Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Virginia

Oh my my. Christmas 2013 has already come and gone and it feels like we just celebrated Halloween. This past fall and holiday season has just flown by. That might have something to do with many holidays, all three of our birthdays, and two trips to Virginia...but now that it's all over, I'm sort of wishing I could have just hit pause in the middle of it all! Now that M is a mobile, busy toddler, life is pretty exhausting, but gosh, it's also a lot of fun!

Get ready for a lot of pictures! I was going to break this up into a few posts, but I decided it'd be simpler to just put it all in one. Again...lots of pictures below!

We headed up to Virginia to see our families on Sunday, December 22. After a LONG, sleepless drive, we got to my in-laws late Sunday evening. By the next morning, M was ready to go and helped her Grampy make everyone breakfast!

We celebrated Christmas with J's family (his parents, his sister and her boyfriend + her three girls, and J's brother and his new wife) on Monday evening. It was fun seeing everyone and getting to open hundreds of presents and sharing a big meal with them all. And we finished the night with a big game of Nertz! 

On Tuesday morning, Christmas Eve, J and I met my parents and brother for our annual Christmas Eve movie. This year's choice was Saving Mr. Banks. I loved it....not sure if my husband felt the same way. My sweet mother in law and nieces stayed with M so we could enjoy the movie with my family. After the movie, we headed back to the in-laws to get M, and we headed over (with presents and cookies!) to my parents' house. We spent Christmas Eve enjoying stuffed shells made by mom and then flipped through the Christmas movies on TV. J's favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard (is this really a Christmas movie?), but unfortunately, we couldn't find it on any channels!

We put out some cookies for Santa
(she really just wanted to eat them herself...)

And sure enough, Santa came and left a few gifts!

She was pretty pumped to wake up to so many new toys (and a sleep sack!) the next morning!

After we opened presents and had breakfast, we headed to my grandparents who live about two hours north of my parents. We got to have Christmas number three here with them and my aunt, uncle, and two cousins.

Our little family of three!

We headed back to my parents until the 27th, where we got to spend time visiting with other friends, seeing the lights in downtown Richmond, playing games, and eating cookies! 

We also taught M how to throw coins into a fountain!

It was a fun Christmas week in Virginia! M had a great time with all of her family, and it makes me even more excited for next year when I know she'll be even more into it!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

30 on the 30th

Two and half weeks ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday on November 30. It was a low key day, but extra special because my parents were still in town. On the 29th, they stayed with M and J and I headed out for drinks, dinner, and a movie. We had dinner at Block and Grinder here in Charlotte, and oh my my. It's a new favorite! It's the perfect place to enjoy a steak or a rack of ribs. We saw Dallas Buyer's Club and loved it. Quite sad, but great movie.

On my actual birthday, we got up that morning and went out in the cold to meet my friend Jenna who was here in Charlotte visiting family. She has a sweet little boy who is one month older than M, so we decided to meet at a park. Our other good friend from home, Sarah, who lives in Charlotte, met us at the park for some play time with the babies!

After a nap, we watched some football (my dad is Virginia Tech Hokie!) and played at home. While my mom fixed us all dinner, J, M, and I went to pick out a Christmas tree. This was one of my only requests for my birthday. Pick out a tree and decorate it!

We came home and had crab cakes and asparagus, and then followed it all up with cookie cake (another request I made!)

After celebrating all three of our birthdays within 4 weeks, I'm pretty sure my child thinks this is just what we do now after dinner!

It was a wonderful "golden" birthday. Excited to see what excitement and fun is in store for me in the next year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This year's Christmas Card!

Here's our 2013 Christmas card! I've gotten most of them in the mail, but I had a small snag (aka I'm stupid and didn't order nearly enough cards), so my apologies to friends and family who are still waiting for one!

 We got photos taken by Megan from Gambol Photography back in October (right before M's first birthday), and she did an amazing job capturing smiles from our busy girl. I'm excited to share a few other photos on here with y'all!

So without further's our card for this year!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays my friends!

Link up your card on Faith's blog today with her Christmas Card Carousel!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Giveaway...

During this time of the year, I think it's neat to see all of the fun gift lists and giveaways on everyone's blogs. I'll be the first to admit....I love gifts. There is definitely a thrill in buying someone the *perfect* present, and it's almost as fun getting to open gifts that are given to you.

