It’s Not Christmas Without… {12 Days of Blogging}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “it’s not Christmas without…”

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There are so many things that make Christmas special to me. From new traditions. like the ones Mr. B and I are creating together, to the old traditions that out families have built over decades, each little piece makes the holiday season joyful.

One tradition that I brought to the table was Christmas lights. Mr. B didn’t have much desire to climb on the roof during the coldest months of the year, just to have a higher electric bill. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stand the idea of a naked house in December.  It’s just not Christmas without the glow of the lights prettying things up.

Being the good sport that he is, Mr. B agreed to decorate the exterior of our home for our first Christmas together. After we headed to town for a shopping cart full of string lights, that sweet, sweet man hauled his ladder out of the garage and got to work. And again, the following year, without much protest, he hung the lights once more.

{If I had a picture of our home all lit up with twinkling lights, I would insert it here. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of it. #badblogger.}

Except last year (our second Christmas together), we had a bit of a problem with the lights. See, we checked each strand before putting them up, and yet…they didn’t always work. Not that a strand died and needed replaced – no, that would have been too simple. More like entire strands of lights would go out one night, but work fine the next night (or even a few hours later).

We tried to separate the iffy lights from the good ones, but when we used the “good ones” later in the year to decorate for a party, we realized they were all shit. Rather than taking a chance on the three strands that had yet to be fickle little assholes, we decided to pitch the whole lot and start all over.

Really, it was our own fault. We pretty much bought the cheapest lights we could find since we needed a whole house worth. So when they didn’t last, we were bummed, but not terribly surprised. You get what you pay for, I suppose.

We ended up not getting replacements this year; we simply had other priorities, and that’s okay. (We will probably snag some right after Christmas, when the holiday decorations are dirt cheap.) It’s sad, I miss laying in bed at night and seeing the soft, yellow glow lighting up the yard. I miss coming home after dark and seeing the cheerful sparkle from down the road. It’s not Christmas without the lights. Don’t get me wrong, even though I wish the house was all lit up, I’m certain that this Christmas will be wonderful with or without the lights. And it is heartwarming to remember how willing Mr. B was to do all that work for a holiday tradition that he didn’t give two hoots about. That boy really makes me smile sometimes.

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The Happiest Christmas Tree

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “favorite Christmas music”.

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Each year, Mr. B and I venture out to the local Christmas tree farm to cut down our own pine beauty.

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And every year, as soon as we decide which one is perfect for our home, a certain song starts playing in my head.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Someone came and they found me and took me home with them.

It plays as background music to my thoughts the whole way home, and I hum and dance as we start to decorate the tree.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Look how pretty they dressed me! Oh lucky, lucky me.

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And through the entire Christmas season, I’ll catch a glimpse of the tree and hear that sweet little ditty start up in my head.

I’ve got shiny bells that jingle and tiny little lights that twinkle. Whenever anyone passes by, I blink my lights and I wink my eye.

Oh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree! Christmas day, wait and see, I’ll be laughing happily with a ho ho ho he he!

Unlike, oh, every other song to ever get stuck in my head, I never get sick of it. I can’t say it has any special meaning for me, it just brings a smile to my face. Maybe it’s just that I have a tendency to give personalities/hopes/dreams to inanimate objects and this particular song lets me know that I’m not the only one to do so. Maybe it just makes me feel a little less crazy. Then again, maybe it’s just a happy-maker.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s Nat King Cole in all his glory:

See, it’s catchy and fabulous isn’t it?!?

Also, it should be noted that I (obviously) had this song playing while I wrote this post. Upon hearing it, Mr. B chimes in, “you know that song basically just justifies you killing a tree, right?” Ahh, that Mr. B. Always so full of Christmas cheer.

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I Feel Fluffy. And Blah. Mostly Blah.

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My wedding dress has arrived.

About a month and half earlier than anticipated.

