State! I thought I'd give you guys an idea of where we're coming from and where we're going - I'm a visual person, so here is a little map to demonstrate the journey:

It's not a terribly long drive, but it's not a quick jaunt, either. But it totally doesn't matter: I am so excited to be on the road with my love by my side, my pups in the back (well, Penny on my lap and Ellie in the back...), and the car loaded down with gifts. We'll stay in Gainesville tonight to see my Besties, and continue on to my hometown of Okeechobee tomorrow afternoon.

Traveling during the holidays always makes me a little nervous with all the people on the road, cars full of kids, toys, dogs, bags, presents, baked goods... I'm praying for a safe trip and I hope all of you who are driving or flying have safe travels as well!

As cliche as it is, I have "I'll be home for Christmas" in my head. It's my first married Christmas at home with my family and it's been 2 years since I've spent Christmas with them, so I am more than ready!

Safe travels to all!

High Five for Friday

In the spirit of Christmas, I am taking part in this link-up for the first time because there is just so much goodness going on! So let's see what I'm High-Fiving on this lovely Friday, shall we?
  1. Our upstairs Christmas tree, aka the "Fun Tree" - I love having this right outside our bedroom door! It lives the upstairs landing such a nice, warm glow.
  2.  Wrapped gifts give me such a sense of accomplishment. These gifts were for the hubby's clients
  3. Festive nails: OPI Big Apple Red
  4. Christmas cookies! I've been a baking machine the last week!
  5. Christmas cards are the BEST thing to come home to (so much better than a mailbox full of bills!). I heart snail mail!


Friday's Letters: Christmas edition

Friday has finally arrived! Let the trumpets resound! This week has seriously crept by so slowly, y'all. I know I'm not alone in this because I could practically feel the productivity of my co-workers declining as the week progressed, ha! I know I'm just excited for a little friend and family time/vacay from work, but DANG the days sure did creep this week!

We are hitting the road for Florida today as soon as work shuts down...which I'm hoping will be a little earlier than normal, since it is the last workday before Christmas and everything. The sooner I can leave work, the sooner I will get to Gainesville, FL to see my besties and squeeze baby Avery! Yippee!

And here are my letters for the day - my Christmas letters, if you will:

Dear Santa: all I want for Christmas is a plan for 2013. Or a crystal ball. You know what I'm talking about. Some clarity. A lot of things are up in the air right now, and with me being such a planner and all, it's driving me insane.

Dear husband: ditto.*wink*

Dear Erin Condren: I know you say that my 2013 Life Planner won't ship until the 26th, but that means I may not get it until January and I am going through withdrawals of not being able to write in my planner. I need that planner now.

Dear Casual Friday: as if right on cue when I posted this entry yesterday, I got an email that today would be casual Friday at work! So thanks for coming around and allowing me to bust out the jeans and boots combo on this very chilly first day of winter!

Dear traffic: please, oh please, be kind to us today, tomorrow, and Wednesday as we travel. We just want to get where we're going and get there safely.

Dear blog friends: Merry Christmas to you! I hope Santa brings you what you want, you eat too much delicious food, and have too much fun with your loved ones! And I can't wait to read all about it next week!

Dear South Florida: it's so like you to have a projected high of 80 degrees on Christmas Day on the year we'll be there. Thanks...not.

Dear Heavenly Father: thank you for everything, everyday - but thank you especially for the gift of your Son. Help me to remember the reason we celebrate this season and not get lost in it all.


I don't know how to dress professionally for winter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hey ladies - I seriously need some help.

I've mentioned before that I started a new job this year, where the dress code is business casual. I previously worked at an advertising agency where, I'll be honest, if I would have shown up unshowered and in my P.J.s it probably would have been fine. [I did not do that. Not in college, not ever in life. Just sayin']

During the spring and summer, I didn't really miss getting to wear jeans to work because of my collection of dresses, skirts, and linen-y dress pants.

HOWEVER - I am now freezing in my thin-ish dress pants. As a native Floridian, I feel I am at even  more of a disadvantage. I was doing well to dress warmly in casual clothing.

I should also mention that it is perpetually cold inside my office as well. Something with the a/c constantly running because the guys with large windows in their offices get warm...don't get me started.

I've lived in the South Carolina Upstate for 3 years now, and I absolutely love that we get 4 seasons here. The winters are consistently chilly if not downright cold, and we get a little snow. But until this winter, I had also been able to wear jeans, boots, a chunky sweater, scarves, etc. to work each day. And all of that is now reserved for the weekends.

I feel absolutely helpless in dressing for the cold weather and looking professional. HELP!

I hear talk about lined leggings - okay, someone explain. And also, how do I make this look professional. I want to know.

And wool pants seem warm. I should get some I guess?

What I struggle with is feeling stylish in bulky winter work wear. There's only so much you can do when you're covered head-to-toe in wool. I miss my boots and jeans.

Okay ready...GO. Tell me what to buy. Tell me what your winter work mainstays are. Tell me what you can't live without. Pretend I that I just moved to Buffalo from Miami and I will scale back accordingly.

Many thanks, my friends! I owe you one.

It's OK Thursday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hey there friends - I haven't linked up for this one in a few, so here we go!

Its Ok Thursdays
It's OK...

  • that I officially have been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. I'm okay with it. After 15 months of doctors, meds, procedures and diagnostics, I am happy to finally know what this stuff is and get a game plan together. (Any bloggie friends have Crohn's and want to share advice on treatment, etc? I would LOVE it!!)
  • to go shopping for yourself just a few days before Christmas. Whatevs: Old Navy was having a killer sale...
  • to feel lucky, in a way, to have to get iron infusions (which are now complete as of yesterday!) because I have seen those who are really suffering and who are really sick during my treatments. Me? I'm just anemic.
  • to feel incredibly saddened for our country in a way I haven't ever felt. The shootings last week have affected me to the core, like most people. And I fear the ramifications will further drive Americans apart (gun control vs. gun rights, etc), but what we all want is a safe world.
  • that I am convinced time has literally slowed down so much this week that it has practically stopped moving! I know I'm just ready for a break and to see my family. But the hours are creeeeeeeeeeeepin'
  • that I am slightly overwhelmed by some of the happenings over the last week, both in my personal life and in the world...there's just a ton on my mind and it's keeping me up at night
  • to not be able to stop eating all the candy and treats that are at home (thanks to my incessant holiday baking) and at the office (thanks to all our partners/vendors who are trying to make us chubby)
  • that I'm in disbelief, as I often am at this time of year, that we are staring a brand new year in the face. "2013" doesn't have a good ring to it. But maybe it will be the opposite and be one heck of a year! 
  • that I finally broke down and ponied up the cash for an Erin Condren planner again this year. And now that's it's ordered, I want it yesterday.
  • that I cannot WAIT to be in Florida tomorrow night and squeeze my Bestie's baby, and hug my grandparents, and hang out with my dad, and see my friends, and cook with my mom, and share in the excitement, wonder and magic of Christmas in my hometown with Alex for the first time!

Christmas-prepping with a cut-off date

This year, try as I might, I have still felt that I am running around like crazy trying to get everything done for Christmas. I even felt that I began early: I began thinking about gifts and even ordering some of them in October. But, here I am again, feeling as though I am scrambling to get everything done.

Part of the issue for us is that we have to travel for Christmas, down to Florida to see my family. Since we'll spend about 10 hours in the car on the way down, that's a whole day gone that I could, in a perfect world, use to wrap or bake or mentally prepare.

Cut-out sugar cookies: a labor of love
Alex and I got most of our last-minute shopping done on Sunday, and I finished most of my baking and wrapping over the weekend and earlier this week. But to tell you the truth, it seems like it's never really finished, doesn't it? Doesn't it always feel like we can make one more batch of cookies, or buy one more gift that isn't really needed? 

So that's why I have decided that today is my cut-off day for Christmas prep.

If it's not done tonight when I lay my little head to sleep, it ain't gettin' done!

What I have left to do: wrap a few gifts, bake some goodies for work tomorrow, and make sure I have Alex's stocking stuffers under control. Piece of cake.

So why am I enforcing a deadline on myself when I have a few perfectly good days left to run around like a crazy lady?

Here's why:
  1. We leave for Florida on Friday afternoon. That's 2 days from now. 
  2. While in Florida, I don't want to spend precious time shopping/baking/wrapping/etc. when I could spend it with family and friends (however, I will of course still help my mom with any cooking or baking she's doing! That counts as time with her, not a "to-do" item).
  3. I want to be able to enjoy the season: watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate (or a Christmas cocktail), and be lazy and lay around my mom's house. I do not want to be up at the crack of dawn because I need to finish something that suddenly feels like a chore. 
  4. Yummy Christmas cookies
  5. I have done enough. I have baked for days, I have shopped for months, I have wrapped for hours. Enough is enough. 
So there you have it: my take on the craziness of the season. It might drive me crazy to just stop it all at once, but honestly, if I don't give myself a hard deadline, I might be up late enough on Christmas Eve to greet Santa in the living room. 

