Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Trip

We are back home after five long days of traveling and intense visiting. So glad that we were able to squeeze in all that we did.

We headed out Tuesday after work and were able to meet up with some of Daniel's family for dinner. It was actually his mom's birthday so we were glad that we were able to celebrate with her.

Then we drove on to Bellevue to crash at one of my friend's houses. It was so nice to be on the other side of Nashville and not to have to worry about driving in traffic Wednesday morning.
Thanks to Kristalynne for letting us crash... sorry we missed getting to visit with you.

Wednesday we got up and headed on to Searcy. We had rain and heavy winds the entire way - not exactly an enjoyable drive, but we made it home in time for lunch. Wednesday afternoon and evening we enjoyed visiting with family and playing games. Grandma and Keith came over that evening for dinner.

Christmas morning Mom made us pancakes before we exchanged our gifts. This year we decided to draw names and only buy for one person. We are all working at getting out of debt and have discovered that as we have gotten older we buy the things we need or want and the whole gift exchange seems somewhat unnecessary. Anyways, it was nice to draw names and exchange gifts without feeling obligated to spend so much money.

The one funny story about our gift exchange was that Angela drew Mark's name. Angela is the one in the family that LOVES to buy gifts for people and when she tried to ask Mark what he wanted, he said just to give him money. Angela was not very excited about this prospect so she wrapped up one dollar bills into several small packages. Mark kept unwrapping presents but it was all individuals bills... we had a good laugh about that.

Christmas dinner was what I was hoping for: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pecan and pumpkin pie.

Christmas afternoon Angela and Robert had to head back to Memphis so Angela could work the night shift... wish they didn't have to leave early but thankful for time together.

Friday Daniel and Dad went deer hunting - or should I say they went for a walk in the woods... They saw one deer, but didn't get to shoot anything. Mark, Mom and I hung out. Mark is officially getting his own apartment in Nashville so that afternoon he and Mom went through the house trying to find odds and ends like dishes and towels and apartment-type things he needed. Then we went to see a movie that night.

Saturday morning Mark left for Nashville (he had to work that night). That left Mom, Dad, Daniel and me to go to Bobby's for breakfast. Then over to Grandma's for one last quick visit.

We decided to drive to Memphis that afternoon to spend some more time with Angela and Robert (and to give us a 2-hour head start on our long drive back to Charlotte). Glad we got the extra time in Memphis. Angela is really showing and it seems a little surreal that she is expecting.

We are now home after a really long day of driving. I look forward to the day when we will all live closer together.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Things I Am Looking Forward To:

10) Listening to Bill Bryson book's on CD to pass the time on the LONG drive from Charlotte to Searcy.

9) Seeing my family in 2 days.

8) Getting to see Angela and hearing even more interesting stories about being pregnant.

7) Exchanging gifts on Christmas... can't wait to see what everyone got...
I hope I got a puppy (just kidding).

6) Sharing my special hot chocolate recipe.

5) Trying Mark's special egg nog recipe.

4) Eating bon bons.

3) Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Sweet potato casserole. Green bean casserole. Pecan pie. Pumpkin pie... the works.

2) Going to Bobby's - hopefully we will have time on this trip.

1) Visiting non-stop for 4 days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Teaching Experience

This year I have learned that I love to teach. I love sharing my knowledge with others and helping them to understand concepts that they did not know before. I also learned to have a greater appreciation for all of the teachers that taught me so much.

So it is with a little sadness that I say goodbye to teaching. After one year of teaching (on the college level) I have decided to take a break. While I love teaching, it has not really been meshing with my schedule, making my life more hectic than necessary. Also with my recent health problems, I think it is important that I focus on getting healthier.

I realized a couple of months ago that I was dreading going to teach. To me this means it was time for a change. The dread was from the hassle of having to go out after a hard day's work. It was becoming a pain to always get prepared and I have been feeling as though I have had no time left over for myself.

So maybe someday in the future I will go back to school and get my masters and someday, maybe, I will switch to teaching full time...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bon Bons

I don't really remember when my family started the tradition of making Bon Bons at Christmas. This is the only time of year that I make (or eat) these sugary concoctions. I think that my mom and sister may make them more often, but I know that Christmas is the time of year that we all make them. They are such a family favorite that both my sister and I served them at our wedding receptions.

I made half a recipe for a cookie exchange that Daniel and I went to tonight. They were a big hit so I thought I would share the recipe. It's an easy recipe but it takes a little bit of time to dip all of the balls in the melted chocolate. This can be fun for kid's to do - I remember how fun it was to roll out the individual balls in my hands and use spoons to drop and retrieve the balls from the chocolate.

My sister was a lifesaver for emailing me the recipe last night as well as telling me the ingredients over the phone while I wondered through the grocery store.

Happy making!

Voyles' Family Bon Bons

1 cup butter


4 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ( 2 pkgs equals over 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
3 cups coconut
I find it easiest to mix the ingredients with your hands... good activity for kids.

Shape into 1" balls

Place on wax paper
Melt chocolate almond bark
Dip bon bons in the chocolate
Dry thoroughly on wax paper

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Six Years

Six years feels so short. Mentally I feel like it should have felt longer. Perceptually it has flown by. A blink of an eye really.

I have a friend who is a divorce lawyer. She says that, according to her statistics, if you can make it to seven years, you are golden. By this mark in time you have passed all of the hurdles - the ones about money and jobs and kids. The honeymoon stage is over and you have learned to deal. Daniel and I don't have kids and we are at six years not seven, but I know that we will last because we choose to last. Because not lasting is not an option.

In six years we have had a lot of fun. We have also experienced frustration and heartache. We have learned how to disagree and to be completely honest in ways I never dreamed. We have traveled. We have hiked. We have renovated. We have discovered new hobbies together. We have shared our personal hobbies with each other. We have paid off huge amounts of debt and dreamed and planned for the future. I feel so very blessed to have Daniel in my life.

Six years. A drop in the bucket. I am looking forward to the next six and the next six after that and on and on until the rest of our lives are completed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fish Out of Water

Tonight Daniel and I did our Christmas shopping, or at least part of it. This year for Christmas we are being very minimal with the gift giving... Daniel and I never exchange gifts and since we will be with my family this year, we have all agreed to draw names and only buy for one person with a limit on the spending.

However tonight we were not buying any such gifts. We were actually shopping for two single moms who we chose to buy presents for. Our small group from church decided to give in a way that would be more meaningful to families who might not be able to afford a Christmas of their own. So with that in mind, we headed out to buy gifts.

It is a different feeling to be shopping for people that you don't know. I think there is more of a true feeling of Christmas when you are shopping for a stranger who has less than you do.

The reason for the title of this post has to do with how we felt shopping in the baby section. If you know us, you know that we tend to be somewhat awkward around little ones - this extends itself to shopping for babies. As Daniel said,
he felt like he was shopping for tampons... Anyways we got over our awkwardness and found some cute outfits, sleepers and toys to pass along to these single mothers who we may never meet.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...