Thankful for Changing Seasons

As I sit out here on my deck, watching my little furry children annoy each other, I can’t help but be thankful. I am thankful for so many things, but most importantly this incredible life I have been blessed with. My Husband is out of town on a family guys golf trip, so I for sure am missing him like crazy. But, at the same time it makes me realized how lucky I am in life every day.

Now, for Changing Seasons…

This is the first morning this year to really feel like fall outside when I woke up. I immediately opened my windows, I am drinking coffee outside in a sweatshirt, and I even pulled out my slippers – I know, a little extreme. But, I am ready to ditch the flip flops for the year! Fall is by far my favorite season – I love everything about it! The crisp cool air, the deep colors of brown, orange, and red, the smells of pumpkin, cinnamon, and bonfires, the excitement of football and basketball, and of course the holidays! For some, sitting on a beach and hearing the waves it totally relaxing, don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy that – but, nothing beats sitting outside and feeling the wind sweep by you while the crunchy leaves tangle together. I could go on and on all day about the many reasons why I love fall, but my point now is how thankful I am to live in a state where I get to experience every season of the year.

Kansas to many is a boring state, but to me there is no place better (well maybe Colorado :) ) to live. I think a lot of people take for granted how wonderful it is to live in a place that is fairly relaxed and and still get to enjoy each time of the year. I am not a fan of the hot humid summers, but becuase I experience that I am so thankful for the cold winters. We get to experience and see everything living here. Could you imagine living somewhere that it didn’t snow for Christmas?! Or, where you couldnt roast smoores without sweating? And at the same time you can go to the lake on a summer weekend and enjoy a boat ride or being in the water? And, we all know nothing beats an outdoor family BBQ! We can do everything here!

My favorite part about the seasons changing is that it always gives me time to reflect and refresh. When I start to get burnt out on work, or tired of running our air all day long to stay cool, and so on – the seasons change! New projects start flowing in, we can open the windows in the house, and I can drive around with the windows down in my car singing George Strait loud enough for everyone to hear! But, the point is, living here, I never feel like life gets stale, there is always a change! And, for that refreshing change I am grateful.

Today I will enjoy the weather walking outside with a good friend, and then doing some baking! Two things I love to do – I can’t wait to share what we decide to bake!

Bachelorette Party!

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What a great weekend I had for my bachelorette party! I could not have planned it better myself. I am such a lucky lady to have such incredible friends and family who made my weekend so special. We spent the weekend with a roadtrip to Hermann, Missouri. For those who haven’t been there, I highly reccomend it. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast – which are my favorite! We had an entire house for 9 ladies. We stayed at the Mueller Haus which is an addition to the Harbor Haus where I have stayed in the past. Other than having a difficult time figuring out the air conditioner, we had a blast! We ate breakfast in the mornings together, drank wine pretty much all day, got driven around on a trolley all day/night, and the ladies decorated the b and b all for me!

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It was so great to share special times, lots of laughs, and of course some dancing with my favorite gals!

Spring/Summer Bucketlist

A couple of years ago I made a bucket list for my life: things I want to do, see, try out, and experience. So far, I have completed a couple of them!  But, I recently became inspired to start a bucket list for the spring/summer as well as the winter/fall season. Living in Kansas, people always claim they are bored or there is nothing to do. But, as I started making my spring/summer list, I realized, we really have several things to do, it is just a matter of getting them done!
Above and beyond all, getting married is the number one thing on my list, we have 122 days to go, and even though I am not fully organized or prepared I cannot wait for the day to come! I wish it was tomorrow!
I believe creating a list of anything positive will always bring some joy to your life. Here is a sneak peak of my list, feel free to borrow any of my items to put on yours. My list will be hanging on my fridge, and I will highlight the items I complete!

Summer 2013 Bucket List
1. Get married to the Man of my dreams!
2. Pick blueberries from a berry patch
3. Go fishing
4. Have a picnic at a park, on a blanket, with an official basket
5. Make smores’ over a fire
6. Go to a Royals game
7. Go to a T-bones game
8. Go to a farmers market
9. Enjoy a day of live music at a winery
10. Go camping for the weekend
11. Beat my parents in our golf tournament
12. Plant some veggies and herbs, and keep them alive
13. Try a new summer drink recipe
14. Go for a bike ride
15. Drink coffee on the deck in the morning
16. Take the doggies on a morning walk before work
17. Enjoy a happy hour on a patio
18. Take a hike at a nearby park or trail
19. Take a weekend get-a-way
20. Wash the car in the driveway
21. Take T to the lake to go swimming
22. Go to the arboretum
23. Take a friend or family member a potted flower or plant

Happy Bucketlist Making!

