Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Goals in Review

I love goals. I love planning them, doing them and reflecting on them. On this last day of 2013, I thought I'd look back at my 2013 goals and see how I did with them.

This year, my theme was to "Soak It In." I think I did a great job of this the second, err-- maybe the fourth quarter of the year. I'm trying to let my Type A tendencies subside, while at the same time, remind myself that having a Type A personality isn't a bad thing at all, even though sometimes we get a bad rap.

Here's a condensed list of my goals and how I did with them.

Soak In Faith
  • Read the Bible Through - I've aimed to do this every year for years. I didn't make it this year. 2014 is going to be the year, I tell ya!
  • Pray Daily - I did good spending time with the Lord this year. Although I didn't have a set time each day to spend time with Jesus, I was able to do it on a regular basis whether it was early in the morning after dropping K.C. off at school, during my lunch break or some other time.
  • Go to Sunday School Regularly -  Kevin and I started teaching the 4K Sunday School class. We love it. While we only missed a handful of Sundays when we were out of town, we didn't always go to our adult Sunday school class. 
  • Continue to Read Bible Stories with the Boys Each Night - We read through The Jesus Storybook Bible (if you haven't read this, you need to. It's beautiful!) and read at least one story each night. The boys' favorite currently is David and Goliath.
  • Make a Bible Verse Memory Book - While I didn't make my own memory book, I jotted down verses I wanted to memorize and that really stuck out at me in a journal. 
Soak In Relationships
  • Soak in Time with My Husband - Check! Kevin and I do good in making sure we have time for each other. We love spending time together no matter what we're doing. I'm really blessed in this regard.
  • Soak in Time with My Boys - Check to this, too! Watching the boys grow is one of my favorite things. We did so much this year. Day trips in the summer, painting, ball in the backyard, walks around the neighborhood. The list goes on and on.  
  • Soak in Time with My Family and Friends - While I didn't learn to ride a horse with my dad, we did spend quality time with our family and friends this year. I want to make a better effort at spending time with friends this coming year. 
Soak In Fitness
  • Run a race Each Month - While I didn't run a race each month, I did run 13 races in 2013! I set new 5K (20:25) and 10K (43:06) PR's, won 9 of 10 5Ks, 2 10Ks and finished as the 4th female in my first half marathon. 
  • Run a 5K in less than 21 minutes -  I did this a few times in 2013. My 5K PR was at the Race4Taylor in May with a 20:25. I've beaten this mark - even sub19 - multiple times on my own, but I guess the race nerves get to me. 
  • Complete the 100 Burpee Challenge with KT.  (April 10 will be Day 100!) - This was a big fat NO. We were doing good, but then I pulled a muscle and Kevin got the flu (even though he did a few days with the fever). 
  • Have better abs by the summer - Thank you 8 Minute Abs!
  • Run 750 miles -  So my total tally comes up just short of my 750 goal. I'm really happy with the amount I ran though as I had two months of right at only 30 miles thanks to a strained ab muscle and a virus.
  • Workout at the Gym 140 Times - While I didn't work out at the gym this many times, I did a lot of strength training. I'm happy with what I did this year.
Soak In Fun
  • Take fun family vacations to the beach - We spent a long weekend with Kevin's parents at the beach in May, spent a week with my parents in June and spent another long weekend in Georgetown with Kevin's parents in August.
  • Take the boys to a Clemson game - We watched Clemson play The Citadel in November.
  • Go to the mountains - We spent a long weekend in the mountains in November.
  • Take a trip with KT even if it's only for a long weekend - Kevin and I spent a week in Sapelo Island.
  • Have one fun date a month - We always have fun dates!
What else?
  • Read at least one book each month - I didn't read a book a month unless you want to count the three or four books I read to the boys each night in the mix. I did read some good books this year though.
  • Eat out less - Don't get me wrong, we still eat out, but I've been cooking more, particularly the latter part of the year. 
  • Finish our books - For Christmas, Kaden got his 3 year book and K.C. got his 5 year book. We also unwrapped our 2012 family book.
  • Capture memories - We made so many fun memories this year. They're captured in pictures, on the blog, in photo books, and most of all, in my heart. I also made my special jar that has all of three things in it. Whoops on that one!
  • Decorate our house - We finished the boys' bedroom, painted the dining room, kitchen and half bath. We hung new pictures and I have things ready for a few more projects to start in 2014.
  • Stress less and not think so much - While I don't think this will ever be easy, I've done better with this, especially at the end of the year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Races

