Friday, December 19, 2014

Favorite Things Party

Here are a few of my favorite things: hanging out with girlfriends, eating melted cheese on chips, and opening presents.  All elements of our Side By Side ladies Favorite Things holiday party.  Last Tuesday our group got together to celebrate the holidays, a wonderful first semester of Bible study and our growing friendships.  I love these women I spend my Friday mornings with and it was a treat to get together and laugh and talk while exchanging stories and personal favorites.

We set a $5 limit and each guest brought 5 of the same favorite thing.  Gifts were wrapped and later each one of us explained why we chose the gift we did.  I learned a ton about my friends as well as walked away with some lovely prizes.

 Erica, our lovely host, (might kill me for sharing this photo) looks like she's pondering something irritating.
 Erica and Sara - love these two.
 Tiffany, Jess and Casey get cozy with hot chocolate and the glow of the fireplace.
 Emily, Nicole and Aimee look like they could be sisters here.
 Taylor and I hold down the window seat and showcase a few of the gifts before opening time.

The whole group sans six of our beautiful women.  It's actually a miracle that ten of us were able to get together for the evening with kids and husband work schedules.  Also, fun fact, there are five preggies in this photo and two mommas of newborns represented.  Our group just keeps growing!

We ended the evening exchanging our goods.  Things got pretty exciting.

 Each of us drew five names to determine who would receive our gift.

 Some Burt's to cure those chapped lips and dry hands.
 Nicole was pumped to moisturize.
 Tiffany gave away some awesome nail polish.
 Erica shows great enthusiasm before opening her issue of Cook's Country from our resident chef, Jess.

 This cooking magazine was a total hit and offered family friendly meal ideas and helpful suggestions for mastering the cooking technique.

 Casey and Jess compare nail polish colors and we get the lowdown on the at home gel manicure.  It's a thing.
 I gave mechanical pencils and a notebook because I am
a. a huge nerd
b. love lists
c. a big fan of the Target dollar spot.
 Sara shows off her Mary Kay lip pencil.  You know you be jealous.
A small collection of some of the favorite things.

Thankful for a great evening, wonderful goodies and tons of laughs.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

For the Childhood Memories: Gingerbread Houses and Candy Dreams

I love Christmas time.  I adore all the tradition and enjoy the extra fuss we make, in an effort to make the season special.  I want my kids to treasure the memories we make in our home.  But I'll admit that I can be a practicality Scrooge when it comes time to actually pull the trigger and put some of these holiday inspired activities into action.

I could have easily talked myself out of the gingerbread house making, but I'm so glad we took time to create this masterpiece.  It was a fun evening and the kids were delighted to play with frosting and candy.  Thanks Costco for selling me a pre-assembled house and all the fixings.

 Doesn't everyone decorate for Christmas in their bathing suits?  No?  I'm quite certain Lakin would ask Santa for 10 more swimsuits if she were not terrified of sitting on his lap.

 Ben was content to decorate the extra gingerbread men and leave the heavy lifting to Lakin.

 The kids demonstrated amazing self-control with the candy.

 Chris took some artistic license and added his own personal flair to the rooftop.

Once we were finished the kids had a gingerbread treat to cap the evening.

They also wanted to make sure I documented their most recent ornament creations.  Bennett is especially fond of taking photos and then looking at the back of the camera.  It delights my heart to have a willing photography subject!

 "I make dis."

We remove and replace ornaments all day long.  Where will we find our entertainment after the first of the year when the tree is down and the decorations packed up?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Week 32

So... I took a  month off from pregnancy photos because getting the camera out on the same day I was feeling fabulous just never coincided.  And I also had to look up what week of pregnancy I'm currently in.  But other than that I'm feeling totally on top of the fact that we're adding another human to the mix in two months.

This babe is a rocking and a rolling inside and seems to move more than she stays put.  I don't mind the constant reminders but this weekend I thought we were going to meet her sooner rather than later the way she was shakin' it off inside that womb.  It's cool.  She's still cooking and I figure we have a good month before I can have legitimate panic attacks about delivering this babe.  Did you hear that Chris?  I will remain sane and reasonable through Christmas and wait until January to send you daily text messages about possible labor signs.  Scout's honor.

We've got a lot to do before this lady makes her debut.  We're hoping to get our house almost ready to list since I will be little help once she arrives and my days are swallowed up in newborn snuggles and lactating.  We also have to transition Bennett to the big boy bed in Lakin's room.  I'm putting it off because Lakin wakes up so early, which means now, rather than one child up at 5:15 AM playing contently in her room, I will have a team of people awake at 5:15 AM staging a ruckus together.  TROUBLE.  It's not that I'm not also awake at this ungodly hour (thank you pregnancy) but if a girl can't have a little alone time and peace and quiet in the wee early morning hours, when can she?  So I often leave the lights dim and pretend I'm sleeping, sitting up with a coffee cup in my hand when Lakin takes her 5:15 AM peek into our room to see if anyone's interested in reading her the 100 page Richard Scarry book.  No takers here.  Ask me at 7:00 AM.

And last I leave you with other contenders for week 32 photo:

 too normal
 looks  like I'm cradling a watermelon

So clearly the first photo was the only winner.  Right? 

Friday, December 12, 2014


It's been a long, germ-filled week for us.  What started with a runny nose for Bennett turned into a full fledged, family plague.  All members were hit, some more severely than others, and we have used every last Kleenex in the house, all the children's Tylenol and desperately need to air out the space and sanitize everything.  Anyone want to come over for a playdate?  I kid. I kid.

For the first couple of days it was simply the kids who had fallen victim to this awful monster cold, but eventually their loving caretakers found themselves down for the count as well.

Sometimes being the grown up is so hard.  Especially when the grown up is sick herself but still in charge of the health and wellness of others.  Thursday was my worst day, I thought death was on my doorstep and could barely move myself off the couch to pour a bowl of cereal (which was the breakfast, lunch and dinner of choice for the kids) let alone offer my kids much attention and direction.  We spent all day lying around watching cartoons and snuggling.  It was equal parts glorious and torture.  And I'm sure it will take me weeks to break my children of this new pattern of TV all the time.   But you know, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  God bless Netflix.

One thing that I found interesting is just how much I enjoyed being with them non-stop.  Sure, there were times I couldn't wait to get them in their beds so I could take a much needed nap, but all our togetherness, on one couch, made me realize how little time I actually just spend with the kids.  When we're home I'm usually getting something done, cleaning up or prepping food, or - I'll say it, checking out.  And I try to have something outside the house that we do every morning so we're not going crazy with each other.  But when you're sick, and you have no where to be but in your own germy cloud, you strip away all the busyness and activity and you get to really be present.  Bennett has all kinds of hilarious things to say and was super helpful fetching things for Lakin and I while we were couch stricken.  In fact, little dude loves to help and to be asked for his help.  Hmmmm.... this had never occurred to me.  He also told me all kinds of interesting facts about himself such as, "He not like corn." and, "He want cake everyday."  And Lakin has the most compassionate spirit.  She would kiss me on the arm and rub my tummy to help me feel better.  She also seemed to understand that I had absolutely little to nothing left to give, and took so much initiative on her own.  That girl is full of sweet grace when she sees a person in need.  It's one of my favorite things about her.

Maybe we need a pause every now and then?  God must know I will only take it when it is forced upon me so perhaps this recent bout of illness was less ill fortune and more divine intervention.  I was blessed by being with my people.  Even if they needed a serious nose wipe every 2 minutes and resorted to grunts and whines to communicate their every need.  It's easy for me to lose sight of my true treasures.  Thankfully, God gives me opportunities to see things as they truly are.

Hope you are staying healthy this winter.  But if you find yourself cooped up with your sick babies, I hope you can cherish the sweetness in the midst of some minor suffering.