Monday, December 31, 2012

Our year in review

This year has left its mark for sure.  There were some seriously joyous times and great celebrations for our family....and most of the year was a celebration, for our little family of 4.  But we were surrounded more than ever by grief, loss and devestation by people we love and care a lot about.  For that reason, I am more than happy to see 2012 turn to 2013. 

We have been BUSY this year, and here are a few highlights, a few memories and a few moments that will forever be etched into our hearts and minds.
In February the girls and I flew home for Vanessa's wedding shower.  It was a big trip for us and we were so excited to be celebrating her upcoming marriage to Evan.
But just a day before heading home, my sweet Grandpa passed away.  It was a blessing to be home for the funeral and be able to be a part of his celebration of life, but he is so dearly missed.
Just a few weeks after getting home we learned that sweet Joey's cancer was taking over his body and there were mere days before he would meet Jesus.
I cannot explain in any way how much Joey's life impacted our life and how much his absence from this world still affects us.  I will forever remember Joey and Clare sitting on the couch just days before he passed sharing a snack and a smile.  I did not know the impact Joey's death would have on Clare, but it was not what I expected.  It lead to a ton of conversations about heaven and still almost weekly Clare talks about Joey and how she misses him.
I also did not realize the heartache it would cause both LD and I.  When we met Joey we were not yet parents.  And now, expecting our own little boy in 3 weeks, Joey's life has changed the way we love our children.
In March, the girls and I headed out (ALONE) to Vegas for Vanessa and Evan's wedding.  LD later joined us, but that was the biggest adventure of my life for sure!!!
It was a beautiful wedding and we were all so honored to be a part of it.

LD and I have prayed since we met for the man Vanessa would marry and God is so faithful and it is so awesome to see the way God brought them together.
A week after getting home from Vegas we moved into our new home!!!  God has been so good to us.
In May Clare had a ballet recital, which definetely makes the list!!
Clare also moved to a real big girl bed, which she was thrilled about.  And in May I turned the big 30!  Also the end of May we found out we were having another baby!!
All summer was spent at the pool and Elle mastered a few tricks ;)  In June, LD joined me turning the big 30!
In August LD took me overnight to Greenville, SC, which was a huge treat to spend some time with my hubby!!
The end of August we headed to Kentucky to spend a weekend with my college roomies and their husbands, and I believe that will go down as one of the best, most fun vacations our family has had to date.
In September my baby girl started PRESCHOOL....what?!?!
And to celebrate the girls birthdays we took an insane trip to Michigan from Friday to Monday (DRIVING!) and went to the circus with our family.
My big girl turning 4....
and my little girl turning 2!
In November we headed back to Michigan,
to spend more time with our beloved family!!
In the last 3 weeks we have lost a sweet and beautiful 16 year old girl from our church who was incredibly special.  And just last week we lost a 37 year old mom of 3 to a drunk driving accident and will attend her memorial on Thursday.  Those two losses on top of what happened in Conneticut at Sandy Hook Elementary has left our hearts heavy as we close our 2012.  Just today our very dearest friends packed up their home and are in the process of driving to Boston to start a church.  That is a huge celebration, but feels like a loss today for only selfish reasons.
It is so good to reflect and see all the ways God has provided and proved faithful over this last year, even if he has called us to a time of trial and heartache today.  I have no doubt he will be faithful in 2013 as well.
We are a mere 3 weeks from adding a sweet little boy to our family, which will forever change our lives!  Happy New Years!

Christmas with Grammie and Papa!!

This is the first Christmas that we have had my parents with us on Christmas morning...and it was SO fun!!!!  I'm hoping we get a few more years to have them here before my siblings start complaining :)

The girls woke up to a big surprise from Santa...a HOUSE!!!  The house moved to our upstairs bonus room and my hope is that it keeps everyone occupied upstairs once our sweet little boy is here and we are spending more time at home.
It was a super fun year with both girls...they were SO into their presents.
But this picture captures my heart this year.  LD took both girls out alone to pick out their own present for each other.  They did a really good job and he really let them pick.  After they exchanged gifts we caught this super sweet hug and I could not ask for anything more!

We could have given both girls 100 books and they would have been thrilled.  Every time they opened a gif they would end up sitting with their books again.  I love it :)

And I think one of Elle's top gifts this year was this sweet little dog called Cookie.

After opening, which took most of the morning, the playing began.

It was so great to just be home and not have anything but toys and family to spend the day with.

AFTER the girls naps, it was Christmas all over again!  Grammie and Papa put out their presents and brought presents from my aunt!!  The girls got fishing poles from Papa, which they are already excited to use at the pond as soon as it warms. up.

And Clare got a very big girl dollhouse, which she sweetly shared with her sister.  Elle got a little girl dollhouse, so she was not left out at all!!

After the present overload (but still in pj's), we had Christmas dinner and dessert, complete with a birthday cake for Jesus. 
As we sang happy birthday Clare found this little manger and "Jesus is the Reason" decoration and held it up :) 
Such a special and perfect day with our family!  Merry Christmas from the Jacksons!!


Christmas Eve 2012

Last Christmas Eve we were invited to spend lunch at Quail Hollow Country Club with the Schmidly family who are very dear friends of ours.  I helped with their 4 children when they were little before having children of my own and it is always such a treat to spend time with them.
So we met them for a lunch in our cutest holiday attire!
This is Henri, who is now 10!!!  Henri was almost 3 when I first started helping with the kids.
This is all the girls and I'm so disappointed I don't have one of the whole family.  The guys all go to a father/son type luncheon and the girls have a room where we order our lunch.  So we took these pictures before the guys had joined us.

But it is always a super great time to spend with them, and a great way to start off the Christmas Eve celebration!

We came home for a quick nap and when the girls got up...Grammie and Papa were there!!!  They were so excited and so were we. 

We all headed to church for a Chrsitmas Eve service!

Then we came home for dinner and found that David, our elf had left new pj's and a stuffed animal for each girl.  I love this pic of the girls with my mom.

Grammie had brought some reindeer food, so we left some for Rudolph on the driveway.
It had been such a busy day, so after getting the girls to bed and getting ready to wait on Santa's arrival, LD peaked into the playroom and could tell we had a busy day.  When we were home the girls played hard!!!!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Annual trip to the singing bears

We love going every year to see the singing bears uptown.  And I think it is so fun because it is FREE, parking is FREE, and we can eat Chick fil a for lunch.  I mean who doens't love those things?
We were planning on going with our sweet friends the Briggs, and then daddy surprised us with a day off, so the dads came along too!!!
Ever since preschool started Clare and Cooper haven't gotten much time to play together and I think they were both equally excited to see each other.

And their shirts were made by our sweet friend Kimmy who moved to California.  I LOVE them!!!

We also ran into Clare's friend Sophie from ballet class (in red), which was another big treat for Clare!

And after a little dancing and singing of favorite Christmas carols we had some yummy Chick fil a!

Which is my girls FAVORITE.  Speaking of Chick fil a...have you tried their peppermint chocolate chip shake????  It is so incredibly yummy.  It has been my pregnancy weakness.  I have truthfully only had one, but since I could walk to Chick fil a from my house I have to be extra careful.  I could drink one every day!

I can't believe how big our children are getting and this picture of the four of them is So sweet!!
Tim and LD went to elementary-high school together in Reading and we are blessed to have them still living so close to us in Charlotte.
What a fun day! 
After all these adventures the rest of the weekend we are staying HOME!  No shopping or running around for this bunch.  We are watching Christmas movies and staying in our pj's and so excited about it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Breakfast with Santa

Today was the Next Level Church staff Christmas Party.  And since our staff has grown both from more babies and more families they had it at Maggiano's so the kids could join us!
But before we left I decided to get a picture of some of our December morning routine!
In addition to looking for David our elf every morning, and having a peice of chocolate from our advent calendars....Clare made this chain at school to count down the days til Santa arrives and its getting shorter!  Since she's having a hard time reaching it, I set her on the counter and you can tell she was very scared she was going to fall since I let her go to take a picture.
We also found a cute pin on pinterest where we add a cotton ball to Santa's beard every morning and it will be full come Christmas day!
It is a LOT to keep up with every morning, but Clare makes sure we don't miss anything!
We were so excited LD was able to join us in the fun this morning at breakfast with Santa!
The girls had a super yummy was seriously DELICIOUS!
And it was fun having a breakfast with all of our friends from church.
Then we were off to see Santa.  At first Elle was not so sure....
But as soon as she saw her sisters excitement, she was ready!!
The Jacksons with Santa!
Sweet girls were telling Santa all the fun things they want for Christmas!  I know Santa had no idea what Elle requested, but he sure did a good job acting like it!
It was a great morning to start off our first day of Christmas break (I love that now that Clare is in school I feel like we have "vacation")
Tomorrow we are off to the singing bears the fun continues!