Thursday, December 31, 2015

Four Christmases

This Christmas was our first Christmas as a family of four! It was such a special holiday and I loved celebrating the birth of our Savior with my sweet little boys. Each year just get better and better and it was so sweet watching the wonder of the holiday through the eyes of my little guys. 

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve we drove over to my sister's in-law's house [we both married guys from the same town, which is no small feat considering we aren't even from that area ... maybe I'll share that story another day :] to see  my sister, her husband, and her kiddos. We hung out for a little while, chatted for a bit, exchanged gifts, and enjoyed seeing each other for a bit. Then we headed back to Landon's parent's house so we could get the boys down for their naps. 

Oliver fell asleep in the car and I just let him nap in his carrier once we got to the house. Emerson was on the verge of falling asleep in the car, but we annoyed him so much and kept talking to him so he would stay awake until we got home. Then we promptly laid him down for a nap and prayed he would fall asleep and take a good nap. Thankfully he did just that, as did Oliver. While they napped I made some cinnamon sugar donut muffins [so good!] so I could make sure I had a little treat for after dinner. Both boys slept until Landon's dad's side of the family arrived and had been visiting for a little while already. Once Oliver woke up I fed him and then we went outside [outside?!] for a family picture. We spent the rest of the evening eating, opening gifts, visiting, watching basketball - until I put on 'Elf', and rocking babies to sleep. It was a full day full of family and lots of love. 

of course Emerson would have the goofiest face ever in this picture! 

I love this family and am so thankful I get to be a part of it! 

Since the boys weren't sleeping very well while we were at Landon's parent's house we did what ever it took to get them to actually sleep. This meant Landon sleeping in one room with Emerson and Oliver sleeping in a different room with me - in his bed for the first part of the night and next to me for the second half of the night. My Christmas Eve wish had been for Oliver to sleep well that night, and thankfully he did! I felt like I even slept in a little bit on Christmas morning; eight o'clock was a beautiful time to wake up. Once we were all up and breakfast had started baking and Landon's Granny and Papaw came over, we opened gifts with Landon's family. 

It was so much fun watching Emerson open his gifts. He was so excited that he could finally open the gifts he'd been eyeing under the tree for the past two weeks. The day before he'd been able to open a few gifts and was ready to put that practice to good use Christmas morning. He was thrilled to bits that he could rip the paper off of packages and find treasures beneath. Each time he got the paper off the box he was unwrapping, he would hold the box up to me and ask for help opening the box. Then he'd ask, "Whad id gonna be?!" before he took the top of the box off. Every gift he had the same little question. So sweet! It was so much fun watching him enjoy his Christmas. He opened all of his gifts in record time and was eager to help Oliver open his... and anyone else who had a present to open. In his excitement and hurry to get all the presents open a few smaller gifts were temporarily lost - thank goodness they were found later! 

Once all of the gifts were open, Oliver was ready for his morning nap. I laid him down and by the time I had him down breakfast was ready. Christmas breakfast has become one of my favorite meals -even more so than Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter dinners. Landon's mom makes so many delicious breakfast foods: biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, breakfast casserole with ham, cheese, and corn flakes, and other equally delicious things. I love them all and eat way more than I should.  This year for Christmas breakfast was the closest I ever came to crying over food. My breakfast was toast and scrambled eggs [because I'm still going strong on the dairy, soy, nut, and corn free diet Oliver has me on]. If we had been home I could have made some dairy free options for me, but with all they food they had and lack of "special" ingredients, it was just tricky. Two eggs and two pieces of toast was not the meal I was looking forward to. An hour or so after everyone had finished breakfast I ate some of the muffins I'd made the night before for my dessert. In reality, they are probably much better than cinnamon rolls or donuts, so it's all good.  

Breakfast was eaten quickly and then the dishes cleaned up just as fast. A few nights before I had put some gingerbread houses together for Emerson to decorate. He had decorated one gingerbread house the week before with his Papaw and Auntie Lauren; after it was finished his Papaw requested that we get another kit for him so he and Emerson could do another one. So we pulled out the houses and got to work decorating them. Emerson ended up eating most of the candies and frosting that was there for decorations, but he had fun doing it and it was fun to help him decorate the houses again.

Eventually Landon's grandparents went back to their house and it was time for lunch - though, I'm pretty sure Emerson and I were the only ones who actually ate lunch. Everyone else was full from breakfast and saving space for the big dinner later on. Both the  boys went down for naps [at the same time!] and we enjoyed some quiet rest time as well. 

Once nap time was over, we got ready to go to one of Landon's aunt's house to celebrate Christmas with his mom's side of the family. There was more food, lots of family, gifts, and visiting. We headed out before everyone else, with Emerson's crazy sleeping habits I wanted to make sure he got to bed [sleep] at a reasonable hour. And Oliver was hungry and sleepy too. Even though we left a little early, it was still fun visiting with family and celebrating another Christmas gathering. 

And then, just like that Christmas was over. ... except, it wasn't for us. We still had our own Christmas to celebrate once we got home, but I'll save that Christmas for another day. This way I don't have to say good bye to all things Christmas yet - I'll let it linger just a little bit longer, even if we are welcoming the New Year tonight! 

Monday, December 28, 2015

an extended visit with family

I've been keeping a little secret for a few weeks now - we have been gone from home for the past two weeks. It's kind of tricky to keep that a secret, but some how I managed, and if you suspected I wasn't home, thanks for not asking :) 

On the evening of Friday, December 11, we packed our bags and loaded our car and drove to Kentucky. Landon had a conference in San Fransisco the following week and I wasn't too keen on staying home by myself [with the boys]. So we planned for me to stay with his parents while he was away. When his conference was over, he joined us for the week leading up to Christmas. 

We did a lot and a lot of nothing at the same time. The boys were constantly entertained and looked after [not that they aren't at home...]. On the days Landon's parents had to work, Emerson waited very eagerly for them to come home so he could play with them and run around getting away with everything.

One thing I had wanted to do with Emerson was bake some cookies. And while we only kind of made them, he had a lot of fun decorating the cookies and then, ultimately, eating them.

We did a lot of the same things we do at home: read books, play games, play with toys, eat, sleep [or not sleep if your name happens to be Emerson or Oliver], and spend time visiting with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It was a special treat to be able to see family for such an extend amount of time.

The hardest part about being away from home [especially for so long] was the sleeping situation. Nearly every time Emerson went down for a nap or bed, he would run out of his room crying or just laughing about how he wasn't tired and didn't need to sleep. There were some times I had to put him back in his bed a dozen or more times. Not fun. But he eventually fell asleep and usually stayed asleep [but not always]. Oliver was sick while we were there so he had trouble sleeping too. Which in turn meant little sleep for me and a lot of co-sleeping, which is something I rarely do. 

Apart from sleeping, it was a good time and I'm glad we were able to see family and spend quality time with them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Our Christmas Card

This year we got a few Christmas cards to give to a few family members. I was getting an order ready from Shutterfly and one of their promos was a few free Christmas cards, since I was already placing an order I made up a Christmas card really quickly - who was I to pass up free Christmas cards? 

So to our many friends who did not get a Christmas card - here it is [and please excuse the poor quality, it's the best I could manage]! Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

bits of cheer [ ho ho ho ]

Happy Christmas week! Just three more days until Christmas! I feel like this month has gone by so quickly and so slowly at the same time. I'll never know how that's possible. Anyhow, I'm just going to share a few Santa pictures for my little bits of cheer this week. 

We got to see Santa after Thanksgiving when we were visiting my sister and we were lucky enough to see Mrs. Claus too. We got our picture and went on our way. Though I was a little disappointed afterwards that Oliver didn't get to actually "meet" Santa [sit in his lap], so I was hoping we'd get to see him again. But still, we had a Santa picture so I was just going to be happy with that. [Also, am I the only one thinking that Mrs. Claus should have worn a dress with a higher neckline?] 

Once I had accepted our Santa pictures, I moved on and didn't even think about seeing him again. It didn't really matter. But then... we found out he was going to be visiting a nearby store, so we took the boys to see him.

And I am oh so glad we did. I love how the pictures with Santa the second time around turned out. I'm pretty sure Emerson could have sat on his lap the whole morning. Oliver was a trooper when we got the pictures taken - he was feeling a little under the weather, but I decided that it would be okay for him to sit on Santa's lap for just a minute or so. I'm sure they will thank me for these pictures one day.

I know Christmas isn't all about Santa and presents and whatnot, but I still love that the boys got to see Santa. I also love that every night before bed we read part of the Christmas Story and talk about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Having two boys of my own makes me even more thankful for the Gift God gave us. 

May your Christmas week be filled with love, joy, peace, and hope. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

nails, nog, and naps

For some reason, this week has seemed liked the slowest one ever! The days all seemed to move so sluggishly by, yet it's still hard for me to believe that it's Friday. But thank goodness it is!

one. painted nails. 
There's something about having painted fingernails that helps make me feel a little more put together. I'm not sure what it is, but it's like magic or something. I love having painted nails. Though as much as I love it, it doesn't always happen. In fact, it rarely happens. You know, with two little people to look after it's just a rare occurrence. But a few days ago I snuck away and gave myself a little manicure. Nearly a week later and it's still looking good. Maybe it could become a weekly thing? One can only hope.

two. a special treat. 
Bed time has been pretty rough this week for some reason. By the time Emerson is finally asleep it's about time for me to go to bed so I can get a little bit of sleep before Oliver wakes up. But before I climb into bed, I need some time to unwind and just be. The other night during this little unwinding time I made a special little treat and sat down for a little while before heading to bed. I don't think I can say it enough, but I'm so very thankful I found Nog. It's so good and such a special treat.

three. bad hair days. 
I feel like my hair is just having one bad hair day after another. Even if I fix it in the morning a few hours later it's a hot mess and I don't know what to do to help it look even a little less crazy. I don't really want to get another cut so soon after having just gone in, but sometimes I think it's the only thing that will help. Hopefully I figure something out soon. My hair needs help.

four. sleeping baby. 
Oliver has been sleeping pretty well at night time lately and has started taking fairly good naps too, for which I'm thankful. However, the other night he would not sleep. He refused to fall asleep and then once he did, he woke up time countless times during the night. I finally laid him beside me in bed, I was exhausted and need sleep if he wanted a nice mama. hah. Aren't sleeping babes the absolute sweetest thing?

five. home sweet home. 
This week Landon has been at a conference, so I've had the boys to myself - it makes for a long week and is probably part of the reason bed time has been rough. But tonight he comes home and we couldn't be more excited to welcome him home! Now the afternoon just needs to pass quickly so he can hurry up and get here! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

an aqua adventure

A few weeks ago my dearest friend and I talked about meeting up and taking our little to do something around Christmastime. We live a few hours away from each other, so meeting to do something is an occasion and requires planning. As the days got nearer and nearer to Christmas we decided to plan for one of two days and hope for the best. Our plan was to meet at the aquarium and then get lunch together afterwards. Good plan. Not too much, not too crazy, not too complicated. And technically it wasn't wasn't any of those things, so we decided to make it happen.

Miracle of miracles, she was on time and I was only ten minutes late[r] than she was. Thankfully she also has two little people ruling her life so she was completely understanding of the potty breaks, changes of diapers, spit up that requires a change of clothes, and all that other good stuff. I was pretty proud of myself for getting the two minis ready and in the car at almost the exact time I had planned to leave.

with two little people, this is pretty much the best you can get sometimes :) 

Once we got there we wandered around [and tried to steer clear of several field trips] and looked at all of the fish, sharks, penguins, and other critters they had. Emerson loved running around and seeing all the animals, though there were several he didn't care for and was ready to move on. We didn't stay and read all the little signs and ti-bits of information about the animals, because let's face it, we were with two two year olds, but it was neat to see the fish floating and swimming around in the water. We even got to see Scuba Santa and one of his helper elves in the big shark tank! Yikes!

After we finished looking at all of the fish and seeing everything we could see we walked over to get some lunch together. It was clearly lunch time as Emerson was having major withdraws from leaving the aquarium and the gift shop [those designer/builder people sure know where to place a gift shop full of fun and enticing toys]. Thankfully we made it to the restaurant and there was a booth we could kind of hide in. Emerson decided to pick the table himself, and thankfully the restaurant wasn't too busy and they allowed us to sit there. I'm there there would have been a scene if we had moved. And of course everyone was hungry at the same time - both of the older boys and both of the little babies. oi vey. Emerson was whining, Oliver was crying, my friend's little boy was in tears, her baby was hungry ... it was a little circus of sorts. And I'm sure the waiters and other patrons of the restaurant were very glad we were kind of secluded from them. Somehow we managed to appease the toddlers, order food, feed the babies, eat our own food, and chit-chat a little bit in-between all of the tears, cries, messes, and otherwise general chaos that ensued. But we did it. And we were proud. I had been a little apprehensive of being out with out anyone else there to help, especially when it was time for Oliver to eat, but it all worked out in the end and no one left the restaurant hungry, and I dare say we even left a little bit more cheerful than when we arrived.

I'm so thankful my friend was willing to spend a crazy morning with us and do something fun and out of the ordinary; I definitely wouldn't have gone without her! It was nice to have something to look forward to and it was really nice to see her again, it had been about a year since we last saw each other. Crazy how time can sneak by you like that.

It was a nice way to spend our morning and it was so nice to get out and do something. Emerson continues to talk about our trip to the aquarium and the fun he had. Every time anyone asks him what his favorite part about it was he always says, "peguets" [penguins - I just love how he says it]. It really was his favorite part; a guy was giving a little talk about them and Emerson sat still and listened and watched for the longest time! I'm pretty sure he could have sat there all day [or at least another 30 minutes or so]. It was so sweet watching him study the penguins and listen to the guy talk about them. 

As we were driving out of the parking complex he commented about how Curious George hadn't been there. He was right, there was no Curious George, unlike one of his favorite books in which Curious George visits the aquarium and plays with the penguins. I just love hearing him talk and listening to his thoughts about any and everything. Such a fun age!

It turned out to be a good day, a little crazy at times, but good. And somehow I managed to keep Emerson awake for the 50 minute drive back to the house so that he would hopefully take a good nap. We stopped at the store to pick up a few things and I think that helped break it up a little bit, and for the rest of the drive home I made sure to talk to him and give him plenty to do. Once we got back home he laid down and took a long nap. Thank the Lord! What a day, what a day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

after Thanksgiving trip

Somehow these last few weeks have snuck by and before I realize it, we will be celebrating Christmas! So, I thought I better go ahead and document our after Thanksgiving trip. It was a trip, that's for sure. [If you missed out on our Thanksgiving, you can read about it here.] 

Saturday morning came and we packed our bags and loaded the car and once Oliver had eaten we said good-bye to my sister and her family and started our trip home. Only, we weren't going straight home. We had planned to stop at a hotel with a pool and that was near a waterpark. Landon had been talking about doing just that for a few years, so this year, before we even went to my sister's house, he made reservations at a hotel. So on Saturday we had to stop at the hotel, we weren't about to let that money go to waste. Under normal circumstances it wouldn't have been a big deal, but Emerson had been having a rough few days and clearly missed home, as did we. 

We were hoping and praying that even though he was not acting like himself our little side trip and adventure would cheer him up and brighten his spirits. It kind of did. Thankfully shortly after we left my sister's house he fell asleep in the car and both boys were snoozing away as we drove. We didn't make any stops and made it to the hotel around lunch time with both boys still asleep. It was a miracle. Once we got there we had lunch [mine a bowl of lettuce with onions - not the greatest selection for a person with allergies] and then walked around and played all of the games and rode all of the rides we could.

We had to wait a few hours before our room was actually ready, so we put off the swimming until we had a room to actually change in. Once we checked in, I changed Emerson and he and Landon went off to swim and explore the waterpark part of the hotel, and I stayed in the room to feed Oliver. When he was done eating I debated joining them in the pool, and even had a swim suit for Oliver; but I had seen the swimming part of the hotel and I just did not want to swim there. After trying to talk myself into changing to swim I decided not to and just strapped Oliver on and walked over to see what the boys were up to. We walked around for a little bit and then I spotted them in the midst of several dozen people. Who knew the waterpark would be so crowded in November?! We didn't. It was awful [if you don't like crowds]. Landon told me it wasn't worth it for me to get in and he and Emerson swam together for a while longer while Oliver and I hung out and watched them. Emerson loved it!  He didn't like the special features of the waterpark, he just liked the swimming pool [note to self: if we ever think of doing anything like this again - don't. Just stay at a hotel with a pool and nothing else]. They finished swimming, came back and cleaned up [read: took hot baths/showers with lots of soap] and we enjoyed a little dinner in the room after going out to a restaurant to think better of it with two little ones and my restricted diet. We watched a movie and then Emerson went to bed.

It may not sound like an exhausting day, but my goodness, it was. All those people, all the commotion, a cranky toddler... wears you out. We were ready for bed that night!

In the morning we had breakfast, and then I set out to spend our $100 credit at the hotel -money we wouldn't get back, but was included with our room., and Landon went to play all the games with Emerson to use up that credit [he won a dozen rubber duckies on his favorite game - the claw] I scoured the gift shop for longer than I should have, and asked the cashier a dozen times, "how much does this cost?" What store doesn't mark their prices? In the end I managed to find the perfect amount items to leave us a balance of 2 cents. Snap. I will take it. We got in the car Landon had packed up earlier that morning and we started the drive towards home. We had stopped at a half way point so we only had four hours in the car. .... but then we hit traffic at the same time Oliver decided he was hungry. So we pulled off an exit hoping there would be a fast-food restaurant of some sort. There wasn't a single blessed one. We drove ten minutes off the exit to find a restaurant, but the line was out the door, so we drove on. Finally we just stopped on the side of the road, I fed Oliver, Emerson kept sleeping, Landon wandered off to find something to eat, and I just kept praying. Trying to get back on the interstate was a comedy of errors. Every time we turned to get on, the road was closed because of construction, or there was detour, or there was a dead end, or or or... it was awful. We finally made it to a neighboring town [though I'm not sure how] and there we passed a dozen fast food restaurants. Of course.

By the time we got home we were exhausted and so very glad to be back. Even Emerson was happy to be home and have his room back to himself [that boy does not do well sharing a room. He needs his space! yikes for our future!].

Looking back, even now just a few weeks removed, it doesn't seem as crazy as it was at the time. But it was a trip. Thankfully it was one that Emerson seemed to enjoy.