Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections of 2010

These reflection questions are from Simple's post here.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, this will be very obvious. Jason left for Afghanistan in April of 2009 and returned in April of 2010. The first year of my blog was saturated with his deployment. In April after 2 weeks of what I commonly refer to as HELL(you can read all about it here or here), he returned to us, never to deploy again. My sign said it all. "NEVER again!"
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Ha, he's a handful, all boy and into EVERYTHING! Don't let anybody fool you, 2 kids changes EVERYTHING. But, on top of that, I produced the most perfect baby when I had Jackson and he set the bar WAY to high for his mischievous brother. I love that boy. He's my challenge.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Lincoln LOVED his father. He was gone the first 11 months of this baby's life. We had no idea how he would react with another adult, a father, in the house with us. When we saw him, he looked at him, went directly to him and buried his head deep. It was like love at first sight. I never expected that reaction. You can see the photo in THIS blog.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
I knew it would be an obstacle for me, not for him. Jackson started all day preschool. He likes it but it is a long day. I know he's learning things and getting used to what Kindergarten will be like. He's even writing words and reading a little but being away from him and his sweetness all day is something I've had to overcome.
5. Pick three words to describe 2010.
Patience, Paradise, Practice (It was easy to put my year into thirds. Jason wasn't home, Jason WAS home, Jason is STILL home!) That led to my 3 P's. I had to use patience to get him home, Paradise was the first 3 months of the summer while on leave and practice was us being a family of FOUR in a normal life together.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
My first thought he would say was "whiny". So I cheated, I asked him. His first word...whiny! Then, he tactfully backed up and said: Joyful, Stressed and Fit. I think he really wanted to add whiny in there again.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking).
Again, I cheated and I asked him. He said: Intense, Relaxed and Change.
8. What were the best books you read this year?
Nicholas Sparks.
His books are the only ones I read. I read "The Lucky One" while we were in Mexico laying out on my huge hammock outside the room.
On the way home from Thanksgiving, I "read" Safe Haven, his latest book and both were great.
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
Obviously, I reconnected with my husband after his return.
As Jackson has grown up, I'm still his mother but when he asks me to play Lego's with him, I feel like we are also friends.
We spent an amazing week in Mexico with one of our very favorite couples in the world. I became ever closer to my mom and sister (you can't get any better friends that that!) and I maintained my best friend Renee over the many miles between us. When you have a friendship like that, it just can't be replaced.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
We really settled into the roll of the family of FOUR when Jason returned. We all found our place around the table and spent our first Christmas at home together. It was quiet, peaceful and fulfilling.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I fell deeper in love with the three boys in my life. Seeing them together, it was hard not to.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I love our church and how they make you REALLY think. I've never had trouble with fully believing in Christ but I struggle more with knowing that everything works together for HIS Glory. And sometimes, that's not what we desire. It's not about US!
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I finished my first 10 miler this year. My running partner, Jen, and I signed up and trained for several months for this. We trained so long we could have easily ran a half marathon. Our 5:45am runs were sometimes the strange highlight of my day! I miss her, she needs to get back here!
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I gained several new friends this year and lost touch with a few. I have come to realize that some people are friends for just a season in your life and that's ok. I usually have that "friend for life" attitude but I think it took some maturing to learn that lesson.
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Since my work IS at home, the most enjoyable part would definitely be watching both of the boys growing up and learning new things. Jackson beginning to learn to read and Lincoln learning to walk and finally starting to talk too!
16. What was the most challenging part of your work both professionally and at home)?
At the risk of sounding a little monotonous, the biggest challenge I held was weathering the storm alone the first four months while playing both mother and father. It's amazing the burden that was lifted when there were 2 parents in this house and the one parent here didn't have to live in constant fear for the other.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Hello, Facebook! I'm guessing I'm not the only one with this answer. At least I didn't say blogging.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
That would be the days I dropped it all and took the kids to the park or the pool. The best memories, the best times, the best way to spend an afternoon. But blogging comes in there somewhere because without these blogs, the kids would probably never remember all the things we did when they were small.
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
You might not be doing what you always thought you would do, but it's exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Change is not bad, it is inevitable.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you.
The decisions you make today will define your future. Choose your paths wisely. Live, laugh, love. Family are the people who love you unconditionally.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Blizzard