I always have a good time looking back over the year and I thought it'd be fun to look at this year via races. I've got a regular 2013 goal recap scheduled for tomorrow, too.

One of my goals in 2013 was to run a race a month. While I didn't end up running a race each month, I did run 13 races. I ran 10 5K races, 2 10Ks and my first half marathon. I won 9 of the 10 5Ks, both 10Ks and finished 4th in my first half marathon. I also PR'd several times and will end the year with 20:25 as my 5K PR, 43:06 as my 10K PR and 1:38:55 as my half marathon PR. I'm a happy runner!

1. Polar Bear 5K - January 2013
23:26 (slow, but it was a trail with a giant (SC-style) mountain. I had also been sick leading up to this race.)
1st female; 16th overall

2. Pacing for Pieces 5K - March 2013
20:15 (This course was about .10 mile short)
2nd female; 9th overall

3. Sports Medicine Challenge 5K - March 2013
21:32 PR
1st female; 9th overall

4. Run for Brighter Days Trail 5K - April 2013
21:18 PR
1st female; 7th overall

5. Race for the Kids 5K- April 2013
20:38 PR
1st female; 8th overall

6. Children's Home 5K - May 2013
1st female; 2nd overall

7. Race4Taylor 5K - May 2013
20:25 PR
1st female; 15th overall

8. Celebrate Better Health 5K - September 2013
1st female; 5th overall

9. Darlington Half Marathon - September 2013
4th female; 1st age group; 19th overall

10. Canines in Costume 10K - October 2013
43:50 PR
1st female; 5th overall

11. Run Like a Nut 5K - November 2013
1st female; 5th overall

12. Honda Turkey Trot 10K - November 2013
43:06 PR
1st Female; 5th overall

13. Home for the Holidays 5K - December 2013
1st female; 3rd overall

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five on Friday: Christmas Edition

Happy Friday! It's been too long since I linked up for Five on Friday.

1. Christmas shopping is done! Each year, I say I'm going to be done shopping by December 1, but as of yet, that hasn't happened. Last night, Kevin and I went out and finished. We only have a few more gifts to wrap and then I'll really be happy!

We grabbed a bite to eat at Schlotzky's and I may have had to get a Cinnabon.

2. We're making Christmas cookies today! I love making Christmas cookies. It's a tradition my mom and I had while I was growing up and one the boys and I have done the past few years. A good friend of mine and her boys who are great friends of our boys are coming over for lunch and cookie making today.

3. Christmas Vacation! The movie and the actual vacation. One awesome thing about my job is that I get a good bit of time off at Christmas. I love it! I also (thanks to my husband) love the movie Christmas Vacation. We've watched bits and pieces of it, but not all of it this Christmas. That's on the to-do list this weekend.

4. A Fun Weekend Ahead. So it hasn't happened yet, but we're on tap for a fun weekend. We've got a birthday party, a Christmas dinner, the last Sunday before Christmas at church (I love the Christmas season at church) and I'm participating in the candlelight service/Christmas cantata at my parents' church. Here's a picture of me in the Christmas program at my church.

5. Pictures from our boys. One of my friends from work had a Christmas gift for me in this cute mailbox box. The boys, of course, went crazy over it when I got it home. Since then, they've been drawing pictures and making cards for Kevin and me and mailing them in this Christmas mailbox. It's so sweet!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Can It Be?

A few weeks ago, our pastor challenged us to read Luke 1. I'd recently read it, but went back and reread it. In this first chapter of Luke, an angel tells Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth, past child-bearing years, is going to have a child. Zechariah asks the angel how this can be because of their ages and in turn, Zechariah looses his ability to speak (it comes back, don't worry). Around the same time, an angel appears to Mary, Elizabeth's cousin who is thought to have been about 14, and tells her that she is going to have a child. Her response is different - she believes through faith.

When I went back and reread this passage, a few things popped out at me that hadn't before, and I also began to think about some things.

2013 hasn't been what I'd call my favorite year ever. I've written about that here and here. We've had some battles. Kevin lost his job, my sweet MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer and my granddad has been gravely ill for a few months. But at the same time, I've grown so much and my faith has been so strengthened. And in the midst of all these things, God has bolstered my faith and showed me that He's in control and it's going to be ok.

I've said a few times lately that I'll be happy when 2013 is over, but you know what? That's not the best response. 2013 has brought us so much joy and happiness. It's drawn our family closer and it's given me, individually, so many other things.

Throughout 2013, God has shown that He is good and that He is looking out for us.

The Lord is faithful in all of His promises and loving toward all He has made! Psalm 145:13

It wasn't luck that Kevin found a great job with less stress literally a mile from home. It was God.

It wasn't luck that my MIL's cancer was discovered so early - very early - and was able to be removed surgically. It was God.

It isn't luck that my granddad is leaving the hospital today after nearly seven weeks there. It's God.

He is before all things and in Him, all things hold together. Colossians 1:17 

These three examples are just a few ways big ways to show how God has provided and has answered prayers. Cancer, illness and job loss are big deals. But you know what? There are so many other things that are just as "big" in my life and I know in yours even if they aren't "big" as in sickness and unemployment.

I can look back over my 2013 - my not favorite year - and see how God's hand has steadily worked to draw me closer to Him. I can see how He's eased my anxiousness, how He's shown me what matters, how He's led me and fed me His truths and His ways. I can see how He's answered a multitude of prayers, and not always in the ways I wanted. Most of all, though, I can see His goodness, love, grace, mercy and provision written in every corner of 2013.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Decking Our Halls

I love Christmas! The lights, music, family fun, hustle and bustle, shopping, hot chocolate, movies and of course our Savior's birth, really make the Christmas season the most wonderful time of the year. I'm linking up with The Nester today for our home's Christmas tour.

We have a great time decorating for Christmas. This year, the boys were really ready to put the tree up, so instead of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving like usual, we put it up about a week and a half before. It's been nice getting to enjoy it some extra time and also not to have a huge rush in putting everything up all at once.

For the most part, K.C. and Kaden decorated most of the tree. They unwrapped special ornaments very carefully, smiled with excitement when they found something they made and had fun talking about ornaments from years' past.

One of the traditions Kevin and I have is to give a special ornament to the boys and each other every year. When the boys grow up and have families and trees of their own, they'll be able to take these ornaments with them.

 Our tree is trimmed!

 One of our new ornaments for the year is a Clemson ornament as we made our first trip to Clemson as a family. The boys will each be opening some other special ornaments this Christmas, but we went ahead and kept this one out.

 We always tell the boys that we love them to the moon, pluto and farthest galaxy and back, so I was excited when we found this ornament for each of them last year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Candy Cottage

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of things I'd like to try to do during the holidays. One of the things we wanted to do was to decorate our Candy Cottage. If you follow me on Instagram (annat2012), you've already seen some of these pictures.

If you haven't heard of a Candy Cottage, you need to check it out. I bought our Candy Cottage last year, but we didn't use it until we made our cottage this year.

It literally took 30 seconds to assemble the cottage (and that included getting the box down and opening it). The boys and Kevin went through our candy cabinet and picked out candy to use and I pulled out a jar of icing and iced it all.

