Top 11 in 2011


As 2011 comes to a close, I can say without a doubt that it has been the very best of my life. We’ve had so many great moments this year so I thought it would be fun to recap with a top 11 list.  They are listed in chronological order and linked back to specific posts from the year.

11.  Finding out that our sweet baby was a little girl

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10. Our vacation to beautiful Cape Town, South Africa


9. Leaving Africa and going home to Texas and seeing my family and Oscar and Grace for the first time in over a year


8. Visiting Germany and Austria


7.  The birth of our precious baby girl (and all of the wonderful moments that have come since. Being a Mommy has been the best part of this year, hands down!)


6. Jesse meeting his daughter for the first time

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4. Being reunited with Jesse when Emerson was 8 weeks old after saying good-bye when she was just two weeks old

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5. Spending time with family and friends in Texas and North Carolina


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3. Our big move and Emerson’s first trip overseas



2. Attending the Marine Corps Ball at the amazing Emirates Palace


1. Spending our first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas as a family of three. 


Oh, what a year it has been! Just when I think life can’t get any sweeter, it does! Bring on 2012!


She’s So Crafty…Or Not.


I mentioned before that I had big plans for all of the fun Christmas crafts that Emerson and I were going to complete. I guess my expectations were a little unrealistic because I didn’t get to half of them and the ones we did do didn’t turn out quite the way I expected. But we did have fun doing them and that’s all that matters! I know Christmas is over but I wanted to share a few of them…
Up first is the cute handprint ornament I’ve seen on Pinterest. Here is the original.
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Here is our version.
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I think I see a finger or two in all that smeared paint. Haha. Emerson wanted nothing to do with having her hand painted so this one didn’t work out too well. I still thought it would be fun to have so it’s hanging proudly on the tree.
Next we did the thumbprint reindeers. Luckily for me Jesse came home just as I was trying to get Emerson’s thumbprint. I couldn’t have done it without his help. We just did on regular printer paper and then I put it in an Ikea frame. I think it turned out so cute.
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I knew I wanted to do something cute with Emerson’s footprints so I settled on the this.
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We didn’t get the best footprints and my writing is a little crooked but I still love it. It’s probably one of my favorite things we did.
I tried to make cinnamon ornaments because I thought they sounded so easy. The originals look like this.
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My dough didn’t get very stiff so I had a hard time cutting shapes. Every time I did a gingerbread man his leg would fall off. The cinnamon was not as fine as what you would find in the States so the ornaments kind of look like mud pies. I ended up using most of them as air fresheners by putting them in simmering water but I was able to get this circle with an E in it. It’s about the only decent one in the whole batch. I think it looks pretty cute on the tree.
We also did salt dough ornaments. I was going to try and paint them but the natural look has really grown on me so I will probably leave them as is. I love that I was able to get her footprint and handprint.
My final (and just finished) project was a fabric Christmas book for Emerson. It comes on a large piece of fabric and you just cut it, stuff it, and sew it together. My Mom got it for us and embroidered her name and the year before sending it. I didn’t get it finished in time for Christmas but I did finish it today. I have to admit it wasn’t my best sewing but I still think it turned out really cute and she seems to like it.
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Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of Emerson during all of this crafting. Most of the time she was just in her diaper because paint, babies, and clothes just don’t mix! I will admit that I learned that the hard way during our first round of handprint ornaments.
I think next year I’ll start my Christmas crafting right after Halloween. Maybe then I’ll have everything done by Christmas! Smile

My Loves


I’m loving the new lens that I got for Christmas. Emerson and I went outside for a little shoot yesterday and I love the way a few of the pictures turned out! I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of shooting in manual. Now I just need to learn to use Photoshop to edit the way I want to.

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I’m loving that I met up with a fellow blogger and her family for the first time today and had a wonderful time! Details/pictures to come! Can you guess who it was?

I’m loving the beautiful weather we are having here. Today on our walk it almost felt like a crisp Fall day. It’s even a little chilly in the evenings. If only it would stay like this forever!

I’m loving Heaven is for Real. Have you read it? It’s a short and easy read, but one that you won’t quickly forget.

I’m loving this amazing macaroni and cheese that I made on Christmas. If you like baked macaroni and cheese then you MUST try this recipe. It was super easy and SO delicious!

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I’m loving setting goals for 2012. There’s nothing better than writing a list of what you want to accomplish. I’ll be sharing them in the next few days.

I’m loving that my parents will be here very soon! It’s been 5 months since we’ve seen them and I cannot wait!


I’m linking up with Jamie for WILW. Check it out here.


Emerson’s First Christmas


On Christmas Day Emerson woke up about 6:30. I fed her and she immediately went back to sleep. We couldn’t wait for her to wake back up so she could see her gifts from Santa (with a few things thrown in from Mommy and Daddy.) Having a baby makes you feel like a kid all over again and we were both pretty giddy with anticipation.


When she finally woke up, we brought her in the living room and put her down on the floor so she could see the toys in front of the tree.


It was so cute to see her checking everything out.


She loved her new book and didn’t want to put it down.



I loved her and didn’t want to put her down.

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Violet the Puppy was a definite hit.



“Did this thing just say my name?”


“Man, all this present opening and playing is hard work.”

She played for a while longer and then took a break from opening presents to eat breakfast and take a little nap. When she woke up, it was back to the presents.

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Then it was playtime.



We finally all got dressed but not before we got a few jammie shots in front of the tree.


I really wanted to get a picture of Emerson with all of her gifts so that was first on the agenda.



Then we let her go wild. Talk about sensory overload. She didn’t know where to look or what to touch. She is definitely one very lucky and very loved little girl. Thank you to everyone for the awesome presents for our sweet girl!


While Emerson played, we finished the preparations for dinner. Luckily, one of Jesse’s Marines is a cook, so he offered to make several side dishes and a dessert. All I made was a veggie tray, a cheese ball, macaroni and cheese (amazing!) and a Snickers trifle. It was super easy and stress free. Jesse smoked the brisket for about 13 hours and it was incredible, as usual.


The Marines came over around 2:00 and the guys played Wii golf until it was time to eat. As usual, we had way too much food and we all ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.

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Emerson couldn’t partake in the feast just yet, but she seemed perfectly content with her cauliflower and rice cereal.


After dinner, we played some more Wii and then we played Celebrity. If you’ve never played, I highly recommend it. We let Emerson stay up a little past her bedtime so she could hang out. She hates to miss the action when we have people over.

When we went to bed that night, Jesse and I talked about how fast the day went. It’s hard to believe that Emerson’s first Christmas has already come and gone. But we couldn’t have asked for a better day and we surely couldn’t ask for a better girl.

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I’m linking up with Becky and Aly. Head over and check out everyone’s Christmas!


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