Monday, July 21, 2008

On turning 30

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!"-Emerson


We are about to head out of town for the next two weeks to go visit friends and family, vacation at the beach for a week and to celebrate my 30th. So, I'll be taking a break from this for a little while. I turn 30 on Sunday, July 27 (phone calls are encouraged!). As I approach my 30th, I do so with excitement, although it seems to have a lack of grandeur. When I was younger, 30 seemed much more of a milestone to me then it does today. Maybe it's because I don't want to come to grips with getting older. I've always been known as "young kristy" in Joe's family, no wonder I've been called it less and less lately. Perhaps it's because I'm less focused on it, spending my days watching the development of a 19 month old in amazement. Or perhaps it is because I have accomplished all of the perceived "milestones" one wants to achieve before they turn 30. I'm happily married, the mother to a beautiful son, own my house, plus I've been to Europe twice, Hawaii twice and lived throughout the United States, being able to see so much of the country. Maybe the only thing I'm missing is the success in a fabulous career. But I did have that, as far as I wanted it. I now choose to be mostly a stay at home mom because that's what Joe & I know is best for our family.

So what does turning 30 mean to me if I've accomplished all those milestones? I think it's a great time for me to reflect on how wonderfully I have been blessed. How I have succeeded in life through my own actions, decisions and choices and how God has also blessed me. I need to be more thankful for that. I am thankful most days, but of course I get caught up in the whole Jonses thing (who can avoid it in suburban America?). However, I need to stop worrying about what I don't have and focus on what I do have-so much, so many abundant blessings. The quote above (which I have read and loved for years) came to me by way of a magnet from Joe's cousin for my birthday. It couldn't have been a more perfect gift, thanks Jill. The words in that quote are exactly what I would like to define my life. Those are the real milestones in life, that is true accomplishment. That is really what life is all about. So, that's the serious side of me.

Now the partier side of me (which we all know hasn't really gone too far away), would like to adopt Tim McGraw's outlook as well in his song My Next 30 Years and perhaps:

"Oh my next thirty years, I'm gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I'll remember my next thirty years"

Evan & Maxwell racing

video

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer dip recipes

Here are a few recipes that some of you have asked me to share with you.

Guacamole

4 ripe avocados (they should be soft to touch, but still a tad bit firm), chunkily chopped
1 vine ripe or 1/2 beefsteak tomato, chopped
1/4 vidalia onion chopped
1/2-1 jalepeno pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
25 sprigs of cilantro
kosher salt to taste

Mix all together gently and serve with chips. Be sure not to mash the avocado, keep it chunky.

Texas Caviar

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can corn (or I prefer Market Pantry frozen corn-10 oz or so, defrosted-just run under cold water)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half
25 sprigs of cilantro
zest of one lime
juice of 1/2 of a lime
2 avocados, cored and chopped in chunks
kosher salt to taste

Mix all in a bowl and serve it with chips; eat it on a bed of salad, or serve it as a meal on it's own (one of Evan's favorites)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hanging with the Hogans




Last Friday, we headed to Melbourne (about 1 hour drive) to visit Joe's cousin Mike, his wife Jill and their 4 kids-Sam, Nick, John & Shannon. They live right by the beach so we headed there for the morning and hung out at their beautiful home in the afternoon. There was a tropical storm out in the ocean, which was creating huge waves. The boys tried to tackle them on their surfboards and did a pretty great job! We had such a wonderful time with them, we need to do it more often!!

Debbie & Lauren's Visit








My Aunt Debbie and cousin Lauren flew all the way from Southern California to come visit us this week. We had the best time and saw and did so many fun things. We went to the Kennedy Space Center (which was a lot more interesting then I had anticipated), Aquatica, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and out to dinner at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was so nice getting to spend a lot of quality time with both Debbie and Lauren. Lauren is the youngest of the Urell cousins and I cannot believe that she is going to be 13 next week. Even though she'll be a teenager soon, she still has that wonder and excitement of a kid, which is one of many great qualities. Everything is more fun, exciting and wonderful around her. As I am about to turn 30, I hope to learn to be a little more like Lauren and see all the wonder that is around me. Although I get that perspective from Evan all the time, it's wonderful to still see that in a 13 year old. Lauren is a very lucky girl to have a mom who is so adventurous as well. There were 2 rides at Islands of Adventure that I would not go on, but Debbie went on them without hesitation. I was so impressed!! Thanks for coming to visit us, we loved having you and spending so much time with you. Evan already really misses Looooooreeeeeen and Debbie (as do we!).

Cheese Puff Dreaming


When we went to the Zoo the other day, Evan was introduced to Cheetos, the puffy kind. I'm not a big chip person, but I love these things and never ever buy them. My friend was smart enough to buy the white cheddar natural version (stain free) and Evan feel in love with them. So much so, that when we left the Zoo he was freaking out that I didn't have any more to give him (have I mention his strong willed nature before?). I don't typically give into these temper tantrums, but I had an hour drive ahead of me (enough said!). So, I pulled into the closest 7-11 and bought the only kind they had, the orange staining kind. Evan was in heaven and within 10 minutes he was passed out, looking like this. Think that shirt has seen it's last days, but it was all worth it!

Big Bird Ride at Toys R Us


Evan discovered Heaven on Earth....the Big Bird ride at Toys R Us. He went on it 3 times! A few years ago, I wouldn't have imagined that this kind of thing would bring me such joy in life! Ah, but it does :)

Zoo with friends




Here are some cute shots of you with your friends Kyla, Bowen & Wilson at the Sanford Zoo. The rides were your favorite!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My new house


Oh yeah, we are thinking about purchasing this in Charleston. It may be a little too small for our family, but I think we could make it work :).

Charleston









The Neville family packed up the Camry and headed to Charleston, SC for the 4th of July. Considering Evan despises road trips longer then 45 minutes, you can understand why I was a little concerned about the drive, but we really wanted to go see our friends. So, I gave in and bought a DVD player for the car. Reflecting back on the trip, I wonder why it is that I waited this long. That thing is a gift from heaven. It took about 7 hours to get there each way and Evan may have fussed for about 15 minutes TOTAL (to be fair, the drive up there took place at night, while he was sleeping, but the drive back was all day long). As I have mentioned before Evan is quite the Big Bird fan and so, thank you Big Bird for captivating him for the ride in your 1985 flick, Follow That Bird. We also tried Big Bird Goes to Japan, which did hold his attention, but he did not love it as much.

While we were in Charleston, we stayed with our friends Jen & Matt, who used to work with us, but have gone on to do development for The Citadel and the Diocese of Charleston respectively. We also got to spend a good amount of time with our other friends Abby (friend from college) & Bryan. I love that they are all friends now, as I introduced them a few years ago. We also got to meet their friends, who were all as wonderful as they are. Some of their friends have children close to Evan's age which was a lot of fun, the kids became quick friends. Evan even got a girlfriend, Taylor (but don't worry Avery, it's over now). Oh and Charlie-we can't leave him out. He's Jen's dog, whom Evan adores. Most of you know how Joe and I are SO not dog people, but if I knew I would have a dog like Charlie, I would honestly get one tomorrow.

We had the best time at the pool, on the beach and stuffing our faces all weekend long. The highlight could have been the 4th of July parade that their neighborhood had. I am having one of these in my neighborhood next year. All the kids decorated their dogs, bikes, scooters, strollers and wagons and we walked to the senior housing, where they were outside waving to us and provided some refreshments. I felt like I was in small town America in the 1950s and just loved it!! Later that night we watched the fireworks on the beach, pretty wonderful venue for the show. Evan enjoyed the fireworks, but liked sliding down the hill even more. One more highlight is Firefly sweet tea (http://www.fireflyvodka.com/index.cfm?Section=1&page=3), which we enjoyed a few times. It is "an infusion of American Tea and Firefly Vodka". Mix it with a little lemonade, and I'm telling you, you've got the greatest summertime cocktail! They were selling out of it so quickly, we couldn't get any to take home. They begin selling it in Florida in August, I can't wait.

Thanks Jen, Matt, Abby & Bryan for a great trip! It was really nice to get away for a few days and hang out with old friends. Abby-all our pics with you in them (besides the fireworks one) are on Jen's camera. I PROMISE when I get them, you'll be up on Neville's News!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

preggo Colleen



Colleen & Chris came to visit us last weekend. We had a great time with them. Apparently I didn't take too many pictures, but here are some of preggo Colleen. I know many of you are anxious to see them :). She looks great and is feeling great as well.

random pics



I love how you "posed" for these pictures. I know that I am very biased, but you sure are cute!

Elmo, again





Since you loved the Elmo show so much the last time, we went again with some of our friends. I think you liked it even more this time. You shouted out to Cookie, Elmo and Grover throughout the show. We went to meet Abby & Elmo after the show and you were so comfortable with them. You gave them hugs and high-fives! It was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we hung out at Sea World, played at their playground and saw Shamu.