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The one in matching christmas jammies

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Here is some more pictures and details from East family Thanksgiving. Matt had to work so we all got together at about 5 for Thanksgiving Dinner. We had so much good food, all the turkey day staples - turkey, ham, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberries, strawberry pretzel salad (which Emily has just about got perfected), and on and on. For dessert we had a pecan pie, pumpkin cupcakes and bulldog bites. Yummy!

We tried out having a kids table for the first time. The kids did great. Ben sweetly picked up Perry's juice cup each and every time he dropped it on the floor (which is one of his new favorite things to do). Perry ate some turkey, sweet potatoes and dressing with a cup of whole milk. He is getting to be such a big boy. Meanwhile the adults enjoyed a table to ourselves.


After dinner we watched some football and talked about what we are thankful for this year (see previous post) while we let our food digest.


And we had some fun with microscopes and protists. Because that is what all good American families do on Thanksgiving. I won a set of microscope slides at the conference I was at last week (that's a normal door prize, right?), that had living protists on them. Because Ben has declared a love for science - I wanted to share the wonders of microscopic living things with him. So I brought a microscope home from work and set up a little science station on the counter. Even Kate wanted to get in on the science action. #nerdyfamilythanksgiving

Granna and Granddaddy gave Ben, Kate and Perry matching Christmas PJs and they all put them on for a photo op in front of the tree.

Precious kids,

and a thankful family.

While Ben and Kate watched a movie (and Perry was asleep), we got in a round of Apples to Apples before calling it a night. Except Emily and I didn't really call it a night - we bundled up and headed out to brave Belk for their black friday (although it should probably be renamed to black thursday) sale. We were not there will the total crazies when they opened at 8, just the mostly crazies a couple hours later and OH-MY-WORD, the mess. There were boots everywhere. Empty boxes, empty racks, single boots that had lost their mate somewhere along the way -scattered from the shoe department to home goods. It was a madhouse. But it was fun to be amidst it all.

We each snagged some $20 boots and I found a pretty spectacular ugly christmas sweater for a party next week. Then we went home and were nestled in bed by midnight. No shopping all-nighters like I did last year with Kristen. Because unlike last year, I had an 11 month old that would be up and wanting attention at 7 am regardless of what time I chose to go to bed.

The one with the thankful tree

Friday, November 29, 2013
Happy (day after) Thanksgiving!

The festivities of yesterday warrant more than one blog post - too much fun to write about just once. Last night we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for Andrew's family. It was so great to spend time together, eat yummy food, play games, look at Black Friday sale ads, and talk about what we are thankful for.

We are so blessed and have so much to be thankful for, even in a year that has been anything but smooth and definitely not always happy. One thing I have learned a lot this year is that thankfulness and gratefulness is a choice; a choice that you have to make every day. And it is a choice we should make. Because even when your family is rocked by a bad diagnosis, or when a five week old baby keeps you up all night, we are still incredibly blessed and can find peace and rest in the arms of our heavenly father. I fail at this often and constantly need reminders to re-set to this mindset.

Andrew and I talked yesterday about how much difference a year can make. This time last year I was very "great with child." We were busy preparing and anticipating the arrival of Perry. We were thankful for a healthy pregnancy and the blessing of having a baby. This year we are chasing around a lively, smiley, healthy 11 month old little boy that is the light of our world. We are so thankful for him and our family of three. We are also thankful for our bigger family and all their love and support and help they have given us this year. We are thankful for good jobs, amazing friends, a nice home (with heat), and plenty of clothes and food to eat. We are thankful for Gary's response to treatment and that he was not only physically able to complete all 12 rounds of a grueling chemotherapy, but that the chemotherapy (and the great physician) worked amazingly and his cancer markers have continued to drop (to an all-time low of 120 this week). We have so much to be thankful for; not just on the fourth Thursday in November, but each and every day.

We took some time last night to write some things we are most thankful for on cut-out paper leaves and hung them on branches, a tradition we started last year.



Here is what we wrote:
Andrew: God's blessings
Kelly: A family of three
Gary: For my family, cute grandchildren (Ben's suggestion), friends, and 120 (an all-time low CA19-9 cancer marker level)
Ann: God's grace and peace, and granddaddy doing good
Matt: Gary's response to treatment and God's grace
Emily: Jesus and family
Ben: Mommy and Daddy
Kate: Everything that God made

My prayer is that as we move from Thanksgiving into the Christmas season (if we weren't already there) that we would keep a sense of thankfulness for all of our blessings and the birth of our savior.

The one where Santa got frostbite

Monday, November 25, 2013
Last night we went to the Botanical Gardens for the Galaxy of Lights, Walking Nights. Yes, it was freezing. But we really wanted to see some of the lights and we HATE driving through it in bumper to bumper traffic (making Andrew affectionally refer to it as "Galaxy of Tail Lights"). So we bundled Perry up in his warmest Christmas jammies and an extra blanket or two and off we went.


We didn't walk the whole thing, not even close. But we walked enough to see some really neat lights and get in the Christmas spirit. We also got to visit a little while with Santa, who had made the trip from the North Pole for the occasion. Perry didn't quite know what to think about the man in the big red suit. So for a while P and Santa just looked at each other, sizing each other up. I should probably be grateful that my baby wont get handed off to a strange man and then look at me and smile...he definitely preferred the arms of his mommy and daddy. But the experience still made for some darling pictures.


His jammies say "If mommy says no, just ask Santa." Ironically, quite appropriate for the occasion.

I am hoping this is the first of lots of fun holiday experiences between now and Christmas. 'Tis the most wonderful time of the year.

The one where 50 is fabulous

Sunday, November 24, 2013
After I got home yesterday from Atlanta I had an hour or two to relax, unpack and hang out with my boys before it was time to go to a special lady's 50th birthday surprise party.

Beth is a precious friend. Our lives have intersected in so many ways over the years; she was my teacher at church, I babysat her son Jackson (who is now a freshman in college making me feel so old), we are sorority sisters, and she is my OB's nurse practitioner and took amazing care of me when I was pregnant with P. I am incredibly grateful I was able to go and celebrate her big birthday!

The party was hosted by Dr. Kikani and Dr. Aguayo, at Dr. Kakani's house. It was fun to get to talk and catch up with so many of the friendly faces from my OB office that I don't see nearly as often now that I am not pregnant. Beth thought she was picking up Dr. Kakani and going out to dinner for her birthday. Little did she know 20+ of her closest friends were hiding in the dark living room when she walked in. :)

The food, drinks and cake were awesome and it was such a fun night.


Happy Birthday Beth! You are definitely fifty and fabulous!

The one from Atlanta

Friday, November 22, 2013
I have spent the last 4 days in Atlanta for the national association of biology teachers (nabt) meeting. It has been a great few days of learning and spending time with a whole bunch of awesome educators.

Being in Atlanta also means that got to have dinner with Kristen Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, I hear that Andrew and Perry have had a good week back in Huntsville. And that Perry has been practicing standing on his own a whole lot.

Here are the little glimpse of home my family has been gracious to send. That sweet face just makes my day.

Haha. Funny boy.

Headed home this afternoon and can't wait to be reunited with my boys.

Wordless Wednesday, I mean Friday

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The one where Kate turned four

Our neice, Kate, turned four on Saturday. I can't believe how fast she is growing up!

We missed her friends party at build-a-bear, because our pear-bear needed his afternoon nap. But we met up with the whole family for dinner at Ichiban that evening. Our neice and nephew have quite refined palates when it comes to birthdays; Ben wanted steak this year and Kate wanted hibachi. And hey, that is a-ok by me. :) 

The first half of dinner was tense to say the happened to coincide with the end of the epic auburn-Georgia game where auburn gave up the lead with a minute and a half left and stole the game back with seriously the most amazing and improbably Hail Mary pass ever. It is awesome to look back on now, but at the time, when we didn't know what was going to be the outcome, it was not awesome. We tried to make casual conversation around the table but no one really wanted to take their eyes off of their score center app on their phone. Luckily Auburn won (in dramatic fashion) and we could eventually enjoy our dinner and get back to celebrating Kate.

Dinner was good. Perry was definitely a fan of all the rice and chicken and veggies. After dinner and a round of "happy birthday" we gathered back at the Eckleys for cake and present opening. Kate was so precious opening all of her presents...she got so excited about them all. And she is way into purple right now so of course her cupcake icing had to be bright purple.

Cousin love

Perry wanted to be in the middle of the present opening action

Photo op with the birthday girl!

Happy Birthday Kate! We love you and can't wait to see what the next year has in store for you!

The one with the (premature) christmas decor

Saturday, November 16, 2013
I was going to try to fly below the radar with the fact that we have decorated for Christmas, but now that our exterior white lights have been put up and you can see the outline of our house from Old Big Cove Rd...inconspicuous we are not.

It should really not come as any kind of surprise to those that know us that our trees are up and decorated and our lights are on the house. We love the Christmas season so much we can't get enough of it in just one month so we let it bleed over through November as well.

I was really nervous putting our trees up this year, with a very mobile 10 month old scurrying around them. Our fragile ornaments have migrated towards the top of the tree for sure, but we figured we would put them up and just see what happens. For the most part Perry has ignored the trees and the wrapped presents underneath. We do have some stuffed ornaments hanging near the bottom that he has taken off and played with once or twice, and we have had to divert him away a couple of times...but no disasters yet.


It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

We bought Perry a wooden nativity scene for Christmas last year and unwrapped it on his behalf about a week before he was born. We could not wait to pull it out this year and let him actually play with it. He has had a great time picking the figures up, chewing on them, and banging them on the floor/coffee table...thats how a 10 month old plays with a nativity. He is particularly fond of the baby Jesus which makes this mommy's heart happy. We are so looking forward to many Christmases to come when we can really teach him about the nativity and real reason we are celebrating.

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