Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Month of Giving Thanks

So the past three Novembers I have participated in a month of giving thanks on Facebook. I enjoy the time to reflect on the important things in life and on the simple things we tend to overlook. I thought it would be nice to put them all together in one place to reflect on.You can view 2012 & 2011 here.

Day 1: I am thankful that one way or another God always helps us make ends meet. We are by no means wealthy, but we have never had to know what it is like to be without. 

Day 2: I am thankful for my most wonderful husband. I married him because of his kind heart, and after two kids I've gotten to see it triple.

Day 3, While I sit here with a stomach bug I'm pretty sure Big A gave me, I feel blessed that we have never had to battle real illness. I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family

Day 4, since I spent most the day in bed, I would have to say today I am thankful for a warm bed and a roof over our head.  

Day 5, thankful for this beautiful fall weather, I can't remember the last time there was this much color in the leaves.
Day 6, I'm thankful I am not Santa, because the way Big A is going with his list that big jolly soul is gonna have a lot of explaining to do come Christmas day

Day 7, I'm thankful for my children. They have made my heart grow bigger than i ever thought possible, they make me laugh, and be silly, and remember the joy in little things, and most importantly while I am working to make them the best they can be, they are making me a better person.

Day 8, I'm thankful for the weekend!   

Day 9, thankful for good friends. Had a great day spending time with several we hadn't seen in awhile. 

Day 10, thankful for Sunday family days. Love just hanging out and working on the yard. Seems like we always get recharged and ready to face the week. We let Little Au toddle around the yard more today, so I'm also pretty thankful Big A didn't run her over with his tractor. 

Day 11, I am thankful to my dad, and many other family and friends who have served in our military to protect the freedom of a country most people take for granted. Thank you to all our serviceman and their families for your bravery, sacrifice, and humility. 

Day 12, I am thankful for where I am from. I just finished reading French Kids Eat Everything and towards the end of the book when the family is leaving France their extended family discusses the term Terroir which can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place," which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on foods; wines, cheeses and others. Basically telling them that even though they are leaving, France will always be a part if who they are. I really loved this concept. That although I am far from where I grew up, it is still a part of me, embodied in me. And I am thankful for the person it has made me.

Day 13, after a two day cold snap, i am very thankful for heat. I am thankful we are fortunate enough to afford the many simple luxuries some sadly have to go without.

Day 14, while I'm thinking about him on his birthday, i can't go without saying how thankful i am for my father. He has taught me the value of hard work and making sure I put my full effort into every task. He also taught me how to shoot straight and always have confidence in myself. Love you so much dad

Day 15, I'm thankful I actually bought gas before it went up. That never happens! 

Day 16 &17, although the windy rainy morning probably wasn't ideal for a lot of the deer Hunters I am thankful for the beautiful weather mid November. It warmed up enough today we probably could have turned on the AC, we opted to just open the windows 

Day 18, I am thankful we were spared of all the terrible storms. Prayers for the families in all the Midwest with damage and loss. In unrelated news...Big A and hubby will no longer be performing wind dances. 

Day 19, thankful for each day. They are hectic and crazy and stressful, but I get to end each one with my three favorite people and I couldn't ask for anything more. 
Day 20: I'm thankful that my job is so close to my house, I love being able to come home during my lunch break and catch up on a few things

Day 21, I'm thankful for warm coffee in the morning, some times the simple pleasures make all the difference 

Day 22, thankful for safe travels  

Day 23, thankful that hubby got a deer, so we can restock our freezer 

Day 24, thankful for wonderful time spent with family. But also have to send a shout out to Shanda for giving is a jump start when we died at the gas station! Always nice to randomly run in to an old friend! 

Day 25, thankful for left over pumpkin pie...mmmm 

Day 26, I know it sounds lame but I'm thankful for this social network. I'm thankful that our family can see what is going on in our kids lives much more frequently. our visits are limited and we never see all the people we want, it's nice to be able to catch so many people up at once. I know everyone says social networking has made us a world where no one interacts face to face anymore, but I have lots of cousins, aunts and in laws that we'd maybe only get a chance to see once or twice a year that we can now see what is happening with them all year long, and for that I am very thankful. 

Day 27, thankful for a four day weekend!!

Day 28, thankful for a day spent in our jammies just enjoying being together. celebrating a week early means today we just got to relax. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, hope you were able to spend it with those you love.

Day 29, while it is no fun to have a sick boy I am thankful he is sick on a day I already had off work. And thankful he was feeling better tonight.

After giving 30 days of thanks, on this final day of thanks I have to give the utmost gratitude to our Lord and savior. I have been blessed beyond measure and am thankful for His guidance and support.    

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Birthdays and Pinterest {Part 2}

This is the second segment to Little A turning 1. A look back over the last year and how quickly our little girl has grown from baby to a toddler.
When I started this blog it was my intention to write about all the hurdles and difficulties of going from a family of three to a family of four. I imagined adding a little newborn to our well-oiled routine would surely throw me for a major loop. I had fears before Little A was born of how difficult it would be to open my heart up more than it already was, that it would be impossible to love two little people equally without bias.

The truth is, it wasn't difficult at all. The truth is Little A made my heart burst - with more love than I could have ever imagined.

I didn't get around to writing as much as I had anticipated. For one, well, there honestly just isn't enough time. And two, somehow, amazingly enough, that well-oiled routine just kept on going. Don't get me wrong, that first month is pretty much a blur. The first month with any newborn is a blur. At least the second time around you know there is light at the end of the tunnel. It also helped tremendously that Big A was able to stay in daycare, so I was able to enjoy the time I had off from work bonding and getting to know our new little addition.

I think the biggest reason for not having as much to write about adapting to a family of four was that Little A just fit right in like she had been here all along. She is such a sweet and loving little thing. Even since she was still pretty little she loves giving hugs. She wraps her little chubby arms around you and pats you on the back. She's beautiful and bright eyed and happy. She's super ticklish and has the best little laugh. This crazy little girl actually toddles off to her bedroom for naptime and bedtime when you ask her if she's ready to go to bed. A phenomenon neither I nor her daycare provider can get over. In a nutshell, she makes our job as parents look easy.

The last year has gone by faster than the first time, and that has been harder. Especially since Husband and I are pretty sure that Little A is our last addition to the family. I ache for those first moments that I will never have again. But if I had to have them for the last time, Little A could not have been a better pick to have them with. She makes every moment magical.

I'm going to miss the baby year. Little A's sassiness is already coming through as we come in to the toddler years. But as I recall with Big A - it only gets funner.

And because everyone loves pictures way more than words, here's a quick wrap up of the last year of memories.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Birthdays and Pinterest {part one}

Honestly, how did we ever plan anything before Pinterest? I know we did. I know that somehow I managed to create a lovely first birthday party for my son without any assistance from Pinterest. I am a creative person, I have a design degree. Yet this does not seem to matter, I am drawn to Pinterest for inspiration, I need Pinterest. Okay, I'll admit it, I am obsessed with Pinterest. But from this obsession, a fabulous first birthday party was produced from my Little A.

This will be a two part post. First, the glorious details about the party and where I found my inspiration on Pinterest, and second, my feelings as I reminisce about the last year and the milestone of our baby girl turning one (can someone hand me a tissue please!).

So before I get too emotional let's dive into the party details. I'm not a huge fan of the commercial themed parties for first birthdays, I know too well that it will only be a short time before she is insisting on a (insert favorite cartoon here) party and the first and second birthday are really my only two opportunities to do something a little less commercialized. So I dived into Pinterest and searched First Birthdays to find some kind of inspiration. I came across several Sugar and Spice ideas and fell in love with the concept. The two most influential posts came from {here} and {here}.

Throw in a little shabby chic vintage inspiration (I apologize, this link is just an image, I don't know where the original came from) and I had a party plan.

I started gathering supplies for the fabric strip garland by scouring my moms craft bins and searching the thirft stores. Surprisingly, I did not have as much luck at the thrift stores as I thought I would. I did find one great full sheet that had all the colors I wanted in it and my mom came through with a ton of scrap fabric that tied everything together.

I knew I also wanted to make a sweet Tulle Wreath inspired by {this} post (which also happens to be my most popular re-pinned pin by far!). And if you're not feeling very crafty, she also has a link to buy her beautiful tulle wreaths. My wreath turned out a little different than the inspiration. I happened to have a grapevine wreath already in possession so I figured I would save money and just use it instead of buying a foam one. I like the way it turned out but I wish I would have bought more Tulle. I only bought two yards and it could have been a little fuller, but I didn't feel like going out and buying more so I left it as it was. I just used my daughters hair clips for the flowers. I purchased the A from Hobby Lobby and painted it with Big A's assistance.

Since Little A was born I have been taking monthly photos, inspired after seeing several other friends doing the same. I loved the idea of posing her in the same location and seeing how she changed. I printed these photos and used clothes pins to clip them to a pre-bought pennant that I hung over some more fabric garland. It was a fun layered look, the only oops was that the pennant had only ten triangles and I had 11 months, so I had to leave one month out.

I used a little wood table and chair that my mom already had for Little A to eat her cake. I wrapped a plastic table cloth around the bottom, ruffling it, an idea I got from {here}.

The last little detail was a chalk board sign from Hobby Lobby with the Sugar and Spice poem for the center piece of the table.

The best part of a Sugar and Spice them is the food! Most of the inspiration I found had sweets and spicy appetizers, but since our party was going to be set for late afternoon I decided to go for less heavy foods and a more snack style setup. For the Sugar I had Pink and White Marshmallows, Pink Wafer Cookies, and Strawberry Cake Cake Pops. I had two types of cupcakes - Sugar Cookie Cupcakes & Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.

To round out the Spice side; Spicy Walnuts, Maple Spice Popcorn, and Spicy Mexican Fudge. All the food was amazing. The popcorn was a big hit, probably because there was so much sugar overload and it was the only less sugary option.

