My Holiday Bucket List

In an attempt to get the most possible joy out of the holiday season this year I’m going to do a bucket list (inspired by a fun blog I read).  And I say “holiday” because I want it to include Thanksgiving and Christmas – not because I’m politically correct or anything.

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • make our annual Griswold Family Christmas Tree trip (this is already scheduled)
  • watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (this year it’ll be from a hotel room in Cleveland, Ohio)
  • make some homemade gifts
  • watch our favorite movies over and over (Elf, Christmas Vacation, the Santa Clause movies, Home Alone)
  • drive around looking for the best Christmas lights
  • bake cookies with David to give to our neighbors

  • have Pa, mom and Clint up for Christmas
  • drink hot cocoa while watching the above mentioned Christmas movies
  • listen to the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Pandora station (I’ve just recently found this station and it’s the best one yet)
  • go see dad sometime in December or January
  • slow down and enjoy the season
  • have our annual Christmas Eve get together and make ornaments or cookies with the kids
  • watch too many Hallmark Channel Christmas movies
  • go for a walk every day

That’s it for now.  I may add a thing or two as I think of something new.



DIY Paper Christmas Garland

While pursuing the internet this week I saw some cute Christmas garlands made of paper.  So I decided to make my own.  
Here’s what you’ll need:
– Cardstock in whatever color you choose (I used red and lime green) – I used 9 sheets that were 12″x12″
– A hole punch, the one I used is 1″ (I wouldn’t go any smaller than 3/4″ as the smaller they are the harder they will be to push through your sewing machine)
– Ssewing machine
– Thread
I used my hole punch to cut out about 6 million lime green and red circles.  The picture below shows the circles cut from just the edges of the paper you see…you can fold the paper in half and then in half again to get to the center of the paper.  

Line your circles up a few at a time on your sewing machine so you can easily slip the next paper circle under the needle.

I kept my stash of extras right in front of my sewing machine so I could quickly grab the next batch.

Here is the finished garland.   I sewed several pieces (rather than having one huge garland) and just twisted the thread around the branch where I had left off with the end of the last garland.

This is the skeleton of the paper I used…I’m going to use it to decorate some Christmas packages.

Boone – 2011

Brad grew up having real Christmas trees.  
I grew up with a fake tree.  
When we got married I was super excited to start a tradition for us to get a real tree each year.  And that’s just what we’ve done.  And all but one year we’ve gone to a local Christmas tree farm to cut a tree down.  But last year was different – we started coming to Boone.  You can read about it here
Well, we did the exact same thing again this year.  Except we took 2 days off work and spent a long weekend in Boone this time.  It was wonderful.  
This year it didn’t snow…so that was a huge bummer (and it drizzled the day we cut down our tree)….but being that there wasn’t snow all over the ground we got to do some hiking.  We hiked to Linville Falls, 
went to Grandfather Mountain (and Brad even walked the bridge), 
bought David a sled so he could sled up near Beech Mountain, 
drove the Blue Ridge for a while, 

went shopping in downtown Boon, ate at several really great places, and finally cut down our tree.

We went back to Circle C Christmas tree farm.  It’s a lovely little farm and again we found the perfect tree.  Yes, I suppose, you can say I’m a tree snob.  Yes, you can buy these trees in Birmingham.  But….no, you can’t cut them down.  

After walking through what seemed like a thousand trees – we finally found the perfect one!  It’s almost 9 feet tall – and our ceilings are 9 feet tall.  Perfect, right?

We’ve decided to try and make this a yearly tradition if our vacation schedule and pocketbook will allow – as this is one of our favorite memories from this Christmas and last.  In fact, when talking about last Christmas the first thing David talked about was our Christmas tree trip (even before our trip to Disney). 

Making memories with my two favorite people is my favorite thing to do.   

DIY Owl Christmas Ornaments

Now that football and my latest ARM test is over I can focus on Christmas (until January when studying for my next ARM test begins)….

I found this adorable owl Christmas ornament on Pinterest.  So I printed off the pattern and made a few of my own.

