Thursday, January 19, 2017

Growing

Last night was super big night at our house. The boy, well, he just keeps growing:
He earned a red stripe last night--the last stripe he will ever get on a yellow belt; at graduation, he will move to blue and begin learning the water elements. As I watched him test last night, I couldn't believe how far he has come. He is now able to respond on his feet, and he's one tough kid. He even made the dojo's Instagram story.

As if that wasn't enough, he also passed his mon jin interview. He will now join the group who has committed to train through black belt, and very soon his black belt will be hanging in the dojo waiting for him. This opens a new class for him, but it also means he will start coaching in the Mighty Dragons program. My baby is about to be the big kid for the little guys. I have to stop blinking...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

So Close!

We have had a very busy few days! Nana has been in town, and we have been getting ready for her to make the big move next week!

We have done walk-throughs, ordered appliances, and shopped for little odds and ends. Mostly, we've been marveling that it's almost time for her to be four minutes away. It seems like we have been waiting forever, and now it's so close it hurts.

It's been fun to watch the kids realize what she will be here for--dance lessons, trips to the dojo, dinners just because. I loved having my grandparents close as I was growing up, and I am so, so beyond grateful that my kiddos will get to experience some of that. Evan was a bit sad to realize that Nana will actually be sleeping at her house, though. The poor boy thought that she would only sleep there when he did.

I can't wait for the adventures...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And now it 60 degrees...

Life in North Carolina is never dull. We have been snowed in since Friday and today it is 60. Tomorrow the high is likely to hit 75. 

Yesterday, Issa put a pin in our snow day festivities with a lovely tea party:
She made the cupcakes 100% on her own, and they were fabulous! I might have eaten two.

Today, they went back to school at regular time. I'm spending 12 hours in my office, and Brad is rejoicing in a quiet home office. Life is back to normal.

I really love being snowed in, but five days might have been one day too many. Here's to normal!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snowed In

We have spent the weekend snuggled up enjoying some bonus family time thanks to Mother Nature.

Friday night, the kids camped out upstairs while Brad and I stayed up downstairs to wait for the snow to begin:
 It truly was a perfect evening, and well after the kids were asleep big puffy flakes started to fall.

Saturday morning, we headed out with the neighbors to the big sledding hill:
 It was so fun until it was so cold. It was still snowing while we were out, and by the time we got home we were all about frozen. We spent the rest of the day snuggled in sipping cocoa and taking naps. It was lovely. Even the dogs got the message:
Yesterday, the wind chill was too low to venture out, but we had a blast playing family board games all afternoon.

The kids have already been outside sledding and having snow ball fights today. We still have about six inches on the ground, and there is no sign of melting in the near future. In fact, school is already cancelled for tomorrow. We have big plans to just keep enjoying this little snow induced stay-cation as long as it lasts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

We Survived

Yesterday morning, we were warriors. We got up with the alarms, we got dressed in real clothes immediately, and we made it to school on time with all the right stuff. The angels were singing. (I mean seriously...the first day back should automatically be a two hour delay for everyone's sake. Let's just transition to reality gently.)

I was so proud of us.

And then the afternoon happened. Evan forgot his homework folder. He could do his homework, but that's not really the point. Then disaster struck when Issa had to divide 8600 by 10. She would tell me the answer was 860 (hurrah!) but insisted that when you did it on paper the answer was 10 (what?). I really tried to stay calm and patient and work this through. But it might have ended with me saying, "What are you talking about? You have lost all of your brain cells. Brad, I'm tagging out."

Mom. Of. The. Year.

He talked her through whatever the hitch was, and we were able to salvage the evening. It ended in laughter, which is all that really matters. But I'm telling you, homework on the first day back should totally be illegal!

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Very Christmas and a Happy New Year

We are back in NC after a great ten days in Ohio. It was a shorter trip this year since the kids went to school until the Wednesday before Christmas, but we packed in plenty of memory making.

One of the things I am most grateful for is a sister who takes pictures because you know how many I took since we were in Asheville: zero. I'm the worst. I think I just get so caught up in enjoying and soaking it all in I just forget. I only half regret that.

We started our travels in Napoleon, and this year we all donned matching sock monkey pajamas:

 Somehow Daddy and Nana avoided the pajama pictures.

We spent the time leading up to Christmas baking cookies:
 And playing in the snow:

 And doing a puzzle:
 We had big plans for other outings, but in the end, we all just wanted to stay cozy. It was just too nice to be together and enjoy the little things.

We switched up Christmas Eve this year and went Mediterranean. We had lamb, lentils, and a Greek salad for dinner, but the appetizers stole the show:
 My sister's red pepper feta dip is incredible. My taste buddies are still dancing.

My crazy kids agreed to take a few Christmas Eve pictures, but they might have been a little wound. The dab anyone?
 There are my smiling, slightly more normal kiddos:
 Uncle Jeff delayed the picture taking by two minutes, and in that time the kids and Aunt Shannon became the chipmunks:
 Thankfully, Uncle Jeff saved us all:
 Nana and her kids:
 Issa was the queen of bows this year:
 And Evan thoroughly enjoyed the whole S'mores on Christmas Eve concept:
 We all did! There is just something cozy about the whole idea:
 With full bellies, the treats were prepared for Santa and his crew. If you can't quite read Evan's note, it says, "Dear Santa, Be careful of the hearth. Love, Evan." (Nana still has a bruise on her shin from that hearth.)
 Both kids said they heard the sleigh bells, and we all woke up bright and early Christmas morning. I love this picture of Issa and Daddy:
 Two cute kids:
 Santa filled the stockings:
 And Issa claimed the bows:
 Santa brought Evan two huge Nerf guns and plenty of darts:
 He brought Issa Lea, the American Girl Doll of the Year:
 We spent the rest of Christmas morning at the Slights with the whole crew:
 One of the highlights was the blankets Becca made for each of the littles. Issa loves her ballerinas:
 Evan loves his Darth Vader:
 But Brad is absolutely giddy about his science beakers:
 Becca made blankets many years ago for everyone, and Brad loved them so much she made him one then. When the new ones appeared, Brad started raving about his old one, and he went nuts when she went and pulled a new one out for him, too. It was one of the highlights of Christmas.

I was able to snag my annual Christmas Day family photo:
I sure do love this crew.

The day after Christmas, we were able to snag a visit with Papa Rich, Hildegard, Denny, Diana, and Laura. It's been ages since we have seen all of them, and it was such a nice morning.

From there, we headed to Papa Don's house. We spent the afternoon there just being. The following day was our Christmas celebration there. We spent the day crafting and relaxing. Grandma Nancy taught Issa how to make pot holders, and one of the highlights of my Christmas was watching Papa Don and Evan watch a submarine war movie. Brad and I made a big Christmas dinner, and we went to see the famous lights in the park. It was just blissful.

The next morning we headed to Grandma Pat and Grandpa Kevin's. The kids were thrilled to have so much time with their cousins there. I'm still not sure what was so hysterical about the Legos in the basement, and I'm pretty positive I don't really want to know, but I sure did love listening to all that laughter. The next day we ditched any plans during the day in favor of building gingerbread houses and just enjoying some time together. We finished just in time to go celebrate Grandma's birthday and then hang out with the cousins a little more. It's still so strange to see Issa as the big cousin with Hadley, but it sure does warm my heart.

We made our way back here on Friday, and we spent Saturday and Sunday settling back in. We did our annual New Year's purge, which included a full trash bin and four big boxes to Goodwill. We rearranged some furniture and even packed up the Christmas decorations. We still managed to try out Daddy's new deep dish pan and Issa's new popcorn popper for New Year's Eve.

Today, we treated ourselves to a lunch out and a trip to see Sing, which was a super cute movie. It was the perfect way to end the break before we head back to reality tomorrow.

It certainly feels like 2017 is going to be a great year...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Magic

 This weekend just became my very favorite Christmas ever. Brad and I have been plotting since September. We decided that our Christmas gift to the kiddos would be a night at the Biltmore, and we managed to keep it a secret from the kids!

 When they woke up Saturday morning, we told them to get dressed in the clothes we laid out and hop in the van, which we had decorated:

 It was hysterical. They were so anxious as first. They truly had no idea where we were going. They finally put the pieces together when we were about 30 miles away from Asheville. We started the weekend at our favorite crepe place in Asheville, and then we checked into the Village Hotel on the Biltmore estate. The hotel was absolutely beautiful and the whole thing smelled like pine and gingerbread. Every single person we met was unbelievably kind, including the staff member that stepped away from her counter to take this picture for us:
 Issa loved all of the owls in the trees, and I am so grateful for the picture since our selfie game was not strong:
 We spent Saturday afternoon exploring the Village. We found a few new wines we loved at the winery and joined the wine club, and we played many fun games from the turn of the century. The kids also wanted to take the traditional pictures with the statue of Cedric, the family dog:


 The kids were most excited about making their own Christmas poppers:
 After a fabulous dinner at Cedric's Pub, we were able to tour the Biltmore home by candlelight:
 The pictures just don't do it justice. I spent half the evening teary. It truly is magic and beautiful and perfect. Watching the kids' eyes light up as they saw the giant trees was amazing:

 There are 62 trees throughout the home:

 The mantles were all stunning, and seeing them in the firelight was remarkable:

 And the trees on the front lawn were not to be missed:
 The kids loved exploring among the trees:
 And we were all swept up in the magic:
 The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then went back to tour the home in the daylight. Issa actually kept a tally of the trees. We found all of them! We ended our time on the estate with brunch at Deerpark. It was an incredible buffet. The kids were delighted by the peel and eat shrimp, and Brad was thrilled to find prime rib. We are still trying to figure out how they made my herb-crusted turkey, and the stuffing was quite possibly the single best bite I've ever put in my mouth. Except for maybe the peppermint s'mores pie.

On our way home, we stopped by the Grove Park Inn to see the National Gingerbread Competition winners. We have watched the competition on tv, but to see it in person was super cool. This year's winner was very impressive:
 I loved the reindeer piece:
 And we are all still trying to figure out how they made this poinsettia:
We are very glad we saw all of the gingerbread--once. The crowd was insane--especially compared to the Biltmore.

This was one of those weekends that defied the rules of time. We were only gone one night, but we made so many memories. The kids thanked us over and over for the best Christmas ever, and we all agreed it was truly magic. The lights and the music and the time to just be--to soak it all in. Christmas perfection.