I feel like I haven't posted about "every day" life in our household in a w-h-i-l-e. Ever since our trip to Hawaii, I've been trying to do my best to share lots of pictures from all of the places we visited and the excursions we took; not to mention the biggest and my most favorite time of year, Christmas.

So I thought I would sort of do an "update" type post on what's been happening recently around our house.

Here goes:

Recently, I bought this book at Lifeway.

I've heard it's fantastic as well as the movie (which I haven't seen either). I can't wait to get started on it, and I think it will be great for me since it has short, segmented chapters which will help keep me focused versus getting overwhelmed with just tons of pages to read. And since I'm not the biggest of readers out there, I've decided to hold myself accountable here on my blog and let you all know when I've finished it and what I learned/gained from it (which I hope will be lots).

I also recently had cosmetic surgery which I'm happy to say I came through with flying colors. And what's better than that is I look and feel more beautiful than ever. Thanks, Dr. H for your talent and TLC!

And recently, Jim used one of these to clean our carpets.

We decided to tackle the job ourselves versus hiring professionals like we did last year, and borrowed this machine from my mom. It did an awesome job, and now our carpet looks almost good as new (which is pretty remarkable considering the number of stains that lingered from food, juice, playdoh, highlighter markers, etc.)

And due to my surgery and need for as much R&R as possible, Jake recently spent a couple of nights with his Grandma and Grandpa. We met them on Sunday afternoon to do some shopping, and they took him home with them from there. He came home yesterday, and it wasn't a minute too soon for any of us. He kept saying, "You my best fwiend, Mommy!", and I got so many hugs I couldn't even keep count.

Jake and Jim also recently made a trip to Jim's home town in North Alabama to visit Jim's dad and brother. Jim reported they had a great time with just a few minor times when Jim had thoughts of strangling him. He was definitely not on his best behavior. I'm not sure if he just needed a nap or what was going on, but he definitely wasn't himself. But they made it there and back home and had a great visit with Jake's Grandpa, so it was all worth it.

Our heat pump also recently went out in our house...AGAIN!! I don't mean to yell, but this is only about the fifth time we've been through this, and our house is less than four years old! I'm thankful to say it has since been fixed, and we are now the proud owners of a new set of gas logs for our fireplace (which have also never really worked ever since we moved in) and a huge space heater that will take a room from 59 degrees to almost 80 in no time! Suh-weet!

Finally I, recently had this photo framed and hung it on one of the walls in our bedroom.

We didn't hire a photographer while in Hawaii. I simply got my handy tripod out, set the timer, and let the camera do all the work. The framing turned out nicely, and I think it adds a touch of romance to our room (woo woo!).


Jake's Rendition of Jingle Bells

Oh what fun it was


to watch Jake open his gifts on Christmas morning!

Jim and I waited longer than we expected to for him to be awake and tearing into the pile of boxes. Though we got home at a decent hour from my parent's the night before, he still did not go to sleep until much later than his normal bedtime. And with all the hard playing that he and his cousin Emily did together, he was just plain ole tuckered out. So when he finally woke from his heavy sleep at around 9:30 that morning, we were wild with excitement for him to see what was waiting for him.

Once he had made it through all of the unwrapping he had to do, Jim and I both got right down to business taking everything out of the packaging it came in and making sure nothing was lost under the sea of paper that lay all over the floor.

Then it was straight to his room to set up his new train track that we're all so happy he has. Now the many trains he has been collecting over the past few months have a place to stretch their wheels and do what trains do (plus this now frees up one of those storage bins that I need to use for something else...see how this worked out for all of us?). Getting everything set up took up way more time than Jim thought, but it was a fun project and so worth it.

For the remainder of the morning, Jake almost never came out of his room. And neither did we for that matter or else we heard, "Wanna come pway twains wit me?" as he nodded his head yes. And you guessed it...It has been that way ever since!

Celebrating Christmas with Family

This Christmas, we decided to all get together as one big family on Christmas Eve.

I remember some of the most special Christmas' we had as a family, we celebrated and opened gifts on Christmas Eve. Of course, this was as we got older and realized we didn't have to wait for Santa Claus to bring our gifts to us on Christmas morning. Jim and I also decided when Jake was born that we always wanted to spend Christmas morning at our house and watch Jake open his gifts from Santa and from us at home.

So this year, instead of getting up on Christmas morning, watching Jake open his gifts, and then trying to convince him that Grandma and Grandpa had more for him to open and that his new trains and train track would be waiting for him when we got back, I threw out the idea to my family of us getting together on Christmas Eve.

They all loved the idea, so Christmas Eve it was!

When we arrived at my parents' house, the stockings were definitely hung with care...

I tried to get Jake to sit in front of the tree and smile for a picture, but instead he struck and pose and was fixated on the gifts waiting for him to open...

In fact, when we walked in, he went straight for the tree and said, "Presents for me?!" Wow, how much he has changed in a year!

So right down to business it was...

It was so much fun to watch him open his gifts with so much excitement. He actually "got it" this year, unwrapping each gift all by himself with full understanding that what was inside the package was for him. I can honestly say that he had more fun this year than ever, and so did we.

After all the gifts were unwrapped, we ate an awesome, home-cooked meal by my mom...ham, sweet potato casserole, lasagna, potato salad, baked beans, rolls...completely scrumptous. She also baked cupcakes with homemade icing, and we all gathered 'round to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, who is the real reason we celebrate this time of year.

My dad read the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2, and we spent time sharing what Christmas means to us and how thankful we are for His blessings on our family this year, 2009.

Jake and Emily spent several hours playing with their new toys, and then we headed home to wait for Santa to arrive on Christmas morning.

Thanks mom and dad for another day and Christmas full of love and wonderful meaning.

Merry Christmas with Love


from our Family to Yours!

Just Another Day in Paradise


So I thought I would go ahead and squeeze in one more post from our trip to Hawaii before Christmas takes hold for the next few days or week. In fact, I'm here at my parent's house now, and after only spending not even a whole 24 hours here with them, I have many (imagine that!) photos and stories to share.

But before I begin telling you all about our Christmas celebrations, I want to share what we did on another day of our Hawaiian vacation...another day in paradise!

On Tuesday, we actually did two hiking tours. Believe me...I still ask myself what were we thinking taking two hiking tours in one day. And I'm proud to say, no ambulances were needed for us or anyone else due to passing out, etc. And of course, we had an amazing, fun time, we saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever set my eyes on, and we most definitely got our exercise.

So the first of our tours was that morning, and we hiked up to the top of Diamond Head Crater, one of Hawaii's most famous landmarks. It was actually formed more than 100,000 years ago and was used as a strategic military lookout in the early 1900's. It became a National Natural Landmark in 1968, and is an extremely popular hiking destination because of the views from up top of Waikiki and Oahu's South Shore.

The hike to the top includes two sets of stairs, for a total of 175 steps - not that we were counting (I actually looked it up on-line after we got back to our hotel because I was totally curious by then). We were both just trudging forward the best we could and taking breaks here and there (of course, I had to take breaks to snap pictures - okay, that was totally an excuse, but it was a good one right?).

Breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...breathe out. We made it! And so this is the part where we're thinking, "That was soooo worth it!"

Absolutely stunning! And if we ever went back, I would love to do it all over again at sunrise and sunset/night time. I can imagine that it's even more breath-taking then!

We definitely spent quite a while up there just taking it all in (yes, and resting...I'll admit it) before making our way back down.

Yeah, going down was waaaay easier than going up.

Gatorade and Manoa we come!

He was already a King


...but He came as a baby.

He possessed the power of miracles - to heal the sick, to give the blind sight, to feed the hungry - yet He came as the most helpless form of human life.

I have never thought about this so much until Jake was born. I have read the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible dozens and dozens of times. Every single Christmas when I was a little, I was the designated reader of Luke 2, verses 1 through 20. While my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, and sister sat quietly in my grandparents' living room, I would read the verses, "...And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger... (Luke 2:7).

