Jack’s First Time at Winter Camp

HLHS Camp

Jack was born with a heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome to be exact. Essentially he was born with only half of a functioning heart. I’m collecting all my thoughts, heartaches, hopes, and pictures and plan to share soon.

Anyway, there is a local non-profit that fundraises all year to send all the “heart kids” to camp, both in the winter and the summer. Yes, we help pay a small fee, but the majority has been provided as a donation. It is so amazing he gets to meet other heart kids like him, enjoy being a kid in a safe and medically staffed environment, and just be a kid!

He went to summer day camp last year; read more here.

This year was the first year, we all decided he (and mom) were ready for overnight camp. Winter camp is just 2 days and 2 nights and just a short jaunt from our house; I knew it would be the perfect test to see if he was ready for summer camp. Summer camp is 6 nights, 7 days, and a few hours from home. Thankfully almost everything went perfectly!

Like most camps, they provide a very detailed list of everything needed for the weekend. Jack was extra prepared, because that’s me for ya. My mom also volunteered to keep me company and help with Harv, just in case (it was a lot of driving and he still isn’t besties with that car seat yet). So Jack, Harvey, and I picked up my mom and headed out.

camp building HLHS

When we arrived Jack chatted with his nurse, we both answered some medical questions, then we brought his stuff to his bunk and off we went. It was so simple and I knew if I stayed any longer it wouldn’t have been good for either of us. He seemed ok, so off we went.

Jack HLHS Camp
We stayed long enough for one pic!…glad it was a good one!

Monday rolled around and I went to pick him up myself. Caleb was home with the other kids and we both decided it was just easiest if I went alone. My mom offered again to drive with, but we had things to do in the morning and I knew my timeline was squished enough already as it was.

It was a long quiet car ride. I ain’t complaining. That never happens.

I arrived a few minutes later than I wanted to, but still in the perfect arrival time window. After a few goodbyes, checking out with his nurse, and grabbing his belongings we were headed home.

The car ride back was anything BUT quiet. That boy was so excited to spill the beans on everything he did. It made my heart so happy!

He played gaga ball (still clueless what that is), basketball, arts and crafts, met sled dogs, ate all the camp food (apparently Caleb and I could use some pointers – insert eye roll), made tons of friends (With teenage girls! Say what?!) and says he can’t wait to go back.

There is also this sweet girl Elizabeth who has gone to day camp with Jack for 2 years now and attended Winter Camp. She is absolutely adorable and sweet and has the nicest Mom. I’ve tried to convince Jack they should be buddies, you know futuristic thinking on my part. He’s uninterested. Probably best…. for now.

They also sing the sweetest heart song all camp about having a heart deeper than people can see. You sure do little buddy, you sure do!

The only hiccup all weekend, was when we arrived back home and I asked him to clean out his duffle bag and put his dirty clothes in the laundry. He discovered his dirty clothes bag had gone missing! Yep lost, somewhere. We’ve contacted everyone we could and the.clothes.are.gone. My guess is the garbage by now. Ha. Next time I’ll remind him to put the bag BACK into the duffle at the end of camp. Could’ve been worse. Much much worse.

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures of him at camp taken by the camp staff:

Kids playing sports HLHS
Those are two doctors holding/supporting him and I cropped out the team of nurses in the background. Ha. Safest game of basketball ever.
Jack backpacking HLHS
He was acting as the pack was actually empty. Go figure.
Camp for kids with HLHS
Camp counselor (aka nurse) with Jack and bunk mate.

 

Do your kids do summer camp? Or any type of sleep away camp? Heck, do they return home from sleepovers with all their belongings!? Please tell me I’m not alone in that one.

Coffee Dates | 2

It’s Monday and the holidays are over and we’re heading into the long dreary stretch of winter. Pull up a coffee (if you’re having tea, please don’t tell me I’ll be too jealous!) and let’s chat.

If we were having a coffee date, I’d have a decaf white mocha not so hot and add caramel drizzle. I’m still not drinking lots of caffeine and decaf tea just doesn’t satisfy me. Plus I get stuck in coffee ruts.

If were having a coffee date, I’d start with a rant. It’s been eating at me for 24 hours now and I need to get if off my chest. Yesterday while we were at church, some older lady disciplined me and Harv. Yes, Harv is a handful, trust me I’m around him lots, but really!? I was attempting at you know actually praying at church, wrangling a crazy 1 year old, and trying to teach my other son respect and reverence and you have the nerve to tell me how to mother. To make matters worse, you turn to your friends whom you were chatting with (yes in the middle of the service) and state “mothers these days”. Excuse me?! Were you not a mother at some point. Ugh. If I’m really doing that poorly at my job, shouldn’t you offer help, maybe? Not a hand slap. Lots of people wonder why young people don’t attend church or services anymore, maybe we don’t feel very welcome. End Rant.

If we were having a coffee date, I’d confess and apologize for being off the grid. At least in my personal life. I stepped away from Facebook and so needed that break up to happen. The only thing I’m sorry about is the rude non rsvp-er over here (that’s me). Don’t get me started on Facebook invites anyway. I’m old school. Shoot me a text, I’d be happy to attend if I can!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how excited I am for the upcoming year. There are so many big things for us coming! Mainly I can’t wait to get away alone with Caleb. We still have no idea where, but it’ll happen and I can’t wait. We love being Mommy and Daddy, but being husband and wife is so important. Plus beaches and drinks. Mmmhmm.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask your thoughts on another baby. We constantly talk about how great and um well awful another would be. I really would love to be pregnant again, it’s such an amazing and blessed feeling. But we need sleep and sanity and money, too. Don’t be surprised if we have another. Don’t be surprised if we don’t.

