2012 in Review

Last year I did a 2011 in Review in Pictures and I liked it so well I wanted to do it again. I’m so thankful that 2012 was a nice recovering year from all of the hurt, grief, and sickness in 2011. Although it did throw a few curveballs my way-like one more cross country move from Boston to Texas and hubby getting out of the military-it was a year that I will look back with great fondness on.

So here you go-a brief highlight of each month in the Elliott household of 2012

January




Hard Rock Cafe Girls
Me and my Boston Besties–miss them!!

Held my first time going to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Boston for a delightful GNO to celebrate my fellow Coastie Wife’s birthday-it was a complete blast!

February

In February Amber celebrated her 4th birthday and we celebrated with a fun but low key day!

March

Was full of playdates, Bible studies, working, living, and fun easy activities like this!

April

At the end of the month my parents flew in for a visit and we enjoy touring Boston at a little slower pace which included lots of playground trips!

May

My parents visit lasted into May, and one of everyone’s favorite things we did was visit The Butterfly Place where my mom got this picture of me and Amber I just love!

June

Brought sunny days and warm weather so we celebrated a lot with Summer Camp at Home

July

Always a busy month with the fourth of July celebrations, Bob, Tyler, and my birthdays and lots of summer fun!

August

Was crammed full of super fun last chance to do this in Boston type of trips. Visiting the beach, sports camp week, one last huge playdate, a trip to downtown Boston to preview Ooglieloves in the theater, a trip to Rhode Island, and one last trip to the Boston Children’s Museum made it so the month was one great, fun, non-stop blur of excitement!

September

Brought a change of pace as we switched gears into “getting ready to move” mode. We still managed to schedule in a few last playdates and visits with friends, and a trip to Russel Orchards to pick apples a few days before the big move!

October

Found us settling into our new home and life as civilians in Texas-it’s like a whole different world from New England!

November

Brought lots of family time, finding a new playgroup, and getting into some kind of a routine which includes storytime where Tyler proved to be just like his Daddy when he made this alien-esque turkey which he then proclaimed to be “fancy”.

December

While of course bringing all the typical good tidings of great joy this month also brought the marriage of my younger brother Ryan. Amber got to be the flower girl which she was pretty sure was just about the coolest thing ever. The ceremony was breathtaking and, though I know I’m a wee bit biased, I’m pretty sure she’s one of the cutest flower girls of all time!

What were the highlights of your 2012? Share them with me in the comments!

Nicole Elliott

Dress to Impress ~ Mikarose

Lavender Bridesmaid Dresses
Lavender Bridesmaid Dresses
Me attempting modelyesqueness!

Is revamping your wardrobe on your New Years Resolution list?

As a teenager and even as a newly wed I didn’t worry too much about fashion. Oh sure-I loved clothes but in Wyoming getting dressed up for a date meant wearing my DC Shoes t-shirt and a nice pair of jeans!

After living on the East Coast for the past 7 years, and especially after living in Boston, I grew to love and appreciate the value of dressing up for the sake of dressing up! Like my favorite quote from this article says: “…you shouldn’t necessarily wear whatever you want, even if you can. And it’s not just a career concern. Yes, you could probably wear jeans to church, the theater, important celebrations — plenty of people do it all the time. But does that show enough respect for those kinds of occasions? Aren’t they worth the effort?”

As a mom of two, a Christian who believes in modesty, and a woman who wants to look amazing, hot, and still like I “got it” it can be hard to reconcile all those different factors into amazing, modest outfits that work for my lifestyle. Because while I do love to dress up more these days-I still need clothing that is practical and comfortable!

When I saw that a friend had “liked” Mikarose on Facebook I noticed that their tagline is: Reinventing Modesty. I was immediately intrugied so I clicked over, liked  them, then started browsing through their huge selection of *gorgeous* clothes! I loved that they were exactly my style and fit every part of my wants for my new wardrobe. When I got a chance to review the beautiful Serena dress in Cinnamon I was over the moon.

So comfortable that I could sleep in it it hugs every part of my post kid body that it should and loosely flows where it should. It’s absolutely my new favorite dress! The only thing that I noticed about it is that it hugged my “back pocket” as my new sister-in-law calls it, a little snuggly-so I’d recommend wearing a slip, spanx, or leggings underneath (I chose to go with some fun black sparkily leggings and boots as you can see in the pictures! I can’t go off about how much I love this dress enough and I’ve gotten so many compliments while wearing it!

One Lucky Winner will receive a $50 Gift Card to Mikarose to buy a fabulous dress, skirt, blouse, or accessories for themselves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nicole Elliott

Make Up for New Years Eve ~ Julep Mascara

Christmas is over but the celebrating certainly isn’t and that means that great make up is just as important as ever! Although I gave you several secret beauty tips before Christmas I wanted to add in just a few more so that you will be looking your best to bring in the New Year!

Do you go out and party to ring in the New Year or do you cuddle up and have a cozy evening at home? As I mentioned yesterday we always just have a fun evening at the house to ring in the New Year, but as you also know that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get dressed up! What better way to start a New Year than by looking your best-even if it is just to clink a plastic glass of Pepsi with hubby?!

If you’re a long time reader you might remember that while I’m usually pretty easy going with most of my beauty regmine (other than my fussy skin) I am super duper picky about mascara–maybe because other than foundation I think it is the one makeup staple I just couldn’t live without. We’re talking, bring it to a desserted island kind of need it! Because of these things I’m always looking for the latest, greatest mascara! It needs to be full, non clumping, non flaking, not waterproof (I don’t like using heavy duty makeup remover daily) but long lasting. I know–I’m a hard taskmistress when it comes to mascara! Since I’m a Julep VIP Blogger (yey!) I recently was given the chance to try out 2 of their mascaras– Julep Boho Glam Lengthening Mascara & Julep American Beauty Lengthening Mascara.

When I first pulled the wand out I was a little weirded out–why did it look like there were a bunch of eyelashes in my mascara??!! Looking more closely at the bottle I saw that it included micro-fiber applicator with lash lengthening ingredients–bascially you swipe it on and it makes your lashes lusher and fuller-kinda like fake lashes without all the fuss and bother–cool right?!

 

I’ve been using these both for a few weeks now and I really like them! As you can see they do make a big difference in making my lashes long, pretty, and “pop”! I like that it really doesn’t look “overdone” though. I like to have fun with makeup but I also want to avoid the “globbed it on by the buckets” look!

 

At $24 it is about the mid-range between box store mascara and the super fancy makeup counter kinds. Having tried a variety of both high dollar and super deal mascara I do think it’s worth the little bit of extra $$!

Try them out for yourself for a discount!!! Use Julep Discount Code: VIP20 to receive 20% off on purchases of $20 or more at Julep.com

These macaras look especially gorgeous when you’re trying to pull off the red lip look because it makes your eyes dramatic without having to use much eyeshadow. Although the mascaras are different I’ve found that they apply and feel very similiar, but my favorite is the Julep American Beauty Lengthening Mascara possibly because it came in black-which I like the best.

What is your makeup must have item that you just couldn’t live without? Is it mascara or something else? Let me know in the comments!

Nicole Elliott

New Years Food

So everyone always talks a lot about traditions and how they relate to Christmas but for us traditions extend beyond Christmas day. Growing up for New Years Eve we would always stay up till midnight playing board games. When it was almost midnight we would turn on the tv, watch the ball drop, and yell Happy New Year!!! And, of course, tasty treats were always involved!

Whether you’re throwing a party or enjoying a quiet evening at home with just your family having something sweet and something munchy. When I saw the new Pretzel Dogs I thought they seemed perfect for a New Years shindig! 

 Both Amber & Bob dug into the 2 boxes that were sent to us. Bob thought they made a great snack and Amber loved them so much she thought she was getting a “special treat”. The fact that they’re ready in 30 seconds is something that I love-along with the fact the “dogs” are made of top quality beef with no by-product. Each box contains 12 hot dogs so getting a couple would make a plate of tasty New Years Food!

What are your New Years Traditions? Do you have any great recipes or food ideas? If so be sure to share in the comments!

Nicole Elliott

Coffee Break ~ VidaCup

Mo-Joe Gourmet Coffee

I don’t know about you but as much as I love Christmas after all the crazy hustle and bustle is done I could use a Coffee Break! Although I’m more of a Starbucks kind of a girl, as you know,  I recently came across a super interesting new brand of instant coffee that I wanted to share with you.

VidaCup is different than most coffee because all of their formulations will include an extremely potent extract of a specialized strain of the Agaricus Blazei Murill mushroom- highly touted for it’s multitude of health benefits and supported by dozens of clinical studies.

Mo-Joe Gourmet Coffee

 There are 3 different products that VidaCup offers– Ageless Brew which is an all natural low calorie latte; Xtreme which is an Energy Drink packed with herbs & vitamins, and Mo-Joe all natural gourmet coffee.

