I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season! I know we sure did. After a very busy October and November, I was thrilled to embrace the holidays. I love this time of year! I love that we’re all focused on creating special holiday memories. We take the time to be more intentional with each other, and the time spent is never wasted. My 10 year old daughter agrees with me that the best part of the Christmas season is food, family and friends……experiences together and making meaningful moments.
The gift giving is actually an afterthought…..kind of on the side, “Oh yeah….what are we getting the girls. What do they want?” That really doesn’t make me the grinch. The materialism of Christmas isn’t what it’s all about. Some of you may have noticed on Facebook as I shared last minute shopping 5 days before Christmas resulted in a fairly knuckle biting weekend awaiting Amazon packages via UPS and Fed Ex. Thankfully everything made it in time, though one package may have made it’s jaunt through our neighborhood before finding it’s way to our doorstep.
Whew…another successful Christmas under my belt. Which by the way is getting harder as the girls get older. Once they graduate from toys to electronics, clothing, jewelry and makeup, it becomes more challenging to meet their wants and stay within a manageable budget. We did pull it off, but it’s certainly a balancing act.
So here we sit staring at the dawn of a new year….2013. How was my 2012? As we wrap up this year in preparation for the next, what thoughts fill my head? I’m actually astounded what this past year brought my way. The biggest surprise was probably last January when I received an invitation by Kenmore to attend the Kenmore Blogger Summit in Chicago. Chicago?? As in air travel? I hadn’t flown in 16 years, and definitely not since I’d had children…..so that was a “fear” I knew I’d need to overcome. As I anticipated that first flight, I realized that my true fear wasn’t the flying itself, but the feeling of being out of control….of being that far from my children, and possible emergencies arising. Being subjected to other people to get me home should something happen.
Not only did I conquer that fear all the while flying INTO A BLIZZARD, but I also ended up with opportunity to travel by plane for two other trips this year. When did I turn into a well-seasoned flyer? Crazzzyyy!! If you remember, I flew to New York City last April…..a long awaited dream of mine come true. I’d never been!! It’s a trip I hope to repeat one day, but next time with my hubby. It was so neat to finally see the real deal: I was able to fully immerse myself, and I fell in love with Central Park! I walked, taxied, and took the subway around town….checking out sights….Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Grand Central Station, the Chrysler building, the Empire State building, the 9/11 site, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square and so much more. Most of that made more fun by hanging out with other food bloggers since we’d all been flown in for the same Sandra Lee event!
And then I was blessed to spend the night out in Brooklyn with a dear friend and fellow food blogger that opened her home to me. Her hospitality allowed me one extra full day in the city. I’m deeply indebted! Brooklyn was also incredible, and like so many others out there….I truly fell in love with the entire New York City experience, caught the bug and hope to share that experience with hubby some day. What a romantic weekend that would be!!
In October, I returned again to Chicago for another Kenmore Blogger Summit…this time with my friend Michelle and thankfully NO snow. All three of these weekends I was able to spend time with my new friend Wendy, and were all food blog related (and paid for *pinches myself*). Such a blessing, and I look back in AWE and amazement! Other food blog related experiences included Food Blog Forum at Disney in March and our stay at the Polynesian Resort, Tech Munch in Tampa, dining at Shula’s and Dos Caminos in Fort Lauderdale and the Food and Wine Festival and a stay at the Disney Boardwalk Yacht Club courtesy of Driscoll berries. Not to mention I WON a new top of the line stainless steel Kitchen Aid refrigerator. Yes…pinch me, please!
On the homefront: we’ve been growing hubby’s family law practice, homeschooling our three girls (one preschool, one elementary and one middle school), losing weight, running, kayaking, enjoying the outdoor life that Florida offers, taking several Disney trips as a family, spending time with friends and family, and trying to maintain a balance through it all. Life can pull us in many directions if we let it, but it’s up to us to focus on what’s important…on what truly matters….on keeping our priorities straight. No one ever said it would be easy. It isn’t. Life is very challenging, muddy and real. There are ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and we have to keep our head on straight and focus on the ONE who created us. HE is all that matters.
We’ve met some other neat milestones as a family this year ~ Hubby and I finally both moved up into smartphone ownership with our new iPhones….wow, that’s been an incredible experience (I still LOVE Instagram!) We went on our first family camping trip this past November (St. Augustine with friends) which we hope is the first of many to come….we had a BLAST! And our oldest daughter turned 13, which means we have our first teenager in the house (and along with that the dyeing of hair, acceptance of her expressing her individuality, and helping her to find her way), our middle daughter turned double digits this past November which is another really BIG deal, and my little one turns 5 this month.
As they grow up before my very eyes, I find myself doing a dance. It’s a dance I’d love to just learn…to just memorize the steps, but much to my dismay….it’s a dance that keeps changing while I’m dancing. So I’ll just keep on dancing, and do my best to learn the new steps as they come, and continue to turn to the ONE who created the dance in the first place. After all, HE has the playbook!
Happy New Year friends!! I truly hope this upcoming year brings much joy, health and contentment to you. Thanks for reading because without you there would be no reason for me to keep stopping in. I truly love my little place here in cyberspace, and can’t believe it’s been 3 1/2 years since I’ve been sharing here. xoxo, Denise
** What surprises did you have in 2012? What were some of your most meaningful experiences? **