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I am a happy person because I wake up every day and decide I am going to be happy. That’s right, I decide I am going to have a good day, I am going to laugh, and I am going to help others have a good day! Everyone has the choice to be happy every single day. Life is too short to spend your time being negative, complaining, and being in a bad mood. Let go of those things, they only weigh you down. In case you haven’t yet today, take a minute and smile!

Our busy, but fun life!

It has been a while since my last blog, but most of that is simply due to being so busy! Time just flies when you are having fun – isn’t that what they say? So here is what we have been up too lately…

Well folks, we are about five and a half months away from wedding bells. I literally cannot wait, did you get that? I.CANNOT.WAIT. I have some relief due to the fact that we have most of the big things accomplished or checked off the list – Venue, Photographer, Florist, Caterer, DJ, dress ordered, and so on. Now it is time for the smaller details and fun things to start coming together. At the end of the month we have our engagement pictures, I cannot wait for them! It took us several months to pick the perfect photographer, and we feel so confident we will love our pictures! The only real source of stress right now is our venue isn’t currently, well, um, built. There I said it; they are still in the process of building the location where our wedding ceremony and reception are taking place. We are hopeful that everything will work out and the construction will be completed by August! Other than that it has been fun to talk about the details and the special things we can incorporate into our day! The most important thing, we just cannot wait to be husband and wife – after all, that is what it is all about. I can’t wait to share some more details later – but not too many, we want you all to be surprised!

Now, let’s talk some puppy love – who doesn’t love a little cuddly, chubby, sweet little white lab with the cutest face, biggest paws, and darkest eyes?! On Valentine’s Day, Patrick surprised me with a puppy! I know for many they think pets don’t make a very good gift, but for me, it was beyond perfect! I have wanted a white lab my entire life and we had been searching for about 6 – 9 months for the perfect addition to our little family. I love him so much, Patrick likes him so much, and well Leroy, is still adjusting! ;) But, I have full confidence that in time Leroy will come to love his little brother, ha! We gave him the name ‘Tahoe’ and so far he has been such a great little dog. Of course, we have to constantly watch him, he is always biting something, he’s always hungry, and he could drink an entire 5 gallon bowl of water if we let him. So far he is really good at ‘sitting,’ but we are still working on adding other talents to his command list. But all in all, he is the perfect pup! I almost forgot to mention, he is growing like the speed of light, maybe someday they will have something that keeps them smaller for a little longer! Hopefully the weather will cooperate a little more in the following weeks and we can start leash training!

Speaking of the weather – hello, what on earth is going on? It is almost Spring Break time in Kansas and we still have like a foot of snow on the ground in a lot of places. Now, I love snow more than the average person, but the fact that it waited until February and March this year to snow is a little of an annoyance! After all, I like to hear Christmas music while it’s snowing! Just when I am ready to sit on the deck and eat some grilled hot dogs and enjoy a summer flavored beer, there are massive amounts of snow coming down. We have spent a great deal of time in the last couple of weeks, shoveling, making doggy bathroom paths, working from home, and well – I have been getting driven around – which I have to admit, I could get used too. I will say potty training a small puppy isn’t the easiest when they can’t find any grass within a 100 mile radius.

Another milestone – Terrance, our nephew turned 5 years old! I cannot believe he is so stinkin’ old now. I feel like he just keeps growing, maturing, and learning all kinds of things (some good, and some not so good – haha). He is such a fun little boy and always makes us smile. Last weekend we threw him an Angry Birds birthday party at our house! We had a pasta bar for lunch, played pin the tail on the angry bird, and had an ice cream bar where he was so excited to have so many toppings to pick from. It was a fun day filled with family, laughter, and love; and it was so special to me to see how excited an innocent little kid gets over things like games, candles, presents, making a wish, and the happy birthday song. One of the neatest things for me was, at the end of the evening we went out of the deck and released all of his helium balloons into the sky. As T said “we are sending the balloons to heaven, so they can celebrate my party too!” This was something special I did as a kid, and I still remember to this day being so amazed by how long you could see the balloons in the sky and how they got smaller and smaller as they floated higher. It was such a surreal feeling, that I wanted him to have as well.

