Our Christmas spent in Bloominton, IL with Josh's family was great. Lots of shopping, game playing, gift giving, snow watching, pie making, wine drinking, family feasting, picture taking and late nights followed by early mornings took place. I'm pretty sure after 3 days of stuffing myself to the gills of delicious and greasy/sugary food while burning the candles at both ends is what made my body finally call it quits.

I always seem to get sick around the holidays and I'm pretty sure the "too much fun" (as my Grandpapa would say) is what causes the plague. 2 years ago on the Christmas of 2008, I think i spent the majority of our time in Bloomington wrapped around a toilet trying to keep down at least one yogurt cup . The Christmas 2006, I traveled with the Michael's on New Years eve day to meet Josh's mom's side of the family for the first time. I ended up spending the entire day sleeping on his grandma's front room couch awkwardly saying "hi, i'm Josh's girlfriend" through cold chills and a swollen glands wrapped in a blanket to Josh's Aunt's, Uncles, and cousins who were complete strangers to me as they walked in the front door.

You would think I would learn my lesson. You would think i would eat less, go to bed earlier, maybe taken an Emergen-C on the ride to the cold tundra of Illinois and pack a few extra scarves, but I don't. And, once again, I find myself unable to breathe through my nose, barely able to swallow and a head that feels like i'm walking around in a muffled balloon.

I tend to be thick skulled and lessons don't sink in the first time, even when learned the hard way. This getting sick over and over is like the same lessons I have to keep learning from God. You see, I doubt sometimes. I forget God's strength and goodness.  The road trip up to Bloomington, proved to be a low point for me on this topic and I wallowed in self-pity and worthlessness. I cried. stared out a window into the abyss of dark farm land passing by under the full moon, felt that I had nothing to offer and before I know what happens i'm going to be old and have done nothing worth anything in my life.

Then God did a funny thing. He had my husband pop in a sermon a friend had given us a few days before our trip and the entire thing was about faith. About the centurion who had faith that made Jesus MARVEL.  About believing and declaring God's promises that he has spoken over me and realizing it has nothing to do with what I can accomplish and who I am, but who he is. (cheesy, i know...but true and something i'm always learning over and over again.)

Eventually, I realized that he CAN use me. That I AM called to lead worship. That I AM called to be a mother. That I AM called to business...and even if all three of those things don't seem to be able to co-exist in my dream world right now, that God is a master planner and WILL let these desires come to fruition one someday.

What lessons do you find yourself learning over and over again? What promises are you believing God for at the end of this year?


Our Plans for Christmas and Some More Thinking

Christmas is 3 days away. I'm so excited! Josh and I will be trekking to Bloomington, IL to celebrate the holiday with his mom, dad, sister, and her husband. The forecast predicts 8 - 10 inches of snow Christmas eve, so sarah (my Mother-in-Law) called yesterday to remind us to bring warm clothes for sledding!

Last year we went sledding and I swear, I think i peed my pants a little due to my uncontrollable laughter every time i belly flopped on that sled and sped down the hill with snow flying in my face.

This will be the first Christmas I will spend away from my mediate family, which in someways is hard. I'm also kind of excited because it's the first Christmas where Andrea and Mike are married so there will be a really fun dynamic in the Michael household this weekend. Mike is a GREAT cook and will be preparing a christmas Goose on the 25th! I will be making my mom's apple pie and perhaps a few other side items to accompany the feast.

The biggest thing that will be out of place is not having Nate, Jo and Ayla in our living room with us. Even last year when they were in France we were able to video skype with them so they could participate in and see the festivities. This year, they are in Africa and they share internet with the main Wycliffe camp there, so no one is allowed to get on video because it takes up too much bandwidth. They will be there on the phone though, so we will just have to be extra descriptive and creative in conveying what's going on!

Random picture to break up the post.
Snowing - downtown Franklin, TN.

On a side note: Recently, I can feel my heart craving some alone time. It needs just a bit of space to sort through thoughts and emotions and to really hear God's voice and understand what he is trying to teach me and guide me in as we approach 2011.

I can tell when my soul is needing this alone time quench because i find myself filling my time with meaningless activities and trying to take control of my own life. When I haven't taken time to listen I get the looming feeling that i need to start making decisions and take action on things or I will end up just meandering through my days in Franklin, TN going through the motions following the next "logical step for people of my age in my position of life".

