Friday, January 8, 2016

2015- Year in Review, Part Two

Here are the rest of our 2015 highlights. It really was a great year for us and we are looking forward to an even better 2016!

Moving back to Florida has enabled us to rekindle some great old friendships, and we have enjoyed reconnecting with these friends and introducing all our kids to each other.

We traveled down to Hollywood to spend a weekend with Jill's college friend, Patrice, and her daughter, Tessa. Later, they came up to Orlando and we added our mutual friend, Kim, to the mix with her daughters, Danielle and Tia. So much laughter!!

James and Tessa chillin' in the hammock.
Danielle, Tessa, James, and Tia exploring the Harry Potter awesomeness at
Universal Studios.
A fun day at Disney with longtime friend, Jackie, and one of her
beautiful daughters, Audrey.

 Florida, being the popular tourist destination that it is, brings lots of friends and family our way, and we are always thrilled to get together whenever and wherever we can. 

Jill and her cousin, Cris, enjoying dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant. Always nice to see her!
Getting wet on the flume ride at Busch Gardens with longtime friend, Joel, and his son, Charlie.
Such a great day!
James and his buddy, Declan, sporting awesome mohawks. These two are crazy together!

Our dearest friends, the Carignans, came from Utah for a visit in the early summer and we were thrilled to visit with them here. In August, we headed out to see them and return to our old stomping grounds for a visit. Even though we moved away, Utah remains one of our favorite places and it was great to go back and see the mountains and eat at our favorite restaurants again. 

Look at that face! He loves that Gracie girl!
James, Maddie, and Grace in a rare moment of stillness and actual smiles--a photographic miracle!
Kerri and I snuck away one afternoon for some quiet time in the mountains (and clearly there was silliness based on the
weird smile I have).
Millie and Maddie with Chris on our awesome hike in the mountains. He's such a sucker for those sweet girls!
James, Grace, and Maddie exploring the wilderness. Is there anything better?

While we were there, I was so excited to get pictures of the gorgeous girls wearing the dresses I made them last winter (see this post). They looked beautiful and it really made the hard work of making them worth it. 

We were lucky enough to get to visit with our former neighbors, the Taylor Family, while we were in Utah as well, but unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of us altogether. 

James plays with the lovely Tess. They have been friends since they were babies!
This kid is a traveling pro! He is responsible for his own luggage and carry-on backpack. Love it!

Every once in a blue moon, the Landers tribe will get together and hope that the world is ready for that much stubbornness and teasing of each other in one place. So far, no reported damage...

Kenny, Ricky, Little Ricky, James, Violet Marie, Grandpa Rick, Autumn, and Jill. 

While were visiting together, we came across a stray puppy and took him home to see about welcoming him into our family. Max, as we named him, is a fantastic dog and I'm so glad we rescued him, but he wasn't the  right fit for our family, so we fostered him until we found him a better home and are happy that he's doing well and off the street. 

He's so cute and such a sweet snuggler!

A couple months into living there, we are settling into the new house. James continues to be homeschooled and is doing really well. I am happy to have so much time with him and to watch him learn and grow each day. 

Our beautiful boy.
Enjoying the fire pit we have going in our backyard. 

In November, I took on a big challenge. I ran the Disney World Wine & Dine Half-Marathon! It was unfortunately cut short due to bad weather in the area, so we could only run about half the course, but it was such an awesome experience and I'm so grateful my friend, Tanya, made asked me to do it. And now, I never have to do it again. 

WE DID IT! We have the medals to prove it!

Christmas 2015 was celebrated at our house this year and it was lovely to welcome people into our new home for the holidays. As always, we are grateful for all of the wonderful cards and gifts that we receive from so many of you and hope that you enjoyed some fun celebrations during the holiday season. 

Goofing around with his buddy Sam. 
Stealing a kiss from sweet Avery Anne. This kid has mad skills.
Enjoying a Christmas classic in front of our tree.
Chris did an absolutely amazing job hanging lights from our beautiful oak tree!
Standing under it was magical. It was my favorite thing about Christmas in our new house.
My boys. I love them so much and love seeing how much they love each other. We are a lucky family indeed.
Hard to tell if he was excited about this one.
As an aside, he and Chris built this over three nights and it is pretty cool!
So happy to have Abuela join us at our home this year. She and James are so close.
Our little family. Christmas 2015.
Santa brought James the rollerblades he asked for. Look out world!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015- Year in Review, Part One

Happy 2016! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying the freshness of a new year. Since it seems as though I might never catch up on the blog, I have decided to do a roundup of a few of my favorite pictures from 2015 and highlight some of our fun adventures, and then start fresh in 2016 with more detailed posts as they happen. Due to the number of adventures we have (never a bad thing) and the large volume of pictures I take, narrowing it down was tough, which is why there will be a part one and a part two. Thanks for keeping up with us through this blog and taking the time to read it. We appreciate you all!

In the spring, we took a school bus monster truck tour of a citrus farm at Showcase of Citrus. James was so thrilled! After the tour, we picked our own oranges and lemons. It was a pretty cool day out.

Having annual passes to Disney World meant lots of fun times at the parks. 

Chris is getting really good at the family selfie and this one is probably my favorite from this year.
It looks like he's not the King of England. Total bummer. 
Enjoying the last year of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios.

We were also happy to enjoy visits from some awesome out-of-town friends!

James with Adam T., a longtime friend of Chris's and master of eyebrow trickery.
James was super excited to see his former babysitter from Utah, Ms. Hilary, and tried to get me to leave
 so they could enjoy some "private time". Nice try, dude. She's married.
James hanging out with Kendyl, the daughter of Jill's friend since high school, Ryan.
He doesn't look unhappy sharing a chair with such a cutie girl.

This is Florida, so you know we had to spend some fun times on the water!

Having a great time at the beach, running from the waves.
Enjoying the view from Uncle Corey's boat.
Swimming in our new pool!
Fun times in the pool with GrandPoppa
We did a cleanup on the Suwannee River over Halloween weekend and it was fun!

There were plenty of fun adventures to be had at home as well.

Making homemade pizza is more fun dressed as an Italian chef,
complete with pipe-cleaner mustache.
James lost his first tooth this summer, and has gone on to lose two more!
The training wheels came off and he is a kid on the move now!
James discovered a love of reading and may be found almost anywhere
 with a book in his hands. I couldn't be happier about this.
Jill finally finished the quilt she designed and made for Chris.
Welcome to Florida, here's your new blanket in the middle of summer!

Summer wouldn't be complete without a road trip, so we headed up to Uncle Dan & Aunt Naomi's cabin in Virginia with our friends, the Paul Family, for some Fourth of July fun in the mountains. Thanks again to Dan & Naomi for the amazing hospitality and generosity in sharing their cabin. We always have a wonderful time and feel so welcome! 

Enjoying the Independence Day Parade in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. Good times!
James, Reese, and Quinn taking a break from our hike in the Shenandoah National Park.
Creek-walking near the cabin. So beautiful!

Being closer to our family has been a great benefit of (and one of the main reasons for) our move to Florida. James is very close to his Shenk cousins and loves how frequently they get to see each other and play together. 

Kodey, Hope, James, Taylor, and Jackson. Adorable!

At the end of July, we took on our biggest adventure of 2015-- buying a house! We found a great fixer-upper house that was just the right size for us and had a huge yard (1 1/3 acres!) full of amazing old trees. The best tree by far is in the front yard, a huge old oak tree that stretches almost all the way across the front, and inspired us to give our home the tongue-in-cheek name of Oakview Manor. We spent almost three months working on the inside and finally moved in in late October. There is still a long way to go, but we love what we have accomplished so far and look forward to future updates as time and money permit. A future blog post will go into more detail and share a lot of before-and-afters, but there are a couple things in the works right now that we want to finish first. So, for now, you get a picture of the outside right after we bought it and our beautiful old oak tree.

You can see we have some work to do, but we are excited to see where we go from here!
Going to have to use the wide-angle next time.

As always, in 2015 Leo remained the best dog in the world and we are so happy to have him as part of our family.