Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas decor

I LOVE Christmas decorations! This year I was so excited, we did it all the day after Thanksgiving. I couldn't wait to throw away the pumpkins (though I love Fall decor too, I was tired of it after two months) and pull out the Christmas boxes. I also found a sign I've been wanting on sale during my black Friday shopping, and it inspired me to finally change-up my boring living room wall. Having some cute new family pictures to put up helped the cause as well. With the new collage wall and the Christmas decorations up, our living room is festive and homey... I love it! This post probably should have been posted at the beginning of the month... but hey! At least it's up before I pull all the decorations down. :)
The sign on the top left is the one I bought at Meijer. It says, "In this house we treat friends like family and family like friends." I love it because it really is how we feel about our friends out here right now... they have become our family while we are so far away from ours. The little white shelf was a yard sale steal I got when we first moved, but it hasn't had a home till now. It gave me one more place to decorate, which is nice in our small space. And of course I am in love with our new family pictures. Basically, I just love how the colors all tie together and make the room cozy. I know it's not extravagant, but it makes me happy right now!
Now our stairwell isn't so bare!

Here are our gingerbread houses that took a couple days to complete due to runny icing and an under-the-weather mommy! This was basically a mommy and Maybrie project. Or rather a me project while Maybrie ate candy and watched!

These are my too pinterest holiday crafts I did... super cheap and super easy. That's probably the only reason they were done at all! :)
 String art tree to hold Christmas cards/pictures
 Peppermint candy wreath
(Funny story. I hung this on our front door the night after completion, super excited. The next morning we opened the door to go to church and the candies were melting... actually dripping off! Our storm door works as a little oven apparently, so the wreath quickly got moved inside. I was going to fix it, but then decided it still looks fine. Plus, I'm lazy! ha ha)

 Stockings hung
 Tree decorated
 Nativity displayed

Yep, we're all ready for Christmas at our house! Can't believe it is only 4 days away! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

One of those weeks

I feel a little hypocritical posting my super upbeat Christmas post at the end of what has not been a super upbeat week. It has been one of those weeks where I have been sick, Brian has been stressed studying like a maniac and taking 4 Biology finals, Maybrie has been throwing massive temper tantrums and has abnormally woken us in the night multiple nights, Thomas has been extra fussy because of new teeth coming in... overall not a good combination for our household! The whining and crying is making my ears buzz (on top of the sore throat, runny nose, and headache) and I feel just plain wiped out... zero energy and zero patience. While I beat myself up for yelling at Maybrie and overreacting multiple times simply because I am tired and grumpy, I try to tell myself that this is normal and tomorrow is a new day. A day where I can try harder, feel a little better, and be one day closer to the end of Brian's semester.

I think that blogging is therapeutic for me. When I need to count my blessings and focus on all of the good things in my life, rather than dwell on the things that are going wrong or bugging me... I blog. I pull up adorable pictures of my children and the good moments where everyone is smiling and laughing. The times when I feel like a good mother that does do fun things and isn't always saying "no" and "stop that!" Life can be a real roller coaster sometimes. I continue to be amazed by how many emotions I can go through so quickly, I know that is a normal girl thing, but I think it is magnified sometimes as a mother. My children can make me laugh and scream in the same minute! Even though I felt my sanity slipping today and had to run to a friend for help so that I could put myself in "time out" from my kids to cool down... I still love them. I still love being a mom. I still think of Christmas gifts I want to buy them or places I want to take them... while they are screaming in their bedrooms! :)

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, whether it be Brian coming home and helping with the kids for two hours before bedtime or just 15 minutes of quiet while Thomas naps and Maybrie watches a movie. I am grateful that no matter how worked up I get, I always seem to calm down and find something to smile about. Like right now after I swept the floor the kids decided they wanted to help me mop. They are both still pushing Swiffer sweepers/mops around the kitchen floors like it is the funnest game they have ever played! ha ha! And Brian just found out he got an A- in one of his classes! Wahoo! Hard work paying off... always a good feeling. So, here is to hoping next week, with finals  and illness behind us, will be better.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Cheer

I have been bursting with Christmas Cheer! Ever since the day after Thanksgiving I seem to be going non-stop fitting in as many festivities as possible. We got the tree up and the house all decorated right after Thanksgiving so that we could enjoy it the whole season long. I think we have all been equally excited about the warm holiday reminders that surround us. 
On our first Family Home Evening for the month we got doorbell ditched by Santa with two gifts that could not wait till Christmas, but had to be enjoyed all season long. Maybrie was thrilled! They opened a big Disney Christmas book and the Little People nativity. I have been wanting this nativity for years, and it has truly been a lifesaver this season. The kids love it and it has plenty of pieces for them to share(most of the time!). It keeps the kids from playing with and destroying nicer breakable decor. Oh, and my favorite thing about the nativity is the angel you can push down to light up the star and play "Away in a Manger." Thomas loves it and sings and dances to it every time- so cute! I love it! We have tried reading a Christmas story to Maybrie every night, which doesn't always happen because her fits often send her to bed without stories :(. Thank you Gillespie's for the fun idea (and knock on our door so we could pull it off!) to kick off the Christmas season at our house. 

One morning last week I pulled out the movie Polar Express. Maybrie remembered it from last year and was so excited she laid out blankets for her and Thomas to lay on while they watched. It was such an adorable Christmas scene I had to snap a picture. :)

Our good friend Becca swapped babysitting with us at the beginning of the month so we could each go on a date. Brian and I headed downtown to see the tallest Christmas tree in the country (in lights) on the Saints and Soldiers monument (kind of a fun piece of trivia). There were tons of people out because of the BIG10 football game that was to be played the next day at Lucas Oil Stadium. But we found a spot and strolled through Circle Center Mall and then down the street to the circle. It was so warm outside that we didn't even need gloves or get cold. The lights were magical and I loved the windows on the IPL building that lit up like a tree. We also discovered a new favorite shop call Rocket Fizz. It on the circle and full of every flavor of soda you can imagine- like peanut butter and bacon! Plus it has tons of candy with all of the old-fashioned classics you can't find anywhere else. Super cool! My family of candy lovers would love it! It was a great (cheap) date night... thanks again Becca for watching our kids!

On Wednesday, Dec. 5th we went with our friends the Gillespie's and the Jenks to Christmas at the Zoo. It is probably the closest you get to lights at temple square in Indiana! The lights we so fun to walk through, they had a fabulous holiday Dolphin show that was super fun, and some of the animals are actually more active at night- so it was fun to see the bears walking around!
All bundled up! It was cold, but thankfully dry.
Huge polar bear strutting its stuff!
Liam, Jenna and Maybrie before the dolphin show
The whole gang- Dan, Leigha, Dawn, Jenna, Liam, Dennis, Kristin, me, Maybrie, Brian, and Thomas. Thomas especially got really into the music and cheering of the dolphin show... it was adorable.
Maybrie and Liam in front of the lit "choo choo!"
At least Thomas decided to cooperate and say Cheese!
Inside a giant (fake) snake in the deserts building.
Maybrie and Jenna pointing excitedly at the snakes.
Such a poser!
Mommy and my marshmallow Thomas
The lights of the city behind the lit trees along the parking lot looked amazing. Unfortunately the picture doesn't do it justice... the street lamps got in the way. Oh well. A fun family night with friends... and a needed break from studying for Brian. 

Then on Friday the 7th we had a jam-packed day going to the Children's Museum during the day and the Ward Christmas Dinner Party at night. The kids got to meet the real Santa (by far the BEST Santa I have ever seen!). They both were excited and Maybrie actually ran up to him and recited her well-rehearsed Christmas list for him. It was magical! I hope they do it again when we go back with Daddy next week. They have a special "Jolly Days" exhibit where you can meet Santa, groom his reindeer, climb and slide down an ice castle, ice skate on a frozen pond, ice fish, etc. It is adorable and we easily filled three hours of fun in that one spot. They also have the awesome Christmas Story slide. We went down twice- it is fun for adults too!
They have adorable shop windows filled with toys to look at while waiting in line for Santa- genius idea!
Liam, Jenna, and Maybrie
Look at Maybrie's priceless look of joy in this picture!
Isn't Santa Jolly?
Santa had to cutest conversation with Maybrie. It was straight out of Miracle on 34th Street!
The kids went down this ice castle slide for probably 30 mins. straight!
The giant slide comes down here behind this display from the second floor. Super cool!
Even Bumble Bee was all dressed up for winter! :) I love that we live so close to this amazing museum... it is like every child's dream play land! I am obsessed with it!

The ward Christmas Dinner party was a lot of fun. Good food and decadent desserts (that I ate too much of), fun visiting with friends, kid's coloring and crafts, a nice slideshow program, Christmas carols with all the children to help bring Santa... Thomas was so funny my cheeks ached from laughing and smiling! He danced and applauded every song! I have decided that 18 months and 4 are perfect ages for Christmas... my kids are making this year so fun. 
Happy to be coloring with a fist full of crayons.
Maybrie was very dedicated and focused on making her nativity picture beautiful and realistic, of course!
Can you spot my little cheeseball in the center with his big sister standing very poised? :)