Next, has anyone ever heard of a thing called March Madness?! Well, in our household the rest of the world kind of comes to a halt for March Madness, particularly, KU basketball. We love it and are guilty of planning our days around the game schedule! We made it to one game so far this year, but it was a pretty special one to say the least. We got to see Mario Chalmers (one of my favorite players) get his jersey retired at half time, there were a lot of previous players in attendance, and it was neat to be a part of more KU history. If you have not been to Allen Fieldhouse, let me just tell you, it is the single best venue in collegiate sports. It has more tradition and history than any other basketball venue in the country. It gives me goose bumps, makes me tear up, and makes me cheer pretty loud! We are hopeful that KU can secure their 9th straight Big 12 Championship on Saturday! Rock Chalk!

Other than that we are busy with the day to day life – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – cleaning and laundry, working and having fun, and so much more! Even though life can be busy it is important to continue to celebrate each day, enjoy each other, and as the great Coach Jimmy V said – you must do three things each day in order to have a fulfilling life – laugh, cry, and think.

<3 my beautiful Aunt

Sometimes in life things happen that you can’t explain, they are hard to understand, and almost impossible to rationalize. One of those things for me, is cancer. In October this hit home even harder as I learned my Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tomorrow she will undergo a double masectomy and then begin her recovery process.

Thoughout this entire situation she has been a shining light of strength, positivity, and optimisim. I cannot describe how proud I am of her, I don’t even know if proud is a stong enough word to explain how I feel. Most people don’t take simple things in life easy; like, tangeled christmas lights, cold coffee, or slow resturant service. Then, in rare instances there are people out there like her, who answer life in the order it knocks and greet challenges with a smile on her face. I admire her and love her so much for so many reasons, but her ‘get through anything’ attitude is something I admire the most.

What a role model she is, and once this is in the past, she will be a source for guidance, support, and understanding as others experience this same thing. She is truly a rock.

I pray so hard that tomorrow while she is in surgery she feels the love and support from her family and friends. But, most importantly from God. I have prayed so much that he will be there protecting her, giving her more strength and determination, along with giving her comfort along the way.

I ask that each of you take a few moments and say a prayer for her, and thank God for the beautiful person she is – inside and out.

I love her, I look up to her, I admire her, and I am so blessed to call her my Aunt. And one thing is for sure, once this is all over I can’t wait to see her new jugs!

I love you Aunt Sheryl. Thank you for being such an incredible woman and remarkable example of how everyone should live their life.

 

 

I’ll have a small chocolate shake please…

Life always seems to remain interesting in our household. Last night we went on the exciting 2 hour Wal-Mart adventure (all do to my price matching and couponing) and by the time we were done we were exhausted and hungry. Patrick mentioned how good a McRib sounded and all I really wanted was a chocolate shake – super healthy night, we know! Regardless, we pull in the McDonald’s drive thru and across the menu is a sign that says, no joke: “chocolate shake machine broken, sorry no ice cream.” I encouraged Patrick to go ahead and order his food, I would be fine.

A few blocks down the road I asked him to change to the right lane (Sonic was approaching) so I could order a chocolate shake – I must have really wanted one badly. Of course, embarrassed because all we had with us was our debt card which means the carhop would get no tip. So, I thought it would be smartest to just go thru their drive thru lane so the carhop wouldn’t have to do much work, and we could just pay with our card. Well, news flash even in the drive thru at Sonic they still walk out to your car, and they actually have to go back inside to run your card and walk it back out. So, after about 10 minutes of waiting, she did double the work for no tip. But I will add a small chocolate shake at sonic is almost $4. Insanity. I hope they pay their carhops well.

We drove home and I insisted Patrick just go ahead and start eating and I would put the groceries away so his food wouldn’t get cold.  I set my shake down on the stairs and (being the sweet man he is) he still helped me unload everything from the car and brought it up to the kitchen. I put away the groceries and was ready to head downstairs to enjoy the shake that was so hard to get. Getting ready to walk down, I noticed Leroy was on the stairs, which was strange, because he is normally right by one of our sides – especially if we have food. As I got closer he looked at me and ducked. Yep – he was enjoying my chocolate shake (I know I know, my fault for putting it on the stairs) and the funniest part is Sonic has the dome lids so he was having a really hard time maneuvering around that and the straw. Luckily – sonic only filled it like ¾ of the way full and Leroy mainly removed all the whipped cream – which I don’t really like anyway. The huge bonus, and saving grace; I had already eaten the cherry on top – my favorite part! He scurried downstairs to hide by his Dad and I spooned the top layer off, and yes I finished my shake.

Morals of the story –

1. Don’t leave food on the stairs when you have a dog that thinks they get human food any time they want, with no remorse

2. Eat healthy and this won’t happen

3. If you can’t tip at Sonic, borrow a friend’s car so your food is spit free on your next trip

4. Coupon and price match at Wal-Mart we saved almost 30 dollars in coupons, and about 50 dollars due to price matching! Grand total – $80 in savings!

5. Find a man as wonderful as mine who still carries in all the groceries and offers to help put away even though he is starving and his food is getting cold

Getting Organized!

What a new year so far! My main goal, as you all know, has been to just be better than the day before. In 2013 we have gotten a pretty good start at something I enjoy so much – organizing! There is nothing better than a clean, clutter free, organized living space. It reduces stress, creates a sense of calmness and makes life so much easier. If there is one thing I can encourage everyone to do is – organize your personal and professional space. Talk about motivation and a sense of ease in day to day operations!

Since the first of the year we have accomplished the following organizational projects:

Pantry – a cause of burden for us has been our overflowing, can’t find anything, chips are crushed, soup is expired, 25 cans of tomatoes but no flour, kind of shelving system. Well, not anymore! With the New Year we performed a complete overhaul. Now, it’s simple. Here is what we did:

  • Removed everything, threw away anything bad, donated anything we wouldn’t eat, wiped down and cleaned shelving – you would be surprised by the crumbs that need to be vacuumed out!
  • Piled together all similar items and restocked in an organized manner. Every pull out shelf has a theme with similar items (snacks, canned goods/condiments, pasta/rice, baking needs/spices, breakfast, bread, etc.)
  • The very bottom is used for bulk and stock piles items like jugs of oil, vinegar, additional dressings, condiments, and things like that.
  • Baking good bulk items (such as flour and sugars) are in matching, air tight containers that are now labeled. These items created the most mess (granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, brown and powdered sugar) are now stored in containers so the messy bags can be thrown away. Not only is it cleaner, but measuring is so much easier and the spillage has been reduced. Not to mention the containers are air tight so the brown sugar seems fresh and soft instead of brick hard when used.
  • All small items like sprinkles, candles, icing tubes, cupcake tins, etc. are all in their own container; to prevent get crushed easily and falling and rolling all over.
  • Nothing is overlapping anything else and only similar items are stacked on top of each other. All labels face outward and all spices are lying with the name facing upward as well.

Refrigerator – our next cause of burden was our unorganized, eggs are balancing on the milk, bottles are on their sides, leftover chaos, butter sticks hit you in the stomach kind of refrigeration unit! Now, wait until you see what we did:

  • Removed everything, threw away items we wouldn’t use or that were out of date, combined same items into 1 bottle. (we had 2 open half full bottles of certain things that are now 1), wiped all containers and bottles down – no more gross mustard tops!
  • Removed all shelves and drawers and washed them with soap and water – did you know everything comes apart in your fridge?! Even the bars on the door.
  • Reorganized the shelves so the items we always have (milk, salsa, green tea, brita water jug) will always fit without having to be stuffed.
  • Reorganized the door shelves so the items we use most frequently are on the first shelf and the rest follow.

Master Closet – the worst, and I say the worst because getting dressed is already a hard enough decision. But, throw on top of that shirts and pants that are clean but piled because they didn’t make the cut for a Monday at work, hangers facing different ways, stumbling on shoes, and scarfs so tangled they might as well be utilized as a giant friendship bracelet!

