Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm just a little late, huh? What can I say, these past few weeks have been a bit hectic. I'm not even going to try to post everything that has been going on the past couple of months, but I will give you the "Cliff Notes" version.

Brad came home from Kansas on November 19th around midnight, so Aubrey woke up the day after her birthday to a great surprise. We didn't expect him home until late in the day on the 20th, but Brad couldn't stand being away any longer and drove straight through from Kansas to get home as fast as possible.  It has been wonderful having him home once again.

The following week was Thanksgiving, and the crazy lady I am, I hosted all of our family at our home for the holiday. Since they were all traveling from out of town, I ended up preparing the entire meal--for 18 people! I started prepping a week in advance, and I am happy to say that I pulled off the meal, by myself, with the meal on the table only 20 minutes behind schedule! We had herb-roasted turkey, chipotle-raspberry-glazed ham, dressing with cranberries and apple, roasted sweet potato and banana mash with a spiced-oat crumb topping, cider-braised acorn squash with bacon and kale, pan-roasted root vegetables with thyme butter, garlic green beens with carrots and bacon, cranberry-apricot chutney, and rolls. It was a great meal, shared with wonderful people.  Late that night, I headed out to Toys-R-Us with my mother-in-law, Livy, and my sister-in-law-to-be, Tara, for some Black Friday insanity. We ended up standing in line outside for an hour and a half before getting inside--but I was able to get all of my Christmas shopping done for the kids in one night, and I saved over 100 bucks on one item alone, so it was worth it!

The next day, we had a family birthday party for Aubrey with all of our visiting relatives, with a bounce-house for the kids, a taco bar and an adorable "Yo Gabba Gabba" birthday cake for Aubrey. Many of our relatives left Friday evening or Saturday morning, so we spent Sunday just relaxing as a family and buying a Christmas tree.

The following week, it was back to routine--school, Cub Scouts, running Aubrey to Toddler Tumbling class, and all of the insanity of day-to-day life. Brad had a big planning exercise at work, which meant he worked from sun-up to about 9 o'clock at night, so it was back to "single parent mode" for me. Plus, I was trying to finish up all of the Christmas shopping and get ready for my good friend Brooke Lasher's baby shower, which I was throwing that weekend in Dallas.  Friday afternoon, we packed up and drove up to Aunt Cathy and Uncle Wayne's place. We enjoyed the weekend with them and all of our old friends, taking in the Wylie Christmas Parade, throwing Brooke a shower, and even visiting the Fort Worth Science and History Museum and eating an awesome brunch at our favorite hole-in-the-wall in Fort Worth, the Jazz Cafe before trekking home Sunday.

The following week meant Christmas parties for Cub Scouts and more Christmas shopping. Friday I had coordinated a progressive dinner with our neighbors, with our home hosting everyone for appetizers and drinks. Aiden ended up sick that day, which meant a whole lot of extra work for me, quarantining him upstairs during the party and letting him watch movies while we were at the neighbors houses for the rest of the dinner. Luckily, he rallied for "Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE!" the next day, which we all really enjoyed. But by Sunday, he was even sicker, and I had caught his bug, too, so we all spent the day at home recovering.  The next week was a blur of school Christmas parties and the 1st CAV Christmas tree lighting and all sorts of holiday events, including TWO formal military balls. Then school was out, and a few days later, we had our family gift exchange and Santa came to visit our house early, since we were traveling for the Christmas holidays.

On the 22nd, we headed north to Sherman to visit my mom and spend the night in her new apartment. We exchanged gifts, Aiden getting a new Razor motorcycle that he zoomed around on. The 23rd, we headed to Oklahoma City to stay with my grandmother. My mom followed us up the next day, and we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrating with my large, extended Brum family. Aiden had a blast with his cousins, especially Quinn, who he latched onto and followed everywhere! On the Monday after Christmas, we traveled to visit my dad's parents and spend the day with them, and then we drove back to my mom's apartment for a quick overnight before heading home on Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon and evening, I did laundry and repacked our suitcases, and then it was back on the road Wednesday, headed South to Bandera to be with the Parker clan. We stayed in Bandera through the Sunday after New Year's, exchanging Christmas gifts, ringing in the New Year with cocktails and fireworks, and gorging ourselves at a family fish fry.  We returned home on Sunday the 2nd, Aiden was back in school on the 3rd, and we've spent the time since trying to recover from the insanity of the holidays.

So, that's the short version! You can see why my blogging has fallen behind recently!

Now that the New Year is here, I thought I'd share my only New Year's resolution. I am resolved to cherish the family time we have between now and the last week of April, when Brad will deploy. I don't want the deployment to loom over our heads and color everything we do with the gloomy thoughts of this will be the last time we do this as a family for a whole year.... Instead, I want us to be joyful, to enjoy the time we have, and to spend these days laughing, smiling and playing. I will do my best to update this blog with our progress. But, you'll have to forgive me if I put blogging and Facebook and all the little distractions on the back burner for a while--I plan to be busy playing with my family.

So...I'll see you when I see you.

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Want to hear more about the Pack?

Check out A Belly in Bloom, a page devoted to Angela's pregnancy with Aubrey. You can see belly pics, sonograms, and learn more about how Aubrey (formerly known as "The Bean") came to be the lovely little girl she is! You can also find Angela's favorite recipes and newest food experiments at Cooking with the Parker Pack.