Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snapshots of 2009

Another year is coming to an end. 2009 turned out to be a pretty eventful year for Bryant and I. As we reflect on this past year, here are the snapshots we'll remember most (especially since I'm blogging about them).

1. Bryant made AC (Aircraft Commander) at the beginning of the year. Being an AC basically means you are in charge of the mission or the flight. It was quite a lengthy process including a final check ride and I am very proud of him. The Lord has blessed Bryant in his career and we acknowledge that He has gone before Bryant every step of the way.

2. Bryant was home considerably more this year than last. He started off the year flying a good bit and even broke the record at the guard for being gone the longest at 28 days! He left the middle of March and got home the middle of April. Thankfully, after that trip his trips were more spread out the rest of the year. He was home twice as much the second half of the year and even spent the entire month of July at home. It was a much needed break especially with the move which brings me to #3...

3. We moved! After about a year of praying we finally sensed the Lord was leading us to put our house up for sale at the end of May. It sold very quickly in just 2 months and we found our house soon after. We moved in the day before Thanksgiving and are feeling quite settled now. We are all very happy here especially Miles. He loves the stairs and races up and down as he pleases.

4. This was the second year we have had Miles. He has been such a joy and makes us laugh every day. He is quite the character and has established his place in the family as our beloved pup.

5. Our travels this year were not as many as 2008, which is a good thing! We went back to Hawaii this year except we flew commercial. We were planning to go on the military plane like last year but the trip cancelled the day before. We said we would never use a buddy pass to Hawaii again (we got bumped off quite a few flights). But when your bags are packed and you have palm trees and coconuts dancing in your head, it's hard to reschedule your vacation!

Bryant visited 2 places for the first time this year: Destin and Paris! Yes, it's quite surprising that my world traveller was 29 before he made it to Destin, Florida. He spent a day in Paris this month, the day after his 30th birthday.

6. Bryant and I both turned 30 this year, which is quite the milestone. We also celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary in August. I sure do love Bryant and I love living life with him. I am so thankful God has given us 7 years of marriage and for the adventures we've had along the way.

7. One of those adventures was living with my parents for 3 months, from the end of August through November, while we remodeled our house. It was a sweet time for us all and so it makes the list for 2009. I'm not sure if we'll ever find all the stuff that we took over there!

8. I believe 2009 brought an awareness in our country that things haven't been right for awhile. There is a disconnect from what we say we believe and how our country is being run. I want the best for my future children and grandchildren and I believe most people feel the same way.

9. Our Bible Fellowship went through several transitions this year. Bryant and I had been in the class 3 years when our teacher left this year to start a new church. Change is hard especially when there are goodbyes attached to it. Our class has been such a source of encouragement and a place to grow and mature in the Lord. We are very grateful for the Lord leading us there and look forward to what He has in store for us this next year.

10. Just last month a dear friend of ours, April Kelly, was diagnosed with breast cancer. We love her and Sam and are praying for healing for April. Please pray for her and her family. You can read about her story at CaringBridge.

11. This is the first year I started reading through the Bible chronologically. I started with the New Testament and am almost finished. The One Year Chronological Bible (NIV) has made a huge difference in my Bible reading. The stories are connecting for me in ways they never have before.

12. This is also the first year I started my blog :) There are many reasons to blog, but I have mostly enjoyed looking back at this online journal, as one could call it, and just remembering life - our life. From the big markers to the small moments, it's nice to take notice and not let life rush by.

13. I have learned this year that God is good. Praising God is not just reserved for the good things and the good times, but we praise Him for hardships and when bad things happen too. We know that God is good and He has good plans and a future for us. We learn this by looking back at seeing how God created food for Adam and Eve before He created them, and we learn that He meets our needs before we have them. We look at the life of Abraham and see that God is good even when He asked him to leave his country and go to the place that he would receive as an inheritance. Our faith is not based on what is seen but on what is unseen. So, God we praise you for 2009, for what we have seen this year and for what still remains unseen.