I find myself at a stalemate with the puzzle of my future starring a hole through all the tiny pieces trying to find that last corner piece with a bit of yellow and green to fill in the frame around what this life should look like. I don't want it to be status quo, but the more pieces of this puzzle I put together on my own, it starts to look a lot like the same Thomas Kinkade puzzle the other 20 somethings around me are putting together.

Yet, instead of doing something meaningful and actually taking control i fill life with more routine like cleaning, facebook, Hulu, blogging, and since my birthday last weekend the Nintendo 64 and Golden Eye/Mario cart beckoning me to keep my mind busy and entertained. That's what I do. Because I lack any type of real strength and self-control on my own to break the mold,  i allow the distractions and what everyone else around me is doing to dictate my life.

I'm hopping while we are in Bloomington I will be able to find a few mins here and there to really allow God's peace to wash over me. To sit in silence and meditation allowing my whole being to absorb what God has for me and allowing HIS strength and love to fill me up and direct my path.

In case I don't get a chance to post while i'm gone, I hope you all are surrounded by love and joy this season.  Merry Christmas!


Where It's OK to Fail

I've been thinking about writing.

I know i'm not an eloquent writer that uses flowery adjectives and sucks you into an irresistible story painting a detailed picture in your mind of the room, mood, emotions that make up the experiences of my life. (even though i wish i could use words like delicious to describe my every day life like Kelle Hampton does, but it's just not true. Most of the time it's mundane, and often times i can't even find a better word than "blah" to describe my day to day, so i don't write.)

nor am I technically proficient writer that knows the proper sentence structure, spelling, grammar, or punctuation. 9 times out of 10 i'm to lazy to hit the shift key to make my "i" capitalized and I'm far to familiar with the right-click-the-mouse-to-find-the-proper-spelling trick. I couldn't tell you the difference between a compound or complex sentence and from the way I write, you'd think fragments are my favorite.

I'm definitely not a deep writer, like my sister Rebecca, spinning words and verbs together to change the way you think about the life and the world.

I'm not crafty, talented with food, inspiring, or a fashionista worth emulating so blogging about that doesn't make a lot of sense.

I'm not a pregnant mommy blogger with insights on how to deal with morning sickness, whether or not to breast feed, natural birth, home schooling, etc. etc.

This is obviously not a professional blog. nor is it even a topical blog on theology, songwriting, teaching English or any other noble theme.

I'm not really all that funny, even though I try.

I write how I talk and i talk how i write. I never went to school for writing, but i'm pretty sure that's not how it's "supposed to be done."

So why do i write? Why do i post things on "With All Her Heart" for the world to read? Baring my confused and awkward soul for strangers to stumble upon.

I write because God has put something in me. Whether it's profound or not, He has put creativity inside me and it needs to come out. I need this outlet to try. To try and try and try and try and fail.

To allow myself to write something crappy, so that maybe one day I will write something significant. To let the shityness flow out of my head unfiltered from time to time and show that christians don't have to have it all together while they pursue God's heart.

I started this blog a little over two years ago and it has morphed and changed quite a bit over time. In 2008 I was on FIRE for God. (you can tell by my slap-happy silly blogs at the beginning). It was literally the biggest year of growth for me spiritually and there are several landmark things that took place that year that continue to shape me and my wants and desires to this day.

You an really tell how my passion, honesty, focus, hungers and motives has waned and shifted over the past 2 years.  I'm OK with the fact that it has changed. I'm OK that sometimes it's fluff and (because it rhymes and get's my point across) i'm OK that sometimes it's rough.

I'm really thankful for the few people that do read this blog. Thanks for sticking around. I really do want this to be a safe place where I can be real and messy and not necessarily do the same kitchy things other bloggers do. (even though every now and then it's fun). You all have let me try and try and try and try and fail. I'm thankful.

I'm not so bold to write my 2011 resolutions post yet, but growth and maybe some depth in my writing may make the cut.


Birthdays and Before 35 Lists

Today at 12:29 pm marks my 26th birthday. I'm pretty sure I can still call myself mid-twenties, but there is something about crossing over to the closer-to-thirty-than-i-am-to-twenty zone that frightens me just a little bit.