If we were having coffee, I’d talk to you about this feeling I’ve been having. I really feel the need to give back more to others and to do good things for the world. I know I’m supposed to start at home, but I feel pushed for more. I just don’t know what, where, when (or let’s be honest how).

If we were having coffee, I’d talk to you about a few house changes I want to work on. I think I want to rearrange the kitchen shelves. We need to finish Ava’s room. And that bathroom should really get finished for all our sake.

If we were having coffee, I’d yammer on about those big kids of mine. Carson is graduating to Boy Scouts next month and He has his first band concert in a few weeks here! Ava is all about school, currently the fastest with all their multiplication and division facts and we’re gearing up for softball! I can’t wait to watch her play again. Jack’s turning 9 this week and his party is over the long weekend. He’s deciding whether to do track or baseball this spring. I’ll be honest I’m rooting for track, but time will tell. I love those kids 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d keep it short. We’re extra busy this week and my job is bringing me down again. There’s so much to do and my time only stretches so far. I’ve given you all the extra time I can. Caleb says quit. He’ll get 2 jobs. I think he’s crazy but loving and supportive and always has my back. It balances I suppose 😉

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your husband, your kids, your holidays. Is all well? Do you need help? I’m always here to chat, just seriously, please don’t bring tea.

Linking up with Erin

5 Friday Favorites | 24

Happy Friday! We thankfully are all on the health mend over here. Carson and Harv have just about finished all their meds and they both are back to themselves. Praise God! The first week of 2017 started out with a bang, but the rest has been pretty routine, school, work, and homework. Reality, right?!

one// New Year’s Eve. Caleb had to work and the kids were at their Mom’s this year, so it was pretty low key. Jack, Harv, and I went over to celebrate with my sister and nieces. My sister whipped up a bunch of delicious apps (some homemade, some Trader Joe’s)! Then we just hung out and let the kids play. It was so nice. I went to bed at a decent time and didn’t wake up hungover #imold However, at midnight somewhere in our vicinity (Caleb and I still have no idea where!) fireworks went off and woke us both up, which was perfect as I wished Caleb the first happy birthday and went back to bed. Ha. #reallyold

two// Caleb’s Birthday. Sunday was Caleb’s birthday! He will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t like his birthday. He doesn’t like the timing of it (I get it, it’s hard right after Christmas) and he isn’t one to like the spotlight on himself. I think I did ok this year of a good balance of making him celebrate my (as in all out!) and letting him hang out and relax. He even went out solo to wash the car and got a rest in while watching some football; although I blame the muscle relaxer he took on the nap ha. Anyway, the day was great. We went to church as a family, which is a rarity with our parenting schedule, came home and made his favorite meal ruebens! Then after Harv napped, we all went out bowling together and had pizza. We came home for lemon pie and presents. The lemon pie was a childhood favorite his Mom used to make and I secretly got the recipe for to surprise him. I think it turned out well; he enjoyed it which was the goal anyway! Happy Birthday love! Here’s to our next big 12 months together!

three// Pinky. Ok, this may seem awful on my part, but I need to express my utter joy on this. Pinky is a ginormous pink stuffed Gorilla that has been a member of Caleb’s family since before I was around and I disliked the thing with a passion. But it was a gift and Ava loved it and so I accepted it. Then Pinky got a hole in it and spread his little mini bean bag type seeds everywhere he went. So Pinky’s stuffing was working it’s way all over the lower level. After 3 years of Pinky, my dislikes have softened and so whatever, just vacuum a little more. They wore me down.

However, once we finished Ava’s room remodel, there was no space for Pinky and with him falling apart and now looking more like a bean pole than a plump gorilla, it was time to send Pinky on his way. So that wonderful husband of mine, toted the giant Gorilla out on top of our garbage can and sent him packing to the dump before the holidays and this Mama is happy. Also, none of the kids have noticed his disappearance. Win win.

In memory of Pinky:

No, he isn’t Tarzan. But yes he is little here!

Out he goes. Goodbye Pinky, nice knowing you buddy!
four// Blind Spot. Our favorite show has returned from it’s holiday break and we are thrilled to be watching again! Sadly, we still cannot watch it on the night it airs as it is sooo not child appropriate and 7:00pm doesn’t quite fit with our wide awake children. I’ve been contemplating signing up for Hulu. Any thoughts? We have an Apple TV which we love, but it takes a week for the episode to pop up in our list. So far it’s been just fine to wait, but just curious if other people use Hulu at all and if it’s worth the cost.

five// New Desk Calendar. I love shutterfly (no, not sponsored), and it’s no secret! I’ve been a loyal customer for 9+ years. They recently came out with a new easel calendar and I’m totally loving on! It’s stylish, trendy, and small. For a well used desk, I needed it small. I also love that it can be personalized with pictures. There is no space to write on the calendar, so it’s not used for planning purposes. But I love it either way! Plus I got mine for free, with a coupon, so that’s always a bonus!

I picked out the watercolor design, so pretty! Here’s all the months! I can’t wait to use this all year.

Want one of your own!? You can win one, all you have to do is write a comment! Winner will be chosen at random and notified via email and a response on their comment. Drawing will end on Sunday, January 8th at 8:00pm central time. Winner received a coupon code for 1 Shutterfly wall calendar or 1 easel calendar. Good luck and happy commenting! {Giveaway closed, winner will be notified shortly.}

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In case you missed it! Here’s this week’s posts:

Sunday, I wished Caleb a happy birthday.

