Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

With another year coming to an end, many people focus on what to do better next year. Me? I'll get there. I have goals. I have resolutions for 2012. There are things I want to do. But right now, I am going to relish in how wonderful two-thousand-eleven has been.

Actually, the end of 2010 is where 2011 really got good. Or at least, a big part of why. And the Christmas before that contributed to that as well. Christmas of 2009 was tough, really tough, on me because Nanny {my grandmother} had passed away and we buried her the day before our traditional family celebration with her. Christmas had lost the sparkle, the magic. It was my favorite time of year since...well, forever. Then all of a sudden I couldn't find the joy of the season any longer. The preparations were routine and empty for Christmas 2010; I went through the motions with my family and made sure the kids were excited. So when gift opening came around, I was showered with a brand-spankin new camera and a GPS from J, while he had only asked for a wallet, which I got him...and felt terrible about but now it's just plain funny. The third and final gift for me was heavier and I had no idea what else he could have possibly gotten. I opened it, saw "Will You...." then turned and saw J next to me on one knee with the ring to ask me to marry him! I cried. Hysterically. I think I scared him...but I was so happy!

I discovered he went to ask my parents for permission earlier in the week {ahh be still my beating heart!} and had been planning this for quite some time. He found out that my Dad proposed to my Mom on Christmas Eve exactly 25 years before! Also, his parents got engaged at Christmastime, too. How perfect. This was an amazing way to bring happiness back to this holiday for me.

Come January, I found my wedding dress. It wasn't love at first sight like they show in movies, but deep down I knew it because I kept going back to it.

Courtesy Sarah Ciccone Photography

February marked the month one of my closest friends, Corie, married the love of her life. It was an honor to be a part of her day. Oh, and the Green Bay Packers won the Superbowl. Hey-o!

March I spent focused on our wedding plans, finally decided on a ceremony site, and had the bridesmaids all set to go in their dresses {which I loved and was tempted to buy one for myself, just for fun}.

In April, I continued the tradition of heading off to a scrapbook retreat with my BFF Corie and my mom. J traveled down to St. Louis to attend supercross races for his bachelor party that same weekend. Most importantly, that month our little B turned 4...F-O-U-R...{going on sixteen...} I can't believe it! She has grown into such a wonderful, sweet, and caring little girl, amongst many other attributes. I am so proud of her and am beyond grateful to be blessed with my little angel!

In May, E turned 1. It was so fun to watch her grow over her first year and I'm honored to be a part of her life as a stepmom. She's a beautiful, loving baby and I am excited to watch the girls grow up together and witness the development of a fantastic sister-sister relationship.

June came and went; we had our engagement pictures taken {favorite below} and I turned the big 2-4.

Courtesy Sarah Ciccone Photography

My little brother also graduated high school in June, and someone managed to snap a picture of all us kids, mostly grown up.

In July, we celebrated Independence Day by attending the local parade and carnival with B, then snuggled up on the balcony that night for fireworks over the lake. It's nights like that I wish summer lasted year-round. Mid-month I had my bachelorette party - about 14 of my closest friends/family went camping for a weekend.

August was the month where my life changed, for the better, for good. J and I chose a beautiful garden to wed at, found a wonderful presider to bless our marriage, and had our amazing family and friends there to witness our vows to one another...for better or for worse.

Courtesy Sarah Ciccone Photography

Courtsey Sarah Ciccone Photography

Aside from April 14, 2007 when B was born, this was the happiest day of my life. I can't believe how quickly it went. In fact, I need to set a goal to write down every detail of that day that I can remember so I can look back on it and never, ever forget.

Also that month, my parents celebrated their milestone 25th anniversary. My siblings and I threw together a surprise dinner party for them with family and friends in attendance. They are such a wonderful pair, and I am so lucky to have them as parents, with such an awesome marriage to steer me into my own. J's younger sister welcomed a baby boy at the end of the month, too!

In September, another BFF of mine, Emily, was married to the ying to her yang. {Moment to brag: I had a slight hand in their meeting because I invited her along with me on a road trip to Chicago in 2009 and he happened to be in the group that was going as well.} Emily and I have known each other since we were 7, so it was beyond words for me to stand up with her and be there for her on her big day.

October brought new changes for me on a professional level as I changed jobs. I now work an hour closer to home and that has changed the dynamic of our household drastically. It was a decision that was hard for me, but I am very glad that I made the change because this company has proved to be a fantastic place to work, and the employees here have nothing but good will to pass along to newcomers. It's encouraging and promising.

In November, I went on another scrapping weekend with BFF Corie and my Mom {I'm so grateful for this time with them; not only does my creativity flourish in that environment, but it is a great opportunity to bond}. It was this month that I traded in my sassy sports car for a practical SUV, dubbed "truck". {I refused to get a minivan, not me!} My cousins welcomed a baby girl and my younger sister had her baby boy - and what a cutie he is! I am so happy for her and so excited to have another nephew in my life...he makes 7 nieces/nephews for us! 

As December comes to a close, I reflect back on the excitement of Christmas, the time spent with family and friends, and all the blessings of 2011. I look forward to all of the exciting adventures 2012 will bring, but not yet. I still have two days to soak up this year and two days of memories left. Tonight J and I celebrate meeting six years ago and I am all for hanging on for just a little longer.

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