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Happy New Year 2015

It's been six months. . .guess it's time to write *something* -- ha!
This is my *favorite* picture taken of Marie this holiday season.  She is super proud of her village that she set up this year. . .I'm so happy to live with someone who takes all the time to unbox, set-up, and then plug it in every night.  We went without a Christmas tree this year and this added so much warm glow to our living room that I said I may be willing to forgo a tree more often!
She had a great Christmas this year. . .our gift to her was my old computer (Tom spent hours refurbishing it).  Santa brought her new flannel sheets, a travel mug (without a handle!!), and some wooden puzzle IQ games.  She was generous with her siblings too, buying the boys movies and Margaret nailpolish.  She also came up with the great idea of having individual pictures taken (the above one is hers) and then framed for grandparents in ornaments-made-refrigerator-magnets.  She is such a special, generous daughter who is a natural leader.

 This was Christmas morning at Nana & Grandpa's.  The joke here was that Nana gave him a XXL shirt from American Eagle!!!  I'd say that, with all the shopping she did this year, if this was her *only* mistake (I think it was) -- it was a very successful shopping season for her :)  The even better part, though, was that when they went to the mall to return it, he ended up getting two shirts for the return price of this one. . .and for our clothes horse, this WAS a good gift.
Our gift to Thomas this year were new soccer cleats.  Of course this is impossible for us to buy so Marie got into the game of it all, wrapping up an old, torn up pair of cleats for him to open on our family Christmas (always the Sunday before Christmas).  He didn't "get it". . .so we had to explain.  When we went to visit family for the holidays he was able to go to the soccer store there and buy without worrying about going "over budget".  Funny sidenote here:  we bought him something he wanted (after trying on at least half-dozen) and Marie ended up finding something within budget for herself too. . .when we got back Tom looked it up online and was able to save OVER $100 (and upgrade Marie's). . .so. . .back the cleats went to the store and new ones showed up in the mail once we were back in Tennessee :)  Always pays to have the time to comparison shop (TIME = something we rarely have).
Santa brought Thomas a long-sleeved Titans outerwear shirt he had previously asked me to buy for him, earbuds, and something else that was on his list that was so insignificant that I can't remember. . .
Thomas, now that he can drive, was able to surprise his siblings by going down to Sam's Club one day when he was out of school and we were still in school.  He had spotted a 24-case of glass soda bottles (Fanta, Sprite, and Coca-Cola) that he just knew they would love.  He had them wrapped and under the stockings (where we placed gifts this year) when they got home from school.  Have to say, no one guessed what it was until they opened them -- and he was right, they DID love that gift!!  He was also the one to figure out something for Tom -- by far our hardest person to shop for. . .an otterbox for his phone.  His was in terrible shape and it was a good thought/gift/something to open.
Thomas is really growing fast!!  He's taller than Tom now, a good driver, and has a bright future ahead if he grabs hold of it (which I pray he does).

By far, not *my* favorite picture of Margaret over the holidays, but one of hers because she has been waiting since October for these boots -- ha!  When she "fell in love" with them over Fall Break I told her she'd have to wait until Christmas.  And she did a good job waiting :)  She *thought* she was getting them at our family Christmas on Sunday. . .but we got her Beats instead, which she decided was pretty great :)  Santa brought her these, a scarf, and a Vera Bradley make-up bag with some brushes she has wanted.  A pretty good Christmas for her!  Her other favorite was, finally, a North Face backpack from Grandma -- she's been asking for one for 1-2 years now!
I'll go ahead and post one of my favorite pictures of her. . .this was for her Winter Dance at school (7th grade).  She is a beautiful girl "stuck in the middle" and finding her way.  She is good at absolutely everything she tries -- a natural athlete with a genuine smile.

Only those that know our family exceptionally well will "get" all the meaning behind this picture. . .I'm so glad I caught it on camera :)
This was our gift to Frederick this year -- a deluxe/collectors edition of Monopoly.  He loves this game, but not many people love playing it with him -- ha!  He and Grandpa Foster spotted it at TJMaxx at some point in December and my dad told me I really needed to get it for him for Christmas or b'day or something.  I snuck over there and got it and had a *hard* time hiding it -- it was so big and heavy!!!  To give Margaret credit, she knew all about it and never breathed a word :)  When he and I went shopping for his siblings' gifts at TJMaxx he was disappointed to see it was gone. . .so glad I got it for him.  It really was the *perfect* gift for him.  Santa got him a game for the new Wii U that Grandma Wolf bought the boys for Christmas, a couple of extra characters to go with the game, and earbuds.
 Frederick and Marie went in together to buy me a new pair of Tom's!!  I really, really like them. . .fleece-lined and all.  Frederick is a "gift-y" person. . .it's one of his strong love languages.  And he understands that gifts don't always have to be expensive but it's the *thought* behind it that counts.  He is such a sweet, sweet kid (when he's not hyped up on sugar, overtired, or complaining about things that he can't control - ha!).  He and Marie even helped Tom to pick out my gift this year -- a pair of fleece-lined Tom's boots.  I love them (my family) and like my shoes very much too ;)

We had a beautiful, wonderful Christmas with 200 other pictures to share!

I need to learn how to make collages I guess.

Striving to be a better "me". . .healthwise, mom-wise, wife-wise. . .to remember that I am Jesus's hands and feet and am here and have been given this life only by His grace.  

Happy 2015 Everyone!!!
Maybe I'll even try to keep this up better. . .I miss journaling the events in our lives. . .this picture was taken Tuesday, December 23, 2014 on our way to Fairhaven's Christmas concert/service.



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