  • Determined a trash bag section for items that should have been tossed years ago
  • Give away/sell pile
  • Keep pile
  • Removed EVERYTHING, and sorted the keep items in piles based on similar clothing type: (the following items were hung)
    • Tank tops
    • Short sleeve shirts
    • 3 quarter sleeves
    • Long sleeves
    • Nice blouses
    • Jackets/cardigans – yes I am 80
    • Sweaters
    • Sweat shirts
  • The following items were folded and places on the shelves
    • Tank tops
    • Casual t-shirts
    • Jeans, sweat pants, yoga pants
    • Casual long sleeve shirts
  • Vacuumed and wiped down inside of the closet
  • Placed all clothes inside
  • Placed shoes – based on most worn and put the casuals together and the dressier ones together. Older tennis shoes will be sent to the garage where all the other dirty things belong!
  • Hung scarves around the clothes bar – kind of a fancy touch like in a store – and things like hats and belts were neatly placed on shelving.
  • The clothes hampers fit perfectly behind the door and all loose hangers now have a place behind the door to be stored until I need more in the laundry room

Basement Storage – my favorite project of all, we are still working on it! Sunday we went and bought matching plastic tubs so everything could be neatly and safely organized and stored, with labels of course! At the same time it was so fun to go through childhood things and share stories. One cool thing is we got to relive some of our teenage memories together as we went thru things like yearbooks, notes, and pictures!

The best part in all of this – as bad as it sounds – is simplifying and getting rid of unneeded items. A simple life is a happy life. Clutter is such a heavy weight, and hey we are trying to lose some pounds right?! J But really, if you haven’t used it in 6 months, chances are you don’t need it. I always love something sentimental, and it is important to keep a hold of items that are irreplaceable and that you want to pass down. But, one thing that is important is you can’t keep everything! Figure out what you appreciate most and focus on keeping those items.  Here are my keys to revamping successfully with organization:

  • Get rid of anything you don’t need – stop saving things for the ‘just in case.’ If the just in case moment hasn’t come along in a year or five years, it probably won’t. And if it does, chances are the item is like 20 bucks, hopefully you have 20 bucks, or you could borrow someone else’s J  You don’t need your high school Spanish books, VHS’s, 5 dollar Wal-Mart picture frames, books you will never read again, or games you will never play.
  • Donate – there are so many people out there in need. And more than you, they could put to use your extra coffee pot, clothes, and a lamp. Donating to someone in need also makes you feel good, or you can find places that offer you a tax credit.
  • Hoarding for value – chances are items that are collected or held onto are not going to gain you as much money as working one week at your 40 hour job. If you really do have a million dollar piece your grandparents probably already told you the value. Beanie babies, McDonald happy meal toys, porcelain dolls from Macy’s, baseball cards of people who are not in the hall of fame, and checkers are more than likely not going to allow you to quit your job when you sell them to a pawn shop or make it on Antique Road Show. If you think something is worth money research it and if it isn’t, chances are it won’t be in a long time either.
  • Invest in smart storage options – We used the plastic tubs, but chances are if you are saving something you want it to remain in good condition. Get storage items that will protect from wear and tear or possible water damage. Placing a bunch of boxes with tape flying everywhere doesn’t really protect anything and it makes you look like you are moving around things that are broken and have no value. Pack like items together and label them, then when you go to stack and store them you know where things are and everything you need is accessible.
  • Clean under everything – when you have everything removed clean out underneath stuff, everything gathers dust and yuckiness (especially if it is in cardboard) wipe down tubs, items, floors and shelving.
  • Go through things regularly – when you get out the Christmas stuff, if there is something you haven’t used in a year or two, and it doesn’t have sentimental value then get rid of it. Do this each time you put up and remove the yearly décor. Same with all holiday things, kitchen items, etc. If you get something new, chances are you are going to be replacing something else – so in with the old, out with the new!
  • Look for opportunities to save money – one thing I love more than anything is saving some money a.k.a. skrilla! After holidays are the best times to get cheap items for the following year (wrapping paper, bows, name tags, etc.) by cleaning out storage room you should have some new found room to store some of these surplus items. We have 1 bin dedicated to holiday wrapping things like boxes, gabs, bows, ribbon, and tags; then we have a tall bin for wrapping paper. This means we will save the money and they are stored in a way that won’t get ruined! There is no point in purchasing these things if you don’t plan to store them in a way that they stay usable.