Well, it didn't come on Christmas but the day after. We had what northerners would call a "dusting" or light snow but to us Alabamians it was a blizzard. We woke to a blanket of snow about 2-3 inches which quickly turned into around 6-7 by the time breakfast was over and we transformed ourselves into Ralphie and got bundled up. Jackson was ecstatic and could talk of nothing other than building a snowman. Lincoln was excited and when we showed him he kept going to the window and saying "know" (translation: snow).

Out in the cold white stuff Lincoln wasn't nearly as impressed. At first he trampled around in his homemade snow boots. We did him up Alabama style with walmart bags rubber banded to his feet. He hardly owns a pair of hard soled shoes yet and there are no boots to fit his chunky feet. So he pranced around until he fell down and got cold and wet. Then it was all over with. He proceeded to cry for the next 15 minutes until I asked him if he wanted to go in. He said "yeah!" The snow was too fluffy to form a decent snow man and everyone knows when you are working with a 5 year old, it's actually YOU building the snowman while they coach you and watch.
Later after lunch, Jackson and I made our way up the road to our beloved dirt hill for a look around. He was ready to head home when his cheeks started to burn from the redness.

We were glad Jason was home with us for this beautiful display of God's artwork. He's missed more than a few NC snows while he inhabited the deserts the past several years. It was a great way to spend our last Christmas season in NC.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions.

Everybody has a few. They are fun, festive and its what makes the Holiday bright. Here are a few of ours.

Around Thanksgiving, we always construct a gingerbread house. In our house, it's usually Nana who begins this messy task and I gladly let her take it on.
Our nutcracker collection. Jackson LOVED nutcrackers his second Christmas and could easily say it at only 13 months old. That's when we decided to create a collection of our own.

Making Christmas cookies. This is one carried over from my beloved childhood and I knew I'd want to do this with my children. It's messy, sugary, fun. Here's this years adventure with my little helpers.
Boy, isn't Lincoln proud he's getting to help like a big boy!
"Hey, Mom, what does that say??"

Naughty or Nice? "Which one am I?" Hmmmmm...

Well, I guess this answers it! Always count on Lincoln for a photo opportunity like this.

Jackson is trying to figure out how he can get a bite of Lincoln's cookie too!

Our FAVORITE little people Nativity. Here, I posted Jackson retelling the Christmas story using this Nativity. It's been one of my best ever craigslist finds.

Our Alabama/Auburn tree. To be honest, it started as an Auburn tree. I had collected ornaments in college for the tree I knew I would want to have one day. But, in a family of Alabama boys, I have made the concession to have the "family divided" tree.

Half Auburn (the pretty side) and half Alabama. All Christmas love!
And our family tree. I loved the tree this year. We still buy a real tree and I don't think it can be beat. We picked it out and drug it in and decorated it together. Jackson had fun asking about each of the ornaments. When I was engaged to be married to Jason, I had a Christmas shower and I received a ton of beautiful ornaments. On each box I wrote who the ornaments were from so I would always remember and be able to tell my kids of the people who love us.
Jason thought the gold swirly's were a little crazy but what does he know about Christmas tree decor? A special thanks to my friend Danielle for tying the fabulous bow on top!

This was my grandmother's Christmas village. I was so glad to inherit it to put up at Christmas. I can remember not being able to leave it alone when she put it out every year. Now I'm fighting the same "Don't touch it" battle. I miss her dearly and wish she were here to see it.

I'm sure there are some that were left undocumented. These are just a few of our families favorite Christmas traditions.

