Dear 2010,

I can't believe it is the last day of 2010.
That means it is time for my annual letter.

{Here are my letters to 2008 and 2009}

Dear 2010,

You went by fast. Really fast.
Kevin and I were talking this morning about what a year you have been.
We agreed that you were a year that was crazy & stressful, but also very fun & memorable.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights!

Kate started a Ballet & Tap class.
Kate also turned 3 & I threw her a Minnie Mouse birthday party!

My college roommate & her husband came from Colorado to visit us for the weekend.
It was the first time for them to meet Claire, and they hadn't seen Kate since she was 9 months old!
We went wine tasting in Napa & had a wonderful time!
This was the month we decided to sell our house & make the jump to our "Forever House".
We put our house on the market at the end of the month & it sold in a day!
This was the home we brought both girls home from the hospital....the home that held so many memories for us.
Kate was also in the Pottery Barn Kids Catalog:
April was C-R-A-Z-Y.
It started off with Spring Break in Pebble Beach with my family.
The weekend after Spring Break we packed our stuff into a POD & moved in with my parents until we found a new house. We ended up living with my parents for 5 weeks....THANK YOU Mom & Dad!!!!
We couldn't have done the without the help of Kevin's best friend Brian, who packed up the POD with Kevin in 1 day.

May was AWESOME! We found our new house, put an offer on it & moved in...all within a few weeks!
Also in May, Kevin turned the big 3-5 and I turned the Big 3-1!
I changed the name of my etsy shop & photography business!
With June came the end of the school year and Summer Break!
We went to the zoo with friends:
And, I spent most of June unpacking boxes, getting to know our awesome new neighbors & watching the workers in our backyard re-model our leaky and cracked pool!

The pool was finished on July 1st...just in time for one of my favorite holidays!
The 4th of July!
We had an impromptu pool party at our house after the parade...I think a new tradition has started!
August 1st started out with one of the scariest days of our lives & we had to call 9-1-1 for Claire.
You can read about it HERE.
As we have journeyed this since August, Claire has an official diagnosis:
Breath Holding Syndrome & Spells
Yes, there really is such a thing. And yes, she does this about once a month if she falls or gets hurt. It is very scary, but at least we know she will come to & we have tips/strategies in place to help her start breathing again.

We also took our annual summer trip to Lake Tahoe which is always fun!
I also hosted my Project 320 girls Reunion at my house in August:
(me, Heather, Erin, Julie & Heather. Marta couldn't make it & we missed her so!)

It was one of the coldest summers in Bay Area history, but Kevin and I both agree that it was one of our favorite summers to date. We can't wait for next summer!

Claire turned TWO & I threw her a Ladybug party that I had been planning in my head for a year!
Kate started Preschool and she absolutely LOVES it!
My younger sister Rebecca got engaged!
I also made my very first Apple Pie using apples that the girls picked from the Apple Tree in our backyard!
Ahhh....October! My favorite month of the year!
My friend Becky & I met Bakerella at her book signing!
My Grammy turned 99.
And, I checked an item off my Bucket List....I went to a World Series game that my SF Giants were in!
And, of course....Halloween with Wonder Woman & Super Girl!
Making The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls with Girlfriends
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving:
November was a blur....I was so incredibly busy with photo shoots (which I am thankful for) but, I was a crazy lady!

The Advent Season.... I love it!
Candle the Elf joined our family this year. The girls excitement each morning trying to find him was so fun!
Being a part of Project 320 & funding another well in Africa was amazing.
Christmas 2010 was one of the best.....it was the first Christmas in our new home, the first time we hosted Christmas dinner & these past 2 weeks on Christmas Break have just been magical.
So there you have it....some of my favorite memories of 2010.

And here we are....the last day of 2010.
So much to reflect on & so much to remember.
A year where God has taught me many things:
I need to trust Him more.
I need to have more patience.
I need to love like He loves.
He has shown me grace over and over and over again.
He is our Provider.
He has done more than I could ever ask or imagine.

Thanks for the fun memories & lessons, 2010.
You were a year I will never forget!

I can't wait to see what 2011 has in store.
It already seems promising to be a good one, with my younger sister's wedding in April and our Disney Cruise this summer!

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read my blog this year!
Wishing you a very Happy New Year & Bring it on, 2011!


3 Days of Christmas

We are still recovering from Christmas.
It was a good one, that's for sure.
Our Christmas celebrations started on Christmas Eve.
Every year, we go to the Christmas Eve Service at our church & then head to my parents house to open gifts. Growing up, we opened all our presents on Christmas Eve.
Of course, we had to have the obligatory pictures on the porch before we went to church.
It was a beautiful & warm California Christmas Eve (which is good because I forgot to bring their sweaters with us)
The past few years they only lasted 15-20 minutes in the church service.
This year, the girls lasted 45 minutes which was a record for them!
The sermon was about to start & the pastor was talking about how the Shephard's have a great job because their robes are so comfortable, it's like they are wearing pajamas.
Well, Claire hears him mention pajamas and then yells, "I want my jammies. Let's go home so I can put my jammies on. I want to go home!"
Kevin and I were trying not to laugh.....I guess I shouldn't have declared every day last week a Pajama Day. I think Claire got a little TOO used to wearing her jammies. Ooops.
Then it was off to Mimi & Jimmy's for presents. Kate tried to organize all of them.
The girls couldn't wait to open presents...but we made them eat dinner first.
Claire kept trying to sneak open some presents before it was time to open them (I wonder who she got that from....surely, I never did that as a kid....!!!)
Our attempt at a family photo to document Christmas Eve 2010
It's not Christmas without our annual sister picture!
Rebecca & Jason:
My Mom & Dad:
Kate with Auntie Bots & (almost) Uncle Jason
Auntie El & her 2 crazy nieces!
Present time!
Claire got bored after one present & went to the toy closet to get Mimi's stroller.
Meanwhile, Kate opened up a Tag Reader from Mimi.
Claire just wanted to sit in the stroller.
Kate loves her new purple jacket (Thanks, Auntie Bots!)
Claire finally opened a present...a Stawberry Shortcake Backpack!
Kate was thrilled about her new Cinderella Doll.
Claire got a Belle doll (she has slept with it every night)
Jimmy sporting his new Georgia sweatshirt!
The girls trying to fit into Auntie Bots' new luggage.
After opening presents at my parents house, we headed home to put the girls to bed & get things ready for Santa's arrival. The girls put out cookies & their letters to Santa.
Just like last year, Kate suggested we leave Santa wine instead of milk.
I was horrified, yet proud at the same time.
A few hours later (2 am to be exact) Santa had arrived at our house.
Kate got a mini-kitchen (only $12 at Wal-Mart, score!) and Claire got a PBK chair.
Santa was thankful for the wine & cookies.
Sidenote: It is Kevin's tradition on Christmas Eve night to sleep with our TV on so that he can watch A Christmas Story on PBS all night long. Anyone else do that?

The girls woke up around 7:30 and were anxious to see what Santa brought.
Kevin & I were tired from staying up until 2 am, so we made the girls wait until 8 to go downstairs.
Claire was super excited about her Dora backpack.
And, Toy Story 3!
So excited about a new Fancy Nancy book!
A new book for Claire also....Knuffle Bunny Free.
Kevin got me coupons...A night off, a car detailing, getting to sleep in & more. Thank you Kevin!
Then we headed over to my parents for Jimmy's 3 meat Breakfast.
Every Christmas morning my Dad makes an amazing breakfast of bacon, sausage, ham, eggs, hash browns & I make Monkey Bread.
This is Jason's plate...the amount of food he can put down is AMAZING.
Santa came to Mimi & Jimmy's house also!
The group shot:
After the 3 meat breakfast, it was time for us to head back to our house so that we could get ready for Christmas Dinner.
Yep, I hosted it this year....for the first time, ever!
We hosted my family AND Kevin's family for one big Christmas dinner.
And, for the first time.....I made a TURKEY!
I couldn't have done it without my mom, who came over and helped me prep the bird.
Thanks, Mom!
Thankfully the girls were worn out from Christmas events & they both took 3 hour naps on Christmas afternoon. That allowed me to get organized for the big Christmas Feast & Kevin was able to get things around the house cleaned up & organized.

Here are my tables set up....with my wedding China!
After 8.5 years of marriage, this is the first time we have used our China, EVER!
We set up an additional table in the Living Room to fit everyone.
And, by 4:30, when everyone was coming over....we were ready!
No stress, no rushing around...just waiting for our guests to arrive!
(That is a first for me....I am usually rushing around like a chicken with it's head cut off before parties!)
Claire & Kevin waiting for our guests to arrive:
There was SO much food.
Whenever I have a party, I over-estimate....I would rather have too much food than not enough.
Here is the appetizer table, which included:
  • Crab cakes
  • Egg rolls
  • Brie with cranberries & apples
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • and, of course....Blue Cheese Crack
Kevin set up Ping Pong in our garage
Kevin & my brother in law Mike dominated the Ping Pong Tourney. The even switched off holding Claire to give themselves a handicap, but they still won :)
And, Kevin turned the Loft/Office area of our bedroom into a game room/lounge & hooked up a Wii. It was fun!
Here I am posing with my very first Turkey! I am officially a grown up....I made my first pie this past September and now I made a turkey! And, I used my wedding china. Not bad for 31 years old :)
My mom & I posing with the Turkey....I couldn't have done it with out her! She is a pro...and the turkey turned out AMAZING. I couldn't believe it!
Another huge thanks goes to our next door neighbors (who were at their son's house for Christmas) They gave me the key to their house so I could use their double ovens, so that I could heat up all the side dishes. And, side dishes there were!
I made: Sausage Corn Bread Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole & my sister made Baked Corn.
My mom made Broccoli Salad:
My sister in law made a Mixed Green Salad with Pomegranates & Balsamic Vinaigrette.
(Not pictured, my mother in law's awesome Party Potatoes)
We had a Ham:
And, of course the Turkey! (with fresh homemade cranberry sauce)
The Big Kids Table (my nieces & nephews)
The Little Kids Table (Kate & Claire)
Adult Table #1
Adult Table #2
As if we didn't have enough food for dinner....next came dessert.
So many choices:
Kate & I made red velvet cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting....hey, It's Jesus' Birthday...we need cupcakes! (And, cupcake toppers, of course)
And various treats that the girls and I made during the week...
I didn't get a picture of the Main dessert...my mother in law's famous Peppermint Ice Cream Cake. It was still in the freezer when I took the pictures...I need to blog that recipe. It is my top 5 favorite desserts.

Kate & I at the end of the night....we were EXHAUSTED! She stayed up until midnight playing with her new toys while Kevin and I cleaned up.
It was SO much fun hosting both families....it was a wonderful Christmas...but, it wore me out! I could have slept all day on December 26th...but I couldn't because at 9 am we had to be at Kevin's parents for Larson Family Christmas. (Kevin's mom has Christmas on a separate day for their side of the family).
So, on day 3 of Christmas...we headed to my in-laws (and stopped at Starbucks...we needed coffee!)

Guess what?!? Santa came to their house also!
When we sat down for breakfast, all the kids had a luggage tag with a piece of paper rolled up in it.
Kevin's mom had all the Grandkids open their scroll of paper at the same time...
And, this is what they saw:
She is taking ALL 16 of us on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas & Disney World this summer!
Oh my goodness, I can't wait!
I have never been on a cruise...so excited.
We haven't even taken the girls to Disneyland before....they are going to FREAK out.
I am going to FREAK out! :)
Other highlights from Larson Christmas included:
Claire getting a bassinet that was once Kevin's sister's and my mother in law refurbished herself for Claire.
and a suitcase for the cruise:
Kate got a Princess tent & sleeping bag....
Kevin's mom gave Kevin (& I) the Gift of Sleep....
She is going to watch the girls over night every other Tuesday for the next few months so that Kevin and I can actually get a whole night of sleep. Our girls are terrible sleepers and wake up several times a night. They are 2 and almost 4....but for the past 6 months they have been sleeping terrible...we feel like we have infants! The Gift of Sleep truly is a priceless gift!

And, as of yesterday, Christmas 2010 is in the books.
The decorations are put away, the lights are down, the tree is on the curb.
Christmas 2010....it was a good one.
We ate, we drank, we cooked, we baked, we gave gifts, we used wedding China, we gathered as a family & most importantly we celebrated the best gift of all...the birth of Christ.

I hope your Christmas was memorable as well!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin