Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Review (Part Two)


July:









I didn't realize until now how much went on in July! We celebrated the Fourth of July in some festive outfits, and I made a flag cake for the first time. We hauled hay, jetted to Salt Lake City, celebrated our brother's birthday, finished Financial Peace University, fell in love with Kendra Scott jewels, attended Aggie Meet the Coaches Night, and found our dream couch on Craigy (craigslist!). Whewwwww! This was also the month that I got intentional about blogging.

August:


This month we loved playing with Ben's cousin's precious kiddos. Here, pretend naps are taking place.


We got Ben all set up in his classroom! I legitimately wish I could be a fly on the wall in there!


We got to celebrate a good friend's baptism!


This photo has nothing to do with August but it's a photo of Ben's dad in his twenties... aka Ben's twin. The resemblance blew me away in this pic!


Sprinkles Ice Cream opened in Dallas and we visited on a surprise date day! Our verdict is that we like the cupcakes better than the ice cream. :)


My mother in law and I took Ella, another second cousin, on a day of fun to the Galleria, American Girl Place, and Sprinkles. (Yes, two trips to Sprinkles in one week don't be a hater!)



I took a wonderful trip to Nashville, Tennessee to visit some friends from Making Things Happen, Meredith and Chandra, and Ben's bestie/college roomie, Collin. I've got an itch to go back since Meredith had a sweet baby girl in November. We also visited the Southern Living House on this trip. 

September:


We had the Campbells over for dinner to start the month. Not all dinner dates are pictured, obviously... but my love affair with Caroline June the most precious baby called for her to be blogged!


We finally saved for and found a rug that I loved! This photo is a random snap from my phone before I started styling the room (which has yet to be revealed, I know!)


We  booked our trip to Europe for Summer 2014!


We were basically living and breathing middle school football this entire month. October, too!


I got an amazingly sacrificial and loving gift and I will cherish forever, from my friend Lyndsey.

October:


I took a road trip to College Station to celebrate the arrival of a new member to my Theta family!


We purchased our first Christmas tree!


My friend Susannah and I went to the Magnolia Mom Home Show, and my love for Joanna Gaines's style hit the big time. 


My good friend Katherine took our Christmas card photos. The perk of a great and talented friend is that she takes the photos and edits them the same night, at your house. We're spoiled! 


We hosted three 9th and 10th grade girls (from my lifegroup) for Disciple Now weekend. It was such a fun transition to go from being college age leaders to a host home! 


The next week we opened up our home to even more youth, for a Halloween girls fellowship! Our house has never been louder. 

November:


To enjoy the beginning of slightly cool weather, one of our date nights included Ben cooking dinner for me outside on the fire, while I snuggled up with Matilda and read. It was pretty stinking perfect and I'm happy to have a photo to remember it.


In preparation for hosting two Thanksgiving dinners, I attended a turkey cooking class at Williams Sonoma. Read about our celebrations here.



I still can't believe this happened. Being included in Volume 6 of Southern Weddings was a true honor. It still excites me so much when I see it on shelves in stores. Read more about that journey, here


It's nice to have a sister to go shopping with. :) I'm so thankful for Kayce and that we married into the same family. 


I decided that we needed some scarves so I ordered two from Zara. Apparently mine went totally sold out soon after and is an internet phenomenon. So random! 


The day after Thanksgiving we put up all of our Christmas decor. I was so happy with how everything turned out. I kind of miss it! 


And a few days later we celebrated the engagement of some dear friends! May 2014- Michelle and Caleb will become husband and wife! Whoop! 

December: 


We attended two Mavericks games this month. Wahoo! My favorite was the first one because we played the Charlotte Bobcats.... Nathan Scott's team on One Tree Hill. :) 




We got super super ice/snowed in early on in the month. It was fun to have Ben home from work for three days plus a full weekend, but man oh man. I like interaction with human life. Matilda does look extra cute with a snowy background, though.





We celebrated our first married Christmas.. it was the very best yet! :)

Other fun things from 2013:

I started recording monthly goals and started my 101 in 1001 list.
August Goals 
September Goals
October Goals 
November Goals 
December Goals
101 in 1001
Thoughts on our First Year of Marriage

Thank you to all of you who follow along with my blog. It really does bring me such joy and encouragement. I'm so excited for all that's to come in 2014- let's get pumped to share a bunch of goals and go on lots of adventures! Happy New Year to all! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thoughts on Our First Year of Marriage



I truly cannot believe that our first anniversary will be celebrated this weekend. A friend texted me this morning, reminding me that on this day a year ago, I picked my maid of honor up at the airport, and spent the day with her and several of my other close friends packing my honeymoon suitcase, wrapping Ben's wedding gifts, and doing other last minute things. For some reason, that is a memory I cherish so dear. I guess it's just such a great picture of the support your bridal party should be. These girls were literally packing me up and sending me off. I love that.

I'm already tearing up at the thought of writing anything about this past year. It's been so good. It's so funny to think of how much has changed in such a short amount of time. In some ways, I still feel like an excited but nervous bride awaiting the big day, and in others, I feel like Ben and I have been married for 5 years. I'm just really grateful. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be so blessed to marry the man of my dreams at such a young age. I think that a lot of times (especially in the South) people assume that marriage at a young age is a cultural norm... and although that's what happened to us, I will never for a second take it for granted that I didn't have to spend years searching or being searched for. I know it seems like people are constantly getting engaged and married (especially this time of year) but each marriage is a beautiful, and individual gift. Each one deserves being celebrated and prayed over.



My marriage is number two.

What? Yeah. My relationship with Christ comes before my relationship with Ben. Sometimes my day to day life fails to reflect that, but before gushing about my husband for an entire blog post... I believe it's important to share with those reading who might not be there yet. My marriage is the biggest earthly blessing I will ever receive, but my relationship with the Lord is eternal. This marriage does not define me or make me who I am. I'm me outside of Ben, yet encouraged by him.



I really did marry the man of my dreams. 

I can so clearly remember what it was like in high school when the thought of Ben just enchanted me. I could relate the different stages of our relationship and friendship with several Taylor Swift songs. (Fearless, anyone?) For a long time, he was a fairy tale for me. That sounds so ridiculous but he was the very best man I could imagine in my head. I remember thinking on so many occasions that it would be hard to ever think of loving someone else knowing he was out there. Post marriage, I see more of my husband's flaws. Millions of socks everywhere, failure to flush the toilet, etc. :) But I see his incredible character and love magnified. I told my sister in law yesterday that I think others may think Ben babies me because of how loving and protective he is of me. His dream is to give me the best life possible and I've gotten to see that play out over the past year. The majority of his goals are focused on equipping me in various ways. If I have a thought or a dream, he will do whatever possible to make it happen. An example of this is that a friend of ours joked to him about letting me go with her on a business trip to New York, and a few days later he told me he had been looking at flights for me. He was ready to pull together flyer miles and his extra spending money to make this happen. If I told him I wanted to learn any new skill he would want to find a way to make it happen. I am overwhelmingly grateful for that. Ben is a normal human being, but I know he loves me so much. I just want to keep typing that I'm thankful. Something else I love is that he is just as kind towards people he doesn't love quite as much. He is protective over my friends and cares deeply when they get their hearts broken. He is extremely selfless with his time and always willing to help others even when it's random and out of the way. I've watched him help about 15 people move this year. The man HATES moving. Hates it. But he knows other people hate it too, so he's glad to lend a hand. He's just as nice to everyone in the world as he is to his loved ones and I cherish that. Insert brief daydream about Ben as the best father in the entire world here. My life is just infinitely better getting to share every little bit with Benjamin Luke. Note to everyone: don't settle.



This man is my family. 

This week, we celebrated Christmas six times. Each celebration had its distinctive characteristics. Some with more presents than others. Some with more people than others. Different food. These things could determine which one is your favorite.. but mine was without a doubt our first little family celebration. We woke up and ate cinnamon rolls, read the Christmas story, opened our presents, and dreamed about the future. All around our sparkly tree. I will be reliving that perfection in my mind up until next year. It was just the best and really defined our new little family. Matilda was also there, of course.

I'll stop my reflection here, before I get way too sniffly. Think of us on Sunday, December 29! Our very first anniversary. In lieu of gifts for each other individually, we decided to get a big family bible as our gift together. I kind of love that this keeps with the tradition of paper for the first anniversary. Blessings to you all, hoping everyone had the most precious holiday!


Victoria & Ben :: Wedding from Justin W Lowe on Vimeo.

Photos by Caroline Joy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!



Wishing a Merry, Merry Christmas to you and yours! We'll be chowing down on PW Cinnamon Rolls,  reflecting on the joy of Christ's birth, enjoying family, and snuggling our baby bulldog! I'm so thankful for each of you taking the time to read and keep up with us! XO

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Home



Since we moved into our house, I've been obsessed with making it homey, welcoming, and beautiful. I've poured over design websites and books and shopped online for deals on pretty things relentlessly. When we were engaged... I used to put pinterest time on my to do list. I wanted to create a home that we would love.

This week marked a year since I moved into our house. I also reflected on a year from when we bought the house, here. For some reason, this event triggered a lot of thought in me. I moved every year of college. Sometimes twice a year with moving my things home from the first place and then from home to the second place in a summer. That's a lot of moving... and I didn't realize until it was over how much my heart just needed a place to rest. It is such a relief and a blessing to not have a move anywhere near in sight. As of this week, I've lived in our home longer than I've lived anywhere since Spring 2009.

I know that I love home decor, and I know that I love arranging furniture... but WHY. Why do I feel like decorating is something that gets my heart beating fast? Why do I feel like it's one of my passions? Looking back over the past year.. there have been a few big obstacles I've had to overcome.. but overall, I've started and embraced several things that I never thought I would have the courage to do. For so many years of my life I've felt like I'm filled with dreams.. but no confidence or encouragement to make them happen. Grabbing ahold of my dreams and working towards is most definitely a direct result of the above and beyond support I receive from my husband, and also my experience at Making Things Happen. But another huge credit I give.... is to the home I've now lived in for a year.