This is my first group of owls….now that I’ve made a few I realize I should have used more colorful felt.  I’m heading out to Hobby Lobby in a bit to buy some more felt.  Do you think I can go into Hobby Lobby for $4 of felt and really spend only $4 on felt?  Doubtful.  That store sucks me in.  

The Magical Vacation

On Christmas morning, Brad surprised David and me with a trip to:
I totally cried when I opened the package showing us our tickets. I’m such a sap. David has been asking to go to Disney for quite some time and we’ve always told him we’ll go sometime soon. Little did I know it would be the day after Christmas!
So….we had less than a day to get packed. Normally I’d cringe at that idea, but Brad had done every load of laundry over the days leading up to Christmas (I was a little suspicious about that but he had already promised me we weren’t going out of town). Hmmmm….I should have known better.
We loaded up the camper on Christmas night and left around 9:30 a.m. on the 26th.
Oh, I forgot to mention that we had our first ever WHITE CHRISTMAS this year.

It was so beautiful on Christmas day – it didn’t snow a lot, but it was still white.

We were excited to have a white Christmas, however, with the snow and ice it made for a VERY challenging drive to Florida. The first 2 hours of the trip were terrible. We slid all over highway 280 and I was certain we were going to slide off into the woods. It doesn’t help that no one in Alabama knows how to drive in ice….just so you know you do NOT slow down while going up a hill covered in ice. And what made it even more challenging is that we were pulling our camper. I wanted to throw up and cry for the first two hours of our drive.
Once we finally made it through the ice (and boy, I was thankful) we stopped at McDonald’s with Pa for a break.

We arrived in Orlando at a super cute KOA campground around 7 p.m.
We had 5 days at the Disney parks and 1 day at Sea World. First day was Magic Kingdom (which was also Brad’s Birthday).

David’s first roller coaster was Thunder Mountain….and after riding it he was hooked.

Throughout our week in Orlando we did every single roller coaster that he was tall enough to ride.

He also loved the go-carts. It was actually pretty lame (to me) and they only went 7.5 mph, but David was able to steer the car, so for him, that was pretty awesome. This is my very favorite picture from the entire trip. I just love the look on his face.

At night we watched the best fireworks show. It was fabulous.

On our second day we went to Epcot. Brad wasn’t sure if Epcot would be worth going, but it actually had one of our favorite rides – The Test Track. Where you sit in a car and they take you through a series of tests (hill climb, bumpy roads, curve with no ABS and finally around the track at 60 mph).
We ate lunch in the Mexico part of Epcot where David tried on this super cute sombrero. It’s fitting, huh? The food was pretty authentic and it was the best meal we had all week.
We rode the Nemo ride and he actually asked me to take his picture with this little guy. Normally I have to beg him to let me take his picture. I love this picture.
I was excited to see that Epcot is the location of the Candlelight Processional (when I participated in high school it was at Disney)…and it was going on while we were there. So we sat through the show. It was cool and they actually sang the exact same songs (with the exception of ONE new song) that we sang 15 years ago. For my friends who sang with me – remember “Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy” and “Shout for Joy”? Those were my two favorites from the show. Marlee Matlin was the guest emcee.
And this is what David thought about the music. Yes, he left drool on Brad’s jeans.

On our third day we went to Sea World and Pa came along for the day.
We saw the Shamu show. I know the reasons why the trainers can no longer swim with the killer whales and I certainly can respect that decision. It just makes for a really lame show.
The dolphin show was much better, since they could swim with the dolphins. David loved the dolphin show so much that the one toy he chose to buy the whole week was a dolphin stuffed animal. Out of all the parks he wanted a dolphin more than anything else. He’s named him Flipper.
Day 4 was Animal Kingdom and Pa went with us here too. We did every ride at this park, however, I made the mistake of riding the water ride first thing in the morning and I got soaked. My jeans were finally dry by the time we left that park late that evening. It didn’t help that it was cold out.
We talked Brad’s dad into riding the Dinosaur ride with us.
The “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” 3-D show was really cute. And this little guy was pretty cute in his 3-D glasses.
EXCEPT, at the end of the show they said something like “Ok, everyone sit still while we let all of the roaches and worms leave the theatre”….then you all of a sudden felt like there were roaches crawling on your back and under your butt. Not sure how they did this (maybe with tiny bursts of air in the back and bottom of the seat) but I freaked. If anyone knows me you’ll know I HATE HATE HATE roaches.
Day 5 was Hollywood Studios.
This park has my two favorite rides from the whole week:
Rockin’ Roller Coaster with Aerosmith (this was David’s first upside down roller coaster and he LOVED it)…
…and Toy Story Mania. This is a super cute 3-D ride where you shoot darts at the screen to collect points. We used a fast pass for this ride and by the afternoon the standby wait was 2.5 hours. Ridiculous.

David had no interest in having his picture taken with any of the Disney characters…however, when we saw the army guy from Toy Story he ran up to him and got his picture made.
At the end of our day at Hollywood Studios we went to the Fantasmic Firework and Water show…this was New Years Eve and people were blowing these annoying party noise makers like crazy. Including us.
On our 6th day, we circled back to Magic Kingdom…we decided on this park since it has the most to offer. It was a good choice.
Unfortunately, I got sick (with fever, chills, achyness, head cold, and sinus crap) on our last day, so after lunch I went back to the camper to rest while David and Brad stayed and played at the park. At least I didn’t get sick on days 1 – 5. They stayed until closing. They were able to utilize the fast passes so much that they could ride Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain over and over again with only a 5 minute wait. And one time they even were able to stay on the boat three times in a row.
2010 was a busy year for us….and the way we ended it certainly did not disappoint. I’m so thankful to Brad for such a magical surprise he gave us for Christmas. It truly was the best.

Now we are onto 2011. Happy New Year!

My Christmas Eve

Three years ago a friend of mine (David) met a lady in a bookstore and somehow they started a conversation about Christmas caroling. This woman’s neighbor was terminally ill and her daughter was trying to find a group of carolers to come carol to them for what was likely to be her last Christmas.
David sent out an email to a few friends letting us know about this opportunity. Since we are always home at Christmas and Brad always works Christmas Eve, David and I were able to carol to her home. I sent out an email to my friends and at 6pm on Christmas Eve – about 8 of us went to this woman’s home, sang and visited for about 20 minutes, then left.
We all realized that this was one of the greatest things we could have done on this Christmas Eve.
So a tradition was started.
Since then we’ve Christmas caroled to a couple local nursing homes. It’s a huge blessing to do this and I plan to do this every year. The people at the nursing home and the staff are always so excited to see us.
We are not a professional group – we actually kind of stink (well with the exception of Lyn, she CAN actually sing)….but it’s not about that. It’s about spreading some Christmas joy to some people who may not get many visitors. So next year, if you get an invite from me on facebook or via email – please don’t let your excuse for not going be “they don’t want to hear me sing”. You need to find a better excuse than that. If you join us, I promise it’s something you’ll be glad you did.
This year we had 21 friends join in on the caroling. Emily took the lead on the guitar and played for us.
We even sang in the elevator – to ourselves.

I was kidding about the singing to ourselves in the elevator.
I cried last year a lot (one woman grabbed my neck and called me her daughter’s name and said she was so glad I came to see her – this about put me into a tail spin). So that I wouldn’t do that this year Laura told me that if you think about math (yeah, I know sounds ridiculous) – like add 4+4 in your head it turns off the emotional part of your brain – so you won’t cry. And it totally works. For real. Try it out some time.
David adores Laura and wouldn’t leave her alone.
What made this day even better is that Brad’s dad is in town and he went with us. Afterwards we grabbed a quick lunch, went to a couple stores and then came home. While David napped he helped me prepare some dishes for tomorrow’s lunch. Brad just got home and now we are enjoying the fire and watching some TV.
This has been THE perfect Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas.