The Highlights of 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016
I remember this day so vividly last year, awaiting the arrival of 2016 knowing how vastly different the forthcoming year would be compared to all others. We rung in the New Year with a ten-day-old baby, some take-out Chinese, and an 11:30 bedtime because trying to make it just thirty more minutes to watch the ball drop seemed impossible as new parents. Sleep was everything. So we wished each other a "Happy New Year" a couple of hours later when that first early morning feeding woke our two-hour sleep. 

It's wild that 2016 came and went so quickly, and we find ourselves in a whole new predicament as we build excitement and momentum to welcome 2017. With a one-year-old our sleep has wildly progressed and staying awake until midnight will be easy. We'll countdown to the ball drop and share a sweet kiss as our official hello to this new year. If 2017 is anything like 2016, it will be full of growth and change. There will be milestones, more house DIYing, a little more graduate schooling, and so much hope for where the Lord is going to take us in the next 365 days. 

As a nod to the fun-filled year we shared, I rounded up the top blogged moments from 2016 for review. This year was my best yet, and also my most challenging. Parenting will do that to you :) The Hills have high expectations for 2017, and we have a feeling it won't disappoint. Regardless of what happens or how it all plays out, we're beyond thankful to have one another. There is nothing in this world like family. And a special thank you to each of you for hanging with me here at Hill Collection. This year has been a whirlwind, the posts sporadic as I adjust to and find my stride in motherhood, and yet you my readers, have been faithful and loving. I couldn't ask for more! I hope you have a joyous New Year's Eve! 

J A N U A R Y 











D E C E M B E R 

See more of our year on Instagram! 

A Merry Little Christmas

Thursday, December 29, 2016
It's wild to me that Christmas has come and gone. While our house is now back to it's "normal," undecorated-for-the-holidays-or-seasons state and I'm loving the freshness and clean feel, I thought I would jump back into a little Christmas mode for a sneak peak into our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We spent the holiday at my parents', and enjoyed the quiet and peacefulness of the mountains and country life. We spent more time playing games than taking photos, so I'll be keeping this recap short!

Last Christmas, our Greer was itty bitty at just four days old. This year was so fun with all of her awe and excitement. She loved unwrapping gifts and shredding the paper. But, by the end of the day (remember her birthday was just four days earlier) she was over the present unwrapping business. Nonetheless, her zeal for it all (especially the bells!) truly made the day!

Christmas morning started SO early, y'all. As in 6:00 AM. With a little coffee and a whole lot of baby squeals we managed, though :) This girl was all about her rocking lamb and new chair. Just look at this picture for proof! It's easily my favorite from this Christmas.

We spent our entire day opening gifts, napping, and then repeating the first two. We kept it laid back and simple, sporting pajamas and sipping coffee or cocoa all day long. I hope your day was full of the sweetness of the season, the good and everlasting news, love abounding, and family.

Happy First Birthday Greer!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

All the emotions. My Greer girl is one! Happiest of Birthdays to my spunky and sweet baby! Toddler-hood is around the corner, but for now she's still my baby. Let's be honest, she'll always be my baby even when she's in her fifties :)

How quickly the last year has gone. It has been 365 days of growth, learning, and lots of sugars and love. Today is so full of joy and so bittersweet. Every month this first year has held something special and irreplaceable, leaving me with precious memories that I wish would stay fresh in my mind always. As her mama, I am so excited to share her milestones, cheer her on, and experience each new age with every passing year. I know, too, how much I'm going to long to hold my newborn again, coo at my two-month old, and chase after my crawling 10-month-old. Time is fleeting, and my daughter has taught me how to appreciate it and not take it for granted.

My  hopes for my girl are to lead a life knowing and following the Lord, giving Him the space to work in her highs and in her lows. A life of confidence and humility, full of kindness and love. I want her to feel proud of her character and strong in her convictions. A life where she chases her dreams, but isn't deterred by setbacks. I hope all the things for my firstborn. And I hope she knows while she's doing all these things just how proud her mama and daddy are of her and how very much she is loved.

I hope this next year is full of even more laughter and snuggles, more adventures, more accomplishments, and so much more love. I can't wait to see what this stage has in store for us. I think being one is going to suit my vivacious and sweet Greer girl quite well! Happy Birthday, my littlest love! Let's celebrate with donuts, balloons, and all the empty boxes your heart desires! I love you forever and a day! xo

A Very Merry Weekend

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
'Tis Christmas week! We're slowing everything down here and enjoying the holiday festivities as best we can. Over the weekend, we celebrated and celebrated some more. From Greer's first birthday party (post coming later this week) to a visit with Santa and a Christmas lunch with family, our Saturday and Sunday were full of cheer! 

Today, I'm sharing Sunday's sweetness. We packed ourselves up in the cold weather and headed into the Virginia mountains to Mountain Lake for a visit Santa mid-morning. I love a unique tradition, and this little Christmas adventure is definitely going to be a new yearly family tradition during December. And we decided for next year, we'll be adding the brunch aspect to the morning fun.

The stonework at the lodge and big fireplaces make for a cozy setting. All the twinkle lights and Christmas trees just add to the ambiance. Of course,  being in the mountains is magical in itself. 

I had really high hopes for an authentic-looking Santa Clause, and he did not disappoint. He had his own flair and rustic charm, which I just adored. His burgundy suit, fur-lined vest, and jingle bell-clad boots made him all the neater. Santa's demeanor was so jolly and gentle; he reminded me a lot of the Santa Claus from the movie, Miracle on 24th Street. I think one of my favorite parts was how much undivided time he took with each child. It really was just simple and so sweet. 

Greer was okay with Santa until I started to back away from her. Then bring on the alligator tears. So Mama and Greer talked to Santa together, and that made it all better. Santa was so kind, and let Greer play with his timepiece, shared some photos he had in his vest pocket, and sang her a Christmas  song. His parting gift to her was a handmade button (I'm thinking it was made from deer antlers). We'll keep it for her as a little piece of her childhood Christmas memories.

Greer was clearly feeling the Christmas spirit after seeing Santa. I mean, just look at that sweet, cherub face! Also, how is she turning one tomorrow?!

We loaded up the car and then headed to my Grandmom's house for Christmas lunch. This has always been one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. My mom is one of six children, so when I tell you there was a packed house, I quite literally mean it. And I loved it. I have since I was a little girl, and I was thrilled to take Greer to be a part of her for her first time. 

The lighting isn't great (hello, window behind them), but I am crazy about these photos of Greer with Grandmom. It's extra special to me because of the relationship I have with Grandmom, and watching her love on my baby melts me. She turned 93 years young last week, and I'm so thankful to still be celebrating with her. 

And here we are, four generations ranging 92 years in age. Doesn't family just make your heart sing?! I just can't get over that I have a daughter to add to all this goodness.

Can we talk about those baby teeth?! Have you ever seen anything cuter?? #biasedmamaoverhere

I've been loving on my cousins' babies for years now. So I love watching my cousins loving on my baby this year. Even sweeter, is watching our children play together. We may not get to see each other often, but I'm thankful that when we do we all just fit together well. 

So Christmas at Grandmom's included a bunch of delicious food and cousins on cousins on cousins. I ate my share of my Aunt Donna's molasses cookies (I look forward to them every year), watched my daughter entertain her heart out (she loves to have all eyes on her), and relished the coziness of Grandmom's full house. I'm already excited for next year!

And last but, not least, a photo of husband and I. We rarely get photos of just us these days, and since my mama was parading baby girl around the house, we took the opportunity for a little photo op! So, who's excited for Christmas?! The Hills are!

A Year Of Motherhood

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Love at first sound is how it happened for us. I remember it so vividly, the Christmas music playing in the background amongst the the operating room buzz; the doctor and nurses chatting about current world news; the tugging, pulling, and pressure; the whoosh of her entrance, and then her healthy cry. Thirty-nine weeks and two days, I had been waiting to see her, touch her, feel her in my arms, and the moment was happening. I loved the way her hair was all curled and matted on the top of her tiny head. The way she cried until they nestled her into my gown and onto my chest. We fell in love hard, her and I.

Motherhood was instant, whether I was aware of it or not. The fierceness of being her protecter, her caretaker, her mama came like second nature. In every other aspect of my life I have felt bound by limitations. But, being a mama sends all of those notions out the door. Something deep in me, tells me that I can conquer just about anything for my girl. There is no love like a parent's, and it overwhelmed me in her first weeks of life. Four days after she was born, I cried hard because loving her physically hurt. Still today, my heart aches with every emotion she stirs within me, for the way I want to protect her from it all and can't. Trusting the Lord with her life has been the way to breathe through it.

The shift into motherhood was swift, easy, hard, and also complicated. It was everything all at once. A whirlwind. I found, and occasionally still find myself wrestling with my identity as a mother. Trying to maintain who I am as a woman in motherhood, has been a challenge. While most of my day is spent taking care of, entertaining, and loving my little, I still need to set aside the time to pour into myself. It's a balancing act that takes time to sort out. But, just because you're a devoted mother doesn't mean you can't be an accomplished woman outside of family life. It took some time for me to accept that as true and leave behind the feelings of guilt when I took time for myself, my passions, and my creative outlets. Mothering involves being a multitude of things, and you can only do it best when you're taking care of yourself in it and through it.

Mom life is an adjustment, but one worth making. While some things came naturally, others did not. I would feel success and failure in the span of just minutes. In those moments, comparison all too often crept in. Other mothers had it together, had it figured out. The feeling of inadequacy would threaten to swallow me whole. It wasn't until the six month mark that I began to realize that those other mamas are sometimes barely making it through as well. They don't have all the answers, and some days they're probably making it up as they go along too. Every day is a learning curve. You find a rhythm and let yourself settle in. But that rhythm is bound to change; it's always changing. Being a mama keeps me on my toes, literally now that she's mobile. There's no stopping, no pausing, no timing out. Even when she's napping. I'm constantly trying to think ahead so as to not fall behind. Mom life is always moving, always adjusting, always loving, and always pushing through. I've learned you don't know what will power is until someone calls you 'mama.'

Becoming a mother changed me from the inside out. I bare stretch marks and saggy breasts; the dark circles under my eyes have taken up permanent residence; a four-inch scar runs across my lower stomach; where clumps of hair fell out, short baby hairs now grow; and the muscles in my arms strengthen each passing day from carrying my girl always. More than any of those things, my heart now lives outside of my body. And because of that, I know an inexplicable intermingling of joy and fear. It gives my heart more delight and anxiety than it has every known. But, that I suppose, is motherhood at its core. And no matter her age, I have a hunch that feeling will never go away.

Being a mother is everything and more than I imagined. There are days I want to rejoice and others I simply want to cry. No one can make you feel more loved, more needed, than your child. And in the same breath, no one can push you to your breaking point like that tiny bundle. Motherhood is a mixture of love, joy, tears, happiness, caffeine, and grace. Truly, there's nothing quite so beautiful and messy. The reward in it is a gift every. single. day. Being a mother has pushed me past my own insecurities and made me a better, stronger person. There is nothing in this world I wouldn't do for my girl. She brings me more love, more joy, more happiness than I can describe.

No year has been sweeter, more challenging, or quicker. Nothing can possibly compare to this first year of motherhood. As much as I thought I prepared for it, nothing could fully get me ready for the heart of it or the transition. Motherhood wrecked me, while making me feel so very whole.

IncrediBundles At Christmas + A GIVEAWAY

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Only 15 sleeps until Christmas morning! With a baby in the house this year, everything is wildly magical and that much more exciting. It's been a pure delight to share the holidays with our Greer girl. And I think if she had her way, the twinkle lights would stay up all year through. 