"Your view of God determines your whole life." - Iva May

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I've noticed quite a few folks talking about their holiday traditions this year - sharing things they've always done plus a few new ideas of what traditions they want to start implementing with their families. Bryant and I are blessed to have both sets of parents living in town (although we wish we could be with all our relatives on the holidays). Here is what our Christmas traditions look like...

1. We see both sets of parents on both Christmas Eve and Day. It works out for us and I enjoy seeing everyone on both days.

2. We start Christmas Eve at Bryant's grandmother's house. His extended family has been gathering at his Grandma's house for years so this tradition has been set before I came along. Christmas Eve wouldn't be the same without going to Grandma's. We all bring a dish and this year I received requests for Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad. A little tip, make sure the Jello cools before you pour it over the cream cheese mixture (a rather obvious step to Jello veterans).

3. Afterward we go to my parents' house and we open all of our gifts on Christmas Eve. I remember starting this tradition after we spent Christmas Eve at our dear friends' house years ago. They opened every single gift one by one and it took hours! Amanda and I knew for sure we had been missing out! Sure enough, to this day (except last year when I was sick) we have opened our gifts on Christmas Eve and we think it is so much more the merrier :)

4. Christmas Day Brunch at our house is soon becoming an annual tradition. Bryant's family comes over and we exchange our gifts. This is the second year we have drawn names among the 8 siblings and spouses and everyone has enjoyed it. Buying less presents has helped everyone enjoy the holiday season a little more and we all have more than enough anyway. This year I made Apple Cranberry French Toast which always goes over well and can be made the night before. We always have some Apple Cider simmering on the stove which is extremely easy and makes the house smell wonderful. Here's what we put in our "Reindeer Fuel": organic apple juice, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and slices of orange.

5. After brunch, Bryant and I meet my family for a matinee. Since we don't have our extended family in town, it's fun to get out a bit during the day and go to the movies together. This year we saw The Blind Side and it was excellent. I've never seen it so packed at the movies as this year. I guess other families had the same idea.

6. Now for those of you who are dismayed by #3, I must add we do open our stockings at my parents' on Christmas Day. Stockings are almost more fun than presents. I don't get to see my family open theirs Christmas morning because Bryant and I spend Christmas morning together at our house before brunch. I do miss the opening of the stockings, but when we go back to my parents' house after the movie we still get to peruse the contents of each and every stocking lying by the fireplace. My favorite stocking stuffers this year were:

Sephora Favorites LashStash Mascara Deluxe Sampler

Starbucks 20 Ounce Clear Insulated Holiday Tumbler

7. This year Bryant and I had a real Christmas tree for the first time. Not sure if this will be repeated next year. As for Bryant, he would love to add "a real tree" to the list of Langley Traditions.

Family traditions are personal and unique. They come and go as families grow and diversify. If you have a tradition that is special to you, whether unique or ordinary, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Birthday Buddies

Miles and I both had a great birthday last month. He turned 2 on the 11th and I turned 30 on the 17th. Bryant was in town this year for both our birthdays so that was a real treat. We had a party for Miles at my mom's house with cupcakes for dessert from Muddy's Bake Shop and Three Dog Bakery.

He loved his peanut butter cupcake and I just happened to capture him licking the frosting off his face.

We celebrated my 30th birthday bash at Elfo's Restaurant and had one of Kate's yummy Cinco de Mayo cakes. It's a spicy chocolate cake made with 5 different kinds of chocolate from around the world, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and layer upon layer of butter cream and cream cheese frosting. I've never had a cake decorated with fondant before, not even at my wedding. I guess turning 30 takes the cake.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Away in a Manger

My big sister sent me this video of Bo's first Christmas program. They sang a couple of songs, but the group was kind of struggling with Away in a Manger. Bo makes an executive decision to turn up the volume a bit at the end. It cracked me up! There is a moment where he pauses and I can only imagine he is wondering why no one is singing very loudly and then...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ping, Paris and Peppermint Cupcakes

This is the first post I've managed to get out since the holidays rolled around. These past 3 1/2 weeks seem a blur at first thought, but as I dissect the days and weeks it's quite clear there's a lot that's been going on. So here's what's been going on, pretty much in chronological order.

1. I actually was going to post some pics from my birthday, but the pics are on Bryant's laptop so I'll have to wait until he gets home. Is that against the blogging rules to post old news? Oh well.

2. I always grab his laptop when we are both home and it bugs him that I don't use one of mine. I like his better. He has the aluminum framed MacBook and it is so light. It's just less effort to pick it up and at the end of the day after I'm tired of carrying stuff.

3. I was in Nashville the first week of December and found 2 cute bakeries that serve cupcakes. The first day we got there we visited the Cupcake Collection, a family owned business that operates out of a renovated house in the downtown Nashville area. My favorite was the Pink Lemonade Cupcake (strawberry and lemon swirl cake with pink/yellow icing). On our way out of town, we stopped in at Dulce Desserts, a bakery in an artsy district close to Vanderbilt University. The Pepperminty Cupcake was sooo good. They also serve cakes and cookies. No kidding I had the best cookie I had ever tasted in my life called the Baci.  It was made from almonds and chocolate... yum!  Here's a pic of the Cupcake Collection:

4. One of our night's in Nashville we went to the Opryland Hotel to see the Christmas decorations and have dinner. Not impressed, food not good, wouldn't go back.

5. The second week of December I spent most of the week downtown Memphis for work. I don't think I've ever been in the Marriott Downtown Memphis, but it was really nice. It reminded me of an old hotel you would see in a more famous city. It was decorated for Christmas and has a large escalator in the lobby. We ate lunch there a couple of days since it was right across the street and it was really interesting seeing the city as if I were visiting. It kept my holiday spirit up even though it was a very busy workweek.

6. I finally converted to the iPhone and tossed my Blackberry aside. My Blackberry lasted longer at 2 1/2 years than any other cell phone I've had. I really enjoyed my Blackberry, but had no idea how much I would like the iPhone and how quick I would get used to it. I knew I would like the internet browser and the larger screen, but didn't realize all the nifty apps that I would actually use.

7. One app that is just great for us Langleys is Ping! When Bryant is gone on a trip, I wait for him to call me when he has access to the satellite phone or can get on a wireless network and use Skype. Since his trips are all international, that's our only way of communication. So, imagine my delight when I discovered Ping this week. I can send Bryant a Ping (message) anytime and he will get a notification on his phone (if he is connected to a network). And supposedly it doesn't cost anything between iPhone users. We don't text because it would take days for him to get it and it would be expensive. For the first time in 3 1/2 years, I can actually send Bryant a message halfway around the world. Impressive. Very impressive technology.

8. Bryant turned 30 last Friday. It was a little confusing because we couldn't decide which day was actually his birthday. I was talking to him Thursday night, but it was Friday in Germany. So he was like, "It's my birthday here in Germany." And I was like, "Ehh... I'm going to wait 'til tomorrow to tell you Happy Birthday." It just didn't feel right to wish him a H.B. the day before. We'll celebrate when he gets home.

9. Bryant did get to go to Paris for his birthday weekend! If I couldn't celebrate with him, at least he was in Paris, right? He said the Eiffel Tower was very impressive. He located a couple hot spots: Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe. He walked down the famous street of cafes and designer shops, Champs Elysees (sigh).

10. B told me that the most surprising thing about Paris was that it has the most graffiti of anywhere he's ever been to. He drove from Germany and said the walls were completely filled with graffiti all the way into the city (but not in the city). I was surprised; it's not exactly the picture I had in my head.

11. When you're out around town, pick up the December copy of VIP Memphis magazine. Amanda modeled for the Laurelwood Christmas ad. The photographer told her they might use another one of her pics for next month's edition as well.

12. To end my list for the evening, I got a call today from my security system provider that my alarm was going off. I was concerned up until the point when the dispatcher told me our living room motion detector had been triggered. I'm sure my little four-legged friend didn't appreciate my pushing the wrong buttons when leaving the house. I had this sad mental image of Miles getting an earful as he was taking his afternoon lap around the house.

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