I got a call from the bridal shop last week that it came in early, and they are ready for me to come for my first fitting. But instead of joy, overwhelming excitement, and all that wonderful bride-y flutter, my first reaction was “Uh, thanks. Maybe later.”

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to marry Mr. B. I adore my gown. The ladies at the bridal shop were beyond wonderful, so it’s not like I’m avoiding them. So why wasn’t I rushing out the door to see what is arguably the most monumental article of clothing I will ever wear?

I joked that between my trip to New Orleans and all the Thanksgiving food, I’d eaten too much and was in no rush to try to squeeze into my dress. It’s true, I suppose. My clothes are a little snug these days and I am afraid the dress won’t exactly fit like a dream. But that’s not the whole story.

I’ve been eating like crap. I’m still not eating a ton of junk food, but I’m not eating the things that make me feel good. Lean protein and veggies? Sure, if someone else wants to cook it. No? I’m on my own? Ok then, Thanksgiving leftovers it is! I ate all of those? That’s cool. Pasta is cheap and easy. Basically, I’ve been carbo-loading for the last 2 weeks. Except, without the major athletic event. So I feel fluffy. Fluffy like all the mashed potatoes smothered in gravy that I’ve consumed in the last few weeks.

I’ve also been getting less exercise. I don’t work out in the typical way – I don’t go to the gym, or even really utilize the NordicTrack (remember those?!) in the basement. I’m busy, always on the move. Between the farm work and the boat and hiking with the dogs and horseback riding, I use my body. A lot. Except…it’s winter so there’s not a ton of work to do around the farm, and I’m not really up for leaving the warmth and comfort of the house these days. And since Mr. B still refuses to let me bring Sally in the house, I’m doing a lot less of the keep-me-moving stuff that I normally do. 

Slacking on the exercise + carbs + salt + butter = a fluffy Nikki.

This isn’t about my size or weight or dress size though. This is about how I feel. I feel sluggish. I feel bloated. I feel tired. I feel BLAH. And that’s the real problem.

I’m not concerned about how I look (though, let’s be honest, I don’t love the extra chunk protruding from the top of my jeans), I’m mostly concerned about how I feel. I don’t feel good. I feel lethargic, slow, and foggy. I know it’s my own fault, I don’t feel the way I want to feel. And I’ve realized, I don’t want that feeling anywhere near my wedding dress. May 10, 2014 is going to be a magical day, and I don’t want that blah feeling – or anything associated with it – anywhere in sight. So I don’t want to slip into that gown until I feel better in my own skin, until I feel better about my body and how I treat it and what it is capable of.

Yes, my face is a little rounder, my thighs are a smidge closer to one another, and my midsection is a little softer than it was a few months ago, but I don’t doubt that I will be able to zip the dress up. I do doubt is that I will feel good in it, and I don’t want to feel like anything less than a million bucks when I put it on . Even in the fitting room of a bridal shop, 3,000 miles and 6 months away from my wedding. I’ll brave the cold more often and take the time to make healthier meals. I’ll get back to me. And then I’ll go for my fitting, and it will be fabulous.

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The Train {12 Days of Blogging Christmas}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “Christmas tree/home decor”.

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I’ve already told you how excited I get about putting up Christmas decorations each year. Growing up it was no different; I was thrilled to pull the old boxes out of the attic, unwrap each festive item, and find it a place in our home. My favorite part of all was setting up the train.

It wasn’t just a train, it was an entire town. Not just any town, actually. Since it’s always a winter wonderland and the Claus’ reside there, I think it’s safe to say it’s the North Pole.

This year, my dad passed the train set down to me, and he helped Mr. B and I set it up at our house. It takes up roughly half of our little living room, but it makes the whole house a tiny bit more magical. Once my dad got it running for us and showed Mr. B how it all works, Mr. B and I finished setting up all of the little details.

My great uncle, Uncle Mike, hand painted all of the houses, buildings, and figurines.

My great uncle, Uncle Mike, hand painted all of the houses, buildings, and figurines.

