Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

I'm going to attempt to recap the year in one blog post.  Wish me luck!

In January, Caleb turned two and we celebrated with a cars/trucks party.  We had lots of fun playing and even ate a fun bulldozer cake that Julie made!  Matt went to Snow Camp with the youth group for a long weekend and just about froze to death.  They liked it so much that they're going back this year!

February and March brought more youth group ski trips for Matt and lots of snow!  In fact, we had a really late, unexpected snow storm in March that kept us out of school for several days.  It was a nice break, even if we did have to make it up at the end of the year!  Caleb didn't overly enjoy the snow, so he basically chose the cry the entire time while we required him to have fun.

On April 3rd, Matt and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  Matt's schedule forced us to wait until May to go away for the weekend, but we had a great time in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  Our innkeepers were really sweet and very hospitable, but there wasn't a lot to do around in the area!  We did head over to Williamsburg to check out the shops and such.  It was a fun little trip.

June marked the end of the school year and the beginning of Matt's summer trips.  His first one was on a mission's trip to Northern Maine.  They were just 100 yards from Canada and even picked up Canadian phone signals.  This made it difficult for Matt to call Julie at all and with very limited internet access, it made for a loooong week for both of them.  Julie passed the days away at our local beach with Caleb where he was content to play in the sand for several hours at a time--as long as he didn't have to sit in the sand!

July was chocked full of events:  Matt turned 31 on the 12th, we all spent a week helping out at Vacation Bible School at church, Matt headed to Pittsburg for Momentum for a week, and our little family went to Lancaster, PA for an awesome week of fun!  We took Caleb to Dutch Wonderland, which he absolutely loved.  Our "home" for the week was a working dairy farm that was tons of fun.  The highlight of the trip was when Caleb got to bottle feed a tiny calf that he named Lucy Long-Tongue.  It was a great week of memories.

In August, Matt had a week of Absolutely Awesome, which is kind of like VBS for middle schoolers.  Julie tried to cram as much fun into the last few weeks of summer as possible, and she planned a trip to Baltimore to ride the Ducks and go to an Orioles game.  Caleb had won free tickets at the library, and one of the available dates worked perfectly with the trip Julie had already had in the works!  The Ducks were a lot of fun and Caleb was amazed that this boat/bus could ride on land and water.

September meant getting back into a routine.  Caleb was with Matt on Mondays, Mommom on Tuesdays, and Amy on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Fridays were spent at Mom's Morning Out, which is a preschool program at our church.  He thoroughly enjoys it and loves his teachers.  He has learned the Pledge of Allegiance and we are enjoying his stories about school.

October and November were marked with some medical concerns for Caleb.  We were concerned about an intestinal polyp, so he had a colonoscopy done at Johns Hopkins.  The colonoscopy came back fine and we were incredibly impressed with the care Caleb received at JH.  The people there were wonderful and we would highly recommend the hospital to anyone!!  We also had Thanksgiving at our house this year and were able to focus on thankfulness in a new way with Caleb's health fresh on our minds.

December's magic was even more fun this year now that Caleb has an understanding of Santa and Christmas.  We have worked hard to balance the true meaning of Christmas with the fun of Santa Claus and his reindeer.  Caleb received a tractor for Christmas and was incredibly excited about his new toy. 

That brings us to today--the last day of 2009.  It's been a good, full year of memories made with a wonderfully sweet 2 year old.  We're hoping that 2010 will give us new opportunities to love others.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday!

*  I most certainly didn't give my child a lollipop to pacify him when he was distraught over getting a new "big" bed and losing his toddler bed.  I teach my child that disappointment is a fact of life and would never give him a treat to distract him while I took the toddler bed out of his room.

*  In all of the craziness of the holidays, I didn't forget about a 9 a.m. chiropractor's appointment this morning.  I always write my appointments down!

*  Matt didn't tell Caleb that he would get a lollipop if he was good for the dentist.  He didn't suggest to Caleb that the dentist might give him said lollipop for a treat!  Matt certainly realizes that the dentist wouldn't give sugary treats to his patients!

*  When Caleb realized that he had to pedal his new tractor that Santa brought him, he didn't say that he wanted Santa to take it back and bring him a tractor that he didn't have to pedal.  When he saw the box downstairs that Matt hadn't thrown away yet, Caleb didn't exclaim, "Santa brought me another tractor!!"  (Side note:  Caleb is getting used to the pedaling and does like his tractor now!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Reflections

Tonight is Christmas Eve.  All of the presents are wrapped and put under the tree, Caleb's big presents have been set up, the songs have been sung, the boy is asleep, and I am here taking a quiet moment to write a thoughtful blog post while Matt is stil at church.  All is well....except...

...Except that it could be really easy for my thoughts to revert back to an issue that struggles to consume me at times.  That's not what Christmas is about.  In case you haven't heard, it's supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, who was sent here to save us from our sins!  SO, tonight I am choosing to be thankful for everything I do have instead of lamenting over what I don't.  Here goes:

I am incredibly thankful for the gift God gave me just 2 weeks after Christmas 3 years ago.  That little boy gives me more joy than I could have imagined possible.  I love him with every ounce of my being---as is proven by the tears streaming down my face right now!  His laugh lights up my day and he can make me smile like no one else can.

Naturally, I am also thankful for Matt.  (Without him, I couldn't have had Caleb!)  Just kidding!  :)  Seriously though, he is a wonderful husband and father and is always there when I need him.  Most importantly, he puts up with my moods and always apologizes--sometimes without knowing what he did wrong--sometimes without doing anything wrong at all!  He knows me better than anymore.

My family is amazing.  I have grown to love and appreciate them in a new way since Matt and I became parents.  I realize now how much they must have worried about me and how the way they responded to certain situations (like not letting me go to the mall to sing with the choir in middle school without a chaperone!) were just because they loved me and were concerned about my well-being.  They say a parent's love has no bounds, and I'm glad I can reflect on the truthfulness of that statement in my own life.

I am thankful that we are all relatively healthy.  Caleb gave us a scare a few months ago, but God answered prayers and the tests came back clean.  My cousin's son, Jacob, is battling a brain tumor and is currently undergoing radiation therapy in Boston.  They are celebrating Christmas a long way from home, but things are looking good for "our Jacob," as Caleb refers to him!

Along with that, I'm grateful for good insurance!  Say what you want about our public school system, but they definitely do offer us fantastic benefits.  Caleb's bills from Johns Hopkins would have cost us close to $10,000 without insurance.  We paid a mere $70 total in specialties fees and copays. 

Lastly, in this economy, I am thankful that Matt and I both have stable jobs.  While yes, the system is trying to make cut-backs to the budget, the truth is that I will have a teaching job for as long as I want it!  I know so many children whose parents have lost their jobs or aren't getting much work right now, and I can't imagine the stress that might put on a family.

I hope that you will join me in focusing on the thankfulness of the season instead of the I wants and I don't haves that we are all so prone to.

With that...

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

Christmas Lights Award Winners!

The highly anticipated results of our Christmas lights prizes:

Well....this was the first year that our picks for BOTH most creative and prettiest weren't home!! We didn't want to leave the award on the door step without explanation, so we went to our second choice house for most creative--on Calvert Blvd.

Then, we went to the second choice for prettiest--not there.

We went to the third choice--not there.

We finally went to our fourth choice and someone came to the door! This house was in King's Creek II and was very tasteful with a cross on the top...just not actually the prettiest. However, his reaction was totally worth it. This guy--named Harry Trueman, I might add---was so ridiculously excited! He couldn't wait to tell his wife and daughter when they got home. It was really cute, and we never let on that he was actually our 4th choice! :)

Our actual first choice for prettiest was in Cherry Lane Farms off of Maraschino.  The first choice for most creative was on Avenue C and totally deserving of the title.  You should definitely check it out!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Smells

I love the smells of Christmas!  Here are some of my favorites:

*  The spicy candles
*  Gingerbread cookies
*  Bread
*  The smell of the air when it snows

What are yours???

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Remember that time we brought snow inside the house?

I'm pretty sure that will be a question I'll have in the future, because I'm thinking we created a memory today. 

We're having a ridiculously big snow storm (blizzard, actually--it's official!) that is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.  It started around 8 p.m. last night and has snowed continuously all day.  The weather is saying it won't end until tomorrow morning...craziness!

Anyway, it's way too windy and deep to go outside and play.  Plus, Caleb hates snow.  Feel free to admire these pitiful shots taken during last year's snow storm!

Since we couldn't go out in the snow, I brought the snow in to us. When I first asked Caleb if he wanted to build a snowman, his instant reply was, "NO!"  Then I told him I'd bring snow inside, and his reaction was, "But Momma, it's going to make the house a mess!"  I assured him that I would keep it neat!

I got a bucket and filled it with snow off of our porch, then laid down some towels in the kitchen and let the boy go to town.  We built a snowman, and then he played for a really long time just like he would in a sand box.  The boy was in heaven...he got to build a snowman and stay warm!

We did a few science experiments too (gotta keep it educational!).  We put snow in a cup to see what would happen to it (It melted!  Amazing!)  Then we poured it out into the snow and it created a small hole in the hole. I then suggested we try to see what would happen if we poured hot water out into the created a big hole!!  I love the wonderment of a 2 year old.  Everything is just so amazing to him.  :)

So, let it snow...inside and out!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Size XL

It's amazing how one $7 size XL black coat can make such a difference in a little boy's day.

I noticed that one of my students was coming to school without a coat.  When I asked him about it, he said the only one he has was his grandfather's and it hangs down past his knees.  Having had all three of his sisters, I am familiar with this family's circumstances and knew they couldn't afford to buy him one.

At Walmart that night, I stopped in the boy's clothing section and noticed that some of their coats were on clearance.  For $7, I picked up an XL black coat that I knew would keep him warm.

The next day, I pulled him aside and asked if he would like to have it.  The glimmer in that boy's eyes said it all, and he nodded.  I handed it to him and said that it was his!

Well, did this boy have a fabulous day!  He did all of his work, participated in class, and even did his homework for one of the few times this quarter!  In fact, he didn't have a piece of paper so he wrote the work on the inside of his folder!  I let him sign the Pride Inside Backpack for showing such responsibility, and he got almost all of his points on his daily chart that day.

That afternoon, he went to visit his mentor (another teacher).  He showed her his coat and said, "When Mrs. Leach gave me this coat, I told myself I was going to have the best day ever!" 

...and he did!

I love those warm-your-heart kind of days, don't you? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ba, ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, ba, ba-ba....

....I wanna be sedated!

That's pretty much how I'm feeling this week because it's just a tad bit crazy here right now.  However, I am maintaining control--for the most part--and trying to manage my time wisely to keep from going over the edge.  So...that doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging. 

I will tell you that Caleb had a fabulous time at Dutch Wonderland with the love of his life.  They held hands pretty much whenever they were in the car, shared toys very nicely, and even had a pretend tea party at the farm house!  It was all very cute!!

I promise, there are many pictures to come....let's just say that I forgot to turn off Sports Mode!  I just need to get through this weekend and I'll load them.  Until then, enjoy this quick story:

We went to visit "our" calves that we fed over the summer.  We knew the numbers and found them fairly quickly.  The one we named Lucy Long-Tongue reached out its loooooong tongue to lick Caleb's hand.  He delightful squealed, "She remembers me!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heading to Amish Country!

Tomorrow, we'll be heading up to Lancaster for the weekend with our friends Jenn and Steven...and Caleb's girlfriend Emma! 

We're going to Dutch Wonderland for their Winter Wonderland activities, AND we're staying at the same fabulous farm we were at this summer!  Caleb is beyond excited to show the love of his life the farm and amusement park.

So, we're off to spend some quality time with our son's future in-laws!  I'm definitely going to need to take some frame-worthy pictures of the two of them for the wedding table!  :)


Tonight, I was giving Becky her pill and told her to sit.  Matt was washing a pan and asked me what I said.  Naturally, I replied, "I said sit."

So what does my husband do?

He sits, of course.

He walks to the kitchen table, pulls out the chair, and sits.

When I just kind of look at him, his next statement is, "Now what?"

And he had no idea why I was laughing.

Poor guy!

But I got a good laugh out of it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Festival of Trees and Homestead Gardens

We went to Homestead Gardens the day after Thanksgiving to see the big train display that they do each year.  The decorations are all really nice and Caleb loved looking at the train.  His favorite was the "chocolate train" (the Hershey's train). 

The Hospice Festival of Trees was that weekend as well, so we headed there on Saturday with Amy, Owen, and Sara.  We got some nice pictures of the three of them in their Christmas outfits and a few cute ones of Caleb as well.

While walking around the craft show at the Festival of Trees, Caleb spotted Santa all lonesome sitting in his chair.  He gasped and exclaimed, "Santa!"  After we asked if he would like to sit on his lap and tell him what Caleb wanted for Christmas, he ran and jumped on his lap with barely any hesitation!  What did he tell old Santa he wanted?  The Handy Manny work bench and a tractor, of course!