Sunday, December 27, 2009

What a great Christmas we had this year...and how quickly it flew. As should be expected with an almost 18-month old underfoot, I guess, but I wish Christmas could truly last the whole month. After a lot of careful deliberation, we made the decision to stay at home this Christmas to enjoy what we feel may indeed be the "calm before the storm" with BGT's arrival in a few months (three to be exact). And while we thought we might regret the decision - due to the lack of our ability to see family and visit and have "help" with our little one - we found we would be the most at ease, the most relaxed, and the least pressed for time (on other people's calendars) if we stayed at home and began some of our own traditions...even though Aiden will not remember these years. This fact in and of itself is something that still makes me sad no matter how many times I recall it. All the more reason I find myself trying my hardest to track his habits, take his picture, and capture what I can of his cute personality on camera before this time, too, passes all too quickly as all the other phases have.

Since most of the heavy work with our jobs took place at the beginning of the month, Nate and I luckily had some PTO to burn the last few weeks of the year and were able to take advantage of some down time and enjoy the respite from our "go all day" norm. We began to love this and I think Aiden did, too, as he was sleeping in till 8 most mornings - can I say PRAISE JESUS for this!? :) Those without children will probably not ever really "get" this, but to have your little one make the jump from a 6:30 wake up call to 8 am is such an ever-loving thing to behold and appreciate. It made our transition to Christmas all the more lovely. I spent my days with my boys buying last minute gifts and decorating and my nights wrapping gifts and baking, two of my favorite holiday pasttimes. It was a lovely time. I love wrapping gifts. It brings back memories of when you purchased it and why, and then you get to wrap it with careful attention to detail, and tie it all up with a simple or overzealous bow...both of which have their value, repsectively. It is both a soothing and memorable time for me each year and makes me remember how very much I love giving and why I ask continually for the resources to be able to do so with whatever means I can over the course of my lifetime.

Before I knew it Christmas week was upon us. At the last minute, my family decided to come visit for a few days, making our Christmas celebration a bit more full and that we were able to share it with others and appreciate some QT. The week flew by. We visited with friends on Christmas Eve at a little shin dig in the 'hood and had a great time meeting and enjoying the company of others before coming home and diving into a few of our Christmas traditions. One of which is opening one gift from our Poage relatives since they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. I found myself up until nearly midnight putting together and wrapping the last of Aiden's big and little gifts...and realized this would be the first of many nights I (and Nathan) would spend being up until all hours of the night preparing for the festivities of the next day for our little ones. Before we could blink Christmas morning was here and we were off and celebrating. Luckily, we were able to take it S-L-O-W since Aiden is in the mode of "open and play for a while" with his gifts (rather than the open and ask "that's it?" - which I do NOT look forward to). I hope he always appreciates the time and pleasure in opening each gift...though I know there will be years when quantity seems to matter so much more. (sigh). It was such a joy for me to see the utter joy and amazement on his face after opening each gift - it was like he had just opened the BEST THING EVER...EVERY TIME! How quickly we forget the innocence found in these precious moments. It allowed me to breathe deep his joy and excitement over the course of our three-hour open-fest prior to a brunch of homemade cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole.

And then, another blink, and Christmas Day was ending. After a fabulous (if I do say so myself) Christmas dinner - really my first complete feast! - Nathan and I headed out to our traditional Christmas movie (and date night). What a nice and relaxing way to complete this nearly perfect day full of love, laughter, giving, joy, eating, and others.

We were off in the cold post-Christmas weather to get our discounted Christmas wares for next year and enjoy one last meal before sending Mimi and Pops on their merry way. We were blessed to have the help in caring for Aiden...they played SO HARD with the little guy and kept him going in his typical non-stop fashion for us for nearly their entire trip. He loves them and the fun they bring to the house every visit. How hard it is to believe at this time next year Aiden will be nearly 2 and a half and we'll be toting around a 9 month old baby girl. Whew! I get stressed and tired just thinking about maintaining that! Nevertheless, how much more joy will be found in those moments of the four of us? I'm sure countless. I hope you all took time to appreciate the big and small things in this Christmas season. I know I find myself grateful, full, and in anxious anticipation of what 2010 will hold. I am holding on tightly to the last few days of 2009 and enjoying every minute of rest and love shared in this little house of ours.

Aiden listening to Mommy's tummy...and what is inside!

Aiden and his daddy...two of a kind! Stuffing face with Christmas brunch while we open gifts! :) Hungry, growing boy!
Playing with his music table and making sure EVERYONE is clapping along. If you don't clap, he stares you down until you do! Really!!
Our tree and "family" decor! My sweet boy shared his tricycle with the twins down the street, Chase and Lily, and even pushed Chase while he rode. Such a giver!! Boogs decided to put on a pair of mommy's Uggs. He wore them around trying to walk for a good half hour. So funny!
This little towel came from Aiden..they made it at school and he came home with it on his last day. I love that I can have the memory of his foot at this stage! I might do this for grandparent gifts next year from my kids. Such a sweet rememberance! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aiden made Santa's List- It's the NICE list this year...HOORAY!


Monday, December 14, 2009

So every year our neighborhood has Santa come to us. This treat is quite awesome because I'm sure if you visit the mall anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you have seen the lines awaiting three minutes on Santa's lap. The process for this "experience" is an experience in and of itself:

  1. They set up a night to offer tickets to residents.
  2. The tickets are on "sale" for three hours and are on a first come first serve basis. So we all stand patiently (or not so patiently) in line awaiting our turn to choose a day/time.
  3. There are two days you can choose from.
  4. Each day has a three to four hour time period set aside, from which you select a 30 minute time slot (if the time you want is still available when you get to the front of the line).
  5. You show up five minutes early on your chosen day and get a professional picture with Santa...along with some hot chocolate, juice, teddy grahams, and goldfish.
It is quite an ordeal! But it beats standing in line at the mall for who knows how long and potentially even long enough to see nap time come and go. NO THANKS!

All in all our trip was a success. And by success, I mean NO TEARS - who knows if we actually got a good shot in the few minutes we spent with Santa, but at least we weren't crying! :) Whew! Despite runny noses and a time bordering on nap time, we managed to get in an out unscathed. So we'll post the "pro picture" later, but for now, here's a look at the Westhaven Santa and my cute little curious peanut!

He's asking, "Who is this guy, Mom?"

Oh, and AFTER our nap AFTER Santa, Daddy got out his old cowboy boots (his FIRST PAIR EVER) for little man to try on. How cute is he? He couldn't quite figure out how to walk normally, but had a nice cowboy jaunt going funny! :) Why this cowboy is carrying around tennis balls, I really couldn't tell you, but how cute!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We kicked our Thanksgiving festivities by rewarding ourselves with some much needed time off. Saturday prior to the big feast, we headed to my parents house to spend the week with them since it'd been a while since we last spent some time together. It was great to know we'd be able to spend some good quality time with family, while also getting some rest! Plus, my dad's parents (my grandparents and Aiden's great-grandparents) from Michigan were coming to visit and they have only met Aiden one time, when he was three months old, and he's obviously changed a LOT since then!

We had a great weekend and enjoyed some gorgeous weather. Nate and I headed out Monday for a day trip to Atlanta in search of baby gear and a big boy bed for Aiden's new room. While we didn't have any luck, we did get to grab a quick bite to eat with some good friends, Meghan and Parker, and celebrate an early Thanksgiving with friends we are so grateful for!

Back to Knoxville for the grandparents arrival on Tuesday and Wednesday we took an afternoon trip to the Festival of Trees led us to Aiden's first carousel ride. He liked it a lot! A fun day overall as we continued to get the food ready for Thursday's feast! Thanksgiving morning Nate, my dad, and me all went to run a Turkey Trot (an annual tradition for us!) and a six month pregnant me actually won my age group! Woo Hoo! My dad won his age group as well, so we took home some great prizes (cool water bottles) and lots of pride. Nathan got a PR in the 5k, which was a huge accomplishment also. And back we scurried for some fresh, hot out of the oven, homemade cinnamon rolls! Boy, do I love that treat after a good run.

The Thanksgiving feast was amazing and not much could have topped it. We had a great time celebrating and sharing our "thankfuls" which are always so numerous year after year. The rest of the weekend flew by and before I knew it we were home and had a Christmas tree on top of our rental car. We were definitely a site to behold with a car stuffed full of people and goodies and a big tree on top. But we are ready for Christmas! Here's a few pictures from the weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So, I entered my sweet Aiden into another modeling contest for the cutest kid ever. And despite my desire to have him win on my own, I can't enter 1,000 times a day, so I'm asking you to vote for him. I entered under two aliases to increase his exposure. :) So, here's my shameless plug.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This weekend we had plans to attend a 30th birthday (surprise) for Nathan's friend, Phillip. Phillip was Nathan's best man at our wedding. He actually bought his engagement ring the weekend of our nuptials and proposed to his bride, Fran, shortly thereafter. They came to surprise Nathan for HIS 30th birthday 18 months ago and drove from their home in Birmingham to meet baby Aiden shortly after he was born. Only to announce they were expecting themselves!! The happy couple are now living with their 9-month old daughter, Lucy, in Pensacola, Florida. What this means is that we don't see them nearly as often as we'd like. We keep up with them via their family blog, Life Of Skipper.

His party was a fun adventure to Talladega, Alabama to take part in the Dale Jarrett Racing Experience. Six laps around a world-renown race track is a pretty awesome gift. Much less to be surprised by 30 of your closest friends cheering you on while you race.

Our plan was to drop Aiden off with my parents on Friday afternoon and then drive the 4-hour trek to the track the following morning; however, my little boogs had his own plan and came down with a slight case of bronchitis, which made it look like Mom was going to be staying home with him that day while Dad went to represent for our family at the party. At the last minute on Friday, though, we got word that we might have a place to stay in Birmingham for the night, making our drive only an hour in the morning (WAY better for Aiden!). So we talked about it and decided we should all go see them and if Aiden didn't feel well, I would just stay in B-ham with him.

What an amazing gift to be given. The stay worked out perfectly. Aiden slept almost the entire trip down in the car, then we were able to spend some QT with old friends, Kari and Andrew (and Quincy), whom we hadn't seen since our wedding. It was a miracle on so many levels. The following morning, time was given when we thought there would be none in order for us to spend just a few more hours together before we departed on our journey to the speedway. We relished in our hours together and were able to catch up on things from the past 4 years of our lives, sharing the ins and outs of so many itty bitty pieces of so many things. So many times I caught myself thinking, "Wow, I am really here. Wow. I really love this girl. Wow. God is so good. To not be a "true" part of one another's lives the past 4 years and to be given a gift like this is truly a miracle." It was really worth the "risk."

Off we went to the speedway for an afternoon in the infield.

It was great to see Phillip and his family. To meet Lucy. To catch up with some of Nathan's old college friends who we just don't see nearly as often as we'd like. A great, great trip overall. We headed back to Nashvegas late that afternoon and Aiden did great in the car despite the 4 hour drive. Such a great little guy! We recovered all day Sunday and got some things done around the house that had been lingering for quite some time. All in all a very successful weekend and one we will remember for quite some time. Here are a few pictures from the day.

The fam in B-ham before we headed off to the speedway. Nathan with some of his college buddies.
Aiden playing with Lucy and sharing!
Phillip getting into his racecar.
Aiden loved feeling everyone's beards!! So funny.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

...mystery. We still don't know. Boo. The baby decided to have crossed legs during the entire 40 minutes I was on the table. So, the consensus from most everyone who is putting their bets down is that it is a girl, and the ultrasound tech said it could be, but is not 100% either way. I did get some great video footage, which is quite amazing, but no certainty on the sex of the baby quite yet. I will go back on November 30 for another look to try and be clear. The control freak part of me has to know for SURE before I start doing anything. I won't go pink crazy either way. Promises there.

I am not sure why, but I wanted to know so much more with this pregnancy than I did with my first and that one was just as much of a surprise. Go figure. Maybe now it's because I DON'T know that I want to know even more. And 26 days is a long time to wait for another look! Oh, well. God is teaching me patience not only in this area of my life, but in SO MANY OTHERS...almost too many to count. And while I am thankful for the growth, it's not always the easiest thing to endure. But there is hope. And beauty on the other side. For that, I am willing to wait.