 

Santa and the Misses have a cozy little home right next to Santa's workshop and the toy store.

Santa and the Misses have a cozy little home right next to Santa’s workshop and the toy store.

 

There are so many pieces to the train that we can't use them all at one time. This is what we've got set up this year.

There are so many pieces to the train that we can’t use them all at one time. This is what we’ve got set up this year.

 

The trolley and the working car are on a separate track in the middle. Mr. B set up this cute coal platform along the train tracks.

The trolley and the working car are on a separate track in the middle. Mr. B set up this cute coal platform along the train tracks.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering how Joey feels about this, check out this video on Instagram.

What Christmas traditions are near and dear to your heart?

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Our House is Decorated Like a Happy Holiday Wonderland

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It’s December!

Thanksgiving is over and I am finally able to decorate the house with twinkling lights and evergreen-scented candles without protest from Mr. B, who believes (strongly) that Christmas should not be celebrated for the entire last quarter of the calendar year. Since I have a very hard time restraining the holiday cheer after Halloween, it means a good number of Scrooge and Grinch jokes get lobbed around our house during most of November.

I couldn’t help myself this year – the Christmas dishes made an appearance about a week before Thanksgiving – but I was able to refrain from fully decorating the house. That being said, I practically ran home after our second turkey dinner and pulled all of the garland, ornaments, and festive knick-knacks out of the attic. Okaaaay, okay, I waddled home, slipped into stretchy pants, took a nap, and decorated the next day, but you catch my drift. I was EXCITED.

The house is almost completely decorated (the train needs finished, my dad is going to come help us with that this weekend), and I love how cozy it feels with Christmas cheer all around us. Here are a few of  my favorite parts:

For most of the year, I'm not big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.

I’m not usually big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.

DecorationsSnowmen

I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

Especially this sweet little tree. He's the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Especially this sweet little tree. He’s the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles from my grandmother.

This nativity scene from my grandmother, sits on my great-grandmother's chest at the foot of our bed.

She also gave us this sweet nativity scene, which now sits on my great-grandmother’s chest at the foot of our bed.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up, so they are almost always turned on.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don't match. Joey's is still in the works, so the one with the green strip is his "for now" stocking.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don’t match. Joey’s is still in the works, so the one with the green stripe is his “for now” stocking.

 

Do you get excited about decorating for the holidays? What are you favorite decorations or traditions?

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Guest Post: Samantha From Life Style Love

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Guys, I have a real treat for you today. Samantha from over at Life Style Love is here on the blog today, and let me tell you, she’s my kind of girl. We have similar interests and priorities, and she tries to focus on the bright side of things. Go stalk her blog – I’m sure you will adore her!
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Hey friends! I’m excited to be guest posting for Nikki today – I’m Samantha and I blog over at Life Style Love. At LSL you’ll read about recipes (that I attempt), life with my hubs, diy projects (again, that I attempt), and you’ll get to see some awkward outfit posts if you’re lucky 🙂 
 

 

 


I definitely claim to be a professional at absolutely none of the above; but I believe life is short and life is beautiful, so why not find happiness in the awkward moments, too? I blog so I can share with others the adventures of my average life. Oh, and it’s sorta fun and addicting too 🙂
 


I love the month of December. Actually it’s probably my second favorite month out of the entire year. [Being a MN lakes lover, I have to give the #1 award to August…] But December and the Christmas spirit that it brings makes me so happy. I mean, what is there not to love?!
 


ecorating your place!
 


ating holiday goodies!
 


hristmas!
 


njoying all the parties!
 


ovies like White Christmas and Santa Clause!
 


lankets and apple cider!
 


mbracing the carols!
 


eason for the Season!
 

These are just some of my favorite things! Enjoy all that the month of December has to offer; and in the midst of the shopping, cooking, and chaos, remember the reason for the Christmas season and savor the fun times with your loved ones. Even if you can’t stand hearing Deck the Halls one more time or think you might gain 10 pounds 🙂

Happy December! Come tell me your favorite parts about the month?
 


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Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

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Happy Monday, kids! Welcome back to real life! If you are anything like me, it’s been a real struggle to get back in the swing of things after the long, lazy weekend of gluttonous consumption. (I’m wearing pants with an elastic waistband today, just in case anyone was wondering.) I haven’t really been expected to accomplish anything since last Tuesday, so dealing with “responsibilities” today has been a challenge.

On Wednesday, I spent most of the day baking. I had every intention of doing more than baking, but apparently I am a bad judge of how long it takes me to do things. I honestly believed I would get up early, bake until about lunchtime and then have the rest of the day to do other things. HA. I baked cookies, pies, and pumpkin rolls for a solid twelve hours. TWELVE HOURS. (It would have taken me longer if I hadn’t talked Mr. B and Tyler into icing the cookies for me.) When I was done, I wasn’t up for anything that didn’t involve wine and my couch.

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Thursday was spent bouncing around Western Pennsylvania and consuming excessive amounts of turkey, ham, sweets, and wine. Our first stop was Mr. B’s mom’s house for a full feast with her family, followed by a quick visit to Mr. B’s dad’s side of the family. We didn’t have time to eat there, but we wanted to pop in and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving before heading to my dad’s house for turkey dinner number two. We stuffed ourselves silly for the second time that day, and my dad got to spend some time quality time with his “grandpuppy”.

TgivingJoeyDadRyan

Friday and Saturday were spent eating leftovers and putting up Christmas decorations. Friday night, Mr. B and I went to Friendsgiving at Kristin’s house, where we ate and drank just as much as we had the day before, but with friends instead of family. It was a blast.

Late Saturday afternoon, Tyler and I found out that our great aunt had passed away. She played an important role in both of our lives when we were young, so her passing (while not unexpected) was pretty hard on us. To take our minds off of our feelings of grief and helplessness, Mr. B. suggested we try assembling the train set. We’d planned to wait for my dad to help us (since, really, he’s the only one who knows what he’s doing), but we agreed that having a project to keep our hands and minds busy was a good idea.

RyanTrainTracks

Saturday evening and Sunday morning were spent constructing a platform, setting up the tracks, and trying -unsuccessfully – to make the train work. My dad is coming for a visit next weekend to help us figure out what went wrong. Even though we weren’t successful in our endeavors, we did manage to distract ourselves from our pain, if only for a little while.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. B and I took Tyler back to school. On our way home, we stopped at a Christmas tree farm to pick out and cut down our own tree.

RyanCutsTreeCollage

 

We brought her home, covered her in tractors and Christmas cheer, and then enjoyed some popcorn and a cheesy holiday made-for-TV movie.

ChristmasMovieNight

 

How was your holiday weekend? Did you get to spend quality time with your family and friends? Is anyone else feeling a little fluffy today?

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I’m Baaaaack! {NOLA Recap}

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Oh, hey, hi there. I fell off the face of the earth there for a second while I recouped from my bachelorette trip to New Orleans. Sorry ’bout that. But now I’m back! I’m about 20 lbs heavier than when I left and I’m still completely exhausted but oh.my.god. was it a BLAST!

Did you guys have fun with Brittany and Raewyn while I was gone? They are fabulous ladies, no?

Guys, let me tell you, New Orleans is an amazing city. The food (ohmygod THE FOOD), the people, the art, the music, the drinks were all incredible. I am so grateful to my MOH, Jess, for organizing such an unbelievable weekend, and I’m so glad my friend Kristin was able to join us on such short notice.

I can’t even begin to explain what an amazing city NOLA truly is. The people were all so friendly and welcoming, the food was delicious, the drinks were strong, and there was art and live music everywhere we went. I’ve been sitting here for an hour now trying to find the words to describe everything we did, but I’m at a loss, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now.