The boys were so meticulous in making sure they had patterns just right. K.C. also made sure to save back two yellow gummy bears and two red ones to add to the front as our family. Kaden and I had fun eating a piece (or 10) of candy as we made the house.

The finished product.

I love doing things like this which turn into traditions that we'll do year after year!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Home for the Holidays 5K Recap

This weekend, I ran in the Home for the Holidays 5K. This was the first year of this run and proceeds went to built a home for a family in need.

When I got up Saturday, it was already in the 60s. I went to the race in a tank and shorts and wore my dri-fit Nike hat because of the off and on rain.

My goal for this race was to have fun and if I could, finish in under 20 minutes. For some reason, the sub-20 minute 5K in a race eludes me. I can run it in my neighborhood, on another course and on my treadmill (where I've gotten below 19), but for some reason, I hoover right about the 20 minute mark in races. I don't know if it's because I psych myself out or if I hold back too long or start off too fast. Regardless, it's driving me nuts and one day I'm going to break it in a race.

The race started off great. About half a mile in, it really started to rain. I was glad I had my hat at that point. There was also a 10K which led to some confusion on the course. The course was the same as another big local race, but the markings weren't easy to read. I was running with a friend who was running the 10K and when he didn't break off where I thought the 10K broke off, I, along with some others, got confused. I ended up losing 20 or 30 seconds at this point. Due to this and the super wet roads, I didn't expect to get sub-20, but didn't want a lousy run either (I had one on this course last month with my slowest race time in a year or so).

I ended up finishing in 20:50 which I was really happy with considering the rain and the mixup on direction. I was first female and third overall.

The boys had fun watching a train after the race and Kaden was super excited about the hot chocolate and candy cane that came in my winner's mug!

What motivates you to break your running goals?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

Sometimes, I can sit down and write and have a lot to say. Other times, I have a lot I want to say but I don't really feel like typing. And yet other times, I just decide a bulleted list is best. My friends, that's what you're getting today.

1. I can't believe Christmas is 20 days away. It blows my mind that it's already December. 

2. Do you have an Elf? We do and his name is Cookie Pole. The boys love him and run down the stairs each morning eager to find him. He was hanging out with Scooby and the gang one morning this week and yesterday, we found him with the dinosaurs. I'll do a full post of all of his 

3. Almost all of our Christmas cards are in the mail to our family and friends. I ordered the greatest stamp from relishdesigncompany. The service was so prompt and I am very pleased with the product. My little helpers and I stamped the back of most of our envelopes last week. 

4. My quest for new bedding has finally ended. We found something we both liked - not too girly and still bright - and it's on the way to us now. I can't wait to get started on this! 

5. There is so much hurting all around and it makes my heart heavy. I try not to write about things like this and keep my blog really upbeat as that's how I live my life, but the last few weeks have been really tough. My granddad is in the hospital and it's like we get a different story every day. There are other people I grew up really close to who are hurting, too, and I can't help but feel sad. Really, 2013 hasn't been the best year and I won't be sad to see it go. Between Kevin losing his job, my mother-in-law battling (successfully) breast cancer, my granddad being sick and a few other things, it doesn't go down as one of my favorite years. There have been many blessings throughout this year though and I don't lose sight of those. The verse below is one I've been leaning on this week.

The Lord is FAITHFUL in ALL of His promises and LOVING toward all He has made!
Psalm 154:13

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Season Activities

Last week, while Kevin and I were driving to Columbia, I decided to make a list of things I'd like to do during the holiday season. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Bake Christmas cookies with the boys.

Each Christmas, I attempt to bake cookies with the kids. It's something my mom always did with me growing up and a tradition I want to continue with my kids. Only problem: I can't make cookies like my mom. No matter how hard I try, I roll the dough too thin, bake them too long or the dough gets too floury because it sticks too much. One year, they'll be perfect, but until then, I'll enjoy baking cookies with my two sweeties - right thickness and crispness or not!

