Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year In Review

2013 has seriously been one of the best years. I'm pretty sure I said the same thing about 2012. But nevertheless, it's been a great year. I love looking back at all the fun things, big and little, I've done throughout the year. I'm also extremely thankful for blogging because that makes the looking back thing that much easier.



After bitching about how useless New Year's Resolutions were, I made my own resolution to eat gluten-free and stuck to it almost 90% of the time. I even started trying and blogging about some tasty new gluten-free recipes. (Most of them can be found on my Gluten-Free Board on Pinterest.)


We lost my childhood dog, after 15 glorious years with her, and I seriously don't think I've ever cried about something so hard in my life.

Contrary to what all my yankie friends thought, we had lots of snow in ENC. One of my best friends gave birth to the cutest little bird I ever did see! And obviously, we became fast friends.


I actually started blogging about school, which if you know me, you know is a big deal. I also realized I only like dyeing Easter Eggs with sweet little kids. Fortunately I had two on hand to help me out.

Another close friend had baby number 2. 


The month of the birthdays - my baby blog turned one! My baby cousin did too. I turned 24. And my sweet husband surprised me with a weekend getaway to Raleigh.

The Boston Marathon was bombed, and just like with Sandy Hook, I was left feeling disgusted and betrayed, yet overwhelmed by the small acts of good that can still be found in our society.  I also spent this month daydreaming about my future, both long-term and short-term. I love making plans. 


I went to my very first Derby party. And had to wear jeans on Memorial Day - thanks for that Eastern NC weather. It didn't stop us from hosting a cookout at the house. Or teaching Willow how to play Cornhole (JK, she just chased the beanbags). 


I finished my second year of teaching (2 down, 28 to go, ha) and finally learned how to paddle board.

We also went to Topsail with my family for a beach week. My obsession for maxi dresses took on a whole new meaning and I was finally introduced to fro-yo for the first time.


I went on my second blate with this sweet girl!  And became addicted to caramel McFrappes.

I road-tripped to Pennsylvania to watch my gorgeous friend, Emily say "I do". Robbie and celebrated our second wedding anniversary with a trip to Washington, DC. While we were there, I went to my first ever professional baseball game.

I also had the stomach bug from hell this month, but I'm still trying to forget that so I won't go into detail.


I spent this month soaking up every last bit of summer that I could. I started my third year teaching and my third football season as a Pirate fan. 

NSync made a 3-second appearance at the VMAs and I was in teenage-Marianna heaven for weeks. 


Tailgating was in full force - both at ECU games in Greenville and NCSU games in Raleigh.

It was another month full of birthdays. We celebrated a 5th birthday with a carnival, a 2nd birthday with minions, and a 50th birthday with shotguns. My best friend from high school's sweet little boy turned one, smash cake and all.

Oh and I also realized that I do in fact still hate everything pumpkin related


One of my favorite months ever year - we hosted our 2nd Annual Halloween Party. The dogs dressed up as lattes. I was a terrible blogger and didn't take not one decent picture, but you can use your imagination. Robbie and I braved the rain and goblins at Hallow-Scream at Busch Gardens with some great friends. 


My 81-year-old memom had open heart surgery...and came through it like a champ. I kind of sort of pretended to be a fashion blogger. My "baby" brother turned 20. And my "baby" step-sister turned 21. More football parties were hosted and Robbie realized he had created a party-throwing monster. I also spent the entire month being mushy gushy and thankful for all the blessings I have in my life. 

Oh and NC State lost to ECU but that's not that big of a deal...


This month has seriously been the busiest and best month of the year. Robbie turned 25. My step-brother got into State. And every weekend has been filled with different activities surrounded by friends and family we love. 


I know I don't say it nearly enough - but thank you thank you times a billion to the Lord above for the blessings I've had this year and all the years. And for the blessings I know will continue on into 2014. We get so caught up in the little things that piss us off, that we often miss all the great things that surround us on a daily basis. Something about this time of year gets me all sappy inside (I'm aware) but seriously. Despite all the hardships that we face, nothing compares to the good that we have in our lives. 


Monday, December 30, 2013

The Christmas That Was

I've been putting off writing this post for several reasons. One - I am still in deep denial that Christmas is over and two - I have been too lazy to upload my Christmas pictures. The latter reason isn't even a sufficient excuse considering I only took about 2.5 pictures of the entire holiday. But hey, at least I'm consistent.

Christmas this year was simply delightful. Although I'm pretty sure I could say that every year. As usual Robbie and I spent a lot time hopping back and forth between our families. And as usual, we were exhausted but more than thankful to have so many wonderful places to be and people to see.

Christmas started for me last Friday. It was a half day at school and pajama day (aka the greatest school day ever). And y'all. Words cannot explain the amount of joy felt in my classroom that day. We opened presents from our friends, watched movies, and had the BEST hot chocolate party (thanks to my awesome Aunt Debbie)! I'll admit, there was very little academic learning that took place but I think what did happen was equally as important for my kids. We had a chance to just hang out together and celebrate our classroom family and share the appreciation we have for each other. And I know that sounds lame. But it is what it is.

I posted a picture of all the new books my assistant and I got for our kid's Christmas presents a few weeks ago and mentioned how seeing all those new shiny books makes me tempted to keep them all for myself. Seeing and hearing the excitement on their faces definitely makes giving them the books worth it all. But because I'm paranoid I'm scared to actually upload the pictures of their faces, you just have to trust me. It's priceless. Just saying. 

Friday night I met some girls for a small Wine and Cheese Party, three of my most favoritest things (wine, cheese, and party). Robbie was out of town so naturally I spent most of Saturday in bed with the dogs. It was my first official day of break after all. That night I put on my finest Santa attire and headed out to a Tacky Christmas Party. I'm not sure when or why being tacky for Christmas became such a good idea but it is quite possibly the funnest thing ever.

Sunday we celebrated Christmas at my mom's with my Mema and all the cousins. If you remember last year, Mema spent Christmas with a broken arm. This year, she's been in rehab recovering from open heart surgery. It's never a dull moment with her. We were able to break her out of the home for Christmas, which was nice. We didn't do our normal gift exchange this year which was weird (you know how I hate changing traditions) but we still had so much fun just being together.

Monday, ECU won their bowl game so I had a happy happy husband! And we got to spend the evening with more family and friends!

The rest of the week kind of all blurs together. Christmas Eve was spent at my mom's with the whole Stebert clan. We went to the Christmas Eve church service and then exchanged presents in our new Christmas Eve jammies. Christmas morning Robbie and I woke up early squirrely and exchanged our gifts. I hit a home run with Robbie's stocking this year, he even said so himself. This is a big feat for me. By 7am we were on the road to Kinston for breakfast dinner with Robbie's parents. Apparently once we have kids, Christmas breakfast will become my job which is fine, except whew...his mama's got some big deeeeelicious shoes to fill. That afternoon we went to my dad's, ate more food, saw more cousins, and opened more gifts. Christmas night was spent at Robbie's grandma's house and then later on a Christmas movie date. Thursday Robbie and I made our last Christmas stop to his other grandparent's house and then spent the rest of the day at Urgent Care thanks to the bad back Robbie had been dealing with through all the aforementioned Christmas excursions.

After a pretty lazy weekend, we're ready for another fun-filled week. Fortunately, New Years is not nearly as busy as Christmas. But usually it is almost twice the fun!

Speaking of New Years - any big plans?
 Any big resolutions?
Anyone has shocked as me at the fact that 2013 is over?

P.S. Shout-out to my girl Lauren. I'm still so sad that amongst all the craziness I missed our blate! New Year's Resolution - plan lots and lots more!!


It's Coming Soon....

I spent yesterday doing one of my most and least favorite things. As usual, Robbie got a new 2014 planner in my stocking. And first things first, holy moly can you even believe that it's 2014. I literally second guess myself every time I type that because it just can't be 2014. But it is. And with the start of a new year, it also means the start of a new planner. 

I love going through the blank pages of a new calendar and filling in important dates for the year. #nerdalert. But I also hate going through the blank pages of a new calendar and filling in important dates for the year.