Last August I made the first part of a "Before 35 List." Most people make a before 30 list, but since I was already in my mid 20s I wanted to give myself at least 10 years to get some of this done.

The list is currently 32 items long. Not overly aggressive, but not simple things to complete. This past year I've done 1.75 of them. I visited europe. I made wine - but it wasn't my own, so that only counts for .5 of the "Make my own wine" goal. And I read two classic books. Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, so that's approx. 25 of the read 10 classic novels goal.

I know some of these goals will take time. I mean, learn to speak another language often takes more than a year to do, especially when you work full time and you live in an english speaking country, but I'm kinda disappointed in myself. I really thought that I would get more done. With that said, I'm kinda leaning toward turning my before 35 list to being a bucket list instead and thus, I want to add some more items to expand beyond 32.

32. Visit Africa
33. Learn to make a croissant.
34. Run a Marathon
35. Shoot a gun.
36. Learn to snowboard
37. Go fly fishing
38. Go sailing
39. Learn sign language
40. Sing in an Opera again
41. Try out for a play at the Boiler Room (or other local community theatre).
42. Spend a week in silence.
43. Go rock climbing
44. Visit Cedar Point again.
45. See Mount Rushmore
46. Visit Bethel church in Redding.
47. Learn how to play chess.
48. Try photography professionally
49. Own some chickens
50. Knit a blanket
51. Become an Early Riser
52. Attend a TED conference
53. Meet a president or former president
54. Donate blood.
55. See someone healed of blindness/deafness/smell (something tangible).
56. Sleep in a castle.
57. Invest in the stock market.
58. Go whale watching
59. Go on safari
60. Milk a cow
61. Finish reading the Bible all the way through
62. Go to a Renee Fleming concert
63. Go to the Kentucky Derby
64. Be at the Macy's Thanksgiving day Parade in person.
65. Live car-less for a month
66. Take an Alaskan cruise
67. See a Broadway show in New York
68. Make my own pasta.
69. Eat snails
70. Donate my hair to Locks of Love
71. Try being a vegetarian for 30 days.
72. Fly first class.
73. Drive a tractor.
74. Learn to play the harp
75. Be able to do 50 normal push-ups
76. Get a tattoo
77. Be debt free
78. Build a giant snow man
79. Find/buy a great garage sale deal. (ex. awesome leather chair for $20 bucks.)
80. Pay respects to my grandparents at their graves
81. Learn my heritage (I know i'm Scott-Irish and part english, but I would love to know specifics.)
82. ...
83. ...

Okay... i'll stop at the nice round number of 81 for now.

I was doing some bucket list research and found this website which allows people to enter their goals and resolutions from around the world. It's quite fun to view goals by region to see what people in different cities want to do with their lives. Do you wanna know what the top three items were in nearly every city from New York and London, Shanghai and Istanbul, to Cleveland and Winnipeg?

  1. Fall in love. 
  2. Lose weight. 
  3. Stop procrastinating.  

I think that's profound. We all desire the security and passion of love. We all want to be happy and healthy in our bodies. And we all want to get our lazy asses off the couch to do something about it. The hardest part is taking the first step.

I'm lucky my birthday somewhat coincides with the end of the year and the start of a new one. It's easy to measure what happened since my last birthday and easy to set lofty goals for the new year. I genuinely yearn to be a person who sucks the marrow out of life. I don't want another year to go by with only 1.75 of my bucket items to be crossed off my list. I desire to live life to the fullest and I legitimately plan to complete at least 4 or 5 of my goals in my 26th year. Step by step. Day by day. It will get done.

What are your 2011 Goals? What's on your bucket list?


Christmas Traditions

By far one of my favorite times of year is the Holiday season. Christmas is right up there next to Fall with the changing of the leaves and all their crispy glory. Along with this time of year comes family traditions. The Ewings (my family) are dedicated to our traditions and many of my fondest memories from childhood come from these annual rituals.

Apple pie and fudge filling our house with aromas which must be equal to those that are in heaven. Toffee, snowball cookies and spiced pecans fill christmas tins to deliver to neighbors during caroling. The set: Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I always shoved my way to the front of the crowed to hand over the tin of goodies and sing harmony loudly so all could hear.

