Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday 5

1.
My mother-in-law Cathy came to visit last week for Bailey's birthday. She always comes bearing gifts - usually for the kids. This time she had a special gift in tow for me as well.
They stole my heart
Bailey  Avery  Graham

It's a mother's necklace from Jade Vine Jewelry on Etsy.

Cathy works at a post office and meets all kinds of people that sell their creations on Etsy, including Cassia - the owner of this particular shop.
I absolutely love the necklace. It's personal and beautiful at the same time. I've already worn it twice in the past week and received many compliments on it.

2.
Last night I attended my first Bible study ever. 

I think it was maybe a year or two ago, there was a post on a blog I typically read and she was talking about starting a Bible study as a great way to make new friends and create long-lasting relationships, your own little sense of community. I remember thinking, that would be awesome, but everybody around here already has their established friends. 
And that is actually somewhat true about a small town. It seems everybody already knows everybody and people already have those links established. But in the last year, I've been surprised by the number of new families with small children that have moved to the area. People our age, in the same stage of life, going through the same things we are. It wasn't just us. 

The tricky thing is meeting those people. And not coming across as a total creeper desperate for human contact.
Which sometimes I feel like I am...
Making friends is hard. 
I know I've said it before. I went to college out-of-state. The people I was closest with in college live at least an 8 hour drive away. So while most of us are in the same stage of life right now (married with small children), we don't get to see each other.  So the people I share a lot in common with aren't around to sit and share a cup of coffee. I have two other close friends in the area, but I don't get to see them all that often either. 

So I was pretty excited when a woman I met a few months ago at library story time invited me to a Bible study she was starting at her home. It seems like we are in the same boat, wanting a sense of community, looking for people that could possibly become real friends, desiring conversation beyond topics of preschool and sleep schedules. And it's work. It takes putting yourself out there. It's not as easy as it was in school or even in the workplace. But I think friendship is worth the effort. 

The atmosphere was relaxed and homey, Brigette (the hostess) made such cute delicious snacks, and the video series really seems like it is going to be a great fit for our group. I have high hopes to learn a lot and fill in a bit of that friendship void while I'm at it. 


3.
We just watched the season finale of How To Get Away With Murder.

Girrrrl! That show always keeps us guessing.
Not sure how they are exactly going to transition into the next season, but I guarantee we will tune in to find out!


4.
Random fact: I hate this blog name. 
I started this blog back in 2011 without knowing whether or not it was something I would enjoy doing. I think Jared came up with the name, and I was cool with it. But over time, I don't know... I just don't really think the name is very "me." I don't know if it's because it seems overly cheery and perfect while I am more realistic and sarcastic or what exactly.

In hindsight I wish I had picked the URL to be something less specific to the blog name, that way the blog name could be easily changed. Literally "thesolkos.blogspot" would have done the trick. But I was new to all this and thought it was supposed to be the same. So now it is in the URL and it seems like a lot of work to switch it at this point.
Like, would my 7 or so regular readers be able to find me?!
Maybe it isn't that much work. Who knows? It did take me basically two whole years to finally bring myself to create a new email and abandon the old one that I created when I was 14. So maybe in another couple years I will work up the gumption and do something about it.

5.
Have you ever heard of or played Cards Against Humanity?

Jared found out about this "party game for horrible people" and immediately wanted it for Christmas. My apologies, baby Jesus. We have played it a few times and - shocker- since we're horrible people, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

This past weekend Jared insisted we play it with my parents, sisters, Justy's boyfriend Zac, and Jared's mom. Can we just say, this isn't necessarily a game you should play with your in-laws?! I was basically forced into playing along.

The premise of the game is just like Apples To Apples. One person reads a card (the black card) and everyone else playing chooses a card from their hand to play to answer the first card's question. The original reader picks the one he or she likes best. There are usually some good ones, sometimes some that aren't as funny, and then there are some like this:

My dad read the top card.
The winning card (the white one) was played by my mother.
I almost nearly died laughing.
It was funny when it was read aloud, but it was even funnier when my mom raised her hand to admit she played the card.
They sell expansion packs and we most definitely will be needing one of them soon.


Well, that's it for me. I am off to bed early. Tomorrow Justy and I are going to go get cheap reflexology sessions at the massage therapy college and then see a matinee of 50 Shades of Grey. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the book isn't actually better in this instance.
Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bailey turns 5


Bailey turned 5 years old last week. 
And like every other living, breathing preschool-aged girl, a Frozen party was asked for. 
(And asked for. And asked for. And you get the point.) 
So at her party this past Saturday, she got what she wanted.

She was especially excited about the larger-than-life Elsa balloon. Even I was surprised by its size when it was inflated.

One word to sum up her mood of the day: Sassy.
She was sashaying around the house in her beloved maxi skirt, throwing spunky attitude for every possible photo.

(Isn't this the most pathetic "wall" banner ever? Negative Amazon review coming soon.)







It was a good party and Bailey soaked up all things Elsa and Frozen, including a large majority of her presents. 

Graham is also particularly Frozen obsessed, so he had to give Bailey's new sneaks a test drive. 
He heartily approves.

Some other pics from the day.







Saturday, February 14, 2015

evolving

I realize that recently I haven't had a lot of quality in this online space. I used to blog pretty regularly - about kids, life, my opinions, or just random updates. I am lucky if I write something twice a month lately. 

Blogging became sort of an escape for me back in 2011. It was basically the only thing I did for me. I've always liked writing, so it was a good fit. And it stayed that way for a long time, until this past year when I moved my health and fitness from the (way, way, way) back burner up closer to the front. 

And it's not only that. My mind has been occupied with other things, and quite a lot of it is stuff that isn't truly *my* stuff. It's some deep shit that is mostly other people's deep shit, but it affects me too. They're people I love and care about, so I worry. I pray. I am a sounding board. I'm trying my best to be a solid support person. Situations like these are the ones that remind me of a country song: You Find Out Who Your Friends Are.  (Gotta love a good Tra-Law reference!) I want to be that friend. 
Call me - I'll answer. 
Need to cry/scream/vent? I'm here.
Need a hug? I love a good hug!
Not sure what you need? I can bake some cookies and we can drown your/my/our sorrows in chocolate together.

So while writing has always been a cathartic process for me (Your Honor, I submit into evidence my angst-filled pre-teen diaries), this isn't the place for all the emotions and thoughts running rampant in my mental space these days. And with those emotions and thoughts tied up, I am feeling zapped for inspiration. I hate to make this blog a periodic catch-up list of what we did each week, and that feels like what it has been lately. It used to be more than that to me, but everything changes and evolves. My efforts and time are just being put to other uses right now. So for those who check in here periodically and wonder why I seem to have slid off the grid, now you know. 

So now for the randomness I referred to earlier:

Jared's little Etsy business was a bit ridiculous in January. Last year, after a big (for us) Christmas rush, it was complete crickets for months. We expected the same this year. Surprisingly it was busy with lots of orders. Also helping traffic recently is the Etsy Lookbook for Spring 2015. Jared was contacted to submit an item for consideration back before Thanksgiving. Both of us were like, Is this a joke? Is someone just trying to get free stuff? but apparently it was for reals. He was eventually selected and notified last week. His item is featured with only 20 others in the "Kids" section. 
I have zero idea how his item got the committee's attention in the first place, especially since Jared has just a small shop with only 100+ sales, but it happened. Obviously Jared isn't trying to grow his shop exponentially, but it's nice to get noticed and hopefully gain a few more orders. 


Today is Valentine's Day.
So... Happy Heart Day!
Y'all know my opinion on Valentine's Day - it's kinda silly. 
It's great that people want to show some love and affection. But the best part of Valentine's Day is observing the boyfriends and husbands that are normally total dicks 24/7 go out and buy a dozen roses and get called the "Best Husband EVER!!" Am I right? But that is beside the point...

Anyway, now that I have kids that (sort of) care, I gotta step up my V-Day game a bit. 

We baked cookies for Avery's class party and got crazy with the pink glittery stuff. Both girls gorged on candy after their school parties this week. Today Jared and I gave them tiny Russell Stover hearts (Target for a whole buck) and a new rubber duck each for the bath tub. (Weird I know, but they've been whining since I threw their others away. I don't do moldy ducks.)

My Valentine's spirit on display:
Nail tutorial from The Small Things blog
Nails and cookies, that is as festive as I get.

Tiny nails were also painted fitting colors for today.

And this wasn't even a sugar-induced crazy face.

Speaking of that crazy face, Bailey turns 5 next week. Grandma Cathy is flying in for a few days, and we will be doing it up Elsa style at this time next Saturday. And hey, maybe if we're lucky she'll make the above face when she sees all the Elsa and Anna and Olaf crap plastered everywhere!

Oh, and it's exactly 30 days until Jared and I visit this luxurious paradise for 6 whole days. 
Are you tired of me rubbing that in your face yet? Well too bad! It's getting me through some challenging workouts, carpet pee stain cleaning sessions (toilet train yourself already, Graham!) and some freaking cold days around here.

And speaking of vacation, if anyone reading this post is a reader and has some great beach reads they'd like to recommend, please leave a comment. I'd really appreciate it! I want to be prepared with a good book or two to enjoy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February this and that

The book nerd in me is coming out a bit again lately. 
I've always loved to read, but sometimes after I finish a book, I get in this weird slump where I am lazy and don't want to start another one. But the good news is that our local library (which is awesome, by the way) has about 15 of the 30-ish books in my current to-read list on Goodreads, so I have zero excuse to not be reading.

I most recently finished Yes Please by Amy Poehler. 

I'd heard a lot of rave reviews about it. Lots of "empowering to women" comments, that kind of thing. Jared downloaded it to his tablet and read it thinking it would be funny. He's always thought Amy Poehler was hilarious. So when he told me he didn't like it, I was thinking maybe it was too much "girl power!" or she referenced her monthly flow a couple times or something. So I picked it up at the library and read it anyway.
The following sentence sums up my feelings:
Meh.

That's my official book review. 

It wasn't really funny. 
Yes, I laughed a few times because I think the woman could rewrite the dictionary and still make it funny, but it wasn't a funny book. There were too many parts that I was like, "Yep, don't care." "Yep, still don't care." *skimming. skimming. skimming*

A whole chapter on her drug use. 
As someone who has never done a single illegal drug, this was interesting for a few pages, but it started to give that feeling you get when you're stuck talking to a 19 year-old, and all they can talk about is how awesome some party was last weekend. And how many people were there. And oh man, how drunk everyone was. 
And you're standing there, glazing over, trying to pretend to give a shit. 
And it seems like no one is ever going to come save you from this tedious conversation. 
That was my feeling during parts of the book. 
So in total, I don't recommend. 
Also, it's a memoir, so please write something we can't learn from reading your Wikipedia entry.


This past Sunday was the Super Bowl. Despite the fact that I have always despised the Patriots and don't give a flip about the Seahawks either, we watched. We always watch. As a football fan, it's what you do.
Oh, that and we always eat snacks.

Our kids thought it was the coolest thing ever that they didn't have to eat at the dining room table. 
A table? 
Filled with snacks?
In the living room?
While we watch TV?!
It was apparently special in the world of toddlers and preschoolers. 

It was a great game, even though I did lose the family pool to Justy.

Let's see. What else is new? 
What else... what else...

Oh, I've been obsessively reading reviews for our vacation to Puerto Vallarta in March. I am jotting down notes of people's tips on restaurants and tours and how to go bars at night without risking our safety. I realize this might be borderline obsessive, but since we haven't gone on vacation in forever, I want to make this the best vacation possible. 
Also, I bought a bathing suit.
Annnnnd it has two pieces. Eek! 
I feel okay about it. 
Wait, can black still be slimming even if your stomach is showing???

And speaking of my stomach, I am only showing you this photo because I am proud of where I've come in the last few months. And I know I posted it on instagram, but since I have like 12 followers on there, I am posting here too. Deal with it. 
Those are my shorts from this past summer, I was still wearing them in August. I can't even keep them up at this point - they slide straight down. I'm excited to need to buy a new pair of shorts for vacation. 

I know some people losing weight take all kinds of progress photos, and I can see why. It's motivating to see the loss. You see the scale number decreasing, and you feel yourself getting stronger, but it takes your brain a while to catch up. Seeing it in a photo helps.

What else...?

Lots of snuggles. With blankets. And books.
It is so freakin' cold outside. 
And even if I did want to throw them outside in the snow for a few minutes, Avery is currently minus one snow boot. I can't find that sucker anywhere.
(Maybe I should check in the magical drawer that Blankie always disappears into...)

I am currently reading a book that is nearly 20 years old.
It was an Oprah book club selection back in the day. 
This could be good or bad.
Oprah has done right by me (Pillars of the Earth), and she's also done me so, so wrong (Freedom).

In all honesty, I started this book almost 2 months ago. It didn't catch my attention right off the bat, and I just wasn't in the mood for it, and I read another book in the middle of it. I was about to quit altogether, but then I read some reviews on Goodreads and felt like thousands of people couldn't call it their favorite book ever and it be absolutely horrible. So I decided to keep reading. And when I think back, some of my favorite books were ones that built slow, establishing solid characters - ones that stick with me to this day. I'm about halfway through. And it's a good, solid book so far. 

So that is what is going on in my world. That and planning an Frozen-themed party for a certain girl who is turning five in a mere two weeks. Five! I can't even believe it!
Check back in later this month to see the huge, kick-ass Olaf balloon. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January jumble

It's been a lot of every day normal stuff around here lately. (For January in Iowa at least.)

Snow coats the ground, the wind chill has dipped down to 30ยบ below zero on more than one occasion, and we've been hunkering down. School was cancelled 4 out of 5 days last week for my preschoolers, and I have felt a bit stir-crazy.

It's impossible to get anything done amid the continual begging to go outside and numerous requests for the movie Frozen, which I must admit is extremely appropriate.

So there really hasn't been much happening. Lots of kleenex and antibiotics. Strep throat and ear infections. Warm blanket snuggles on the couch. We did brave the temps and the wind and escape the house a few times though.

I took the kids out to my parents' one day to eat lunch and celebrate my dad's (belated) 55th birthday.
Bailey helped my mom pick the frosting color for his cake, and we all sang Happy Birthday to Papa Jeff.
The kids assisted in blowing out the candles. 

And it is a {sick} fact that one of them literally sneezed a candle out. (Granted this particular child was using the "sneeze into the elbow" technique, so my nurse's heart was happy.) And in case you are wondering why there are exactly 6 candles forming a semi-circle: this was the excited work of a 4 year-old.

Last weekend I promised the kids a movie at our local $2 theater. Excitement abounded. I said we would go Saturday afternoon at 2:00.
Cut to 1 pm when I realize that they no longer do afternoon shows and the only option was 7:30pm - way too late for Mr. G.
We settled for bowling instead.
They had never gone bowling and it was a fun, exciting new experience... for the first 6 or so rounds. By the time the last round approached, Jared and I were both thanking God and were ready to run out of the bowling alley.
But they all looked so darn cute in their tacky bowling shoes!

The only other new thing around here...
Jared and I booked a vacation!

This is huge news in my world.
Our last vacation was in 2009 - not counting our trip to Colorado in October with our kids. Because as fun as that was - and it was fun - it still doesn't feel quite like a vacation with toddlers in tow. 

In March we are going to Puerto Vallarta to an all-inclusive resort for 5 days. 
FIVE. WHOLE. DAYS.
Of beaches.
And sun.
And quiet.
And all the adult beverages a carefree parent could ever dream of.

To say we are excited is a big understatement. We have been saving up money in a special vacation fund for a few years, and it feels good to finally put some of that money to use. This trip is giving Jared and I both something to look forward to and work toward. 
I am definitely using it as my mental Happy Place when the snow is blowing, the kids are whiny, or my workout is kicking my butt.
I think the anticipation of an awesome vacation is almost as great as the vacation itself. 
I can't wait for March to get here!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

post-Christmas catch-up

It's 2015 and we all survived the holiday season. There isn't much to survive in our world. We only attend two different Christmas get-togethers, which I find to be a real rarity after talking to other people. And especially since Jared has divorced parents. But I am not complaining. I find it way more enjoyable to go to a Christmas celebration and just stay, as opposed to running here and there, making sure to "make an appearance" so no one's feelings get hurt. Especially with kids in tow. Kids that probably missed naps and way overdid their allotted sugar intake.

We had a great Christmas.
As usual we attended Christmas Eve church service and hosted a meal of appetizers at our house for my family.
There were the usual pictures in front of the tree.



I felt like Christmas was relaxed this year. That is a goal of mine - to not become that frantic, crazed person rushing around buying gifts and thinking that perfection is what makes Christmas special. Santa didn't spoil our kids. Their grandparents and aunts do that. Our kids got one present each from Santa and the other two were from Mom and Dad. Santa of course gets to be the fun guy, while Mom and Dad gave books and clothes. 

Our families usually ask our opinion on presents to buy for the kids. Most of them know I hate the clutter of a thousand toys. Toys are important for kids, but we want stuff that makes them use their imaginations and be interactive. And they all did so great picking out stuff that they will use again and again, without driving Jared and me insane.

Princess dress-up stuff for the girls. Instant hit.

"The Little Blue Truck" board book. Graham is obsessed.

Little People. They've already been in the plane, bus, tractor, barn, you name it.

A unique, personalized board book made by my mom on Pint Size Productions. Graham loves this book. It is all about farm implements with pictures of his papa's tractors, combines, wagons, etc. And he can't get over that there is a picture of his grandparents in a book!
ThinkFun Roll & Play Game (G's present from Santa). All 3 kids love it. They learn and have fun at the same time. And it entertains for a long time. I highly recommend.

Tool set. Tractor repair was going down just yesterday morning.

This adorable Melissa & Doug doorbell house. Jared hid their snacks in it one day and Avery couldn't stop laughing at the fact that her fruit snack was hidden behind Door #2.


And of course they got clothes, and leggings for the obsessed Bailey, and other books. It was all stuff we can use and I appreciate all the thought that went into getting them meaningful gifts.

We went after-Christmas shopping on December 26th and scored some good deals on decorating stuff. Now that all my sisters have their own houses, we can all behave like old ladies excited over new decor items. :) 

New Christmas tradition for next year!
My sister Beaner told me of an ingenious idea that a friend does for Christmas each year. Every year she individually wraps every Christmas book they own and places them under the tree. Each night in the days leading to Christmas, the kids get to pick a book, unwrap it, and read it together that night. They are all books they have already read, but it's like they are brand new. It's a unique tradition that is essentially free and fun for the kids. Another way to get in the Christmas spirit. I am so going to do this next year!

Other stuff:

I don't know about you, but man we are getting lame on New Year's Eve. And when I say "getting" I really mean that we have been this way forever. We even had no kids for the evening (Thanks Mom!) and we were still lame. As my sister Justy expressed, it's all the pressure that comes with New Year's supposedly being this awesome, great time. I haven't ever had an amazing New Year's experience. Maybe one day? 

This year Jared and I went out for dinner and drank too many margaritas. We came home and drank some wine and played some games, passing time until it would be suitable to go to the bar. And then around 9:30 our couch started looking pretty amazing. And we did have a long list of movies DVRed. And with that showers were taken and jammies put on and we snuggled up on the couch to watch "Dallas Buyers Club." Yep, that is how behind we are on new releases. We were in bed before midnight. And it was pretty great.



I reached my goal and lost 30 pounds a few weeks ago. Christmas happened and I took the liberty of still working out but eating whatever indulgent crap I wanted. I gained a pound. Oh well. I would have been in a pissy mood passing up delicious food at Christmas for the sake of a calorie count. 

And despite the Christmas food free-for-all, I bought my first pair of jeans (not counting one pair of maternity jeans) in 8 years. 8 YEARS. That's pathetic. I have been getting by using some of Fe's jeans that she couldn't wear anymore (because sister lost like 60 pounds in the last 2 years!), but those are now too big. It was time. 
I am pretty ecstatic to report that I now fit into a pair of 9/10 jeans. That's amazing for me. I haven't been that size in probably a decade. 

On the exercise front, the week of Christmas I decided it was time to rededicate myself to actually getting more fit. For a while I had been coasting by, still losing weight, but not really challenging myself with workouts. So I started a new workout routine. It's called The 90 Day Warrior Workout by Hasfit.com, and it's a calendar with 3 months of workouts planned out for you. Some of the workouts are ones I have already done while doing the 30 Day Beginner calendar, but there are quite a few new routines that are kicking my butt at times. And that's a good thing. As always they are all exercises that are done at home with only handweights. I highly recommend if you are looking for something to challenge you without shelling out money for a gym membership you aren't sure you will use all that much.


