Life's Sweet Journey

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas-ed! Our 2015 Christmas Recap

Hoping each of you had the most wonderful of Christmas days, filled with friends and family and sweet moments that made you pause and give thanks for the sweet gift of Jesus! Our day was filled with wonder and joy and coffee, a few moments that were so very bittersweet and memories that will be cherished forever.

 Favorite Tradition~ I worked all day on Christmas Eve, welcoming children into our children's facilities at church. I was walking babies, I was dancing and swaying to Away in a Manager and I was helping little hands make birthday cards for baby Jesus! It was a sweet time, watching their little hearts get so excited at the birth of our Savior! It was also a very loud time; a very fast-paced, on-the-go, 3-services-on-your-feet time. So when our services offering children's church were over and it was my turn to take a moment to sit in the quiet of a sanctuary listening to the greatest Love story ever told, I relished in it. The seat felt that much more cozy, the worship shot straight to my heart and the sermon deeply enveloped me. And then, my most favorite moment of all Christmas Eve was upon us. The entire church goes pitch black and one by one the candles that the congregation are holding get lit, as the flame is passed from one person to the next. And the sanctuary isn't so dark anymore; it is lit with the glow of hundreds of candles, while the band, and each voice in the seats, sing along to Silent Night! That tradition gets my heart each year. It is one that I can't ever remember NOT doing, as both the church my husband and I attend now and the church I grew up in do this same thing. I love singing along with a whole room full of people who are so thankful for the Light of the World that came to earth that Holy and silent night.

Christmas Morning Meal~ Waffles!! Always waffles!! One year my sweet mom tried to make a french toast casserole. And it was good- it really, really was- but somethings must stay the same. So my dad made his waffles and we sat down to a yummy breakfast before we began the opening spree.

Favorite Moment~ This moment was probably the one I will most remember from this Christmas. There was a tone to this Christmas that has been different then the last two. We will always miss my brother and we did shed a few tears, but (speaking for myself at least) the joy was closer at hand. The ache of missing him was still there, but the happy moments didn't feel as forced. The laughter came more easily and even the hardest of moments were enjoyed with a sweetness that only time can bring. Watching my niece open the gift that included memories of her daddy was by far the sweetest of moments on our Christmas morning. 
My niece, Makaylin, and her mom spend Christmas morning at my parents and I am so thankful for that and for the relationship we have. We all got to my parents around 9:30 and Makaylin was anxious to get started, but we told her she would need to be patient and wait until after breakfast. She just kept standing by the tree, waiting so patiently, that I told her she and I could go ahead and play Santa and pass out gifts while Surf Daddy was finishing breakfast. So we distributed the presents to their respective piles so that they were ready for each person as soon as breakfast was over. While getting ready to sit down at the table to eat she asked the most innocent of questions, not knowing how it would pull at each of the heart strings around her. "But what about presents for my daddy?," and we each sat speechless for a minute, because it's sad for our hearts. But then, I got to happily tell her that her daddy has better gifts than any of us because he gets to spend Jesus' birthday right by His side! And then her Surf Daddy (my dad's grandpa name) tells her that there is one gift for her and her mommy and her daddy all-in-one. She smiled and we commenced eating, but when it was her turn to open a gift it was the first one she wanted to open. She was so excited, it brought a sweet tear to this Aunt Mel's eye. She pointed at the portrait, looking at her daddy and her mommy and then herself as a baby, saying each name with such devotion in her voice. She loved it and said she wants to hang it in her room right above her play kitchen where she can always see it! I am so thankful for these two girls; for a sister-in-love that gets to forever be part of our family, for a beautiful hearted niece and for the sweet memories like this one, of my brother. This was a moment I will always cherish! 

Favorite Gift Received~ My mom had a custom made push pin map designed for us and Flo and all our travel adventures! We are pretty smitten with it!! Thanks Mom (and Dad)!! We are also pretty excited about the new travel grill that my parents got Babe! Flo was definitely spoiled along with the rest of us! 

