So Long, 2011


I cannot believe that it's already time to be thinking about a new year! I swear, once you hit college, time just moves in full speed, and no matter how hard you try, there's no slowing it down!

2011 has been a wonderful year for me, and I definitely want to take a few moments to reflect back on this past year...but don't worry, I won't bore you with tons of words (well, maybe just a few!)...I'll just throw tons of pictures at you instead!

2011 has been a year of...


*My college bestie, Beebs, got engaged to her boyfriend since our freshman year of college, Brian this past February! Homegirl got a ring and a trip to the super bowl, all in the same weekend! What a lucky lady!

*And, over the Christmas holiday, my friend since we were babies, Jannell, got engaged to her boyfriend, Brian, who we've known since high school, even though they waited until college to date AND my second-cousin, Brittany, got engaged to her South African cutie!

I'm looking forward to all 3 weddings in 2012!

Weekend Getaways

*Weekend in the mountains of Boone, NC with Kyle's family in the beginning of March!

*Spring Break Round 1 trip to Baltimore (to visit Beebs!) and D.C. to visit the Holocaust Museum and Georgetown Cupcakes at the end of March!

Beebs asked me to be a bridesmaid on this trip!

*Spring Break Round 2 trip to the Outerbanks with 4 teacher friends in early April!

*Anniversary weekend in Charlotte in mid-April!

*Back to Baltimore for Beeb's engagement party in May!

*Wilmington for a family reunion in June, 4th of July and Halloween!
Reunited with my High School besties!

Visit to the Fair over Halloween weekend!

*New York & Connecticut for Thanksgiving!

*Back to Wilmy for Christmas!
Warm enough for a windy visit to the beach in December! I'll take it!
We're so doing this for our Christmas card next year!
Christmas morning at Kyle's house!

Addison Watching

It was such a pleasure to get to spend some precious time with my cousin Kathleen and her husband, Eric's baby girl, Addison. She was born last December, and is the first baby who I will have known since birth...which makes her extra special! We literally got to see her grow so much over 2011!

Visit to Asheboro in February!
Family Reunion in Wilmington in June! Already growing so much!
They came to visit in October!
Addison turned 1 on December 10th!

Ok, so it's technically only been three 5K's, and they were all ones that Kyle ran in, but they were a really big deal for us!

*Kyle and our cousin-in-law, Eric, ran (would we really call it running if it included jumping over fires and crawling through mud!?) in the Warrior Dash this past August! This was Kyle's first race of any kind!

*Kyle ran his first 5K in September for our local gym! I got to be his cheerleader at this one!

*Kyle also ran in the Turkey Trot with his cousins and uncle on Thanksgiving in Connecticut!

And, if you've been reading, you know that I was also training for a 5K and actually completed just wasn't an official race...before having to stop running due to some crazy medical issues that never really quite got resolved! Oh well, we can still say I ran a 5K for the sake of my 30 before 30 list, right!
So proud of myself for running the whole distance!
An Anniversary, a Baby, and a Wedding

*Kyle and I celebrated our 1-year anniversary on April 17th! After a wonderful weekend in Charlotte staying at the Dunhill as a wedding present from family friends, we celebrated in town by going out to a fancy dinner and eating the top layer of our wedding cake! So perfect!

*My teacher friend, Allison, had her baby boy, Nolan, in May!
3rd grade teachers at Allison's baby shower! She is in the green dress and doesn't even look prego! 
*And, another teacher friend, Samantha, got married in October! We had such a great time at their wedding!

The happy couple!
 New Beginnings

*I began my Graduate program for my Masters in Education with a concentration in Literacy at UNC this past May. It's nice to be a Tar Heel again!

*My Grandparents relocated to a retirement community in Wilmington after living in Wake Forest for over 40 years. This was a big deal for our family, but we know it was the right decision for them to go by choice and not be necessity. We had our last family gathering there this past May, and had one last family feast to celebrate ALL of the holidays that we would no longer be celebrating in that house.
Last family feast...with birthday, Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, and Christmas decorations all present!

The Cousins playing our last round of games in Wake Forest
Clan McLeod...last pic at Grandmother & Grandaddy's home

Random Highlights

*Kyle and I saw Mumford & Sons in concert in June...Ah-mazing!

*My cousin Sarah left to live and work in Peru for 6 months. She just came home in time for Xmas!
Last pic before she left!
*Beebs came down for a visit from Baltimore this Summer!

*My other college bestie, Ash's, host-sister from Mexico, Miriam, came to the US for a visit!

*I FINALLY got to move down to the 3rd grade hall after 2 years of being in random classrooms!

*Kyle and I went in with my brother, Bryan, to get season tickets to the NC State games! We spent many a Saturday this fall cheering on the Wolf Pack!

 And, I'm sure I forgot to include so many other wonderful memories and moments...good thing I've been blogging all year!

I hope everyone has a HAPPY, HAPPY New Year! Here's to a wonderful 2011, and a blessed 2012!

We Had a Merry Lil' Christmas


Is Christmas reallllllyyyy over? I cannot believe how quickly this holiday went, and what do I have to show for it...bags under my eyes, 5 extra pounds on the scale, luggage spread all over the house, and TONS of wonderful memories!

I snuck down to Wilmy last Wednesday to get in a little extra time with my parents and grandparents before the madness began. And let's just say that I packed ALL wrong for the weather. Me with my sweaters and boots in the 75 degree weather...not good! Luckily, it cooled down a little in time for Christmas Eve.  Kyle joined me on Thursday, and our families went to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo together. I'm still trying to decide my thoughts on that one...very well done, but still a little scarred from some of the scenes...definitely not your light and fluffy movie!

 Thursday marked the beginning of our time with Kyle's family, and we were with them through Christmas morning. Can I just say how weird it is to be in the same town as your parents but not be staying with them!? But, we had a WONDERFUL time with them! We did the 4pm Christmas Eve service at Kyle's church (where his daddy is the rector), and it was super fun to see all the adorable children totally decked out in their Christmas sweaters! Kyle's dad snuck home between the 6pm and 10:30pm services to join us for a delicious feast-- bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin, rosemary potato's au gratin, green beans, rolls, and cheesecake for dessert. And this began the yummy eating that didn't stop until we left to come home yesterday!

The Delicious Feast!
Kyle, Ry-Ry, and Pappy...sporting their crowns from the "Poppers"

 Christmas morning is always fun at Kyle's house, and I got the privilege of being the Elf this year, aka, present deliverer! We were definitely on the good list this year and got lots of wonderful goodies! My highlights from Round 1 of gifts were...

1. TOMS...well technically a picture of them since they're on backorder...but I can be patient!
2. A certificate for a Massage 

3.  A nice big gift card to LOFT!!!

Kyle & His Momma!
Santa definitely left lots of goodies for us!
Ryan loves his new putter!

Cooper couldn't help playing in all the wrapping paper!

Lilly wouldn't cooperate for the picture, but she got a brand new pink and green collar and a pink leash! 
We headed over to my parents house midday on Christmas and had about an hour of calm before the storm of people piled into our house! We did our lil' family gift exchange, and I have no pictures to show for it because I kept telling myself I'd take pictures later. Of course that never happened! 

The big excitement was over the Ipad my Dad got for my Mom, and I was super excited for my 12 month Birchbox subscription and nice chunk of change....too bad it will be going straight to paying off grad school! Ah, the joys of being an "adult."

And, around 3pm the first wave of Clan McLeod arrived, and they just kept on a' coming until all 18 of us were crammed into my parents modest sized home! There was absolutely no room for everyone, which just made it that much more entertaining! This was the first Christmas of my grandparents being in their new retirement community, and we all gathered there on Monday morning for breakfast and memory sharing. I know it was so special to them for us to all be there together!

There are 9 of us in the younger generation, and we just have the best time, playing games (even if we do get super competitive), watching movies, and eating constantly! We added something knew to our activities list, which was that we all went out for drinks together to help my cousin, Daniel, celebrate his 21st birthday! It was literally 3 days of constant laughter and fun and absolutely NO sleep whatsoever!
Did I mention that I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation? And, again, I'm sorry for the ZERO pictures that I have from our time with my family, but I can honestly say we were just that busy having fun!

And, not that we needed a reminder of how incredibly precious that time was, but we unfortunately got just that.

 On our last night at home, Kyle found out some news that just put everything into perspective. One of his friends from work was killed in a car accident on Tuesday. She was just 24 years old. While we were celebrating amazing times with our families, another family was broken. Such a good reminder cherish each and every day, and love with all of our hearts.

I hope you all had very Merry Christmases full of laughter and love!

Playing Catch-Up


Happy 2 days until Christmas! My little break started on Wednesday and has been crammed full of movies, shopping, and eating, so I'm glad to have a moment to relax and catch up on the blog world. I feel like there's so much that I've needed to blog about, likeeee.....

The fact that I won another giveaway! I swear I never win things, and all of a sudden, I've won 2 in 1 week! Take me to Vegas, y'all!  Thanks to the sweet Pamela, from Pamela's Place, who hosted an awesome giveaway of a stocking full of her favorite things.  I'm especially excited for the Starbucks gift card because Kyle and I love having "coffee" dates there...aka hot chocolate dates!

And, I have to thank Brianna from Adventures of a Southern Wife for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! I love Brianna's blog and am so thankful to her for sharing some blog love with me!

Here's whatcha gotta do if you receivethis award...

1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers
2. Inform the bloggers of their nomination
3. Share 7 random things about yourself
4. Thank the blogger who nominated you
5. Add the Versatile Blogger picture to your blog post

So, here goes...and to be honest, some of these may be repeats from Brianna's nominations...but oh well!

1. Addison from Carolina on My Mind
2. Tamara from T Times 3
3. Sarah from Simply Sarah
4. Crystal from Coffee at Nordstrom
5. Lyndsay from Simply Lyndsay
6. Steph from The Sweet Life
7. Kate from The Anniversary Home
8. April from A.Liz Adventures
9. Caroline from Sweet Caroline
10. Claire from Life in the Sweet Virginia Breeze
11. Melody from Sweet Like a Song
12. Beth from Sweet Southern Pearl
13. Christin from Carolina City Girl

And my 2 real life blogger loves...

14. Kathleen from Growing Up Addison
15. Ashley from According to Ashley

And 7 random things about myself...

1. My parents kindly bought me my first car when I turned 16, a used Honda Accord...what we didn't know-- when you put it into Reverse, it announced on the outside of the car, "Attention Please this car is backing up" in a totally obnoxious voice...totally mortifying! Especially when it broke for about a month and said it full speed Chipmonk Style! Luckily we figured out how to cut the wires-- right before my senior year...of college! Yikes!

2. I really wanted to be apart of a 3-child family when I was younger and used to lie and say I had 2 brothers instead of 1...weird!

3. I worked at Loft during the summers and winter breaks of college...Kyle says I can fold a mean t-shirt! I definitely have no money to show from those days!

4. I waited until my 21st birthday to even have a sip of alcohol...not even sure why, but it was important to me!

5.  My family and my mom's sister's family spent 6 summers traveling the US in a suburban...there were 9 of us and 9 seats in the do the math! That was 1 jam-packed car, but man we have the best memories from those trips!

6. I got amazing gifts from my students this year, but honestly, the most special gift I received was a burnt cookie and a piece of chocolate from one of my students from last year. He has such a rough home life and is the sweetest child I have ever met. He stole my heart last year! Just the fact that he even thought to bring that to me this Christmas is so special. I wish I could win the lottery and send him to college!

7. I LOVE gifts and am really good at finding them ahead of time! My parents used to hide them in the hall closet and put a big blanket over them...let's just say I always knew what I was getting! But now, I'm finding that I want to be surprised more!

Alright, off to do more last-minute shopping! Enjoy your Fridays!

Twas One Week Before Christmas...


Where on earth did December go? I cannot believe that exactly one week from today, we will be unwrapping presents, sippin' on cocoa, and celebrating the miracle of Christmas! I loved the beautiful Christmas hymns that we sang in church today and get so excited by the hustle and bustle of people shopping for presents! Kyle and I officially completed our Christmas shopping yesterday (except for 1 gift that I have to wait to get in Wilmington), and I set up shop on the floor in front of the tree to wrap them all while Kyle cooked us a little pre-Christmas feast. Definitely my kind of Saturday. We ended the night by finally watching Crazy, Stupid Love which I had been dying to adorable! And, hello, Ryan Gosling's sexayyy!
Round 1 of the Christmas wrapping...luckily we have lots of gift cards left!
Must have pillow to sit on!
Chicken w/ Goat Cheese, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes, and Wheat Bread...yum yum!
I only have 2 days left of teaching, and I have to say, despite the kiddos being Cah-Razy, it is my favorite time of year to teach! My lovies are buzzing with excitement, humming carols, and they totally have Christmas  on the brain. In my guided reading group, we were talking about how before we had compasses people had to use the stars to help guide them. I asked, "What was the importance of the North Star?" and one of my students responded, "Because that's how they found Jesus!" with the biggest little grin on his face...presh! We had Polar Express day on Friday, and we rearranged the desks to look like a train and gave them tickets to "board." I talked like a train conductor all day long, and it was just too fun! I seriously think some of them really believed we were actually going to the North Pole! On Tuesday we're doing a math budgeting activity where they have to buy all of the supplies to make their gingerbread houses. This helps them with adding and subtracting money and is one of my favorite things we do all year! I'll definitely make sure to post pics!

Another thing I just love about December is Secret Santas, and I'm super pumped to be apart of 2 this at school, which we just wrapped up on Friday, and one in the bloggy world, that Ashley, Crystal, and Emily are hosting! I got my card from my Secret Santa last week, and I thinkkkkkk I may know who it is because I might have just started reading her blog, but I'm not going to say until I know for sure! I will say that she's studying to be a teacher, which I love for obvious reasons! I'm shipping out my present to mine this week! More about that later!
Super cute card from my Holly Jolly Swap secret santa!

And, lastly, I have to give a huge thank-you to Crystal from Coffee at Nordstrom! She hosted 12 Days of giveaways, and I was the lucky winner of this adorable knit headband from Miss Knit Nat's Etsy shop. It is SO cute and perfect for keeping ears warm on a cold winter day sans hat hair! I cannot wait to wear it! I was super excited to get it in the mail along with her adorable Christmas card...and she even threw in a cute Ashley Brooke Designs holiday shopping notepad! How sweet is she!?
Happy 1 week to Christmas, y'all!
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs