2014 Year-in-Review

December 31st is always a fun time to reflect upon the previous year and think about all of its highlights.  I've always done some sort of year-in-review on this here blog (2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013).  This year, I think I'll take the post-one-favorite-photo-from-each-month route.  So without further ado, here's my 2014 year in review!

We converted our then-guest bedroom into Brantley's big boy room and moved him into a big boy bed in preparation for his little brother's arrival!

Snow days for mama.  Brantley wasn't a fan.

Less than one month to go until the debut of Baby Boy #2!

We welcomed a happy and healthy Holden Beckett on April 18, after just a few short hours of labor (and a full day's worth of teaching!).

Technically taken in April, but since we got these photos back in May I'm going with it!  These two.  Man, I'm blessed.

Holden's first Royals game!  (Versus the Cardinals.  The Royals won, by the way.)

Our first born turned two!  (We also vacationed with my family at the Lake, which comes in a close second!)

I tagged along with the hubs on a work trip to Austin.  We got a explore a bit of the city and see one of my high school besties and her new family of 3!


{Blue} October
Awesome month.  There was Halloween with two littles.  And our adult-only trip to Vegas.  But the Royals playing for the World Series title takes the cake!  It was definitely a good time to be a Kansas Citian!  Man, that was awesome.

I'm cheating again.  Technically these were taken in October, but since we got them back in November, I'm going to call it a favorite November photo. :)  Holden's 6-month session, also known as an opportunity to update our family photos!

It's no surprise that Christmas with these two is my favorite memory. 

And finally, here's is our "letter" that was included with our Christmas cards this year.  I'm a sucker for year-in-reviews, huh?

I am so very thankful for the amazing 2014 we had.  I feel very lucky and blessed to live the life I do.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy evening ringing in the new year and here's to a fabulous 2015!


Christmas at Home

So here's the deal.  I love that I moved away from home after college.  I love that I ventured out of my comfort zone, went somewhere new, and essentially started fresh.  It's probably one of my proudest accomplishments.  Had I not moved to Kansas City, I never would have met my husband and the two kids I call Brantley and Holden would, of course, be non-existent.  I would venture to guess that Craig feels the same way.

But...living away from our families can be hard.  Sure, we don't have free babysitters and our kids don't see their Grandmas and Papas as much as we'd like, but beyond that, I feel like we're obligated to travel for each and every holiday.  Don't get me wrong, I love our families, love spending time with them (especially during the holidays), and love watching Brantley interact with his cousins, but the selfishness in me wishes we could stay put and experience the Christmas Day magic in our own home.  It's been an internal battle since before Brantley was born.  It's hard to establish Christmas Eve/Day traditions when we're not home.  It's tough, because I know being with family is a large part of Christmas, but at the same time, I don't want Santa to always come to Grandma's and I would love nothing more than for our kids to wake up in their own beds on Christmas Day.  Like I said, moving away definitely has it's perks, but it also has its drawbacks.  I'm not sure what the right answer is, nor do I know what's in store for our future holidays. 

But anyway, this year we decided to ask Santa to come to our house early.  It wasn't quite the same as celebrating on December 25, but it seemed to be a good compromise now that Brantley is old enough to semi-understand the whole Santa thing.  So after the boys went to bed on the 22nd, Santa delivered their gifts and we woke up to celebrate a pseudo-Christmas on the 23rd.

Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning, I'm not sure who was more excited.  Me or Brantley.  I think this picture perfectly describes Christmas this year.  Old enough to be excited, yet young enough to be a little apprehensive about the whole Santa-coming-to-our-house thing.  Nevertheless, as soon as he saw the unwrapped gifts from Santa, he was excited!

Santa brought the boys Pottery Barn monogrammed suitcases and a sled.  I wanted Santa to bring something practical instead of another toy to clutter our house, hence the luggage.  The boys may not be super excited about them, but I sure am and I know they will be useful in years to come.  The sled was an afterthought, mainly because I knew if I waited for a big snow fall, they'd be hard to come by.  And stocking stuffers, of course.  Things from baseball cards to undies to balls to dollar books (gotta love Target's Dollar Spot!) to Hot Wheel cars.

After exploring the Santa gifts, it was time for the gifts under our tree.  Knowing that the boys would receive toys galore from family members, I didn't want to buy extra toys just to give as gifts.  So we followed the something they want, need, wear, read rule.  They each got a big toy (their want - a Little Tikes Sports Center for Holden | a Fisher Price Little People City Skyway for Brantley), their suitcases (their need), two articles of clothing--Royals & Chiefs for Brantley so he'd still be excited (their wear), and two books (their read).  I loved following that rule.  It kept things simple and equal, yet they still got some new items.

After opening gifts, Daddy took them on sleigh rides around our living room.  I think that was Holden's favorite part of Christmas this year.

Then it was time to put together the new toys.  Brantley liked Holden's sports toy better than his own (shocker), but he still agreed to stand by his for a photo. :)

I tried to get a picture of the boys in their matching Christmas jammies.  But this was the best I got...

I also made pancakes and put together a Christmas-themed breakfast for Brantley.  Having kids sure is fun!

After really trying to enjoy the magic of our "Christmas" morning, it was time to pack up and head to Wichita.  I'm glad we got some time to celebrate--just the four of us--even if not on Christmas Day.  I know I have some special memories of Christmas with my immediate family while growing up and I hope to offer the same to my boys. 

Christmas Eve & Day

Like I said previously, Christmas this year was spent in Wichita with Craig's family.  It's always fun for the boys to see their cousins (who adore them), but that also meant a napless Christmas Day and multiple late bedtimes in a row.  We are still paying for that with a whinier-than-normal-toddler, but 'tis the season, right? 

Christmas Eve
We celebrated Christmas Eve with Craig's extended family at his aunt and uncle's house.  The best part of this celebration is always the adult gift exchange to which I came away with a cooler full of beer and Craig got a beverage dispenser.  There were lots of alcoholic beverage gifts this year...which also meant lots of stealing.  The kids exchanged gifts, too.  Brantley got a pretty sweet Hot Wheels race track, while Holden got a Dino Ball Popper, among other little things.

Christmas Day
Christmas Day was spent back at Craig's parents' house with his two sisters' families and the nine grandkids.  Brantley loves his cousins and though it can get pretty crazy and loud, it's a lot of fun watching them interact.

There's never a shortage of help with Holden...this family loves babies!  Can you tell?

I said Brantley went sans-nap on Christmas Day, which was kind of a lie.  He fell asleep at 6:15 and we thought for sure he was out for the night.  I even tried to take him to bed, but after a very short-lived cat nap, he was back at it.  Here he is showing his cousins, Brekkyn and Adley, his iPad.  It looks like he's crying, but he's actually yelling and laughing hysterically.

If the pictures are any indication, we had a fabulous Christmas 2014.  But there's still one more celebration to document--the celebration between Craig, myself, and the two boys.  Also known as my most favorite Christmas, it's coming soon!