Monday, I checked in for January’s goals.

Wednesday was an 18 month update on the Harv.

 

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Harvey Update | 18 Months

Harvey hit the 18 month mark back in December, but well holidays…  and for the first time, Caleb took him to his appointment without me. We always made a deal that we’d both attend all of his appointments; however this one was sticky since it is the holidays and our doctor is on vacation (and I didn’t have more vacation) and I really didn’t want to put it off for weeks so alone he ventured. I was more upset than him. Ha. Caleb wasn’t distraught at all. Pretty sure he was pretty proud.

stats//

height = 33.25″ (80%)

weight = 24 lb 14 oz (61%)

head circumference = 19.75″ (99%)

Love our big headed baby!

 

size clothes = 18 months still fit, but 24 Months – 2T are the way to go.

12 teeth – top front 4/bottom front 4  & 4 molars (those were doozies)

favorites// 

food – he loves getting cheese sticks out of the fridge and saying “cheeeeeese” but only ever eats a bite and the rest is found somewhere around the house. Christmas candy – I’m putting him on a diet, cold turkey style. Taco meat. He loves pizza, noodles, yogurt, applesauce, and milk from a big boy cup.

toys – he wasn’t into toys before, but now since Christmas, he has tons of new ones and likes playing. He loves playing matchbox cars, this mini tool set with Daddy, his talking Scout Puppy from Santa (big winner!)

books – anything that anyone will read for him, but currently we read a hand me down train book and a open the flap truck book all the time.

being outside!

singing and dancing

Quite possibly my favorite pic ever (bummer it’s on my phone!)
playing with his big brothers and sister, seriously they are everything to him right now. he wants to be just like them. He loves playing legos, hide and seek with Ava’s stuffed animals, and he goes “pew pew” and runs around crazy when Jack fires his nerf gun. Oh to be the littlest sibling! 

christmas. he was way into the opening and the playing and the food.

dislikes//

diaper changes

getting dressed

having the gate up

not being next to mom

sleep (18 month regression was BIG with this one)

happenings//

Harv got strep over winter break. Seriously it was awful. No sleep, cranky, fevery, coughing and it all hit him so fast. How a baby his age even got it only Heaven knows, but it was not fun.

He is really turning into a terrible two kid. The tantrums are full on for everything! Caleb and I are relearning our patience and time out methods. Sadly, they aren’t working. Well the patience is ha just not the time outs. He’s still little.

He is learning to move furniture so he can reach things higher, like crawling across the kitchen table for example. Or the ottoman to climb over the gate. Also a stool in our bedroom to access Caleb’s (moved) hidden candy stash. He is absolutely determined candy still exists in the drawer and he is determined to get it. That kid.

Every time Harv and Caleb would go to the grocery store, there was a big Santa on display. The two of them would sit, stare, point, and Harv would say “Ho, Ho, Ho” the whole time. Caleb is such a good sport. Ha. Harv pretty much said “ho, ho, ho” all winter.

His vocabulary is finally expanding and quickly! I was a little worried for a while there, but he’s definitely picking it up and can say lots: mom, dad, more, ja, mine, tree, milk, baby, “b” (blankie), and a bunch of others here and there. He also loves to make animal noises.

His facial expressions are never ending! He says so much with those little eye brows of his!

His favorite Christmas present was socks. Yes, socks. It was sooo hilarious! He opened them up from Caleb’s sister and brother in law and was determined to wear them all… at once…. over his footie jammies. Seriously people I wish I had a picture it was perfect! Then he decided to keep switching out different pairs so he could see them all.

He upgraded car seats, a big boy chair at the table (so long high chair), and he’s actually sleeping more in his own crib! He’s getting older and bigger and giving us all the heart eyes. We love him so!

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Want more?! Check out my Insta, you know, for daily doses of Harv OR check out his 15 month update here!

December & 2016 Goals Update!

I think I’m on repeat here, but how 2016 is already over is beyond me. I once heard the years go faster the older you get, well if that’s true I must be closing in on my mid life crisis here because warp speed everyone.

I literally remember the morning (New Years day 2016 to be exact) I started writing goals for the year. A very little Harv was in my arms sleeping, the rest of the family was still asleep, but I was wide awake so like any crazy person I started brainstorming all the things I wanted to achieve for the year.

Today there is so much to look back on! Goals, the year in review, and a much needed check in on our holiday bucket list!

I think I got tired of these. I have a new plan for this year! I’m pretty excited to share in the coming months! For now, I’ll give you the down and dirty version seeing as there is lots to share!

goal 1: be more positive with the children & encourage their growth.

The holidays are a pretty great time to focus in on the kiddos. So much going on in school! Concerts, field trips, parties, etc. Add in all the extra Christmas activities and the entire month was child centered.

I also just got a new container for table topics this week and printed off a new list of questions! Excited to add that back in over the next couple weeks. Sorry Caleb!

goal 2: be more creative and allow time for the projects we have and want to have.

I had big intentions of making lots of gifts for people and new Christmas decorations for the house, but somehow December 1st turned into December 23rd really fast and that didn’t happen. I will now be extra prepared for next Christmas though! #sliverlining

 goal 3: dates. more dates.

Hmm.. pass.

goal 4: finish grad school. 

Complete read here.

goal 5: document life more. it all goes so fast. 