What are some of YOUR favorite traditions with your family?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family Traditions-We have a Name!

Traditions are defined by the "passing on" or handing down from generation to generation. We have many traditions that we are passing down from our parents and grandparents in the Holiday season but this one...this one we started all on our own.
You might remember last year when we were introduced to ELF He remained nameless until this year. Now our elf is proud to be called Criddle. I didn't know WHERE on earth Jackson had come up with the name Criddle. Obviously, I hadn't read the book. There in the book, it clearly states that you can name your elf Criddle and he took their advice.
At least he didn't' choose Zart. Yeah, pretty sure he missed that one. So again this year Elf made his appearance everywhere we went. He showed up at Thanksgiving in Alabama with Nana and PawPaw and followed us down to Birmingham to Granny Patti's. Back here in NC he's been up to all sorts of funny antics. He's a sneaky little elf and Jackson and Lincoln both really enjoyed beaming out of bed in the mornings to discover his newest location. I can't count how many mornings we were nearly in the car for school and Elf must be located before the car could depart. It was so serious that several mornings, I had to help steer the search in the right direction. Like I said, sneaky little elf. Some of our favorite elf hiding places were in the M&M's, eating cotton candy on the mantle and the day Elf got a new sweater from Santa. Yes, he did! He is sporting his elf sized sweater that the big guy gave him for Christmas. It really makes him stand out in a crowd and Jackson even claimed he thinks he'd like a sweater like that! So again this year, we prepare to say good bye to our little scout elf, we rest assured that he has had only (ok, mostly) good things to say about the behavior of the deFoor boys this Christmas season. We look forward to Criddle's return next year. If that is in fact your name, Criddle.

The Big Dirt Hill

What's a boy to do when it's been a COLD December and not nearly enough time to play outside? When your neighborhood is a construction zone, there's always a playground nearby. This one spot has been our unofficial playground as long as we've lived here. After they built our houses, they moved large trucks in for the next phase and left them there for years! They kept us occupied for quite some time. When they decided to build the next phase, they proceeded to build a large pile of dirt on top of which we could climb. At the bottom, there were fabulous mud holes that in the spring time, grew TADPOLES! And behind the beloved pile of dirt, there was a trail. This trail was our little bit of nature and we walked it daily in warm weather. We claimed it was the witches trail and there was a witch that lived near the end of it. As they prepared to build the latest phase of homes, they dozed our trail. It was a sad day. They also dozed our dirt hill. After commencing the building, another dirt pile appeared one day. This is our latest playground and may be our last as we begin to think about selling this house to move on to our next journey. Here are some photos with our friend Gannon of our afternoon at "The Big Dirt Hill".