Lugging 20 boxes of christmas decor out of the basement to dress the house in candles, wreathes, and the prefect real douglas fir - either freshly cut or hand picked from Andersons. Our new plan was then adorned in a very particular order: lights, ornaments, bows, candy canes, and then tinsel.

Carefully picking where each bulb would hang and racing to be the sister who found the smallest ornament among the boxes and getting to hang it way up near the top for all to see.

Placing ornate stockings above the fire place and helping mom get the mantle design just right. Santa sticks on the right, red bulbs on the left.

The first snow. Bundeling up to the point of immobility and then sledding behind the church with friends. Freezing our hineys off and doing things that were way to dangerous for 11 and 12 year olds to be doing unsupervised. By the end of it our faces and feet were always freezing and our little bodies were always sweating from running up and down the snow covered hill.

Going to be awed by the Columbus Zoo lights while at the same time be frozen half to death by mother nature.

Getting our pictures taken with Santa.

Me in the Mickey shirt. Cynthia in the leotard. Yes...my father let us dress ourselves that year.
Even begrudgingly when in High School.

December 24th eating out at Chilis (because it's the only pace open) with extended family after the Christmas eve service. I can still picture the first year we did this when EVERYONE, even Nick who has basically been on tour in Iraq for the last...well forever christmases, was there. This meal is one of those memories that's branded in my mind. So much love and happiness. And what would a Ewing-Oney-Taylor get together be like if there wasn't obnoxious amounts of excessively loud talking and laughter!

Heading home after Chilis to read the Christmas Story from the Bible (the Luke version) and then Grandpapa (or mom, in recent years) reading "The Night Before Christmas."

Setting out the cookies, milk, carrot sticks, and note for Santa and his reindeer and then being shooed "up the golden stairs!" to bed, but really anxiously staying away and giggling away the hours with sisters.

Waking early on Christmas morning to the smell of coffee, sticky buns, and sausage casserole in the kitchen.
It's ok to drool.

Tearing into the stocking to see what Santa brought and preparing for the rest of the day's festivities of eating a meal that is literally the same as thanksgiving, movie watching, puzzle doing, guitar jamming, and game playing.

Now that I'm all grown up, married, and living in Nashville - it's got me thinking about starting some new traditions with my new family. Still holding on  to the cherished ones from child hood, but coming up with new ones to pass on to our children some day. here are a few I've got rolling around in my head:
  • Having a weekly advent reading, candle lighting and meal at home each week between Thanksgiving and New Years. Perhaps with themed meals that carry on as well like build your own pizza night, pork roast and potatoes,  etc. ect. 
  • Sushi on Christmas Eve
  • Giving money to a random stranger
  • Looking at the lights at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel
  • Having a small kids-only tree that they get to decorate however they want
  • Going to the Franklin Parade and Dickens of a Christmas festival.
I would love some more ideas on this. What are your traditions from childhood? Have they changed or have you added new ones now that you're an adult?


France - Days 5 and 6

Day 5 - Monday, October 4
On Monday we woke up super early (6am) to head to Beaune.  I wore my new brown hippie dress that I purchased in Interlaken and we caught a bus while it was still dark out to make it to the train station in time. Nate wanted to encourage Josh in speaking French and nudged him towards buying the tickets for our bus ride. He counted out the proper amount of Euros and coached him to say “Deux billet, si-vou plait” (two tickets, please) to the driver when he got on. Turns out the price per ticket had gone up and josh didn’t have the right amount pre counted out. It got all awkward and funny with about 50 French people watching us bumble about at the front of the train with our giant packs and non-French speaking-selves. 

The train station was PACKED for so early in the morning on a Monday. We assumed a lot of the traffic was due to students returning from a weekend excursion trying to make it to class on time Monday morning. 
We purchased tickets (with a bonus discount because we still fell into the 25 and under category!) and jumped on the train.

With one stop in Lyon we grabbed a quick espresso and pan au chocolate on our layover and then went on to Beaune. The second part of the trip was about 3 hours and Ayla entertained us with some adorable singing and general sweetness.

Our hotel in Beaune was a historic looking chateau directly across from the train station. It was so quaint and cozy inside. Our shared room was on the top floor and inside the room we found that it had two levels inside. (Upstairs 3 twin beds and a few windows overlooking the red roof tops and downstairs a double bed, TV and bathroom). The furnishings weren’t fancy, but it had such a feeling of home and comfort that we were cool with it.

Once we dropped our bags off we decided it was time to explore and grab lunch! We roamed a few sparsely populated streets taking pictures for a while.

Then we stumbled upon a bustling café , and in true Michael style, we decided the restaurant based on the amount of people already there. Gobs of people = Awesome Restaurant. This restaurant was no exception. We ended up being seated in the back room next to a HUGE group of very loud and rude Asian tourist and another group of lunching French women.  

Here is where we had some of our favorite food of the entire trip. Josh ordered croaque madame (Ham and cheese with egg) and I ordered Beof Borgunione with a diet coke served in the fancy glass bottle.

After lunch I had my awkward moment with a French Woman and then Josh and I dropped a LOAD of money at one of the local wine stores. Totally taken in by her “Our whites in this region are the best around” schpeel after already committing to 3 reds.

Then we went on to do the most touristy thing we had done yet – a wine cellar tasting. We paid 10 Euro and got to visit the cellars under the streets of Beaune and tasted 17 different wines! Nate and Jo had a conversation in French with a semi-toothless portly Sommelier in which I’m pretty sure he insulted all Americans. Regardless - this was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip to France.
Those numbers = the wine's vintage! Crazy!

Before leaving, we of course had to buy some more wine and maybe a few Christmas presents (thank goodness for Ayla’s stroller carrying all of our goodies!) When we left the celler it was cold and POURING Rain outside! (So much for the weather.com 70 and sunny prediction) We got soaked sprinting to a nearby awning to decide what to do next. Baguettes and espresso were in order to warm us up! 

Afterwards, we were faced with the hard decision of walking back in the rain about 10 mins to our hotel to drop off our stuff before dinner or waiting around in the downtown area for 3 hours till we were hungry enough to eat. (I don’t know why there wasn’t an option number 3 of waiting for the rain to STOP and then walking back…but I digress)

Let’s just said 10 mins later my mood was more than sour as we got back to the hotel. I was cold. I was tired. I was sopping wet. I was first back to the room and didn’t have a key so I just had to stand in the hallway waiting for everyone. I had ruined my cute brown dress and realzed that because it was just one night, I packed light and didn’t have a reasonable change of clothes…ARGH! The more upset I got about the situation, the more upset I got at myself because I was in France and ruining everything with my crappy attitude! It was an endless downward spiral to the pit of cranky despair. 

When the door was finally opened I huffed to the upstairs stripped out of my cold clothes and put on some warm PJs and laid  on the bed listening to the rain beat the hell out of the roof top.  Josh came and snuggled with me on the tiny twin bed and we dozed off to the storm. It was quite a poetic moment of morose comfort.

The remainder of the afternoon we killed time in the hotel room looking out the window at the rain, reading, Watching TV and speaking in hushed towns while Ayla took a nap. 

The rain died down and we headed off to dinner around 7 and went straight down to the heart of town to see what types of restaurants there were. 

Most of the patios and restaurants were empty because French people don’t dine until 8 or 9, so we were out there with the other tourists and the old people. There was a strip of 5 restaurants in a row off the main circle and I was entranced by one that had bright white Christmas lights strung all around it’s entrance. 

The place was empty save for a petite blonde woman standing behind the bar. Joanna asked for a table and we plopped down at one of the many open spaces. I’m not going to linger to much more on our experience here because, let’s just say the twinkle lights outside were the only good thing about this place. My Pasta was bland, Jo’s Beouf Borgion was burnt and Josh’s pizza was only saved by the fact that he ordered it with two fried eggs on top. (Yup, eggs on pizza.) 

Josh and I left a bit early to grab a bit of dessert at one of the other cafes in hopes that their food would be better.

We thought splitting a nutella waffle would be good. We both pictured a big waffle covered in warm nutella and possibly topped with whipped cream. What we got was 2 (not one to split, as I had ordered…I think she was confused) plain Belgian waffles with a small packet of nutella each. Lame-a-tron. 

(Side bar: Sorry to complain so much, but the last part of our first day in Beaune was probably my least favorite part of the trip. This is in stark comparison to the first part of our day in Beaune being my some of my favorite memories!)

Back at the hotel was also much better as Joanna and I read through the welcome book left on the night stand and made fun of their poor English and the fact that they offered babysitting services. (never heard of that at a hotel before!) Then Josh and I giggled like children till about 3 am trying to see who could unroll the toilet paper on the iTouch game fastest. Good times.

Day 6 - Tuesday, October 5
Nate, Jo and Ayla headed out early on Tuesday because they needed to get back to Chambery for a Doctor’s appointment. We grabbed a few pastries with them before they left and promptly went back to bed till about 10 am due to our late night of crazy game competitions. 

Around 11 we headed out to wander the (again cold) streets of Beaune some more. We found several new areas that we hadn’t explored and looked a few shops till they closed down for lunch (yup…shops close during lunch time).

Josh came to his hunger/shopping breaking point when I was paroozing some jewelry and we quickly found a nearby restaurant with a good lunch Menu (not the thing listed with all the options, but French restaurants often offer Menus which are basically the daily special that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Kinda like the Chilis 2 for 20 deals…except more sophisticated and awesome)

I ordered pizza and josh ordered the menu which included chicken, noodles, mushrooms and cream sauce. Kinda like a marsala, but not really. We grabbed a couple of dessert pastries on the way back to the train station and then jumped on the train around 1:45.

The trip back was uneventful aside from us taking these really "cool" photos holding a bottle of wine that was older than both of us a gypsy asking us for food during the layover in Lyon.

Back in Chambery we stopped by yet again another boulangarie to grab a baguette to go with dinner. The woman tried to speak English to us and told us the total was nineteen fifty…even though we knew she really meant ninety-five cents. 

That evening Nate and Joe made an awesome Lardon and goat cheese quiche with salad for dinner. We stayed up late talking and playing Euchre.

It was so good to be back around them.  They have seen both Josh and I at our worst and still seem to always love and forgive us. They were a friendly warm welcome after our cold cranky days in Beaune. They really are life-long friends, that just so happen to be related to us. 



Dear Willow,

Does the ground really smell that different than it did this morning? Please find a place to "go" soon, it's beeping cold out here.



Willow vs. The Christmas Tree

We decorated the house this week.
Please ignore the mangled piglett toy laying lifeless at my feet and focus on the tree and all it's glittery beauty.

We found a sweet little douglas fir tree at Lowes, had the guy strap it on our roof and then went through the drive through at Chick-Fil-A to pick up some peppermint-chocolate shakes. (Josh had a bit of trouble swallowing the chunks in the shake and felt the need to chew every bit of peppermint that made it's way though his straw).

Willow was a bit scared of the tree at first and she went into a fit of barking and whining as though someone had kicked her when she discovered it strapped on top of our car. Once the initial shock wore off I think she began to remember her wayward ways of the Christmas of 2009 when she repeatedly attacked the tree and destroyed everything on the bottom 3rd of our tree by December 19. She determined that lights, tinsel, and all of our precious wooden and glass ornaments were demolished in her fluffy little fangs.

This year, I consciously placed mostly plastic/unbreakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree. A mere 2 mins after the tree was complete I spied on willow as she snuck up on a stuffed snowman hanging on the bottom of the tree. She sniffed it quizzically, became startled by something she saw/smelled and jumped backward for a half a second and then promptly recovered from the scare and ripped the little stuffed mann of snow off the tree and ran for the couch.
The victim.
"NAHHH!" I yelled, scaring her and my unsuspecting husband, Josh, half to death.

She dropped the snowman and sheepishly looked my way. "No, no, Willow. No!" I sternly said grabbing the snowman and placing him back on the tree in the exact same spot. Pointy carrot nose, striped scarf, and beady eyes taunting her, once again.

I know she will rip it off the tree many times before Dec. 25th comes around, but I figure it's good bait to keep her away from the light chords and tinsel. To a dog, tinsel always seems like a good idea to eat, but we all know how that story ends...and no body wants to spend their christmas holiday pulling something sparkly out of a dogs booty.

Regardless, we haven't had any incidents since the above mentions, so perhaps my little puppy has matured. Also, I think our house looks winter wonderland fabulous. Hopefully I didn't go overboard on the christmas garland.
That funky wavy thing on the wall is a reflection off my funky wavy mirrors on the wall to the left.

Our aweseome(ly hard) puzzle.

Are your trees up and decorated? Do you all do a real or a fake tree? Any animal/tree troubles elsewhere in the world?
Merry Christmas!



I get mad at people for texting and driving because of a horribly graphic UK PSA video I saw about it, but when i'm driving alone, I do it all the time.

Josh and I easily can go through 36 eggs in one week.

I started listening to Christmas music November 8th.

I want to work from home someday to see if I have the motivation and the focus to not wander off and take a nap every 10 mins.

I kinda want to run a 1/2 marathon again, but i miserably failed at training for my 5K on Oct. 30 so i'm too scared to sign up. Walk/jogging 13.1 miles is a lot harder than walk/jogging 3.1

Sometimes I sit down to read my Bible at lunch and end up watching "Let's Make a Deal" instead.

I don't understand bloggers who are all gushy and lovey about their husbands all the time. It makes me feel like i'm a bad wife.Don't get me wrong, I love Josh, but i'm not the swoony type i guess.

I read all the Twilight books and loved every minute of them. 

If I ever got a cat I would name him Junior. (get it, Kat junior?!)

Most people get up for Black Friday shopping so they can get good deals on gifts for their loved ones. I end up buying stuff for myself every time.

I work in the ag industry and can barely tell the difference between a tractor and a combine.

One of my favorite meals in the whole world is Chicken Scampi from Olive Garden. Not so classy, but extra tasty!

I think red heads are the best looking people. It would be hard for you to find a red head (male or female) that I didn't think was attractive in some way.

I love cooking and baking, but I don't really know how to do either in a healthy way that is still produces something tasty.

Sometimes I miss just wearing my engagement ring and kinda think my wedding band (wrap) adds too much bling.

If I could do France over again, I wouldn't spend as much time shopping and I would spend more time doing cheesy touristy things and sight seeing.

I'm discovering that when you put yourself out there with friends and get burned it's really hard to put yourself out there again.

I still haven't put up my Christmas decorations and it makes me want to cry.

Others opinions mean way to much to me.

I keep forgetting that I turn 26 in 16 days. I still feel like i'm in college and 22.


The One Where Thanksgiving Was Exactly What it Should Be

This past week I have been delinquently MIA from pretty much all computer activity. This was not necessarily on purpose, but my life evolved into a tech-free zone with family visiting, babies arriving, and much merriment to be had around the national stuff-your-face-holiday, Thanksgiving.

My parents and littlest sister, Emily, rushed into town the Friday before Thanksgiving because my most adorable and all-things-sweet-and-cute niece was on her way! They arrived around 9:00 pm and we all promptly visited Starbucks to pump our bodies full of caffeinated peppermint mochas and egg nog lattes for the long night ahead of us.

As it turns out Cynthia, my eldest sister in labor at the time, needed some rest so everyone but my mom and JP (Cynthia's fiance) headed home around 11:45 expecting a middle of the night phone call we all hit the sack.

By the next morning it was apparent that the labor wasn't progressing as we all had hoped and Cynthia was exhausted. At noon on November 20th, they decided to go ahead with a c-section to get little Annalee out of there and into the bright world of love that awaited her. Now...here is where I feel like a crap Aunt.

I had a hair appointment at noon. I had scheduled this several months in advance and desperately needed some work done AND thought I could be back in time for a first look at Annalee with JP through the glass after the c-section. Turns out c-sections take like 30 mins and I missed out on those very precious moments first glimpses through the nursery viewing window for cell phone pictures, oo's and ahh's, and tears.

I missed it. and I really really regret it...However, luckily I didn't miss out on the first no-glass meet and greet with the little one. And like I mentioned here she is perfect. And has such a sweet temperament. And I could hold her all day every day and never get sick of it. And just talking about her makes my heart hurt a little bit because of how much I miss her right now.

The next few days after Annalee's arrival were a blur of hospital visits, big moves from hospital to home, adjustments for my sister, adjustments for the baby, etc, etc. (everyone is doing very nicely now - BTW)

Before I knew it Thanksgiving eve was upon us and mom and I did one really serious shopping trip to fill 1.25 carts full of enough food to feed an army and then went home for approximately 5.75 hours of pie baking (I made 1 killer apple pie, and 1 pumpkin pie all by myself!) and food prep for the big day. It was painfully obvious how out of shape I am because just standing for that long made my legs hurt....Oy Vey!