I’m still working on photo books for each of the kids (still behind, too), but I also added in some video pieces I’m pretty excited to share soon!

goal 6: find and stick to a prayer schedule.

This is a continued effort and I keep adding in little pieces as I go, but definitely in the right direction!

 

I wanted to share one photo of the biggest moments this year for our year in review!

January was Jack’s 8th birthday! Which is just around the bend again! Better get party planning!

February I finally finished Harvey’s baby mobile and he still has it hanging to this day above his crib and I still absolutely love it!

March was our 2nd Anniversary! Still seems like such a small number, but we’re proud nonetheless!

April was a very busy month non-blog-wise and the only thing I posted about was being dairy free for Harv. Hmm well least he’s cute (and little!) here.

May I graduated with my Masters of Education. It was a long process and I am so thankful for the man behind the degree. Pretty sure his job was harder than mine on many many occasions.

June was Harvey’s first birthday! Love that crazy (emphasis on crazy) kiddo! It was a cactus themed fiesta, still my favorite ♥ (annnnddd ignore the unfinished door in the background.)

July was full of summer camps, Fourth of July parties, my birthday, and Kansas. So hard to choose, but I love this picture.

August Carson turned 11!

September was a month full of Blogtember Posts! Oi that was intense. Check them all out here!

October Ava turned 10!

November we did our family Christmas photos, see a bunch more here!

December was met with lots of excitement, but this tops out as my favorite picture! Although the Lumberjack Harv hanging ornaments over on my Insta is pretty dang cute too!

A year of pictures and posts oh my!

If you’re still reading, good for you! Let’s check in with the Holiday bucket list!

Seeing as I included non-Christmas things, there is still a few things to do over the next few months!

Read about Breakfast with Santa and ice skating with Santa here.

Read about Christmas lights, gingerbread houses, and one of our many hot cocoa dates here. I didn’t cross it off though, because well I want hot cocoa all winter!

Read about Christmas cookies here and fire truck Santa here!

We did get a few Christmas movies in, but I never feel like it’s enough! Ha. I mean they get enough screen time, trust me! But I love Christmas movies. Maybe there’s still time to sneak a few more in! And the rest of the stuff we can check off as winter continues!

 

There you go! Our year in review and goals for the year check in. Seriously, if you’re still reading I owe you a cookie or coffee or something 🙂

 

Happy New Years! Be safe, have fun, and I hope you have someone special to kiss tonight ♥ See you in 2017! (as in tomorrow..!)

 

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5 Friday Favorites | 23

Oh my gosh has this week been CRAZY. Sorry for being so MIA, but I can explain. First, it was the holidays and well ours extended from last Friday to Wednesday, so we were busy. Second, Harv came down with strep, seriously people. How an 18 month old gets strep even puzzled the docs. It’s extremely rare, but happens… to us. Go figure. It’s not enough that he’s been miserable, fevery, and not sleeping at all, but meeting tons of new people and traveling all week. Poor little dude. I’m really sorry. Last, Carson gets pink eye! Can’t catch a break around here. I’m really hoping our New Year is ringing in with healthy kids. Fingers crossed.

But for all the chaos on the negative side, there was so much chaos on the great side, too! This week for my favorites (the last FRIDAY of 2016!! – say what?!) I’m bringing you all our parties we attended and/or hosted. Enjoy the holiday round up!

one// Christmas Eve. Saturday started early with a visit to my parent’s for breakfast and coffee. Caleb was sleeping as he got home from work late and needed rest. I needed to drop off some presents they would be delivering that evening. We didn’t stay long, but it was a nice way to get in the holiday spirit. My Aunt & Uncle then stopped by to drop off a present for me (6 Rae Dunn Clay mugs!) and to visit, since we would’t be seeing them later. The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key which we were totally ok with. We knew the rest of the week would be crazy. My sister and nieces came over for our church’s Christmas Mass and dinner afterwards. Caleb picked up a variety of chicken breasts from the butcher earlier in the week, so I just popped them in the oven and made a few quick sides. It was a lovely evening. Minus the chaos of 4 kids running wild, extra at church, but hey it happens.

two// Christmas Day. Christmas Day was one full day of celebrating! The big boys woke up (after very very little sleep) first and once the pre-discussed wake up time occurred, woke up the rest of us. We were greeted with a Santa visit proven by half eaten cookies and strawberry milk (Jack’s offering ha!), full stockings, and new presents with special Santa wrap! The kids were all eyeing up the goods, but this year we added the pickle tradition so they went fast and furious looking for the pickle in the tree. Ava was the winner and granted the excitement of opening the first present. She was thrilled to say the least and mighty tired. After fast and furious unwrapping in a record under 30 minutes, the kids were all happily playing with toys, building houses, legos, and riding bikes. It was fantastic and fast. So fast I have like two pictures haha. Oops.

Once we all woke up a little more, we all had hot cocoa in my brand new  mugs (which I LOVE), a quick breakfast, and then got ready to head to Caleb’s Grandma’s house for caramel rolls. They are the absolute most delicious rolls I’ve ever eaten and I laughed when she told me she doesn’t even bake them from scratch anymore. Never would’ve guessed. She made 4 dozen, which sounds like a lot. However, by the time my family ate, she was down to 3. Grandma laughed and said that everyone needs to come earlier next year. Yep I guess eeks! Caleb’s Aunt also teased that as we headed out the door the house was empty again. Yes. We know. There’s lots of us.