My NY Resolution

New Year, New Resolutions

As I look into 2013 there are several resolutions I could make, but I have a tough time narrowing it down to just one goal. Sure, I’d love to be more patient, I’d like to have a completely clean house all the time, I’d love to lose weight while still occasionally treating myself, I’d love to run a 5K and be healthier than I’ve ever been, and I want to send more ‘just because’ cards to family and friends. But, let’s get real the days pass so quickly, sometimes it is hard to squeeze the basics in. Not to mention, when I am tired and worn out and not feeling well I am probably going to eat a cupcake or two! And, sue me if that is wrong, but I don’t want to feel like I failed the entire year because the smell of red velvet is stronger than my will power at times J

This year I wanted to set a more realistic resolution, something that isn’t registered as a complete success or fail. Instead, something that I can work on getting better at each day, won’t feel like I can’t accomplish, and brings out some of my good qualities. So, for the New Year my goal is to just … be better than the day before.

What does that mean exactly? Well, let me elaborate a little – I want to work at being better in everything I do – in my personal and professional life.

  • Enjoyment – I want to enjoy life more each day.  All the experiences, the fun things I do, the people I surround myself with, and the places I go (to name a few). I want to make all of them count and I want to spend more time celebrating the reason why I enjoy those things, and not just rushing onto the next thing.
  • Health – I want to get in better health, not to be limited to a certain number of pounds to lose or sit-ups to complete – but I want select and cook smarter foods, work out more consistently, drop negativity, not worry about things so much, and relax more!
  • Positivity – I want to have a more positive outlook on things, see the good side, and even when something makes me upset I want to be better at trying to understand the benefits of the situation.
  • Love – I want to love even more, celebrate the people in my life and making sure they know they are important to me and why. I want to be the best spouse, daughter, sister, cousin, friend I can be.
  • Organization – This is an area I need some help in, yes of course I would like for everything to be in the perfect spot, but that won’t happen overnight. So my goals would be to clean out areas that are messy, organize and categorize things, simplify and get rid of things I don’t need, and be creative on how to store things.
  • Charity – Giving back has always been important to me, I want to donate more, give more, and share more than I have before.

These are goals to me that make more sense, and at the end of the year if my jeans fit looser, more money is in the bank, and I have a new friend then that will be something to celebrate! But if none of that happens at least I did several small things during the year to take pride in, and I can always work at getting better!

Whatever your resolution may be, I hope it is something you are working on because it is important to you! Wishing you all a wonderful 2013!

Recap: 2k12

What an amazing year 2012 has been for me. There are so many great things that have happened, and I can honestly say that this past year has been the best of my life … so far. I have so much to be grateful for, and I count my blessings as often as possible.

As I reflect on the last year there are many moments that come to mind:

Of course I was ecstatic that KU made it to the National Championship and that we got to attend several tournament games! It was awesome to be living in Lawrence at the time and being able to celebrate victories on Mass St. Even though we didn’t end up winning the title, KU had a remarkable ‘rebuilding’ year, to say the least. And we got to spend my birthday with a Final Four win!

We were fortunate enough to take some great trips this year – some were just us and others were filled with people we care so much about! Our family vacation to South Dakota is something that we still talk about, and a place we hope to visit again. Las Vegas was a trip for sure, I never knew four days on vacation could go so fast. Vegas is a different world, but a trip we enjoyed a lot! I am sure it is a no-brainer that Chicago was our favorite trip of all. :)

What really made this year better than any in the past was being able to commit my life to someone so special and perfect for me. We got engaged during this year, and all of the times we have enjoyed and laughed and loved have made this year so incredible. Time goes by quickly, but when you are with someone you love so much and so happy, the time literally flys by. What I am the most thankful for is day-to-day life – Everyone can have fun on trips and celebrating things, but to be able to live normal life so happily is truly something to be thankful for. I honestly didn’t know life could be so satisfying.

We got in a lot of fun activities, family and friend time, and moved forward with several things! We got to play a lot of golf, and even bought our very own cart!

We are moving into 2013 with positive attitudes and looking forward to what should be another incredible year. It is important for us to love as much as possible, get into good shape and stay healthy, and have as much fun as possible! As we go into the new year and start a new chapter in our life, we look forward to the journey together.

Happy New Year to all of our family and friends. We wish you all happiness and joy in the new year!