Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections of 2012

Here it is folks!  I know you've been waiting.  I love doing these every year and I love re-reading the previous years to see how life has changed.  This year wasn't nearly the roller coaster of last year but next year's is SURE to be.  Stay tuned!

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

Jason was offered a job with Exxon Mobile which shaped the path of our future.  I knew it would be a great future with him but this is exactly what he wanted and we can both see our lives play out in this career..

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
In October, I said goodbye to my best friend in the whole world for the last 10 years.  Roxy had been my baby and walked by my side through more than almost anyone.  We shared a special bond and she was always there to share in my joy and my sorrow.  Her heart was broken but she lived her life to the fullest, even to the end of her days.  I still miss her so very much but I know few dogs have been more loved than she was.  
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

I became an AUNT this year.  Not exactly un-expected but we weren't expecting it until after the begining of the year.  My sister had sweet Allie Gray in October and you would think I was having a girl with the amount of pink I bought this year.  
Jason's sister also had a baby so Julius made me an Aunt times two!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

While it is slightly challenging navigating the waters of unemployment for going on the second year, Jason's innovative savings made that less of an obstacle.
Honestly, while it was helpful financially, his 3 months working away from us in Houston was our biggest hurdle.  We've been away from him for longer and under more stressful conditions but with growing boys, there's no doubt they need their father around!

5. Pick three words to describe 2012.
College.  Family.  Tennessee.
We're living the college life.  We have grad school friends.  We have no income.  It's the carefree college life + kids.  We never would have thought this would have worked out so seamlessly before we were living in it.  We remember again why everyone loves college!
We are LOVING being near our family.  We have spent over HALF of the weekends in fall and winter visiting our families in Alabama.  We love living so close.  It's wonderful for the boys to be so involved in our extended family.  We have made the most of this holiday season knowing it will be our last to be able to travel so easily to the places we call "home."
Tennessee is likely the most beautiful place we will ever live.  We knew this from the first house hunting trip and it became very apparent this fall as we relished in the last breathtakingly colorful fall we will witness for quite some time.  We will continue to experience the fullest of the four seasons until we are forced to live in the perpetual summer of Houston.  (the seasons there are hot, hotter and hottest)
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).  

If you think I came up with these all on my own...well, I didn't.  I asked Jason for help with these.  It hasn't always been a good idea but this year he was serious and helpful and nice even!
Fulfilled.  Vindicated.  Worthwhile.
It's come to fruition, the original thought that I had was "I'm going to love Nashville so much, I'm never going to want to leave,"  Jason said to prepare myself but you just can't.  It's like Nashville hugs you and loves you and brings you in as part of the fold.  Try to tell me about another city that makes you feel that way!  I am fulfilled living here. Friendly, Southern city, no traffic and culture a plenty.  
I knew leaving the army would be challenging but I knew we were up for the challenge and this year is proof.  We took a leap of faith and it paid dividends.   Jason promised it would.  He's never led me astray.
I was initially VERY concerned with Jason becoming a full time student at an incredibly expensive school.  We were a family.  We needed a steady income.  I couldn't understand WHY he couldn't just do an online MBA or even the nights/weekend program instead.  Well, now, I'll tell anyone who asks.  I'd pay double their tuition to be involved with the Vanderbilt name.  The education is amazing but the networks that are backed by this school make this place worth every penny.  Jason's decision was hands down the right one.  One day, I'll listen to that guy.  
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012 (again, without asking).  Pshhhh.
Satisfied. Eager.  Happy.
Neither of us have questioned his career change from the very beginning.  We knew it was the right thing to do for our family no matter what but as the story plays out, it's been very satisfying to know he was right all along!
After spending the summer in the company of his dreams, Jason is eager to begin a career in gas and oil.  He's always been interested in the industry and this was the chance of a lifetime for him.
He's happy with the way our life is playing out now.  It's a happy time when you can see your career path laid out ahead of you and know based on your hard work, it's heading up!

