Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guest Post: 2008 Year in Review

Hello, is this thing on? Oh.

This is my first post on the Gaskill Rascal blog. I’ve kind of made fun of Anne for doing it, but I guess I have to admit it is pretty cool to have, even if only like 3 people read it. A few days ago I was reading one of those “Best of 2008” lists that are usually pretty good for no more than a timewaster. But this time it kind of got me thinking about all the events of 2008 that took place in the Gaskill Rascal home. It wasn’t a boring year by any stretch of the imagination. So I asked Anne if I could make a “guest post” on her blog to talk about what 2008 meant to me. The irony was that I had to go back and look at all her blog posts to remind me of what actually happened. So I guess the blogging thing is pretty cool after all.

They say (whoever the heck “they” are anyway) that some of the most stressful events in a life are (1) death in the family, (2) starting a new job, (3) moving to a new city/house, and (4) having a baby. Well, we had all of them all packed in one single year. But looking back, it was probably one of the best years in recent memory. Yes, stressful at times, but like being on a fun adventure at others.

So with that said, let’s look back at the major events of 2008 for the Gaskill Rascals:

December, 2007 – I know, this is supposed to be a look back at 2008, not 2007. But, it’s my blog post and I want to start with the end of 2007. That’s when I started my new job at the Big D. For about two months, I was living the big life in Richmond while Anne and Danny were still in Atlanta. Not cool. We didn't decorate for Christmas because we were selling our house (plus I wasn't there anyway) and it was just tough being apart for that much time. But in the end I absolutely love my new job. There’s no travel, very few long nights at the office, no taking my laptop home to work, and I’m working for a company that I really love. So the job change has been a real positive experience for everyone.

Jan 1, 2008 - The best New Year's of my life. Anne’s uncle Gary gave us 8 tickets to the Sugar Bowl so Anne, my brother, mom, and some friends went to New Orleans. I’d never been there before and I definitely want to go back when I have more time to see it. What a cool place. Plus, the game turned out pretty good too!

February, 2008 – Closed on our house in Richmond. Yeah! We loved our house when we bought it and still do. One thing about our house is that it’s 20 years old so there’s always little things to do. Problem is that I’m not real handy. And when I say “not real handy”, I mean “not handy at all in any remote sense of the word.” But it has been fun trying to learn and I’ve got a father-in-law that loves projects (at least that’s what he tells me) and has lots of patience with my tool-challenged ways. Oh, and there was THAT little incident. Probably the best thing about our house is our neighborhood. Last time I counted, we were approaching about 1.3 million kids in our neighborhood. Or maybe it was more like 50…I can’t remember. Either way, our neighbors really welcomed us from day one and we’ve gotten to know them real well. That’s something we didn’t have in our old neighborhood in Atlanta and has been a blessing to us.

April, 2008 – Let’s see. Anything exciting happen in April? Oh yeah, that. We got to bring home our second bundle of trouble joy. Josh was born the night of April 25. Looking back, that was a really fun time leading up to the big event. Anne had been having contractions for several weeks and we were convinced he was coming several weeks early. Max and Nana (or as Danny now says, “NanaMax” as if they’re one single entity) drove up from Atlanta when it looked like he was coming early, only to go back when he wasn’t. They took Danny back home with them in what would turn out to be the last quiet moments of the year in the Gaskill Rascal home. Oh, good times. Then Josh came. He’s been so much fun to watch grow and to see Danny learn to be a big brother. Definitely the highlight of the year.

Summer, 2008 – I’m not going to do a month-by-month breakdown of the summer because it all kind of runs together for me. But it was a lot of fun. One of the great things about Richmond is that there is always a lot to do. The summer was filled with trips to Virginia Beach, a visit to Belle Island, multiple visits to the neighborhood swimming pool, playing in the backyard, being chased by a hurricane, Danny's 2nd birthday, and learning how to keep up with two little boys instead of one. Fun, Fun, Fun.

September, 2008 – September is usually my favorite time of year. Not coincidentally, that’s when football season starts. This year was a little different. I think this fall was actually probably the hardest time of the year for Anne and I. We kind of hit a point there where the “newness” of Richmond was wearing off and we were kind of homesick. My sister had her baby Jada in August and we weren’t there to meet her. We had to watch football games on TV or internet instead of getting to go to the games every week. That’s not a big deal in itself, but going to football games with my brother and the sounds and smells of the game just make it “feel” like fall. It was just a point where we both kind of questioned whether we made the right decision to move. I still loved my job and we liked our new city and all that, but we just missed the familiarity and family of Atlanta. There were definitely some fun times too - I took a trip to Arizona with my brother, we picked apples in Charlottesville one weekend, and the fall leaves and weather in Virginia are hard to beat. But overall, if April was the high point of the year, this was probably the low point for both of us.