Monday, November 2, 2009

One of my birthday gifts from my awesome Hubs was a Hot Air Balloon ride over the beautiful countryside we call home. It is one of the things on my 30 things to do before I'm 30. And even though the date we "sailed" was just over a month after the actual day, the wait was incredibly worth it. It was an experience (and gift) I will not soon forget.
Our little balloon traveled from Brentwood to Columbia, which takes about 25 minutes (max) in a car and took us about an hour and a half. We hovered between 1,200 and 4,000 feet above the areas of Brentwood, Franklin, and Columbia in our journey and saw some of the most amazing colors, homes, landscapes, beautiful farm country, and even our neighborhood (off in the horizon). We landed amidst an amazing fall sunset on the clearest day in quite a while. Not a cloud in the sky.
And anyone scared of heights that has used this as an excuse to not to do such a great ride, should reconsider. You don't feel a falling sensation one bit. You don't blow back and forth in the wind. It is one of the most relaxing and spectacular things you can experience. It's like the perfect drug...without any side effects other than maybe landing in a farmer's plot of land who happens to have a gun. Luckily, this did not happen to us.
Thank you, Nathan, for such a great gift and special day to share with you. I love this memory and will cherish it forever. I can't wait to do it again. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

...or something like that. I know the song says 3 a.m., and well, it is on the East Coast, so whatever. Somehow, after an insanely busy and full week of headaches, ear infections, lack of sleep, and crazy circumstances, I am exhausted yet cannot sleep. If this happens, I usually have a list going on in my head that needs to be written down or turned over to Him for dealing with and safe keeping; however, this has been done an still sleep eludes me. So here I sit. Knowing full well I will have difficulty functioning tomorrow, yet unable to do anything about it. (Sigh)

Instead of wallowing in my lack of sleep, I thought I might write down some of the things looming over me, some quite personal, others really "surfacey" but regardless the things that are being tossed around at any given moment in this wacky head of mine.

1. My job.
I wonder daily what's going to happen with this. What does this scenario look like? How does it impact me, Nathan, and my growing family? Will I be able to provide for my kids? These things scare me. And while I KNOW God's plan is already laid out and quite perfect for me, I often have a hard time connecting the know to what I BELIEVE. Which is, of course, that He will indeed provide in one way or another - be it a new job, or a better job, or no job and a better one for Nathan. These are times when I have to rely on my past experience and allow Him to show me all the ways He's never let me down before and carried me through when I didn't think there was a way. I can list thousands of times, so why is this one hard? I guess because it's still looming like gloom and doom over my head. I worry about too much and let go of too little. But I am working on it. Daily.

2. My little BT2.
While I realize the time I had on my hands was so very different when I was pregnant with Aiden, I feel badly about the time I'm already not spending with this little one inside me now. I recall feeling Aiden move at 15 weeks quite vividly, and I did feel BT2 at 16 weeks, but haven't been diligent about spending more time doing that lately. I can't feel badly about this, I realize, but I often do, despite the fact I can't control how much or how little this little one moves. I know good and well that come ten weeks from now I'll be up to my ears with kicks and hiccups. Just the now is hard sometimes....worrying if everything is okay in there. Trusting it is, but still worrying it might not be. I worry about how I will handle two under two and how it will impact my relationships - with Aiden, with Nathan, with friends. And honestly, sometimes the fear of what is to come overwhelms me and makes me feel as though I will only fail. I fear I reallly don't have what it takes to do this. Yes, THOUSANDS of other parents have done just what I'm doing - some really terribly, others quite amazingly. Why I can't trust I can do it too at any given point in my day is beyond me, but I just do. Only a few more days until we find out what this little gummy bear is going to be and how whatever it is will change our lives forever. What I have to keep reminding myself is something I read this week that impacted my thought process and stopped me in my tracks of self-pity. THIS IS ONLY A MOMENT, IT IS NOT MY LIFE. Yes, for thousands of moments I will very will be at my Whit's End, but those moments will only be fleeting in comparison to the millions of others that will be filled with joy, laughter, love, community, bonding, and so many other positive pieces that make up LIFE. So, letting this moment pass...

3. My body.
And the fear of never getting it back again. There. I said it. And I'll leave it at that. I think there's enough to be read into this that doesn't need to be stated and that little bit says it all.

