2012 in Review


January was a month full of happiness and sadness all at the same time. Emerson turned 8 months old and my parents came to the Middle East for a 10 day visit. A few days later we lost my precious Grandmother. There is not a day that goes by that I do think of her. January also marked the beginning of my quest to get back in shape.

In February Eme got all dolled up for Valentine's Day, I did tons of rambling about random stuff, and I started gathering ideas for Emerson's first birthday.

March was a pretty quiet month. I did a fun Pinterest project, shared my baby food making secrets, and marveled at how quickly my little baby was growing up.

April marked my second blogging anniversary, Emerson's first Easter, and lots of time spent at the beach and the pool. It's also the month that our little princess started to walk!

May was by far the hardest, most bittersweet month of the year. Emerson celebrated her first birthday and I did a series of posts on motherhood, while also sharing my intense baby fever. All of the joy from the beginning of the month quickly turned to grief when we learned that our precious nephew lost his courageous battle with leukemia.

We traveled back to the United States. Jesse went to North Carolina to be with his family and E and I went to Texas. We had a You are My Sunshine birthday party for Emerson and learned that we had orders to California.

July was a special month but it was also a hard one.. I saw my best friend Mandy for the first time in seven years. I also got to spend 4th of July with my sister in law and my sweet nieces at the lake. Emerson rode in a boat for the first time and I shared a video of E showing off all of her signs and shared my plans for running a half-marathon. In mid July we said good-bye to our first {fur} baby, Oscar.

I was thrilled to be able to attend our annual family reunion in August. Then Emerson and I made our way back across the world to finish out our overseas tour. I used my new embroidery machine for a fun project and I started trying to get organized for our upcoming move.

In September I took the plunge and joined a Women's Bible Study group and I shared my tendency to get sidetracked a little too easilyThen we spent over a week in beautiful Goa, India where we got to get up close and personal with three elephants.

October started with a bang when Jesse and I celebrated his birthday with a nasty case of food poisoining. I shared our major pool fail and my anxiety over finding a place to live in California. Our little penguin made Halloween extra special this year. 

November was a busy month! I completed my first half-marathon (barely!) and Emerson turned 18 months old. I reached a blog milestone with my 500th post and we had an amazing Thanksgiving with some sweet friends. We had the best time at the Marine Corps Ball.

In December I turned 31 and we attended a Christmas party where Emerson got to meet Santa for the second time. We got the photos back from E's 18 month shoot and I loved all of them. I shared my heart and longing to write and our super, incredible news. After looking back over my 2012 goals, I discovered that I didn't do too shabby. We celebrated Emerson's 2nd Christmas and it was even more wonderful than I imagined it would be.

I have to say that 2012 flew by! I am really looking forward to 2013 and all of the fun adventures in store for our little family.

Covered in Grace

Scenes from Christmas Day


Christmas Day was just too much fun this year! I was wide awake at 5:50 AM just waiting for Emerson to wake up. I couldn't wait for her to come downstairs and see what Santa brought her.

Of course, she slept in that morning so the wait seemed so long! But she finally woke up around 8:00 and came down to a fun surprise. She loved everything but her favorite, by far, was her Princess Cozy Coupe.

After she played with her Santa toys for a while, we let her start opening her gifts from us. We tried to keep it simple this year since we will be packing up for our move very soon. Even so, it took a long while for E to finish opening all of her present. She was just so excited about that car and her baby doll! Plus she wanted to open every toy and play with it before moving onto the next present.
 She loves her little kitty! Thank you Gigi!

This picture is one of my absolute favorites from the day. E is obsessed with the Duck and Goose books so I decided to get her the little stuffed animals from Amazon. After she ripped off the wrapping paper Jesse opened the box and let her peak in before shutting it back quickly. The look on her face is just priceless.
And once she had Duck and Goose in her arms, she was NOT putting them down.
After we finished opening presents, we did some more food prep and then E and I headed upstairs to get ready for the day. While I was in the bathroom putting on makeup I let her play in her room, which is right by the bathroom. She was happily playing when I heard a thud and then Emerson screaming at the top of her lungs. I walked in to find her face down on the carpet right in front of her ottoman. It only took me a minute to figure out that she had been jumping on the ottoman and had fallen off right on her face. Poor baby! Luckily she was fine but she got terrible carpet burn on her forehead and nose just in time for Christmas pictures! 

We finished prepping all of the food and the Marines arrived around 1:00 for lunch. Since we usually stick to traditional food for Thanksgiving we like to mix it up on Christmas. The last two years we have done brisket. In the previous years we did Italian and seafood. This year we decided to go with a little Mexican fiesta. We made fajitas, enchilada casserole, guacamole, salsa, queso, and seven layer dip.