And now I'm thinking back to the newborn days and weeks with Jake and how fragile and new he was; how dependent he was on me and Jim to care for him. What would he have done without us? He couldn't possibly take care of himself. We were his source of food, shelter, clothing, comfort. We met his every need...literally. When he was hungry, we fed him. When his diaper was wet, we changed him. When his tummy ached, we stroked his back and bounced him on our chests as we walked around our house. When he was sleepy, we rocked him while humming lullabies in his ears. When he had spit up all over everything, everywhere and needed a new guessed it! We were the ones who bathed him and changed his clothes. I think about all of these things, and I ask myself, so why would the One who is able to provide us with these things - food, clothing, shelter, and comfort - make Himself dependent on someone else to provide them for Him?

And then I begin to think that this is how Christ wants us to be with Him - totally, 100%, selflessly dependent.

From the moment He came to Earth, He was teaching us how He wants us to live - completely trusting, resting in His arms, knowing that He will provide for all of our needs. Just as a baby enters the world with total dependency and total expectation of nothing less than having his or her needs met, so can we depend on Christ.

This Christmas season, there is one Baby I'm ever more thankful for than my own...the Baby who was already a King.

To me, He will always be the most precious Baby of all.

Not Me! Monday


This past weekend, I did not go through all of the Christmas gifts we bought for Jake and decide that he had too many and then pull some out to save and give to him for his birthday. Not me! I would never buy way too much stuff for him…ever. And even if I did, I definitely wouldn’t be thrifty and save them for his birthday since it’s only two months away. Better yet, I wouldn’t save them for his birthday just so I could prolong the purchase of more storage bins to store it all in, overcrowded closets, and me checking myself into “my happy place” several times each night to try and cope with all the new toys strewn about. No way, Hosea!

And during the many trips we made to the mall this past week, I was not the one who told Jake that Santa would prefer we write a letter to him telling him what he wanted for Christmas. I did not continue on and say this was because he had so many boys and girls telling him what they wanted, that it would be better to put it in writing and send it straight to the North Pole so Santa Claus wouldn’t forget between now and Christmas. And I didn’t say all this because Jake has already been to visit Santa once already, and I just didn’t want to stand in line again. That was definitely not me! I would do anything to make sure he got what he wanted for Christmas from Santa Claus!

I also most certainly did not completely lose it when Jake decided to have an accident in his pants in the living room intentionally. It was not me who sounded like a broken record asking him over and over why he would do such a thing knowing he wasn’t going to respond in fear he would say the wrong thing. And I absolutely did not talk to him like he was a grown up explaining to him how I had cleaned our house from top to bottom and how he had not had an accident since he was totally potty trained back in May as if he understood when May was. Nope. I always act rationally in these situations. And even if I did lose it for what seemed like hours but was more like 10 minutes, I wouldn’t have needed to make it up to him the rest of the night telling him how much I love him and explaining why I got so upset. I also wouldn’t have needed to lay down with him as he drifted off to sleep stroking his hair and kissing his head. Nope. Guilt would never get the best of me in a situation like this.

Weekend Break and Update


So I decided to take the weekend "off" from posting about our trip to Hawaii so I could update everyone on what we've been up to this week. I still have more to post from Hawaii, but I figured a break was in order since it's the weekend and all.

This past week has been off-the-chart busy as we've worked to get our jobs, our home, and our son back in order after being gone for an entire week. We worked so hard from the minute we got to home to sort through all of the laundry and suitcases and souvenirs. But then Monday morning came, and then Monday evening came, and by that time, we were in true survival mode. Suitcases and laundry took up a heap of floor space for several days which is not like me at all. Having a toddler has helped ease my OCD ways, but I still like to have things in their place as much as possible. But because we were just too tired from the insanely busy days right before our trip, a week of non-stop second-honeymooning in Hawaii, and then catching up at work after being gone for a week, we just had to let something the housework it was.

This past week, Jake did the best of all of us. He was more than happy to get back in his routine with his friends and teachers, and of course his mommy and daddy. He actually missed us, believe it or not. He kept telling me, "I at home, Mommy". It was the sweetest thing ever. He ended up missing his Christmas party at school. It was the Friday of the week we were gone. He brought home lots of little gifts, and he had a heap of make-up crafts to catch up on. It seemed like he brought something new home every day! I'm so thankful, though, that his teachers took the time out of their day to do this for us. They know I'm a sucker for "handprint" crafts (so far, I have saved every single one!)...what can I say? My favorite that he did was a tree of handprints with glitter and jewels as ornaments...just too cute!

