Monday, November 30, 2015

Our 2015 Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving definitely goes down as a tie (with our 2013 Thanksgiving) as my favorite one yet. You may remember our 2013 Thanksgiving where we gathered both sides of our very healthy families around our homemade table in our home. That same holiday we hosted a little gender reveal to find out Baby M was a girl! So yes, very, very hard to beat all that but like I said this Thanksgiving definitely was one of our very bests! 

This year Matt's parents hosted Thanksgiving in their cabin in the mountains which was a fun, new tradition. I was a little worried (wait, no. Matt was a little worried) that it would still be too uncomfortable for me to travel one month post opp, but thankfully we didn't let that keep us home. Right before we jumped on the road I had an expander fill that was a little more painful than I had anticipated so I arrived to Thanksgiving unexpectedly hopped up on Oxycodone. Thankfully there were three extra sets of hands to help Matt and I out with the minis. 
On Thanksgiving morning the kiddos were up bright and early, early, early! We spent most of the day lounging in front of the fireplace, grazing on appetizers, playing outside, watching the parade and getting ready for dinner! 
How sibling photos usually go: Do you want to hold your baby brother? Okay, give him a big hug! No, don't choke him. Wait, you're choking him. Nope, still choking him. Cheeeeeeeeese! Take 47, got it!
Time to go outside and get some wiggles out!
I should also mention that the cabin has such a stunning view too (which makes waking up at 5 am not so bad)!
This really old swing has been passed down from generation to generation and now resides at the cabin. We have so many pictures of Caroline sitting on this swing when it was at the great grandparents house and now we will start collecting swing memories here too.
Naps and parade watching!
One of the new traditions that Matt's mom started this year was marking Thomas and Caroline's height each year on an outdoor post.

Another really fun tradition she started was covering the table with a large drop cloth. Every year each person adds a little something in permanent marker. It can be artwork, a recipe, a note, whatever!
And for the centerpieces Matt's mom hollowed out a few pumpkins and made some really pretty floral arrangements. She is seriously the most talented (house, flower, plant, holiday, etc.) decorator. Puts my tablescapes to shame!
Matt decided to go all out and draw the entire family. Good work, Matt.
 Other dinner preparations included getting Donald Duck seated at the table -- Caroline's request.
And bibbed.
There was tons and tons and tons of food but I wanted to make sure I got a picture to document the cranberry sauce which was hands down my favorite food this year. Matt's sister, Ann, made it and told us that the secret ingredient was chopped celery!!! Noted forever. Also, against doctors orders I whipped up a potato casserole as my contribution.
I just love this little video of the family giving thanks to God! We sure do have so much to be thankful for this year, not just the delicious food we ate. And Caroline loves it when we all hold hands and pray together. She knows not to eat until we've sang our little song and most of the time sings parts (or words) of it with us. And of course, she is an excellent little celebrator at the end of the prayer.
Shout out to Matt for building one heck of a seat cushion tri-pod to document our 2015 family Thanksgiving!
Previous Thanksgivings
2014 Thanksgiving
2013 Thanksgiving
2012 Thanksgiving


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This crazy season for my little family has made me more thankful than ever for all of the good things in our life. It's easy to get swept away in self pity at times but I quickly remind myself that our blessings far outweigh the trials and challenges we've faced. I am pretty sure that y'all already know how much I love my husband, babies and our families, so I'm not going to beat a dead horse, but today I want to talk about true friendship.
During the past four weeks I've spent the majority of my time laying in bed or snuggled up on the couch. During these beautiful, quiet days void of bottles, tantrums, diaper changes and sippy cup refills, I've had the rare opportunity to connect (uninterrupted) with friends...and it has been so good for my soul. It is in these sweet moments that I'm reminded of how important it is to be there for each other no matter how busy our lives get. I am the first to admit that I allow motherhood to consume me at times and unintentionally let my friends fall down my priority list, which is why I'm so thankful that these divine friendships are so full of grace and love.

You know what kind of friendship I'm talking about. These are the friends you don't tidy your house or change out of pajamas for. You feel safe to swap prayer requests and parenting fails. And you definitely don't have to pretend to have it all together.

