Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recapping 2011

I cannot believe that 2011 is coming to an end. So very hard to wrap my head around. It has been an amazing year around the Eckley house! Full of so many wonderful memories. We started the year just surviving with a 3 year old and 1 year old. Now we have a full fledged preschool loving 4 year old (almost 5) and a crazy 2 year old. It was a wild ride but full of lots of fun along the way. I thought I would take a look back at some of the highlights of the year from the blog. I will link to some of my favorite blogs from each month...

January - The year started off great with Auburn winning the National Championship. Really a huge highlight of the year just 10 days in! We also survived Snowpacalypse of 2011 at the same time. Eight inches of snow is huge for us. Really the whole winter of 2011 was snowy. We finished off the month by heading down to Auburn to celebrate the big win.

February - Life was really slow around the Eckley house in February. The winter months were long and hard at times with 2 young kiddos but we survived! We did celebrate a really fun Valentine's Day. I love my sweet boy! We did have some excitement getting the kiddos into their new school. We really have turned into those crazy parents that I used to laugh at.

March - What can I say about March... It was a crazy month! Started with my sweet boy turning 4 and having a fun birthday party and a fun day with his friends. Matt then headed out for a life changing trip to Rwanda (part 1, part 2 and part 3). The kids and I held down the home front which included a massive eye injury for me. March was busy!

April - April was a fun month but also full of some really hard times. Ben had his very first soccer game! He loved playing soccer this spring and fall. We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus with a wonderful Easter. The month ended very rough with the April 27th tornadoes in Alabama. It will always be one of those days that we will never forget.

May - May started with a quick trip to the beach since we had no power for 5 days. Both Kate and Ben had their last days of school for the year and we started a fun summer!

June - We took an amazing 10 day cruise to Alaska!!! It was so wonderful and we enjoyed every minute of it!! I won't link to the whole cruise but you can check it all out if you want to. That pretty much took up our whole month!

July - It was HOT!!! We didn't have air for the first week so that made it even more hot! We spent lots of time at the pool and playing with friends. Ben had his first sleepover and Kate went to her first movie. We ended the month with a fun trip down to Mobile to visit our friends the Wrights!

August - Back to school!!! Both Ben and Kate had great first days of school. It was nice to get back to our regular routine but we were sad to leave the laziness of summer behind. Matt celebrated a fun birthday (ok I don't know how fun it was). It was a month of transition and getting back into the "groove."

September - Looking back nothing really big happened during September. We were ready for a slow month. Kate and I started BSF which has been a wonderful experience for us both. I also got to go to the .mom conference in Birmingham while the kids and Matt had a great time at home. Lots of fun was had a grandparent's day at the kids school.

October - There is always so many fun activities in the fall. Ben and I went to the pumpkin patch with his school class. We enjoyed being outside and spending time together as a family along with a trip to Auburn. Halloween was a blast for our little cheerleader and football player. We also began sponsoring a child from Rwanda in October!

November - We celebrated sweet Kate in November! We went to Disney on Ice as part of an early birthday present. She turned 2 on November 16 and we had a super fun Minnie Mouse birthday party! We also had a really special Thanksgiving thanking God for all His wonderful blessings!

December - It was all about Christmas!! We had a great time leading up to Christmas going to parties, partying at school, seeing Santa and making gingerbread houses. Also thrown in was my birthday (I would rather it got forgotten)! Then it was the big day. We had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve and Day.

What a year!!! Filled with so many wonderful blessings. It is amazing to see God's hand of provision and guidance all the way through. We are thankful for 2011 but are looking forward to 2012 and what God has in store for us...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

East Family Christmas

After naps and rest time for everyone, we headed over to my parent's house for Christmas with the East family. Once again it was all just so wonderful! The kids were great and we just had a blast. I always look forward to Christmas at my parent's because that means my mom's wonderful lasagna! We had a great time eating together!

My mom always gets the English crackers for us. It is a fun tradition. Kate loved her crown!

My dad with his crown and toy!

Then it was present time!! We said we were all going to cut back this year and really we did. There were fewer presents even if you couldn't really tell.

Kate loved her Minnie dress up doll and tutu from Granna and Grandaddy!

Ben got some awesome PJs.

And some super cool Legos from Kelly and Andrew (of course Uncle Andrew as to get him Legos!)

Kate loved her baby doll and sling from Kelly and Andrew!

This year there were some interesting gifts that made an appearance. Matt got an auger (although he did ask for that).

Ben and his penguin air hockey game.

My dad and his Italy travel book.

Andrew got a Russian petruska doll that was Auburn themed. Very funny!! We saw these on our cruise to Alaska and it just had to be had!

I got Mall Madness!!!! I had mentioned at one time that I had always wanted this game but had never gotten it so Kelly and Andrew researched and found it for me! Best gift!!!!

Matt got some mint jelly! Inside joke from a previous cruise!

Ben got an awesome new bike. It was very needed because he had quickly outgrown his old one.

Kate got the cutest little table and chairs for her room. She has had so much fun having tea parties!

It really was the best Christmas ever. Thanks to all our family for making is so very special!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Morning 2011

Ok I have to admit (I do that alot on here) that I don't think I have ever been so excited for Christmas as I was this year!! I could not wait for the kiddos to see all their gifts and for us to just celebrate together. I was so excited when Christmas morning arrived and it did not disappoint.
Ben's presents... he got a Nerf gun (the only thing he asked for), lots of Imaginex Batman stuff, Army men stuff, Green Lantern house and some costumes!
For the past few months I had worked hard to get the kiddos a bunch of Disney movies for us to watch before our trip to Disney. I think I succeeded in getting just about all of them (if you ever want to borrow any let me know). I got them at yard sales, clearance sales and on ebay. I didn't pay more than about $8 per movie and got a total of 18! I was so excited!
Kate racked up on the baby doll stuff! She got a bed, highchair, swing and diaper bag. She also got a mixer and toaster for her kitchen and some princess dresses.
Matt and I were up early waiting on the kiddos. We were just so excited! We just sat and waited on them. Ben finally woke up at 7.
They were so excited to see all of their presents!
And to dig into their stockings!
We spent hours just playing with toys and having so much fun!Matt and I enjoyed digging into our stockings as well. I was excited to get the yearly family picture ornament. And Matt was excited about his new wallet (he needed it!)
Kate spent part of the morning dressed up as Ariel!
Me and my sweet little girl!
Then we enjoyed a yummy breakfast of coffee cake, pigs in a blanket and sausage balls!
It was then time to open the presents under the tree. Ben was so excited for Kate to open the present he got her. He wanted it to be first!
She loved the little kitty cat in the purse!
Ben loved his socker swords from Kate!
I got some of the most awesome things. I think I will write about them in another post!
Daddy (and Ben) were excited about the new Lego Wii games he got. Of course there was a HUGE mess but that is what Christmas is all about!Then we just got to play!! We had so much fun. The grandparents all came over late morning to join in on the fun. We had so much fun hanging out and enjoying all the gifts.
Everything about the mornign was just perfect! We had so much fun.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Favorite Christms Tradition

My very favorite things we do every year at Christmas are on Christmas Eve. We made the decision several years ago that we would protect the time on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and make that time all about our family. It has been so wonderful! Our Christmas Eve is full of special traditions that we look forward to every year.
We always go to the vesper service at church. Ben and Kate looked cute all dressed up and ready to go.
The vesper service is always very nice and simple. We sing some carols and then the pastor has all of the children come up on stage as he reads the Christmas story. It is a nice way to kick off the celebration of Jesus' birthday.
This year Ben and Kate went down to the front all by themselves. Ben did an amazing job of keeping up with Kate. They were so cute walking down holding hands.
After the service, we went up to the hospital to deliver the blessing baskets that we had made for the nurses on the 7th floor. We always enjoy blessing them with some goodies as they work on Christmas.
A few years back we picked up Chinese food on the way home and somehow that tradition stuck. We get it every year and we really look forward to it! We were talking to some friends at the vesper service and they were saying they have been going out for Chinese on Christmas Eve every year for 20 years. There kids are all grown now but they still go every year. I want that to be us one day! Talking about our 20 years of China Cook!
We came home and enjoyed some super yummy Chinese food!! The kids ate it up. While we were eating we had one of the greatest teachable moments with Ben. We started talking about China and how the people in China are not free to openly worship God or celebrate Jesus' birthday. He was so very concerned and we were able to pray right there as a family for the people in China. It was such a sweet and wonderful conversation. I pray that we can really teach our kids about our wonderful blessings of being able to openly celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Then we all gathered around as Matt read the Christmas story.
And we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and ate cake!
We set out our cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer!
Then it was off to bed for some kiddos!!! It was such a wonderful evening as we celebrated the real reason for the season!