Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

I have a confession to make.  I have a bad memory.  Sometimes that's a GOOD thing, but sometimes it's a not so good thing.  So as I started writing this post, I definitely had to go back to my pictures to see what we were up to in 2011.   I can remember some of the BIG stuff, but here is some of the other things we were doing...

January 2011:
Well we had one of the biggest snow storms that I can remember.  Kevin and I were literally stuck in our house for 3 days.  It was actually kind of nice.  No place to go, nothing to do.

We also STARTED the adoption process in January when we submitted our initial application to Bethany Christian Services.  Wow.  Was that really just one year ago?

February-April 15, 2011:
Honestly, I don't have time for picture taking during this time of year.  Due to this being my busy season at work, this period of time during 2011 was spent in an office.  It's sad that I looked through my pictures and had a grand total of ZERO pictures for these few months, but it's true.

In other news, somehow Kevin and I had the time to complete tons and tons of paperwork for our formal application for the adoption, and we were also able to start and complete our home study.  We were officially approved and waiting as of April 4th, 2011!!

April 2011:
At the end of April, my mom and I went to visit my grandmother in Charleston.  Kevin and I also spent a lot of time catching up on some R&R and spending some time with family at my parent's lake house.  To say that the dogs enjoy the water is a bit of an understatement.

May 2011:
In May we went to hike the Rainbow Falls trail at Jones Gap State Park.  We had great weather, but when we got to the waterfall at the top, it was pretty cold.  Lots of fun though.

June 2011:
At the beginning of June, we got an email about a baby boy that had been born just a few days earlier. We were asked if we would like for the birth mother to consider us as potential adoptive parents.  We said yes, and were excited to think that this COULD be our child.  The birth mother chose a different couple, but it really sank in that we could get "THE CALL" at any time.  So, we really got motivated to get a nursery ready.

After getting lots and lots of questions from people asking how they could help us with our adoption, we started our Adoption Puzzle fundraiser.  We still can't believe the number of people who wanted to help with our adoption, and are so grateful for each and every one of them.  THANK YOU again.

We took the youth to a Braves game in June, and got stuck in a HUGE rain storm on the way home.

I started this blog in June.  You can read my very first post HERE.

And last, but certainly not least, we found out about Kate on June 29th when our adoption worker called me at work and asked if there was any way to also get Kevin on the line!! She told us about Kate's birth parents and asked if we'd be willing to drive to Raleigh, NC to meet them.  :)

July 2011:
In July, we made the trip to Raleigh, NC to meet with Kate's birth parents. Click here to read about getting matched.  While we were in Raleigh, we stopped by the UNC campus so Kevin could take pictures in front of Dean E. Smith Center (where the Tar Heels play basketball).  We also went by the football stadium.  It was unlocked so we were able to walk right on inside.

The night before we went to Raleigh, Kristi, Kevin and I went to Clemson to eat at Cook Out and go back through campus.  While we were out, our house got struck by lightening and TONS of stuff inside our house was destroyed (TV's, AC Unit, well pump, etc).

August 2011:
One of the best months of my life!

We had a couple of baby showers to get ready for Kate.

We went to a Hillsong United concert, and then...

Kate was born on August 10th.  We got to meet her on August 11th, which was mine and Kevin's 4 year anniversary.  Best anniversary present ever.  We brought Kate "home" on August 12th and then spent almost 2 weeks in a hotel room in Raleigh, NC before we were able come back home to SC.  I know I say this a lot, but Kate has been such a blessing.

September 2011:
This month was all about Kate.  I was able to spend the entire month at home with Kate.  It was so great, and I love being a Mommy.  Kate got to meet lots of family, experience her first football Saturdays supporting Clemson and Georgia, and she turned one month old!

With the help of some of our great friends, we also held a HUGE community yard sale.

October 2011:
I went back to work at the beginning of October, and that was a big adjustment.  During the rest of the month, Kate got to go to her FIRST football game (although we didn't take her into the stadium), she started smiling, she got to experience her first Halloween as a watermellon, and she turned 2 months old!!

In keeping with our fall tradition, Kevin, Kristi and I also went to two away football games.  We went to Tennessee to watch Georgia play Vanderbilt and then went to Atlanta to watch Clemson play Georgia Tech.

I also wrote this blog about my top 10 baby items.

Oh October, you were a very busy but very fun month.

November 2011:
We went to our annual staff & leadership retreat at Bonclarken in November.  We also celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family of three... first with Kevin's family and then with mine.  At my parent's house, Kate met her cousin Christopher and then we all went to pick out a Christmas tree.  Lastly, Kate turned 3 months old!

Oh, and I wrote this blog about the ways life has changed with a baby. 

December 2011:
It's hard to believe that another year has past.  December literally FLEW by.  It seems like last weekend was Thanksgiving, not Christmas.  This month, Kate turned 4 months old, she was in her first Christmas parade, and we celebrated Christmas with TONS of family and friends. Two days after Christmas, I turned 27.  And now, I'm writing this post to close out the year.

2011 was such a great year, filled with lots of surprises and great news.  I sincerely hope that 2012 is just as good as 2011.  It has a lot to live up to!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kate's First Christmas - Part 3

We left my parent's house around 3ish on the 26th to head home.  Kevin wanted to check on something at Best Buy so we stopped there on our way home.  BIG mistake.  Kate woke up just as we pulled into the parking lot, and was so ready to get out of her car seat and have a bottle.  Kevin hurried into Best Buy while I tried to occupy Kate in the car.  I pulled out just about every Christmas toy she received.  The one that worked the best was her Baby Einstein octopus that was a gift from Kristi.  It plays music if you squeeze his head and it names the colors on each of the tentacles. 

We made it home around 5ish and fed Kate her bottle.  She was exhausted so she was content to just sit in her Boppy and chill out.  

And then we opened OUR presents. Kevin got a golf club, tennis shoes, a couple of DVDs, and some clothes.  Kevin wrapped all of my Christmas and birthday gifts together and since my birthday was just the next day, he told me to just open it all.  He gave me a sewing machine, a new bible, and matching palm tree earrings and necklace.  So pretty!  I'm also super pumped about my new bible.  I've had the same bible since high school and I love it, but it's so big and heavy.  Not a problem when all I had to bring to church was myself, my purse, and my bible, but now you add in a baby in a 12 lb carrier and her diaper bag, and my hands are FULL.  He got me a small bible that will fit in my purse, or in Kate's diaper bag.  And it's so pretty too. 

Kate got a Baby Bullet, and a few other small toys and small things she needed.  She's 4.5 months old.  There's not much she needs right now, and she's just now figuring out the toy thing. We all had a great Christmas just being around family and friends. 

PS- I'll probably blog more about the Baby Bullet soon.  Does anybody have experience with it? 

And then it was bedtime, and by this point Kate was thinking "Mom, PLEASE no more pictures."  I have a feeling she WILL be saying that at some point in the future.

And so that wraps up Christmas 2011 for us.  I think it was fitting that our last Christmas celebration was for our family of three.  I have to say that this has been one of the BEST Christmas's ever.  It's been such a memorable December, celebrating Christmas with Kate for the very first time.  Since she's only 4.5 months old, she had no clue what was going on.  This Christmas was more for us than it was for her.  I imagine next Christmas will be even more crazy and exciting, but I hope that through the actions and words of Kevin and myself, she'll learn the true meaning of Christmas.  It's not about the presents, and it's not even about spending time with family and friends.  It's about a baby.  It's about Jesus.  All of those other things are BECAUSE of Jesus.  

I realize that we're 5 days past Christmas, but the celebration that comes with Christmas should be an all-year thing.  The thanksgiving for the true meaning of Christmas should carry over into January, and February, and March....  And THAT is what Christmas is all about. 

Wishing you all one more Merry Christmas from our family to yours, 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kate's First Christmas- Part 2

On Christmas morning, we woke up at home in our own beds.  Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, so we held off on opening any of our presents and headed to church to celebrate the reason that we celebrate Christmas at all.  Kevin did the message on Sunday and we read the Christmas story.  We sang a few Christmas songs and took part in the Lord's Supper.  It was a great service and I was honestly surprised at how full that the auditorium was.  It was so much fun and so meaningful to spend Christmas Sunday worshiping with a group of believers.  I'm so thankful for the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  So thankful for God's unfailing love and mercy, that He would choose to send us His Son, as a perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we may be forgiven.

"And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21

After church on Sunday, we decided to drive straight to my parent's house.  We debated going home to open our presents to each other, but with a baby you have to plan around bottle times. :) Kate had just had a bottle so we had just enough time to make the trip.  She actually slept the whole way down there.

We got to my parent's house just in time for a BIG lunch.... and I do mean big. Turkey and dressing, macaroni cheese pie, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole, crescent rolls, chocolate eclair, etc. YUMMY.  I ate way too much, but it was so good.  Kate was STILL asleep at this point.  All of these Christmas's were wearing her out.  She slept from about 11:30ish until almost 2:30, which is a really long nap for her. She woke up just in time to open presents.  