I think that is about all for now. I put the kids in front of some Looney Tunes so I could have a minute (or 30. or 60.) to myself. Hey, at least it is the classics and not Caillou or some crap. Man, I hate that little, annoying brat... Him and his grating personality and that hat he always wears. One shouldn't have such aggression towards a PBS cartoon character, but it is what it is (to quote my mom).
I digress...
Time to go make lunch! 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

countdown to Christmas

Christmas is a mere two days away and I am a little saddened by that fact. This year the month of December seemed to fly by. 
I love the house all decorated. At night when the house is picked up and there isn't a toy in sight, I sit down and enjoy the dim glow of the Christmas lights and pine-scented candles. Choir-sung Christmas carols have a way of soothing the emotional exhaustion I feel lately. The house feels festive. The kids are excited. A new (clearance sale!) tree shines brightly in the girls' room. The chaos and joy and celebration of Christmas Day looms closer.

But in the meantime, tasks are to be completed.
A few final presents need wrapped.
Food needs prepared.
There's always laundry to do. Always.
And then there's the usual house cleaning that comes with hosting a holiday party, even though it's just a small, immediate family-only gathering on Christmas Eve. 

So before I depart to clean under dining room booster seats - you always think you do a decent job housekeeping until you check under those bad boys, I leave you with this gem from like 1995 or something.
There are so many comments to be made from this picture...
Have a good laugh at our expense.

Enjoy your last few days of all things merry and bright.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas traditions

Christmas is the holiday for family traditions. And Christmas has this talent for making me think in a rose-colored glasses sort of way. My mind drifts back to the traditions of the Christmas season that we celebrated when I was a small freckle-faced child growing up in rural Iowa.

Decorating the tree and the house to the sound of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing the holiday classics. (Yes, my mom did that by choice.)

The Christmas Eve church program we put on as Sunday school kids every single year. 

Driving around looking at lights with my Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Ronnie.

The holiday cookies and goodies that covered every surface of my mom's kitchen. 

Running excitedly down the stairs on Christmas morning to what felt like a mountain of presents under the tree.

They have this glossy feel that favorite childhood memories have. A feeling that everything was perfect and right in the world. There was a magical, special feeling to all the little things that happened during the month of December.

And I want my kids to have that feeling. To be able to look back fondly at special moments we celebrated as a family. Before December even arrives, I am already anticipating all kinds of magical Christmas-y activities. 
decorating the tree.
baking Christmas cookies.
looking at Christmas lights.
I smile thinking of how special it is going to be. 
The twinkling tree lights apparently affect my memory and dramatically increase my optimism. 

Before long reality sets in. 
Graham is taking ornaments and throwing them across the living room. 
Fights ensue over the set of pretend reindeer antlers. 
After 6 hours of Christmas baking, I am lacking the patience required to help preschoolers decorate cookies. Ten kinds of sprinkles?! What was I thinking?!
The hot chocolate we poured lovingly into sippy cups for the Christmas light viewing gets lost and rolls under a seat during the drive. 
Apparently the kids didn't get the memo: We're making magical memories, dammit!

Sometimes I see other families and the fun stuff they are doing this holiday season. I think, why aren't we doing that? Are we doing enough? Would our kids even behave enough for that?! Are our kids going to look back fondly at what we are doing? Are they going to remember me losing patience over the pound of sprinkles on the floor?

But the truth is, 
things weren't perfect when I was growing up either. 
In almost every picture in front of the tree on Christmas Eve, at least one of us kids is pouting or crying or crossing our arms in defiance. 
And yes, we looked at Christmas lights with my grandparents, but usually around 10 minutes in, we were more excited about the Pizza Hut they promised us than any nativity display.
I was a small child during the farm crisis of the 1980s when money was tight, and I am sure most of my presents were necessities - not the newest toy I thought I wanted.

But none of that distracts from the glowing feeling of my childhood Christmases. In the end what mattered was that my mom and dad were there on Christmas morning - Dad throwing balled up wads up paper at us, Mom in the kitchen baking turnovers for breakfast. 
Santa had showed up and there were gifts under our tree to unwrap in a wild frenzy.
Our grandparents wanted to spend time with us, even if we were just in it for the pizza.
We went as a family to Christmas Eve church and sang our little hearts out for everyone to hear.
Perfection isn't a requirement for cherished childhood memories.