November 1 -7, A Week That will Live in Infamy - The first week in November was a disaster. Maybe one of the worst weeks in history. There was this. Shortly followed by this. To quote the great Forest Gump - That’s all I got to say about that.

The rest of November was great. NanaMax had moved to Maryland the month before and were only 2 hours away. So seeing them more often kind of helped ease the homesickness a bit. We had a fun trip to D.C. with Max, Nana, Danny, Josh, and Bob the Builder. We drove down to Atlanta for Thanksgiving and had a great time with our family. So after the disaster that was the first week, I guess November turned out okay after all.

December 2008 – A month of mixed emotions. The buildup and anticipation of Christmas is always fun. And its even more fun now with a two year old. Just getting to teach him, not just about Santa, but also about the birth of our Lord is fun. On a different note, Anne’s grandmother passed away last week so that has been tough. We’re heading to the funeral this week. It will be great to see all of Anne’s family again, but we all wish it were under different circumstances.

Overall - What a year! I don’t think the word “exciting” quite does it justice. But I don’t know what other word to use so we’ll just stick with that one. It was filled with lots of highlights - New Job. New City. New House. New Church. New Josh. New niece Jada. Along with some lowlights - missing family, UGA going 9-3 after being ranked #1 in the preseason (even worse, the gayturds are in the national championship game), losing 30% of our savings as we watched the stock market collapse, and the passing of Anne’s grandmother.

But if every year was like 2008, I probably couldn’t be happier. Indeed, the state of Gaskill Rascals has never been stronger. We wish everyone (all 3 of you that read this blog anyway)
a great new year and hope it is filled with as many blessings as we had in the previous.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crawling cutie!

Josh is on the go. He has been an official crawler/army style mover for awhile, but it seems like he is getting more bold in his exploration. He is much happier on the floor than in our arms now....funny how things change!

Check out our cutie pie!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the highlight of our shopping trip

If you ask Danny, he might say that his favorite thing about going to Walmart and Sams(other than the food at Sams) is getting to drop a coin in the salvation army bucket. Every time we get close to the end of our shopping trip, when we start to get tired and cranky, I can perk up my little shopper with a promise of money for the bucket. Danny loves to tell the bell ringer Merry Christmas and give him his money. Our favorite bell ringer was a man who played requests on his cornet(little trumpet). Danny talked about that one for days.

So, Danny had me cracking up last time we went to Sams and the bell ringer and bucket were not at the usual post. Another organization had come to hassle shoppers and we were so disappointed to not be able to share our money. But I almost fell over laughing when Danny turned to me and said "Mommy, where is the man with his piggy bank? I want to put money in his piggy bank." I figure that is a good interpretation of what that bucket really is....like a piggy bank. But I wonder if I didn't do a good job explaining the purpose of giving money to the bell ringer? We are not just filling up some other guy's piggy bank, like we do at home with Danny's multiple piggy banks. We are hopefully helping people who are in need. But regardless, it is cute to hear what children come up with on a daily basis. Their little minds are so moldable and full of creative potential. Moms could write a book on the funny things our kids do....or maybe a blog!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

check out our cuties!

This should have been our Christmas picture for our card this year! oh well, I am sure people will enjoy our actual cards, but I wish I had made them sit for a photo earlier in the season. And I am proud to say I am getting better at Photoshop, b/c most people will have to look twice to even notice the giant drool going down Joshie's shirt. I actually made most of it magically disappear! Now, if I could only do that to the extra 10-20 pounds that I would like to lose. Magically click the mouse and ....poof. It's gone!

Today was a hard day. We found out that my grandmother died this morning after a battle with Alzheimers and multiple strokes. She was a wonderful grandma and I was blessed to have known her. Soon we will gather with family to celebrate a life lived well and grieve our loss. She touched many lives...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

these are a few of my favorite things...

I was browsing my frequently visited blogs and enjoying reading Ashley's favorite Christmas things when I found out it was my turn to share!

so here is my list of favorite things about Christmas....

1. I love sitting in a dark room with a crackling fire and the Christmas tree lit. Something about the glowing tree, the warmth of the fire, and snuggling in a blanket makes me slow down.

2. I love the smells of Christmas. Vanilla is my favorite scent. Sugar cookies in the oven are a close second. Real Christmas trees are infinitely better than fake ones for the fact that they give off an amazing smell. And of course, cinnamon. And apple cider. And the smell of wood burning. hmmmm!

3. I love seeing family. My family lived all around the world(East coast, Midwest, Europe, Asia) growing up and Christmas was usually a time when we would gather back together and celebrate. We are staying in Richmond this year, but I am really heartbroken at the fact that Danny and Josh are missing all the Gaskill family fun. We know we are making the right choice to not travel, but it is hard!

4. Christmas Eve services. It doesn't take much for me to get emotional about my faith and the gift of Christ, but Christmas eve services top the list. I think it is a combination of the music, the quiet reverance, and the dimmed lights....every year that service is a big tearfest for me. But I think that is a mistake that we often make by assuming that the birth of our Lord was a meek, quiet, tearful event. Ultimately it was an unmatched and powerful night when God came down to win the battle over sin for us. Angels sang and people were changed. wow.

5. Vacation. This goes back to my days as a student and then a teacher. Who doesn't love a little time off to rest. And all the teachers say amen to that!!!

6. Nativity scenes. I remember sitting for hours playing with nativity scenes at my house as a child. I like to collect them now as an adult. I have some favorites that seem to find a way to stay up long past Christmas. I love my angel tree one the best, but another favorite is my little round people from Peru. Mary, Joseph, and the wise men are all dressed in Peruvian clothing.

I think I will tag Lauren T., Kristin, and Erica.

Here are some pictures from last year. Danny and Josh were dedicated at Grace, even though our littlest was clearly still in my belly!

This was before going to see the lights at Lake Lanier....we waited two hours to enter the park, but it was worth it!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Do you like our house?

Aunt Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?
Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.

Our lights from down the street....

Do you think that's enough?

OK, so I am pulling your leg. How much do you think these people spend on lights, electricity, property damage(people were roaming the streets all around) every year? We are happy to know that Richmond is a great place to live at Christmas. People really get into the Christmas spirit! We have a tacky lights tour and if I could vote, this one tops the list. I have never seen anything like it before.

Here is the real thing!


update: those crazy lights cost about $3500 a month in electricity(which means bigger bonuses for my husband since they are using a lot of Dominion's power) and their biggest vandalism problem is the squirrels that eat the lights way up high. oh and they start working in September. wow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thank you for.....

....balls and bubees(pacifers), NanaMaxGrandmommy, Mommy, Daddy, Joshie. These are a few of the things Danny thanks God for every night. But I guess he wasn't finished yet tonight. He hollered for his Daddy and Scott went back in to the room to see what he needed. This is the conversation I heard over the monitor...
S: What's wrong, Danny?
D: I pray Daddy.
S: You want to pray?
D: I thank God for Santa..
S: sure, let's pray for Santa
D: ..and Jesus, and Christmas, and presents, and CANDY, Daddy!!!
S: OK, We can thank God for that. Dear God, Thank you for Santa and candy and presents that help us remember the gift of your son Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.
D: Amen!
S: Good night, Danny.
D: Night, Daddy!

So sweet and precious. Last year was a tough holiday time for our family. We were trying to sell our house, so no decorations. Scott was already in Richmond. I was pregnant and still feeling a little queasy here and there(funny how you forget that part so easily). And most of all, we knew we were about to leave our family and move to an unknown. This year is going to be the first year that Danny will get involved and understand what we are celebrating. And we get to decorate!
This is my favorite season and I can't wait to teach our boys about all our traditions and why we celebrate this time of year. Even though Danny knows that Jesus was born on Christmas and enjoys singing Happy Birthday to God, Santa will always be a fascination to little children. So, of course we had to go visit him this week and get Joshie's first and Danny's second(skipped last year!) Santa picture. Danny refused the lap, but this Santa had a little reindeer for the scared kids to ride on in the photo. What a perfect solution! Mom and Dad get their cute munchkins in a Santa photo, without having to touch the big guy in the red suit. I don't blaim him. If I was two years old and someone asked me to sit on a strange fat dude's lap, I might balk at the request. But as you can see from the photo, everyone was happy! Even the little elf(notice the ears?) in his lap.

After seeing the santa photo, my mom decided that she had a photo of me that looked very similar. Also, I included a photo of Scott as a boy. We think they look like him too! No question who these children belong to!!!

We are attempting to go all Griswold on our neighbors, so I will be posting some "bright" photos soon. I know we won't even come close to loud and tacky, but for first timers, I think we are doing a commendable job!