Top 10 of 2011

31Dec11

Every New Years Eve I like to list out my top 10 memories from the past year.  I guess it’s a way for me to be able to look back in 10 years and remember the things that most stuck out from the year that I’m reflecting on.  The memories aren’t necessarily the best things that happened, but the things that made the biggest impact on me or my family.

Here’s what I remember most from 2011…

10.  The Big Trampoline:  My most memorable Christmas growing up was the year that my parents surprised me and my brothers with a big trampoline.  I was 10 and had spent all year begging for a trampoline after having so much fun on the one that my friend had.  My parents kept telling me that it was too unsafe and that we would never get one.  That Christmas morning after we had opened all of our gifts, my parents told us that they forgot to give us our last present.  They blindfolded us, took us outside and asked us to guess what it was.  I thought we were all getting new bikes.  I was so excited when they removed my blindfold, and I saw a big trampoline in my very own backyard – something I wasn’t expecting at all!  So, naturally, I wanted to get one for my own kids.  This fall, we finally purchased one, and the kids have been loving it ever since.  My kids use it almost every day, it is great exercise and all of my nephews, neighbor’s kids and Justin and Ella’s friends love coming over and jumping.  Plus a huge bonus – it doesn’t make a mess!!!

9.  iPhone 4s:  In May of 2010, Matt got a Droid.  In December of 2010, my Verizon contract was up for renewal, which meant that I was eligible for a new phone as well.  After thinking about it for a while, even though I liked my husband’s smart phone, I opted to forgo the additional $30 a month charge and just get another regular phone.  About 2 months later, I was seriously regretting that decision.  It started seeming like every time I was out of the house, I was in need of the internet.  Sometimes for directions somewhere, sometimes because I was waiting for an email to come through, sometimes because I needed to look up a store’s phone number/hours, and sometimes just because I was bored waiting for my kids at their activities and wanted to get on Facebook.  So in October, the day the iphone 4s was released, 2 days before we left for our Disney vacation, my awesome husband went and stood in line at Verizon at 6am to get me one.  He even gave me his upgrade instead of getting a new phone himself since I had already used mine last year.  I desperately wanted it before we left for Orlando, so that I could use the camera and take videos on our trip.  It has been my constant companion ever since, and has made my life so much more convenient.  I think my kids appreciate it too, because not only do they like to play with Siri, but they like the fact that I can check my email and Facebook anywhere, which means that I am on the computer at home much less.

8.  Mountain Vacation:  We spent the week of 4th of July at the lake/mountains with Matt’s family.  We made so many memories while we were there and got to spend time with Matt’s parents, his sister, her husband and their 4 boys.  Matt took Ella and Justin to the driving range and out on the golf course for the first time, we went horseback riding as a family in the mountains, we watched fireworks from the boat on the lake, made s’mores, played with sparklers with Ella and Justin’s cousins, went tubing, jet skiing, water skiing, wake-boarding, canoeing and explored nature.  It was relaxing and fun and full of many firsts for my children.

4th of July pinwheels for all headed out to see fireworks!

7.  Chris Moving Here:  In April, my cousin, Chris, moved to Charlotte.  He is 4 years older than me, and we grew up together in Phoenix. His mom is my mom’s sister, and our families spent every Christmas, Easter, 4th of July and birthday together while I was growing up.  It makes me so happy that since Matt and I moved to Charlotte back in 2003, all 3 of my brothers, along with my two sisters-in-law and now my cousin have all moved here as well.  I am so thankful that my kids get to experience having such a large family and that our holidays often include over 20 family members.

Chris and Justin after J’s preschool graduation.  Celebratory milkshake at Red Robin!

6.  Homeschooling 2 Kids:  Justin graduated preschool back in May, which meant he became a kindergartner this year.  Matt and I decided that I would continue homeschooling this year as well, and so in August, our school year began.  If I am being honest, I have to admit that homeschooling two small children is a lot of work!  Especially when one of them has a hard time sitting in a chair and listening.  It definitely is a huge undertaking, and some days I feel like I might lose my mind.  We started homeschooling last year, when Ella was in kindergarten, mainly because of Matt’s work schedule.  This year, I feel like it’s not working as well as it did last year, and I can’t say for sure that I will be doing it again next fall.  I do like that I get to spend so much time with my children and see with my own eyes how quickly they learn, but it is almost impossible to keep up with daily chores, extra curricular activities and everything else that is a part of life, when you are required to spend half of your day teaching.  I constantly feel like if I’m on top of school work, then I am behind on everything else (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, emails, errands, etc.).  And if I am on top of everything else, then we get behind on school.  I am planning on seeing what happens this spring, now that I’m not feeling so sick and tired from pregnancy and now that the holidays are behind us, but I can say that I am not completely sold on homeschooling my kids again next year.

5.  Disney World:  In October we went back to Disney World again.  I think we should’ve invested in some sort of time share there or something, because that was our 3rd trip there in 18 months.  We just can’t seem to get enough.  We were supposed to go on a beach vacation this year with my brothers and their wives, but we just couldn’t get everyone’s vacation time and schedules to line up.  Matt and I decided that if we weren’t going to the beach with everyone, we might as well go back to Disney.  We also made that decision based on the fact that we were trying for baby #3, and we knew that if that happened, we would wouldn’t be able to go back again for a while.  I did end up being pregnant by the time we left on our trip, and while I had a great time, a lot of my memories include feeling very sick and completely exhausted every day.  I’m glad we got to go during the fall this time, because we got to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the first time and see the parks decorated for the season.  My kids are already asking to back again, but it won’t be for quite a while!

4.  Egroups & Ekidz:  This year I really got involved more at our church, Elevation.  It has always been hard for me to volunteer at church due to Matt’s work schedule.  He works long hours on Sundays, which means that I take the kids to church by myself every week.  Up until this year, I didn’t feel like my kids were old enough to be at church for 5-6 hours every week, because of their schedules (nap time, lunch time, snacks, etc.), and so for the past couple of years I did some volunteer work from home and we just attended service on Sunday and then went home.  This year, with my kids turning 5 and 7, I knew that they would be fine to be there all morning, so I signed up to volunteer in the children’s program, Ekidz.  This fall, I also said yes to something that the Lord put on my heart a long time ago, and I now lead a small group (our church calls them  egroups) at my home every week for high school girls.  I love doing all of this stuff, and my kids really enjoy being at church every week.  It is so important to me that I teach my kids that when we put our faith in Jesus, we then need to demonstrate our faith by serving and giving back to others.  I pray that I will be able to lead by example and that they will grow up to be godly men and women someday who have a heart for God.

3.  New House:  Last year, our town house was on the market almost the entire year, and never sold.  We pulled it off the market last December, because I couldn’t deal with keeping it clean for showings during the holidays.  In April, we decided to rent it out, and at the same time rent a bigger house for us.  I was sick of waiting for the market to get get better and wasn’t ready to own and take care of 2 properties, so that was the best decision we could think of.  I really wanted another baby (and room for another baby), plus a yard for the kids and more room for entertaining, and that is exactly what we got when we found a house in April.  The house we found is about 12-15 minutes away from our old neighborhood, and we are really enjoying it.  It is in a cul de sac, which is great for the kids.  It has a big yard – big enough for a trampoline.  And it has an extra room for the baby and a playroom for the kids.  One of my favorite things though, is that we were able to have almost 30 people in our house on Christmas Eve and Christmas, because we had the space!  That is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but never had the room until this year.  There are some things that I don’t like about not owning the home we live in, like not being able to switch out the kitchen flooring that isn’t my favorite, or not having complete freedom over paint colors, but for now I am just thankful that we have the extra room I’ve been wanting for so long.

2.  Henry:  We got our first family dog this past winter, and it has been so much fun!!!  We have all fallen completely in love with Henry, a Chiweenie (1/2 Chihuahua, 1/2 Dachshund), so much so, that I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to be dog-less again.  He is extremely spoiled, but he’s so dang cute, we just can’t help it.  He’s super snuggly and curls up in our laps all day long.  He’s the first thing the kids look for when they wake up every morning, still, even though we’ve had him 10 months.  He’s the puppy we  didn’t intend to buy, that we now could never live without.

1.  Pregnancy:  My number one memory from 2011 undoubtedly revolves around babies.  This year we found out that my brother and his wife are expecting their 1st baby in January (only 3 weeks away now)!!!  It is a girl, and she will be my very first niece and my kid’s first girl cousin.  I am so excited for them, and for myself having a new niece!

Courtney (left – my sister in law), Shayne (middle – my sister in law), me (right) & Ella (front) at Shayne’s baby shower (December 2011).

This year, I will also remember with a little bit of sadness which revolves around my own pregnancy.  In June, Matt and I lost our third pregnancy in a miscarriage.  I know that is really personal information, and I didn’t share it when it happened, but my blog is supposed to be about real life and the things that happen every day – not just the good things.  I felt like I needed to share that information, not only because it is something that I will remember forever, but because it was helpful for me, while I was experiencing the miscarriage, when I found out that so many other women I knew had experienced the same thing.  I feel very fortunate that it happened very early on in my pregnancy, but it was still heartbreaking.  I made peace with my situation quickly though, because of my faith.  I know that God is in control, and that my baby is in heaven with him right now.

Only a few months later, in September, Matt and I found out that we were expecting again!  I was scared out of my mind the first 2 months, constantly worried that I would have another miscarriage, but the further along I get, the less worries I have.  I am now 18 weeks, and we find out the sex of the baby this Wednesday.  Ella and Justin are so excited, and Matt and I are thrilled to be adding a new member to our family.  We can’t wait to meet our new little one in 2012!!!

It has been a great year for us, with a lot of changes, and a lot of great memories.  We are so excited for all that we have coming up in the next year – new babies, new projects, new goals.  I love January – it is not only the month of my birthday and Justin’s birthday, but it’s a time that always feels so refreshing to me.  I love the feeling I have of starting new.  Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!

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2 Responses to “Top 10 of 2011”

  1. 1 Julie

    love this post!!! and i am so sorry about the miscarriage 😦 i hope i never experience that. but that baby is yours forever! that’s the beauty of it i guess.

  2. 2 Anonymous

    It’s always so nice to read your top 10 list every year. I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s too.


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