But....with all of that said, it's really easy to get caught up in the materialism of Christmas. I know I (way more often than I care to admit) find myself feeling envious of all the "stuff" I see on others' blog at this time of year. And when I stop to think about it, that makes me want to smack myself in the head. I have been given SO much. Way more than I need or deserve. And truthfully, when it comes down to it, I'd be just fine without most it. So when I find myself feeling like I have to have that pair of shoes that I see everyone else raving about, or that particular pair of earrings that so and so had on their holiday gift guide, I know I need to take a step back and reevaluate things. go along with this, and since I do love to give gifts to others....I have a little giveaway today. This isn't sponsored. It isn't a Visa card. It isn't even a fun bottle of nail polish or a Starbucks card. (Although....I love all of those!) Personally, I think this might be a little bit better than all of those.

I am giving away a $25 credit. If you don't know about Kiva, here's a quick video about them from their site...

We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. 

In July of 2008, we got a credit to Kiva as a wedding gift, and today we've taken that $100 loan and been able to give $850 in loans. I love Kiva. Not only for what they do to help others, but on top of that, they make it so easy to help others. Their website is so easy to navigate and I've never had trouble with it. If you have a person on your Christmas list who you just don't know what to give them for Christmas, credits make the perfect gift. We've given them a few times. one is sponsoring this post or giveaway. I just wanted to give something to my readers while supporting an organization I like.

To enter the giveaway, follow the directions below. Once I have a winner, I'll get your email and have the credit sent your way via email OR you can give me the email to a friend or family member if you want to gift it to someone else! The giveaway will run until Friday, December 20.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa, I know him!

Just ten more days 'til Christmas! Seemed appropriate to share these!

M wasn't crazy about him, but she also didn't lose it like I expected. And after it was all said and done, she gave him a high five and got to have lunch at Chick Fil A. Not a bad day!

Slept the whole time!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five on Friday - Best Friend's Wedding Edition!

It's been awhile, hasn't it? I thought I'd link up with April and friends today for the Five on Friday Link Up and Share what we were to last weekend....celebrating at my best friend's wedding! Tyler is my best friend from home and we had the best time sharing in their fun in Virginia last week.

1. Before I even share about the wedding, I want to share a picture from her bridal portrait session that her photographer shared on her blog this week. How gorgeous is she? And her dress!! It was just stunning!

2. Friday morning I went with Tyler and her mom to get pedicures for her wedding weekend! It was a relaxing morning and the perfect way to start off her wedding weekend together!

3. Friday night we attended the rehearsal followed by the rehearsal dinner at Maggiano's in Richmond. 'Twas a night of food, fun, laughter, and a few happy tears as Tyler and Brian shared such sweet messages with the wedding party and their families.

Grace (Tyler's college best friend and maid of honor who I also glad Tyler connected us!), Tyler, and Me

The bride's sweet family...

J brought Brian 2 cans of Four Loko to share. This "joke"started a few years ago, and I don't know how or why it has continued, but none the less, we brought two cans of Four Loko to a nice dinner. We were those people. The good news is, Brian was stoked.

J and me with one of our favorite couples. We just love them. If only they lived closer!

4. The wedding day itself was just PERFECT. The other bridesmaids, Tyler, her mom, and myself had a lovely and relaxing day of hair, makeup, food, and just plain fun. And then the wedding itself was just AMAZING. Tyler and Brian wanted their wedding to be described as the kind of party you just didn't want to end, and they did a great job at throwing just that! There was fabulous food, fun music, SANTA CLAUS, fabulous beer selection....honestly, there's nothing that would have made the night better! My mom and dad were there, so I thankfully have all of my mom's pictures since I didn't take a single one!


Our friends from home who were there...

5. And final shot of the happy couple...this is a sneak the photographer posted on Facebook. I love it! I couldn't be happier for my best friend. Not only did she have a perfect wedding day (that just barely missed a winter storm!), but for finding a man who is not only charming, handsome, funny, kind.....but for finding someone who is her PERFECT match. They couldn't be better for one another and it's obvious how much he loves her. So happy for you Tyler! Hope you're still living it up in Mexico and don't read this 'til you get back!