8. What were the best books you read this year?

  It's been a slow reading year it seems.  It has to be REALLY good for me to bite and spend the time reading.  Way back in January  I managed to finish out the Hunger Games series.  I wasn't sure I wanted to continue after the heaviness of the first one.  It's just not my usual Nicholas Sparks kinda book. I thoroughly enjoyed the second book and will forever recall reading the last words of that book and RUNNING to the phone to call Steph and discuss the amazing twist! I wasted NO time reading the new Nicholas Sparks book Safe Haven.  My fellow Sparks lover Mari was generous enough to lend me the book just days after she finished it.  She will also accompany me to the movie when it comes out!  With my moms bible study, we read Choosing Joy by Kay Warren and it was really good and thought provoking.   I'm in the midst of Beyond Ordinary, written by our Crosspoint campus pastor and his wife, Justin and Trisha Davis.  It's a great marriage book and it makes me want to re-read Love and Respect, the best marriage book written in my opinion!  
I also happened to read one of the WORST books I have ever read when I dove into Emily Griffin's Heart of the Matter.  I HATE books about cheaters and that was exactly what it was.  It wasn't until I was done and complaining about it my sister said "I could have told you not to read that!"  Thanks, too late!
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
 Easy, Peasy.  My most valuable relationships are with the girls in my mom's bible study.  Most specifically, the ones I went to Chicago with back in September.  We go to church together, we have children the same age, we meet at the gym two or three days a week.  We have a continual chain text message that is forever ongoing and mostly hilarious!  These are the girls I'm doing LIFE with and I absolutely love them.  Nashville wouldn't be the same without them and I'm not exactly sure how in the world I"m going to walk away come June.  One bridge at a time. (tear)
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
Our church stands on the fact that "Everyone's Welcome, Nobody's Perfect and Anything is Possible".  All of this is true within the love of Christ.  I think I fully embraced this and understand that everyone is deserving of the love of Christ.  
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
As I grow older and observe life in the light of motherhood, I realized I'm not only raising little boys.  I'm raising MEN and future husbands.  I want to raise respectful boys into outstanding citizens.  I try to place myself in my future shoes when my boys have families of their own.  I want to be everything they need now and just what they need then.  This will be a continual journey but I'm embracing it.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?  
While reading Choosing Joy, she discussed how things may not always be happy but you can ALWAYS choose Joy.  Choosing joy in the midst of all circumstances is something I learned and continue to strive to implement.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? 
 Let's be honest.  Nobody my age wants to "grow" physically.  I'm much rather "shrink" when it comes to my physical self.  In an attempt at that, I've been pretty consistent at making it to the gym twice a week to my cardio class.  The other two days we've managed to squeeze in a 6am run and up until April, I was logging training miles for the Nashville Half Marathon.  I've missed those Saturday training runs and hope to get back to them in the new year.  
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
There are some friends that no matter how long it's been since you last talked, it's like it was yesterday.  I'm lucky enough to have a few of those and while it isn't often, I tried to make time for those friendships.  They are the ones that withstand the miles, the yelling of or at kids while carrying on a conversation, the ones that understand a phone call cut short only means life is getting in the way of catching up.  Those are the friendships that matter to me and I think they know just who they are!
15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?
They boys are old enough to be responsible for chores and while it  helps me tremendously, it also teaches them responsibility for their things and their space.  Jackson has to put away his pajamas and make up his bed.  Lincoln has to put away his toys up and down stairs and take his shoes to his room.  I love them being involved in helping me knowing it will make a lasting difference in them (see #11).
16. What was your most challenging area of home management?
Still the smaller space.  I love our Nashville house but we downsized for this temporary move and I miss the giant two car garage, huge bathroom and closet you could sleep in.  We have NO wall space that isn't taken up with something.  I'm no minimalist but the clutter in the smaller space is really weighing on me.  Come on BIG TEXAS!
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

  I won't put down facebook as a whole.  It is sometimes my only connection to people I truly want to stay connected with.  It's also the best way to network with people in life.  Some of those people will be friends as we make the new life transition.  Other of those will be my sanity when I think I'm loosing it living so far from family.  Along with all those wonderful connections, are scattered blogs and deal sites that I've followed along the way and so many are posting deals that I read but have no intention of chasing.  I know there's probably a way to filter all of this but in my opinion, that would "waste" more time so I haven't done it yet.  
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? 

 Making memories.  We have spent quality time this year making memories as a family.  We traveled to far away places in the trip of a lifetime.  I took a Lego crazed 6 year old to Legoland and I fulfilled a dream of going to the California coast!  We spent fall break climbing around in the Kentucky Caves.   We had fun outings to places near our home while we enjoyed the best of fall and some of the most fun days of summer.  We made a fancy meal for our little family of four for the holidays.  Childhood is made up of the memories you make and I want my children to have not just good ones but GREAT ones!
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
Live in the moment.  There's only one and it's right now.  I spend so much of my time planning for the future.  Sometimes, it works out and sometimes it's the complete opposite of how I planned it.  My kids are little NOW, my life is in Nashville NOW and while that all intends to change in around 6 months, I need to live for NOW.  
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.
Enjoying the sweet southern comfort while waiting for Bigger things to come!

I will forever cherish the time we spent here in the deep south we call home but this isn't where we will build our next house or retire.  I'm looking forward to our next chapter and the path laid out before us but I plan to savor every second along the way!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oh, the places he will go!

He's Baaaack!  Criddle, as he was named a few years ago, began his magical month with us on Thanksgiving and was up to antics and mischief during his whole 30 days.  He began by dropping his book off at Granny Patti's house at Thanksgiving for us to read.  It's always a good reminder to hear the "rules" of the elf again.  The only rules are you can't touch him and he can't speak to you.  His job is reporting to Santa all of our good behavior and occasionally our bad.  He returns each morning to a new hiding place and it's our job to locate him!

He made new friends this year and visited with some of his old ones.  He's a friendly little guy!
He got his fill of sugar in our house.  The elf basic food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corns and sugar.

He was getting acquainted with our cowboy elf with the news of a move to Texas on our horizon.  Next year, he wanted to know just what Texas was going to be like.  Hot and humid was what he found out about Texas.  Oh and he also found he would be welcome to bring his guns, for protection of course.  He's not in the North Pole anymore.

His creativity ranged from Mickey Mouse to Ninja and a few places in between.  I'm sure glad he has a creative gene and isn't stuck on the same shelf year after year.  Kudos to him for always finding an interesting place to hang for the day!

He followed us to several cities and found himself in some sticky situations but always found his way out and managed to get a laugh from the boys he loves!

On the morning of Jackson's birthday, he formed a fantastic zip line through the house with a banner that ready "Happy Birthday Jackson" and even left a note suggesting we go the waffle house for his birthday breakfast!  I'm not a waffle house fan but Jackson is so he knows his style!

When it was almost time for him to say goodbye, he set up our nativity to remind us that he's a whole lot of fun but the real reason for the season was the sweet Christ Child born on Christmas night to save us from our sins.  Even a silly elf knows how important this holiday really is!
Until next year Criddle, Merry Christmas!

If you are interested in seeing where Criddle has appeared in years past, these are the last few years we have had him visit us.