Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Part IV: Favorites

This is my final post in my 2009 series. Today I will be listing all of my favorite from this year.

Top 5 Favorite Books:
5. The Quiet Room - A book about a young woman struggling with schizophrenia. It was very shocking, but very good).

4.Rudy - I actually read this with my 5th grade students, but LOVED the story! The movie is pretty accurate to the actual story, so if you liked the movie, you'll like the book.

3. For Women Only - This is a great book to read from the perspective of a man. It taught me a lot about how Luke and all men want to be treated. And DON'T want to be treated. This is a great, easy read. I think any woman could learn a lot from reading this book.

2. The Battlefield of the Mind - This Joyce Meyer book has probably changed my life more than any other book has. It has helped me to recognize when my thoughts are good, and also when they are coming from Satan. I have learned to control my thoughts more so that Satan can not gain any control over my life. It almost sounds creepy, but it was a great book. I think everyone should read it!

1. The Other Boleyn Girl - This was just an all-around great book! It was shocking at some points, but sooo good! I became so interested in the entire Boleyn family when I read this book, and I plan on reading the rest of this series by Philippa Gregory. I think the book is much better than the movie, if you've ever seen it! (Isn't it always that way, though?)

Favorite Television Shows
5. The Bachelor/Bachelorette - I am ashamed to admit that I love this show, but I do. It's my guilty pleasure I guess! :-P

4. Grey's Anatomy - The past few seasons, I've been really losing interest in this show. But this season I feel it has finally gotten some interesting plot lines again. I've enjoyed watching it, and can't wait for the new episodes to come back!

3. 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom - I'm not sure why these shows have caught my attention so much, but they have. This is a documentary-style show. I really like that kind! It follows teenagers who are pregnant or have babies. I think it's a great show, because it shows the very unglamorous side of teen pregnancies and motherhood. I think if more teenagers saw this show, they'd think twice about their actions.

2. Jon and Kate Plus 8 - although this show is no longer on the air, it was a favorite of mine. I stopped watching toward the end when everything was going on. But at the beginning of the year, I really enjoyed watching it to stay updated on the children and their lives. Too bad it all had to end the way it did.

1. The Office - Luke and I discovered this show sometime in the fall when we began watching the reruns on TBS. The other four shows on my list don't even hold a candle to The Office. It is probably the funniest TV show I've ever seen. It's even funnier than Scrubs (which had been my favorite TV show of all time until The Office came long). I understand that not everyone likes this show, because you have to have kind of a quirky, dry, random sense of humor. But Luke and I have exactly that kind of sense of humor, so we LOVE IT!

Favorite Movies:

5. New Moon - I thought the movie was made so much better than Twilight, but at the same time, Twilight was my favorite book of the series, and New Moon was my least favorite, so I couldn't really say which movie I liked better. They were both pretty good!

4. Taken - I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. It was a great suspense film.

3. Julie and Julia - As a blogger, I absolutely adored this movie. I thought it was perfecftly adorable. Meryl Streep was just perfect as Julia Childs. She's such a great actress, I think she could play anybody! And Amy Adams was just adorable as usual. I found myself completely pulled into the story line, and could relate to Amy Adam's character so well! Any movie that incorporates cooking and blogging is an A+ in my book!

2. The Proposal - I remember when I was younger and adored While you were Sleeping, You've Got Mail, Runaway Bride, Sleepless in Seattle, and movies like that. I feel like I hadn't seen a chick flick that was up to par with these movies in a really long time. That is, until The Proposal came out. I loved it, and it is one of the 5 blu-rays in our collection that are mine (the other 20 are Luke's ;-)).

1. The Blind Side - If you haven't seen this movie, you should see it RIGHT NOW! My heart was so touched by this movie. Sandra Bullock's character was such a hero. This movie made me want to strive to be more like her. I will be first in line to buy this when it comes out on video.

That's it for my 2009 series! Come back tomorrow for my New Year's Resolutions :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Part III: The Memories I Made

I'm having so much fun looking back on 2009! Today I thought I'd look back on my memories of this year.

1. My only memory from last January is just being cold. All. the. time. It was an extremely brutal winter last year, and I didn't cope very well. I spent most of it curled up by the space heater. Let's hope 2010 is not quite so bad!
2. I had a fun Valentines Day. Luke made me breakfast, and then later I made him his favorite meal for dinner and we went to see a movie.
3. Luke's band had their first big gig: opening for Remedy Drive!
4. I helped at 30 Hour Famine one weekend in February. (the youth raise money for world hunger and then fast for 30 hours). I was official juice-break girl, and also took a lot of pictures for the slide show they showed at church that Sunday. It was a great weekend!
5. We had the first bonfire at our new house in March. All of our friends came over and we froze our butts off, because I think it was still a little too early. But it was a fun night!
6. My grandma moved into one of our downstairs apartments in April. My mom and dad worked really hard to make her apartment so nice!
7. On May 2 we celebrated Luke's 25th birthday with family and friends at another bonfire at our house.
8. Mom and I visited Julie at her apartment one weekend. We spent a lot of time watching chick flicks, shopping, and even visiting the Akron Zoo. It was the first weekend of summer vacation, and such a fun way to spend it!
9. I spent countless evenings at Luke's church softball games. It was fun to chat with all the ladies and also to watch a little bit of softball ;-)
10. Some great memories were made 4th of July weekend! One night we went to one of the parks where Luke works to play cornhole, and then sit on blankets and watch fireworks once it got dark. Then the next evening, we went to our friends' 4th of July party where there was swimming, games, FOOD, and more fireworks!
11. July 12 was our 1 year anniversary. We celebrated by going out to dinner at Macaroni Grill and then to see "The Proposal." The next evening my parents made us a steak dinner to celebrate, and we ate the top layer of our wedding cake. What a fun celebration of our first year of marriage!12. During playoff week when Luke didn't get to come home between work and his softball games, I would bring us a picnic dinner in the park. Oh how I love picnics on lazy summer nights!
13. One late August night, we spontaneously went out to BW3's with a group of our friends. This was just one of those really fun nights when everything feels right with the world. Everyone came over afterwards to watch a movie, and we didn't get to bed until well past midnight. But fun times with good friends are worth losing a little sleep :-)14. One of the best things that happened this year was Ellie! Our little kitten :-) We took her home sometime in September. I know it sounds silly, but she really has brought so much joy into our home! I've always been a dog person, and I didn't know I could love a cat so much, but I do! She's the sweetest, most affectionate cat I've ever seen! (shh, don't tell Gabby that Ellie's my favorite ;-))15. I went to White House Fruit Farms with my mom to buy some fall foods and check out the beautiful scenery. Oh, and to eat one of their amazing donuts! It was such a fun time with her :-) I went back again later with Luke as well...for more donuts!16. When the Power Team came to our church in October, Luke helped on the stage crew, and I worked in the nursery. The Power Team was amazing, and it was fun to join together with the whole church family all week while they were there. After their performances every night we would all go out to Applebees or Taco Bell with a bunch of friends, and it was all just a lot of fun!
17. Luke and I spent Halloween at home carving pumpkins and eating the roasted seeds. Loved it!
18. On November 6 I turned 25. I spent my birthday at my parents' house, visiting and eating this amazing chocolate cake that my mom made!
19. My final favorite memory of 2009 was of Christmas this year. I loved running around to all the different places and visiting all of our family for three days nonstop. And I've also loved quiet nights at home, relaxing with Luke, Gabby, and Ellie, and enjoying all the Christmas decorations, cookies, and tree. This Christmas has been so perfect, it will be hard to top it next year! :-)
Tomorrow I will be discussing some 2009 favorites, and Thursday I'll write about my resolutions. I Can't wait to ring in the New Year! I will have a jam-packed couple of days full of parties on Thursday and Friday :-)

I would love to hear some of your favorite memories of 2009 as well! :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Part II: The Places I Visited

I'm posting this morning because I know I probably won't have time to later. I am going shopping with my mom and sister all day! I got a bunch of gift cards just burnin' a hole in my pocket ;-)

So today I thought I'd reflect on all the fun and exciting places I went this year. Get ready for some pictures!
Fun places I visited in 2009:

1. Luke and I went to a Cleveland Indians game with a group from our church. The game was freezing, and the Indians lost, but it was fun! There was a Thousand Foot Krutch concert after the game in the street that we went to. We stood right next to the stage on the side and had a great view of everything! They put on a good show.
2. We took a day trip to Pittsburgh with Luke's family. His little sister was in a volley-ball tournament there. We had fun watching her games, and getting to explore the city a little bit
3. The day after the Pittsburgh trip, we traveled to Cleveland for the Cavs playoff game watch party. It was free, and we got to sit in the arena and watch the game on the Jumbotron since it was an away game. It was a bittersweet evening, because the Cavs lost!
4. This must have been the year for day trips, because we took another one to Columbus in the summer. Luke took a day off work so we could spend it together. We went to a really nice shopping area, Easton, had a nice lunch together, and then went to see "Transformers 2" in IMAX. What a fun day to break from routine and head out on the town! ;-)
5. We went with some of our friends to Berlin Lake to camp one July weekend. It was abnormally cold for July, and we ended up in our sweatshirts most of the weekend, and definitely unable to swim in the lake. It was fun, though! We made great big meals over the fire and felt like we were really rougin' it.
6. In August we had our big family vacation. We went to Virginia Beach, Virginia. We spent just about all of our time there on the beach and in the water. We even saw some whales one day! We also spent some time visiting with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins, because they just moved to Suffolk, VA. What a fun trip! I will never forget it. Mostly because I have about 800 pictures from that week alone ;-)
7. While in Virginia, we traveled to Busch Gardens. Luke and I are amusement park junkies, and like to hit up any in the area when we are on vacation. Believe it or not, we went to one on our honeymoon last year, too :-)
8. In October, we traveled to Columbus again for the Ohio State/Wisconsin game. It was our birthday present to Luke's dad, so we went with his parents. It was so much fun! We made a whole day of it. I was unfortunately really feeling sick at that time, so that was the only damper in that fun day.
9. In November we went to Cleveland for the weekend to Willoughby Hills Friends Church. Luke and his band led worship for a couple thousand kids that weekend! It was sooo much fun to be along and watch them. I even got to meet some famous Christian musicians! What a fun weekend. I hope we get to do it all again next year ;-)
10. Just a few weeks ago, we traveled to Cleveland again for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. It was amazing. This was my sixth year to go, and it just gets better and better every year! Glad we could add another fun TSO memory this year :-)

And I think that's about it for 2009. I was able to go to a lot of fun places, and learned new things and had new experiences each and every place I went. Can't wait to see what fun and new places 2010 will bring with it!

Come back tomorrow for a look back at all the fun times I had and memories I made. What were some fun places you visited in 2009??

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 Part I: What I Learned

The next few days I've decided to recap 2009. It's been a great year, and I feel like I've learned SO MUCH in this one year. I've also gone to a lot of fun places, tried a lot of new things, and made a lot of great and even not-so-great memories.

So here's to 2009!

Lessons I learned in 2009
1. I really learned lots of hard lessons this year in responsibility. I'll be the first to admit that I am not a very responsible person. I always thought I was, but apparently that was just my parents really pushing me to be responsible. Because as soon as I was on my own, I noticed that I let a lot of things slip through the cracks and I put things off a lot. I missed deadlines this year, I turned in doctor's bills late, I disappointed my husband on more than one occasion due to my irresponsibility. I put off housework, phone calls, emails, etc. I think you get the picture. The result of all this procrastination was a lot of stress. I think I learned the hard way, but I had to learn! I finally realized that the only way the stress was going to go away is if I caught up on all of the things I was behind on. I'm actually still in the middle of doing that right now, but I really think I have learned my lesson! I don't want to put myself through such self-inflicted worry again. 2009 has really taught me that I need to grow up and be responsible!

2. I learned a big lesson about friendship. I kept trying to force friendships with people just to have lots of friends. I've since learned that this is silly. I've learned to respect myself more and recognize when someone is using me. I've also learned who my true friends are, and I'm thankful for each and every one of them. Through these situations I've also learned that Luke is my best friend. I had always heard lots of women say that their husbands are their best friends. I didn't understand that until this year. I'm thankful that my relationship with Luke has reached this new level.

3. I believe that blogging has helped to teach me what my dreams and goals really are. I think you get to know yourself when you blog, and you are able to keep track of your thoughts by actually typing them out on the screen. This year I learned that my passion is in my home more than my classroom. And I realized that my real dream in life is to be a stay-at-home mom. I don't know whether my dream will become a reality, but I'm so glad that I have something that I'm aiming for and working toward now.

Skills that I've Learned or Improved in 2009

1. I learned to knit
2. I've become a better cook and baker. I spent hours in the kitchen, and actually enjoyed most of that time. Don't get me wrong, I definitely wish I had spent MORE time and effort there, but there's always next year, right?
3. I've definitely become more computer and internet savvy...thanks to my blog :-)
4. I hope that I've become a better writer. I've posted over 300 times this year, so I would hope there's been some improvement there.
5. I've gotten very interested in photography, and learned a lot of new things about it. Hopefully I'll purchase a dSLR in 2010 and REALLY be able to learn about photography. There's only so much a point and shoot will do! Although, according to my files, I did take over 3,000 photos with mine this year. Wonder if I can top that next year ;-)
I wish this list were longer, but I really can't think of anything else!

Come back tomorrow for some more memories :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Recap

First of all, let me just give a big THANK YOU to my sister, Julie, for purchasing THIS for me for Christmas:I made my new header with that software, and could have probably spent all night on there playing around. It is really a great scrapbooking program if you are looking for one. Very simple to use, and it has sooo many graphics and backgrounds to choose from. I've decided to start making a monthly header for my blog. I made January's but didn't want to put it on too early, so I also made this very similar one that I'm displaying now. I shudder to think of all the hours I will inevitably waste on this thing!

And now for my Christmas recap. Please forgive me for the massive amounts of pictures you are about to encounter ;-)

Christmas Eve was spent first of all at church. What a great time of worship it was! Luke's band played some Christmas songs, including "Christmas Eve, Sarajevo " by TSO. Then we had a drama, and a sermon about the birth of Jesus. I snapped a picture of the beautiful Christmas tree right before we slipped out to our next location.
Our next destination was Luke's aunt's house. We stayed there and enjoyed some delicious appetizers, and a fun game: The Game of Things. Have you played it? I didn't get to play long because we still had two more places to go that night, but it was fun!

Third, we headed over to my grandparents' house, which is a Christmas Eve tradition. We had some more delicious food, and spent time together laughing and talking. My cousin brought his new bulldog and we all had fun playing with it. We were pretty much in awe of his big head!
We also had a gift exchange, white elephant style. I picked number 1, which meant that after everyone had picked their gifts, I got the final pick of anything I wanted! It just so happened that my grandma had the item that I so desperately wanted. I think my knees were shaking as I stole it from her :-P Everyone was amazed that timid little Jessica had made that move! But when you see what I got out of it, you'll understand:
Every year at grandma's we do poppers...if you don't know what they are, they basically pop when you pull on them and a couple little prizes pop out, including a crown. Here are my sister and I sporting ours proudly:
Luke and I had to snap the annual Christmas picture before we skipped on over to our final destination (of the night, that is. That sounded morbid).
Our last stop of the night was at Luke's parents' house, where we exchanged gifts and watched a movie. Luke and I are so thankful for all the gifts we received! We got some ornaments, including this lovely little piece:
(The Christmas Story is our favorite Christmas movie)

We got a couple of books. One of them is "The Shack" and I can't wait to read it! I got this sign that I LOVE that will go in our new living room when it's done
Luke got a Shop Vac, which I'm sure we will use all the time! It will be great between the cracks of our hardwood floors! And I got a new microwave! Our old one was gigantic, and I already have almost no counter space! We plan on buying a microwave stand asap. Luke and his brother-in-law both got shovels, and in this picture I believe they were about to have a shovel war.
Oh, and I almost forgot! I got the stable for my Willow Tree Nativity set! LOVE IT!
After the gift exchange, we watched "The Hangover," which has become one of Luke's favorite movies. Normally we watch "A Christmas Story" But Luke's sister got "The Hangover" for Christmas and everyone couldn't wait to watch it.

I'm exhausted after just writing all that, but Christmas day was even busier. Luke and I woke up and exchanged the gifts we got each other. But first I had to give the cats their stockings...filled with treats
I got Luke a few different things, but my favorite was this calendar I made him at Snapfish. It's an Ohio State calendar, made of some pictures we've taken at games, and some I just found different places. I loved it, because you could also click on any date, and add a picture or a caption.
Luke got me the Twilight blu-ray, a gift card, and THIS.
You just hook your ipod or iphone to the top, and it plays out of the speakers. I think this will go right in the kitchen. LOVE it!

After that we headed over to my mom and dad's for breakfast and to exchange gifts. Here we are at the breakfast table while my pyro father tries to catch things on fire.
My sister did not approve
Next it was time to exchange gifts! Here is Luke with his favorite gift of the morning:
Here's Dad opening his new blu-ray player. He was excited!
Mom loves her perfume from Dad
And I can't leave Julie out:

And here was my big surprise of the morning:
My parents got me VIOLIN LESSONS for Christmas!! This violin is just a loan from Julie's boyfriend's family, but I can use it until I decide I want to buy my own! I will take lessons at a local college this semester. I'm so excited! I've wanted to learn to play for such a long time! I tried to play a little bit, and it was pretty scratchy. I did manage to squeak out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" after spending about a half hour tuning it. Hopefully I improve in the next few months! Ha!

After my parents' house, we headed over to Luke's grandparents' house for a delicious lunch. I of course ate way too much, but it was worth it! We had a lot of fun just talking and being together. Oh, and Luke and our brother-in-law had a lot of fun playing with Luke's little cousin's toys. The Nerf gun was a big hit. Luke is so goofy!
On our way out to my aunt's house, we saw this:
It had been really rainy and gross before that, and all of a sudden the sun came out. This lovely rainbow was the result. I can definitely say that I've never seen a rainbow on Christmas before!

Our final stop of the day was my aunt's house. We ate some more food (don't judge me, my New Year's Resolution is to start working out :-P)

And had a fun white elephant gift exchange. I got a Snuggie! lol

Then my dad played his role as Santa, sporting a new hat this year. It's pretty sweet, right??
When we finally left for home, we were both EXHAUSTED! But I of course stayed up for hours playing with my new digital scrapbooking software.

And then we spent most of the day today at Luke's dad's side of the family's Christmas party. We just got home. Soon we are going to visit my grandma before she goes to Virginia for the winter with my aunt and uncle, and later we are going to see Sherlock Holmes with a bunch of people. Poor Max has been home alone a lot the past three days, and I really feel bad! I'll have to spend some QT with him later tonight and tomorrow before he goes home!

Well, it was another great Christmas filled with lots of fun memories. I hope your Christmas was as blessed as mine! And if you made it all the way down here, I'm surprised ;-)