Tuesday, December 19, 2017

So Cozy

Brad and I rearranged our bedroom. We hadn't moved any furniture for a couple of months, so it was clearly time!

The real impettus was our new mattress! We used some Christmas money and some of our own and finally bought a new mattress--the first since we were married. We thought 15 years was about long enough to wait.

As part of the move, we broke down and put a tv in our room. With the kids having more friends over, Brad and I often find ourselves trying to stay awake until everyone is asleep, and the tv is always claimed by the children. We also bought it largely for this little feature:
I love falling asleep to the glow and crackle of the fire. It's just so cozy.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Our Little Christmas

Following tradition, our little family of four celebrated our Christmas this weekend. Santa always makes a practice run to fill our stockings and remind us he knows where to arrive Christmas morning:

 And we give the kids our gift. I love Evan's face here:
 He had just opened a china tea cup. Then we told them we were going to the holiday market and high tea at the Carolina Inn:
 It was absolutely gorgeous:
And we actually took a really good family picture:
We had so much fun finding all of the twelve days of Christmas decorations throughout the Inn, and the tea was fabulous. We also were able to watch people arrive for a black tie gala, which was really fun! Issa found a beautiful ring at the market and got to meet the artist who created it, too!

We came home and snuggled in to just be and watch the Trolls holiday special, which is hysterical.

Evan did not find anything at the market, so he and Dad went to see the Star Wars movie yesterday, which did not disappoint. I made beef bourguignon and bread for dinner, and then we all set about making teacher gift ornaments. Issa and I perfected the technique when we made hers in the afternoon:
 But the boys brought a certain chaos to the crafting. At one point I was losing it: "Crafting is not about efficiency! Slow down!"

 We all laughed until we cried, and somehow the ornaments came out beautifully! We only have three days left until break, and I think we are looking forward to more family time.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Quieter Holly Jolly

We had another fun weekend! Friday, both kids had friends over for the evening. It was a lovely low-key night that included watching snow fall and making smores in the fireplace. It just doesn't get much better!

Saturday, Issa had dance and the boys headed to the dojo, so I actually got to have a lunch date with Mom! We used to do that quite a bit, but the schedules have just not been playing nicely lately!

Saturday afternoon, I made homemade chicken noodle soup and bread. After way too much research, I have found a gluten-free noodle that actually holds up in soup! I also finally made a gluten-free bread that Brad truly loves. We have found others he likes, but this one is legitimately really good, and I have never been happier to have found a recipe. The afternoon and evening was filled with Christmas crafting and more fire and Christmas carols and more snow. Perfection.

Sunday, we were invited to Chestnut Ridge for a thank you dinner since I've been on the Board this year. The hayride was the highlight:
Camp really was gorgeous in the snow! We made more smores and pinecone Christmas trees and generally had a fabulous evening. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Over Slime

Y'all. This slime craze. It has to go. Yesterday was early dismissal, and Issa was very excited to have Ellie over for an afternoon of slime making:
 This is half of what they made:
 The brown slime is actually gingerbread slime, which actually does smell like a gingerbread cookie.

This is the aftermath:
That is a lot of glitter. It's all cleaned up now, and I feel slightly better because they are giving a lot of it away as gifts. But I'm super over slime. I don't get it. It's gross. It smells funny. Issa says it's relaxing, but I get totally weirded out by it. And this obsession. Issa forgot her glasses today but she remembered the slime. I. just. can't.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Full Weekend, Full Hearts

We had a very full weekend! Friday, Issa danced in the Mebane Christmas Parade! It is quite the parade, and we were incredibly lucky to score great seats! Not only was it in the parking lot of a place selling hot cocoa but it also had a row of tires along the edge. Evan was more than happy to perch there while Brad and I used the camp chairs. We did discover my flash is very bright:
 But I had two great dates to the parade:
 Evan was very tired of waiting by the time the parade actually started:
 Thankfully, shortly after that another family joined us. They had a third grade boy, and the two boys had a blast. They also had a toddler who fell in love with Evan! If he moved, she did. It was hysterical!

Saturday, the boys headed to the dojo and Issa and I made the gifts for her littles:
 And when Evan returned we baked cookies:
 Yes...Evan chose R2D2 and ninjas. I can't.

Issa went the more traditional route:
Buddy had brought us boxes to use to take cookies to the neighbors, so we made over 100 sugar cookies!

Saturday night, we went to see School of Rock at DPAC, and it was incredible! The kids got to go, too, thanks to Ryan, who wasn't using his tickets. Evan sat with me, and I loved hearing laugh out loud.

Sunday, we joined Nana for church and then had a lovely lunch before shopping. Nana and Issa went to do her Christmas shopping, and Evan tagged along with Brad and I to choose a new mattress! We can't wait for it to arrive next week! By the time we finished that, it was time to switch! Evan went shopping and Issa came home with us to finish homework.

Buddy had suggested we go see lights last night, but after such a full weekend we decided that elf was not the boss of us! We enjoyed a quiet evening of snuggles, which was the perfect ending for such a full weekend.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Proud Moment

We are really trying hard to teach the kids to follow Ghandi's mantra: "Be the change you want to see in the world." We try to model doing something--no matter how big or small--instead of lamenting or waiting to see what happens.

Last night, Brad and I were so proud of Issa. She had been reading some news stories about Net Neutrality, and she was understandably concerned. So..she did something. She did some researching to learn more about it. She found her representatives. And then the real magic: she emailed her social studies teacher. She asked for five minutes of class time to explain the situation to her peers and ask them to write letters, too. Because she has a fabulous teacher, she had a response last night agreeing to the discussion and offering to send in any letters Issa collects.

It was one of those moments where you think you might just be doing something right, and I couldn't be more proud of our girl.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

He's Back!

Buddy the Elf is back for the season! While the magic is different for Issa this year, both kiddos are still loving waking up every morning to see what Buddy has been up to over night.

Keeping with tradition, our elf is never ornery. If you ask Evan, he will tell you that's because Buddy can't straight from Santa and not a store. Buddy also keeps us focused on what is important this season and helps us slow down to make memories.

Sunday, he dug out our old gingerbread house and left us candy to decorate it:
 Since it's been a couple of years since we did one, a lot changed! They used knives to cut candies:
 And we made legit royal icing with the egg whites to accomplish what is a huge step up in our gingerbread game:
Tonight, Buddy declared it story night, and we will curl up with Christmas stories and snuggle for a bit. I love those moments in the midst of crazy.

Monday, November 27, 2017

So Very Grateful

For the first time ever, we stayed in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. We had five uninterrupted days of family time, and it was truly lovely.

Wednesday, we cooked and raked:

 Thursday, we celebrated Thanksgiving in the most traditional way. We had a lovely lunch, and I must say I nailed the turkey:
 And Issa set a lovely table:
 And Evan was in charge of the holiday fire:
 (Yes, his hair is blue. That was Wednesdays project. He is blissfully happy!)

Daddy did his usual great job carving:
 And we spent some time with bows and arrows:
 Issa thought it fitting since her great grandfathers hunted for their Thanksgivings:
 We also started a gratitude jar. We started Thanksgiving with an empty vase, and we will spend the year recording what we are grateful for on little pieces of paper, filling the jar. Next Thanksgiving, we will open and read them all.

The rest of the week was a lovely blend of rest and holly jollying. Issa soaked up some sun:
And Buddy soaked up love:
 And...most importantly...Brad installed the new dishwasher:
 It's so shiny and so quiet and gets dishes so clean. I'm in love. It went straight into the gratitude jar.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

To South Carolina and Back Again

Last week, I took 21 lovely ladies to Charleston, South Carolina:
 We had a fabulous three days touring schools and taking in the history and culture Charleston has to offer. This is the third group I have taken there, but this was the first time we actually went to Fort Sumter:
 It was truly amazing to stand at the very place where the Civil War began. This is the flag that was flying at that moment:
 Our last stop was the aquarium, and it was a wonderful morning of watching fish and spending time with my two colleagues who traveled with us:
 I love the sophomore trip because I am able to get know my students very differently. For many of them, it's the first time they have traveled without family; for some, it's their first time out of North Carolina. I'm always exhausted when I get home, but I can't imagine not going.

When I got home, Don and Nancy were here for a visit! The kids loved taking them to the studio and the dojo, and I loved watching them just be with the kids in their own space. They played games and cards and made slime. It was lovely.

I took yesterday to recover a bit. Our dishwasher is dead (although a new one comes Friday!), so there were many dishes and general tidying after company. There was also laundry, where I discovered this:
Yep...Evan managed to somehow put his pants in the laundry with his cuff tucked into the sock. Impressive, no?

Today is the last day of school and work before our five day Thanksgiving stay-cation. We start cooking tonight, and we have big plans to soak in all kinds of holiday goodness. I can't wait!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Not At All Planned But All Good

I had grand plans of cleaning and organizing this weekend. We have another crazy week. Issa is doing the hair and make-up for the school play, I leave for Charleston Thursday, and Brad's dad comes for a visit Friday. I had grand designs of having us all ready for all of that. I did no cleaning and we are so far from ready, but it was worth it.

Friday, we kicked the weekend off with our first fire and chestnuts:

 Brad had finally perfected the technique by adding a little steam to the roasting process. The kids would still prefer s'mores, though:

 Saturday, Issa and I headed our for our annual Christmas crafting supply shopping list and lunch at Pizza Hut thanks to her book-it coupon:
 The pop socket was a whim.

Sunday, we went to get the second round of craft supplies, Evan new shoes, and Issa a curtain for her closet. We are moving furniture--again--always--and the doors are now replaced by a curtain and all of her things are completely reorganized. We also spent a ton of time making a flock:
We made 27 of these little turkeys for her dance littles, sisters, and teammates.

I'm so behind the eight ball, but I think it was worth it.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Best Aunt Ever

My sister, well, I want to be her when I grow up. She works a crazy job, travels all the time, and yet never, ever forgets my kids and their traditions. From Issa's very first winter, she has given my kiddos their winter coats--largely because these Southern coats won't cut it for Ohio Christmas. Before I can even begin thinking about coats (because I won't think of coats until I see 30 degrees in the forecast), I get a text asking for sizes. 

Since she is traveling for Thanksgiving this year, the coats arrived in the mail. And because Aunt Shannon is trulyt magic, they arrived the day before the first really cold morning of the year. 

Issa nearly slept in hers she was so excited:
 I can almost deal with how grown up she looks--almost. Aunt Shannon also sends all the winter accessories, and Issa gushed over the hat. In fact, she is wearing it all day for hat day today.

And Evan, well, he was very upset I made him leave the laundry room for a picture:
The eyes on that hat glow in the dark. I mean really? Could it be any more perfect?

They were so excited to be bundled this morning, warm and snug in one giant hug from Aunt Shannon.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Little Holly Jolly

So...I'm down right giddy right now. We are huge, huge fans of Thanksgiving, but we also start plotting Christmas in November around our house. In November, we focus on planning activities and what gifts we would like to give. It makes December so much less stressful if we've already made a lot of our gifts in November!

On Monday, Brad emailed out of the blue with a fabulous idea. He thought it would be fun if we all wore ugly Christmas sweaters to my aunt's house this year--a sort of competition if you will. I floated the idea, and my family is ALL IN! The flurry of texts I've gotten of sweater ideas from my cousins is hysterical. Shannon and Becca are planning a photo booth to capture the hilarity. Brad and I are plotting prizes and a game. It's just fun.

Last night, our little crew made our sweater purchases. We wanted them to arrive with plenty of time for embellishing. They are fabulous, and I must say Brad may be hard to top.

I love the joy the end of the year brings, and I am really focusing on that this year. Ho ho ho!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Last Wednesday was a bit of a big night:
 Evan graduate not only to a red-white belt but also to the next level of classes:
 Brad earned his blue-white belt and joined the Mon Jin!

But this picture:
This is why juggling all the crazy schedules is worth it. Evan has been training with Mr. Bryan since he started, and this moment after graduation--priceless. I'm not sure who is more proud.