After Grandma’s, we headed home. Harv needed a nap. The kids wanted to play. Caleb and I wanted quiet. It was a win – win – win. Until Harv woke up. Then we had a quick snack and headed to my parent’s for Christmas dinner. As soon as we arrived, we all decided to exchange gifts and open another round of Santa presents. There was 6 kids and lots of big boxes, so semi torturous otherwise. There was lots of happiness, laughter, and food. We played games, like who is the best Santa impression (Ava for the record) and tooting Christmas songs on mini recorders (I was not the best).

I wish this was focused better! Blah.
Then I convinced everyone we should do the #mannequinchallenge and it was super fun! We needed a million outtakes (more like 10 or so) but came up with two pretty good ones!

Take 1!

Take 2!

We headed home where we put the kids to bed, then planned on watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But the DVD wasn’t working and isn’t on Netflix and neither of us wanted to fork over the $4 to rent it on iTunes so we opted for Big Bang Theory Reruns and assembling baby toys.

She’s so proud!
All in all it was a fantastic and blessed Christmas!

three// Monday Night. Friendsmas! We have a few family friends that we try to visit as often as possible, but it seems like it actually happens maybe 4-5 times a year. It is hard to get together with 3 families of 3+ kids each! We’re all so busy. But we planned it out weeks in advance to have dinner at our house AND Christmas PJs, but the PJ instigator opted out so just the rest of us were in PJs. (Love you Ang!) Our plan was Italian: homemade lasagna, different pastas and sauces, and my rosemary parmesan breadsticks. (Sorry we dropped the ball on the lobster mac – next time!). There was delicious cake and Christmas cookies for dessert. The kids all have friends around the same age, so it works out pretty great. We got all the kiddos lined up for a pic in the PJs and one of the Dads goes “huh, we’ve had this many kids here all night” hahaha guess we should pay attention more!

I love her face! Priceless. Definitely the big sister “Mom! I’m trying” look!
10 kids between 7 months and 6th grade! (With 1 missing!)
four// Tuesday Night. My college roommate and I still try to stay in touch, but we live a little over 2 hours apart and both her and Caleb have crazy work schedules so it isn’t always easy. Usually it ends up being a meet in the middle type deal once in the summer/spring and once in the winter. Well thankfully, it all worked out to see her and her husband again on Tuesday! We met at a Fuddruckers, which was a first for the majority and the kids loved it! Fancy burger toppings and shakes for the win. Plus Caleb and Carson both won really loud, oinking pigs from the those claw machines. Maybe not a win? Either way, the food was good and the company was even better!

five// Wednesday Night – Caleb’s family Christmas. Wednesday day was a little awful with trips to urgent care for Harv, a frantic grocery trip with a sick baby, a cranky mom and dad (because under 2 hours of sleep), but dinner and Christmas celebrations were perfect. Caleb made the prime rib perfectly, as well as his famous mashed potatoes, and I rounded off dinner with the rest. The big kids even put on a little presentation about the meaning of Christmas. They are so cute and make me so proud! Presents were exchanged and stories were shared. It was perfect. Caleb’s Mom and Step-Dad even made it in for the week from Florida. Harv even warmed up to people by the end of the night!

Um melt my heart. Seriously. This is perfect.
Fuzzy selfie, but I’m bound to prove I was present!
It was a busy week, filled with family, love, laughter, and lots of presents. But, I’m glad it’s over, I need sleep. I hope the last Friday of 2016 is absolutely fabulous for you! Look later this weekend for a few posts and BIG announcements!

Update: I am not pregnant, but thanks for all the love! 

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Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

5 Friday Favorites | 22

It’s here! Christmas weekend is really here. I cannot believe the year has gone as fast as it has. Plus, I am now officially off for the rest of 2016 and will not be returning to work for a week and a half. Hooray! Enjoy my favorites from this week, they are pretty holiday centered! As they should be 🙂

one// Advent Concert. Carson and Ava had their Christmas/Advent Concert this past Monday at their school. For those of you that were curious from last week, Ava chose the black ones! I was shocked. I totally thought she’d go for the shiny ones. Nope, black it was. She said she could wear them more often than the gold AND she doesn’t like scalloped edges. Hmm. Guess way wrong on that, she was happy.

She also let me do her hair! It was a super proud Step-Mom moment. Usually she asks me to help, doesn’t like it (because I don’t do it like Mom) and then takes it out. Now. I’m never offended. Honest. I’m not the best at hair and I get I’m not Mom. But I was thrilled when we both fell in love with her beautiful top knot ♥ She had tons of compliments on how pretty she looked in her fancy dress and hair. I know, beauty is not everything (but I already know she’s amazing on the inside) and I never get to dress her. So yep I had fun. I like to think she did too.

The concert itself was also a blast. Both of the kids did so well! Carson even surprised us by being a bell-ringer in “Deck the Halls”. He was so into it! Caleb and I were so proud. Seriously, you guys. It was sooo cute and the best way to end his last elementary concert.

They don’t like me taking pictures of them all the time or talking about them a lot here or on social media, but they obliged this time and took lots of pictures.

two// Christmas Lights. Caleb is the best! After the concert with the kids, we had to return library books (ugh I hate the 3 week timeline, can’t they just be returned when I remember or find them all?!). He surprised us with taking us to go see the big Christmas tree in the city near us. He was just going to drive around the circle to show us, but I looked at him, asked him to park and got all the kids out and ran down the road to snap a few pics. The pics were crooked, but the kids loved the adventure and impromptu stop. So did I!

Well it was just one surprise after another that night. As we continued to the library, we drove past this holiday drive through light tour. Caleb looked over and could see the giant smile on my face (have I mentioned I love Christmas?!) so we pulled up and it was free! We drove around the fair grounds and listened to Christmas music. It was a perfect night.

three// Ava’s Gingerbread house. Last week, Jack made his gingerbread house at school. This week though was Ava’s turn and apparently big dioramas are now the expectation. Guess I’m out of touch. She has more perfectionist and traditionalist in her. She was so proud and has been begging to eat it all week. Old hard candy that every child in your class has touched? Um pass.

four// Gingerbread Villages, Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Sticks, & Christmas Movie Snuggles. Being in a blended family with rotating schedules, means that Christmas traditions and events aren’t always on the same day or in the same routine. We make the most of it and enjoy something new each season! This year since we have the kids on Christmas Day, they are with their Mom on Christmas Eve so we won’t see them for a few days. We made gingerbread houses, watched “Fred Clause” with Vince Vaughn (not little kid friendly- our big kids enjoyed it though!) and had an intermission of holiday mint hot cocoa and popcorn. It was the perfect way to kick off the holiday weekend!

I love that each little gingerbread house represents our kids perfectly. Ava’s is perfect. Harv’s is a terror. Jack’s is wild and reckless abandon. And Carson is somewhere in the middle. Learning to be fun, but still mature.
Can these two be any cuter?!

five// Retirement. Not holiday related, and sadly not my retirement. But my Dad’s! And definitely celebratory worth! Yes. Yesterday was my Dad’s last day of work, forever! Sometimes I can’t even imagine. Such a monumental moment. We have been so excited for him around here. Counting down the days (we started back in January or so), hunting down presents, saying prayers, asking him every time we saw him how excited he was, and probably driving him nuts. We are so proud of you Dad and so excited for all that free time you have now to spend with us 😉 enjoy your sleeping in till 6:15 and we’ll see you soon to celebrate! Love you!!

 

I hope you enjoy the weekend and have a blessed Christmas!

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Missed this week’s posts?

Monday was our Weekend Rewind.

Wednesday was our Holiday Home Tour!

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Holiday Home Tour

Our house is decorated, presents are under the tree and our family is almost en route to visit. Christmas is almost here! Enjoy our mini holiday home tour!

Our entry way that leads up to the family room:

First thing you see when you walk in the front door and it’s my favorite!
The reason for the season (I also heard a birdie say I’m getting a new nativity scene and I’m sooo excited!). My nutcracker from Carson last year; he loves nutcrackers!
You may notice the bottom half of the tree is empty. Just thank Harvey.
Just call him the Christmas thief. Normally the mini tree is on the table behind him haha.

The kitchen:

We don’t have a fireplace, so I use our floating shelves as my main decorating area. I changed out all the pictures to be more festive. So easy! Also, I love Christmas cards.
I think this is my favorite little spot. I especially love the Santa pic. Oh Harv.
Caleb’s mom made this table runner for us! There’s also a snowman candle holder center piece with it.

 

Each kiddo’s bedroom:

My mom made each of the kids’ these matching personalized Christmas pillows! They all just love them. I do too.

The rest of the house has a smattering of little decorations, hand towels, and festivity. We didn’t go all out this year like we have in the past. I didn’t want to wreck my brand new front door with a wreathe banging on it all winter. I also had a few DIY projects that I finished (and some I didn’t), but never found a place to put it all so they went back into storage, maybe they’ll come out next year.

Here’s a mini preview! Hand lettering for the win!

I hope you had a relaxing last few days before the holiday. Take time to enjoy your family, friends, parties, and stay warm!

Week |end| Rewind 4

Well, contrary to expectations there was no giant blizzard on Friday. It was still frigid all weekend though, so our hibernation was in full effect! I even tested out buying diapers on Amazon Prime. I didn’t realize that there was none left in storage. Oops. So I took advantage of buying christmas presents and diapers! Seriously, it was great – free delivery, accepted coupons, and I stayed warm 🙂 Want more weekend updates? Check out last week’s here.

Let’s rewind though to Friday!

Friday, Harv and I tested out his new carseat while waiting in line to pick up Jack. I’m happy to report that he was in love with the giant beast! We hung out, played in the car while it snowed, and waited for Jack to come from school. Jack came out of school with the biggest gingerbread diorama I’ve ever seen! I knew they were making them in school, but this was nothing like I was prepared for. I was told milk carton gingerbread house. Not wooden platformed gingerbread diorama. When did this change in school!?

After the 3 minute drive home, we checked out the diorama (Harv may or may not have had a stage 5 meltdown for not eating the house) and then got ready for our night. I made the kids’ their favorite dinner and then we started making snickers candy fudge. Since it is a process, we started early and I knew I’d be committed to it all night. In between chilling layers, I got both boys showered/bathed, in Christmas jammies, and settled into blankets and pillows on the floor for a movie night. We opted for Paddington. It’s so cute how they cuddle into each other and I can breathe. Win win! After I got the boys to bed, I finished up the snickers, finished work, and watched some Gilmore Girls. Yep still going strong.

On Saturday, after Caleb shoveled and Jack played outside in the 4-5 inches we did have of snow, Caleb went to work and Jack and I went to town on baking. We started with the sugar cookie dough as it should chill first.


Side note, last Friday I mentioned the sugar cookie was my Great Grandma’s recipe and it was amazing. Well….. they are amazing, BUT it is not my Great Grandma’s! I lost my copy of her recipe, so I asked my sister to find the recipe and in the process my mother told her it was from an old bowling league friend. Say WHAT?! Talk about losing the sentimental value of the cookie. Sigh. How I never knew this before, God only knows. Moving on from that sadness.


Once the dough was in the fridge, we started on the peanut butter blossoms. They are fast, easy, and all the kids love them. It’s always a cookie on the list. As the blossoms cooked, we cut out the shapes for the sugar cookies. The Santa, Angel, and Reindeer, although cute, are also so hard to get to keep their shape, so Jack decided that the holly, Christmas tree, star, and snowman were the shapes of the day.

Harvey woke up from his nap just in time to see massive amounts of cookies on the counter (over 6 dozen). I’m pretty sure he considered it Baby Heaven.

I get asked a lot – the sugar cookies are white from white shortening. I like it better.

After the baking craze had settled down, Jack, Harvey, and I snuggled in for some hot cocoa and snuggles. Sorry Harv you can have hot cocoa one day. Just not today. Or tomorrow. Probably not the next day either.

My sister and my two nieces also decided to join the fun, so they came over for dinner, play time, and enjoy some of the peanut blossoms and snickers. They were gone fast! I’ll take it as a good sign. After bed time, I finished up a really exciting project I can’t wait to tell you about, but you’ll have to wait! Stay tuned, you’ll find out very soon 🙂

Sunday usually we head to church in the morning, run a few errands, and then spend the rest of the day doing something fun before the week begins and everyone is running in millions of different directions. With the weather colder than the Antarctic (yes I looked it up), I decided that it probably isn’t safe for the babe to be out, plus he’s been battling teething, a cold, and no sleep, so hanging around the house another day is good. The morning was spent finishing decorating cookies. I even planned the day before for Harv to participate in the decorating, so he had a few “leftover” dough cookies. There was more eating than decorating on his part.

While Harv napped, Jack and I tackled our last (thank goodness!) baked good, the one I looked forward to the most: the cranberry bliss bars. It was a new recipe, usually I’m hesitant when trying something new, but it turned out amazing! It was perfect and I’m unashamed to admit that I’ve eaten more than 1 (or 3).

The rest of the night was pretty blah and usual Sunday night business stuff: dinner, bathes/showers, packing up for school, etc.

had planned to finish up Christmas cards Sunday night to get them in the mail today, BUT I received this awesome (read: not awesome) email telling me that the last component of our cards I’ve been waiting on and expecting back on Saturday would still not arrive for days. So my apologies. Maybe they’ll arrive in your mailboxes by New Years.

Our holiday to do list is getting checked off very quickly! I even managed to do some online shopping and cross of all the kids last minute things. Win!

Happy Monday, 6 days and counting! Good luck with well the mondays and the others out there in a panic!

Ava’s Room Reveal!

Ok so I’ve tempted you and teased you and made tons of promises about showing you Ava’s room, well I finally am showing you the big reveal on all the progress. Just like any project, it’s progress not completion that makes me happy. We still have a few minor projects to do, but overall we’re mostly finished and she’s 100% moved in!

Let me take you back a while to get the WHOLE story. Ava’s room was the previous owner’s office. It was weird. Sorry. But it was. They used a counter top as a desk that went from one side of the room to the other. It was immediately removed the weekend we moved in since a bed had to actually fit in the room, but the marks were still there. It had a drop down ceiling, crooked walls, peeling sheetrock, a drafty window and that was just the beginning. The real issue came with the shower.

The extensive remodel started with a leaky shower, that molded the framing in the bathroom, that spread to Ava’s room that forced us to fully remodel her whole room.

Note the arrows pointing to the chips and peels. That’s the counter top.
It was cramped and overcrowded and just an overall disaster.

Our mood board and inspiration was pink and teal. I wanted teal walls originally, but she didn’t and it was her room so pink it was.

Caleb single handedly demoed (ok he got help there, that’s the fun part!), framed, sheet rocked, raised the ceiling, moved pipes, wiring, etc.

 

Are you ready?! Ta da! Welcome to a major upgrade!

Welcome! (There’s actually curtains now!)

My favorite DIY ever.
We are planning on a mirrored door to cover the electrical panel.
The closet is still a work in progress.

Caleb’s Mom painted this for Ava years ago, so I reframed and matted it and love it!

 

He is my hero. I hope Ava knows one day how hard that man worked to give her something beautiful. I’ll update you with final pictures once those other projects wrap up!

 

Week |end| Rewind 2

The next few weekends we are jam packed with all sorts of fun things, so I decided to keep up with the Week |end| Rewinds for a while! Usually, our weekends are filled with homework, chores, and errands so kind of blah catch up from the chaotic week. Don’t worry after the holiday season, the regular scheduled programming will return!

Missed last week’s? Check it out here.

Friday, Jack had off of school so the weekend started on Thursday! Thursday was Fire Truck Santa day in my parent’s neighborhood. Read more about it here. Friday morning I had a few meetings, so Caleb spent the morning hanging out with the boys. After my meetings, we decided to head out for lunch and get gyros. I’m addicted now. We haven’t had them at home for a while, I should make them again.

After lunch, Caleb had to go into work for the weekend, so Jack and I did some homework and laundry while we waited for Harvey to wake from his nap. Then the three of us headed out shopping for Christmas outfits. It was an adventure. I needed to find something fancy, but also something they’ll actually wear. Boys.

AND I needed something purple for Jack to wear to match his grade level at Church. PURPLE?! Yes people, purple. For a boy. I found a purplish (emphasis on ISH) zip up hoodie at Old Navy. Yes it’s not dressy, but there was NOTHING purple and dressy. He has khaki dress pants, some nice plain button ups, so I figured I could pull something together. Purple. Geesh.

Saturday, Harv woke up early 5:00am early. Oofta 18 month sleep regression is strong with this one. After lounging for a while, I got the boys dressed in their fancy clothes, woke up Caleb, and frantically tried to get us all out the door by 9:30. I failed by the way ha. It was 9:47am to be exact. Not that I was counting. Then Harv fell asleep in the car (that’s what happens when you wake up 2 hours early).

All the fuss for Breakfast with Santa! One of my favorite things of the season! My Dad’s work has a great event where they have breakfast, crafts, activities, games, and the absolute best Santa you’ve ever seen. I don’t even know how many years we’ve been now, but it’s so awesome having the same sweet old man for the kids to talk to and take pictures with. The morning was perfect, minus Harv not really liking Santa. Better luck next year. Either way, checking this off our holiday bucket list. Enjoy the photo dump!

familychristmasbreakfast

Please, Daddy, no.
jackharvsanta
Harv wasn’t into Santa. Maybe you can tell.
neices
I call this: perfection.
prettiestpresent
Fancy “present” hair. Prettiest little present I know!

family

cousins

Decorating cookies!
Decorating cookies!

 

After breakfast, we headed home, Harv took a nap while I cleaned (yep I guess some things never change on the weekend). Then my sister and nieces headed over for a dinner and play date. My kids need to up their sharing game.

Sunday I woke up with a cold of the worst kind. I plowed through like any parent does and got the kids up and ready for the day, then brought Jack to my parent’s house for a play date. He was spoiled with playing in the freshly fallen snow with them, brunch out, holiday cookie baking, and so much more as usual.

While Jack was gone, Harv and I caught up on a last minute errand I completely forgot about. Ava is student of the week this week and was so excited because for the first time in her school career, the teacher gave her enough time to make her poster at both houses. That girl was beaming. It made me happy and sad all at the same time. Anyway she needs pictures of her family and so we ran to get some printed of our family.

I also snuck in some extra time working on photo books for the kids while Harvey napped. After nap we met Jack and my parents at the local community center for Ice Skating with Santa. It was a blast!

He really was fascinated by this adventure. #donttouchtheglass #rebel
He really was fascinated by this adventure. #donttouchtheglass #rebel
Santa lost some weight. Must be the skating.
Santa lost some weight. Must be the skating.

Santa came by to wave and hang around Harvey for a while through the glass. He was not ok with it, until he waved “bye” then all was right in the world again. Hmm. Santa is not doing so good on this one.

These two had so much fun!
These two had so much fun!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend! Do anything fun? Anything you can cross of your holiday list? Bring on Monday!

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Rustic & Plaid Style Christmas

There are only 8 Fridays until Christmas! That means it is coming fast! Are you ready?! I’ll be honest, I have our Christmas cards already designed and being shipped to our house. I have some of our shopping completed. AND I have our decoration and theme style all ready to go! Yes. I know. I’m not trying to make you feel bad since it’s only November 2nd. But-Christmas is my jam. I love it and I love spreading the cheer for as long as I can! I do however, wait to decorate until after Thanksgiving and I also don’t listen to Christmas music for as long as possible (don’t ask).

Each year I do a theme and try to focus all the different pieces of Christmas around it: the cards, the family pictures, the present wrapping, decorations, etc. Caleb is a good sport and handles all my Christmas-ness really well. This year, I decided to go rustic with a mix of traditional plaid.

Our family picture outfits were a combo of black, red, and buffalo plaid:

outfits

one. Pullover // Jeans

two. Sweater // Jeans // Booties // Scarf (discontinued in red)

three. Sweatshirt // Jeans // Boots

four. Denim Dress // Boots (different color, we did gray)

five. Vest // Sweater // Jeans

six. Top  // Pants // Shoes

Our cards I always order from Shutterfly. I’ve been working with them forever and the discounts and freebies I get always pays off for the loyalty. Plus they’re always changing their designs and keeping up with trends. In the 9 years I’ve been ordering, I’ve only had one issue and they sent me an entire new set of cards, for free! Yep, they’re awesome. (Not sponsored, I literally just love them!). They have tons of woodsy and rustic themed cards this year! 179 to be exact. Check out the styles here. You’ll have to wait to see which I actually chose!

I also was scrolling on Insta a while back and saw the most perfect wrapping paper to incorporate into this year’s style and she’s based out of MN. I was thrilled! Check out her website. (Again, not sponsored, just a great plaid wrapping paper!).

rusticplaidchristmas

I’ve also been working on making homemade embossed and hand lettered tags. They are turning out great! Here’s a sneak peak of the colors I’ve been working with:

nametags

Lastly, check out Kris (again, not sponsored -just love her) she has the best kraft paper style goodies and just recently posted her holiday products, too! I have the To:/From: stickers above, but I’m totally crushing on the red antler seals.

deerstalkers

The decorations are coming along. Some I use year after year, because they’re favorites, but I have a few new projects to work on over the next few weeks and I promise to share them as I finish!

Do you do holiday themes? Have you started preparation for the holidays yet? Or are you reading this with shame and slight hatred? I’d love to hear your thoughts (even if it’s the latter!).

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psstnone of this is sponsored, just passing along the info!