Our kids are still little, and we are gradually adding to the traditions around here.

I don't put on the Chipmunks album, but we decorate together and jam to some other tunes. 


We bake cookies and try to contain the kids' enthusiasm for sprinkle throwing.


We load up and go looking at Christmas lights, hot chocolate filled sippies required.


We dress up in fancy clothes for the kids' Christmas program at church. 


They might not be storybook-quality moments, but hopefully our kids will look past the imperfections and see the love that went in to each day and every occasion - big and small - of the holiday season. Hopefully someday they will remember the rosiness of their childhood holidays just like I do. 



**And no, you didn't miscount kids. We are watching my cousin Alan's daughter Carlie while they are on vacation. So Carlie got to join in some Christmas light viewing with us. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Faves

1. Blankie has been found!
Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord!
all that.
He had been M.I.A. for the past four days. Things were getting serious. We last saw him (yes, the blanket is referred to as a person around these parts) on Sunday when Graham went down for a nap. And then that night he was no where to be found. 
We. tore. this. place. apart.
Nothing.

I was on the fence about full-on accusing Jared of taking care of him Chicago mob boss style. See, Jared started to despise Blankie about 6 months ago when Graham figured out how to tear tiny bits of the fleece/cotton/whatever mixture off of it and roll it into balls. It's like a weird OCD thing he does when he is falling asleep. Whatever. Point is, there are tiny blue clumps of cottony fabric all over his room. So there was possible motive there...

But yesterday Bailey came running up the stairs yelling, "I found him! I found him!" The him, of course, being Blankie. The blanket had been stuffed into a small nightstand drawer in the spare bedroom. Clearly I owe Jared an apology. He did not shove him in the garbage and hustle it out to the curb Monday morning to cover his tracks.

Now that Blankie has returned, nap times are bound to go much more smoothly again.


2. Christmas decorations! 
We spent a large chunk of last Friday unpacking tub after tub of Christmas decor. 
The Pandora Christmas station was playing.
The tree went up.
Lights were hung.
Decorations are now in almost every room.

I particularly love our buffet in the dining room that helps spread more of the Christmas spirit around the house.

Jared even put up a couple strands of white lights on the girls' bunk beds. It's a fun substitute for a lamp for a few weeks, plus Bailey and Avery think it's pretty special.


3. And speaking of Christmas decorations, if you have a fake tree, you definitely need to purchase these bad boys.
Scentsicles. 
Jared hates that we have a fake tree. But I like to have the tree up for a month, plus live trees are more work, as well as being more costly since as we got a good after-Christmas deal on our fake one. Jared mostly misses the fresh tree scent.
So we bought some Scentsicles on Amazon.
Under 9 bucks. 
Problem solved. 
It makes the whole room smell amaaaazing!
Totally worth it to buy a pack every December.

4. The girls' school pictures came in yesterday. I tried to scan them, but it made the quality of the already not-exactly-high-quality photos even less. 
But I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out. Bailey as always did fine. 
With Avery, I had to go in with her after school got out. Her teachers tried and tried during her scheduled time, but she refused and wouldn't stop crying/freaking out. In the end I had to jump around acting crazy while bouncing her Hello Kitty backpack above the photographer for her to grimace smile at the camera. So considering all that went into them, they work for me.

And $80 later we have two somewhat okay photos that we could have taken ourselves in our own living room. But it's like a childhood rite of passage, right? You need these sometimes-good/sometimes-extremely-awkward photos to fully commemorate your school experience. Or they are just good for a laugh when it comes to making fun of your grown siblings. Either way.
Fe - your 7th grade v-ball photo. 
Nuff said.
(And you're welcome for not posting that photo here!)


5. Tonight I get to hang out with Sarah, one of my oldest friends. We've been friends since 3rd grade. 
us, 15 years ago

She is definitely one of the few people who will tell it to me straight no matter what the consequences, and that is one of the things I appreciate most in a friend. I can't wait for the laughs and over-sharing that is about to occur in a few hours!