Favorite Gift Given~ There were actually quite a few. My niece got so excited about all her gifts (I have never seen a child so excited about a new package of underoos)! I love the joy on the faces of my loved ones as they open something picked just for them. I guess one of the funnest gifts given would be for my mom, and though I wasn't the actual giver, I am considering it a gift by proxy since Babe gave it to her. He got her a cow calendar from Chick-fil-a and she was in hysterics. Literally she would read each months motto on the calendar and could not get through the description without cracking up, which in turn cracked us up. That gift got quite a lot of attention before the next person could open their gift (we go around 1-by-1, taking turns oldest to youngest so that everyone can see the others open their gift).

Favorite New Ornament~ Each year I try to make it to one of the paint your own pottery places and make an ornament signifying something special about that particular year. Well, that didn't happen this time around. So then, I had big plans of turning some of our adventure treasures into ornaments; that also didn't happen. Instead I used a Kohl's coupon to buy picture frame ornament and then had plans to fill it with a picture of Flo's first Christmas with us. I did manage to get that done... on Christmas Eve! However, you can't read what it says (Flo's First Christmas), or even see Flo for that matter, but I love it just the same. I mean hey, it beats the picture frame ornament that still has a piece of paper sitting in it that reads "Place in picture Mel and Babe Christmas 2007". We still hang that one every year and chuckle to ourselves! 

It really was a beautiful day and one that will stick in our heart, until we are all together to celebrate again next year!

What did your celebrations look like this year? 
Any favorite gifts or well-loved traditions? 
I would love to see how your holiday went, feel free to link-up any Christmas Recap posts, or use these prompts and join in on the fun! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Birthday Weekend Recap!

How cute is this RV themed birthday sign at work?! They know me so well! 
We had one whirlwind of a birthday weekend. It started and didn't seem to have a stopping point; that is until I was headed towards our home office today to post this and noticed a body in the bed in our back bedroom. My dear husband was passed out, after having called into work not feeling well. I guess our older bodies just aren't made to handle so much activity... It was well worth it though. 

We kicked off the celebrations a little earlier in the week with a trip to Escapology, an escape room in Orlando, for Babe's actual birthday day. We escaped the wild West with 12 minutes to spare and feeling pretty proud of these old think tanks we have! Friday began the true whirlwind...
Babe and I kicked off my birthday day with a trip to Sea World. I had gotten tickets from work, so we figured why not use them to celebrate a little. We realized we had not been to Sea World in about 5 years (we are Disney people around these parts), so there was a lot of new stuff to see. We really loved it! It was a rainy day, which meant fewer people, so it seemed like we owned the place. We rode every ride in the front row and didn't even get that sick! I loved the new penguin encounter. The ride was so neat and then you open into the room where there is no glass wall separating you from the penguins anymore. You can see them, hear them, smell them AND (if there wasn't a handful of people watching your every move) you are even close enough to touch them! It was pretty exciting!! 

We wrapped up the evening with what was suppose to be a short night with some friends, which managed to make it's way into a much longer night. It made us all just a bit worn out for Saturday, but we still made it to a day of volleyball and football in the park to really celebrate the day with everyone! 
If you haven't gotten together for a day at the park recently, I couldn't recommend it more! We stayed for probably 3 hours and loved each and every minute of it. The majority of the group played and those who didn't lounged in the warm sunshine. We were laughing (mostly at ourselves and our "epic" skills), rolling in the sand, getting a little bumped and bruised, and having the time of our lives!! It had been so long since any of us and really played a sport and it felt really nice to be active! Made me feel like a kid again! 