4. Organizing my/our life.
Yes, I'm a perfectionist. Yes, I am a semi-neat freak. Yes, I have some OCD behaviors when it comes to organization. I am admitting all this because sometimes the fact that I have to let go of this part of my life is terrifying and horribly difficult. I think how hard it is with one child to keep the house and closets in order, and fear my house will be a war zone with two. This fear, I have to let go. It very well may be a war zone, but I'll be darned if it isn't one bound up in love. Here's hoping I can let this part go sometimes. Not all the time, but when I need to. How are we all going to make it (sanely) inside the house? Will we get our space finished out before the baby comes? I pray the finances allow for this as it will provide the space to "get away" within the same place while also providing a play space and classified war zone if needed. Praying hard for this.

I really like even numbers. I was going to do five things, but I like four. So I'm stopping at four even though there are at least ten I could list. I think I've captured enough, probably far too much for some. There are hundreds of tiny things like ...When will we have time to decorate for Christmas? When will I do my Christmas shopping? What do I even get for everyone? How can I do more to give to others during my week? How's Aiden going to adjust to life with another person in his world? Will I get a four poster bed at some point in my life? Will my knee ever feel good enough to let me run more than five miles again?

These are the things (I guess) that you could say keep me up at night. While they truly don't and I let them go, they do often pop up at random times and if I were a panic-attack driven person, I might just be insane by now. So thank the Lord for that. Now, I thank Him for taking these things (each and every one despite how big and significant or small and meaningless) from me and running them for me. Goodness knows I can't do it. I just have to believe that, right? :)

So here's hoping I'm off on my way to dream land...missing my best friend, anticipating his arrival in a few days, and dreaming I was in this place...right now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October started off feeling as though it wouldn't be full of much, and while it has been relatively low key, we have somehow managed to weave our way within 8 days of it's end and I realize how quickly it's gone. Football games, Fall Break (for Aiden AND for us!), and field trips to the farm and here we are...only a week away from Halloween. Although, by the time I finish this and get it posted, it'll probably be closer to Halloween than I think.

We headed to Knoxville for the UT vs. Auburn game a few weeks ago, which was so fun! Wish we could get to more games as they really are a great time and bring back (and create) all kinds of fun memories. You can read about our trip here.

The following week, my parents had fall break from school, and had offered to keep Aiden so we could get some much needed rest. We've battled our share of sickness this month and needed some rest for sure! Plus, mommy-to-be here doesn't get much as it is with the night wakings and potty breaks. Fun! He had so much can see pictures here. He just loves to play and keeps them on their toes for sure! They spend the following few days recovering from the whirlwind that is Aiden, but oh what a fun one he is. Nathan and I had a great time eating out, keeping our own schedule, sleeping in, and doing lots of things we've had on our "todo" list that keep getting pushed to the following week in hopes they'll one day get done. So we at least got a dent started in that list! :) We picked up the boy on Sunday and had a great rest of the week with him, though he got sick, yes, again, the next week. Boo. More long nights and even longer days!

Luckily, due to all the rain we've had this month, his field trip to the farm across the street got rescheduled to a day when he could go (the other one was scheduled when he was on fall break). So, Wednesday afternoon we packed up and went to the farm and played with the hay, goats, chickens, ducks, and took a fun hayride through the farm and cows, who loved playing with the pumpkins. Check this place out! I have yet to carve ours and they sit staring at me as though I can do something about it! Oh well. Aiden loved the farm and showed his true "boy" nature by eating some dirt and a few dried corn kernels. The boy makes me laugh. Some of his little classmates were there and he loves people, so he had fun just people watching. What's funny to me is how different this trip was compared to our last trip there. Night and day. Of course, he was three months old. It was so neat to see his progression as he explored the farm. And how lucky we are to have such a fun treat right across the street from our neighborhood. Oh the joys of living in the country (kind of).

Overall, a fun month, and Halloween is right around the corner with lots of fun parties and activities to boot. Should be a scary good time! And November will be here Sunday! YIKES!
Nathan after a night of no sleep...needed whipped cream to make the coffee go down and to calm his wild mane.
The boy loves to clean, what can I say?
This picture just made me laugh. He literally wanted the whole thing in his mouth at one time.

Posing for the camera...or for Dad.

Petting the goats. Trying to get a rare picture with Mom.

Graham, a little boy from his class, eating an old dried up corn on the cob. Did not want to be carried, wanted to walk, but the mud was insane.

Playing in the tractor Walking home with Dad. Great day!