2. Write letters to Santa.

We've started this tradition of writing letters to Santa. Each year, our neighborhood has Santa come through on a fire truck. Last year, K.C. actually went up to him. Santa also writes letters back to the boys.

3. Ride around and look at Christmas lights.
Some of my fondest Christmas memories revolve around piling in the car with my parents and some good family friends and looking at lights. Near my hometown, there's a small (really small) community that decorates a ton for Christmas. I used to love to go there and listen to Christmas music while riding around.

4. Cook a nice dinner and have our parents over to eat.
I really enjoy having people over for dinner. I love the coziness of our home at Christmas, the laughter of the kids running around and the conversations with our loved ones. I try to have our families over for a nice dinner during the Christmas season.

5. Go to Bethlehem. (No, not the real Bethlehem.)

A retirement community in our town turns into Bethlehem each Christmas. You can drive thru or walk thru the "town." In the past, we've chosen to walk. The boys really enjoy it. At the end, they serve hot chocolate. Bethlehem is happening this weekend and we're planning to go.

6. Wrap presents under the tree.

I love wrapping gifts and tying them up with large bows made of tulle. The only thing better than wrapping them is wrapping them beneath the tree. We have a ton of gifts to wrap and I can't wait to sit down by the fire in the twinkle of the tree lights and wrap presents for the ones we love.

7. Read Scripture preparing for Christmas every day.

The holidays are about the Gift our Father has given us through His Son, Jesus Christ. I want my focus this season to be on Jesus and be in His presence more than worrying about what I'm giving as presents.

8. Sing Christmas carols.

Growing up, a group from my church always went Christmas caroling. It was so much fun! Even if we don't go into others' homes, I want to carol at home.

9. Make homemade ornaments.

Last year, the boys and I attempted to make some homemade ornaments. Maybe this year we'll finish them.

10. Go through the boys' advent calendar.

My mom gave K.C. and Kaden this great Advent book last year. It's made by the Usborne company and has punch out characters for each day leading to Christmas. By Christmas Eve, a full manger scene is made. They love it. We've already read the full Christmas Story via this book a few times this year.

11. Make baked french toast.

Ok, so this may not exactly be Christmas, but the recipes for this look absolutely divine on Pinterest. I'm thinking it should be a Christmas morning tradition with some sausage and eggs, too.

12. Have a birthday party for Jesus.

I've wanted to do this the past two years, but I haven't yet. This year, I want to change that and let the boys have a little birthday party for Jesus.

13. Decorate our Candy Cottage.

I bought the kids a Candy Cottage last year. So far, the closest it came to getting decorated was when Cookie Pole appeared in it last Christmas. This year, that's changing and we're going to decorate it. Don't worry though, we did make gingerbread houses last year. My work has an awesome Santa party for kids each year that includes making gingerbread houses. The boys are already excited about this party next week!

14. Watch Christmas movies.

I love Christmas movies, but I don't think we watched many last year. I told Kevin that I really want to watch Christmas movies this year.

What items are on your Christmas list?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Black Friday shopping with two kids and the rest of our Thanksgiving fesitivities

Happy Monday (or should I say Cyber Monday?)!

We had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday! Thanksgiving break, for me, started Wednesday. I had to work a few hours then I picked up the boys and we met my best friend and her brother for lunch. The boys quickly latched on to Jaye's brother and begged them to come to our house, so that they did. We hung out all afternoon. Being with Jaye all afternoon reminded me how much I miss my close friends. I have a large number of friends, but a handful of really close friends who don't happen to live here. It really filled me up spending all afternoon with the girl who's been like a sister to me since I was four!

