Sunday, December 29, 2013


In May of 2005, I was at Pendleton Elementary School for my final day of student teaching.  T was at my Clemson University apartment, packing up the last of my things.  About an hour after the elementary school bell rang to signal the end of the day, we were en route to my new apartment in Winston Salem, NC.

I had packed up everything I owned and followed a boy, followed my heart to a different state, a new town where I knew only the boy I was following.

Things worked out with that boy, obviously.  Three years after my move we got married and bought this house, making it our first home...

A white picket fence on Friendship Circle:

This was the house that we came home to first as a newly married couple after our honeymoon.  Having waited over six years to live together, we were finally husband and wife in our home.  It was in this house that I learned how to be a wife to my very best friend.  It was in this house that I found out we were going to be parents.  It was in this house that we brought home our daughter, our sweet Cameron Kate.  It was in this house that we experienced so many firsts - both good and bad.  This house brought us the happiest and the hardest times of our lives.  But the good has definitely outweighed the bad, and it is with heavy hearts that we drive away from our first home.  A home we'll look back on fondly, remembering the days when we were so young, so new at this thing called life.

To our friends and family we leave behind - thank you for all you've done to make this chapter of our lives so memorable.  We are forever grateful for all of you who have, in some way, shape, or form, made us who we are... giving us the tools we need to build a new life in a brand new, unfamiliar place.

As we drive away from our house on Friendship Circle - from our lives in Winston Salem - we are not sad that it is over... we are so glad that it all happened.  We take with us memories to fill up our hearts during the scary time of starting over.  As we drive away from what we know, we are driving toward the promise of something new - something different - toward an adventure I can't wait to discover, toward a gift I can't wait to open.

This is what life is all about.

So we're all loaded up, my tiny little family and me, and we're headed down a road that's a little bit scary and a little bit exciting... a road that I want with all my heart to be paved with a renewed sense of hope for all that's waiting in our future.

Goodbye, Winston Salem - Goodbye, Friendship Circle...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry, Merry Christmas!

As I've mentioned already, this holiday season with CK has been absolutely magical.  Despite the moving boxes and complete disarray of our house, we have managed to soak in all Christmas has to offer.  And today, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I am so incredibly grateful to have watched the magic of the holidays through our little girl's eyes.  Here is just a snapshot of everything we've done throughout the past few weeks...

We went to Polar Express Night at Barnes and Noble:

We continued our tradition of heading up to Boone to fill our bellies at the Daniel Boone Inn and cut down a Christmas tree from Turtle Creek Farm:

We had an extra helper to decorate the tree this year:

We celebrated Jesus' birthday at CK's preschool Christmas Festival:

We did lots of fun holiday crafts, which was a stretch for this non-crafty, non-DIY mama!

We made a lot of cookies and ate a lot of dough:

We had a blast with friends at the SciWorks Christmas party:

And we made our first gingerbread house:

It's safe to say we've squeezed every ounce of joy out of the holiday season!

Merry, Merry Christmas from the Peeles!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Of Course, We Have an Elf on the Shelf


That's his name.

Long story, which I won't bore you with, but he was named BEFORE Snooki debuted on our TVs.  I promise.  And his name is written in permanent marker in the back of the Elf on the Shelf book, so - no going back now!

I digress.

Of course we have an Elf on the Shelf!  And I kind of consider myself middle-of-the-road when it comes to Snook's shenanigans.  To be completely honest, CK got way more into it than I thought she would.  Which made me more excited about it than I thought I'd be.

Every morning, as soon as she wakes up, CK immediately reminds me that it's time to go find Snook.  And I'd be lying if I said he didn't help us avoid a meltdown or twelve.  Ah hem - Snook's always watching!

(Which reminds me of the time we went shopping in Target... of course there was an Elf on the Shelf display... Which CK saw, along with the huge mural of the elf.  All of sudden she exclaims with one-third fear, one-third shock, and one-third delight:  "SNOOK IS IN TARGET, MAMA!!!")

So anyway, since this morning marked his last appearance for 2013, I decided to document some of his antics this year.  Without further ado...

Elves get hungry, too:

A little story time:

A Christmas tree to decorate:

Snowman donuts!

A little elf bubble bath:

Ornaments to paint!

Just "hanging" out:

What's Christmas without some Little Debbies?!

A personalized video from Santa himself!!  (Thank you Mr. Claus!)

A new coloring book:

And stickers, too!

Snook is potty-training!

Crazy old elf!

Going fishing:

A Friday treat!

A candy cane hunt!  Like an Easter egg hunt with, duh, candy canes!

Gingerbread house fun!!

More delicious treats - no such thing as too many holiday sweets!
And, of course, cookies to make for Santa:

We can't wait to see Snook again next year!  Merry Christmas Eve!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kindness Means Be Nice to People!

As I previously mentioned, I decided that I wanted to spend a large part of the holiday season teaching my daughter the meaning of kindness.  After a lot of internet research, I settled on a Kindness Inspires Kindness project in which we'd strive to do little things to make people smile.  We have a few tasks left to accomplish, which we'll do in the coming weeks.  But I wanted to go ahead and share what I consider to be some of my most favorite memories with CK to date.  And I'd also consider it a success - if you even mention the word "kind," my sweet little girl will interrupt to make sure you know that it means "be nice to people!"  Even though she's only two, I truly feel as though she understands the meaning of what we've been doing.  If there is one lesson I want to teach her in this lifetime, it is to always have a kind heart.

So... here is how we tried to inspire kindness!

*We delivered hot chocolate to our favorite newspaper salesman on the street corner.

*We taped change to the front of a 25 cent prize machine in the grocery store.

*We made and delivered cards to a neighboring retirement home:

*We paid for the person's drive-thru order behind us:

*We donated money to my brother-in-law's charity event to deliver Thanksgiving meals to the poor.

*We baked and delivered cookies to the fire station:

 *We donated dog treats to the local animal shelter.

*We left a surprise dollar for an unsuspecting child in the dollar store:

*We left a surprise for the mailman in our mailbox:

*We donated money to the bell-ringers who were collecting for the Salvation Army.

*We delivered all kinds of gifts to the children at a local orphanage:

*We rode around in the wagon and picked up trash in our neighborhood.

*We left a motivating note on the mirror in a public bathroom:

*We donated lots of clothes and household items to Goodwill.

*We gave the homeless man on the corner money for breakfast.

*We left a surprise gift of books for a child in front of the local public library:

 *And we mailed some artwork (made by CK, of course!) to her cousins:

I hope our small acts of kindness inspire you to be nice to people!  As the famous quote says, we can't do everything for everyone, but we can all do something for someone.