I've done a really poor job of updating on Curtis' ministry at Grace Church of the Islands lately. As I have previously mentioned on our blog, Curtis has been ministering in Savannah as an Associate Pastor since he graduated from seminary for the past three and a half years. Most of his ministry has been focused on middle school and high school students, but he has enjoyed many other responsibilities that a small church can bring. This includes developing and implementing a small group ministry, preaching and teaching, as well as other pastoral duties. These duties have increased over the last year and a half due to our Senior Pastor's deployment for 4 months as a chaplain (2011) and more recently, because he has stepped down from his position at our church as of August 2012. Curtis is now the only ordained pastor on staff at our church. As we await a new Senior Pastor at Grace, Curtis has been gaining valuable experience preaching 75% of the time, overseeing the small group ministry and the youth ministry. (Thankfully, our church hired an intern to help with the youth ministry since Curtis' responsibilities have changed.) It has been quite the transition for Curtis to handle all this as we prepare to have a baby in February.
December 17, 2012
My lovely mother and a few church family friends threw me my first baby shower in Orange Park. They did a wonderful job!
A nice welcome sign for me and our little girl. I am about 27.5 weeks here.
The decorations were super cute! Note: the daisy flower pots were actually part of the decorations for my wedding reception!
These were chocolate cakes with cream cheese icing. Super yummy! The flags on the top of the cakes say "baby girl."
My mom (and dad) put together a diaper cake with little flower barrettes all over them. I can't wait to put little barrettes and bows in her hair!
Our little girl is going to be all set!
My sweet cousin, Elle, was my helper and told me which gifts to open first.
I thought this was a sweet candid shot with us talking together.
One of my favorites - my parents gave me her first Florida Gator outfit with matching bows. You can tell that I'm just delighted. :) So was Curtis.
This was a huge box of clothes that my parents got me. All sorts of outfits in varying sizes!
As you can see, I spent most of my time opening gifts.
Here's the audience. I had a vast assortment of sweet family and friends that I've known throughout my life there with me to celebrate.
My cousin Jane was able to meet our newest cousin, Alan, for the first time.
Jane did so many things behind the scenes for the shower. She took most of the pictures and helped me organize all my gifts to travel back to Savannah. :)
Here are two of my childhood friends, Carrie and Kimberly. We used to hang out all the time when we were in elementary/middle/some high school!
Two of my closest friends from high school/community college, Jennifer and Pam, were also able to make it.
I even had three of my closest friends from UF there - Kelly, Catherine & Jenna! (Jenna's not pictured because she had already left the shower by the time we took this one.)
Here's some of my wedding party - Catherine (bridesmaid), Lacey (flower girl), Mrs. Warren (matron of honor).
This was a fun one - I had 4 other pregnant ladies at my shower. Robyn, seminary friend; Carrie, neighborhood friend; Lauren, church friend; and Ashlee, high school friend (not pictured). Lauren actually delivered her baby girl, Violet Rose, on 12/12/12!
I had a great time and I couldn't believe how quickly the shower flew by! I have been blessed with lots of dear family and friends at this shower - some came very long ways to be there! Thank you to everyone who was able to come and celebrate this blessing from the Lord with me. We can't wait for her to arrive!
December 13, 2012
I celebrated my birthday by traveling to Jacksonville to spend it with family. My mom threw me a baby shower on the following day so it worked out well to come down for all the celebrations. It was a pretty low-key birthday. I had sweet friends and family call and sing "happy birthday" in their best voices. I think my favorite (although they were all very special) was my 4-year old niece Charlotte sing to me. It was absolutely precious! :)
My mom made one of my favorite meals for me and I had a delicious chocolate chip cookie cake for dessert. It was so good! Not only were my parents there, but also my grandparents and my cousin Jane (who I hadn't seen in almost 2 years). When I was growing up, Jane was probably the closest thing that I had to a sister since I only had brothers. It was a real treat to have her fly down from Washington, DC to see me for the celebrations! We finished off the night with watching the movie Brave. Great day!
Yes, I'm officially at the age now where you don't get the actual amount of candles for each year of life on your birthday cake.
December 9, 2012
This was the year we planned to visit Curtis' side of the family for Christmas; however, I will be too far along in my pregnancy to travel at that time so we compromised and spent Thanksgiving with them instead. It was my first time that I got to experience a McDaniel-style Thanksgiving! It had been 5 years since Curtis last celebrated with them.
|The whole McDaniel family|
As a tradition, each adult child brings a dish to the table for the Thanksgiving meal. I brought green bean casserole and Curtis brought a sea-foam jello salad. Everyone went around the table and shared something that they were thankful for from the current year. They write their answer on a paper leaf that is displayed on the table each year. It was neat to see all the things that his family was thankful for over the years - some big, some small (like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, haha).
We also got to spend some time with his grandmother ("Nana") while were were there. It was really nice to see her since we hadn't seen her in almost two years. She was very excited about her great-granddaughter on the way!
The weather was amazing for a Thanksgiving in the Pittsburgh area. We even played bocce ball and corn hole outside!
Curtis was able to bond with Belle, their sweet dog. She was so desperate for attention!
Thanksgiving night, we headed to the Grove City Outlet Mall to see what kind of deals we could find for Christmas gifts. This is another one of the annual traditions in the McDaniel family. I did feel bad for Megan (his sister) who had to work early the next morning. I'm sure she was exhausted, but I'm glad she was able to join in the fun.
I thought this was such a cool picture of Curtis, his dad, his mom and Heather as they were putting up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.
One more thing...in anticipation of my upcoming baby shower (post coming soon), Heather made us this motorcycle diaper display for our baby girl on the way. She was so creative! It's hard to see all that went into this, but she used bibs, receiving blankets, washcloths, socks and so much more. She also made little booties and a cap for her. Thanks Aunt Heather!
Our time flew by in Pennsylvania. We had a great time celebrating with them. It's hard to believe that the next time we see them all we will have a new little addition to the family!
November 19, 2012
My great-grandfather ("Pop-Pop") built a house on a mountain in a little town called Etowah, North Carolina. When he passed away, my grandparents inherited it. I remember visiting this place probably once a year for almost every year of my childhood. In 2004, my grandparents were no longer able to maintain the house as they aged so they had to sell it. I didn't meet Curtis until 2005 so he never had the opportunity to experience it. Here's some of the pictures that I snagged as I shared my childhood memories with my husband:
This is on Folly Road - right before you get to the mountain. The colors were gorgeous!
I used my panoramic camera to take some of these pictures.
My grandparents lived on a private road where there were only 1-2 other families living on that stretch of the mountain. I walked this road so many times picking blueberries! My brothers and cousins always loved to ride (or drive) the 4-wheeler whenever we'd visit!
My grandfather would take care of this water wheel. There used to be a fake duck with little ducklings walking towards the stream. I was happy to see that the neighbors were still keeping the water running!
Here's a panoramic view of the area around the water wheel.
This is the house that my great-grandfather built. I was warmly greeted by the new owners of the house, which was very kind since we showed up unexpectedly. They gave us a tour of the house. The new owner is an interior designer and she re-did the entire house. She did a great job and the house looked great, but a lot of the memories that I would have felt inside the house weren't there.
This is the view from the deck of the house! It is just breath-taking!
So glad for the panoramic ones - I think I'm going to have to try to develop some of these!
This one was pretty cool - it shows me taking a picture and gives you a little bit more of the deck than my pictures do.
Curtis really enjoyed the view!
Some additional angles of the back of the house (which the neighbors now consider their front of the house)
It was so beautiful.
Next up...I took Curtis to the Pisgah Forest and showed him Looking Glass Falls.
We would come here often with my family and I was happy to share this with Curtis.
We also stopped by Sliding Rock, a naturally occurring 60-foot water slide. I only got the nerve to do it one time with my grandfather when I was younger. I have this picture with my mouth open as wide as it's ever been as I slid down! As for this day, it was too cold to slide (or so we thought), but there were a few people that had to slide down because they lost a bet. Notice that one of them doesn't even have legs! I was impressed.
Our trip also consisted of visiting Charlotte to spend some time with one of Curtis' roommates. We had a wonderful time with them. We spent our evenings in downtown Asheville, which was really fun. We ate at some amazing restaurants - Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company and Tupelo Honey Cafe. We went to Greenville, South Caroline to worship at Downtown Presbyterian Church. It was such a delight!
We even found gas for as low as $2.97 in Greenville. That is so low!
We also went to the Skytop Apple Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. It was really beautiful there, but it wasn't really the season for apples so we just enjoyed the view.
It was really nice to get away for about 4 days and explore North Carolina. This will be one of our last trips before I am unable to travel for a while now that I'm getting farther along in my pregnancy. It was definitely worth the trip!
November 15, 2012
We recently had to move Lion-O out of his room to prepare for the nursery. We were concerned that this would be hard on him. If anything, I think it's been harder on us now that we don't have a room we can put him in when he tries to wake us up early in the morning.
He has decided that my maternity pillow is the perfect shape for his sleeping needs.
We decided that he needed his own little bed since he lost his whole room. I think he's pretty satisfied. :)
November 2, 2012
One of my very best friends, Catherine Mack, recently celebrated her birthday on October 18. I hadn't seen her since last Christmas and I hadn't been able to spend extended time with her since before I was married (over 4 years ago), so it was about time for a visit to Boca. I'd heard so much about her family, her church and her town that I just had to see it for myself! :)
On her actual birthday, we went shopping and to the beach. It was a really relaxing day and there really aren't many places that you can go to the beach in October. It was a little sunny so Catherine was having a hard time keeping her eyes open in this photo.
We went to P. F. Chang's for dinner with her family and a few of her friends. It was really tasty and fun! I had a great time talking and sharing stories with her mom each day. She has such a servant's heart and I was easily able to see where Catherine gets hers. :)
I really also enjoyed getting to know her sister, Paige, because we have very similar taste buds. We had the most amazing dessert there called Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was heavenly!
Catherine's mom even made her a cake! We were so stuffed from P. F. Chang's that we had to wait until the next day to actually eat some of it. Catherine was able to blow out all of her candles in one breath. I was seriously impressed.
I spent about 5 days with her - we had amazing food, lots of shopping, great conversations, and I was able to worship at her church. I had a wonderful time and it was definitely well worth it to get away. I left at a good time because it was right before the presidential debate took place in Boca!