I was blown away by all of it: the gorgeous architecture, the funky voodoo shops, the amazing view from our hotel room, the palm trees/Christmas decorations combo, and HOLY CRAP do you see the SWEET RIDE my bff scored for us?!

I was blown away by all of it: the gorgeous architecture, the funky voodoo shops, the amazing view from our hotel room, the palm trees/Christmas decorations combo, and HOLY CRAP do you see the SWEET RIDE my bff scored for us?!

 

There were musicians and street performers EVERYWHERE. It was incredible to see such talent on display all around us.

There were musicians and street performers EVERYWHERE. It was incredible to see such talent on display all around us.

And what trip to New Orleans would be complete without a few photos of Bourbon St at night?

And what trip to New Orleans would be complete without a few photos of Bourbon St at night?

As you can see, I have mostly daytime/tourist photos. I was afraid to take my fancypants camera out at night for fear of losing it, breaking it, or spilling adult beverages on it. My phone’s failures are a post for a different day, but let’s just say it wasn’t very useful for anything, let alone capturing memories.

We squeezed so much into the two nights and days that we spent there, but I feel like there is still SO much more Big Easy amazingness to behold. I definitely cannot wait to go back and explore even more of the funky, quirky city.

So what did I miss while I was gone? What’s new with you?

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Meet Raewyn from Be a Warrior Queen!

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Happy Friday, everyone! I’m still in NOLA for my bachelorette party. (If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you should be. That’s where I’m documenting all of the shenanigans.)

Today, the lovely lady behind Be a Warrior Queen is taking over the blog. She’s got a beautiful, positive attitude, so I know you guys will love her.  Meet Raewyn!

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Hello!! My name is Raewyn and I blog over at Be a Warrior Queen where I’m all about being me – a strong, independent lady stumbling through life while attempting to be graceful. I like to blog about finding your inner strength, life things and always trying to be on the positive side. Check out the Warrior Queen movement and feel free to join us!

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Let’s talk about recognizing the positive aspect of a not-so-positive event or situation. This one’s a hard one, but bear with me because I know we can turn it all around. Here’s a couple of hypothetical situations [or maybe some situations that happened to me…]

 

So you’re at a concert that’s supposed to be the time of your life. There is a really fun friend by your side. She’s always down for an adventure and you never seem to run out of things to talk about. You’ve only known each other for a little bit, and this is your first solo outing as friends. You get there and the two of you are giddy beyond belief. You’re actually shaking from excitement. Since you’ve been planning this night for awhile, you saved up enough money to buy that super expensive but delicious meal and a lot of drinks. When you get there, you make a beeline for the food and drinks to get a handle on that shake you’ve got going on. Then you head to the merch table because what is THE BEST CONCERT EVER without a shirt. Plus, the merch boys are usually pretty cute. While you’re at it you hit up every single merch tent you see. Even the opening bands you don’t know. You blow your cash on shirts and CDs because theses guys are just so cute. Your friend has hit it up with one of the guys and when it comes time for you to go get ready to watch the bands, she decides to stay behind at the merch tent. This is your favorite band. What in the world do you do?

I bet you are feeling pretty bad right there. She just let you down and you’re probably questioning your whole friendship.So you head to your seats alone, feeling defeated because who in the world are you going to sing all of the words with? You don’t have any more cash to drink until you no longer feel socially awkward.

Go to your seat anyway! 

Girrl, I guarantee the people sitting around you are there for the exact same reason you are – they love the songs! Even if you’ve got a lovey-dovey couple on one side and are surrounded with people you’d rather not talk to, somewhere in that mess of hundreds of people there will be a kindred spirit waiting to talk to you and become your friend – if only for the night.

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But when you’re standing there in the moment it sucks. It sucks to feel alone among a bunch of people. It’s easy to get sucked into only thinking negatively and not enjoying a concert that you were super duper uber excited to attend. So make that decision to enjoy yourself. Push it out of your mind.

