Christmas Wrap Up

December 31, 2009

I thought I’d do a little highlight/lowlight wrap up from our Christmas:


– We had a lot of wonderful family time in Illinois AND Massachusetts

– We had a blast playing Yahtzee Free For All with both families

– Andrew’s family stayed up VERY late every night chatting with us so we could spend as much time with them as possible.

– My Mother-in-law rocks:  When we got there she had put pineapple handsoap in the bathroom AND a Pineapple Mango body bar for the shower.  She knows how to make a boy’s house girlier!

-We had a BRAND NEW bed to sleep on in Mass.  it was so comfy.

– We were so incredibly blessed with the outpouring of gifts, giftcards and cash.  It was rather overwhelming.

– Andrew was able to purchase his Blu-ray player with the combination of his Christmas money and the after Christmas sales. (* SEE BELOW*)

– We had a great time with friends from Andrew’s highschool and college.

– Even though we celebrated Christmas on a different day with my family it felt totally like Christmas day and it was wonderful.  I love our traditions and we got to do them all.

– Our niece Madisyn was a sweet chunky monkey and we got to squeeze her a lot.


– My brother Kevin was not able to come home for Christmas

– Our visit with our nephew was not NEARLY long enough

– My father-in-law did not start any conversations with “So What Else?” 🙂

– My father-in-law did not laugh until he cried as he usually does at least once per trip.

-* As soon as he brought the Blu-ray home he set it on the counter and said, “This Blu-ray is nice, but…it would be awesome with surround sound.”  Welp I guess you know what he’ll be saving up for next year!*

– The 17 hour trip turned into 20 hours on the way home when the snow kept coming down.

– I got sick the last day of our trip and was not helpful at all when it came to the drive home.

Overall this was maybe the Best Christmas Ever!  It was definitely the best one Andrew and I have shared.  Check back tomorrow for our New Years committments.  I’m sure you will all be up late tonight writing out your plan for the coming year!



December 25, 2009

Hope you are enjoying the day, we have had a lazy afternoon which is awesome.  I just finished ordering stuff from Crate and Barrel and I can’t wait to receive it in the mail when I get home.  We have broken a few plates from our dishes so it’s reorders and of course a few little extra nice things 🙂

So the winner of the Christmassy item is ELLEN!!  Hey Ellen contact me at to let me know how I can get something to you!


Holiday Traditions

December 19, 2009

Hello Friends,

Sorry for the incredibly infrequent posts this month.  December is a crazy busy month for most people, but for us it has been an opportunity for us to relax, catch up on life and enjoy each others company and the company of friends we don’t typically see.  My goal was to have our Christmas cards out by December 1st.  We were close, they were all written and addressed, but we wanted to get our Christmas letter finished before we sent them out.  I think we sent them out the 8th…not bad.  I wanted to have our presents wrapped and under the tree by the first week of December and once again we were close, besides a few of our gifts that we were waiting on in the mail and a couple stocking stuffers, we had our tree up and gifts under it by the 1st.  It felt good!  Another thing I have done with pretty much every guest is ask them what their favorite holiday tradition is.  Andrew and I are trying to form traditions over the next few years before we have kiddos and so I like to get input from everyone.  This is where you come in! 

PLEASE post a comment telling me what your favorite Holiday Tradition is.  If you post your comment by December 21st you will be entered to win something Christmassy.  I would tell you what it is, but some of you might think you don’t need it and therefore will not post a comment and I NEED TO KNOW what traditions you have so that Andrew and I can copy you!  Winner will be drawn on December 21st at 10 PM.

Merry Christmas,

Laura (and Andrew too)

New and Old Tunes

December 17, 2009

I thought I’d highlight some of the Christmas music I have been loathing and loving!

Christmas songs I could go the rest of my life without hearing ever again:

1. Go Tell It on the Mountain:  I like the message, hate the tune!

2. The Christmas Shoes: This may be the worst song ever written for Christmas.

3. The Little Drummer Boy: Now they have even more stupid versions like the Little Drummer Girl, I must say that one is worse than the original.

Songs I would HIGHLY recommend if you are tired of listening to the traditional Christmas songs:

1. One Wintry Night by David Phelps,

I especially love the part of the song that says,

“Don’t you know the angels were breathless
As He stepped down off His throne
Into the cosmos His own hands had made
Don’t you know that darkness protested
As its reign was overthrown
And victory was declared with love’s display

2. 2000 Decembers ago by Joy Williams

3.  I need a Silent Night by Amy Grant

Google them, I think you will enjoy them!  I kind of apologize if one of your favorite songs is a song that I can’t stand, but hey, we’re all entitled to our own opinion.

This year has brought a lot of change. We have learned a lot about each other after a year of marriage. We have also had opportunities to build relationships as a couple with many people. Here is a month by month summary.

January:  We rang in the New Year with the Campbell family in Massachusetts and began a great year!

February:  We threw an alternative Valentine’s Day party for some of our married and single friends. We also took a trip to Grafton, Wisconsin with a group of friends for a “Church-Planting Boot Camp” (planting a church is one of the things that we have a dream of doing some day together).

March:  We became an aunt and uncle to Madisyn Lee Campbell and Hudson Reid Russell. Laura served as a bridesmaid in her good friend Addie’s wedding.

April:  We went to Texas and met Hudson and celebrated Easter down south.  We also went to Massachusetts and cheered Laura’s brother on in the Boston marathon, met Madisyn and got to attend the baby shower.