I'm also thankful a thousand times over for these remarkable women who have been such a light to our little ones. I know you don't even think twice about it, but they've noticed all the times you've stopped by to check on me, brought me pillows, cardigans, groceries and hair ties during my recovery, you've picked them up from daycare and surprised them with play dates, you've spent your precious free time playing, bathing, feeding and putting them to bed, you've brought them gifts to distract them from the days I was too weak to play with them, your cards are taped to our fridge, your lasagna is on our dinner table and through all of these things they are learning the true meaning of friendship.

You all know who you are and I don't tell you nearly enough how much my family and I love you!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Traditions for Kids from 1 to 92!

The holidays are upon us! For many of us (me included!), this season can quickly and easily ricochet from exciting and joyful to stressful and chaotic with balancing travel between families, fighting mall traffic for gift shopping, hosting company in your home, cooking the perfect meal, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, hosting parties and more. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the chaos of the holiday season.

But what if we used those same activities to instead create meaningful traditions and lifelong memories with your family and friends? Last week I shared our Christmas card and asked about your favorite Christmas traditions. As the emails poured in I got more and more excited to read about how you make your gatherings with loved ones extra special, ways you celebrate Jesus, how you decorate your tree, gift opening techniques and so much more.

For those of you looking for more ways to make your holidays meaningful, I compiled a list of your traditions passed down from families for kids from 1 to 92! Enjoy!

Holiday Food Traditions
  1. Share a huge Christmas morning breakfast. Add special treats like cinnamon buns or baked eggs!
  2. Host a cookie swap party. Ask everyone to bring their favorite holiday cookie recipe. 
  3. Eat the same meal every Christmas Eve. Can be anything from the Feast of Seven Fishes to a cheese plate or Chinese food that becomes the yearly tradition, even if it's just for laughs. 
  4. Bake and decorate cookies or a gingerbread house with your little ones.
  5. Serve a special cocktail such as spiked eggnog or gluhwein for the adults.
  6. Ladies only allowed in the kitchen to cook and bond together.
  7. During your Thanksgiving meal each person takes turns saying what they are thankful for.  
Holiday Card Traditions 
  1. Have a photographer (or your tripod) take your family photo for your Christmas card.
  2. Add a handwritten note to the back of each card.
  3. Save the cards you receive each year in a small book and go back through them to see how much everyone has changed through the years. 
  4. Frame your Christmas card each year as part of your holiday d├ęcor.
Holiday Activities Traditions
  1. Go see a local production of The Nutcracker or another holiday-themed show.
  2. Take your kids for a drive to check out the Christmas lights. Make some hot cocoa to-go and blast the Christmas music.
  3. Find a local Festival of Lights, A special Christmas Tree lighting, etc. to visit. 
  4. Watch the Thanksgiving Day parade as a family.
  5. Visit and take a photo with Santa! 
  6. Go Black Friday shopping with the family.
  7. Volunteer your time as a family at a soup kitchen or a food bank that hands out food to families in need.
Traditions in Your Home
  1. Start or continue the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ tradition to keep kids on their best behavior.
  2. Read holiday books before bed each night and The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
  3. Visit a tree farm to cut down the perfect Christmas tree as a family. Decorate it together to a holiday playlist. 
  4. Each year cut a piece off the bottom of your tree to create an ornament. 
  5. Use an advent calendar to count down to Christmas. You can find a variety of advent calendars, from candles that are burned daily to boxes of chocolate you open daily.
  6. Write a letter to Santa.
Christmas Eve & Day Traditions
  1. Open one gift on Christmas Eve – matching pajamas for the whole family. Wear them and take a photo!
  2. Get both sides of the family together.
  3. Open stockings on Christmas Eve.
  4. Throw a birthday party for Jesus! Eat cake and sing “Happy Birthday.”
  5. Let all the kids sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve. 
  6. In the middle of the night, set out all of the presents under the tree “from Santa,” even if your kids are now adults!
  7. Attend church together. Some churches even offer a candle Christmas service. 
  8. Track Santa’s progress across the globe on NORAD.
  9. Make and set out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.  
  10. Read The Night Before Christmas at bedtime. 
  11. Watch Christmas movies such as Elf, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc. 
  12. Color in Christmas coloring books on Christmas Eve. Find an adult version here.
  13. On Christmas morning no one is allowed downstairs until Daddy checks and confirms Santa came.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Every Penny Counts {Crazy Hair Bow Deal!}

Bringing you another crazy amazing deal today! Right now Amazon has marked down a set of 20 solid colored 3" grosgrain ribbon hair bows with alligator clips from $29.99 to $3.92 plus free shipping! Hurry over here and stock up on bows for your favorite little girls! Also, if your little one doesn't have enough hair yet, I really love these inexpensive elastic headbands for Caroline.
Just grabbed one of these sets and more elastic headbands to stuff Caroline's stocking!!

Also, for more colorful, fun patterned bows you should check out April's Tipsy Bunny shop. Lots of super cute handmade bows!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Toddler Gift Guide {Our Tried & True Favorites}

If it were up to me, I wouldn't buy any toys for our kids for Christmas this year. I know, I know, worst mom ever. And truth be told, we don't really have that many toys in our house either. Clothes and bows? That's a whole different story. Since Caroline and Thomas are in daycare full time there is really only about an hour after work to "play" and we usually try and spend that time outside. Same with the weekends, we prefer to be out and about. Oh and our home is very tiny cozy so our 10x10 family room doubles as our play space, which means there's really only a corner of toys. So yes, several reasons why we have minimal toys, but that being said, the toys we do have are well loved and used often. Today I want to share some of those tried and true favorites if you're looking to buy a gift for the toddler in your life! I highly recommend any of these...
Christmas Gifts for Toddlers

KidKraft Vintage Kitchen: Our play kitchen and wagon easily tie as Caroline's top two all time favorite things. A gift for her first birthday, this kitchen is so amazing it literally sits in the middle of our living room and Caroline plays in it daily. It also doubles as storage for the rest of our toys, including play food, utensils, pots & pans. You can also find this kitchen in a variety of colors and styles here.

Radio Flyer Grandstand 3 in 1 Wagon: I honestly think we've put more miles on our wagon this year than my car. I cannot even begin to explain all of the ways we've used the Radio Flyer wagon. There are lots of options for wagons but our favorite features in the Grandstand 3-in-1 wagon are the folding seats so the wagon can be used for storage/hauling things (great for the beach), one side is removable and serves as additional back support for bench seating, holds two kiddos and 4 drinks. Also, I am kind of obsessed with the fact that you can custom build your own wagon (fabrics, storage, comfort, sun protection and nameplate options) through Radio Flyer here. Another tip, we found this wagon without the sun shade for $99 at Target here. Worth every single penny. See this, this, and this

Children's Table & Chairs: Once Caroline transitioned out of the hi chair and to the table at daycare for meals, her teachers recommended we get a similar table for home too. Another item we use daily, this little table has been the place where we share many meals together, color and more! We purchased ours from Ikea.
Water Activity Play Table: One of our favorite warmer weather toys, Caroline absolutely loves her water table. Families that didn't own one of these before attending Caroline's first birthday party definitely grabbed one before the end of summer after watching all of the kiddos happily splash around for hours. The only downside of this has been storing it when it's not in use. Same with our kiddie pool, only it was inexpensive enough to toss at the end of summer.

Infant-to-Toddler Swing: Another favorite outdoor toy that is guaranteed to kill 15 minutes while dinner is being cooked each night.

Favorite Toys Under $20!

Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine
Pop! Pop! Piano Toy! (actually $22, sorry!)
Laugh & Learn Piggy Bank
Hide N Squeak Eggs
Stacking Blocks
Baby Stroller (& any Baby Doll Accessories
Bubble Bath (any kind!) & Foam Alphabet

Caroline's Wish List
As for Caroline's wish list, this year we'll be asking Santa for our favorite luxury bath products (we buy the cheap stuff when we run out), an IHOP gift card (see here and here), shoes, pajamas, clothes, this water bottle, this sippy cup and maybe a few other small things.

But if it were up to Matt, this is absolutely what would be under the tree for his mini...
Yep, that is a toddler sized battery operated golf cart. No pink Barbie cars parked here. As soon as Caroline is tall enough to reach the pedals (will likely take years! ha!), I know her daddy will have this charged and ready to go for his little caddy.  

If you're looking to shop for younger kiddos you may find Caroline's Wish List last year (7 months old) helpful! You can find it here.

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