After Jaye and Andrew left, the boys and I worked on their Christmas tree in their room. I bought a white tree from the dollar store several years ago with the intention of using it for a white elephant party. Fast forward a few years, the tree is still in the box and the boys have a Clemson-themed room. I stopped by Hobby Lobby at lunch one day last week and bought orange and purple Christmas balls and some lights for the tree. The tree was larger (6 feet) than I thought, so my mom picked us up some more ornaments and a purple star for the top. 

The boys were so cute decorating their tree. Kaden put nearly all of the branches in himself and K.C. fluffed them all out. I stuck the lights on and then they went to town putting on the ornaments. I don't have a picture, but I'll take one tonight to share. It's too cute!

I started Thanksgiving out with a long run. I ran 8 miles on the treadmill (not sure of time because I forgot) while I watched a few Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. I made deviled eggs and crunchy romaine toss after my run while attempting to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For some reason, I'm the only one in my family who really gets into the parade. The boys and Kevin were content playing. :)

We started our Thanksgiving festivities at my in laws. They hosted both sides of the family at their house. After a delicious meal of fried turkey, more carbs than I can count and a sampling of three or four desserts, we visited and played football. It was fun! Again, no pictures, but trust me - we had fun!

Later on Thursday, we went over to my aunt's house to see my side of the family. Thanksgiving was a little different this year on that side as my granddad is still in the hospital (prayers please). We visited, the boys ran around outside and then we went back to our house. My parents, nana and my sister and her boyfriend hung out all night with us at our house. 

Kevin worked Friday, so while he was doing real work, the boys and I worked on decorating the house some more. My sister and I had been talking about Black Friday shopping for the first time ever and decided to do it, albeit after lunch. We met Kevin for lunch and then off we went. Neither of us had anything in particular we wanted to buy, but rather wanted the experience. 

I love letting the boys pick out things for Kevin just from them each year. In the past, they've been younger and it's been more difficult, but this year, they were ready to go. We shopped for about 3.5 hours and it was only when we were going back to our car from the last store that Kaden asked me to pick him up. They were such troopers! They picked out some awesome gifts for Kevin, too!

Surprisingly, this isn't a real "I'm tired" picture. It's actually Stephanie getting them to pretend like they're sleeping under some really great running clothes (if I might add that). 

While we were at the mall, we met my mom and the boys enjoyed some hot chocolate from Starbucks and some pretzel bites with her.

Friday night, Kevin and I had a date night. We went to see Catching Fire. It was great! We'd been wanting to see it since it came out, but hadn't had a chance. We really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see the last two movies!

We spent part of the day Saturday working on Christmas decorations and putting up everything from Thanksgiving. Our house is almost completely decorated for Christmas with the exception of a few things. 

Stephanie and her boyfriend had tickets to the Carolina Clemson game in Columbia Saturday night, but they ended up not being able to go at the last minute. She gave us her tickets, so we drove up to Columbia Saturday afternoon for the game.

I joked last week that if I was going, Clemson was going to win. The last Clemson Carolina game I remember was when Clemson won at the end of the game in Columbia. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case this Saturday. I did enjoy going to the game with my husband though.

One thing that did bother me at the game were the attitudes and words coming out of some people's mouths. The girl behind us cussed like a sailor and said some very unladylike things. I like to watch the games with my husband, but I don't get all into it like that and I just don't understand how anyone - much less young women - can talk like they do during a football game. At the end of the day, it's a game. If Clemson had won, I would've been happy, but I would not have yelled obscenities at Carolina fans (and I love many of them) had they lost. I know things like that happen everywhere and with an in-state rivalry, things can get heated, but I was really disappointed in the way some people acted. And end rant.

We picked up lunch after church yesterday and spent the afternoon at home. I let the boys set up the nativity scenes their own way and we wrapped some presents. My sister stopped by and ran out with me to look for some ribbon and to get groceries and then my mom stopped by to see us all. The boys were pooped, so we got to bed early.

I'm really looking forward to this holiday season!

What are you most excited about this Christmas?