The Quest to see Santa

For most normal people the quest to see Santa would simply require a trip to the local shopping Mall. Then again, we are not normal people. We as a family are not really big on pushing "the guy in the big red suit" as the main Christmas focus. We go along with the childhood innocence but leave it at that. I usually try and take Jackson to see Santa around his birthday as tradition.
So this year, we went to Raleigh and ended up in line to see Santa at Crab tree Valley Mall around 1pm. Well, we see the big guy get up and walk away! Are you kidding? Apparently, Santa needs a lunch break. It lasts an hour. I con Jackson into going to the Lego store and coming back right before he returns.
We get back in line about 2pm to find a LONGER wait and the kind lady in front of us tells us that the wait time from where we are standing is about 1.5 hours as THIS Santa takes about 5 minutes with EACH child. SERIOUSLY? I was about ready to spill the beans right there! We don't need 5 minutes, we merely need 5 SECONDS. "Yada, Yada, I want Lego's, Yada Merry Christmas!" Done! Well, since Jackson is my reasonable child, I managed to talk him into going to see Santa another day in Fayetteville. We did get up to Clayton, NC to see the "Christmas Lights on the Nuese" aka "Lights in a field" and there was a Santa you could visit there for a small fee of $7. I am WAY to cheap to pay for a darkened photo with Santa with a Camera not even as good as my own.
Fast forward a few weeks and we're down to the wire. I avoid the Fayetteville Mall at ALL costs. The week of Christmas, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Yes, I went there. I got there as early as I thought possible and it was NOT early enough. There was already a line from Santa to the carousel. Not happening, I didn't care at this point if we even saw Santa at all. I wasn't sure Lincoln would even have anything to do with him. Again, dealing with my most reasonable child, I promised we would get up EARLY and be at the mall the following day to eat breakfast, see Santa and ride the carousel. That's just what we did. We got there about 930 and...GOT IN LINE. Yes, there was already a line. We were even confronted by a Grinch of a lady that claimed she was in front of us. (Oh, she wasn't!) All in the name of Santa Claus. Geez. About an hour and $20 bucks later, we walked away with....(drumroll please)...
a Crappy photo with Santa. On a more cheerful holiday note, Lincoln seemed to love the big guy so that made it all worth it...almost. Then we proceeded to ride the carousel and eat our chicken biscuits at 11am. Now, that might have made it worth it. And now for the photos to prove it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Christmas Story-narrated by Jackson deFoor

This is the Christmas story told by my chatty 5 year old. It is the long winded version. Don't feel like you have to watch the entire thing but rest assured that you will laugh. It's funny, smart and TRUE! I'm happy to know he really "gets" the meaning of Christmas. Although Noah wasn't there at the time of Jesus's birth, he does make an appearance in this version. Hope you Enjoy!

Ahhh...he's 5!

That's kinda what I felt like when I woke up with a 5 year old in my bed. You see the night before his birthday, Daddy was in the field. We stayed up a little later watching The Grinch since I was letting him stay out of school. Before bed, he said "Mom, do you need something to sleep with?" I said sure (thinking stuffed animal) and he said slyly, "well, I could sleep with know, so you won't be lonely with Dad gone." I melted. Our kids have never slept in our bed and never really want to so when he offered, I just couldn't resist.

He awoke at 6:30 and said "Mom, I'm FIVE!" Yeah, son, I know. Now go back to sleep or lay there till the sun comes up.

Fast forward a few hours, his special day included a trip to the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. It's a super fun place but you just might loose your marbles. Especially if you choose a day when an elementary school is there.

The first center is neighborhood themed with an Ambulance, Firetruck, Boat, Grocery Store, Mail Center, etc.

I didn't break his legs for talking too much, he's pretending with kid sized crutches.

Lincoln likes FISH. He liked the baby aquarium with real fish and this little train station aquarium too.

He also really liked the Yellow Submarine. It flashed and made sounds when you push the buttons. He's my button pusher (in more ways than one.)

This is when we had to leave the submarine to go upstairs to have MORE fun. Oh Good Grief!

X marks the spot, my little pirate on the wooden pirate ship. He swept the deck, checked the map and yelled "Land Ho! mates"

Upstairs had a sports theme including rock climbing and surfing. All of these were a big hit, until the school group showed up anyway.

Everybody go surfing, Surfing USA! How great is this picture, it totally looks like Lincoln conquered a Hang 10.

Just LOOK at that grumpy face! That's my little Lincoln.
You can just imagine what he did when I made him get out.

He Shoots!!


Yes, AGAIN! You guessed it. I made him get out of the shoe box.

This boy just landed in Giant LEGO heaven! We may never leave now. I guess it's time to put more money in the parking meter.

That's one GIANT quarter. This was the money playground. Here you learn about earning and saving money and baking using green balls that deposit into a giant piggy bank then he lets them all fall out.

I can hardly believe this little genius is 5. He is a smart, talkative, caring and friendly fellow. I am so proud of the young man he's becoming. Sure, he thinks he's all grown up but little does he know, he'll ALWAYS be my baby.