Saturday night Babe and I went to watch my niece in her Christmas dance performance at a nearby hotel and somehow came home with 4 children (4 month old included) in tow. Ok, truth be told, we asked for them, but still there we all were! Now that was a party!! It was loud, crazy, fun and we loved every minute! Even the pretty much sleepless night making sure the baby was breathing or not needing his paci and that my oldest nephew was feeling alright. Ty (age 10) started feeling sick while we were watching Santa Claus 3 and, sure enough, the next day he managed to get sick as soon as we got him home (probably why I found Babe passed out in the bedroom, not feeling well). It had been so long since we have had all the nieces and nephews at once, and the first time with the baby, that our bodies had forgotten how tired they can get the next day! Major kudos to all you full time moms and dads out there!! 
We finished up the celebrations with an early Christmas at my sisters Sunday morning. Though they only live a little over 30 minutes away, we always celebrate early so that no one has to worry about driving that far in all the crazy, Christmas day, traffic rush! All the food, fun and family was the perfect way to end the weekend!

Hoping your weekend was just as wonderful 
and that you are gearing up for all the fun festivities that come with Christmas week! 
Happy 4 days until Christmas!! 
One other little surprise was finally receiving the Chomp Sticks that I had been waiting to review (all opinions are entirely my own). I love me some good beef jerky, so I have to be honest and say I was a little skeptical. I can be a tough jerky critic! One bite and I was sold! The Chomp Snack Sticks are the perfect on the go filler-upper! They kept us going through the busy weekend! They were tasty (Babe ate the jalapeno one and very much approved) and easy to eat. I love that they are made from 100% grass fed beef. We will definitely be picking up more of these to enjoy in the future for our hiking adventures!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Babe!

 This guy turns 32 today! 32! I can't believe the guy I met when he was just turning 21 is now 32. I am beyond thankful to have spent the past decade with him. I was looking back through old photos trying to find the one below. There were so many memories to look back on and so much to love and it has only grown from there. 

These were taken 5 years ago on a ski trip to Snowshoe, WV. I loved our snow adventures because it meant he would grow the beard out! And now I  get to see that beard everyday! Yay, for beards finally being in (or me finally wearing him down)! He would never do it, because nobody at work had a beard and he didn't want to look unprofessional. I love his drive and his work ethic, but I also really love his beard. 

And now, I am off to clean! Wish me luck! We weren't doing presents this year (my birthday is two days from now), but I thought I would try to surprise him some. One of the other things I love about life with him is our lack of gender roles. He chose to marry me knowing I absolutely SUCK at housework. And I was very thankful to marry a guy who loves a clean house and who finds solace in cleaning it. I think I have finally learned how not to leave streaks when cleaning the counters... I mean, he has only given me the tutorial about 50 times. So today, I figured the best non-gift gift I could give him was to clean the house. I CAN do this, I CAN do this. Hopefully he will notice! Please say a prayer! At least he's giving me a thumbs up! 


Monday, December 14, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

2015 is almost gone, so I figured a little trip down memory lane couldn't hurt! Join me? 

~January, February, March~
I choose a word for the year this year and while I didn't do as well with it as I should have, I have learned a lot about what surrender looks like and it has found it's way to show up in the most unlikely of places. 

We spent some time on the ski slops in West Virginia and boy did SNOW Shoe live up to its name for that trip!! 

And we bid ado to our Disney passes after a wonderful year of all things Disney. We closed it out with my favorite Flower and Garden yummy...
Watermelon Salad!! 

~April, May, June~
Maybe it was finally writing about our trip on the Carnival Breeze, but it was about this time that my thirst for adventure, and seeing the great unknown, really began to grow. So a lot of this chunk of time was spent dreaming about far off places and life on the open road. 

We soothed the wanderlust a little with a trip to Costa Rica to work with Agua Viva Serves, drilling wells in communities needing access to fresh water. Every trip I take with them is so eye opening and humbling. 

I also got to check a big item off the bucket list and be a beekeeper for the day! Oh, my honey loving heart was happy!!

~July, August, September~
Flo!! This was the big moment! We purchased our sweet little travel trailer and named her FloRida ReVa. Someday I will share with you her theme song, but for now here she is again!
This was her first moment as part of our family. Unfortunately, we had to leave her behind, but we were back a few weeks later to pick her up and bring her home!

