Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Most Wonderful Auntie Amy

So the Cathys graced our presence this evening...too much fun. And yes I am blogging from my phone. Ah this crazy digital world my cousins keep dragging me into!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Icing on the Holiday

I LOVE Christmas cards!!!
I send out almost over 100 every year just to see who will send one back and hope to find out more about what's going on in everyone's lives from the past year. (No biggee if you get one from me and don't send one back...you're not blacklisted for life=) I spend way too much money on development and postage, and I stress way too much over what pictures will be featured on my card...seriously, I start thinking "Christmas card picture" starting in October! But it doesn't matter because I love getting and sending mail. It's like a remnant of years past when things weren't so electronic or digital and more personal. It just takes a little more time, effort, and care to send a letter. So I treasure every one I recieve, and the piece of art I create with them in my foyer will be the last of Christmas to be removed. (I leave them up until I'm sure there are absolutely no more cards that might be coming in the mail. This includes possible New Years cards from late Christmas card senders, so you're looking at the second week in January before I reluctantly file them all away in my photo albums.)
Here's this year's masterpiece...

And since I'm a sucker for gimmicky things, and especially anything in which you keep score, here's how I netted out on my Christmas Card score. Thanks to my cousin April for getting me going on this=) :

(Points you can earn at end of line in black...points I earned in blue.)

Gain Points by receiving cards from:

dentist, hairdresser, mailman, etc +0.5 each (+2.5) This includes all the random staff from our church that send out the mass churchwide Christmas cards.
your own mother- +0.5
another relative- +1 (+14)
friend via email- +0.5
your boss - +1
friend you see at least once a week- +1 (+6)
above with reference to an inside joke- +3
long distance friend, devoid of any message- +2
above with personal message of at least 3 lines- +5 (+5)
anyone who includes a handwritten personal note of more than 5 sentences- +5 (+15)
long lost friend who hasn't been heard from in 20 years- +10

Lose Points when:
card and envelope are same piece of paper- -1
signature only imprinted- -2 (-44) Let's face it, it's just too time consuming to personally sign ALL the cards...even I cut corners by photocopying our signatures on the letter.
photo is of helpless pet in a holiday costume- -3
your name is misspelled- -4
card plays annoying music- -4
highly religeous card celebrates faith other than your own- -5
same card they sent last year- -6
return address label was provided by charity to which sender may not have contributed- -7 (-14) Confession-I used these on mine this year, but we actually did contribute, so no worries if you got our card=)
family newsletter contains words such as gallblader, spleen, or gout- -8 (-15) Parital thanks to April for mention of "ruptured Achille's tendon."
family newsletter is from ex who is (not so) subtly gloating over his recent wedding or cushy new job- -10
long lost friend who hasn't been heard from in 20 years asks for money or a place to live- -20

Bonus Points:
gilded envelope- +0.5 (+2.5) Thank you Merr!
handwritted return address- +1 (+18) Ok, I admit this is a guesstimate because I only really kept track of the last half I received.
card in which all family members signed their names- +2 (+10)
newsletter or family photo in card- +2 (+52)
card with moving parts- +3 (+3)
extremely clever handmade card- +4 (+4) Mad props to my sis, LA!
oversize card requiring extra postage- +5
card sent from foreign country- +6
newsletter with humor at progeny's expense- +8
card with check, cash, or gift certificate- +20 (+80) And this is what happens when so many family members live out of town=)

Final Score: 139 points! I love you all!

Day 7...the Finale=)

(Savannah riding her new firetruck.)

Well, a whole week of Christmas! How many people get to say they truly celebrate Christmas for a full week? I love it, I can't wait for it to get here, and I truly feel almost depressed when it's gone.

(Cousin Ansleigh giving her a ride.)

Day 7 (Friday) was so much fun. It's neat to watch Savannah interact with her cousins. I love them all, and I know all Christmases to come will be so much fun as they grow up. I am truly blessed. Here's a few pics from the first half of the day...

(Not too excited about Aunt Nessa giving her her first haircut.)

(Playing around with Cousin Drew.)

(Getting some love from Ansleigh.)

The Durhams-Ansleigh, Gary, Natalie, Patti, Drew, Vanessa, Savannah, Joey, & Jennifer

(We can be a little crazy too=)

The last half of the day was spent visiting at my Dot-Dot's house hoping to catch my cousins, Jeb and Grant, and see Uncle Kenny who had all come in from TX. I missed the cousins, but it was good to see Uncle Kenny, and of course, Bounds family tradition, we went to see a movie that evening. Marley and Me was cute, but I much prefer the over-dramatized action films of past Christmases...the years the Lord of Rings movies came out were my favorite! (Even though Joey had to suffer slow, painful torture watching them all with me for three years in a row=) How did I marry someone that has no appreciation for fantasy?)

Anyhow, the 2008 Christmas has come and gone, and I'm glad you've joined me for the ride...or at least I hope someone out there joined me....Anyway, I love you all! Happy New Year! (soon)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day! Day 6=)

So Christmas Day has come and gone, and it was SO MUCH FUN! Good food, good company, and hanging with family, that's all I need to make Christmas a success. Savannah has been awesome down here in Macon, and the rest and relaxation has been much needed. Although, I pray Patti's scale is wrong her bathroom because there is NO WAY I gained 11 lbs in one day!!! (Please no!) Enjoy the pics, and I pray you all had a very Merry Christmas as well!

Enjoying her new rocking chair while opening stocking stuffers....
Loving her new baby doll....
Figuring out her new firetruck that Santa brought her....
Me hugging my new, incredible North Face coat...you all know I'm a sucker for something soft and furry, right?

Joey ready for his Appalachian Trail hike in April...

Savannah showing off her Granddaddy's gift...so humble...

Loving to twirl in the office chair...mad props to Aunt Lah for the cutest outfit=)
Another famous expression of wonder caught on film=) Ohhh....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve...Day 5!

(Savannah lovin' her Macon Granddaddy in her cool new Puma jumpsuit from Auntie Em=)
So Christmas this year belongs to Joey's parents in Macon. As in-laws go, I couldn't ask for any better. I love coming down and enjoying Patti's always-delicious meals and shooting the breeze as we get a chance to sit back and relax. It is different to celebrate with only four people (and Savannah of course) when I'm use to a full house on my side of the family, but if I've learned anything from getting to know my ever-extending family, it's that change is a good and welcome thing, and every new thing has it's plus side=)


With that said, I'm going to head back to the couch to continue watching James Bond in Die Another Day, but you stay and enjoy the video below. It's taken me three days to capture Savannah doing this on video, and I hope it makes you smile every time you replay it...as it does us. Sleep tight! Hope Santa comes to see you tonight=)

(This is how she asks for more of anything to eat...it's just too hilarious!)

Sibling Christmas...Day 4!

So, I'm not exactly when the tradition began, but years ago we decided to help extend Christmas in our family just one more day, my family decided to exchange sibling presents on the 23rd of December, which meant we then got to open presents on Christmas Eve, and then again on Christmas Day--three days of celebration=)

Over the years, this tradition has changed to days to aid my immediate side of the family (brothers and sisters) getting together to celebrate together even if we couldn't all be together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day due to any new in-law rotations=)

(Savannah enjoying her gift opening.)

So this year, LA & Tim were sadly absent, not able to come home from Orlando, FL this year, but everyone else was there as we enjoyed each other's company over good food, gingerbread cookie making, and Wii excitement. Of course, with Matthew hanging around, things always get interesting:

Matthew: "Who knows the difference between a man gingerbread man and a woman gingerbread man?"

Everyone Else: ??? What?

Matthew: "Let me show you...."

Gotta love my Matthew=)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And so it continues...Day 3!

Ok, so Monday night consisted of visiting my mom's parents, Meema & Papa George (as Savannah calls him=). They live nearby and invited us over to share in opening presents together, specifically to enjoy watching Savannah open her very first Christmas gift.

It wasn't at all as exciting as one would think it should be, but then again, that's my girl. Nothing really captures her attention for longer than two minutes unless it's a digital device...seriously. But, she did enjoy playing on her new horsey, and one day when she finally gets around to being interested in TV, she'll enjoy it even more, since it hooks up to the television to play interactive learning games....oh, the world we live in! Craziness!

The rest of the evening was spent visiting with Meema & George, enjoying their company, and of course, a game of Hand and Foot. I don't know if that's really the official name for this card game, but it's the only name our family has ever known it by. Anyone else ever heard of it? Anyways, it's always a great way to pass the time enjoying some friendly competion around the kitchen table and talking about this and that at the same time.

I think playing card games is just something our family has always done with Meema. I can remember back when the parents played Cannasta, then I learned how to play Solitaire, Gin Rummy, Skip Bo, Uno, and Phase 10, somwhere along the way. Many hours growing up were spent enjoying time around a good game of cards. I'm pretty sure every card game I know how to play I learned at her house with the exception of Spades, Hearts, etc.--that's my dad's personal favorite=)
So the evening was warm and friendly and inviting, and I enjoyed every moment, but Savannah was in bed, and it was off to part two of our Day 3 Christmas celebration where we met my brother Matthew and wife Emily at Bailey's for about three hours of shooting pool. Too much fun! Switching up teams, guys against girls, couple against couple, brother and sister against the married-in brother and sister. Oh, we laughed so hard at how badly we played, then cheered so loudly when we did well. Oh, how I love to spend time with my family. Funny how it so often revolves around some sort of competition or game...guess that's just the way we like it=)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Did it!! Day 2...

Ok, so I am a crafty, creative, make-it-yourself junkie on steroids, literally. But I must say that when a creative project is finished, and I did it almost all by myself (except for the sage wisdom and occasional helping hand from seasoned professionals), there is almost nothing that beats the complete satisfaction of a job well done and new frontier conquered--for better or for worse.
Here is my latest endeavor....

Yes, this is a stocking sewn by yours truly out of Savannah's first year Christmas baby clothes! Yes, I said her baby clothes...and the inside is lined with one of her receiving blankets=) My sister-in-love's mother, Mrs. Boyd, helped with surging the inside seams at the edge together, and my Dot-Dot embroidered her name (as she has done for my ENTIRE family for as long as I can remember), and whoo-ha-la! A unique one of a kind creation to follow my girl the rest of her life.

It's not perfect, but therein lies the beauty. This was the first time I have EVER used a sewing machine to attempt anything since HomeEc in seventh grade. So just learning to thread the machine was scary. Then crossing my fingers and attempting a zig zag stitch was scary, and I promise you there's not a straight line of stitching on the entire stocking. Then the binding with bias tape and trim at the top was VERY SCARY. But there it is...all done, and I did it. Not so scared to try it again now, especially since I just had to throw perfection to the wind...kinda freeing when you think about it=)

I'm a Mess!

Well, this post interupts my planned day-by-day chronicle of Christmas delights, but I just had to let you all know that my mom's new kitchen has officially been broken in by Savannah....

This shot taken only minutes before the whole insides of the cabinet ended up on the floor

....gotta love her=) !!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And So It Begins! Day 1....

Yes, the two week long celebration of family and Christmas has officially begun in the Durham household=) You have to understand. Family is the absolute most important thing to us. Since we have three sides to our family, and mine in particular has about three inside itself, we opt to rotate the actual day of Christmas between families every year; however, that means all other family must somehow be included either before or after Christmas, hence the two week celebration!
Today Joey, Savannah, and I spent time at my dad's parent's home, my Dot-D0t and Granddaddy Frank. The older these two get the more endeared to my heart they become. They have suffered much physically these past few years. Trips to the doctor for various tests and medication adjustments have become like running errands for them. But, they NEVER complain...not enough to matter anyway.
Today as I watched four generations gather around the all-too-familiar kitchen table playing a round of dominoes, I had to sigh and revel in the warmth of this familiar tradition--ah, the men in the Bounds family--how they love to compete at familiar games=) And Savannah was right there in the middle, loving every minute of her Grampy's knee.
As for me, I was helping Dot-Dot in the kitchen, where all good wives should be, right? Kidding...kinda...it's just the way it is on this side of the family=) But I couldn't help but watch my Dot-Dot as we rolled out her famous Martha Washington Candy then dipping it all in paraffin coated chocolate. She has aged, but her gentility has only increased with time, some might say feeble, yet strong still at the same time. I had to gulp back emotion in the back of my throat as I thought about all the years we had done this very thing together.
And then their was Savannah. Youth and joy and energy and laughter right in the middle of it all. Oh the way God works! Now there is a joy in being a grandparent, I see it in my parents' faces all the time, but there is an even greater joy and satisfaction in the admiration of a great-grandparent. Sometimes, I think the look they have in their eyes must be the same as our New Testament prophetess Anna when she finally laid her eyes and hands on baby Jesus. Oh the glory she gave to God for being able to hold that tiny babe and see that day arrive! THAT is the joy in a great-grandparent's eye....and Savannah is blessed to bring this joy to five great-grandmothers and three great-grandfathers, but I know the two that went ahead rejoice with them in heaven=)
I believe this picture says it all....

...enough said. Let the celebration of Christ and family begin!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jump 4 Joey

Ok, so have I mentioned lately how much FUN my daughter is?!?

This is a recent video Joey took at an inflatable playhouse for kids in Hiram. We were here for Savannah's friend, Riley's, second birthday party. Savannah was a little hesitant at first to join in on the fun, but after only two times of being carried to the top of this slide, she soon discovered how much fun it was to do it on her own and was squirming her way out of our arms. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do...everytime I watch it, it makes me laugh, especially when she eats inflatable at the end=)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Woodsy Glitzy

My festive centerpiece=) Lets see if I can keep it alive!

So, Joey and I are going on seven-and-a-half years of marriage, and this is the first year, I have actually bought ANY Christmas decorations. Partly because I've just used hand-me-down ornaments and gifted decorations, not seeing any purpose in spending the money on more, and partly because I just didn't know what my "Christmas style" was. You know how everyone has a certain way they like to decorate for Christmas? Well, I found my style this year! And despite Joey's constant jabs and snickers, I am sticking with calling it a Woodsy Glitzy style=) Because I like natural looking things, but I also like a little glitter, a little gold, and alot of sparkle and shine!

My attempt at an indoor garden. So far I've only had to replace one dead plant!

It all started with Dinner in December. I found these owls at Marshall's that I absolutely fell in love with (couldn't tell you why other than they're cute), and my whole table just sort of evolved off of them. I found the plates, had the candles, had the silverware embedded with gold trim, liked the look of the shine with the natural woods, and wha-la! A Woodsy Glitzy tablescape!

Love my centerpiece tree too! People kept asking me if I had made it? huh?

My new casual china from Lenox comes in three mix-and-match patterns. I love it! Can't wait to have a reason to buy more=)

So it only made sense to carry over this Woodsy Glitzy style into my home, so that I could use my new fun decorations! So I bought Christmas ornaments for the first time this year! So exciting! I absoultely went plum crazy at Crate and Barrel because they totally got the idea of my new found style=) All the new fun glass balls combined with the sentimental few ornaments I haven't given away to Goodwill over the years, makes an absolutely cozy and homey, yet with a flair of dazzling effect. I love it!

Something old (the nativity I love), and something new (I bought many glass balls this year, and I like them all, but couldn't pick a favorite=)

Another new owl I think is oober cute, Joey thinks is oober ridiculous.

My Amelia Island fish that is gorgeous, but is definitely out of place on my Woodsy Christmas tree, but it's Glitzy! And who doesn't have that one ornament that really doesn't belong, right?

And last but not least, the goofy looking reindeer=) I LOVE reindeer, and all the grace and power of nature they represent, plus who doesn't have that one really goofy thing that just makes them smile? I still remember my parents' Mr. & Mrs. Claus that we had on our fireplace growing up. They were freaky looking, but well-loved=) Haven't named my mangy friend yet, any suggestions?

What's your "Christmas Style"?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'd like to know...

What personality type are you?

Because of my personality type. I like taking tests like these, and I always find it amazing when they hit the nail on the head. I especially like that they call my personality type a Mastermind. Ha-ha! Knew it all along=) J/K, but seriously, check out which jobs I should look into. I especially find the last line in the paragraph to be particularly true of me: 'My husband leaves me alone when he sees that I am caught in what he calls my "Thinking Time." I'm unwinding knots even in my sleep.'

Take a moment and take the test! I'd love to know what personality type you are=)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Part of the Answer

So one thing I dislike about being a stay at home mom is you can never give a good answer to the question, "So what do you do?" when you meet new people. I mean the answer is obviously, "I'm a home maker." or "I stay home with Savannah and keep things going." But there really is no good answer to that question. SO let me try to answer it with a brief snapshot of only about 15 minutes of my day=)

I unload these...(Note: This is only the top rack--notice all the "kid" stuff, and this gets done once if not twice in one day...)...

...Only to reload these....(Note: This is only the breakfast and last night after dinner leftovers...)....

...Only to turn around and pick these up because Little Miss has got to keep herself occupied doing something while I clean up...

And then, when I round the corner to check on her, this is what I find....

....Wouldn't trade a moment of it for the world=)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Favorites

So, this is the time of year when traditions abound, and you just can't help sitting back and reminiscing about old times, good times, family memories, and the "way things use to be", and the way some things always should be. Some of my personal favorites:

1) Watching the movie White Christmas and sighing as Irving Berlin sings the actual song all the while wishing I could actually be one of the Davis sisters.

2) Plugging in my iPod and turning up my Christmas playlist, along with filling my car CD player with every Christmas CD I own. Favorite album: Croon and Swoon. Favorite Christmas song: Winter Wonderland. Favorite Christmas carol: O Holy Night.

3) Christmas past to Christmas present: I still love to decorate a Christmas tree (more posts on that later=) I remember growing up and painstakingly helping my dad place the lights just so on the tree, then laughing to myself as he would place one string of tinsle on the tree in just the right place. Anyone remember tinsle? Then there was the race against siblings to put the most Christmas ornaments on the tree or to be the one to place specific ornaments on the tree--everyone had a favorite, and then there wad the inevitable arguments that insued about where the ornaments were placed on the tree: "You hung it too close to mine. You hung it too high. Don't you move MY ornament! I want it where it is."

As silly as all that sounds, I love every memory, and they make me smile. Decorating a tree is still fun for Joey and me because I remember all those times. I can't wait until Savannah can begin joining in the fun=) It will be fun to relive my own memories in some way all over again with her.

4) Christmas baking! I don't do a lot of it, but I love to think about it and hope other people do it=) Ha-ha! Favorites: Martha Washington Candy--I use to help my Dot-Dot make it every year. Thumbprint Cookies and Fudge--baking with Mama memories. Gingerbread cookies--I ganked a great recipe from a friend years ago, and I have made this my favorite Christmas cookie tradition. Takes some work, but they are so much fun and delicious, especially with lemon icing.
5) And I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Nutcracker. Although we haven't done it in years, there were many years in my middle and and high school era that my Meema and I went to see The Nutcracker performed somewhere. Every time I hear that melodic music I think of light-footed ballerinas and my Meema. It's nice when music brings back such distinct moments in life.

So that is what I spend the month of December thinking about and dwelling on and savoring, all the while quietly thanking the Lord that I have such great family to have such great memories.

What are your favorites at Christmas?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome Home?

Yeah, so let me vent a moment.

Tuesday before we left town for Thanksgiving, I was frantically dragging Savannah to the doctor only to find out she had a terrible case of croup and needed breathing treatments and medication. So, I spent the rest of the day trying to fill her prescriptions last minute before we left town.

She did fine, but was still a little out of sorts while away, not terrible though. In general, she's just not a fussy child even when she's sick.

So I get home and two things happen.

1) My brand new five day old Blackberry Storm stops working. The touch screen no longer responds...go figure. And if you've EVER had to deal with Verizon Wireless customer service, it is crap! And we have to argue our way out of stupid fees everytime we try to fix our phones. Solution: I'm gettting rid of my Blackberry Storm ASAP. My personal opinion is they weren't ready for the demand on the phone, and they tried to pack too much technology into this device. Bottom line, all the kinks aren't worked out yet, so maybe in another two years I'll reconsider, but lesson learned, I will not be the first person to ever buy the greatest lastes thing again. Not until it's been out long enough for them to get it working right.

2) I listen to my six messages on answering machine when I get home, only to hear TWO messages from my doctor! One from Friday and one from Saturday. Savannah's strep culture came back positive!!! They wanted to call in an antibiotic for me. My poor daughter has had strep on top of croup this entire time, and I don't find out about it until 7:00pm on Sunday night? After getting home from vacation? What kind of medical treatment is that?!?!

Needless to say, I was furious last night. Didn't sleep real well. Called the doctor first thing this morning at 7:30am, only to find out that their computer only has room for two phone numbers to call, and somehow my cell phone number (one of five other numbers on her paperwork someone could have entered) never got entered into the computer! Like that's my fault? So they apologized (not profusely enough for my liking) and called in my antibiotic, but heaven forbid had she been really sick! Or that the strep had gottten worse quickly! Arrrgh!

Frustration. So welcome back to the real world, Jennifer. Thanksgiving was marvelous. I'm just praying really hard right now, trying not to let satan steal that joy. I feel a little better sharing it with you all=) Ha-ha! Misery loves company, right? Or maybe it just needs empathy.