VidaCup

  If you were planning on making a New Years resolution to give up your sugary coffee drinks like lattes or to starting drinking healthier VidaCup is an easy, convenient way to take care of those New Years Resolutions the easy way with their single serving packets that are easy to pour and go!

Nicole Elliott

The Obnoxious Cow

**Repost from 12/28/2011 Too funny not to share again–now that we’re staying with my Mom-in-Law jokes about this cow get thrown around often!!!

Update from 12/22/2015–I was not crazy, this toy made #4 on the worst toys for kids list***

I have always considered myself extremely lucky when it came to the set of in-laws that I am blessed with. I mean–when I announced to my MOPs table last year that I would be spending a month with them in Texas after my husband left the whole table got strangely quiet and looked at me as if I’d grown a second head or something. I just smiled and explained that my in-laws were fabulous and adored me.

This Christmas morning the kiddos were completely spoiled very blessed with the amount of toys Grandma and Grandpa sent them. These included everything from much needed clothes to bow holders and bows to the typical loud annoying plastic “payback for everything my son did to me while he was growing up” toys.

There was one particular toy that stood out among the rest–The Obnoxious Cow. This toy went beyond payback and into some other realm entirely. When you first glance at it you see a cute–if not a little crazed looking stuffed animal. Upon pressing the red circle on it’s hand the thing transforms. All of a sudden it starts this shrieking ear piercing Moo type noise…..to be shortly follow by the whole body convulsing as the shriek increases and it goes into hysterics.

Of course the kids thought it was beyond hilarious and kept pushing the hand over…and over….and over…and over

and over

and over

aannnddd ooovvveeerrrrr

I very quickly began to question my in-laws professed admiration of me. Maybe the month together on the way back across the country didn’t go as well as I had thought? In any event a mommy has got to do what a mommy has got to do.

Somehow, mysteriously and tragically the Obnoxious Cow got sick and lost his voice. The kids are hoping for a full recovery soon–while Mommy chuckles. I got the last laugh!

Have you ever received a crazy obnoxious or hilarious Christmas present? Let me know in the comments!

My Christmas Wish For You

It’s not everything your heart desired, though I hope you receive one thing you wished for.

It’s not for all being calm and bright, though I hope you get the chance to peek in at a loved one sleeping to witness a slice of this.

 It’s not for a day with no drama or fussing, though I hope that skeletons will stay in the closet and differences will be put aside.

It’s not for a feast of epic proportions, though I hope your tummy is full and your dessert is sweet.

It’s not for a year to come that is full of smiles and no tears, though I hope there are more of the former and less of the latter.

It’s not for a perfect Christmas-because such a thing does not exist.

I wish you a day when you can see the love behind the gifts, the hope beyond the troubles, the memories inside the chaos, the growing baby displayed by the fussy child, the truth outweighing the commercialism, the blessing in the feast.

And most importantly, The Christ and Savoir in the Baby in the Manger-whose sacrifice is the real reason for all of the above.

From My Family, to Yours,

 Merry Christmas

Nicole Elliott

The First and the Last

**Originally posted 12/25/2011**

I’ve found that often in life the pivotal memories, as well as what will become your most cherished photos–the ones that you will go back and live over and that will bring a smile to your lips–are ones that you don’t realize are so immensely important at the time.

December 25, 2008

I knew it was an important Christmas, a Christmas that would stand out in my memory for always. You see, it was the very first Christmas of my first baby, Amber. Of course the magic of Christmas for the first time of the first child is a memory that parents always treasure. You buy special jamies, a special ornament, and take thousands of pictures of the day-capturing every smile and giggle.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was the very last Christmas I was going to spend with my beloved Grandpa.

Growing up Christmas revolved around my Grandparents.  Christmas Eve with them was filled with songs, The Christmas Story from the Bible, food, and presents. The next afternoon we piled in the car for a huge Christmas feast and loud crazy fun with all of the extended family again at my Grandparents house. Every year for the 19 years before I got married was filled with these precious traditions. Once I got married and moved far away one of the things I missed the very most was no longer getting to be a part of it all. We were able to spend Amber’s first Christmas back home and I was thrilled that her first Christmas would be spent doing the same beloved traditions I’d grown up with, but thought that it would be the first of many times she’d be able to.

I just assumed that there would be plenty more Christmases to keep enjoying it all.

2008 was the last Christmas I got to spend with my family, and I only got to visit my grandparents a few times since then.

My Grandpa went to be with his Savior and Lord this past April after battling a brief but intense fight with cancer, he never got to meet my little boy who was born in July 2010.

This will be the first Christmas I spend knowing that he is not at home in Wyoming, carrying on those traditions with the rest of my family.

Shortly after he died I came across a picture from that Christmas day, one where he was playing with Amber while I was holding her and trying to “take her ear off” It so typifies him and the fun loving funny guy that he was. Looking back it is a beautiful picture of the circle of life, her first Christmas with me was his last. And so this year I will cherish my children’s smiles and magic, but there are sure to be some tears mixed in with the smiles.

This Christmastime

**Originally posted 12/24/2010**

For the first time in a very long time I am absolutely and entirely excited about Christmas this year! 2 years ago I wrote about What Christmas Meant To Me and the sacrifices that you sometimes make at Christmas. Last year I wrote about Finally Growing Up and how I had finally come to terms with our new lifestyle and Christmas.

This year I’m delighted to say that I can’t wait for Christmas. The thing that I am very most excited about is watching Amber open all her presents and have a wonderful time. I can’t wait to make sugar cookies with her on Christmas Eve and watch the Grinch and go out and play in the snow together. I can’t wait to go looking at Christmas lights and reading the Christmas story and having her open up her new Christmas jammies.
I can’t wait to see her face on Christmas morning when she sees all the presents under the tree along with the huge toy box Bob built. I can’t wait for her to go diving through her stocking and eat candy. I can’t wait for us to get messy as we decorate the toy box with hand prints, foot prints, glitter and paint. I can’t wait to see Tyler attempt to grab at the gifts and drool on his presents while he tries to stuff them all in his mouth. I can’t wait to find out what the present is that hubby stuck for me under the tree after I kept insisting I didn’t want/need anything this year.
I can’t wait to make our Christmas dinner and share it with just the four of us.
I can’t wait to watch my favorite Christmas movies on our new huge tv (hubbies Christmas present) snuggled up to hubby after the kids are in bed.
And I am just so thrilled that I’m finally excited about Christmas again-that we are finally coming up with our own traditions that Amber and Tyler will look back on happily some day!

Finally Growing Up

**Originally posted 12/24/2009**

There comes a time when you’ve just got to grow up.

I think I’ve finally reached that point.
I used to get so upset when things didn’t go perfectly and exactly as I had planned them, especially around the holidays.
I loved that growing up we had the same wonderful traditions from the beginning of December till the end of December that we did year in and year out for as long as I could remember.
There was the Nutcracker in early December.
Then the church Christmas Program that everyone in my family played a part in every year.
Homeschool Christmas parties, church Christmas parties, and when I was a teen the annual Christmas banquet.
Seven layer cookies and fudge were our holiday treats.
The Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Black and White Christmas Carol were our classic holiday movies.
Everything topped off in glorious fashion with the candlelit service at church on Christmas Eve and then our crazy loud amazing time and Grandma and Grandpa’s house reading the Christmas story, opening presents, eating food, laughing and singing.
Christmas morning was filled with tons of toys and goodies which we’d open much too early.
Christmas afternoon meant back to Grandma’s with said goodies in tow for a huge turkey feast.
It was all beyond wonderful.
But it’s hard to establish traditions, to make yearly memories, to revel in the holiday glory when each year you spend Christmas in a different place. When each year you’re either traveling to visit one family or the other, or you’re stuck in whichever state you’re calling home at the moment.
The first few Christmases this really bothered me. I liked normal, familiar, wonderful. I didn’t like new and different and lacking. I really struggled with my attitudes.
This year it didn’t even occur to me till today, but I haven’t once stopped to have a “poor me” attitude. I’m not mourning the fact I didn’t get to go home to Wyoming during the holiday season at all (first time since  I’ve been married) I do terribly miss my family, but I’m overjoyed at the fact that we’ll get to spend Christmas with Bob’s family who we rarely get to see.
I don’t care that they run things differently, or that I won’t be opening up presents on Christmas morning. All I care about is that Bob will get to be with us this year, he’ll get to be with his family, and I’ll get to watch Amber open her presents.
I guess that means that, really truly for the first time, I’m being able to focus on what Christmas is truly about. It’s about getting the focus off of yourself. After all if Jesus had been only concerned about himself He would have never left the glories of Heaven to become a helpless tiny baby in a smelly barn.
My prayer is that this Christmas you’ll stop and also remember what it is truly all about. Spending time with family, with those you hold dearest.
And remember your Savior, who thought nothing of himself, but everything about you and your eternal destiny.