Now, there are other things that I will have to do tomorrow, post-deadline, to prepare for Florida: pack all my junk, get the dogs' stuff all ready to go, get the gifts packed into the car (preferably organized by final destination: friends, mom's house, dad's house), and make sure all my baked goods that I've been slaving over making with love are neatly and carefully packaged for the ride. But I consider this stuff mandatory travel prep, not really Christmas prep. This is the stuff that has to be done at the last minute.

And then....when we arrive in my hometown...all we'll have to do is unload the car. And relax. And take in the glorious season that is Christmas.

One of my favorite things about Christmas: coming home to a mailbox full of Christmas cards! My friends and family sure are photogenic and have some gorgeous children! And dogs :)

Are you readyyyyyy?

Monday, December 17, 2012

I hope everyone had a good weekend, although I know everyone's heart was heavy and your mind full of fear, doubt and disbelief after the tragic shooting on Friday. I definitely cannot wrap my mind around  how something like that could happen, but I just keep praying for peace, understanding and comfort for all those who lost their loved ones and sweet babies. It's unthinkable. This country needs Jesus - what are we coming to??

Despite the terrible news, Alex and I had a jam-packed weekend planned. We went to his hometown, Aiken, just for the night on Friday since we will not be seeing his parents at Christmas (it's my family's turn this year). I think it meant a lot to them that we went out of our way to spend a little time with them.

We left Aiken on Saturday around 11 to head home and get ready for a little dinner party we hosted Saturday night. We just had some close friends over for a little Christmas dinner and fellowship and had a blast! We even busted out the wedding china (I can check that off the list!) because hey, if you have it, you might as well use it!
Some of my best girls! 

The table for the party - the china is MIA in this pic!

On Sunday, we went to church where we sang some of my favorite Christmas hymns. Afterward, we ran all over Greenville buying the remainder of our Christmas gifts. I think we are done shopping, minus a few small things. And almost all the gifts are wrapped and under the tree: success!

Alex and I also made 4 huge batches of puppy chow to give to his clients. That stuff is super easy to make, inexpensive, and looks cute in a little package, but dang is it messy! I will be finding powdered sugar in the crevices of my kitchen for months. We tied them up in little bags and put the little bags in larger bags for delivering. They turned out so cute!

We concluded the weekend by watching my personal favorite movie and a traditional Christmas movie we always watch: Love Actually. We first watched it together the weekend we had our first date 5 years ago, which was around Christmas, so it's become a little tradition for us.

All in all, a great weekend! But am I ready for Christmas? Um, not really. We leave for Florida on Friday and I still have a lot to do. I need to finish my baking and wrapping, pack, and check off all the miscellaneous things on my list that never seems to be complete.

How about you? Are you ready for Christmas? Because people, it's a week from tomorrow. No matter how early I start shopping and preparing, it still always seems to sneak up. My challenge for the week is to get things wrapped up by Wednesday so I can enjoy the last few days of the season as stress-free as I possibly can!

We've decked our halls

Friday, December 14, 2012

Here are some shots of our Christmas decor this year! I just love coming home to a house twinkling with the glow of Christmas lights (thank you, automatic timers) and a welcoming outdoor display. Warm fuzzies for sure! Is there anything better than your home decorated for Christmas? I don't think so!

Our main tree and mantel in the living room

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care!

Our Advent Calendar on the picture ledge...
...and the Advent tree with the ornaments from the calendar

Our staircase and the upstairs tree - aka the "Fun Tree" with all of our random/fun/memory ornaments
A look from the upstairs landing
Welcome home!

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and have big, fun, festive plans for the weekend! Christmas is coming soooo quick!

12 things on 12/12/12

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So by now, we are all well aware that it's 12/12/12. But have you thought about the fact that this is the last triple date in our lifetime? There can't very well be a 13/13/13 next year, huh? I guess this also marks the last chance for all those couples who desire an easy-to-remember wedding anniversary, ha!

In celebration of this day, here's a list of 12 random things straight from my head and heart. Enjoy!

1. Thank you for all the kind words and prayers during my first iron infusion yesterday! It was honestly a piece of cake and I haven't had any nasty side-effects, just a bruised hand from the IV. I  have another one tomorrow and two more next week, then hopefully I will be done!

2. Here are before/after pics of Penny on grooming day (which was Saturday). She looks and even acts like a totally different dog when she gets a haircut!

3. I am worried I won't get all my Christmas To-Do's done in time. We're leaving for FL a week from Friday, eeeek! Where has this month gone? Tell me I'm not alone!

4. I am still debating on which planner to get for 2013! Should i go with the awesome and detailed Erin Condren life planner again, or the smaller and cheaper May Books planner? Help!

5. This is my Florida Gator Christmas tree that I put in my office every year. There is no wondering which team I pull for in an office full of Gamecocks, Tigers and Bulldogs!

6. The last of our Christmas cards went in the mail today! Such a good feeling.

7. Ellie is obsessed with this blanket lately. It's literally a security blanket, like a child's. She drags it up the stairs at night for bed, and down the next morning for breakfast. She plays with it, snuggles it, and even chews on it. It's cute until she wraps it around your legs in an attempt to trip you - which she does almost every day.

8. I have been so hungry lately. I guess after 2 weeks of not really eating and all foods sounded gross, I am making up for it now. I probably need to hold back just a bit!

9. I'm a sucker for seasonal candy. Yesterday I bought 4 bags of Christmas M&Ms (see above). To be honest, most of them will be used in my holiday baking. But there will be plenty left over for munching :)

10. I am debating what to do with my Christmas bonus. Some will be used for gifts, but what to do with the rest? Options are: put into savings, put into Italy fund, put toward credit card, or splurge on a treat for myself. I'm just excited to have received a bonus at all!

11. I am starting to get worried that we'll have another snowless winter! I'm hoping Jack Frost will show his face at least a few times this winter. Just enough to have a few snow days would be nice!

12. I found out last week that I am going to Vegas in January for work! It will be my first trip to Sin City. Even though it will be for work and I won't have tons of free time, I'm looking forward to seeing the city and experiencing its energy. Should be fun!

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Christmas Traditions

Linking up again for Wedded Bliss Wednesday with Table for More and Life After!
This week's question is about sharing holiday traditions with your hubby:

What is a holiday tradition that you and your husband do or plan to do each year? If you don't have any, what is an idea you could try out this year?!

This is our second Christmas as a married couple. Last year, on our first married Christmas, it was actually our first Christmas morning/day we had EVER spent together as a couple (in 5 years of Christmases)! This is because my family is in Florida, and his is in South Carolina, and we agreed to spend Christmas (and Thanksgiving for that matter) with our own families until we got married. And we did.

So anyway- we had to make our first married Christmas/First Christmas actually together extra special!

We started with the tradition of driving to the mountains to choose and cut down our live tree. We did this with Alex's parents (he is the only child, so I think they really love to be involved in things like this!). We continued that tradition this year, as you can read about here!

Another tradition is sort of an every-other-year tradition: seeing the Nutcracker Ballet. We first saw it together in 2010, the year we were engaged. Then we saw it this year. We agreed that it's more of an every 2 years thing instead of an every year thing!

Finally, a new tradition we started this year was our Advent calendar! I made it myself. :) I love Advent calendars - I think it's a great way to focus on the reason for the season and count down the days to Jesus's birthday. I was inspired by a Pottery Barn version from a few years ago in which there is an ornament for every day leading up to Christmas. We transfer the ornaments from the calendar onto a separate, small Advent Christmas Tree instead of our main tree. I think this will be a fun tradition that we can keep alive for years to come, especially when we have kids. {sidenote: I am aware that there are only 24 ornaments, when I do believe there should be 25. Let's just say I ran out of room...} 

So there you have it! Our little traditions. I love tradition - it makes Christmas so much fun! I can't wait to add more traditions to our celebrations in the years to come.

Our Christmas tree - pics at last!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I am finally getting around to sharing some pictures of our Christmas tree! This is our second married Christmas, and last year for our first Christmas we started a fun little tradition with my in-laws of going to NC to pick out our tree, cut it down, and haul it back to Greenville.
At the tree farm!

We kept the tradition going this year and went to Boyd Mountain Tree Farm in Waynesville again. They have quite the little (and by little, I mean HUGE) production going on there!

You strike out across their vast mountainside to the area that has the size of tree you're looking for - say 6 to 7 feet, or 8 feet+. Then you hunt down the perfect tree that will dazzle your guests and shine in your holiday pictures.

This is it! For real this time. [I look so tall!]
Alex turns into such a little kid at the tree farm. He won't stop until he has found the perfect tree. The problem is, he finds like 5 "perfect" trees, ha! So after many "this is it!" moments, and pictures beside said perfect trees, we found what actually was the perfect tree, called over the employees who were there in an instant with a chainsaw. They cut it in 5 seconds flat, loaded it onto their ATV, and hauled it down the mountain where they wrapped it with string to keep it neat and tidy on its ride on our roof back to our house. I love it!

Hang on tight, tree!
And a nice little bonus: they serve hot chocolate, apple cider and toffee to enjoy while you're hunting for your tree. Gotta love this place!

Because I wasn't feeling great the first several days we had our tree, it just stood there, naked, in our living room for a few days before I got up the strength to decorate it. Then I slowly added lights, then the topper, then the burlap, and eventually the skirt and ornaments.

So ta-da: here is our 2012 Christmas Tree! I love how it turned out this year! The addition of burlap is new, and I love how it looks. We also have a second tree upstairs that has all of our "fun" ornaments on it - pictures to come!
Oh Christmas tree...

Ellie is an excellent tree model

A humbling experience

Right now I am sitting in the chemo area at the Cancer Center of the Carolinas. I am hooked up to a drip and laying back in a recliner. Thankfully, I'm just here today for my first Venofer treatment (iron infusion) and not because I have cancer. But all around me are people far sicker than me, more sick and weak than I could ever imagine myself.

I found out last week that my hemoglobin has dropped down to a 7, which is apparently wayyyyy too low. Essentially, due to my GI issues, my body is now very low on iron and its not absorbing iron like it should.

I knew I had been feeling tired and was getting winded easily, even just by walking up the stairs in my house. About 10 days ago, I felt extremely tired and weak, so the docs think my hemoglobin was even lower then. I honestly feel better this week than I have in a while, but I gotta do what I gotta do! At least I escaped a blood transfusion like they first suggested (that was freaking me out a little, I have to tell ya!). Instead I will have 4 iron infusions over the next 9 days. Each treatment lasts about 4 hours. Not so good for the work schedule, but I'm blessed with a boss who is understanding and a company that cares about my well being.

So here I sit. I am nearly halfway through today's infusion. I am so happy that all that's going into my veins is iron and Benadryl (in case I have a bad reaction), and not chemotherapy like many around me.

Count your blessings, friends. Say a little thank-you prayer right now for your health and the blessings you have. I sure know I'm thanking The Lord that GI issues are all I'm facing right now.

And yes, that is a picture of my legs tucked under my Gator snuggie. I knew I would find a use for my snuggie one day!

A very merry weekend

Monday, December 10, 2012

We had such a fun weekend!

Let me tell you about the fun that unfolded.

Friday was a great day - I found out that I am getting a raise in 2013 and got my first ever Christmas bonus - woooo hooooo! That night, my company had its Christmas Party. So Alex and I got a little dressed up and had a super fun night on the town with my hilarious and fun loving co-workers!

Ready to hit my company holiday bash!

On Saturday, we ran some errands, went out to lunch, and grabbed a few Christmas gifts along the way. Then we had a very fun date night: dinner at our favorite restaurant, High Cotton (this is where we went the night we got engaged and for our first anniversary), then off to see the Nutcracker Ballet. Props to the hubs for sitting through the Nutcracker for the second time in 3 years! I just love that ballet!

Downtown Greenville by the river on Saturday night
Headed to date night at the Nutcracker!

A pretty day at the Biltmore
On Sunday, we decided to go to the Biltmore Estate with our sparkling-new annual passes, courtesy of my mom. I had never been to the Biltmore at Christmas, and Alex had never been at all, so it was especially fun! I wish I could have taken pictures inside of the amazing holiday decorations. I mean, really - they were to die for. Especially the giant live tree in the banquet room that was probably about 6 stories tall. Breathtaking! 
We toured Biltmore House, had lunch at the Stable restaurant, then drove to Antler Hill (part of the Biltmore Estate) for a wine tasting. We bought some wine and other things for Christmas gifts. It was a fun day trip - and the best part for us is that Asheville is only an hour away! Can't wait to go back!

This picture does not do the house justice!

We got back from Asheville around 5pm yesterday. I spent the afternoon cleaning the house and putting away all the boxes that we store our Christmas decorations in, which was a chore. I didn't realize how many decorations we had until we started getting all...the...dozens of...boxes out of the attic this year! But the house is decked out - pictures coming soon!

It was the best weekend I've had in a long time. We had so many fun, festive and Christmasy things to do! Now it's time to buckle down and get my shopping done, my presents wrapped, and my cookies baked so I can just sit back and enjoy this celebratory time of year.

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