Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Bazaar with Some Bizarre Snowmen

After much planning, the Holiday Bazaar went off without a hitch last night at Issa's school! I have no idea how the sales side of the bazaar actually went, but I know we had a blast in the kids' room. Issa and I assembled a snowman dress-up kit, which was a huge hit:
The kids thought it was hysterical to put on hats, scarves, and paper carrot noses. (One of the other parents painted this backdrop with the school logo.) The giggles alone were worth the gathering. We ended up with some bizarre combinations of hats and scarves, but they had a blast. Some of them even decided it was more fun to pretend they were getting ready for a sleigh ride:

No nose or shirt required. (I promise I took pictures of all the kids for the yearbook, but I'm only posting Issa here. I doubt you all really want to see a million pictures of random children.)

The snowman beanbag toss was also fun!

I even made snowflake beanbags. So fun!

We also had snacks! One of the parents brought a concession stand popcorn popper, which is very fun, and I made holiday Chex mix. In case you are wondering, a triple batch was a bit much, but it was a huge hit. (A triple batch has two boxes of cereal and a Costco size bag of craisins.)

I am still exhausted from all the fun, but it was so worth it when on the way to school Issa told me she was glad I was her mom and thanked me for playing with her friends last night. I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Tree!

Last night a little more holly jolly entered our home in the form of the world's most perfect tree.(And yes, I say that every year and then spend part of the evening describing how this year's tree is better than the last. In this case, it's not too fat so we can actually get to the plug to light the lights.)

We decided to get our tree at the fire department this year. It's a fundraiser for them, and my littles were thrilled to see fire trucks and get a tree at the same time. It was almost too much. The trees were beautiful and passed inspection:
It was a hard choice, but in the interest of full disclosure, I forgot to take a picture of the actual choosing and made my family reenact it, which is not something I normally do but I have a picture from every other year and this year could be no exception. (I am realizing I may have some kind of issues...these are new issues centered around holiday traditions in addition to my other more general issues.) One problem:

If you look closely in that picture you can see our tree is already on top of the van--oops.

Mr. Eddie spoiled the kids with a tour of every truck and new coloring books. Evan hardly said two words while we were there, but he talked all night about the trucks, the trees, and Mr. Eddie. In fact, Mr. Eddie was the best part of his day and leaving Mr. Eddie was the worst. So cute.

Daddy brought the tree in and put it in the stand:

That picture cracks me up! I can't decide if he's doing surgery or committing murder.

Ah...the view from the kitchen:

I can hardly wait for it to settle so we can decorate. Tonight we have the holiday bazaar, though, and I'm sure there will be great stories to be told.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This was one of those perfect holidays. It all started with a perfect trip up to Ohio. We finally figured how to travel:
Sleeping children are a plus, but taking the middle seats out of the van and putting the kids in the back is brilliant. They have more room for their "stuff," real cup holders, and they can actually play with each other. My husband is a genius. (There...I put it in writing.)

After a delightful drive, we started the celebrating at Grandma Pat and Grandpa Kevin's house, where there were cookies to be baked:

And a dog to be loved:

This poor puppy is probably still sleeping. The three of them were inseparable and in constant motion--so cute.

Then, we celebrated with Papa Don, Grandma Nancy, Uncle Brian, Aunt D., and all the cousins:

That is one happy family.

We eventually headed a little further north to Nana and Papa Rich's house. We had the big meal, but we also had a ton of fun. There were more cookies to bake:

My cousins, Becca and Tyler, joined that madness. I can't remember the last time I have laughed so hard. We left no cookie cutter un-used and no sprinkle un-sprinkled. We picked on each other and remembered years and years of memories. I love sharing those stories with my kiddos and seeing them laugh as hard as we do.

There is nothing better than your significantly younger cousin telling you, "I don't need your sass." Oh, my friend, you do. Anyone who mistakes a church cookie cutter for a Christmas tree has it coming...that is the stuff memories are made of.

This, however, is a boy that knows his cookies:

I love my sisters face in the background. It's blurry, but it is pure joy.

Of course, there were also art projects galore. Even Uncle Jeff made a Play-do beach:

Not too shabby. Amongst the hustle and bustle, there were also quiet moments for snuggling and just being together.

Siblings enjoying a fire:

Two generations of siblings enjoying each other:

Papa Rich and Evan taking a break from hammering for snuggles:

I even managed to find a little snuggle time with my angels:

What is it about a fireplace that entices people to snuggle a little closer, be a little more joyful?

The Cookie Crew:

Well...most of the cookie crew.

Three generations of bakers:

That's a keeper.

Lest you think it was all snuggles and bliss, there were moments like this:

"Not one more picture. If I can't see you, you can't take the picture." (That must have been what he was thinking. I'm sure of it.)

Quiet moments turned to whirling dance numbers while the Christmas music filled the room:

Because after all, it's almost December...that Christmas-y time of year. And new coats are needed:

And trees must be trimmed:

This is actually my sister's tree. Issa made the garland for her, and in true Aunt Shannon form, it really went on the tree.

Tonight, we went to find our tree, and that story will come tomorrow. For now, I think I'll enjoy the smell of pine, have one more giggle at the memories, and remember how truly thankful I am.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is a horrible picture, but I am so psyched about this bean bag toss board:
Yeah...Brad and I made it. He cut the holes, and I did the painting. I'm pretty sure it will be a hit at the holiday bazaar at Issa's school. Yes...we are in full-swing holiday craft-astic. Bring it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Yesterday, we had a small Thanksgiving here for our little family and some friends. For the first time, I really got the turkey right! It all started Saturday night. I took the turkey out of the package, salt and peppered it, covered it in plastic wrap, and put it back in the refrigerator.
Ha! Brad was convinced it wouldn't fit. Never doubt a woman who needs to get a turkey in a refrigerator:

Yesterday, I pulled the turkey out an hour before I wanted to put it in the oven. I stuffed the cavity with a lemon cut into wedges and lots of sage. Meanwhile, I melted a stick of butter with a few sage leaves (whole), the zest and juice of one lemon, and about a cup of the stock I made the night before from the pieces and parts of the turkey. That simmered for about ten minutes, then I soaked cheese cloth in the mixture and laid it across the turkey. I poured what was left in the pan over the top, and into the oven it went.

Meanwhile, the kids helped me make the pie and sides and set the table:

This is as real as it gets. Check out the bed head and jammies while I'm directing the troops:

It was Issa's idea to use her pine cones to decorate:

Shockingly, the turkey was finished an hour early. As we say in the South, I lost my religion and said some very unkind things to the turkey, but we just ate a little early because we have very flexible friends. I took the cloth off for ten minutes, just to crisp up the skin:

I would say that is one beautiful bird! It was so moist, too.

Evan finds roasting a turkey to be hysterically funny--I think it's the size. When it was in the refrigerator, he would open the door, yell "Turkey!" and then laugh. When it was roasting, he would stand in front of the oven and just watch it. I love creating those holiday moments for my kiddos. Here's to many, many more!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Choo Choo!

Yesterday, we ventured out to our museum to see their Holiday Train display. A sweet museum staffer snapped this for us:
Clearly, Evan was too enthralled by the trains to look at the camera.

Four trains wound through scenes from North Carolina. The state capital:

Kitty Hawk (including the Wright brothers' plane):

And many more. All of the buildings were made from natural materials, and they really were amazing. Evan was so excited to watch the trains emerge from tunnels, and Issa loved finding different buildings and animals tucked in the snow.

Just when we thought it couldn't be any better, guess who arrived on the scene:

Thomas! The kids could actually make him go, and they were thrilled.

The kids also got a bird's eye view of the tracks:

Issa liked it, but Evan was in love. The trains were really amazing, but they couldn't compare with that little boy's face.

After we watched the trains, we sat in the new coffee shop to enjoy a little coffee and some train cookies while playing with wooden trains. Life doesn't get much better.

Now, I need to get in the kitchen! We're having a little Thanksgiving around here today!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Only a Mother...

...would cry over this:
Such a tiny little hanger...

The newborn size little hangers...and they are now all gone from our house. I threw the last of them away yesterday. We haven't had a newborn in a long time, but I would still hang Evan's little clothes on them. Even his little clothes are too big now. It was time. My babies just aren't babies anymore.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Doin' the Robot

We had ballet last night, which means dinner is delayed. The boys decided to come along, so we ended up picking up dinner on the way home. I hate fast food for dinner, but sometimes it just works. What followed dinner worked wonders for relieving my mommy guilt, though:
Wendy's is on a crusade to make the kid meal toys a family experience. Often, they are games, but last night the kids each got to build their own robots. In reality, they punched out cardboard pieces and we helped them hook them on the plastic wind-up body. We were all laughing building the robots, though, and I was impressed by how many pieces came in the set. The kids really could build their own robot. Evan was especially thrilled!

I love the look of concentration as he tries to wind up his robot. (Look at those eyelashes; those are going to cause me trouble.)

When did this boy get so big? And so cute? And so big?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


When I started this blog, I promised myself I would capture reality in all its forms. I wanted to use the blog to help me see the humor in what might otherwise make me crazy. It really was inspired by my mom, who always just giggles when my children make a horrible mess and insists we leave it so she can continue to giggle after we leave. (Imagine a million little dog bone confetti everywhere.) I know someday I will miss this version of reality, so I try to capture a piece of it so I can look back and laugh all over again.

This is a perfect example of reality:
Every morning, after the kids are at school and Brad is at work, I do a tidy circle, picking up left toys and breakfast dishes. This morning, I found Booboo on the toilet in the master bathroom. Why? I have no idea. He was clearly tucked there very intentionally, wedged into that little nook. I'm still giggling.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Accidental Project

Every once in a while, maybe more than every once in a while, I hear things coming out of my mouth that I just can't fathom. Sometimes, they are those ridiculous parent-lines: "We don't poof pets or people" (with magic wands) or "Why are there guys in my shoes?" Other times, I vocalize ideas before I really think about it. This is one of them:
Our Christmas wrapping has become an art project for Issa and I. We love Thanksgiving, and we try to hold off on Christmas until December. That being said, we do some shopping and wrapping early so we can take some gifts up to Ohio at Thanksgiving. Otherwise, the packing in December is a nightmare and Scrooge makes an unwelcome appearance in our driveway.

So...yesterday, Issa and I started some wrapping:

I do the wrapping, and Issa decorates. She is in love with choosing just the right paper for the tree cut outs and gluing them in exactly the right places. We really nurture thoughtful giving, and this has been a great extension. It was one of the "yeah...we are getting this right" moments.

This morning, I read a quote that so excellently summarized my outlook on life right now:

Being intentional. That's what I want to model for my children. I intentionally stifle the desire to just get the dang wrapping paper on and live in the moment of decorating and talking about the recipient. I intentionally say no to a holiday party so we can enjoy the season without running around like lunatics and remember what it's really about. I intentionally leave the Christmas decorations in the attic so we remember Thanksgiving and count our blessings. I intentionally force every fiber of my being to be in the moment rather than running through the ever growing to do list in my head.

It doesn't always work, and sometimes there is fall out (as in seven loads of laundry on Sunday night--yikes).'s a daily goal I've been pursuing since I started this blog, and I must say, I've never been happier. So...bring on the accidental projects. What's a little glue among friends?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Drop

We are drinking in fall to the very last drop around here. Yesterday, the sun was shining and the air was warm. It was not a day to stay indoors, so Issa and I picked up Evan early and we headed out for some more fun in the leaves. Both kids were a bit handier with a rake yesterday:
I think knowing what was coming helped:

That is a flop! They also discovered throwing leaves yesterday:

I wish you could hear the giggles. It's amazing how something as simple as leaf can bring so very much joy.

Eventually, the fun needed to come to an end. We are fortunate to have a town leaf sweeper, so we just need to get the leaves to the curb and they are sucked up to become compost for the town. As I was raking the pile ever so slowly towards the curb, Issa devised a far better plan:

The wagon is so much faster, and the kids thought it was hysterical. Check out the results of our efforts:

After all that work, we needed a trip to the park. It seemed so unfair that the leaves should get a wagon ride and not the kiddos...or so Issa would have me believe. And really, how can you not enjoy these last few walks to the park before the arctic air comes sweeping in?

Look at that big girl go! One good push and she's on her own. Evan also loves a little time in a swing:

Yep...fall really has been good to the last drop.