This was our first full weekend all together, getting to know each other! 

She took her maiden voyage to Fort De Soto State Park and loved every minute!

We also took our annual niece and nephew adventure to Georgia, packed so much more than a backpack, welcomed the newest little nephew love, and I finally got to meet one of my best friend's sweet little baby boy when I went to visit them in Birmingham!

Other Favorite posts: Beautifully YOU!, On Grief and Glory, Orlando Tankful Adventures, An Ode to 17 Year Old Me

~October, November, December~
We kicked it in high gear with a little Tennessee road trip to see my cousin get married! And took what may be our Christmas card picture for this year. We have never sent them in all our 5 years of marriage and Babe wants to do them this year, but he also wants me to handle doing them (hence why we haven't before), so consider this your web version because this is probably as close as we will get...

We ran for recovery in a run hosted by my dad and the other men of the Mind, Body and Soul Surf Co. There was a great turn out and it was so heartwarming to see all the people who came out to support our family, be around so many people who loved my brother and to hear stories of those active in recovery and to meet the families who are helping them continue on in their battle against addiction.
I am so proud to call him Dad!

Flo took another adventure and we got to swim with sea cows!
We celebrated all we have to be thankful for and now we are hanging our stocking on the chimney with care and preparing for the birth of the best Gift we could have ever received!

Other Favorite posts: Thankful Things, Wish list things, The Ache of the Wait

And that's about it for the year so far! Slowly waving 2015 goodbye.
We will be closing the year out with Flo's first trip out of state and spending New Year's in/near Savannah. We have at least two full days in the city and have never really been (he never, me on a class trip in 6th grade). Any pointers for Savannah 1st timers? I would love to know where to eat!! We are doing Lady and Sons per Babe's request, but I would love to know some of your other favorites (I love fresh and flair!).

Thanks for following along with my year in review.
What did your year look like?!
Leave a comment (or link) below and let me know! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Very Merry 5 on Friday

Friday! It's Friday folks! I may be just a little excited about that! 
Kicking off the weekend early with some 5 on Friday fun! 
 1.) Oh Starbucks! How you keep my heart warm and fueled! My face treat for this season is a latte with a 1/2 pump white chocolate mocha and 1/2 pump caramel brulee! Deeeelightful! 

2.) We got the Christmas tree up with the help of this sweet little elf! Watching her put my Mimi's angel on the top of the tree was very special for my heart! Mimi would have loved her! Her child like excitement and ornament overload skills made the tree extra special! However, that's about as far as we have gotten. I'm excited to pull out the rest of the decorations this weekend. Baby Jesus needs to grace the mantle! Every time I glance at the mantle I think "get out the other boxes" and just haven't. So that is the first thing on the list for decorating!

3.) I am love, loving the amount of Christmas lights I am seeing this year! I feel like in recent years there haven't been as many and that had been making my heart sad. But this year?! There are tons! And that makes my heart happy, happy, happy!! 

4.) Birthday week starts next week for this house! Babe's is the 16th and mine the 18th so we basically have a celebration train! We also go tickets to Sea World that have to be used by the end of the year so we're heading to hang with the sea lions for the day on Friday! Yay for birthday buddies and Friday's off to spend together this year!! 

5.) Wine to-go! I got this Vino Mio free to review, but the opinions are all mine and they are all things excited! These handle little wine holders are great! The pack comes with two, one for white wine and one for red, and each holds a whole bottle. It's perfect for taking down to the beach for a sunset sip or for a picnic lunch in the park. Takes a way a lot of the weight away and when you're done it just folds right up and tuck it away. Could also hold water for long hikes so that you don't have to lug a huge water bottle around with you! Vino Mios are great and would make wonderful stocking stuffers. 

And with that wishing you a merry 14 days until Christmas!!