Jim's week was actually pretty laid back other than a trip out of town for a day to do a scholarship interview. This worked out great for him because by Wednesday, he claimed he was suffering from PVBD (Post Vacation Blues Disorder). I think we both were in one way other another, actually.

As for me, I actually came back to a clean slate other than catching up on month-end. Missing an entire week just means that I have less time before our Christmas break to get it all done, which was completely manageable in this case (whew!). Staying focused was definitely hard to do, though, by the end of the week. On Friday, we had our office Christmas party. We drew names earlier in the month and swapped gifts while we ate pizza and a cookie from the Cookie Co. (soooo gooood). My gift was a Target gift card and antibacterial hand wash for my purse (Jackpot!). Jake even got a gift, too! A Barnes & Noble gift card from his "Aunt" Marilyn (icing on the cake right there).

A couple of nights this week and once this weekend, we went to the mall to do some shopping. I'm technically done with Christmas shopping, so anything I buy is just to take advantage of the great sales that are going on. Jake got to do what he loves best...ride the train...on several occasions, so he was tickled pink over that. We also found a new wedding band for Jim since he lost his somewhere in Hanauma Bay when he was snorkeling (there's a three-week wait on that, though, since it had to be ordered).

The rest of our weekend we spent cleaning, and when I say cleaning, I mean cleaning. It feels so great to have a clean house through and through. I even put Jim to work moving furniture so I could vaccuum under and behind it. Now I feel like those people on the Febreeze commercials who walk around just taking deep breaths with their eyes closed in pleasure. I've only done that a few times, though, so hopefully that means I'm not too much of a fruitcake.

And last but not least, I've accomplished a huge task...wrapping all of our Christmas gifts. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. I say it that way, because that's actually my favorite part. As much as I enjoy it, though, I'm glad it's a job that's done.

I can't help but always think our tree looks so much better with lots and lots of boxes, bows, and nametags under it.

Yep...much better and task accomplished!

A Week Ago Today


Just a short 7 days ago today (as I close my eyes and let my memory run wild...ahhhh...okay, short break; darn, I really am sitting at my computer!), we had already returned from our visit to Pearl Harbor and were getting ready to go to what I had anticipated most about our trip to Hawaii...our Luau. I can't describe in words how excited I was for this. I imagined what we would see, what the food would be like, and how much fun we would have, and I was certain (more than certain...without a shadow of a doubt absolutely 100 percent positive) that this would be my absolute favorite thing of all that we experienced during our trip to Hawaii. And it was! This is one of the most amazing experiences I've ever known. It was fun, it was romantic, it was entertaining, it was erotic, it was delicious (the food, I mean), it was emotional, it was...everything I had imagined and more.

Cocktail/Social hour started at 5 o'clock, and as we entered the garden, we were greeted by locals and were given a string of shells (which Jake now claims are his and wears them constantly).

Then we watched several demonstrations such as how to hula dance and make a lei - both which I would LOVE to know how to do really well. Of course, they didn't have all night and the next day to teach me, so we settled for watching the "ceremony" of lifting the roasted pig out of the ground.

We then made our way to our tables where appetizers were already waiting for us to taste.

The food was soooo scrumptous. There was plenty of pineapple to go around...naturally. We had pork, chicken, mahi mahi, sweet potatoe, fried banana, and rice as our main course. Yummmmmy! And for dessert...guava and coconut cake. My mouth is watering just thinking about it all!

Soon after we got our main course, the show began. Our host was absolutely terrific! He was super funny, very energetic, and had a really great voice. One of the performers did a demonstration on how to open a coconut with the help of some poor guy in the audience. Bless his heart! He had the worst time ever.

But the best part of all was the dancing...

So incredible!!

And guess who got on stage for a little hula dancing?

It must have been the shirt! Jim was definitely in true Hawaiian fashion that night!

He may not admit it, but he loved every second of being up there. In fact, I think he winked at his partner as she walked through the audience looking for someone to bring on stage.

Oh yes! This night a week ago was a memorable, incredible night...and love was definitely in the air for the second honeymooners!