One of the first things that gets put in my new planner is the dreaded "back to school" date. Christmas break is so so so nice and while I'm always slightly ready to get back into the normal routine that comes with being back in school, I would be lieing if I said I didn't get sad about not being able to spend all day lounging around in my leopard leggings aka my newest obsession.

I am especially excited about this upcoming semester for one particular reason though. Robbie's starting his final semester which means he'll be full-time student teaching. I had the absolute BEST student teaching experience and I am so excited for Robbie to (hopefully) have the same! Also, it will be nice to have him finally done. If you've been following along you might remember that Robbie graduated in May 2011 with a History degree and has since gone back for his teaching license. It's a family affair around here I tell ya.

Having Robbie back in school for the past year and a half has been interesting and there have definitely been the not so fun parts. Like him having to drive to Greenville once a week for late classes. And having to buy college text books again.

When we were both in college the first time, our parents used to help us out when it was time to buy our text books. However, now that we're grown-up and all that jazz, we've been shelling out the money ourselves. And let me tell you what, there is nothing more annoying than buying a boring, ratty old text book for $100+.

Fortunately there are organizations like CampusBookRentals. Who allow college students to rent their textbooks for a fraction of the cost. I wrote a review post for them a few months ago and gladly jumped at the opportunity to do it again.

Books at CampusBookRentals typically cost 40%-90% less than bookstore prices. (Math was definitely not my strong suit, but even I know, saving 90% is a lot.) Plus, their website is super user-friendly. All you do is type in the book you need and voila, there it is. 

When you click on the book you want to rent, you'll see a due date listed. But, if that date doesn't coincide with when you need the book you can select your own date to return it. And, it's free shipping both ways. That means you don't have to pay for shipping when you order it, or when you turn it back in.

This year, they've started a new program, RentBack where students can rent their own textbooks out to other students. So all those textbooks that you've already bought (because you didn't yet know about CampusBookRentals) can now be rented to other students who needs them which means money in your pocket. 

Being able to rent textbooks in and of itself is great! But CampusBookRentals offers a lot of other great things. They partner with Operation Smile, an international charity that provides free cleft palate and cleft lip surgery for children all over the world. This organization provides skilled, dedicated doctors 
to give children a chance at a better, healthier life, one with many more smiles (pun intended). 

When you rent your textbooks through CampusBookRentals, part of the proceeds are going to Operation Smile. Part of your money, that you were going to spend anyway on a ridiculously boring textbook, is giving this child a better life.

Pretty cool, right?

If you're still not totally convinced, check out this video that probably explains it better than I ever could.

If you're still not totally convinced (although you should be) head on over to CampusBookRentals and check it out for yourself. And then you've got one less thing to worry about when that "back to school" date rolls around.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Where Christmas Cheer Goes to Die

A place also known as Urgent Care.

Robbie's done something to his back. My brother says it's called "turning 25". We call my brother a jerk. 25 is not nearly old enough for back pain. Old enough to not be able to recover quickly enough from a hangover but definitely not old enough for back pain.

Either way, after trying as many home remedies as we could think of, we sucked it up and went to Urgent Care. Where we spent what felt like 2409887 hours in a germ-filled waiting room and watched crazy grinchy people yell at the nurses.

And I couldn't help but think. There we were, less than 24 hours after the most cheerful day of the year and already the joy was completely gone. People were right back to their entitled time-schedules, thinking only about numero uno. And it just made me sad.

The love and joy and peace and cheer that we sing from the rooftops during Christmas-time should last all year long. It doesn't have to be a one month gig.

As I lay here on my couch, where I've spent far too much time the past few days by the way, surrounded by twinkly lights, because unlike half of my Twitter timeline, I've still got my Christmas decorations up, and a snoring hydrochodine-filled husband, I'm making a pact. A promise to myself to keep the joy throughout the rest of the year. To hold onto the warm fuzzies that have been in my heart for the past three days and do my best to spread them around. To remember that while Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, He really should be the reason for all the seasons. His love and selflessness should be admired and reflected through us all year long.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Why I'll Always Believe in Santa

This growing up business is tricky. Besides the whole living on your own/paying your own bills/being responsible for yourself thing, your perspective about certain things shifts. Most of the time for the better - like realizing those cut-off shorts were in fact too short and not all that attractive.

But sometimes our perspective changes for the worse. We become cold and hard and cynical. If you're not careful, Christmas can become one of these times.

I've mentioned before how much my family loves to hold on to every single one of our childhood traditions. In fact, I got a text message last night from my dad about getting excited for the "fat man's big arrival". And I promise you at least once on Christmas Eve, I'll mention something to Robbie about how excited I am that Santa's coming. To which he'll roll his eyes and play along and mutter something along the lines of "act your age, not your shoe size" under his breath.

But here's the thing. I feel like Santa's been getting some flack lately. I feel like kids are finding out the truth earlier and earlier and I feel like parents are becoming lackadaisical about the whole Santa thing.

You'll hear really religious parents downplay the idea of Santa because it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas (which it doesn't by the way.) You'll hear lazy (sorry it's the only word I can think of) parents downplay the hype that follows Santa because they're tired of putting on the act. You'll hear money-saving parents stress about Santa because times are tight and gifts might be limited. You'll even hear parents who are tired of lying to their kids about Santa - to which I say is just completely ridiculous.

To all of those parents, I would say you've completely lost the whole meaning behind Santa and the whole meaning behind the Christmas season.

As Christians, we celebrate Christmas by recognizing Jesus' birth - the biggest and greatest gift that we could have ever received.

But everyone, regardless of religious belief or affiliation should celebrate this season by recognizing the abundance of blessings we have. This time of year is a time for love and hope, friends and family, giving and receiving. This time of year is a time for magic. A time to believe in things not seen.  A time to hold the ones near you and soak in all their wonderfulness.

It can be a time for reflection and a time for planning. Looking back on the year's past and preparing yourself for the year coming.

On the surface, Santa is a fat man in a red suit who flies around the world, jumps down people's chimneys and delivers presents. But in reality, Santa is so much more. Santa is the symbol for hope and love and all things Christmas.

If you want to stop believing in the flying reindeer part, fine. But to those who stop believing in Santa, I just don't understand how Christmas can even be an enjoyable time of year for you. Not because of the gifts, but because of the love that Santa brings. The joy and wonder that surround him.

You're never too old to stop believing in that.


As adults, we often think we've got it all figured out. When in reality, we could learn a lot from the children in our lives. 


Friday, December 20, 2013

Things I've Learned THIS Week.

A few days ago, Helene wrote a post about a few of the important things she's learned throughout 2013. I think it's important to look back and reflect on lessons learned. And Helene had learned some pretty valuable things, as I'm sure we all have over the past year. Like how to twerk. And how to not wear a black and white Beetlejuice shoot. And for most I really feel like the sock bun reached perfection in 2013.

However, I am currently rounding out The. Longest. Week. of my life and I feel like the lessons I've learned this week alone really rival some of the things it took me a whole year to figure out.

The Top Ten Things I've Learned This Week 

1. Full moons the week before Christmas break were created by the devil as a personal vendetta towards all teachers.

2. Duck Dynasty is a big f-ing deal. And A&E is apparently in big trouble. I'm still not 100% sure what all went down. But I know that hell hath no fury like pissed off rednecks.

3. Apparently watching 19 First Graders open, read, and share personal Christmas letters from elves make me all mushy inside. Seriously, it's the cutest thing ever.

4. I am in no way, no how ready to have kids.

5. Aimee's artichoke dip is the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth.

6. When hosting a party, having a "pre-game" glass of wine before the guests get here plus 8 glasses while they're here is no bueno. Especially if you're not going to eat any of the delicious food you prepared for the party.

7. Impromptu Mexican dinner dates with friends at 3:30 in the afternoon are the greatest things ever.

8. Checking e-mail is a pain.

9. You can't, in fact, wear a real tree skirt as an actual skirt. Not unless you want the "hospital-gown effect".

10. In England, people have a "stir-up day" where they make yucky blucky fruit cake five weeks before Christmas. And then don't eat it until Christmas. Five weeks later. That ish still blows my mind.

Like I said, it's been a pretty eventful week. And all things considered, it's been a really good great week. With that being said, I am more than happy to finally put this 30985409823 day week behind me. Seriously, Friday I thought we'd never meet again.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Try This Again...