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Here’s a hint. One time I went to a Panic! At the Disco concert with my exboyfriend. He broke up with me a couple of days before the concert but insisted we still go together. I cried the whole time. There was no stopping that, he was my high school boyfriend. But I still found myself getting lost in the music…talking to the people around me and generally ignoring him. There may have been tears on my face, but I wasn’t having the worst time of my life.

Other situations that this is useful for: any sucky situation. 



Seriously, when things are feeling not so great, take a look around and find that one thing you can focus on that can make it a little more positive. It could be a smile from another person, the smell of delicious food or flowers, seeing a heart on a billboard and remembering to have hope…anything!

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Meet Brittany from Happy Is A Choice

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If you missed all of my frazzle-brained excitement earlier this week, I’m in New Orleans for my bachelorette party! (Stalk my Instagram if you want to follow along with the debauchery.) But, dear readers, I would never leave you hanging! Today, Brittany is taking over the blog. She is the adorable lady behind Happy Is A Choice. I think you guys will adore her as much as I do – even her blog title radiates positive energy! (And how stinkin’ cute is she with that new husband of hers?!)

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Hey friends! I am excited to be here while our girl Nikki is out celebrating her bachelorette weekend with her girlfriends! I had SO much fun the night of my bachelorette, and I know Nikki will too!

 

Let me tell you a little bit about myself! My name is Brittany, and I am a newlywed, I married the love of my life, Ronnie on October 5th, so I am just over the moon with excitement for Nikki as her wedding day approaches. It is such a sweet time, preparing for that day, so Nikki, if I could give you one piece of advice it would be to enjoy every minute! I sometimes got caught up in the stress and planning and details, but our wedding day was so fun, and even if something goes wrong (it will) you will just be so happy you wont care!

A little more about me: I blog over at Happy Is A Choice so I  would love for you to come stop by so we can get to know one another more. I work full time in Human Resources, and my husband works in Hospitality at our church. I am a big fan of running, mostly because I love food so much, in order to avoid only fitting in yoga pants, I have to burn off those lattes and pastries some how.

Because it’s November, and Nikki has a running Gratitude theme going on this month, I wanted to share some things that I am thankful for in marriage, things I think Nikki might have to look forward to, and maybe if you are married you will be thankful for some of the same things!
1. I am thankful to go to sleep next to my husband every night, and wake up together every day. Ronnie and I didn’t live together before we got married, so this big “every night is a sleepover with your best friend” thing is still fun to me!

2. I’m thankful that my husband makes me breakfast in bed on Saturday mornings. Seriously, a huge perk for me. I hope your husband makes you breakfast in bed regularly , Nikki!

3. I am thankful for someone to pray with when life gets messy, and also when God is so good to us that we can’t help but thank Him! Its really encouraging for me to watch my husband trust Jesus so well and lean on Him for wisdom, strength and support.

4. I am thankful to have a husband who doesn’t expect me to do it all. As a woman, I sometimes feel like I need to be working all day, cooking a balanced meal, doing the laundry, serving people in our home, serving in church ministries, spending time with my family, exercising, etc. and for me, more often then not, I feel like I am FAILING at all of those things. But luckily for me, Ronnie doesn’t expect that, and he helps me with things like preparing meals and keeping the house clean. It is SUCH a blessing to me!

5. I am thankful to have someone to take outfit pictures for the blog. He always puts on a happy face and tries to pretend like hes hving the best time, even though we all know he’d rather do, well, anything else.

6. I am excited to send out Christmas Cards! I’ve always equated that with something you get to do once you are married, and this year, one sweet friend I have met through blogging is designing ours and I can’t wait to send them out!

7. I am thankful to get to share life together! I am so excited to start our own Holiday traditions, to invite people over for good food and conversation, to go on weekend trips and dinner outs with friends, to do home projects and snuggle up on the couch after a long day. I love this part of marriage!

If you are married, what are you thankful for? If you’re not married, what are you most looking forward to or hoping for someday?

Please stop by and see me at Happy Is A Choice! I would love to meet you, new friends!