New Years Eve 2022…

We brought in the new year with family and friends – the people we’d want surrounding us at any ending or beginning.

The older kids went dancing. My brother and his wife also went dancing for a little bit – they found a country swing dance location and couldn’t help themselves.

I took the younger kids to our neighbor’s party for a bit with bounce houses, beignets, fireworks, live band and a photo booth.

And just before midnight Hallie’ had a large group of friends join our family in ringing in the new year: Martinelli’s, sparklers, paper lanterns and games late into the night.

And just like that, another year has come to an end. To be honest, I’m not much for new year’s resolutions (I actually use the start of a new school year to make resolutions – its a more natural timeline for change in my life.)

But I do look forward to the year ahead and what it may entail. As Hallie continues to remind us, this is the year she turns 18 and starts her senior year. The year Hunter starts high school and Bennett starts junior high. The year Steve takes the kids scuba diving. The year we work on the backyard. The year Cannon (and hopefully Briggs) learns to wake surf. The year Hunter gets his braces off. The year Hallie applies to college. The year Steve and I celebrate 20 years of marriage.

It’s a year to look forward to for sure.

Christmas Card 2022…

It’s always a gamble as to what our friends and family are going to get when they open our Christmas card each year. 🙂

I like to think outside the box and deliver the unexpected. I also like to give a glimpse into our lives – this year it only made sense to have the card focus on sports and show Steve and I on the sidelines.

I know our lives won’t always be lived on the sidelines, but right now this is our season and I’m here for it!

The faces of Christmas 2022…

Bennett has always been our animated child but Cannon is quickly gaining on him. Christmas morning provides the best in reactions and emotions.

We traditionally take our Christmas mornings slow. We open presents one at a time because I want to see each and every reaction. And there’s always a few gifts I’m extra excited to give for one reason or another. I love how excited they get for each other even when it’s not their gift. I love the hugs and the fist pumps and the screaming, “Let’s go!”.

I love all of it.

The year of the shoe…

Sometimes we end of up having a repeating gift on Christmas morning without even intending to do so. This year was the year of the shoe. Steve’s been asking for cool “dad” shoes. Hunter only asked for one thing for Christmas and it was shoes. And Hallie also is in a shoe phase as are many high school kids these days. (Briggs also ended up with a pair, not because he wanted them but because he needed them!)

Steve was the first one to open shoes and Hunter was salivating as he turned the shoes over and around in his hands.

Steve was recounting a Christmas when he was a young teenager and he received his first pair of Jordan shoes. And now that he’s 40, he just got his second pair and he’s just as excited. He will most definitely be one cool dad.

We made sure Hunter opened his shoes as his last present. By this point, it was late in the afternoon. We had eaten breakfast. We had gone to church. We had come home and eaten lunch. And the kids thought they were done opening gifts. And then we had a scavenger hunt for each one of them to find their last gift. Hunter started beaming at the thought there might still be a pair of shoes for him after all.

He did one small tear of the paper and saw the black box, and he knew.

He was one happy 14-year-old.

Hallie opened her last gift just after Hunter had opened his shoes. And as she opened the shipping box she too knew what her gift was and she just grinned at Hunter as she slid them out of the box.

She too was one happy girl.

When my kids were younger, I could not have imagined the day they would be asking for shoes for Christmas but here we are and Nike did not disappoint this year!

Christmas Eve 2022…

There is always so much pent-up excitement on Christmas eve – its a wonder that any of the kids ever fall asleep.

The last couple years it has rained on Christmas eve and put a damper on our neighborhood luminaries. So when we saw a clear forecast earlier in the week, we were looking forward to our Christmas eve tradition once again. Almost 200 homes all display white paper bags with candles lining their sidewalk.

We lit our candles before heading over to our friends home for dinner and chimes. We’ve hosted our friends the last two years as they have been remodeling and they were happy to host once again.

I’m happy to report, the older the kids get, the better our chimes sound. There were a few years that were pretty rough! I don’t want to brag, but we sound pretty good and the kids love it.

After, we drove through the neighborhood to take in the lights and luminaries and made a stop at the Christmas light show (aka the Christmas house in the neighborhood). Definitely one of our warmer and drier Christmas eves.

We ended up back at home and the kids wanted to give their sibling gifts. They drew names and Hallie took them all to the store to purchase their gifts. I have to admit – this is one of their favorite things about Christmas and I want nothing to do with it! I spend enough time managing and purchasing all the gifts, I’m grateful they manage this on their own. And because I don’t know what they get each other, it’s a fun surprise for me as they’re opening them. So many smiles, so many hugs, so much gratitude.

It’s the perfect appetizer to Christmas morning.

Steve read a book to the kids and after they plated some cookies and carrots, they were off to try and go to bed. 😉

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Gilbert Turkey Trot…Thanksgiving 2022…

November may be my busiest month of the year as I work to get the turkey trot details wrapped up and then the event itself. It ends up being a family affair as the whole family is involved.

The day before Thanksgiving, we have the packet pickup for the race. Hallie, Hunter and Bennett join me and help in different stations; checking people in and handing out t-shirts.

The morning of the race Hunter and a family friend joined my bright and early to finish last minute setting up. This is a trailer load of just half the donuts we had for the race.

I’m amazed that each and every year this race grows – which is awesome for our charities. As I started out on the family fun run with my family, it was such a fun sight to see people spilling out from the mall parking lot. I can’t remember the last time I ran a mile and I’m embarrassed to admit how out of shape I am!

For the first year ever, we didn’t have a stroller or a scooter and those little legs ran the whole race. There was a point where Briggs’ legs were tired and he was ready to walk. Talking to himself, he said, “I just really want that medal!” and those little legs started running again. I didn’t tell him he would have received the medal regardless if he walked or ran.

In years’ past, Hallie has seemed to disappear with her cousins when it was time to run, claiming they accidentally missed it. But not this year – she was a willing participant with her cousin Claire.

Last year Bennett and Hunter both really trained for the 5K – this year their only training has been soccer practice/games. Bennett was adamant that he would not be running this year and yet days before the race he said he would do it – he was going to earn a medal. I was so happy to see him cross the finish line and the only thing he said to me was, “I think I’m going to throw up. No, seriously, I’m just want to throw up. Luckily, he didn’t need one of the many buckets that were used more frequently than I would have imagined.

I was standing at the finish line taking pictures of everyone running through and somehow I missed Hunter, not even sure how that was possible but he ran right by me and I didn’t see him. He was proud of his 21 minute completion and even more proud he beat his uncle’s time who runs marathons.

Hallie was happy to be surrounded by cousins. So many of them have moved on to college so she really enjoys when they all come home to visit.

This is the crew behind the turkey trot. The crew that sits in meetings and determines just how many doughnuts we need this year and how many barricades we need for the finish line. Every person with a very specific skillset and role on the team. It’s an entertaining group to say the least.

After we put on a successful race, it was time to put on a successful dinner. Steve’s brother graciously hosted (as they have done so many years in the past) and every family did their part to contribute to the dinner.

After dinner, more family gathered for dessert and games. We spent the evening outside in competition and then brought the competition inside for some group games. There is never a dull moment with this group. People were winning money and others were jumping in the pool with all their clothes or serenading us with song.

As we climbed in the car later that night, we rode home listening to Christmas music recounting the days events. And then all the weeks of preparation caught up with me and I crashed – I was good for nothing Friday, but it was a good recovery day.