On Saturday the 8th my friend Alanna and I took our kids to the Garfield Conservatory where they had a free poinsettia display, model trains, lights, and treats with Mrs. Clause. It was beautiful and a fun little outing to break up the day while our husbands spent the day studying. 
Thomas and Beckett (both 18 mos.) loved the trains. Isn't it pretty?
Such a cute vintage display.
Kaya, Aislin, Maybrie and Thomas looking at the fish.
Beautiful conservatory oasis in the winter.
The kids loved the waterfalls and the bg colorful fish you could reach out and touch.
Thomas and Maybrie with Mrs. Clause. 
We've had some really fun holiday excursions lately and we're looking forward to a few more in the next two weeks as we countdown to Christmas! Brian only has one final left and then we get him home for 3 whole weeks! We can't wait for Monday to come! Hope everyone is having fun celebrating and making memories with their families. It is easy to get caught up in the business of the season and forget to enjoy the little moments of joy throughout all the bustle. I hope we all get a chance to stop and sip some hot chocolate while surrounded by family, Christmas lights, and a nice carol that reminds us of all we've been blessed with because of Christ's birth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Giving Thanks

We had an absolutely FABULOUS Thanksgiving break! Brian and I both agreed it was one of the best, most relaxing holiday breaks we've ever had. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that now that Brian is in school again he actually has several days off for holidays now, rather than one day like he did when he was working. Whatever the reason, it was great! 

We kicked it off on Tuesday afternoon by picking Brian up from school and heading to Costco, which is always fun, especially at Christmastime because of all of the decorations and toys they have out. Wednesday was our day of cleaning house. Brian was my hero, letting me sleep in and cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, bathing Thomas, and dressing the kids before I woke at 9... now that's my kind of break! :) The rest of the day was lazy except for laundry and making a Jello salad and cherry pie for the feast. I have to say I love having others to divide up the meal responsibilities with, I can't imagine trying to make everything myself.
This year was our first Thanksgiving in Indiana, first time without any family, and first time hosting the feast at our own home. We celebrated with two families in our ward, The Gillespie's and The Jenks. It turned out well. We had excellent food (and plenty of it), both Kristin and Dawn are wonderful cooks. The kids had so much fun playing together (Jenna is 4 and Liam and Maybrie are 3), they even got to go out and play on the playground with the dads after dinner while the moms cleaned up the kitchen because it was beautiful weather in the 60's. The guys watched football and us ladies talked and talked! We prepared some games and crafts for the kids, but we barely got to them at the end of the day because they were being so good playing we really didn't even need something to entertain them. We are truly grateful for the wonderful friends we have here that we love like family. 
We spent the rest of the weekend doing some Christmas shopping, both Brian and I headed out for some of the black Friday craziness, a first for us, but we both got some great deals we are excited to give. We got to sleep in a bit... the kids were awesome and both slept in until after 8 twice... a rare and beautiful thing we cherish! We watched some movies, played games with friends, ate tons of leftovers, set up our Christmas decorations, and just enjoyed being together. It was definitely a holiday we will remember! Hope everyone found plenty to be thankful for this year as well.Now for the pictures...
 I love to see this on lazy mornings... the kids love to be read to.
 I have a love/ hate relationship with cherry pie! I love to eat it, but hate to make the crust... pie crust has to be my least favorite thing to bake, it frustrates me so much! I actually made double the amount of crust I needed so that I would have plenty as I attempted to put the top crust on. I threw away a lot, but at least I covered the whole top of the pie without having to roll it out over and over because it kept crumbling... Maybrie was actually afraid to speak while I was assembling the pie because I snapped at Brian to be quiet! It takes a lot of concentration for me! ha ha! Maybe someday I will perfect my pie making skills, at least for now it always tastes good even if it doesn't always look as pretty as I would like. :)
 My finished cherry pie... definitely the cherry on top of my Thanksgiving feast! Yum!
 Our pretty table... Dawn brought her nice dishes, she is an excellent party planner... which we got to reap the benefits of! I like how nice the crocheted piece my grandma made looks with the table (Thanks mom!).
 I was thrilled that Dawn is so passionate about her meat and wanted to do the turkey, something I would be fine never doing!
 The kids' table... Maybrie, Liam, and Jenna. Jenna picked cute character cups for everyone (she takes after her mom) and I set out some Turkey coloring pages.
 We had Maybrie take a picture of the adults... it cracks me up that me and Brian are the only two in focus in this one!
 And here Dennis is leaning so far in that you can't see Kristin! Not bad pictures for a 3 year old though!
 Our spread
 We had a great little set up
 Dan carving the turkey
Dawn made a "Pin the feather on the Turkey" game for the kids. 

 Even Thomas loved it!
 Jenna- awesome hair with the tie blindfold!
 Liam, Maybrie, Thomas, Leigha, Jenna
 The Gillespie's- Dennis, Liam, and Kristin (Kristin is from my home stake in Orem and we were roommates at BYU... so fun to be out here together now! They are having another boy in February.)
 Jenna and Maybrie
 Craft time!
 Me and Leigha... she looks like a cabbage patch doll to me, love her!
 The hot moms- Dawn, me, Kristin
 The cool dads- Dan, Brian, Dennis (I love their expressions in this one)
I think Brian looks like a little boy in this one... and there are no words for Dennis! ha ha!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :)