Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Newsletter

I included a Christmas Newsletter when I sent out Christmas cards this year, but I thought I'd share it here, since I typically don't send out very many cards!

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Holidays from the Dart Household! I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well. 2007 has been an exciting and eventful year for our family and we feel so fortunate to have received so many blessings. We are forever grateful to family and friends who have supported and sustained us through this past year.

The most exciting thing to happen to us this year was Kyle’s graduation from The Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. We absolutely LOVED our three years in Colorado, but we are so happy to have moved on to the next phase of our life. We miss all of friends in Denver so much and we want all of you out there to know that we think of you often and we feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by such wonderful people during the past three years.

After Kyle’s graduation in May, we moved back to North Carolina where Kyle accepted an associate position with the law firm of Kirkman, Whitford, Brady, and Berryman. He is so happy with the profession he has chosen and he is surrounded by wonderful people. When he’s not working, Kyle is a wonderful father and takes time out of every day to spend with the boys. He also loves to read anything and everything, but he has particularly enjoyed reading from his library of “the classics” over the past several months. He is serving as the Young Men’s President in our ward here on the island, as well. (Yes, he is very busy!)

Since moving back home, I have been able to really expand my photography business, and I am having such a good time. It is keeping me really busy, but I am enjoying every minute of it. I am also teaching piano lessons at the Crystal Coast School of the Arts one afternoon a week. I am teaching some wonderful kids and I have really loved “getting out” that one afternoon each week! Zac and Will keep me busy and there is never a dull moment in our home! In my spare time, I am serving as the Primary Pianist in our ward and as the Ward Activities Chairman.

Zac is a ball of energy! He is the life of the party and he keeps us all laughing. His love affair with baseball has only grown deeper as he gets older. He is now four years old, so he’ll FINALLY get to play T-ball this coming spring! When he’s not pretending to be Chipper Jones (the Atlanta Braves 3rd Baseman), he is pretending to be Jay Cutler (the Denver Broncos Quarterback.) He also loves to write the names of all of his family members and to read for hours on Grandma Susan’s and Grandma Ann’s laps. He’s a great older brother and he has done a wonderful job of teaching Will everything he knows about baseball (which is A LOT!)

Will is such a sweet and mild little boy. He turned two in November, and he loves baseball just as much as Zac, so they are perfect playmates. He has also developed an interest in Thomas the Tank Engine, and loves playing with toy trains, as well. We have discovered that Will is an animal lover! My parents and brothers have two new boxer puppies and Will loves them. I think Maggie and Skully (the puppies) realize he loves them, so they love him, too. They are so cute to watch!

We are so happy to be approaching the end of such a wonderful year and we are especially thankful during this season for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and all He has done for us. May you all have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2008!

Kyle, Aly, Zac and Will

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Family Picture Time

It's that time of year again! We went to take family pictures last weekend to put on our Christmas card and things went very well! The boys were perfect little models and We even got a decent family shot. Now, if you really want to be impressed, we also got great shots of Emily and Joella's families! It was at least a small miracle! I think I have the cutest kids, but I am their mother. Merry Christmas to Everyone and Wonderful 2008!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Winter Sunsets

I just wanted to share a few sunsets from the beautiful place we call home! Winter sunsets are so beautiful. They make the sky look like it's on fire. I hope you enjoy these. Aly

Monday, November 19, 2007

Remembering the Summer

Well, cool weather is finally upon us. I was looking back through some of the pictures I took this summer and never got around to sharing or editing. I found these from our trip to Utah at the end of the summer, so I thought I'd share.

We had so much fun on our trip. We spent nearly all of our time with Grandpa and Nic. We took daily walks to the cemetery and we visited out on the porch of the cabin for several hours one evening. Kyle's uncle, Paul R., is hilarious. He tells the funniest stories. One of the pics is of him and Nic as we all sat around visiting.

We tried to go to the zoo one day with Nic but the funniest thing happened. We went to eat at Cafe Rio and Nic showed us around the area in Salt Lake where he has lived for the past couple of years, then we headed up to the zoo. It was just a normal Thursday, so we thought. As we drove up to zoo, we noticed there weren't very many cars there, but we parked and started to walk up and we were met by a security guard. Here's the conversation:

Security Guard: Are you guys coming to the zoo?

Nic: We sure are (kinda in the tone of voice that said, "well, we are parked at the zoo and walking up to the zoo, so we are probably going to the zoo."

Security Guard: Well, the zoo's closed today.

Kyle: Are you serious?

Security Guard: Yep, I'm serious.

Nic: Oh, so do you close periodically for cleaning or something?

Security Guard: No, just today.

Kyle: Oh are you closed for a week or something for maintenance?

Security Guard: Nope, just today.

Nic: You mean to tell me that this is the first time I have tried to come to this zoo in over years, and it is closed, just for today?

Security Guard: Yep.

Nic: Well, you know what you call that don't you?

Security Guard: Uh, no.

Nic: That's just flat out, bad luck. (He actually said another word instead of bad, but I'll refrain from writing that in my blog!)

It was quite surreal. But, it was true, the zoo really was closed, so we went down to the planetariun instead. We saw a dinosaur 3-D IMAX show and the boys had a great time, even without the zoo!

Here are a few pics from that trip.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zac and Will

My two little guys have done and said some of the cutest things lately. I'm blogging about it for two reasons. One is to share with you how wonderful my children are and two, so I won't forget over time all of these cute things.

It all starts when Will wakes up at about 7:45 every morning and the first thing he says is, "Hey, Mom. Game?" When he says "game" he is referring to the XBox college baseball game. He just wants me to put it on automatic play and he watches it and pretends to be the players; fielding ground balls, pitching, batting, running the bases, sliding, etc. Whenever a player gets a hit, he yells, "He hit that ball!" Then he runs around in a circle a few times, slides, and yells, "Safe!" This entire scene is re-enacted several times a day. It's hilarious.

Then Zac gets up and at about 8:30 or 9:00. When I say, "Good morning, Zac," his immediate reply is, "Mom, I'm NOT Zac, I'm Jay Cutler!" He wastes no time before he gets into full Jay Cutler attire (see a previous post for pictures), and starts running plays with his entire imaginary team. He gets into position, looks to the right and yells, "Blue 22," looks to the left, "Blue 22, hike, hike!" Then he takes off, dodging tackles, avoiding collisions, and finally falls down, as if he's finally been run down by his opponent. It's a site to see.

Last night, I went to work out and while I was gone, Will pulled our Christmas tree over on top of him. Kyle said he heard something and ran into the living room to find Will peaking out from under the tree! And yes, I have already put my Christmas tree up. I haven't been able to put one up for the last five years for different reasons, so Kyle and I decided on Saturday morning we wanted to go ahead and get the Christmas season started. We both love the Holidays and we love Christmas music. We have a rule that after Halloween, Christmas is free game. I love the fall and Thanksgiving. My birthday is in November and often falls on Thanksgiving Day. It is my favorite time of year! Anyway- I redecorated the tree this morning and Will have been warned!

Zac is full of funny statements these days. He is constantly saying, "For the love of Pete!" I have no idea where he got that from, but he cracks me up when he says it. He planned his own surprise birthday party a couple of weeks ago! It was quite the spectacle. He's a funny boy.

I'll stop gushing. I'm just a proud mama. I hope these stories make you smile. My boys keep a smile on my face all the time.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tagged (This one's for you, Kel!)

Kellie tagged me. So here goes....

1.Best thing you cooked last week- I made a pretty yummy salad on Sunday night for cousin's night. It was spinach, avacado, strawberries, almond slivers, and a raspberry vinagrette. I think it was a hit!

2.If money, time and babysitting were no object, where would you go and with who? Wow, now that's a loaded question. No offense to anyone else I love, but I think I'd go with Kyle to Europe. We've talked about it a million times and someday, it WILL happen! We've got a thing about the Swiss Alps (right, Ky!).

3.When was the last time you cried? The last time I cried was last week sometime. I got my feeling hurt, but now I'm over it!

4.5 things you were doing this month 10 years ago. Wow, now let me think. I was a freshman at ECU. I was a Teaching Fellow, so I'm sure I probably went to a TF meeting in Mendenhall. I can guarantee I went to the Rec Center with Rodney to play basketball and workout. I'm sure I probably had a flag football game (we kicked butt, by the way!) I was babysitting for Spence and Brenna a few days a week and on the weekends I was waitressing at the Sanitary. Is that five?

5.5 things on your to do list today: Today, I have to go and get a banner to make a sign for "It's In-tents." I have to edit several photo shoots. I have to watch Josie's kids while she teaches piano. We are going to Trick or Treat Under the Sea tonight at the Aquarium, and I have to fold about 5 loads of clothes!

6.5 favorite snacks: I actually am not a snacker, but I do love Diet Coke, salty things, cheese, Funyuns, and an occasional piece of chocolate.

7.5 bad habits: Drinking way too many soft drinks! Clicking my tongue on the back of my teeth when I'm thinking. Not exercising enough! Wasting time on the internet when I need to be editing! Being negative!

8.5 favorite foods: Pasta with chicken white sauce from the Brick Oven. An enchilada style chicken burrito from Cafe Rio. A good steak from a nice restaurant. The Jose Special from Mi Rancherito, and my all-time favorite, stewed hard crabs!!!!

9.5 places I've been: Niagara Falls, Orlando, New York City, Nauvoo, Vail.

10.10. 5 favorite memories: My wedding day. The birth of my children. Running the St. George Marathon (26.2 miles!). My newlywed years in Utah. We worked about 5 jobs a piece and lived in Kyle's grandparents house, but we had the most fun. Living in Denver and all of our wonderful friends there.

Kel, that was therapeutic!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Has It Really Been Ten Years?

Kyle and Aly My friends since kindergarten, Kendra, Courtney, and Beth
My bestest bud from high school, Allison and her husband, Korey
The class of '97 (minus about 100)
Well, I am getting old. This past weekend was my ten year class reunion. We had a wonderful time. Kyle got to meet a lot of my high school friends he's never seen before and I got to catch up on ten years of life experiences. On Friday night there was a meet and greet at a restaurant on the waterfront, then on Saturday the reunion was at the Morehead City Country Club. It was very nice. It was catered by a local restaurant and there was live music. It's amazing how little everyone has changed over ten years. Here are a few pics of some of my friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jay Cutler

Zac decided a while back that he wanted to be a Broncos football player for Halloween. Well, I know Halloween is still 6 weeks away, but you have no idea how this kid had bugged and pestered me about this uniform. We saw it on and several time daily, he has asked me to pull it up and show it to him. Anyway- it has arrived! He is so excited. Notice the serious scowl in the first picture- he told me he had to look tough! All day long, he has referred to me as "Photographer," and I have had to address him as "Jay Cutler." As a matter of fact, he just walked up to me and said, "Hey photographer, come one! I have a game at 2:30 and I can't miss it!" I would like to get inside of his head, just for a second to see how fast the wheels are turning. He's a mile a minute!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

I guess you can probably tell from the title of this post that today's letter from the North Carolina State Bar of Examiners was a good one! All of the worrying is over and it is official, Kyle is now a lawyer. I did not doubt whether or not he would pass, but I have to admit that my hands were trembling and my heart was pounding as I opened the letter to read to him over the phone. It read, "Dear Mr. Dart, Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you......"

We cried tears of joy and chatted briefly, then I went downstairs to tell mama the good news. Kyle called back a couple of minutes later to have me read it to him again! He wanted me to check the fine print and make sure it really said he passed.

He worked so hard and studied so much. He was blessed and rewarded for his preparation. He is such a good husband and father. I really could not ask for more. I feel so blessed to have him forever!

I snapped this picture the other day when he got home from work. I thought it was appropriate for this post.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If You Want to Laugh...

Joella called me this morning and said she had read one of the funniest things ever, so I obviously had to read it, too. A mom of six kids was selling a pack of Pokemon cards on Ebay that one of her kids had snuck into the grocery cart. I know that doesn't sound too funny, but wait 'til you read her explanation of why she is selling the cards! I was laughing so hard, I had to wipe away tears so I could see well enough to continue reading. I am also adding a link to this lady's blog. It's hilarious. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Here's a cute picture from today, just because... I though it was cute!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Just a Swingin'

It has been so hot here lately that we haven't been able to spend too much time outside, but when we do go out, the boys love to swing. Zac has learned how to pump his legs to go higher and faster, so he feels like a big boy now, especially since he also learned to ride a bike last week. He's growing up. Will just loves to play ball, imagine that! He spends a great deal of time playing catch with Kyle and Pa. He loves to field the ball and play catch much more than Zac did at that age, but he isn't nearly as interested in batting as Zac was back then. It's so funny how their own little personalities show through. I love watching them grow!

Trip to Charleston

Well, we finally did it. Kyle and I have been talking about taking a vacation without the boys for a while, but we never quite seem to go through with it, but we finally did. It was wonderful. That's not to say that I didn't miss the boys, but I loved spending time with Kyle. Our lives have been so busy lately with moving, studying for the BAR exam, taking the BAR exam, helping out with family needs, and so many other things, that we desperately wanted a little time to ourselves.

The first day we drove down to Myrtle Beach, SC and checked into our hotel, which was very nice. I had reserved it online, so I was a little anxious to see if it was as nice as it appeared, and it was great. That night we went to see Le Grande Cirque and it was very enjoyable. I would suggest going to see something like it (Cirque Du Soleil, etc.) if you get a chance.

The next day we drove down to Charleston, SC. It was a very pretty drive through several small towns. We passed dozens of beautiful golf courses, which made Kyle drool a little. As we approached Charleston, there were so many little shacks on the side of the road where the local artisans were selling their sweet grass baskets, which are apparently a novelty, so they are very expensive. A basket about the diameter of your fist was $25. Needless to say, we just admired the craft, but passed on purchasing one for ourselves!

While in Charleston, we stayed with Rachel and Jason Frivance. Rachel is my brother-in-law, Kevin's, sister. They were so gracious and were great tour guides.

We ate at some wonderful restaurants. At the recommendation of Joella and Neil, Kyle's boss, we first went to Magnolia's in downtown Charleston. It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Kyle had salmon and I had flounder and we had the fried green tomatos for our appetizer. The atmosphere was great and the food was as good as everyone said it would be.

The next day we started by going on a carriage ride through the Battery and the Rainbow Row. It was so fun. Our guide was so informative and the sights were so beautiful. Most of these pictures were taken while on this ride. The architecture was the most interesting and enjoyable part to see. The homeowners in the Historic District also keep the most gorgeous window boxes you've ever seen. Mama would give them a run for their money, though!

We had such a great trip. Kyle even took me to see Hairspray one night. I guess he really does love me! I loved that, too. Now it's back to the real world, but we certainly enjoyed our little respite together. Every couple needs that every now and then!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Enjoying the Summer

The boys are enjoying a summer full of swimming, playing at the shore, playing with cousins, riding bikes, and the list goes on and on. Last night we celebrated Pioneer Day at the church and everyone had such a fun time. So many people in the ward worked so hard to make it an enjoyable and memorable day, and we are appreciative of their sacrifice. Here are a few pictures from the evening and few more from the past week.

A Beautiful Place to Live

The older I get, the more I realize how beautiful my home is. As a child, I remember my aunt, Sister, always becoming very emotional whenever she spoke about coming "home." As an adult, I now know how she felt, because I feel that way now. When I look at these pictures I have taken over the past few weeks, I can even smell the places and feel the humidity and breeze. I wish everyone could experience feel it when they looked at these pictures.

Kyle feels the same way about his home, as he should. I hope that the word "home" evokes pleasant and joyful emotions in everyone. It certainly does for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Living at the Hotel Hancock

Well, we are getting settled and having a good time. Living at my parents' house is an adventure. We LOVE being here, but there is always something going on! Eleven grandchildren in 7 years makes for a fun time when we get together. Leah and her family have been here for the past week to visit and to show off her new little one. He is adorable. I took some really fun pictures of him on Monday, so as soon as I get them edited, I will post them. Anyway- eleven little Hancock kids running around feels a little like a zoo. The kids love it, so it is all worth it.

We have a perfect apartment upstairs complete with a kitchen, washer and dryer, bathroom, living room, and two huge bedrooms. I am attempting to make it look a little more like home. So far I have hung 3 pictures, a clock, and a wreath! Impressive, I know. My mom and dad have been so gracious to let us disrupt their lives for the next few months, but we are so grateful for their hospitality and long-suffering.

I just got around to editing some pictures from our visit in Utah last month. Here are a few.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Getting Settled

Well, we've been here for two weeks today, and we are getting settled in and finally getting some things put away. The boys are enjoying their cousins and grandma's huge yard. Kyle is already busy studying and preparing for the BAR and I am trying hard to unpack boxes, edit pictures, watch kids, etc.

My sister, Leah, had a baby yesterday, so we went up to Raleigh for the day to meet Carter Michael Steelman. He is blonde and fair like Leah. I think he looks just like her. His brothers were very excited for him to arrive. Leah and Rodney and the baby are doing well.

I've haven't taken too many pictures since I got here, because I've been too busy, but here are a few from the other day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Graduation, Champions, and an Evening at the Ballpark

Today Kyle graduated from law school. He has worked so hard and he has loved his experience as a student at the University of Denver. It was a very nice graduation. The Attorney General of Colorado, John Suthers, gave the commencement address. He was short and sweet and too the point, which was nice for those in attendance. Afterwards, we went to lunch with Kyle's parents, my brothers, and our good friends. I was so proud of Kyle.

Later in the afternoon, Kyle and his friends from school played in the intramural softball championship game. They miraculously came back from a 13 run deficit in the last inning to win the game. All but two of them graduated from law school this morning, so this was a nice way to finish off a great era. Zac was their bat boy and good luck charm. He loves being a part of the action, and the guys all love him, too.

After Kyle's game, the guys all went down town to watch the Rockies and the Royals. The Rockies pulled off a victory, the hit four home runs, Zac made it onto the jumbo-tron yet again, and Mike almost caught a foul ball, but conceded viictory to the man who hurdled several people, including several children, to snatch up the ball. Zac has been on the jumbo-tron more in his 3 years than most people are in a lifetime!

Ann, Will, and I went to the mall and wasted a little bit of time, then we headed home. Will was a champ this morning for graduation, but I didn't have the heart to make him sit still for several more hours in the same day. He enjoyed the dogs at the pet shop in the mall and a fruit cup from Chick-fillet. It was a great day.