May: Andrew took a long-awaited trip to California to visit Matt Black. It was a much-appreciated birthday gift! Laura got to serve as Matron of Honor in her best friend Stephanie’s wedding! We have enjoyed getting to spend lots of time with Steph and Luke now that life has calmed down for both of us, and they live just a few blocks away!

June: Laura got a new job managing the office of Wesley Romine Painting. Also, both of us were in our friends Gabe and Aubrey’s wedding party! Gabe and Aubrey were both present on the night that we met. Little did they know that 11 months later, they would be leaving our wedding contemplating (and eventually) dating, falling in love, and getting married themselves! Finally, we were fortunate enough to spend several days in Michigan with the Houk family celebrating the wedding of Stephanie’s sister Erica! Laura was asked to do Erica and Zak’s flowers, and we ended up helping them put together much of the destination wedding. It was a lot of fun to spend that much time with the Houks, Shermans,  Suttons, and of course Nanny and Pa-paw!

July: Andrew’s parents came out to visit us in Illinois with Seth. We all stayed at Laura’s parent’s house and got to enjoy a few days together. Andrew took them to Chicago one day to see the Shedd Aquarium, and we all went together to Springfield and visited the new Abraham Lincoln Museum. Andrew was also in his awesome friend Geoff’s wedding!

August:The first day of August marked Laura’s first day as a pastoral intern at church.  We celebrated our 1st anniversary and went on a weekend trip to St.Louis.  We went to the arch, stayed in a swanky hotel, and Andrew got to see Laura’s “old stompin grounds.”  We had a wonderful trip away and hope that we can always manage to sneak away for a day or two on our anniversary. Also, Laura’s brother Kevin came home from Texas to train for the Ironman in Louisville, KY. On Labor Day weekend we went with Laura’s parents and aunt to watch him finish it in amazing time!

September: Laura drove back to Texas with Kevin to keep him company in the car, and she also got to spend time with her favorite nephew, Hudson!

October: Laura had a fun birthday with lots of friends! Andrew started a one-year Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Management. His career aspirations are shifting towards working on the business side of science, so the natural thing to do seemed like getting business education in addition to a Ph.D. in chemistry. The program covers all of the business basics that faculty thought a science major would need to know without going for a full MBA. He is really enjoying that, and hopefully it will help him land a job in 2010!

November: We drove to Texas with Laura’s parents to visit Bryan, Amanda, Hudson, and Kevin for Thanksgiving. Even though we got the flu the day after Thanksgiving, we were able to enjoy spending time with everyone and holding Hudson again!

December: We have been so busy this month! December is once again filled with parties, gift exchanges, and shopping! Bryan, Amanda, and Hudson will be driving to Illinois and we will have the Russell family Christmas a week early. Then, we will jump in the car and drive to Massachusetts to spend a few days with the Campbells! It will be Laura’s first-ever Campbell Christmas, so we are looking forward to that!

We have really enjoyed many recurring opportunities throughout the year. One of the best has been getting together monthly with a couple from church, Walt and Veronica Steffen. The Steffens have been our marriage mentors over the past year. We get together for coffee or dinner about once a month and talk about how things are going, the challenges we face, and what we’re excited about in life. They are a great resource and we really enjoy their company. We have also enjoyed starting a small group with young adults from our church. We meet weekly to hang out and talk about spiritual issues. We quickly outgrew our apartment, but a couple in the group (Daniel and Liz) volunteered to branch out and start a new group. We miss seeing half of the old group each week, but everyone is experiencing a lot more community since we can get to know each other better.

As you can tell, 2009 has been jam-packed for us. As wild as that has been, we expect 2010 to be even crazier! The year has finally arrived for Andrew to graduate!! Depending on the job he gets, we could be staying in Champaign or moving away. We’re looking forward to seeing what next year holds, and we trust God to get us through it all!

I Can Stop Lying Now

December 5, 2009

SO over the last month or so I’ve been about 2 pounds away from my wedding weight which was exactly 15 pounds from my starting weight of the South Beach Diet (or for Don the Beached Whale Diet).  People have been commenting that Andrew and I look like we’ve lost weight and asking how much we’ve lost.  Well, I’ve been rounding up…until today.  I am OFFICIALLY today at my wedding weight, yep that’s right 15 pounds down.  I’d be lying if I said I’m ready to stop losing weight, I mean if I maintained this weight forever I would probably be thrilled, but my goal is another 5 pounds.  It’s funny that I chose to weigh myself this morning…yesterday I had a brownie for breakfast, brownie with ice cream for lunch (and about 15 green beans….mom said every meal should have some green) and then 2 slices of Papa Del’s deep dish pizza for dinner.  I fell off the wagon, but am climbing back in today, this just shows me again why we don’t allow sweets in our house very often and if we ever make them for a gathering we force people to take it home…big mistake to take our leftover brownies home on Thursday.  AHHH it feels nice to have my body back!

Rabbit Rabbit

December 1, 2009

Happy 1st day of December!  I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Rabbit Rabbit day before, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to say it on the first day of the month every month.  I heard it on Nickelodeon when I was a kid and I think about it sometimes.  I hope you are having a wonderful Rabbit Rabbit day.  We are home safe and sound from our trip.  Last night we spent 4 hours of uninterrupted quality time together and it was absolutely fabulous.  We put up our Christmas Tree, rearranged our family room, listened to Christmas music, watched The Christmas Child (wouldn’t recommend it), drank hot chocolate and wrapped gifts.  CHRISTMAS IS UPON US! I love December