The Thanksgiving review is going to happen in picture format this year - too many fun pictures, too many fun things. This year's Thanksgiving included LOTS of family time for the Bruces, just as it should be! We had 5 out of 8 Bruce siblings together the week before Thanksgiving and got to hang out with them all week. (Somehow I have no pictures of our time together; I think I must have been hugging on or playing with a kid the whole time!) We started our travels by heading up to the lake Wednesday night to spend the night at Chris & Jen's where we had breakfast Thursday morning to kick off the official holiday. Then we headed to Winston for lunch at my mom's house.

My mom decided not to have turkey this year because (a) no one at my house really eats it anyway (b) she's nice and didn't want all of us who were traveling to have to eat the same meal 5 times in two days (thanks mom!) So instead we had another delicious meal and then walked it off around the neighborhood.

Here we are, the Bruces before the walk - I realize there aren't many pictures of us together on here and thought you all might need to see our faces together! [sidenote: see that 'wear & tear' on my jeans - my mom still can't believe they came that way - which made me think...I guess it is kind of silly that I bought them like that...and like them...]

Ah, and here is the monkey/bean/Caleb while on the walk. LOOK at those little cheeks and sweet face. He was great and so sweet the whole weekend - barely made a peep the whole weekend. Which gave way to finding my sister's secret talent which is that she can imitate a baby's cooing better than an actual baby!
This is an annual picture, somewhat of a tradition that Laura & I take at Thanksgiving - how cute that we match. Except aren't you jealous of her blue eyes like I am? She's beautiful. And great. Laura, Terry & I went to see Four Christmases on Thursday night, which I was excited about...and was again let down! Are my standards too high for movies these days or something? It was short and not great, and call me old and whatever, but I couldn't believe it was only rated PG-13. Ugh.

Be still my heart. Friday morning we headed up to Emory to do Thanksgiving with my dad. We bundled up and walked up to the cemetery (I know...unless you know Emory, just don't ask - who hangs out in cemeteries anyway you ask? - Us, we do. We even took a picture of Caleb by the Hillman headstone but I realize maybe that is just too weird for the average person!) So I put this one up instead because it's precious, and it makes me feel like I am still snuggling his sweetness.

We took Christmas card pictures for Adam and Ashley which of course Adam thinks is hokie, but Ashley says that now that they have a 'real' family, she wins and they get to send one out - who doesn't love a good picture Christmas card? Now. I do not lie. Caleb smiled like this in every single picture. Every single one. My dad stood behind me and would say "1..2..3..blast off" and would jump up in the air - Caleb LOVED it and we all could not stop laughing!

He also makes these funny faces - actually he was trying to sneak in some sucking on his hands; but mom & dad fight him hard to make himkeep his hands out of his mouth - but it's so cute, doesn't he look so sneaky and realizes he has just been caught?

After dinner we sat out on the patio in the freezing cold, made a fire and sipped on yummy hot apple cider that I brought to make for the App football game the next day. This was great and cozy and very festive.

Don't you wish that you were sitting here by this fire?

Saturday morning, we got up early and tip-toed out of the house while everyone else slept to head to the first playoff game for App. The high was 42 in Boone that day and we came prepared. Natalie & Dave were coming to the game with us - which was big, in fact, HUGE. Huge because Natalie grew up in New Zealand, has been living in Hawaii & now LA, and has never been to a football game. When we told her we would tailgate before the game, she said ''what's that?" Oh America. I love you. She was great, took it all in 100%, tailgating, first game of corn hole, hot dog at the football game, sitting through the rain/snow and all!

18 layers, spiked apple cider and a blanket are bound to help anyone stay warm and enjoy wherever they are!
We had such a great Thanksgiving this year and are so thankful for all of our family and friends...no matter how crazy we all might be! And now our Christmas tree is up, our house feels so crazy, and we will be watching at least one Christmas movie a week - one of our favorite traditions we are creating for ourselves! (We did this last year, our first Christmas together - does that count as a tradition already?) Oh well, so fun for us all the same!


Good thing I have a conscience

Alright Becky, this one's for you. Becky 'tagged' me on her blog - and though I willingly and without guilt or remorse feel no obligation to do these things when they are forwards that promise luck, love, and wealth over email, I'll play nicely for you here Bec!

So tag, I'm it: For the love of all that's holy...
Here are the rules: Go to your fourth picture folder and then go to the fourth picture in the folder. Write four things about the picture and then tag four other people. You never know what fun will follow...

Tag you're it, you have to play along!
1. Rebecca
2. Adele

3. Katie Kate
4. Amy

1. This picture is of Kaden and Natalie -
Natalie is my sister-in-law and is married to Dave, Terry's brother
2. This was on a trip to visit Terry when we started dating and we were in Hawaii,
it was Kaden's first trip to the water
3. Kaden is now a 3 year old child-prodigy drummer
(I have probably mentioned this before in previous posts)
4. I love this kid. Dave, Natalie & Kaden happen to be in Charlotte
this week and we hung out with them last night.
Kaden and I were playing last night while the band was finishing up,
and we sat down to take a break and he looked at me and said
"so, how's your day going?" Melt. My. Heart.


Team Edward

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas after filling our bellies full of good food, my family goes to see a movie together. We decided that this year's movie would be Twilight since we have all (minus the husband) been totally hooked on the books.

So last weekend at my surprise birthday dinner when the girls all announced they wanted to see the midnight showing of it [yes we know the target demographic for these books and the movie are teeny-boppers but we were not ashamed], I fell right into the peer pressure trap and agreed to go. We talked about getting some of these hilarious Team Edward shirts but couldn't decide which one to get decided to pass. Terry couldn't believe I was going to sell my family out like that, but I assured him I would just still go see it on Thanksgiving. Plus, I'm still working on my boring factor over here and going to see a midnight premier of a movie has to give me some points in that category (nevermind that I went in my sweat pants, tried to take a nap before going and had a venti cup of tea with me...)

Now I didn't expect the movie to live up to the book, because movies NEVER live up to books, and this one especially was so relational that I knew that would be hard to convey on screen. But I was excited all the same and had relatively high hopes!

[insert sound of a plane going down and crashing]

Surrounded by hundreds of 13 year old girls squealing and clapping as the lights went down I knew I was in for a ride. It was not long before I knew this was going to be a huge disappointment. The acting was terrible, the special effects were lame, there was not character development and no plot progression. I laughed out loud several times when things happened that were supposed to be amazing and captivating fell so short that they were instead painful and humorous. I can't decide now if the movie would have been worse if I had or had not read the books. If you haven't read the books, I don't think you will get 90% of the underlying points in the movie, and since there is no character or plot progression you will wonder how on earth Bella went from meeting Edward to wanting to die for him in what the movie made seem like .2 seconds.

The movie was a huge let down and I cannot believe the author put her name on it and likes it. I felt it was my DUTY to my family now to tell them I had seen it without them and was trying to save them from pain and torture by telling them they should not go see it. You would all be better off not seeing it. Adam hung up on me, and Laura went to see it afterwards but called me hysterically laughing afterwards. I think we'll be going to see something different over Thanksgiving either way.

What a let down. And as Alli said, by the end of the movie, I was kind of glad I wasn't wearing our Team Edward shirts. But don't worry, despite the movie, the book series still ranks highly among my favorites. And if you haven't read it, put away your pre-conceived notions about vampires, do not - I beg of you DO NOT - go see the movie, and I promise, you will love them!


Change is good

I have this alter ego that if you are new to my life, you don't really know about. It's not the one I referred to in the previous post...though I guess now that you know about her too we should talk about multiple personalities...another time...

I have always [well always might be a strong word, I should just say since growing up; but then ago, I kind of think I have always felt grown up - I digress] felt this pull on my heart to be these two people that never seemed to meld. One was serious and driven and professional, that part of me that drove me to succeed in school, to make my bed even when my mom wasn't looking, to get a good job, to make a training calendar for myself for my first 1/2 marathon and give myself stickers when I finished each bench mark (yes, it's true - sheesh, I can't believe I tell these things on here). The other grew up at camp since she was 10; was relaxed, taught outdoor living, led highschool girls on the Appalachian Trail, takes pride in her fire building skills, and would pay money to kick back in jeans and a t-shirt every day. For 23 years I wondered how I would ever meld these two people into one. Not just camp-girl in the summer and school-girl during the year, but somehow, both all the time.

Then I moved to Asheville to start Grad School. To say the least it didn't really go down how I planned, but it turned out to be the beginning of the best part of my life. I lived in the mountains with amazing friends, I breathed that life in day in and day out. I drove up that mountain for school and came back down to my home. And that summer, I stepped out on a huge limb. I was feeling confident, getting healthy, and needing a fresh start. From the time I was 10 I spent my summers at Ridgecrest Summer Camps as a camper. From the time I was 16 I spent my summers there as a counselor or director. 7 years later, it was time for a change. I spent my summer at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp outside of Asheville as one of 11 interns for the summer. I should have had a clue about how the summer would go when 'some girl' pulled up to camp in my same car, with the same shirt and belt on, and shared my love of Wheat Thins dipped in whipped cream cheese [seriously people, you are missing out on life if you haven't tried this...] That girl and was in my wedding and is now one of my very best friends, my twin, and a pea in the pod of my life. But I had no idea.

These 11 people became my family, the best of my friends; some amazing and truly divine and blessed connection formed instantly and I have never since been the same. It was that summer that the two halves of myself found harmony and I found balance. I laughed and felt more at home in my own skin more that summer than in most of the years of my life leading up to that time. It was the summer of 2004, and we were the best interns Windy Gap will ever have. It'strue, just ask them.

We come from New York, LA, Virginia, Atlanta,Knoxville, Charlotte, Columbia, Asheville and Greenville. Since then, we have gotten together for 2 impromptu reunions, a ruined-surprise birthday(yes that's right, the surprise was ruined just minutes before and people had flown in from all over the country for it), Terry & I's wedding, and most recently this weekend for another wedding; and one more next month. 11/12 of us have been together every time one way or another. But this Christmas, we will be rolling 12 for 12 deep plus 3 new spouses who have been welcomed with open arms. I cannot contain my excitement.

I am blessed beyond words when I spend time with these friends. They fill my soul, bring me to life, and show me love in every word, laugh and precious second of time we spend together. Their hands, words and actions molded and changed me in ways they will never know, and at the end of our summer together I had become more like the person I had always striven to be. And I trusted for the first time, in a long time, that in faith, change is good, and these friends were the fruit of that promise.


Halloween, ASU & More Camping

This past weekend was weighed down, boxed in, and surrounded by busy and unnecessarily stressful days. Let's have a week in review for the week before Halloween:

Monday: normal back to work monday, nothing fun about these days; went shopping to prepare for Thursday (keep reading...)
Tuesday: girls' Bible study night, my night to lead (interpret: stop by the store for wine and delicious dessert on the way home, drink glass of wine while cleaning house with one hand and holding Bible to read/prepare in other)
Wednesday: fabulous date with Whit & Andy to a new yummy Italian restaurant - not stressful, but still not time at home to prepare for Thursday
Thursday: 2nd annual letter-themed halloween party, prepare for Friday, pack and cook for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Friday: present lecture to group of psychologists at Behavioral Health Center with colleague, invited back after last year's presentation (thank goodness I could repeat my presentation!) 1/2 day at work, leaving for ASU game, tailgate, 8:00 Halloween game in Boone crammed into 2 bleachers with 16 extra people, one too many of whom had had one too many Fireflys; spend a relaxing (hooray!) night at Brittney & Jacob's
Saturday: delicious breakfast at Melanie's with friends, buy Christmas present with hubby, go to wedding shower for Lynn & Michael, hang out outside in cool chairs with matching caps, get lost with Matt & Kat driving to campsite (does this part sound familiar?), camp with 4 other couples
Sunday: wake up from a nyquil-induced semi-sleep (as well as you can sleep camping), drive through Stone Mountain, come home & nap, dread going to work Monday...

Not so stressful or crazy as I look back on it, but I'll tell you what...communication was far from its best in the Bruce household this week as my obsessive compulsive, need to be in control, easily annoyed, type A, high stress, why can't everyone just be like me, evil twin Eller, lesser self, seriously in need of Jesus self decided to put on a show in full force. No need to ask for encores, I was putting on a serious show every night! Sigh...always good to get a good dose of humility and a reminder of who I am when I'm not working on being who I am striving to be!

We all get our days though, don't we? I'm learning patience. And tough love. And realizing there are lingering parts of the serious side of me that are here to keep me grounded, it's okay that my sister used to call me boring, I need to be boring sometimes. I can't love other people well if I can't love myself; and I definitely can't help other people grow if I can't help myself. Don't grow weary in planting seeds, rejoice in the harvest, rest in the winter.


mom knows best

I like to think that as Terry's wife, I know him best. I've known him since high school, we've been best friends, I've broken his heart, we've promised to love each other forever, I spend most of my waking moments with him. But...we have only be married a year and a half...and I have only known him for 11 years.

A long time, I know.

But, his mom has known him for all of his years. That's why I knew I had to remember that "mom knows best" when it really counted. Last week, it really counted. Terry had two big job/promotion interviews at Lowes and I wanted to make sure he knew I was proud of him and believed in him and thought he deserved the job regardless of if they offered it to him or not. One thing I know as well as his mom knows it, is that the way to Terry's heart is through his stomach! Even though he isn't picky, he does has favorites, and his favorite is his mom's chicken/broccoli/rice casserole that he remembers eating as a kid. I tried to make this once when we lived in Durham...but I didn't go by her recipe, and I tried to be healthy and hip and used the closest version of a Cooking Light recipe that I could find. It did NOT meet his expectations. So last week I pulled out all the stops.

I started with the Bruce family cookbook his mom gave me a few Christmas' ago, where she even wrote in for me that this was his favorite recipe - she knew I would need it to show him a little extra TLC one (or several) time(s)!

I have to admit, it was delicious.

And he was gloriously happy.

And it worked. He got the promotion! Congratulations babe, I'm proud of you and I love you!


Disney On Ice

Last night, Terry and I took Sam & Ben for a night out on the town. Sam & Ben are Chris & Jen's 2 'oldest' boys (4 & 3 years old) with 'baby' Joseph and one on the way as their other 2. We are so thankful to live in Charlotte near family but somehow still find it so hard to take advantage of living close to family and make the most out of being close in these kiddos lives as their 'tanta' and uncle. Ben is our godson, so he holds an extra special place in our hearts, but we just love these guys and had a blast hanging out with them.

We decided we wouldn't let the constant rain hold us down, we were going to live it up! We all met up and walked to the train in the rain. I had umbrellas for both boys, and they were so proud to each get to walk with their own umbrellas. I think Ben's was almost as big as he was, but he held on tight with both hands and worked those muscles out to hold it up, with the occasional rest on his head.

We got to our pick-up point, and Sam helped me buy the tickets while Ben and Terry took a little break.

[sorry for all the not G-rated material in the past 2 posts...boys DO love being naked...
the picture is cloudy so Ben doesn't hold this against me later in life!]
Our seats for the show were in a perfect place (though high - the better to see everything!) on a front row of our section so we could all lean on and climb all over the rail in front of us without bothering any of the other climbing children filling the arena! We settled in with a big tub of popcorn split between us and got ready for the show. I didn't even think about the fact that it was Disney on Ice so it was cold in the arena when I scoffed the idea of carrying extra jackets on the train with us (oops!) Thankfully my chivalrous husband laid his jacket out across the railing we were leaning/climbing on so no one's hands [or tongues] would stick to it.

Here's a preview of who all we got to see (pictures from our seats):

During intermission, we got cotton candy which came with a 'free' (haha) hat of Lightning McQueen, which my husband/the boys were clearly very excited about.

The second half was all the untold story of Tinkerbell which I couldn't figure out until we remembered Tink has a new movie coming out, so they must have been using this as promo. Bummer for us, we missed out on Nemo and Dory - personal favorites for our family, after all there is a shark in the movie with our family name! Ben & Sam stayed strong til the show was over around 9:30 and despite trying to jump down onto the train tracks multiple times while waiting for the train to take us back, we made it safely back to the car - the boys even carried their umbrellas on the way back from the train even though the rain had stopped.

I drove the mom-mobile back to Huntersville to get the kiddos to bed, and Sam was actually begging Jen to brush his teeth and say his prayers by the time we got in they were so tired. Terry was sound asleep by the time we got home. Parenting is exhausting, how do you all do it? How will I ever survive as the can-do-everything while being fun, cute, and organized mom that I hope to be? My order might be too tall, I might need to lower my expectations for myself so I don't end up burning out too quickly!


Fall & Football

We Bruces have already consumed our fall weekends with football and fun. "The App Family" (all 17 of us) bought season tickets together and the 2 games that we have gone to have already been a riot. Here is the season in review:

At the first game, Kat brought these to the tailgate, and they were an amazing way to get ready for the game:

Then we went camping with Matt & Kat after the game though the rain tried to stop us...we held strong! Other than the 2-hour-extra "short cut" that Matt took us on, the trip was a blast. What a great way to kick off fall and enjoy the beginning of the cold weather. We saw gorgeous waterfalls, Matt's backside (look closely at the picture - and don't miss Kat's look of utter disappointment at the picture being spoiled)- and even built ebeneezers.

This past weekend was Homecoming. 21 of us rented a house together for the 3rd annual Homecoming Bash. I missed out last year, but the first year of this event was when I met all of Terry's friends. Talk about being nervous and put on the spot - Terry even had to give me many pep talks and warnings about his friends' (okay well namely Adam Bracken's) behavior. Safe to say, people are growing up this year :) The house was perfect, the food was delicious...*

*side note:[despite Harris Teeter not having pumpkin for the 4 dozen PUMPKIN muffins I was making, and that after Terry got it for me at another store I had the batter going into the muffin pans before I realized I LEFT THE PUMPKIN OUT OF THE BATTER...and despite the fact that our dog who was in trouble for eating Terry's snowboarding gloves and goggles got to eat the 9 cups of hot sticky chocolate-covered chex mix and 3 cups of powderd sugar that busted all over my kitchen floor when I tried to shake it up in the ziploc bag and could have died from all that chocolate, but in the heat of the moment, I kind of thought she might deserve it. Don't call animal control on me...]

... App won the game, and I even look like I could be an App alum!


Let's just pretend that there aren't 2 months worth of life to catch up on, okay? Let's just pretend that I'm really good at this blogging thing. And for entertainment's sake, we'll just say it's been uneventful around the Bruce household and THAT is why we have had nothing to share in the blog world ALL SUMMER. It's a lie, but we'll say it so that we can keep blogging so I don't get flogged by Becky who reminds me every time I see her of the last date I blogged. 7.8.08, almost as monumental as 8.8.08, which might be a big reason of why we didn't blog in August (we might have watched every broadcast hour of the Olympics)...

We did plan one last weekend at the beach to end the summer on a high note and enjoy a little R&R. My sweet hubby planned a trip for us that was going to serve multiple purposes - the boys were going to Myrtle Beach to have a guys' weekend so that gave Terry other people to watch the ASU/LSU game with and then he was going to go with them to a concert Sunday night while I stayed at the resort he had booked for us through Hotwire to order room service and snuggled into my cozy bed with a good book or Lifetime movie.

Enter speed bumps.

Friday, we found out that the football game got moved from Saturday night to Saturday morning. We weren't checking into our resort until Saturday afternoon - a definite kink in plans since we wanted to watch the game with everyone. So, we decided to caravan down a night early with the guys and crash their party for the first night to stay with them in their condo. Again, we weren't supposed to leave until the next morning, so I hadn't packed or cleaned the house (really, who likes coming home from vacation to an unswept home or dishes in the sink?) So I try to be cool and not type-A and not OCD - aka, someone I am not - and do all of these things in 35 minutes before the caravan left. Enter stress. Packing should be fun - like playing a good game of Tetris
...this packing was not so much that - but it got done, and we got in the car fine. Well, as long as 'fine' includes leaving my "scooby snacks" in the house and spilling my drink all over myself as I tried to lock the door on my way out. Nothing like a 4 hour drive covered in dried sticky Limeade. It was fine because we had a good new book to read as we drove.

Fast forward, we get to the beach, stay with the guys in their friend's family's super nice condo right on the beach, go watch the game the next morning with a bunch of other App fans. Let's just skip over any conversation about the game... So we head back to the condo to get our stuff and head to check into our resort. Caution: this story takes a turn for the worse here. In case you don't know how Hotwire works, you don't know the name of the place you are booking until after you have booked it - you only know the location, and the number of stars they have rated it. So it's a little bit of a gamble, but who knew it was like Russion Roulette?! SERIOUSLY, here were the "slight" downfalls of our "resort." (Not sure if I should list these in order of their offense, alphabetically, or chronologically)...

  • cigarette burns through the top of the comforter (which I pulled off the bed only to reveal...)
  • 'stains' all over the motel-style velour blanket underneath (which I also pulled off the bed only to reveal...)
  • 50 thread count nasty sheets
  • blood stains on the walls of the elevator
  • nasty black mildew stains on the inside of the far-from luxurious or clean bathroom
  • 5000 people crowded into every square foot of beach outside of the 'resort' (all drunk, all leathery, and all adults)
  • we are talking spring break 2008 adult version on CRACK
  • the public access bar/restaurant by the pool outside our window that was like my worst nightmare (people, at the one and ONLY frat-party I went to in college, I looked around and said "isn't this a fire hazard?")

It was so bad, we weren't sure whether we should laugh or cry. I did both. And then we called the guys and begged for mercy to see if we could come back to the condo and stay with them the rest of the weekend. They knew we wouldn't ask unless it really was that bad, and they love us, so they said yes (after I agreed to not reveal any of the things that happen on these guy trips!) :)

Thankfully, it all ends well - we left the joke of a resort, went and put our name on the list at Bonefish, and spent our 100 minute wait playing mini-golf at the place next door. My husband is ridiculous, he got 5 hole-in-ones. I got 11 over par. We made breakfast for the guys the next morning as a peace offering and we ended up all having a great time together. Not quite the romantic evening away we had planned...But it was a blast, Bonefish was delicious, the weather was great, and I still got my night at home to myself cozy in a bed while the guys were at the concert - but instead of room service, I had Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

And now back to normal life. The lawn is in desperate need of mowing, the laundry is in desperate need of washing, the house still stinks of mildew despite the dehumidifier (oh yeah, in our uneventful time over the past 2 blog-free months, our basement flooded), and I desperately did not want to return to work today. But I am excited for Labor Day to have come and gone - I am finished with the heat, finished with the mosquitoes, ready for Fall, for redeeming football games...and for lunchtime so I can eat my yummy leftovers from dinner last night.