I published this post yesterday only to realize at 7:30 pm (after it had been live all day) that it royally sucked didn't quite work out like I had planned. Don't worry - Robbie, quickly put me in my place.

Anyway...I figured I'd give it another shot. I gave up on the idea of a play list as neither one I created worked. (Any bloggy superstar that wants to teach me how to do that would be loved forever.) But I did go through and fix the original lists I created.


And with the end of another year, the Best and Worst of 2013 lists begin to emerge. 

Mrs. Music Guru herself is obviously hosting musical link up focusing on the Best Songs of 2013. I don't listen to a ton of music. In fact, I still prefer listening to CDs circa 2008 on long car trips. It drives Robbie crazy. 

Nonetheless, I hate to miss a good link up. So....I figured I'd include a few of MY favorite songs from 2013. And I'll go ahead and admit that a few of Helene's worst songs of 2013 made my list. #sorryI'mnotmusicallyinclined.

And because I'm so bad with up-to date music and Robbie hates to see me suffer publicly, he said he'll help me out. So you get a few of his favs too. I know, I know. It's your lucky day forreals.

Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

PitBull feat. Ke$ha - Timber

Lady GaGa - Applause

Eminem - Berzerk

Electro Shine - Hope Chant

Macklemore - Thrift Shop

Imagine Dragons - Radioactive

Luke Bryan - That's My Kind of Night

Fergie - A Little Party Never Killed No Body

Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop

Avicii - Wake Me Up

Surprisingly, I agreed with almost all of Robbie's list. Unfortunately, the Best Songs usually always turn into the Worst Songs because they get overplayed soooooo much. See Ho Hey, Can't Hold Us, and Blurred Lines

As big of a freak show as Miley is right now, I can't get enough of her music. Girlfriend sounds great. As long as I don't look at her, ever, I can deal. 

And that Fergie song. I could (and sometimes do) listen to it over and over and over again.

A few others Robbie forgot - 

Paramore - Still Into You

Justin Timberlake - Mirrors

Anna Kendrick - Cups

One Republic - Counting Stars

Justin Timberlake - TKO

I typically hate Paramore and think all of their songs sound the same. This song isn't really much different but I love the words.

Justin Timberlake because duh, he can do no wrong.

And yes, I know Cups is annoying but I loved Pitch Perfect and I love watching my firsties clean out their Jello cups at lunch so they can clumsily perform that song.

Also, I think it should be noted that it's always this time of year that I feel really bad for anything good that happened January - March 2013. No one remembers those months. Eh.

Helene in Between


Tuesday, December 17, 2013


There's only one word that appropriately describes my life right now: full.

My calendar is full.
Full of Christmas parties, family gatherings, school activities.

My to-do list is full.
Full of gifts left to purchase (there's only a few left), gifts left to wrap, meals left to prepare.

My house is full.
Full of twinkly lights and Christmas balls.
Full of the remnants of a great weekend with even better friends.

My brain is full.
Full of excitement for the upcoming weeks, reminders of important things I don't want to forget.

My fridge is full.
Thanks to Robbie's weekly shopping trip earlier today.
Full of ingredients for yummy holiday treats ready to be prepared and delivered.

My laundry room is full.
Of clean and dirty laundry. There's just not enough time left in the day.

My heart is full.
Full of love for the amazing people I have in my life.
Full of giddiness for the memories we're creating.
Full of smiles and laughter and warmth.
Full of blessings that I don't even begin to deserve.

My heart is so so full.

And in all my fullness, I can't help but smile.

I'm loving every second of every full day. Almost as much as this dog is loving his life right now.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

25 Reasons

....why my husband is the best.

I know, I know. Ick. But today's his birthday. His 25th birthday. And that's a big deal. And well he is the best. So there's that. Also, it's my blog so I get to be sappy when I want to.

In no particular order.