It was SO good! Jesse smoked the fajita meat so it tasted just like Rosa's (you Texans should know what I'm talking about!) All we were missing was the homemade tortillas!
We also made two batches of spicy red sangria and white wine sangria. It went a little faster than we expected- we should have known with 8 Marines in the house that it wouldn't last long. We will definitely be making it again! Yum!
While we were eating I looked over and saw Emerson with her head in one hand and her fork in the other. I think our sweet girl was worn out from all of the excitement!
We let her play for a little bit before getting in a few family pictures.
 We could tell that she was ready for a nap...

 But we finally got a few good ones:

Once she was down we played some board games. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life!  Unfortunately we were so busy playing, I didn't take any pictures!! Fail!

Once E was awake the first thing she wanted to do was play. She headed directly to her car and hopped right inside, with her baby, of course!
We spent the rest of the evening outside. Emerson rode her YBike and we watched the neighborhood kids playing with their new toys and riding their new bikes. It was so much fun to see everyone outside enjoying the beautiful weather- and I think everyone had quite the Christmas spirit even if it was 80 degrees!

There were so many awesome things about this Christmas. From watching E experience so many new things to cooking all of the yummy food with Jesse- it was all wonderful. But I think the very best part was knowing that this is our last Christmas to spend overseas.  We had so much to celebrate and celebrate we did! 

Our Christmas Eve


I don't think I've ever been as excited about Christmas as I was this year. There is just something about having a child that makes everything seem magical. It has been such a joy seeing and experiencing all of the Christmas fun through Emerson's eyes.

We started off the day with a candy cane (from strawberries and bananas) and hot chocolate. It was E's first time trying hot chocolate and she gulped it down.

After breakfast and playtime, I buckled down and began my Christmas baking. I waited until Christmas Eve because I wanted everything to be fresh for our Christmas celebration. I also made enough to give as gifts to some of our neighbors.

I tried all new recipes this year and everything was delicious!! I will definitely be making these again. We had candied almonds, peanut butter fudge, red velvet cheesecake brownies, sugar cookies, and christmas popcorn. I couldn't find any cute Christmas containers so I had to use these boring old foil pans but I doubt anyone cared. :)
Around 5:00 I finally finished baking and prepping for our Christmas Day meal. We spent some time playing before getting ready for an evening out.

Last year we were invited by a dear friend to go out for Christmas Eve dinner. We had such a lovely time that we decided to continue the tradition and do it again this year. Although we loved the location last year, we thought it might be nice to try somewhere different. And since we 100 percent believe the more the merrier, we invited Jesse's Marines to come along.

We put on our Christmas best (well, Emerson did) and snapped a few pictures before heading out to the hotel. 

We had heard that many of the hotels decorate for Christmas but we were quite surprised at all of the beautiful decorations in the lobby. We were even more surprised to see a choir performing Christmas carols just as we walked in. Even though it wasn't exactly like what we would see at home, it really put us in the Christmas spirit even more. And Emerson was thrilled to see the choir singing and dancing.

They also had a little gingerbread house with snowmen in front. I think it was Emerson's favorite part of the night. She was in love with those snowmen.

While we were waiting for dinner to begin, Santa Claus made an appearance. We convinced E to sit on his lap but she wasn't really into it at all. She wasn't scared like she was last time, but she was just more interested in everything going on around her.

She was excited about the cookies he gave her, though.
After checking out the beautiful decorations we found our table and chowed down. It was a buffet, which really aren't my favorite, but the food was pretty good.
Jesse decided that E needed her first taste of chocolate fondue.  Despite the look on her face, I can assure you that she loved it.
After we ate I left Jesse to chat with the Marines while E and I went back to look at the decorations. They also had a kids play area with a slide and rocking horse, so we hung out there for a bit. I chased Emerson all over that hotel lobby for about an hour. By then it was nearly 9 (two hours past bedtime) and she was exhausted. We knew we were headed for meltdown city if we didn't get home soon. So we took a few pictures in front of the tree and headed out.

We had planned on letting Emerson open one present that evening but she was so tired we decided that her last advent gift would be enough. It was baby Jesus- that last piece of her Little People Nativity. I love the look on her face when she saw it. So cute!
After she put him in with the rest of figures, we let her play for a few minutes before putting her to bed.

That night I could hardly sleep because I was just so excited about Christmas morning. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I couldn't sleep because I was waiting up for Santa.

I don't think we could have asked for a better Christmas Eve with our sweet girl. Perhaps the only thing that could have topped it would have been spending it with our families but hopefully we will get to do that next year! 

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