Our first home... I believe that having a place that we can build from the bottom up has changed my life. Even with encouragement in the different places I've lived over the years... It's never been something that I can make decisions for myself (Ben and I obviously make decisions together now, but we're pretty in sync so I don't feel like I have to compromise on anything of substance). Our home has provided a place of rest and security for me, and I believe that's been a huge motivator. When we've been physically sick, or even just a little sad... our home has been a place of healing. We've found it cuddling in the cold under our fluffy white comforter or making a meal in the kitchen or even by folding laundry. These walls have been a place that we choose to fill with encouragement and positivity. It's my hope and prayer that no negative talk will take place in these walls. I want the character of our friends and acquaintances too be lifted high here, not torn down. I have never been yelled at in these walls. I have known that it's okay if I make a mess while trying a new recipe. I've been able to express my creativity through the decorating process. I've been confident opening my door to anyone and everyone at any time, for any reason.

My heart has been captured by the idea of making our house into a home that truly welcomes others. I want people to feel cozy, comfortable, encouraged, clean, and loved in these walls. Our house is a true sanctuary for me. I love being home because it's a place that makes me feel supported. I want others to feel that way too. And that's why I've been obsessed with making this place. With finding a furniture arrangement that lends itself to good conversation, with putting our cups in open shelving so everyone feels comfortable getting a glass of water when they're thirsty. Because I believe that this home has changed my life. I want our home to always be a place that nurtures our family and those who enter our doors. I'm so thankful to be able to reflect so fondly on our first home. It also makes me wonder... what in our lives will have changed after having such a wonderful place of rest in five years? ten years? It's quite fun to daydream about... :)

Psalm 116:7 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”

Exodus 33:14 “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 in Review (Part One)

January:




Married on December 29, 2012.. we run in the new year on our honeymoon in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a beautiful, Southern city that we loved exploring.


I will never forget how good it felt for us to arrive to our home together for the first time. I still can't get over how crazy it is that we share a monogram. Love you, towels!


Something we didn't love was when Ben had to spend two weeks back in College Station, finishing his coursework before starting student teaching. Even though he came home on the weekend in between.. we hated this.. especially so early into marriage! These big smiles were celebrating him coming home after finishing!


Meanwhile... I was trying to figure out how to make a house look good with minimal furniture and miniature money. This random photo was to commemorate hanging curtains (I think?) and it's hilarious how different our house looks now. Notice a few empty frames in the background!

February:



We celebrated my first married birthday with breakfast at Panera with my mom, and a Strader family trip to the rodeo!


With both of us beginning student teaching just a few days after we got back from our honeymoon.. our nights were often spent with movies on the couch and cups of soup. Looking back, we were constantly so exhausted. During this season, we often crawled in bed sometime between 8:30 and 9!


... Matilda loved it!

March:

We took our first trip back to College Station together, for Ben to run his first half marathon with his old roommate and bestie, Collin.



We loved reuniting with friends and celebrating the race! They crossed the finish line after around an hour and forty five minutes.. and were a lot closer to the front of the pack than we anticipated!


During our Spring Break, I was headed to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to attend Making Things Happen. This photo of my travel supplies makes me remember how nervous I was.. for no good reason at all. Reflecting on this trip truly brings tears to my eyes... it was so clearly God's will for me to go and learn from so many amazing ladies and make such sweet friends.


While I was gone, Ben focused on building some raised beds in my mom's backyard!


 Photo courtesy of Makenzie Kern




Making Things Happen was such an encouragement, and exactly what I needed to finish up the final few weeks of student teaching.


I don't know if it was how much MTH pruned my heart or just how much I love Ben and our home, but arriving home was SO STINKING SWEET!


We also hosted a couples shower, for our friends Aaron and Sarita (read about their wedding here). March was a full month!

April:


I finished student teaching and basically loved life!

This month we visited food trucks, golfed, watched the entire series of Downton Abbey (Ben's first ever tv show to follow!) attended Aggie Muster, and had lots of friends over! We also started walking through Financial Peace University.. that triggered a huge change in our lives!




May:





We started the month with our graduation from Texas A&M University. Reaching this milestone was such a celebration!


I also got to have a girls day with my bestie and MOH Lucy, before she moved to Maryland!



We traveled to Shawnee, Oklahoma for Aaron and Sarita's wedding. Ben looked like a hobbit in our group photo. I got to help Liz and Kristen pack up their college apartment.


I completed my first ever sewing project.. curtains for our living room!


I went with some dear friends to the TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT!!! Such a blast and I would continue seeing her in concert again and again until I'm 80.


I also painted our bedroom from gray to beige.. which you can read about here. :)

June:

We went on family vacation to California. We visited Hollywood, Beverly Hills, a beautiful vineyard,  Ben surfed, and I tried In and Out Burger for the first time. (Ps I LOVE it!)








Ben also decided to do some major demolition in our backyard and build a fence!




Woah. You're probably sick of hearing about us forever more after that hefty post. Yikes! :) Happy Monday, y'all!