After all of the present-opening, it was time to relax and be lazy.  A couple of our friends dropped by to say hey, and we watched a movie that night (Columbiana- It wasn't very good. I wouldn't suggest it.)  Kevin and I TRIED to go look at Christmas lights, but either nobody was home, or nobody remembered to turn their lights on, or nobody really decorated their houses this year.  Maybe we just didn't know where to go look but regardless of the reason, we were out of luck.

My birthday is really today (Tuesday) but we celebrated it with my parents and sister on Monday.  The past few years Kevin and I have had to come back home on Christmas day, so we end up splitting Christmas with my birthday.  Usually the first 1/2 of the day is "Christmas" and the second 1/2 of the day is "Kelley's birthday".   This year we got to do it on two separate days. :)

And after all of this, Kevin went to the driving range to try out one of his new presents (a driver), my Dad went rabbit hunting, and the girls (Mom, Kristi, Kate and me) went to town to goof off.  We ended up at the mall and found some GREAT deals for Kate. ($1.99 pants and shirts, yes please!)  She is growing like a weed, so we went ahead and bought some bigger sized clothes for her to grow in to. 

We all got back to the house around lunchtime and pulled out the leftovers.  After a quick meal, we loaded up the car to head back home.  It seemed like a quick trip, but I loved being back in my home town and in the house I grew up in.  My house with Kevin definitely feels like home, but there's just something special about "going home" to Mom and Dad's. 

And it looks like it's going to take a 3rd post to wrap up all of our Christmas fun.  The last Christmas to blog about is OUR Christmas, which was also special since this was our first Christmas as a family of three.  I promise that will be the LAST Christmas post, because then I have more to blog about... probably next on the list will be my birthday. 

Until then, 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kate's First Christmas- Part 1

To start, looking back on the past few days I really wish I had taken more pictures, but I was so busy ENJOYING the Christmas season with family and friends, I didn't think to pick up the camera but a few times. Oh well.  Live and learn. Even without the pictures, I'll have my memories to look back on!

Our Christmas has actually been spread over a few days.  We got started on Friday when we celebrated Christmas with Kevin's family at Kevin's brother's house.  We had lots of fun, and Kate even got to meet 3 of her cousins that she hadn't gotten a chance to meet yet.  Here are a few cute pictures from Friday.

Friday was just the beginning of Kate getting "spoiled".  Over the past few days, she's been constantly held and rocked, has stayed up late, and honestly hasn't even had to cry because she's gotten everything she wanted when she wanted.  I'm thinking the next few days will be an adjustment for her as we get back into our normal routine.  Needless to say, Kate had a great Christmas, without any of the gifts.  I don't feel bad about any of the "spoiling" though.  You only get one first Christmas with your first child. :) 

We had church on Sunday morning, so we planned to stay at our house on Saturday (Christmas Eve) and then go to my parent's house on Sunday right after church.  BUT, we decided to surprise my parents on Saturday and just show up.  They always have an oyster roast on Christmas Eve that starts mid-afternoon and lasts until the last person leaves.  So when we got to their house about 12 and pulled into the driveway, they were busy getting things ready for the party and didn't see us pull up.  We knocked on the door and heard my mom say "come on in". When we walked around the doorway and went into the kitchen her reaction was priceless!  It almost looked like we scared her!  My dad was in the back yard getting things ready so we had to surprise him next.  He was pretty happy about us being there too! My mom said that was the best Christmas present ever, and my dad had actually been telling her earlier in the day that this would be the first Christmas eve that I wasn't at home.  I think we could say it was a nice surprise for them... and for us!  

We brought the "boys" with us and actually stopped by the lake house on our way to my parent's.  We had to let Max and Cooper get in the lake.  This was the first time we'd been able to bring them since the 4th of July.  Normally we take them to the lake pretty often during the summer months, but because of Kate we didn't get the chance to bring them as often as we wanted.  It wasn't exactly cold outside, but they didn't seem to mind that it wasn't 100 degrees outside either. 

We were able to stay at the party until about 5:30 before we had to drive back to our house.  We got to see Jillian and Jonathan, and their baby boy Bennett.  Bennett is about 6 weeks younger than Kate and is a cutie.  And of course, Kate got to spend some time with her Gigi, Papa Rick and Aunt Kristi.  Here are a couple of pictures from the oyster roast...

We left my parent's house at 5:30 and then went to celebrate our 3rd Christmas in 2 days, again at Kevin's brother's house.  We were so exhausted that we didn't stay a long time but again we had fun.

We finished celebrating Christmas today, December 26th.  I'll post Part 2 tomorrow to recap Christmas day and today, but for now I'm heading to bed.  Traveling is exhausting! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What A Weekend- Part 2

This past weekend, we had MUCH going on.  If you haven't read Part 1, I'd start there! That basically sums up Saturday & Sunday.  On Monday morning, we woke up in Sumter, SC.  I set my alarm clock for 7am and when it went off on Monday morning I went into the kitchen to get Kate's bottle ready.  She usually wakes up sometime around 7 and she is more than ready for her bottle when she does wake up.  She has about the same amount of patience as her Daddy, which is not much.  So, I poured her formula and put it in the bottle warmer.  Then, I went back into the bedroom to make sure I turned my alarm off instead of just pushing "snooze".  When I came back out to check on Kate, she wasn't in her crib.  Hmmm....  I walked back into the living room and saw that Charles was holding her.  He said that she was making some noises so he went ahead and got her up. :) I'm sure she WAS making some noises, but I'm also pretty sure he didn't mind having to get her up!

We had a big day ahead of us so after eating a great breakfast together, it was time for Kevin, Kate and me to make our way to Columbia.  We packed up our car and hit the road.  We planned to meet Kate's birth parents at the Columbiana mall at 11.  We ended up getting to Columbia a little before 11, but we went ahead inside because it was yet again time for Kate's bottle.

Her birth dad and his sister got there first.  Kate's birth mom and her family were running a little late, so we got to spend about 30 minutes with just her birth dad and birth aunt.  He fed Kate her bottle, which was difficult because since there was so much going on around her she was looking EVERYWHERE. Pretty soon, Kate's birth mom,  and her birth-mom's dad, step-mom and two sisters arrived.  Kate was smiling at everyone and of course couldn't keep her eyes off of the carousel that we were sitting near.

We spent some time visiting with the entire group, ate lunch, and took tons of pictures together.  Then all of the extended family left to do some shopping and let the 5 of us (Kevin, Kate, her birth mom, birth dad, and me) spend some time together.  We decided it was time to go visit Santa... but when we got there we discovered that Santa was on a lunch break.  So, we headed back to the food court and we all exchanged gifts and had a great time visiting.  We decided to give Santa another try and stood in line for what seemed like HOURS just to get a couple of pictures.  Kate was pretty tired by this point, so no smiles, but at least she didn't cry!  

We also got a picture of Santa with the 5 of us (Kevin, Kate, her birth parents, and me) and one of just Santa with Kate and her birth parents.

After leaving Santa, it was time to go.  We said our good-byes and packed everything back up in our car.  Our visit lasted a little longer than we had planned, but we enjoyed getting to see everyone and letting them spend time with Kate.

Our intentions were to go straight home but after a phone call from my mom, we decided to "stop by" their house to pick up one of our Christmas presents- 2 apple trees!  It was a bit out of the way, but I know they loved seeing Kate.  We were only there for a short amount of time but we'll be back on Sunday for Christmas!

And finally, we got home around 6pm after ALL of our weekend travels.  It was a crazy, busy, even exhausting weekend, but it was tons of fun.  I'm thinking that THIS weekend will be just as crazy, and busy, and definitely just as fun.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What A Weekend- Part 1

We had a CRAZY busy weekend and I'm just now getting the chance to blog about it.  Because we did so much, this will be a 2-part blog.  I wanted to make sure to blog about all of this though, because I'm sure the next few days will be full of Christmas fun and then of course I'll be blogging about Kate's FIRST Christmas. :) So excited!

We spent Saturday at home, which was SOOO nice.  Kevin got up to feed Kate at 7am and I slept until 10! I don't think I've done that since before she was born.  In fact, I know I haven't!  It was great.  We spent the day doing things around the house and relaxing.  

On Sunday, Kevin did the message.  He used these verses from Galatians...

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:4-7

His last point talked about the ADOPTION of Christmas.  When we surrender to God, He makes us his CHILDREN and we have FULL RIGHTS that any child gets from his father.  When Kevin got to this point, he asked me to bring Kate out of the nursery and up to the stage.  He talked about her adoption and how she isn't a second-class family member.  She isn't a second class child.  She is OUR child and we want to give her our best.  We treat her the same way that we would have treated a biological child.  She's OURS.  In the same way, God doesn't view us as his second-class children.   
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord God gives us... 

Kate stayed up on the stage with Kevin for the entire last point and did SO well.  We weren't sure how she'd react but she seemed to enjoy just looking around at everybody in the congregation. She even gave out a few smiles. 

If you want to HEAR the Sunday's message click here.

After church we headed to Sumter to visit with our former pastor, Charles and Cindy.  Kate got to spend some quality time with what we'll call her 3rd set of grandparents. :)  We attended their church Sunday evening, and she was a hit.  She had fun showing off her tiny red patent leather shoes. 


We spent the night in Sumter and then headed to Columbia on Monday morning to meet with Kate's birthparents for the 2nd time this year.  I'll blog more about THAT later, but will just go ahead and say that we had a really good meeting and Kate even got to see the big jolly old man in the red suit.  And of course we got pictures!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Card 2011

Now that they've been mailed out, I'm excited to share our Christmas card with you all!  Here is a very special "Merry Christmas" from our family to yours! 

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy 4 Month Birthday!

I'm about a week late in posting this, but oh well.  Kate was 4 months old last Saturday and I wanted to post some pictures with her cute monthly stickers to mark the occasion.  She wasn't in the mood for picture-taking when I took these so they're not that great but she's still cute anyway.  I LOVE these stickers.  It's so neat to be able to look and see how much she has changed in just 1 month (or 4 months). 

Here's the run-down on what Kate is doing this month:
1. Smiling- Kate's a smiley little girl.  It melts my heart to walk into her room in the morning when she's just woken up and see her smiling up at me. Awesome.
2. Laughing- This is a new one.  She's been laughing for a while, but just a 1-laugh kind of thing that almost sounded like a cough.  She finally figured out the whole laughing thing and we get rewarded with those little giggles when she thinks something is amusing.
3. Rolling Over- Kate rolled over in her crib about a month and a half ago, but it seemed like it was a one time thing.  Last week we woke up to find her sleeping on her stomach, and since then we've been REALLY trying to get her to roll over.  She's been pretty close, but hadn't quite made it all the way over. She'd keep getting stuck with her arm underneath her.  Well, this morning I was trying to prompt her to roll over and she just looked up at me and it's almost like she was thinking "Okay Mom" because she rolled over perfectly and then looked up at me again as if to say "See".  I was definitely proud!
4. Door Bouncer- We pulled this thing down from her closet this week to see how she'd like it and she seems to enjoy it.  The first time we put her in it, she looked like she was shocked that she was "standing" up all on her own. I think she's going to enjoy this toy.
5. Eating- Kate has five 7-8 oz bottles a day.  We still haven't started solids at all (including rice cereal) but she goes to the doctor this week, so we'll see what he says.  Every person we talk to has a different opinion on when to start solids, but we've decided to wait until we talk to her doctor.  We really like her pediatrician and trust his opinion.

And after all of that recap, here are a few cute pictures!

My how she has changed in just 4 short months!


Friday, December 16, 2011

(Early) Merry Christmas to Kate

We got a package in the mail earlier this week.  I'd ordered Kate a lot of new pajamas from Carters because she has yet again grown out of her clothes.  So naturally I assumed that this was what the package was.  Before reading the package and realizing that it was actually from The Children's Place, I opened it up to find a CUTE winter outfit for Kate, complete with a matching hat, from one of our family members.  I know Kate was technically supposed to wait until Christmas to "get" this, but it was too cute not to stick on her head immediately and take a few pictures.  Besides, she'll never remember that she didn't have to wait.  We LOVE the outift and she didn't seem to mind the hat in the least. :) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Garlic Baked Spaghetti

Thanks again, Pinterest, for giving me another easy recipe to add to the collection.  This one was pulled from here but I altered it a little bit.  Basically instead of eating spaghetti with a side of garlic bread, this recipe combines it all into one.  Kevin called it the spaghetti calzone, and actually that's exactly what it was.  The original recipe calls for bread dough or dinner rolls, but I used pizza dough.  I guess the only difference is that my bread/crust wasn't as light and fluffy.  It was more calzone/pizza-like.  Still pretty good.

Before baking:

And after:

Basically, make spaghetti the way you normally would and go ahead and mix your sauce and noodles.  Then roll out your dough and put a row of spaghetti.  I put a little more sauce on top just because I like a lot of sauce.  Top with lots of mozzarella cheese.  Then cut your dough from the spaghetti row outward toward the edges. Pull the strips toward the center of the spaghetti, alternating sides.  Brush the top with one egg white, and sprinkle with garlic powder, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees (If you decide to use pizza dough, follow the directions on the box for cooking- mine was at 450 for about 30 minutes).  

Anybody else have any easy recipes to share?  I'm always looking out for something new.  It seems like we eat the same few things over and over again.


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