Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 in 2010

So, for the Grand Finale of 2010, I came up with my top ten top-ten-and-then-some memories for the year!  Won't you join me for this jaunt down Memory Lane?

1. In January, we said our final goodbyes to a most amazing Grandmother, Evelyn Annie Hansen Shaw.  Although her passing is not actually a good memory for me, remembering her is good.  Remembering her is honoring her.  I think about her all the time and though I miss her, I think of all the good times and all the wonderful stories and that is why this made my top ten memories for the year.

2.   In February, we had the largest snowfall to hit the Charleston area in many, many years!  It was white and it was cold, but it was amazing to see the kids in it!  This isn't something these kids get to see every year.  As a matter of fact, it was Isabel's first memory of snow because the last time they saw snow, we drove three hours to get to it and she was only 6 months old! 

3.   We also had an absolute blast hosting our first ever Chinese New Year party last February!  We hope to make this an annual tradition because the kids and I had so much fun prepping for the party.  We made almost all the decorations, took a trip to a local Chinese Market for some goodies and researched a ton.  In the end, there were about 20 kids jammed into our house cooking, reading, crafting and learning all sorts of things about CNY!  It was a total blast and a top memory!

4.    In March, we celebrated our first ever Pi Day.  This lesser known holiday turned out to be quite the fun fest!  Okay, really it was just all about the pie for me.  My sister and her family are total geeks and I really don't get it, but what I do get is pie!  But, I love that we spent time with my sister and her geeky family doing something they enjoyed and laughing our hineys off!  It probably hit the memory top ten top-ten-and-then-some list because Pi Day happened to fall during a particularly low point.  I was in town because my mom had been hopitalized.....again.....and I was afraid not to be in town, you know what I mean.  So Pi Day?  Rocked!

5.    In April and May, Claire showed the world what she's made of!  She played her first team sport on an Upward soccer team and loved every minute of it.  Well, she loved most of it.  She did notice that she's not the fastest runner on the field.  But, that's okay.  She kept going and you couldn't help but think that this was only possible because none of us, Claire included, would listen to the doctors that said she couldn't!

6.   In June, we locked the file of the cutest three year old in the world!  I'm not biased at all either.  two years after bringing Claire home, we couldn't deny it anymore.  Our hearts are broken for the children who wait and this one will not be waiting much longer! 

7.    We also traveled to St. Louis, as usual, to see Claire's doctor.  What was unusual about it was that three other families met up with us.  Three families from Claire's China travel group.  Three amazing families that we LOVE to spend time with!  And some really great memories were made! 

8.    We also spent one week in Tennesee with the Gulkes and the Caudills, working on the Caudill's home.  I know that might not sound like a lot of fun, but that is just because you don't know us!  That week is actually at the top of my top ten top-ten-and-then-some memories for 2010! 

9.    The whole summer is pretty much a great big wonderful memory for me!  Besides traveling and being with the Corkens, Caudills and Gulkes, Karla and Mia Gulke spent a week with us in Charleston.  We also had my Sister and her family for 4th of July, Michelle and Casey for a 4 day visit, my other sister showed up for a night at one point and various nieces and my nephew were in and out all summer long.  Oh, and don't forget one of my favorite visitors ever, Darling Daughter from Not A Significant Source!  It was crazy, but we definitely put our new Monster Van to good use over the summer!  Problem is.....I can't pick just one memory or one picture from the summer.  So, you'll have to look over the top ten top-ten-and-then-some.  Sorry.  Not really!! 

 Ahhh, family!



 And Friends!

 The three older kids swam in the City Meet for the first time in their swimming careers!

The best teenagers in the world!


And Claire showed the world yet again!  She joined the swim team too!  And the coaches were great about it.

 The epitome of summer, right here in this picture!

10.    Time in the mountains!  In October, we made two trips north.  One to NC to a borrowed cabin in the mountains and one to SC to camp with friends.  We made wonderful family and friend memories!  It was our first vacation with all the kids since Claire came home because Lizzie joined us for the cabin trip and the first time we'd ever been apple pickin'!  Our annual camping trip is always a blast and this year was no exception!

AND THE NUMBER ONE BEST MEMORY OF 2010 IS THANKSGIVING!  I know!  I'm a total Christmas junky.  And Christmas was great and all.  But, this year?  Thanksgiving won, hands down.  Having my entire family come to us in Charleston.  Decorating, cooking, eating, cleaning, hugging, hanging.    I loved that they helped me put up my tree.  I loved that my sisters hung out at Chuck E Cheese with me and endured that torture so Claire would have a nice birthday.  I love that we all piled into my Monster Van and Dad's car and went to the county park to see the lights.  I love that we all got to eat seafood out together.  I LOVED IT ALL!  And I love the pictures.  There were so many.  I won't make you look through them all again.....I mean, after all, I just posted them on here a month ago.  But, I think this picture captures the moment and sums it up nicely! Don't you?

Crazy!  Crazy fun!

Thanks for a wonderful 2010.  May 2011 be even better!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crazy Christmas!

Christmas was crazy....but in a very good way.  We don't subscribe to the adage that kids have to wake up in their own beds on Christmas Day.  We have Paul's parents here in town and my entire family out of town, so choices have to be made.  And now that the kids are older, we let them help decide if this will be a year to travel or a year to stay home.  Last year, they chose to stay and this year, they chose to go!  So, we jumped on board the crazy train and got ourselves packed to go

We managed to get the gifts made, the presents wrapped, the van vacuumed, the dogs washed, the bags packed and the show on the road by Thursday morning!  We went to an awesome church service that evening with my sisters.  And then we celebrated with some Whos in Whoville at Mom and Dad's Christmas Eve!  Then came the big day.....

The four, just waiting patiently to get down the hall!

And, excited about what they see!

Bubble gum and a Radio Flyer tricycle top the list of favorite things for Claire!

Something she can actually petal!

She loved opening the presents. This large one ~ a kitchen from Meme and Papa.

Big bikes for the big boys too!

And a cruiser for Isabel! 

Stuffed stockings are treasured because they always hold surprises!

Slipper socks, candy and nail polish are in store for Isabel.

And the grandparents always seem to have a surplus of gifts for each grand!

Some favorites this year included a kids sewing machine for Isabel and Nerf guns for the boys!

Large Nerf guns!


Then there was lots of special time with the cousins!

Group hugs!

The happy couple.....that is not engaged, but she is wearing a ring? 
You figure it out!  I say, call it what it is.
You are either engaged or you aren't. 
You can't be engaged to be engaged....that's just silly!
That's all I'm sayin'.

 There's a lot of love in this family!

The three handsome boys in the year there will be one more!

Don't forget the grand-dogs!

And of course, there was plenty of time for horsing around!

And playing with new gifts!

Yours and....

 Everyone elses!

Aunt Jennifer.....I think you are too big for that trike!

My happy crew!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Whoville?

If you had showed up at our Christmas Eve party last night.....

You might have thought you were having Christmas in Whoville!  Because we had a couple of Whos running around our dinner. Cindy-Brooke-Lou Who and Megan-Moo-Lou-Who.  What?  You don't know those Whos?

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.

My sister....the PROUD Who mama! 

*notice that Claire is NOT pictured with the Whos?  Yeah.  That is because she is no fool.  She knew that this was too strange for words and she wasn't going anywhere near it!*