Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Beginning to Look (and Feel) a Lot Like Christmas!

Guess what??!!! I'm finally on Christmas Break!! First semester of grad school = Beasted! I must say, it feels pretty amazing! :D

The last week as I was finishing up with final papers, lessons, and playing for people's juries (music performance final exams), I also made some time to hang out with friends and do Christmassy stuff!
My former Spanish professor and I had been trying to get together all term - we hadn't seen each other in several years - but our schedules never matched so that we could meet up. Last week, though, we were finally able to meet for lunch. It was great to see him - he was a super influential person in my life. I was also able to meet a new friend from my swim team for lunch - which we had also been wanting to do for a few months. Tuesday night, we had a party for my swim team - we sang Christmas carols and I played the piano. It was lots of fun. I brought these cute little cookies:

My friends and I also had a fun lunch for Katherine's birthday, which we also made be an ugly sweater Christmas party. Except - some of the people didn't get the memo, so only like three of us wore ugly sweaters. Mine was a sweater which I then pinned a dog toy too! haha It was so much fun to hang out together and eat Katherine's delicious lunch she made for us (I mean, she was the birthday girl and she still cooked! Great friend, huh!?!). It was a blast!!! I laugh so so much every time I hang out with these fabulous ladies!

I also snuck in a visit to my grandparents and an awesome Elf party with the Pruetts - whom I have known for years and years but haven't seen for a while! We drank hot chocolate and watched Elf and ate nutella and other snacks by the fire. Unfortunately, I had to finish a final exam during the first half of the movie, and as soon as I finished the exam and sat still, I fell asleep! haha but it was still fun. Friday night I had a little sleepover with my former piano teacher, Mrs. Davies. She is a barrel of fun! We went out to dinner and watched Christmas netflix movies until we were too sleepy to stay up any later. Saturday was an absolute blast - my friends and I went ice skating and to the Roper Mountain Holiday Lights. That night was the big swim team Christmas party which was super fun. To make it even better, I convinced my sister Ashlyn to come to it with me.

I also spent some time making my room full of Christmas cheer and making and decorating a big batch of sugar cookies to bring to the swim Christmas party. 

And yesterday I got to come home!! So happy to be with my family and so excited to do tons of fun Christmassy activities! I love Christmas sooooo much. My little brother is so sweet - he made a bucket list while I was still at school of things for us to do together when I got home.

The break is already off to an awesome start - in addition to swim practice and piano practice - we've watched like 3 Christmas movies, played some games, and made gingerbread cookies! And I've only been home for like 36 hours! Can't wait to see what else we do!
Wishing you all a fun advent season! 
Love, Tiffany

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

So last weekend I went to my first swim meet! It was absolutely terrifying and kinda awesome all at the same time. I had never even been to a swim meet as a spectator before let alone swum in one so I had no idea what to expect. My coaches helped me though and explained what to do and when to do it. I competed in the 50 free, 50 back, 100 free, and 100 IM. I also swam 50 free as part of a few relays with my team. I was also supposed to compete in the 50 breast but cute story..........I kinda missed it. My coach said the events went by really fast and so I should be behind the blocks by the time she was finishing her race...and so I did. Somehow I must have zoned out....I'm not really sure....just I was waiting and waiting and feeling nervous and then the timing guy asked me if I was Tiffany and said I was supposed to be in his lane and then people were diving in and I was like "Did I miss it?" and he was like "Uh yeah." I'm still not exactly sure how it happened....

I think I came in last...I'm still super slow...but you know what, that's OK. Well, actually it's not - I'm dying to get faster and am very impatient about how long it's taking me to get where I want to go - but the point is I've only been swimming for a few months and when I started, I didn't think I would ever be able to swim in a swim meet or at least it would be a very long time before I would be ready. But guess what? I've already done my first one! And I am not going to stay this slow - I'm going to keep working and get much faster! Also, there is one very good thing about being last - the only way to go is up!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

So Much to Be Thankful For

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! I certainly did. I kicked it off a bit early with a whirlwind weekend trip home where all my family (with the exception of my dear sweet Abby) was able to be home *at the same time* (I know right?? so is pretty much a pre-Christmas miracle) celebrate Sarah Brooke's first birthday and dedication in church. It was great to see everyone. We did lots of fun familyish types of things including going to a 10 pm showing of Mockingjay with the sibs. We also managed to snap a shot of the family together.

Then it was back to Spartanburg for two days before heading back for Thanksgiving!! Wednesday was a whirlwhind of trying to squeeze in swim practice, piano practice, family time, and the all-important task of baking pies!

Thursday several of my siblings and I (and Maria, our awesome international student who stayed with us during Thanksgiving) woke up bright and early in time to participate in the Turkey Trot at 8 am. Some people did the 1 mile fun run and some did the 5K. I did both with a mixture of walking and running. I ran more this year than I ever have before so that made me feel proud! haha

We came home to a delicious breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and bacon which my mom and Chris made for us while we were running - because they're just awesome like that! We ate and drank hot chocolate and wassail and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then it was time for all the Thanksgivingy meal prep and eating kind of stuff.

Friday was another busy day with Dad taking us girls on the annual Black Friday shopathon. It's always a contest to see who can shop the longest - Dad or the girls. In the past, he has always won. I'm not sure who won this year but he texted us first to see if we were almost done so.....I'm thinking that means we won?? Anyhow it was lots of fun like always with tons of shopping and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and a little snack of cheesecake to end the day.

Saturday was a calm peaceful day where we slept in and ate pie and laid around and ....JUST KIDDING!!!!!!! Really, it was another super busy day of swim practice and piano practice and decorating the tree and house for Christmas and going to the Jekyll Island Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and having our dear friends the Vicents over for dinner. It ended so sweetly with my little sister falling asleep in my lap as we snuggled in a cozy chair and watched Hallmark Christmas movies. Sunday it was time to pack up and head back to Spartanburg!

The holiday season always makes me realize how very, very blessed I am, not just materially (I mean I'm not rich but I have food, a great place to live, awesome clothes to wear, a car to drive - lots of things that people all around the world can only dream about and I just take them for granted) but also with so many wonderful family and friends, and a happy, busy life of pursuing my calling and passions. I love this song by Josh Groban - I feel that it is a great reminder of the kind of thankful attitude I want to have during this season.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas season and find a few moments in the midst of all the crazy hectic bustle of the season to quiet your heart and focus on just how much we all have to be thankful for.