Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Highlights

It's hard to believe that it's New Year's Eve.  Another year is coming to a close and I have so many memories flooding my mind as I recall 2008.  This has been a great year.  I'm thankful for all that God is doing and will continue to do in my life and the lives of others.  
Some highlights of 2008 include:

-Having my faith challenged more and seeing God in more real ways.
-Celebrating my 2 year anniversary with Peter. 
-Getting closer with family.
-Seeing some mending happen in broken relationships.
-Watching gas prices quadruple in my lifetime and then drop dramatically.
-Buying a new (used) car.
-Paying off several credit cards and other small debts.  
-Vacationing in NC for a week.
-Couponing my heart out and learning how to get really cheap, and several free, deals.
-Strengthening my marriage.
-Doing more home projects to our house.
-Joining Hebron Church and becoming more involved there.
-Learning more, loving more, and growing more.

Happy New Year!  Here's to hoping 2009 is even better :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Maybe Not.

I'm so glad that Peter and I packed up first thing on Sunday morning to come home.  It wasn't a bad drive, but I kept falling asleep because I have a cold (of course!) and had a very tiring week.  I guess I'll call it my Christmas cold since last year on the day we drove home from our Christmas travels, I woke up with a cold too.  Peter's mom pumped me full of vitamins and liquid silver because my throat was so sore I could barely swallow when I first woke up.  My throat is actually feeling a ton better than it did on Sunday morning, but I still have a cold with lots of mucus so I'm having trouble sleeping, I'm blowing my nose tons, and my throat gets sore from the drainage.  I'm still taking all kinds of meds (Advil Cold & Sinus, some natural antibiotic Peter's mom gave me and Mucinex).  The Mucinex is helping to break things up so I can breathe-a definite plus!  Maybe I'll kick this cold fast and ring in the new year in good health.  Maybe not.
I'm hoping this cold doesn't result in me going to the ER like last year's cold did.  It feels like it's getting better, but it's always slow moving when I get a cold :(

We haven't even begun to unpack all of our presents.  We unloaded everything in the spare bedroom and said we'd get to it when we got around to it haha.  When we got home on Sunday, I just wanted to relax so that I didn't have to take time off from work haha.  So I didn't exert any energy in unpacking, cleaning, etc.  Maybe this weekend I'll tackle it.  Maybe not.  

I thought about taking down our Christmas tree and other decorations, but I just love sitting in the living room with only the tree lights on and enjoying the scent of pine filling the room.  With being gone for the whole week of Christmas, I feel as if it justifies leaving up the decorations a bit longer to enjoy them.  Maybe I'll decide to take them down this weekend when I tackle cleaning and unpacking.  Maybe not.

Our week off for Christmas sure flew by!  While having a week off was great, traveling all over sure makes the week go faster.  And we are always burned out by the end of the week.  This year we did take like 8 hours off our trip and took out 2 extra stops, but it still seems like more than we'd like.  We'd like to be able to veg out and really relax a bit more.  But we also want to see our family (both sides) so we're kind of at a roadblock for what to do.  Maybe we'll figure out something better for next year.  Maybe not.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas, Part 2.

December 25-27th we spent with Peter's side of the family. This year we didn't wake up as early on Christmas day because we were too early at Mima's last year and totally exhausted. We were still up earlier than we'd like to be, but it's a sacrifice we make each year. We started off a Mima's on Christmas Day and then on the 27th Christmassed with Aunt Marian, Nana, etc. Here are some pictures from the time spent with the Formica side of the family:

Uncle Peter and Bella:

Bella loved playing the piano! At one point she even scooched Laura right off the bench. I just love how she moved little by little to reach the different keys.

Somehow taking pictures with Mima, Aunt Grace, etc totally slipped my mind and that's all I have from Christmas Day. The rest are from Sat, Dec 27th.

