So Long, 2014


And in the blink of an eye 2014 has come to a close.  I can't even begin to wrap my head around how quickly November and December went. As in, like, I still haven't blogged about the birthdays Kyle and I celebrated in November or the first Thanksgiving we hosted. No posts about any of the fun holiday festivities we've shared over the last month. But, that's OK because that is life right now and what better way to throw all of that into one post than with look-back over 2014.

2014. What a year of growth--personal growth, growth in my relationship with Kyle, growth in my relationship with the Lord and an overall strengthening of relationships with the people who truly matter to me. Kyle and I did a lot of work on ourselves and our relationship this year, and I am so thankful for that because we needed that strength in our relationship as we grieved such a devastating loss when I miscarried in September. I have had and continue to have some hard, real talks with God and am trying so hard to trust in His plan.

Which leads me to 2015. And how much I am patiently (well, that might be an overstatement) waiting for God's plan to be revealed. I don't know what this year will bring for me. I know what I hope it brings--And, I guess that's kind of the terror fun of a new year, right? We don't know what's going to actually happen. But, I do know that 2015 brings two (now possibly 3!) VERY exciting celebrations-- my best friend growing up will get married in March (and I am so excited to be her Matron of Honor), my brother is getting married in June, and my newly-engaged cousin might even be tying the knot at the end of the year. So, I'm choosing the "lots to look forward to" attitude as we approach this new year!

So, that's my spiel. Now for the recap:

Apparently January wasn't a very eventful month according to my iPhone, which is just fine for the beginning of the year! But, it is worth noting---our first snow of the year! Growing up in Wilmington meant snow falls were few and far between. I still act like a kid when it first snows. And then when I'm forced to drive on the icy remains I quickly remember why I'm so thankful I didn't have to deal with this much growing up!

February brought more snow (and lots of it!), a snowed-in Valentines day (loved getting the extra time with the hubs that day), and my childhood bestie, Kristen, asking me to be her Matron of Honor!

March was full of fun celebrations-- 1. My mom and aunt hosted a "Honey-do Shower" for my cousin Daniel and his fiancĂ©, Kristen  2. Our best Durham friends had their precious baby girl, Teagan  3. My brother proposed to his girlfriend, Hanna, and we hosted a surprise post-engagement gathering  4. Kyle ran in his first 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington 5. We had the BEST trip to Seattle to visit my college bestie, Beebs', and her hubby, Brian's new home and explore that super fun city with them! I remember this month literally consisted of weekend-hopping from one fun thing to the next. And I loved it!

We slowed down for the month of April. My cousin, Kathleen's, precious daughter, Edith, was born on April 16th, and Kyle and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary the very next day on April 17th. We loved going to meet Edith and catch up with parents and sweet sister, Addison!

May was a month of weddings! We had such a fun trip to Asheville for my college friend, Anna's wedding, and we traveled to Pittsburgh for my cousin, Daniel's wedding. I loved the time with family and friends AND getting to explore two new places I'd never been!

June-- the start of Summer! I had lots of fun catching up with friends and got to meet my other college bestie, Ash's, sweet new puppy, Callie! We sadly said good-bye to my dad's brother, Jerry, in early June, but his death did bring the chance for us to gather in my dad's hometown and get to see my grandparents' graves and hear lots of stories that I wouldn't have otherwise heard.

July-- take me back to this month! We took a vacation with my family to Cabo, and it was such a dream come true and a perfect "last hoorah" for Kyle and me who were thinking we won't get to take a big, big trip again for a little while in hopes of having a good reason to direct our extra money elsewhere if you get my drift ;)

August was full of more celebrations, as we showered one of my high school besties, Ally, and her baby-to-be, sweet Anna Faith. We also found out that we were pregnant and had a whirlwind few weeks of trying to get back into the swing of things with school starting and trying to keep this big little secret! And, I was asked to be a bridesmaid in my brother and Hanna's wedding (and Kyle to be a groomsman), which we were very honored to, of course, say yes!

September-- the month that changed everything (or so it felt). We were having so much fun starting to tell those nearest and dearest to us about our sweet little blessing. Kyle traveled to New York on Labor Day weekend to visit his grandmother for the last time, and she passed away a week later. Our precious baby joined her in heaven shortly after, and the rest of September felt like a blur of pain, grief, and overwhelming sadness mixed in with a lot of love and kindness shown by others. By the end of the month we took some baby steps and attended a family wedding, which was our first social engagement since the loss. And, we honored our precious baby by planting a blueberry plant at my parents' home in Wilmington.

