Monday, December 30, 2013

Joy to the World

We are so grateful to be able to celebrate Christ's birth this year! We are thankful for good health, good jobs, amazing families and how we are so lovingly taken care of by our Creator. We spent the 23rd at Beth and Matt's house enjoying Byrne family festivities.  J was a little overwhelmed by presents and didn't quite know how to unwrap them. But once they were unwrapped he was off and running! Our favorite gift was a hand-painted step-stool with a photo from the cover of one of J's favorite books, Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site. Matt spent a ton of time free handing this and J loves to drag it around the house. It's almost too nice to let him use it for anything besides looking at it :)

Of course trucks were the theme of this year for our little construction site guy.  Beth and Matt took JB and I out to a delicious dinner at Eurasia, and it was good to have a nice night out with them!

BB also got him a backpack and a lunch box for him to use when he goes to school next year! J will be going to pre-school two days a week at Larchmont United Methodist Preschool (LUMP) and will be sporting this seersucker monogrammed backpack from our friend's business, Short and Sweet.

Grandmom and  Pop Pop joined us in Norfolk on Tuesday afternoon for Christmas Eve service, dinner and snuggling on the couch. We enjoyed the Lessons and Carols service at church, full of traditional Christmas hymns and passages telling us about the prophesy and fulfillment of the birth of Christ.  We left singing Joy to the World, which is much different than the traditional candle-lit Silent Night recession. However, I do love leaving on a more upbeat, joyful note! Once we were back home, they read the Christmas story to Jackson and then tucked him in for a good night's rest.  

J's favorite new thing, saying "CHEESE"
Although J was up at 5:20 or so, we waited until 6am to get him per his new "Ok to Wake" light which dictates that he not get out of his crib or call to mom until 6pm. Grandmom and Pop Pop were itching to get him but restrained themselves. I went on a run at 6:30 while waiting for JB to get up. It was incredibly quiet, almost in an eery sort of way but peaceful too. I did not see a single car, person or evidence of anyone awake in the whole neighborhood.  
We lounged around in PJs, drank coffee and took our time opening gifts. J's stocking had an excavator from the dollar store in it and he was fascinated with it and refused to do much else that morning. But he did really enjoy playing with the baskets of fake food from Grandmom and Pop Pop. I have eaten many hamburgers and fruit salads in the past week and love our little chef! 
 After a much-needed nap, we went to dinner at the Speasmaker's house, with 15 people, 2 dogs and 2 cats. After a delicious meal, we played a 'whistle the tune" game in our Christmas crowns. J loved playing with Max! 

 The rain delayed one of J's gifts until the 27th, and he loved riding it in the house that cold Friday morning. We're excited to take it to the streets this week (with a helmet, of course)
look out world, it's a big boy bike
Brunch with the whole family 
We are so grateful for our loving parents who are also such great grandparents to little Jackson. 
J with his grandparents
Merry Christmas to all 

More Pre-Christmas Fun

December was certainly a fun, busy month! We didn't travel anywhere, though, so it was a relaxing type of fun. J and I enjoyed a much-needed morning play date with Ellie and Lizzy Kay (and Ally and Mary, too!). It was an awake-at-4am kinda day so we made a stop at Panera to share a breakfast sandwich which turned his mood all around. After a 10 minute power nap in the car he was ready to play with his buddies. The moms chatted over lattes and the kids destroyed (in a good way) Mary's play room. I love that my child loves my friends' kids. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends.  

 The zoo is a 3 minute drive from my gym so Jackson and I pop in most days after my morning spin class. The weather has been gorgeous, too, which is a nice treat. We are all in need of some serious sunshine after a string of cold, rainy days.  Sometimes we don't see any animals but just run around, climb walls and look at flowers. Other days, we are fascinated with snakes or turtles. I don't know what I am going to do when J wants to touch a snake. I wonder how I can not pass on my (many unfounded) fears to my little guy. Well, I'll cross that bridge later :) 
 Then, there was December 22nd, 2013. It was 80 degrees outside. So, what else do you do when it's beautiful but put on a speedo, play in the sprinkler and eat a homemade popsicle. 
 That same evening, we had planned to do a walking or driving (if it was raining) tour of the lights in our neighborhood. But, we were pleasantly surprised by the weather and took a bike tour instead! The McNabbs joined us and we had a grand time pedaling around, listening to Christmas music and listening to the kids in awe of the beautiful lights. 
 Finally, our last event leading up to Christmas was to make our first annual Byrne family ginger bread house. Beth got us a pre-assembled one from Williams Sonoma so we got to do all the fun without the laborious construction of the structure.  JB is the master gingerbread house maker so he made sure to pass all of his techniques down to little J.  I sat back and ate mint M&Ms and watched my boys do their crafty thing together. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite

First of all, I would like to say thank you to Lisa and Bonnie for my white elephant gift. 
We called this "The Year of the Rat" in the Monterey/Bolling compound and I was by far the most perturbed by the furry, long-tailed creatures both in our yard and in our walls. For the community group white elephant, they bought me a rat from IKEA (you can find everything at that store!). Andy stole the homemade peppermint bark candle that I was really excited about. I thought he was being really sweet to steal a gift for Bonnie, but little did I know that he was a plant to leave me with the rat. Per a suggestion from Mike and Blair we have named the rat, Ronaldo, to honor their red glass duck wedding gift-turned-Christmas decoration. 
Last Friday night we hosted our 4th or 5th annual Elf and Sugar Cookies night. In attendance were the Robbs, McNabbs, Gregg from up the street and a brief appearance by Lane and William from next door. We really missed the Sabins, who have been with us since the beginning and can quote the entire movie. I wish we could say that we saved some cookies for them…but they were just too good.  The kids enjoyed rolling, cutting and scooping cookies onto the trays. But not as much as they loved decorating and eating the cookies! We actually managed to watch an hour of Elf, too.
Luke is proud of his snowflake
Jackson did so well this year! 
Katie ponders what to do next
Evan, 1 year old, getting started with cookies early in life
M&Ms, sprinkles, icing…yum

The Robbs
Our little cookie monster

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tis the Season to be Jolly

It has been so fun to have a two year old this Christmas. It makes us really focus on the importance of Christmas, and conveying that message to Jackson so he hears it. But, when we are not sharing the Christmas story with him, we are out having fun and enjoying all the joy this season brings! 

We started our holidays with the Grand Illumination in Norfolk. The McNabbs having been going for years and J and I tagged along while Jonathan was working.  We rode the Tide (Norfolk's metro) into downtown which was a treat for little J man. He would have been happy if that was all we did that night! We set up for a picnic and hot chocolate on Waterside drive and waited for the parade to come. The parade had 73 "acts" in it and was almost 2 hours long! It was fabulous, even for me to watch, and the kids just stared and squealed with excitement. J, who goes to sleep at 7/7:30 each night, was wide awake when we got home at 9:40ish.  

His favorite part was the horses :)
Then, we decorated for Christmas on November 25th. Yes, I know it's before Thanksgiving but I realized that the Christmas season can be stressful so why not take a little load off and do early decorating. Plus it's more fun to have a festive home for a few extra weeks! Jackson thoroughly enjoyed putting up the tree, looking at all the lights and helping to hang ornaments. We were a little nervous but he did great with even the glass ornaments. Whew! 

I love watching my two favorite boys hang out. Jackson wanted JB right by his side. 
They are cute buddies

Finally, we had some Thanksgiving festivities in Hatteras for our annual Friendsgiving! The kids are going to outnumber the adults next year, but this year we came extremely close with something like a 11:10 Adult:Kid ratio! It's a fun time. Jackson and his harem enjoyed cake pops one afternoon. We ventured down to the ocean for some running around, watched movies, made forts and enjoyed good company and delicious food.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I am finally getting around to posting pictures of our fabulous trip to the Bahamas in late October. Last year we had a blast with our neighbors and friends from The Compound (we live within several yards of each other and basically all share a fence) so we decided to run it back for another (and final) year leaving out of Norfolk. By chance, Sara and Wes happened to be there celebrating his 50th birthday. They spent the whole time with us and we are so glad!! It was a wintery day leaving Norfolk but we didn't let that slow us down. We headed straight to the Serenity deck for a little serenity in the huge lounge chairs and no children :) Here is some of what we enjoyed:

Sun, scarves and snuggling
Taking in the view as we pulled out of the port
Norfolk in the distance…Bahamas straight ahead! Ready to ditch our winter coats
Reading, sleeping, talking, laughing
Awkward family photos
Fancy dinners, fancy dresses, karaoke, magic shows and fun times
Delicious food and the ability to order as many things as you wanted to try. The company and conversation were even better than the food, however. 
More awkward photos and photographers who weren't too keen on our funny business
Nassau, lighthouses, sun, breeze, beaches, vacation, no responsibilities

Good friends, Bonnie and Andy
Girl time, long conversations, good hair days, tank tops in October
More good friends, Dan and Lisa
Snorkeling! I think we should wear masks more often. I kinda like the look
More awkward family photos
Several hours of snorkeling and laying out on the beach at the Hilton in the Bahamas. Warm water, nice sand, playing frisbee, reading, sleeping, cool drinks

Wes really explored the shipwreck
Brain coral, my favorite
Freeport. Look familiar to anyone who lives in Norfolk?? 
Lots of ping pong competitions when the winds weren't hurricane-force!
A week-long date
Cruise life, sunny weather, strolling, no responsibilities
More awkward family photos from the men.