Our Christmas

Christmas is by far our favorite holiday around here and this year did not disappoint.  Olivia was up for every activity from baking cookies to hanging 13 ornaments delicately on one branch of the Christmas tree.  The week leading up to Christmas Olivia got a really bad stomach bug that kept her down for 6 whole days.  She was back to her normal, crazy self just in time for Christmas eve though!  We always go to the candle light service with my parents at their church.  Olivia got to hold her own candle this year and besides whipping her hair around and almost catching it on fire a dozen times she did really well.  Her little face just beamed with pride that she got to be a big girl.  Jack chewed on the wick of my candle and when it came time to light them it wouldn't light. Probably for the best since I was still holding him and he was in rare form from the amount of candy he consumed during the service to keep him quiet.  We went back to my parent's house for a quick dinner and then home to get the kids in bed.  Olivia read Jack her version of "The Night Before Christmas" beside the tree and then we all piled in her bed and I read it again. It was one of those moments that I never want to forget, snuggled in with my family and the Christmas magic surrounding us.  Chad had a few last minute toys to put together and I had to set out the santa display so we got right to work once the kids were asleep. 

My children who usually sleep past 8am were up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:30am.  It was still practically dark outside.  I stalled Olivia by turning on the tv for a few minutes in our room and warmed up Jack's milk (yes, he still drinks warm milk in the morning and before bed and he's 17 months old haha) and coffee for chad and myself.  We chilled in the bed waiting for the sun to come up and then went to see all of their goodies.  Olivia tore through her presents pretty  quickly this year and Jack could have cared less about opening one single present.  Olivia was happy to help him open his gifts and then announce that the present inside was actually for both of them to share. 
We saved the big presents until last.  Chad pulled around Jack's fourwheeler and Olivia's princess carriage while we waited inside.  Olivia was so excited!  She had no time for pictures at all.  Jack jumped right on his and loved it.  Until he pushed the button and it moved and totally freaked him out.

We went to my mom's for a late breakfast with Ashley and her crew.  I did not take one single picture while we were there, but the kids always have so much fun playing together.  It was 76 degrees that afternoon so we took the party outside and let the kids burn off some energy. 
Chad and I cooked a traditional Ham Christmas dinner that evening and tucked our tired kiddos in bed early.  I am always sad when Christmas is over, but this year I am really down about it.  Maybe because it was such a great one, maybe because time is flying by so quickly.  We are holding on to our Christmas decorations a little longer this year and I may let the kids rock their Christmas jammies until June ;) 
I hope you all had the merriest Christmas and wishing you a happy new year!
"Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King!"

Jack Emmett 17 month update

Poor Jack, typical second child that has maybe 1/4 of the updates that Olivia got.  it has been forever, but I thought now was a good time to take a minute and document the wild tornado that is my son these days.  You guys, I don't know what has happened.  Over the last few weeks my sweet as pie, perfect angel has turned into a wild, climbing, mischievous, into everything, wrecking ball aka a boy.  I think he sleeps so much so he can store up energy to tear my house down, literally.  It is an every day occurrence to find him sitting on the island or dining room table, or digging in the toilet and trash can.  When he is caught in the act he gives the biggest grin that makes him incredibly hard to discipline.  He totally ignores the word "no" and keeps going right on with his business as if he doesn't hear me.  I am not going to lie, this is a really hard stage.  I find myself getting frustrated and frazzled on a daily basis (thank goodness for my friend, wine)  I have to say he does make up for it by letting me rock him before his naps and bedtime and he gives the sweetest open mouth kisses ever.  He has flip flopped back into a mama's boy lately and I kind of love it.  Whenever I enter the room, whether I have been gone 1 minute to 2 hours (like a solo grocery run because you know I don't get out of here alone...ever) he runs to me shouting "mama" with both arms lifted high for me to scoop him up and give him love.  Those sweet moments are what keep me from pulling my hair and his  out.
(click on photos to see full resolution)
I have no idea how tall he is or how much he weighs, but he is in a size 7 shoe and wears pretty much all 2t clothing.  He is really slimming up lately though and I don't like it one bit.  He still eats everything, but dude literally runs everywhere he goes so he is burning calories like crazy.  He has figured out the pantry holds all of the goodies and broke through that child lock I put on it in about 3 seconds.  He will bring me packages of fruit snacks to open for him and peanuts, he loves peanuts haha!  He still gets strapped into a high chair for most meals, but he loves it when he gets to sit at his little table with Olivia.  He thinks he is so big.

They have been playing so well together too.  Until he decides to go grab a chunk of her hair or whop her on the head with a toy for no apparent reason other than he wants to see her reaction.  Which is a high pitched shriek. every. single. time.  I was hoping I would have a little more time before they started fighting, but geez it is annoying ;)  Most of the time they do have a lot of fun together though.  Jack wants to do everything Olivia does and he loves to give her hugs and kisses.  They love to snuggle on the couch or on my bed together and watch tv.  It is so sweet.

Little man is talking!  It kind of weirds me out because in my mind he is like 6 months old.  I really had not even tried to get him to say a lot of things, but he just has on his own.  He consistently says, mama, dada, livya (Olivia), sissy, nana (for his grandmother and Elena of Avalor haha) drink, bite, bye bye, hey, uh oh, go, ball, up (for upstairs), out (for outside), tree (thanks Christmas) and his new favorite, NO.  He will try to say anything you ask him to say though and it's so cute even when he can't say it correctly.  He recognizes his house now, when we pull up he gets super excited and laughs and claps.  He loves to read books and this makes me so happy.  This has always been one of my favorite things to do with my kids.  I thought for the longest time he was going to have no interest at all.  Now he will go pick out books and come sit right in my lap and let me read almost  a whole book to him.  He also likes to pick books out and sit and look at them himself, he even babbles like he is reading, it's the cutest thing.

Still sleeping like a champ.  He will take two naps on days that allow it, but he is fine with one nap too, but it's going to be like 4 hours haha.  He loves his paci to go to sleep and I know it is time to take it away, but I just am not ready yet.  He also lets me rock him and if he is really tired he will even fall asleep and I just stare at him and sometimes I can catch a glimpse of my tiny baby.  Why oh why do they have to grow so fast??
He is my little adventurer.  He loves to be outside and getting dirty.  He digs in the dirt, eats grass and whatever bugs might cross his path.  I love to watch him play.  He has such a zest for life that I cannot help but smile as I watch him get such enjoyment from getting so filthy.
Ladies man all the way.  He flirts with every check out clerk and lady in line at target.  He has never met a stranger and is seriously the biggest ham, total opposite from Olivia.  He says hey and bye to anyone who will look at him.  And some who aren't looking.  I love his big, happy heart.
This age definitely has it's challenges, but the sweetness far outweighs any of that.  He absolutely melts my heart with those big, blue eyes and giant smile.  I could kiss his sweet, chubby cheeks all day and he gives the absolute best bear hugs.  I love that he still wants to come just sit in my lap even though he is crazy busy all of the time.  He hangs on my hip or my legs  while I cook and he is the best dishwasher unloading helper around.  Christmas is going to be the best this year!  I cannot wait to see how they both react on Christmas morning. 
  I love you sweet boy to the moon and back and could not imagine life without your happy self.  You keep mommy and daddy hopping and sister on her guard and I would not want it any other way.  You are strong willed and I know God has big plans for you to lead one day.  You live life to the fullest and never let a moment pass you by without getting in to something.  I love how much you love everyone around you, especially your sister and Daddy, you three are my whole world.  Life is so much more magical with you.  I love you baby bear and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you! 

Christmas Advent Bucket List

The first day of December is finally here! It is actually cold outside and we are loving it!
This year seems like a big year for Christmas in our house.  Olivia really "gets" it finally and I want to make sure both of my children know the true meaning behind Christmas.  It is so easy to get swept away with Santa and presents and not celebrate what Christmas is all about.  Let me say that I am the first one to get pumped up about the Christmas section at Target.  I am trying to find the balance in the excitement of it all and celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I picked up an advent stocking set last year on clearance after Christmas and I have been so excited to break it out.  My plans were to put a scripture and a small activity or gift in each little stocking.  To be honest, that just sounds too overwhelming and I have no idea what kind of schedule we will have this month. Just keeping it real haha! I tend to go a tad bit overboard, especially when I am excited about something.  I am purposely scaling back just a little to get my heart and mind in the right spirit.  So I picked up a copy of The Story of Christmas for us to read today because the kids love to read and we will start with that.  I do have a lot of fun things I want to do this holiday season so I made a small bucket list of activities that we can do and check off our list! 
1. Go to the Christmas parade, yay!
2. Make ginger bread houses
3. Have a pop corn and hot chocolate family movie night
4.  Ride around and look at Christmas lights
5.  Make a Christmas wish list
6. Have a baking day (or two or three)
7. Take a wagon ride around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols
8.  Make homemade Christmas ornaments with hand/foot prints
9.  Go see SANTA
10. Attempt to go ice skating
11. Stay in Christmas pajamas ALL DAY (hopefully multiple times)
12.  Attend the candle light service at church (without catching anyone - or thing on fire)
Lofty goals I know.
I am sure there will be lots of festive breakfast and plenty of cute, matching outfits sprinkled all throughout the month.  As well as having Christmas Vacation and Elf on repeat.  Most of all I want to enjoy this sweet time with my family and make sure they have the best Christmas yet.  I found this advent reading plan and we are going to read it with Olivia and Jack each night.  My hope is we grow closer together as a family and to Jesus this year. 
Happy first day of December! 

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is easily one of my favorite weekends of the whole year.  Celebrating with family, baking up yummy treats, picking out and decorating our family Christmas tree! Add in a little crazy black Friday shopping and a whole lot of dressing and it just doesn't get much better.
This year we started the tradition of Elf on the Shelf for the kids.  And by we I totally mean just me, Chad has his reservations about these mischievous mess makers.  Thanksgiving morning I had a special breakfast for the kids introducing the elves and Olivia named them, Ruby and Rudolph. 
After way too many powered doughnuts Olivia and I started whipping up some goodies in the kitchen.  We made a homemade caramel pound cake with caramel frosting for dinner at Nana's and our traditional cinnamon butter to give to friends and family.  It is the easiest thing to make and so delicious on toast and especially warm crescent rolls..yum!
Cinnamon Butter
4 stick unsalted butter softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup honey
5 tsp ground cinnamon
add all ingredients to bowl (or stand mixer) and mix until it has a light, fluffy whipped texture

We had the most delicious turkey dinner at my mom's and celebrated with my sister's family as well.  After we came out of our food comas we headed outside to let the kiddos play since the weather was so nice.
I am so very thankful for my little family.  They make me so unbelievably happy and I cannot believe they are mine!

I picked out matching dresses for the little lady and I and Olivia was so excited to match me.  She insisted we get a solo picture to document the cuteness ;)
Friday morning my sister Ashley and I went black Friday shopping.  It was every bit as crazy and it sounds.  We spent 3 solid hours in target alone.  We got some pretty good deals and it always puts me in the Christmas spirit to get out in the madness, just a little bit.
When I got home Chad and I loaded up the kids and headed to the Christmas tree farm to pick out our tree.  Pictures do not so justice to how beautiful the sunset was. 
We walked for what seemed like forever but we finally found the perfect one.  It was getting late when we got home so we had thanksgiving leftovers for dinner and got the kids to bed before bringing the tree in.  I decided to go ahead and put the lights on the tree so the kids could get straight to decorating the next morning.  I even got a special ornament and wrote a note from the elves giving them all of the credit (nice, huh)
Olivia was so particular about where she put each ornament.  I even left some of them clustered together just how she put them, because she totally knows where she put each one.  Jack picks an ornament off of the tree every time he walks by and runs for it, as expected.  Good thing we went with non breakable ornaments this year.  Target for the win!!
We even did a little exterior illumination although that went pretty much like, string one strand, rescue Jack from running into the road and repeat so we will have to finish later during one of his many nap times.
The weekend ended with full hearts and even fuller bellies.  I am so excited the holiday season is finally here and we plan to make the most of it. Matching jammies and all!
When your sister steals your lovie and tries to make you think it was your idea to give it to her ;)
I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving!  Happy Monday friends!


Pretty much sums up our trip.  Two kids in the car for over 10 hours there and back with no tears. Skipped naps, stroller naps, staying up way past all of our bedtimes with smiles on our faces.  The magic of Disney is real y'all!
I have to admit I was a little skeptical that this trip might be mass chaos, it being our first time and taking a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I am happy to report that everything went pretty smooth.  We decided on driving since we were staying off Disney property and would have had to rent a car and car seats plus all of Olivia's princess gear that needed its own suitcase.  The kids really did so great in the car and it took us about 10 hours each way, including multiple potty breaks and lunch pit stops. Olivia must have asked if we were there yet 100 times and where are all the princesses???

We had reservations for Chef Mickey's Monday for a late breakfast.  I would definitely recommend this if you have kids who love Mickey.  All of the characters were there and they came around to each table to sign autographs and take pictures.  The food was buffet and delicious!

We hopped a monorail to the Magic Kingdom after we got our bellies full.  I totally teared up when I saw the castle for the first time. I scooped Olivia up out of the stroller and held her up so she could see and just seeing the excitement through her eyes made me so very happy. 

We spent most of the day trying to get a feel for the layout of the park and fumbling with the Disney app on our phones (which I recommend getting if you are going).  The kid's favorite rides were Dumbo, the tea cups and Winnie the Pooh.  Chad took Jack back to the condo for dinner and bed and Olivia and I met up with Ashley, her girls, and nana for dinner with Cinderella!  The only time we could get was 8:30 and that was just too late for little man.  Olivia wanted to dress up as Elena (shocker, right?) and the wicked step sisters were her faves.  The way they all stay in character is so fun to watch.

Tuesday we went to SeaWorld and immediately wished we had planned two days there.  It is the neatest place.  They had the best kiddie park complete with a little roller coaster and a 5 story jungle gym and tons of other little rides.  The big roller coasters were awesome.  I would definitely put them on the six flags level.  The best part was the park was empty.  We walked straight on every ride we wanted and the kids got great views to all of the marine life!  The whole park is so laid back and so much fun.

The coolest thing was the penguin encounter.  It was freeeeezing in there and they were so close you could touch them, but I was told repeatedly not too.  They are the coolest little birds!

Wednesday we headed back to Magic Kingdom and stayed all the way for the fireworks at 10pm.  Both of the kids were so good.  I may have been more mesmerized than they were by the display, but we all had a good time.  Elsa freezes the castle at night and they do a whole little show out of it blowing snow on the audience and lighting the castle in a million Christmas lights.  It was so beautiful.  Pictures can't even do it justice.

Thursday we were all ready for a little break so we hung out at the pool.  Olivia and her cousins went back and forth from the hot tub and pool 100 times squealing with joy and receiving dirty looks from all of the old people trying to read their romance novels.

Friday we planned the day so Olivia could meet all of the princesses at Magic Kingdom. She was so cute walking up to them and holding out her autograph book.  After every single one she would say, I have to go tell my Daddy I just met - insert princess name.  Chad took Jack to ride a few rides while I did the princess thing with Olivia. When she got to meet Elena she was in absolute awe.  She was starstruck.  She couldn't talk to her, she just stared and smiled the biggest smile.  It was the sweetest thing.

Chad took Olivia to ride The Barnstormer roller coaster and I took Jack to ride Winne the Pooh since he isn't tall enough.  I loved getting some sweet one on one time with him.

Saturday was our last day and we went back to Magic Kingdom to ride the tea cups a dozen more times and of course the Barnstormer. The day started out with tears.  I got Jack out of the stroller because the lines to get in the park were crazy long.  They were both pretty much tired and worn out form the whole trip by then.  It was soooo crowded, all of the thanksgiving traffic had started to pour in.  We played until we ran out of fast passes and headed back to the condo to get ready to drive home the next day.

I have to add a big huge thank you to my parents who made this trip possible for not only my family, but my sister and 3 step sisters too!  They sure do love their grandbabies!

We had such a great time, but being totally honest I think we will wait a couple of years before planning the next trip. I want the kids to be old enough to both ride most everything at both of the parks.  I am so glad we got to go with our whole fam though and the kids had a blast. 
Also, I didn't pull out my real camera one time so sorry for the grainy picture quality from all of the cell phone pictures.  I did like just snapping a quick picture though and really being present for the whole experience! I will cherish these memories forever.
Disney, you were so good to us and we will see ya real soon!