As we've gotten closer to Christmas (and her birthday!) we have had a lot of discussions on what to gift her. We want to be sensible, especially for her age, while also throwing in some novelty fun too. With her birthday only four days before Christmas, and her development growing by leaps in bounds in such short periods lately, we have been talking through items that will span this next year. We didn't want to purchase too many 'baby' items, but we also wanted to get her something that is age-appropriate now. So we're thinking long-term and the present when making those gift decisions. 

We found that one great option for gifting a little was through IncrediBundles. You can create your own bundle, which is what we did, where you can mix and match a whole variety of toys, books, baby essentials, and the likes. This would make a great gift for a baby shower, welcome home from the hospital, or just because. And you can personalize it just to your liking. 

If you'd rather go with a an option that is already put together, you can pick something for the family of readers; a year supply of diapers (that mom and dad can choose the brand and size they want, when they want); a sleep, bath, or organic bundle; or by age range. There are really a ton of bundles to pick from, even one just for dads! And if you feel like you can't make the decision, but love the idea of a bundle, there is always the option of a gift card! 

So  what did we get for Greer? We opted for a variety of board books, some wooden toys, stacking blocks and cups, a mini orchestra set, and a Sleep Sheep. She has a fierce love for reading and handling books. If only you could hear her read. But, really, this girl has a whole different babble for flipping through a book verses just talking with us. It's the cutest thing I've ever heard. 

The stacking blocks and cups are helping to enhance her fine motor skills, and the mini orchestra is for her music-loving heart. This girl loves to dance to any music, and she has more fun with the jingle bells than you can imagine. The glee is palpable. As for the Sleep Sheep on the Go, it has been a huge lifesaver while traveling this holiday season. We can't pack up the fan that is always on when we put her to sleep at home, so this sheep with all of its white noise options has been phenomenal! 

And why is this sweet girl smiling? Because IncrediBundles is hosting a GIVEAWAY for a $50 giftcard to one lucky reader! The giveaway starts now and closes at midnight on the 16th! I'll announce a randomly drawn winner that following week! This contest is open to US citizens. 

Happy entering!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to IncrediBundles for supporting this blog and supplying the items shown and received in our Create Your Own Bundle. All opinions are my own. 

Christmas Home Tour 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016
Deck the halls; it's the most wonderful time of the year! Grab a cup of coffee, turn up the She & Him Christmas soundtrack and come on in, y'all! I've been counting down to this day since we closed in August. And I'm so excited to give a you a little tour of our home at Christmas! 

Decorating gives me such joy, and I can't tell you how much I have loved decorating our new home. I'll have to admit that a lot of our traditional, year-round pieces aren't yet in place (think curtains, photos, etc), but that didn't stop me from sprucing up the Hill House for the loveliest, coziest time of the year. Oh, if only you could see Greer's eyes light up at all the twinkle lights, hear her giggle with delight at the sound of a ringing jingle bell, and see her sweet little finger point out all of the Christmas trees! It makes decorating that much more magical this year.

The fireplace is roaring, my Twine & Cotton Christmas candles are burning, and holiday movies are on repeat. It's holiday perfection! I wish I could send the sweet scent of pine your way, because it smells heavenly in here. While I truly wish I could open my front door and welcome you in, I think these photos will do our home sweet home justice. Enjoy our Christmas-filled home! 

p.s. I spared no details when it came to sharing photos! 'tis the season! falalalala! 

Sharing our home with you has been a pleasure! It's looking a lot different than just a couple of months ago, and a whole lot more festive! Remember what it looked like before?? We've poured our love into making this house our home. Every detail is a little bit of us, and we are so excited for the projects we have planned for Hill House in 2017!

A HUGE thank you to my good friend and photographer, Rachel, who so graciously photographed our home and us enjoying the Christmas cheer! Be sure to find her on Instagram for a daily dose of stunning photography! 

And head over to Southern Weddings Blog today for an interview I did with them and more of our Christmas home tour! 

p.s. I'm joining Victoria a Christmas Home Tour link up too. You know you want to go browse through all of the other beautifully decorated Christmas homes too!