1. He pretends to listen to all my stories.

2. He gets along with my family.

3. He's a football fan. And that's hot.

4. He folds laundry like a boss.

5. He remembers importnat things that I always forget - like giving the dogs their heart worm pills.

6. He pays our bills on time.

7. He hardly ever tells me no.

8. He lets me snuggle on him whenever I want.

9. He's a good driver and hardly ever gets us lost.

10. He loves his mama.

11. He puts his dirty clothes in the hamper, not on the floor.

12. He'll clean the showers. And I only have to ask twice.

13. He brings me wine whenever I ask. And sometimes when I don't ask.

14. He knows how to work all the technology in our house.

15. He worries about me. And checks in on me often.

16. He puts up with all my crazy antics.

17. He checks my blog regularly and reminds me oh so politely when I haven't posted for a while.

18. He eats almost all my cooking.

19. He never dutch ovens me.

20. He puts his family and friends first.

21. He believes in forever.

22. He loves me a whole bunch.

23. He's got the greatest laugh.

24. He's a hard worker.

25. The only thing bigger than his heart is his.....smile. Duh.

Happy birthday honey! I'm still not 100% sure how I got lucky enough to share this life with you but I am so glad I did. You are the best friend, husband, and partner a girl could ask for. Here's to being a quarter of a century year old and to sharing the next 3/4 with you!

Yay for birthdays!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas through the eyes of a child.

I am a firm believer in always always always being a kid at heart. Peter Pan definitely knew what he was talking about in regards to that whole "growing up" thing. It's way overrated. Particularly at Christmastime. 

Enjoying the magic and innocence of Christmas through the eyes of a child is the only way to truly celebrate the season. I fee like this is where I should insert "in my opinion" except it's not just in my opinion. It's a fact. Kids have more fun at Christmas. Therefore, adults who act like kids have more fun at Christmas. That's called the commutative property (I think). 

I've mentioned once or twice, or maybe twenty times, how obsessed I am with my family's Christmas traditions. Not because they're super unique or way over the top. Just because they're ours. My parents always did a really good job (and still do) of making holidays special. Birthdays, Halloween, Easter. It was always a special event in our house. Christmas was no exception. I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood and feel so so fortunate for that. 

Every year we would visit Santa's house downtown. In fact, we only stopped doing this a couple of years ago. Santa holds an extra special place in our heart, you see. Sure he brought great gifts every year. But when I was four and a half, he brought me my baby brother. Just like I had so politely asked him for the previous year. No joke. In 1992 I wanted a baby brother for Christmas. Carter came in November 1993. If that doesn't make you believe, I don't know what will.

As always I am being very matter of fact with Mr. Claus. Carter thinks it's all fun and games. I, obviously, mean business. 

Please excuse the "at-home" cut bangs. Dear future-mommy-Marianna, do not under any circumstances cut your daughter's hair.

On Christmas Eve we always got to open just one present. Coincidentally is was always new jammies. Usually they're extremely hot and uncomfortable and only get worn that one night. But it's a tradition we've held onto for years. Acting surprised over our Christmas Eve jammies is also a tradition my brother and I have continued to hold on to. 

After we changed into our new jams, we would all crawl in bed together and mom would read the original 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, the same book my mom read when she was a little girl. 

We always made a pact that we wouldn't peak at Christmas presents until everyone was awake. So on Christmas morning the first to wake up (usually always my brother) would be in charge of waking everyone else up. And together we would go into the living room to check out our loot. Our Santa never wrapped our presents. We each had designated areas on the couch. And we would spend the entire morning oohing and aahing over our gifts before chowing down on an enormous Christmas breakfast and then heading to grandma's for some cousin fun.

Growing up with a brother definitely made the holidays more fun. I couldn't have imagined Christmas mornings without him. And still look so forward to spending the holidays with him. I'm even more blessed that Robbie gets to join in on the fun too. As fun as all the Santa visits, Christmas Eve jammies, and new gifts are, my favorite part of Christmas has and always will be the time I spend with my family. I know that sounds hokey but it's the truth. Going back to my mom's house (the same house I grew up in) and sitting around the tree that's loaded down with all of our childhood ornaments surrounded by the family I love (both old and new) is as good as it gets. And definitely makes me feel like a giddy little kid all over again. 

The Daily Tay

I'm linking up with two of funnest kids I know, Helene and Taylor. Go join in on the fun, outdated Christmas outfits, and bad hair cuts.