Monday, December 26, 2016

Microblog Monday: Family Pictures

In my last post I shared that we had some family pictures taken earlier in the month and the drama around where we had them taken at. What I failed to mention was that Tony also had a gout flare up that day. Actually, he spent about 5 weeks with a really bad gout problem. He gets it in his foot, which makes it super painful to walk. This time around even required him taking a couple days off work and using crutches. It was literally hurting him so much that he couldn't walk for a few days, and it took several weeks before he could even wear a shoe because his foot was so swollen. Well, the day of our family pictures, he was able to squeeze his foot into a shoe. He was determined to not let his gout get in the way of our pictures. He barely made it through the pictures, due to having to walk so much around the tree farm. He did it, but it did make him bed ridden for several days afterward. We did end up with some amazing photos though!

This one was in my last post, but you get to see it again because it's my favorite!

One of our favorites.

I know I'm biased, but I think they are so cute!!!

He was trying to give her a kiss. She was being silly.

Twin love

The next two pictures are my absolute favorites of Rylee and Ayden individually! How in the world did I ever get so blessed to have such adorable children?

Look at those blue eyes!

He's so handsome!

And then these were the pictures (as well as our family pic at the top) that were taken at the second tree farm.

Not my favorite picture, but ehhh.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

A Month to Remember

December is a busy month for everyone. Throw in a December birthday on top of all the holiday stuff and it gets crazy busy. As always, I've had lots of things I wanted to sit down and write about, but never got the chance to (or made the time for). Soooo, here it all is in a nutshell of bullet points:

  • We had family pictures/3 year pics done on the 3rd. What a crazy day that turned out to be. The photographer had another client after us that wanted their pics taken at a local tree farm. I didn't really care where we got them done, so thought that could be good. We got our tree there last year and really liked them. They were warm, and friendly. They also have several activities, including pony rides and a hay ride which the kids would love. We did not get the same welcome this year. Part way into our photo shoot, one of the owners came up and kicked us out. Well, to be fair, we could have stayed if we were willing to pay $50 each (us, the photographer, and her next client) to park! Let's be clear here, they don't charge for parking. Even though we told them we were planning to get our tree there and participate in their activities, they did NOT want us having our pictures taken there unless we were willing to pay the astronomical price of $50 each for parking, in addition to buying our Christmas tree and paying for the rides. Soooo, we left and finished our photo shoot at a different tree farm. *Please note that the photographer DID call the day before to ask permission to take our pictures there. While they weren't pleased about it, they did say we could do it for $6 parking (yes, the price changed drastically). We didn't pay it when we arrived because nobody was there to take our money. Because they don't charge for parking!!! Oh well. We got phenomenal pictures anyway, despite the drama.

  • The following weekend, was a crazy busy weekend. First, we had a breakfast with Santa event that we attended. Then we went Christmas tree hunting for our perfect tree (not at the same above mentioned farm!). That night, we attended the annual light parade here in town.

Rylee couldn't take her eyes off Santa! She was so excited. Ayden was intrigued by his belt. lol

All the kids were given a stuffed puppy from Santa.

They definitely think Santa is a very cool dude.

  • That night, Tony and I got the tree set up in the living room. We got the lights and garland put on, and set the stage to look like Baby Elf brought the tree, along with a couple Santa hats for the kids, so it was ready for the them to finish decorating in the morning. They were so excited to see the tree in the house when they woke up! About 20 minutes into decorating it, the tree came crashing down! Thankfully, nobody got hurt and we only had a few broken ornaments, none of them glass. We had water everywhere (from having just watered the tree the night before), along with a lot of pine needles. We got the tree upright again and I got everything picked up, but we decided we were done decorating. Right as soon as I swept the last of the mess into the dust pan, the tree came crashing down again!!!! This time we weren't so lucky, and we lost a few of our glass ornaments. The good news was, we hadn't put very many on the tree yet, because well, toddlers and glass ornaments don't mix. I went in search of a new tree stand that afternoon.

Before catastrophe hit.

After the first fall.

  • Ayden and Rylee had their very first dentist appointments last week. Ayden bit the dental assistant several times while she was trying to get the x-rays done on his teeth. After the 6th time he bit her, she gave up and had someone else come do it. He wasn't doing it on purpose. He just didn't understand what he was supposed to do. Rylee did pretty great through everything. Ayden did too, until the gal brought out the little water sprayer and sucker-thingy to rinse out the fluoride. That scared him and he had a little meltdown. Overall, it was a successful appointment and neither one of them had any cavities. Both will eventually need braces, which we suspected. Rylee's teeth are very close together, so there's not a lot of room for the bigger adult teeth to come in, and Ayden has a major overbite.

  • We had a winter storm come through the valley. Just north of us had quite a bit of snow, but we were hit mostly with freezing rain. Many people went without power for quite awhile. We lost power last Wednesday for 9 hours. We were lucky it was during the day and it finally came back on just before putting the kids to bed. The temp inside our house got down to 59 degrees and the low that night was 26 degrees, so it would have been very cold.

Checking out the ice on the trees outside.
The neighbors behind us had a tree fall over our back fence. The kids thought it made a fantastic tunnel!

  • Last Saturday was Ayden and Rylee's big 3rd birthday party! We had a great turn out with a lot of friends and family, even though several people ended up not being able to come due to weather conditions.

It was a dinosaur-princess party!

  • And now tomorrow is there actual birthday! Or, I should say today, since we're now past midnight. Ugh. With that said, it's way past time for me to go to bed. Tony has the day off work and we have a full day of activities planned!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Elf on the Shelf

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I used to go all out decorating. I LOVE seeing all the Christmas decorations around town, in the stores, other people's houses, and in my own house. Over the years, I slowly stopped decorating as much though, and it pretty much got down to zero decorations in the years before Ayden and Rylee came along. When we first got married, Tony and I made it a tradition to always go out and find the perfect Christmas tree to cut down. Somewhere along the line, we stopped doing that and found a pre-cut tree from a lot instead. Eventually, we stopped putting up a Christmas tree altogether. It just got to be too much work. Getting out all the decorations and then having to put them allllllll away just a few short weeks later just wasn't worth it anymore. Let's be honest, I got lazy and lost some of the spirit of Christmas. I still enjoyed seeing all the decorations everywhere, but I didn't take the time to do anything myself.

Having kids has changed all that! The magic and spirit of Christmas is back. There is nothing like experiencing the joy of the holiday season through a toddler's eyes. They get so excited about seeing Santa, Christmas trees, all the lights, listening to Christmas music, and now for the second year, we have also introduced Elf on the Shelf.

We did Elf on the Shelf last year for the first time. They were only just turning two, so they really didn't quite understand it (they still don't), but they did enjoy trying to find him every morning. I should say that Rylee enjoyed looking for him. Ayden was rather impartial once he got over the fact that we wouldn't let him play with the Elf. We didn't do anything fancy, just sticking to moving him to a new place every day.

We still aren't doing anything too creative and mostly just keep it simple. I have stolen a few ideas from some friends and Pinterest, but mostly... who has time for that? lol

Elf came in swinging for the first day. Ayden and Rylee both commented on how he was swinging.

Elf brought a friend and some goodies for the kids.

Other than the above two times, we've just barely remembered to move the elf and we've kept it simple. No matter how creative or simple it is though, the kids are just as excited to find the elf each morning. As they get older, I'm sure we will get more extravagant in what we do, but for now, simple is good!

Who knew the elf would be heavy enough to make the picture sit crooked?
The picture on the right, he's sitting on top of our back door.
Bottom left, he's on the light fixtures in the bathroom.

Last year, Rylee named him, Baby Elf. We thought they might actually come up with a real name this year for him, but every time we've asked what the elf's name is, we get told his name is "Momma." Ugh. We'd rather stick with Baby Elf! I just can't get behind saying, "where's Momma this morning?" "Have you found Momma?" Nope. Not going to name him Momma. Soooo, Baby Elf it still is! Maybe next year he'll get an actual name. Or maybe he'll always be Baby Elf. I suppose that's okay too.

I know some people think the whole Elf on the Shelf thing is stupid and/or creepy. I've seen posts on Facebook saying how kids shouldn't need a silly little elf to motivate them to behave. I have to be honest, I don't understand how he's creepy. I guess if you look at it in the context of he's "watching" you, in a Chucky sort of way. But then again, some people are afraid of clowns, too. I don't really understand that fear, but I know it's real for some. As for using him to motivate kids to be on their best behavior, how is that any different than Santa Claus?

"He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
He knows when you've been bad or good, 
so be good for goodness sake."

I don't know that we'll ever use the elf to report back to Santa or not. We might. His story might evolve as the kids get older. I know I don't want him to really become a naughty elf and be a trouble maker. I just want it to be fun. I want our elf to be just another way to bring the magic of Christmas alive in our house, for our kids.

I still don't go all out in decorating. In fact, I've barely gotten any decorations out at all. I have pulled out a few things though, and the kids are in love.

This Santa has fiber optic lights that change color. They think he's pretty cool.
Rylee even had to give him a kiss this morning.

This singing/dancing reindeer (or Moose as they call him) is back for his third Christmas with the kids, and they think he's just as special as they did the first year! In fact, Moose has not really left Ayden's side.

I've always loved Christmas, but it is ten times better with kids. We can't help but feel extra blessed and in awe that we get to make our own traditions and memories with our very own kids.

What are some ways that YOU experience the magic of Christmas with your kids? Please share!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Microblog Monday: Thanksgiving Recap

Is it too late to talk about Thanksgiving? It feels so far in the past already as we are already a full week in to December, but I started this post last week and feel like I should still publish it, so here goes...

Thanksgiving turned out to be fairly calm and relaxed. It was just us, my sister's family, and my mom, so 5 adults and 6 kids. My brother and his kids weren't able to make it. I spent the Wednesday before cleaning house. I even put Ayden and Rylee to work. I hope they continue to like doing chores as much as they do right now! Could I be so lucky???

Washing windows.

One of my nephews spent the night before Thanksgiving at our house. Ayden and Rylee thought it was the Best. Thing. Ever having their cousin over. The next morning, I got the turkey in the oven roaster (the EASIEST way to cook a turkey!) by 9:15 and made the pumpkin pie. Then I had a few hours of down time, and tried to stay as relaxed as possible, but Tony made that a challenge because he was constantly hovering and asking what I wanted him to do. I'd already given him a (short) list of what I needed him to do. I finally had to tell him to just leave me alone! haha. He was making it stressful by hovering so much! I love that he tries to be so helpful, and I'm forever grateful that he always does the Thanksgiving clean up every year, but it's stressful trying to constantly come up with things for him to do when I have everything under control and there isn't anything that needs to be done in that moment! I kept the meal simple with Thanksgiving basics, and it was wonderful. Just as we were about to put all the food on the table, I realized I hadn't made the gravy! Sis helped me whip that up real quick and then dinner was served.

Overall, we really had a very lovely Thanksgiving. I love being able to spend quality time with family.

Ayden (almost 3), Adilyn (3), Steven (6), Eliana (11), Rylee (almost 3), Nathanial (5)

All of our Thanksgiving crew.

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