Exchanging gifts:

More gift exhanging:

Peter and Bella love to play games together. This is something they are often found doing. The other game they enjoy is when Peter puffs his cheeks out and Bella gets to smack them (lightly) to let the puff out. Bella's sweet laugh is so adorable!

This is a bit blurry because Bella loved the camera and smudged it with her cute little nose. I forgot to have Peter clean it before taking pics. Oops!

Mom Formica and Nana:

Sons and wives picture:

Me with Mom Formica, Nana, and Aunt Marian:

Mother/Daughters picture:

All of the ladies in attendance on Saturday:

Me with Ruthann and Vasti, my sisters-in-law:

A great family photo:

Bella helps Grandpa load the dishwasher:

It was such a sweet moment shared between Bella and her grandpa that I captured a bit of it on video:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Brandywine River Museum

Last year while in Philly, Peter and I went to Longwood Garden's with Andrew. We had so much fun that we decided to do something similar and go to Brandywine. Tim, Vasti, and Bella came with us this year! Although Bella was being a bit tired/grumpy, we still had a fun day and it was great to just hang out with everyone. Vasti and I have never been to Brandywine so it was fun for us to visit for the first time.

I took this picture from inside the lobby on the first floor. I can't believe I didn't get any reflections from the glass in the photo. For some reason this picture is really peaceful to me. I think water is so relaxing and the barren trees and gray atmosphere are something I could just sit and look at and let my thoughts run wild.

It was cool to see the big train set up that Brandywine has. Here are a few photos from that room:

I took this picture because my dad works for Norfolk Southern (a railroad company) and he drives the forklift so this would be him in the little miniature town:

I spotted an old Conrail engine and just had to take a picture of it :) Before the railroad became NS, it was Conrail :)

Here are a few of my favorite paintings from the third floor gallery. Apparently you're not supposed to take pictures? Oops! No one told me not to when I had my camera out haha.

Love this picture with the pumpkins in the countryside. Again, it's kinda like the gray picture at the beginning. Very nice to look at :)

With my love for cows, I had to capture this painting!

A self-shot of me and the hubby on the third floor:

This wreath was so pretty! I might try to make one like it for our front door next year for Fall/Christmas.

Andrew took this picture of me and Peter inside the lobby with the few Christmas trees:

You can tell in this picture that Bella was tired from having a long day at Mima's on Christmas and then having to walk all through Brandywine since no strollers are allowed. It was still fun though :)

On our way out, I noticed this and really just loved the simple beauty of it.

We were outside for a few minutes to see the cow and pig statues. Peter and Andrew are obviously very excited :P

Bella and her daddy pose on the cow:

Peter didn't want to be left out! haha

We decided to wrap up at Brandywine a little sooner than originally planned and opted to get some lunch.  Tim and Vasti suggested Ruby's diner and it was so yummy!  The set up was so cool too with everything being reminiscent of the 1950's.  Although the dresses that the waitresses wear could've been just a tad lower :P  I was happy to hear it was a chain restaurant and hoped to find one near Pittsburgh, but upon investigating their website, I found they're mostly in California.  The only PA locations are near Philly.  Bummer!  But it's somewhere we'll have to visit when in Philly now!

On our way home, I stopped into a Kohl's that we passed really quickly.  There was a nativity wall hanging that I saw earlier in the season for $20 and was going to buy, but was going to wait til the Christmas clearance sales.  Unfortunately I didn't make it to our Kohl's in time because when things went 60-70% off right before Christmas, they no longer had any.  I was super happy to find one at this Kohl's.  And even more happy that it rang up at less than $5!  I had a $5 coupon off any purchase so I left without paying a penny!  Can't be free :)

Then we stopped into Martindale's to visit Mom and Dad.  I was never in the store so it was cool to get a quick tour of the place.

Here's Dad hard at work.  He is great at customer service :)

And Mom was back in her office working on an awesome training Keynote presentation.

Another fun, but tiring day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas, Part 1.

We spent December 22-24th Christmasing with my side of the family. We arrived early Monday afternoon and spent the next two days baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, and I accompanied Ash on some last minute shopping trips. We also saw our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc at Garvey Manor again. Here are some pictures from the first half of our trip:

My mom's skinny, fake, too tiny lovely tree. :P

Me and my great Aunt Pat at Garvey:

Present exchange at Garvey:

More presents:

Ash and Drew at Garvey:

My Uncle Randy and Aunt Theresa:

My Uncle Rod and Aunt Posey:

The beautiful table set for Christmas Eve dinner:

Me and the hubby on Christmas Eve:

Drew bought my mom this Cindy Lou Who gone wrong outfit as a joke. I'm pretty sure she loved it though, haha.

Erik was obviously very excited to be there:

Hubby, me and mom's tree:

Me, my Great Aunt Pat, and Ashley:

Bryson loves jumping on bubble wrap:

This is a video from Christmas Eve Eve of Bryson and Uncle Peter playing outside. It was so cute to watch!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby, it's COLD outside!

The wind is currently howling like crazy outside our bedroom window.  Just the sound of it brings me chills.  When Peter and I made a quick run to the grocery store around 4:30 PM today, we both commented on how much colder it was than when we went to church at 11 AM.  Then we heard at some point on the news that it was going to get verryyyy cold tonight.  As the evening progressed, we both could feel it getting colder in our 50+ year old house so we added a blanket or sweatshirt to keep warm.  

Out of curiosity I just checked and this is what I saw.  Current temp: 5 degrees.  Factor in the windchill and it feels like negative 15!  Oh baby, it is most definitely cold outside!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Having Ourselves a Very Merry Christmas :)

Since tomorrow begins our tri-city, cross-state Christmas journey, Peter and I decided to exchange gifts and have a pleasant little Christmas to ourselves today.  We were still productive getting laundry done for our trip, packing, etc, but it was great!  We went to church first and gave our pastors cookies we had baked for them with their Christmas cards.  Then we came home to have lunch and rid up the house just a bit from some of the baking, wrapping, etc we had been doing.  After lunch, we wrapped all of the remaining presents we had for our families and did some laundry for the upcoming week.  We also watched Elf, and gave each other our gifts.  We were both really excited and happy with our gifts!  After folding laundry and doing other random things in preparation for our trip, we settled onto the couch to watch some Christmas movie on TV.  We had a simple day, but it was just what we needed.  Time for just us before we begin our Christmas travels.  Christmas is not about families, but it is good to see our families at Christmas time.  But first comes us because Peter and I are our own little family now after all :)


One guess at who Santa is:

Yup, it's Peter! Steph had the Santa costume at her house since she is the president of Bubby's PTA. We all had some good laughs when Peter dressed up like Santa!  And of course, we all took turns sitting on Santa's lap telling him what we want for Christmas, ha!

This one is a little fuzzy, but I really like it.  Maybe we'll make it our Christmas card next year :)

Peter's been eating lots of extra cookies this year :P

Check out Jeff's elf ears!

A clearer shot of me on Santa's lap:

Santa's eggnog doesn't seem to be sitting well with him... (Check out Peter's crazy expression)

Steph got a picture with Santa too!

Santa got a bit wild and was dancing and falling all over the place:

Other highlights of the evening include going to a new yummy restaurant in Hermitage, fellowship with close friends, seeing the Christmas display at Kraynak's, and of course-Jeff's special hot chocolate! We were very excited this morning to be setting out for a day of fun!

Here are some pictures we took at Kraynak's...

This scene was so cute and rustic which I really liked.


I took a picture of this because it was Disney princesses, but this Belle mannequin didn't look too happy to be in the display haha.

Curious George:

Me and the hubby :)

The nativity scene they had set up was really nice, but it was hard to get a picture of the whole layout, so I just took a picture of Jesus, Mary and Joseph:

Two of our very dear friends: 

Peter posing by some of the outside lights:

Today was a great way to kick off our Christmas break.  Now if we could only get some snow!