Thanksgiving day was exactly as it should be. I woke up, and because of urging from Emily and because I wanted to enjoy the day guilt free, we went for a run. Didn't get far (maybe 1.25 miles) but nearly died and definitely burned some calories. I crashed in front of the couch and zoned out at the giant commercial we call entertainment, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then showered and started cooking around 11:30.

Making a big meal is somewhat like being a conductor of a professional orchestra or maybe a bomb defusing specialist. The timing has to be exactly right or everything will fall apart and you will lose your patrons/ everything will explode and your patrons will die.

Thus - much team work was needed between all people involved. Mom and I made all the side dishes (corn pudding, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn - Hello starchville!) Dad manned the gravy, 22 lb turkey, and excessive-but-necessary chex mix and Emily may or may not have burnt the rolls, but we got everything to the table in time for a feast that probably would have been enough food for 20. We still have quite a few leftovers in our fridge.

after the meal i promptly passed out on the couch from a tryptophan hangover and didn't wake up till it was dark outside and my tummy notified me it was time for something a bit sweet. (apple pie!!!)

Literally, the remainder of the weekend I think the girls did was one of 5 things:

  1. Watch movies - mostly of the Christmas genre, but we may or may not have watch Boondock Saints and Elf back to back.
  2. Eat - Leftovers, pizza, sausage casserole Friday morning, more left overs, more pizza. It was glorious.
  3. Drink Coffee - my family knows how to put away coffee like a bear preparing for hibernation knows how to put away...whatever bears eat (berries? bunnies? humans?) Probably should have thought of a better analogy that I actually knew the second part to...
  4. Puzzles - We did one and a half 1,000 piece puzzles while my family was here. They left me with the hard half of a very hard puzzle to finish on my own and I realized last night that every time I closed my eyes before bed I could not stop picturing puzzle pieces! 
  5. Stare at Annalee - We are staring at her like willow does at the food on a visitors plate. 

The remainder of the week the guys did one of 2 things:
  1. Fix Stuff: Our house is old. it's falling apart. they fixed our kitchen sink (which broke again after Josh fixed it 3 months ago), Our refrigerator (which might still be broken) our bathroom's leaky valves (which ended up being a much bigger ordeal than anyone anticipated including tearing tiles off the walls, not being able to find matching tiles, grout and dirt everywhere, and so on, and so on). I'm so thankful for this being done, though! I think it will save money on our water/heating bill in the future. Thanks Josh and Dad!
  2. Watch sports: Notre Dame game, Florida game, OSU dominating Michigan game, Predators hockey game. 
Wish I would have gotten more sleep during the break, but it was so good to be with family. I got to spend some quality time with my sister Emily and my mom. I'm quite thankful that I will get to see all of them (plus rebecca - my 3rd sister) again very soon.

And one more for the road....just because.


Annalee Grace

Behold. A precious baby has arrived.

My new niece, Annalee Grace, made her grand debut on Saturday, November 20th at 12:15 pm. She is 8 lbs and 20 inches long of squishy cuteness. As most babies are in their first few days, Annalee mostly sleeps, eats, and poops at this point, but she has completely captured the hearts of our entire family.

Proud Papa.
Giant hand uncle.

Doting Nana.
Facebook pictures, updates, and comments have been ringing through the digital airwaves for the past 48 hours and I'm pretty sure everyone other than our family is getting sick of it, but we don't care. We think she is impossible to get sick of and is most definitely something to write home, er...tweet about. So we post pictures of her getting her first foot massage.

We post pictures of her getting her first diaper changed.

We post pictures of her wearing an Ohio State buckeye hat.

A fan from birth.
We post picture of precious little sleeping face and we all oooo and ahhh at her every face scrunch, yawn, and sneeze. She sure knows how to perform for an audience of on lookers only 3 days in.

I'm so happy to be an aunt again. It's especially exciting having this baby come from my older sister and living so close to us. I feel very lucky to get to be a big part of her life in these next few years to come.