Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

2009 has been an amazing year for our family!
Here are some of the highlights:

-Since I became pregnant in October of 2008, Gillian Grace was just a lil' peanut when we welcomed in 2009. In late January my morning sickness began to subside and I began to feel more like myself.

-After telling family that we were expecting in late 2008, it wasn't until the first week of February that I spilled the beans to my friends and co-workers. And, on the Friday before Valentine's Day, I shared the wonderful news with my class of second graders. Of course they reacted as you would expect 7 and 8 year olds would---with screams, hugs, and tons of questions. My favorite that still makes me laugh to this day, "Does Mr. Webb know?"

-February was a busy month...We also learned that we were having a baby girl.

-I said goodbye to the only job I'd ever known, teaching, making our decision for me to become a stay-at-home mom official. To date, I have no regrets about our decision. Although I miss socializing with my friends over lunch, I would not trade my time at home with Gillian Grace for anything or any amount of money.

-We finally found a new church home and began attending Sunday school classes before becoming members in late May.

-In June, Bret and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe that six years have come and gone so quickly. It feels like just yesterday that we were sitting just a few rows apart in an auditorium seating nearly 500 freshman year at the University of Florida. Who would've thought that sharing notes would lead to marriage?

-2009 was the year that we became a family of three. On July 20th we welcomed our greatest blessing, Gillian Grace, into the world. What did we ever do before Gillian? Oh yeah, sleep...

-2009 was also the year that both Bret and I turned 30. Never having been one to get caught up on age, it surprised me that I had a difficult time with this birthday. If age is only a number, why do I suddenly feel so old?

-Although we've always been close, I got to spend even more time with my family this year. Even before GG's arrival we saw my Mom and Dad regularly and began the tradition of monthly weekend dinner get-togethers. With Gillian Grace's arrival visits from family and friends became more frequent and Gammie now comes for her weekly Gillybean fix. I honestly do not know what I would have done without the support of my family this year, and feel eternally grateful for everyone, especially my husband, Mom, and Dad.

This year was a whirlwind full of surprises, tears, laughter, and special memories. I cannot wait to see what is in store for our family in 2010. Life is good and we are blessed beyond belief. Having always felt that New Year's Eve was one of those overrated holidays, Bret, Gillian Grace, and I will keep tonight low-key. We'll celebrate with a family dinner of chicken and dumplings and likely be fast asleep before the ball drops in Times Square.

Wishing you a safe and prosperous New Year!

Tasty Tuesday

Okay, who am I kidding? It's Thursday and I'm just now getting around to posting the Tasty Tuesday recipe for this week. So forgive me for once again being tardy and hold on for just a sec as I rummage around in my bag o'excuses for a reason why this post is late...again! Hmmm, maybe it was due to my worsening condition known as Mommy brain? No, nevermind it was because the holidays had me just too busy... No, no, no it had to be the visiting in-laws... Whatever the reason, I promise this recipe is well worth the wait.

As mentioned in a previous post my Dad made the most mouth-watering breakfast pastry on Christmas morning, a cinnamon pull-apart. This delicious recipe is as sinful as it is easy (according to my Dad anyway) and is guaranteed to have your family rushing back for seconds...or thirds...or fourths....just as our family did Christmas morning!

Cinnamon Pull Apart Rolls

1 package (24 oz.) frozen dinner rolls, slightly thawed
1/2 c. butter melted
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 c. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon, mixed to roll dough in

  1. Grease angel food cake pan.
  2. Stir sugars, cinnamon, and nuts into melted butter.
  3. Pour 1/2 mixture in bottom of pan.
  4. Cut rolls in quarters and roll in dry mixture of cinnamon sugar.
  5. Arrange 1/2 the rolls in the pan.
  6. Pour the remaining butter/sugar mixture over the rolls.
  7. Add remaining rolls.
  8. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
  10. Remove from pan while still warm.

Serves 10 to 12 people.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Give me a Boost!

I think it fair to say that every aspect of our lives has changed (for the better) since Gillian Grace's arrival. Nothing, from when and how we eat to what we read, is the same as it once was. Although I still enjoy mindless reads like Us Magazine every once in a while, lately I get my greatest enjoyment reading other Mommy blogs. With an infinite number of Mommy bloggers out there writing about everything from a to z, it's easy for me to lose track of time until I'm abruptly pulled back into reality by a waking baby or the buzzing of the dryer.

Recently, I joined a site just for Mommy bloggers. It's an online community with all sorts of blogs ranging from the informational to the purely entertaining. Although blogging for me is just a hobby, I do like knowing that there are people out there that actually read what I write. Hence, the "Give me a Boost!" title to this post. Since joining the Mommy Blog Directory I have been asked to post a link to their site on my sidebar. Each time you click on one of the Top Mommy Blog links, our blog gets credit. The more clicks we receive the faster Webbisodes will rise through the rankings of their over 400 listed blogs. I'm not looking to get a top ranking, but instead hope to win over a few more loyal readers and make some new Mommy bloggin' friends.