I had a great backdrop for the party, set up in my parents courtyard. It really completed the Shabby Chic look with the rustic fence and my mom's great old table for the centerpiece. We were also blessed with some absolutely amazing weather. It rained early in the morning but had cleared off and was sunny and beautiful by the time the party started. We could not have asked for a better day.

It was also my nieces 21ST Birthday, so we snapped a picture of them together with their own blocks, yet another idea seen on Pinterest. We realized we could recreate this picture every year as Little A turns 2 and she turns 22, etc. I love this idea and am looking forward to making it a tradition.

Little A was all smiles and loved all the attention. She dived into her cake like an old pro and I'm sure her sugar high kept her going for the rest of the day. We got to spend time with a lot of family and soaked up the last of the warm weather before Fall sets in.

                                                           Happy birthday sweet girl!!

For all my Pinterest Inspiration including recipes to all the yummy food we had you can find my board {here}

Thursday, September 26, 2013


We went on our first family vacation this summer. We haven't been on an actual vacation in like four years, and it was before kids. So needless to say we were pretty pumped to be going somewhere, anywhere. Since Little A is at that stage where she pretty much hates being in the car for a long period of time we didn't want to have a lot of drive time so we kept the trip pretty close to the area, at least in-state. We still managed to cram A LOT of stuff in.

We started at a lake south of us that was about half way to our next destination. Our state has these awesome little cabins that let you feel like your still camping, but they have air conditioning and a bed, and if you have kids, the most awesome feature was the little loft built above the porch.
Our pre-teen nieces came up for the evening and they played in it almost the whole time they were there, and then our 3 1/2 yr old son was up there most of the evening. He and Husband played catch while he sat at the opening and tossed a foam ball to Dad below.  We grilled burgers and roasted s'mores on the camp fire and while I fully intended on getting back up after laying down with Big A, so Husband and I could have some kid free evening time, I never woke back up...

The next morning we fed the fish at the nearby marina and then played at the lake. It was pretty crazy, apparently the area had been having a lot of rain for like the past three days, like flooding rain, like an Interstate had to be closed kind of rain. On this particular day we were lucky enough that it wasn't rainy, just a bit cloudy, but because of the previous bad weather we had the entire beach to ourselves. It was almost creepy, like we hadn't gotten the E-Coli notice or something. But is was also great - we had the ENTIRE beach to ourselves!

Little A explored the water edge, and if she kept her binky in her mouth I was able to keep her from eating sand and rocks and Big A practiced his swimming. After having lunch at the lake we headed on down the road to our next destination, coordinating our driving with nap-time.

Next on the agenda was the zoo, this was a particularly small zoo but it was still fun. Peacocks were allowed to roam free and one had it's feathers in full display. They are so pretty. Big A enjoyed the reptile exhibit and Little A just had fun cruising around in her stroller. We had dinner with some family and stayed the night at their house.

The next day was our big day - we were headed South again for a ride on a train! Big A is enamored with trains, so I really wanted to schedule a train ride as part of our vacation. Branson Scenic Railways does a train ride on a really neat diesel train. It was a little long for Big A, about halfway back he was getting pretty bored. We had explored the whole train, purchased a snack at the concession train, turned on the water in the bathroom...there is really only so much you can expect out of the attention span of a toddler, but he still loved it and I'm glad we did it. After the train ride we met our friends at Silver Dollar City. Husband and I hadn't been there in years and it was so much fun. Our friends have a son the same age as Big A and they were two peas in a pod. We had a great time and probably didn't explore a 1/3 of the park. They made us a great dinner that night and the kids played really well together all evening so we finally got in some adult time, with real adult conversations and Margaritas. It was lovely.

Day Four we headed to the Discovery Center. It was a neat place for kids to explore and Big A had a good time. We had lunch with our friends and headed down the road to our last destination - Big Brutus. I was not familiar with Big Brutus. Husband had gone there as a kid in school and remembered it being awesome. And since Big A is really into big machines he was really excited to show him Big Brutus. The kids slept the entire way there which gave Husband and I a nice long drive to just talk and enjoy the quiet. As we were getting closer to our destination Husband kept saying we would be able to see Big Brutus on the horizon and I teased him that maybe Big Brutus seemed big when he was a child. Alas Big Brutus did not disappoint. It was enormous and Big A loved it. We got to climb up in it, although to Husband's disappointment you can no longer climb all the way to the top of the shovel. It was a great end to our adventures.

We finished the week with a trip to Husband's Aunt and Uncles house for some famous fried chicken we picked up on the way and of course a little train play. Big A has become a big fan of our visits here, mainly because he is pretty much the center of attention when we visit. We stayed at Grandma and Grandpas that evening and another evening after that. Husband and Big A got some fishing in and it was a nice wind down to the trip. Those two nights were the first two nights we slept in the same place twice! We came home on Friday to have the weekend to recover which was much needed to get the kids back on schedule. I think they had grown accustomed to napping in the car and everyone was grumpy Saturday. Time for a Home Depot Trip! By Sunday we were back in the groove.

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but we had so much fun. We packed a lot of stuff in to a few days but I'm really glad we got to do everything we did. Big A had a blast and returned to preschool on Monday wearing his Big Brutus t-shirt.