October was a month of moving forward. We tried to throw ourselves into lots of fun outings and gatherings. We loved visiting the pumpkin patch and getting to go to my teaching bestie, Lauren's, pumping carving party. One of the girls I used to lead in Bible study got married in Wilmington, so we enjoyed a trip back home and her wedding! We had our first date night to see Phantom of the Opera at DPAC, and Kyle's grandfather came down to visit, which was so very special.

November was a soul-restoring month for us. We got to spend two weekends at Figure 8-- 1 just the two of us and 1 with Kyle's family to celebrate his birthday. Time on this deserted beach was just what we needed. We also got to meet Ally's sweet baby girl, Anna Faith and decorated our first ever ginger bread house. I celebrated my birthday the week after Kyle's. And, we hosted Kyle's family for our very first holiday meal over Thanksgiving before traveling to VA to celebrate Thanksgiving with mine. Happy, happy memories.

And, then it was December! Bring on the Christmas caroling (with my family and home church in Wilmington), decorations, and holiday treats! I also spent an amazing weekend before Christmas in Charleston celebrating the bride-to-be, Kristen. I was so proud because I've never planned anything like this before and it turned out to be tons of fun! Kyle and I played Mary and Joseph for the Christmas play at my grandparents' old retirement home for the 3rd year in a row (such a funny experience!), and celebrated a wonderful Christmas with both families in Wilmington.

2014 was great year for me. It'd be easy to let the loss we suffered cast shadows over the rest of the year, but I refuse to do that. The loss made me a fighter-- a stronger and better person. And, it made me realize how rough times only make you appreciate the good times even more. And boy, were there good times this year!

So long, 2014. Cheers to 2015! Everyone have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

A Few of My Favorite Things Tres


I can't believe it is already December--the countdown to Christmas is on! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and maybe took advantage of Black Friday deals to knock a few things off "Gifts to Buy" list! I know I sure did, and I didn't even step a foot into a store--thank you online shopping.

I'm linking up with with EliseAprilKatie, and Zelle for the last installment of the 2nd Annual These are a Few of my Favorite Things linkup  to share some gift ideas for friends and family (all ideas are $100 of less!).

I tried to keep my list pretty gender neutral and appealing (hopefully) to lots of different kinds of folks. To me the perfect kind of gift to get from friends or family is something that I wouldn't necessarily splurge on or justify buying for myself but is still something you'll love and get a lot of use out of. And, I reckon that's the case with lots of peeps out there!

Check it out:
Gift Ideas: Friends & Family

1. Cozy blanket/throw-- Who doesn't like to be wrapped up in something warm and soft on a cold day sipping hot cocoa on the couch? #noexplanationneeded

2.  Games-- Cards Against Humanity, Things, Scattergories, you name it. Easy gift. Lots of fun!

3. Wine Rack-- or anything wine-related, really! Classy and super practical because let's face it, every good dinner party needs good wine showcased.

4. Le Creuset Tea Kettle-- Their stuff is just so fun with all of the colors! I don't even like tea and want one! And, I know for a fact that my hubs has hinted about wanting one!

5. Tervis Tumblers-- Again, a fun yet super practical gift. Tons of different designs to appeal to just about anyone, and I especially love the sets. We got a set of 4 beach-themed ones for our wedding and love them.

6.  Passport Covers-- I never thought to have one until we traveled to Cabo this summer, and my brother and his fiancee had them. My passport looked so plain next to theirs! Not something you'd probably prioritize buying for yourself but would love if you got it as a present!

7. DVD Series-- I know with Netflix getting a series on DVD is becoming kind of irrelevant, but there are some that worth owning, like Friends, Game of Thrones, SATC, How I Met Your Mother--you know, the ones you go back to time and time again!

Well, there's my list! Make sure you link up because I'm loving seeing everyone else's ideas!

Stocking Stuffers


Yay for Round 2 of the 2nd Annual These are a Few of my Favorite Things linkup! I'm linking up with EliseAprilKatie, and Zelle to share some of my all time favorite stocking stuffers.
 Kyle and I always do stockings for each other, so this is kind of a big deal to me ;) Some years we do presents, too, but most years we just do stockings, so we have this down to a science!

I now give you my all time favesies as far as stocking stuffers go. You just can't go wrong with these:

Stocking Stuffers

Stockings are a perfect place to put some of those smaller, girly items like hair ties, nail polish, lip glosses, and lotion. I am also a sucker for office-y supplies, like colored pens and stationary. Throw in a cute pair of earrings and a gift card (Starbucks, Loft, Barnes & Noble, Target, Gap--I don't turn down a gift card!) and I'm a happy camper! Oh, and let's not forget my favorite thongs (I especially have always loved the Gap body ones!), but that's an item that I maybe wouldn't open in front of all my in-laws ;)

And just throwing out a fun idea-- last Christmas with Kyle's family we each bought 2 items for everyone's stocking, which made it super fun. To give you an idea--Kyle put in gum and lottery tickets, and I bought everyone a pair of socks and I can't remember what else, but I definitely remember loving it--especially guessing who put contributed which items!

Happy stocking stuffing!

A Few of My Favorite Things


I could not be more excited to link up with some of my favorite fellow North Carolina bloggers-- EliseApril, and Zelle-- and a new blogger I'm excited to check out, Katie for the 2nd Annual These are a Few of my Favorite Things linkup!

This first week is sharing YOUR Christmas list! This was certainly easy considering I start pestering Kyle about what he's getting me for my birthday (this Friday!) and Christmas in, oh, let's say, September October! I even share a Google doc with him that has links and everything. You're welcome, Boo. ;)

So, without further ado-- a few of my favorite things...
Christmas Wish List

I've been looking for the perfect pair of booties, a new cross-body purse, and some cute athletic shoes! Throw in a blanket scarf, aztec-print cardigan, and a cute winter coat, and I'd be a happy camper!

I guess we'll see if Santa thinks I've been good this year!



Monday, why you come so soon?

Looking back at my photos from the weekend, I'm sensing a few themes...

Red-- like our outfits as we cheered on the Wolfpack and like it's finally red cup time at Starbucks

Babies-- as in, we finally got to go meet precious Anna Faith  AND we got some good Teagan-time in 

Friends-- meaning it's an automatic win when you get to catch up with a friend from high school, friends from college, and post-college friends ALL in the same day :)

And, I'm pretty sure I'd be OK if every weekend was just like this!

Friday night was super relaxing (aka jammies by 5pm & a 30 Rock marathon) because we knew we were packing a lot into our Saturday.

We were so excited to get to visit one of my high school besties, Ally, her hubby, Steve, and their beautiful baby girl, Anna Faith on Saturday morning. Anna Faith made her way into the world just three weeks ago, and I am still a little in disbelief that we're old enough to be having babies. I mean it feels like just yesterday that Ally and I were playing on our travel softball team in middle school. Time please slow down! Ally and Steve seem to be rocking this new parent thing, and Anna Faith was on her best behavior, so I got to feed her and hold her while she slept. I can't wait to get back over there for more Anna Faith time and girl talk with Ally (aka real talk) about the whole shebang. Eeek!

My parents were kind enough to share their NC State vs. GA-Tech tickets with us, and we had a fun time visiting with them at the game despite a not-so stellar performance by the pack. Poor Kyle was so not pleased.

After the game, two of my favorite college friends, Emily and Anna, dropped by a basket of goodies, which was beyond thoughtful and such a sweet surprise. Their card said, "The Best is Yet to Come," and it is truly starting to feel that way. Things are looking up, and it is such a relief that my positive thinking is starting to come more naturally again.

And, as if the day had not already been full of happy things, we got to end the evening hanging out with some of our best friends, the O'Hares. One of my favorite things about hanging out with them at night is when we get to help with Teagan's bedtime routine. We do bath, bottle, and story time, and it truly warms my heart--especially the story time, when all 4 of us do Teagan's read-aloud. It has been so much fun watching that precious little nugget grow--I can't believe she's already 8 months old!

Sunday was what Sunday usually is around our house--laundry day, grocery day, do other productive things-day, which was completely fine after such a lovely Saturday.

First of the season!
Bottle-time with Anna Faith
Kyle tried to convert Teagan to an NC State fan but her mommy & daddy wouldn't have it
Goody Basket from Anna & Em :)
I think I'm ready to quit my job and become a professional weekender. Who's with me!?

Good For The Soul


My heart is so full from a weekend that truly left me feeling restored. It was one of those weekends that I will always remember. Partly for the rare experience of being on a gated island during dead season in a house that we would never be able to afford (thanks to the kindness and generosity of family friends of Kyle's parents) and partly for the amazing steps forward that Kyle and I were able to take in our healing. For so long we've longed to feel normal again--to feel like us again. And I feel like we gained a huge piece of ourselves back this weekend. I can't even put into words what my heart was feeling, but sometimes you don't even have to put words to a feeling because your tears say it all. I cried from feeling content and full and at peace. I felt joyous and free. Kyle and I laughed. Our competitive streaks came out over Bocci on the beach and board/card games back at the house. The carefree part of me that had been so neglected was released as I bundled myself up and sat on the porch as the rain poured down, listening to my book on tape. We sipped white hot chocolate and mocha shakes far more than I'd like to admit (but not nearly enough!). I watched Serendipity, Kyle did some writing. We walked on the beach in the rain. We got super honest with each other.  And it was good for the soul. So, so good for the soul. Sometimes you just need time away from it all. Time to remember who you were. Time to acknowledge who you've become. Time to reconcile the two.

Figure Eight, you were good to us.

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