So to help us out and give our modest little blog a little more exposure click here, the picture at the beginning of this post, or the icon under "Give me a Boost!" to the right on our sidebar and remember to click each time you visit our blog. And most importantly, thanks for setting aside a little time in your own hectic lives to check in and keep up with us. We continue to be thankful for your interest, your input, and your support!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Memories

Aunt Helen, Alex, and Uncle James dropped by Christmas Eve.

Gillian Grace was excited about one of her Christmas gifts from The Gatewood, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

We began what we hope will become a yearly tradition with our family, reading the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to our children before bed on Christmas Eve.

Yummy! Dad made a cinnamon pull-apart (similar to Monkey Bread only more delicious) Christmas morning.

With wall to wall presents, it was hard to find a place to sit Christmas morning.

All our stockings were filled to the top.

Everyone was very good this year...
Mom (Gammie)

Dad (Grandad)

Gillian Grace with Gammie and Grandad.

Gillian Grace is SPOILED! Just the way it should be!

Trying on one of Daddy's Christmas presents, a Florida Gators hat.

Where did Gillian Grace go?

Such a good little girl...GG entertained herself while we opened presents.

She loves her Baby Einstein exersaucer!

Try as she might, Gillian Grace couldn't stay awake for the entire five hours it took us to open all our presents.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Special Delivery

Just a few days before Christmas, Bret and Gillian Grace headed out to deliver presents to our neighbors. Gillian Grace was dressed for just such an occasion with her "Santa's Little Helper" hat and "Who Needs Santa When I've Got Grandma" onesie. Now that she's so big, GG is able be placed in the Baby Bjorn facing front, a position she much prefers. Of course our neighbors were so enamored with Santa's littlest helper that they could not have cared less about their carefully chosen and wrapped gifts.

But then again, who could blame them?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas always brings blessings, joy, and gifts galore. As we celebrate this year with our greatest present ever, Gillian Grace, we also remember the reason we celebrate the season, Jesus Christ.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through my parents' house
Not a sound could be heard except for my snoring spouse
All five stockings were hung by the fireplace so neat
With hopes that Santa would drop by, email, or tweet
Gillian Grace was snuggled in her crib counting sheep
While I wished for a silent night and some much needed sleep
When all of a sudden there was a loud boom boom kerplunk
But it was just a car on Spanish Trail with a lot of bass in the trunk
Then later I heard the most astonishing sound
I crept down the stairs for a quick look around
When what should I see crouched down near the tree
But ole St. Nick with his bag of goodies staring back at me
With a finger to his lip he whispered, "Please be quiet
And about this cookie, don't tell Mrs. Claus since she's got me on a diet."
With the head of gingerbread man jammed in his mouth
He began to tell me about his long trip to the South
Then we chatted about the weather and Tiger Woods
Needless to say he's on the naughty list and won't be receiving anything good
Before too long Santa was on his way
Up the chimney toward his red sleigh
He patted his reindeer before climbing aboard
Then into the night sky Santa soared
Shouting all the way as he flew far out of sight...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas from our sweet lil' candy cane.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Trimming the Tree

For as many years as I can remember, my Mom has always attended The Gatewood's Ornament Exchange. And, every year since I've been married and had a home of my own I've been vowing to host a Holiday Ornament Exchange of my own. Then as Christmas after Christmas comes and goes I find myself saying, "Okay, next year will be the year..."

Well friends, this was the year! I finally hosted my first Ornament Exchange. Twenty good friends braved the inclement weather (40 degrees with torrential rain) to spend the first evening of December at our house for some holiday revelry. Between the food, wine, and laughter the hours passed quickly and before I knew it, I was closing the door behind my last guest around 10 o'clock. With Mom and Bret's help, cleanup was a snap and the rest of the night was spent reflecting on the success of my first hostessing gig and making notes for next year's soiree.

What holiday parties are you attending or hosting this year?

Front row from left to right: Laurie, Heather, Lynn, Susan, Caroline, Christina, Me, Katrina, Kathy
Back row from left to right: Amanda, Kim, Mom, Elizabeth, Kathryn, Debi, Joan, and Lonnie.

Ready for bed, Gillian Grace gives hugs to Ms. Liza.

Mom and Me

Score! Here's the ornament I was lucky enough to end up with during the exchange game. After having another ornament stolen from me not once but twice, I repaid the favor by swiping this ornament from my neighbor. I knew it would look great on our dining room tree of reds, greens, and golds.

Take me home, Country Roads...

West Virginia, Mountain Mama...take me home, Country Roads.

Shortly before midnight Friday I tiptoed into Gillian Grace's room, gently pulled her out of a sweet slumber for a quick diaper change and then as quickly as my hands would work, secured her safely in her carseat. After a quick check to make sure everything was off in the house, our family loaded up in the Yukon and headed north. Destination---West Virginia, a short 820 mile drive. All was quiet on McGregor Court as we headed toward the Interstate. We came to an abrupt stop minutes after leaving our neighborhood as we encountered the first red light of our journey. In the minutes as we sat waiting for the light to change, glancing from left to right trying to find a reason for our delay, the reality of the long trip ahead of us begin to sink in. Moving along the highways and once on the I-65, I couldn't help but be envious as we passed all the darkened homes with their occupants tucked snuggly in their warm beds. Factoring in a few stops---for breakfast, gas, and diaper changes---our trip took close to 15 hours.

For an extremely long trip, it was relatively uneventful. Leaving at midnight allowed us to get halfway before Gillian Grace even began to stir. Stopping for breakfast at Cracker Barrel made feeding GG her fruit, cereal, and bottle more convenient. And, quite possibly the best investment of all, a portable dvd player, captured GG's attention and helped to occupy her in between naps.

With the success of the drive up the only change we made to our itinerary for the return trek was to leave slightly earlier. We left West Virginia at ten Monday night and pulled into our driveway at ten forty-five the next morning. Accounting for the hour time difference, we shaved just about two hours off our total travel time. Not too shabby!

Our visit to West Virginia, albeit brief, was wonderful. Not many thirty year olds are fortunate enough to have both a Grandmother and Grandfather alive and doing well. And after a few close health related calls with both, I feel so blessed that my daughter had the opportunity to meet her Great MaMa and Great PaPa. As expected, Gillian Grace was the center of attention. GG was more popular than cake at a Weight Watchers meeting as everyone vied for their next chance to hold her. Gillian may be small but the joy she brings into the lives of everyone in our family is immense!

Gillian Grace with Great MaMa and Great PaPa.

Gammie with her Mom and Dad.

Aunt Bobbie, Me and Gillybean, Mom, and MaMa

Mothers and Daughters

Aunt Bobbie and Gillian Grace

Cousin Bryce and Gillian Grace

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

I found this recipe for Monkey Bread while perusing other Mommy blogs. With very few ingredients and steps, it seems simple to prepare. Hopefully it will taste as delicious as it looks.

Monkey Bread

4 pkgs. Pillsbury rolls (not buttermilk)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cinnamon
1/2 lb. butter
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar

  1. Separate rolls and cut each into fourths.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cinnamon.
  3. Roll pieces in this mix.
  4. Melt butter and stir in 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar.
  5. Grease Bundt pan.
  6. Place half of biscuits in pan, then half of melted mixture, then remaining biscuits and remaining melted mixture.
  7. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Turn over pan and eat while warm. Pull apart with fingers.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


With things finally beginning to settle down and Christmas just a few days away, I'm finally getting around to posting some pictures of our holiday decorations. Although we were in our new home for Christmas last year, I was expecting and experiencing one of the many joys of pregnancy---morning sickness. A sparsely ornamented tree was the extent of my decorating. With no excuses and a new baby this year as well as a Holiday Ornament Exchange to host, I (and by I , I mean Bret) began pulling out boxes of decorations the week before Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right, I said the week before Thanksgiving. It took a little over a week, several trips to Pier 1, Target, and Hobby Lobby, a loving husband, and a patient baby girl to finally get the house completely Christmasfied.

A few of my favorite Christmas ornaments

Perfect for a family living in the Deep South!

Bret always brings back an ornament for the tree when he travels. We picked up this one together during a trip to San Francisco last December.

These Waterford ornaments are among some of my favorite. They are simply beautiful! We must have close to 100 of these ornaments on our living room tree.

Each year Mom gives us Christmas on the Coast ornaments. These ornaments depict local traditions, customs, or landmarks of Pensacola and Mobile.
Pensacola Beachball tower (above)
Mardi Gras in Mobile (below)

Gillian Grace's first Christmas ornament, a gift from Gammie.

Dining room Christmas tree decorated in green, red, and gold.

A view from the top of the stairs.

Our living room

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Having already sent most of our holiday gifts home with Gammie to make our trip to Pensacola lighter, only a few packages remain under the tree.

I still love making bows for all our gifts. This year we purchased 16 rolls of ribbon from Hobby Lobby. That's 1,600 feet of ribbon!

Our home at night.

Since moving to Mobile, I noticed that many people use wire mesh to decorate their front doors for various holidays. Always having admired this look, I decided to give decorating with mesh a try.

The backyard