Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I am eating leftover cherry AND pumpkin pie as I type this...because no self respecting lady should have to make an either/or decision when it comes to pie. Thanksgiving rocks.

We had a great long weekend with family...the calm (if you can call it calm!) before the storm of the next couple of weeks. The acquisition that Eric has been leading comes to a close this week. All the travel and nights away and stress we've had for the past six months comes to a head over the next few days. He will be gone for part of this week, come home for one day, then he leaves again. Just going to hold our breath and try to get through it so we can enjoy the rest of our holidays when it's all over! And seriously...hallelujah! Let's get this thing done already.

Our Thanksgiving was spread over two days. On Thursday we enjoyed hanging out with Eric's side of the family, and on Saturday we gathered with mine. In between was a Black Friday spent doing absolutely NOTHING during the day, because most of my Christmas shopping is done, and according to the ads, I got better deals on things a month ago, haha. (For real...just shop early. The sales are better.)

Thank goodness the weather held out on Thanksgiving Day and we didn't get the rain they were predicting. The kids spent most of their time running around the playground, in the leaves, on grandpa Greg's quadricycle...they were full of energy! They came in only for brief moments to eat. :)

Of course the kids are usually much too interested in playing to eat more than three or four real bites of food. :)

Charlotte was a bit under the weather for her first Thanksgiving, but she was still her cute self! 

And they're off....

At one point Eric and I looked at each other and realized the kids were out of our sight more than half of the time, and we weren't worried for their lives as a result. :) Things are definitely different with older kids! What a fantastic change...we can get a little bit of our own lives back, haha.

Eventually the children do realize they are hungry, and it's much more fun to eat food on a stick. Appetizers are the most substantial meal of the day.

I just love these guys...and I'm so thankful for them.


Then on Saturday it was time for dinner at my parent's house! Eric works every Saturday, so we got ready and met up with him there a little later. 

Charlotte was taking a snooze, so the three big kids gathered for a picture before we left. (And a little preview of what we did the night before!) Please notice the cranberry chicken salad lid under the Christmas tree. Apparently we are very thankful for cranberry chicken salad. (Who knows!) And my son insists on always having his vest buttoned up to the very top, haha. 

Ah, here's that sweet baby!

Feeling much better this day than she did on Thanksgiving Day! 

Santa baby. :)

Another feast prepared by my mother! While I was in charge of the cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and veggie tray on Thanksgiving Day, I always try to ask my mom what to bring to her house, and she always says "Got it, got it, got it" to everything I suggest, haha. "Just bring the cranberries and some plastic cups." :D

Mmm...some of that delicious pie before I ate half of it. We were sent home with two whole pies. They are almost gone. Not ashamed. My mom makes great pie.

I am very thankful for the life that we have. For being so close to family, for our church and our community. I am so thankful for a warm house to live in...even if we are busting at the seams. This is likely the last holiday season we will have living in this town...the only place our kids have ever known. The holidays will look a little different for us this time next year. A LOT will look different for us this time next year. So for now, I am soaking in the familiar and enjoying it all. I am thankful for all that we've been given, and there is much to look forward to!

I have a lot to share from the past couple of weeks and I am so backlogged on posts, because our computer is having some technical difficulties...(ahem...I've just about run it out of space again!) so hopefully I will be playing some catch up here this week! It's the most wonderful time of the year. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Don We Now our Gay Apparel!

The annual holiday party at the Moose Lodge, breakfast with Santa, Christmas brunch at Aunt Bertha's, school programs, church pageants, the Winter carnival, carriage rides through the lights, baking with grandma, Christmas Eve service, caroling, pictures for cards....

I could go on and on and on. At no other time of the year are there more special and festive events, and everyone has their cameras ready to capture every cute moment as little ones sing songs and receive gifts and create the memories they will carry with them for a lifetime. Dressing up for these events is as traditional as the mystery fruitcake that makes it's reappearance on grandma's table every year.

So today we're sharing our picks this year for kids festive clothing for the holidays. Our favorites came primarily from Gymboree and The Children's Place, and if you are still looking for an outfit or two for your own kids, this may be able to give you an idea of what is available this season. If you are not a fan of "haul" type videos, this probably isn't the one for you, haha. But if you are a big online shopper like me and want to see a few things in "real life" well here ya go! :)

We've since picked up a couple more things (ha!) but I also wanted to mention that if you are in the market for some great pajamas for the season, Gymboree is having a good sale right now...made even better with a coupon! I chose not to show ours on the video, because we always save our festive jammies as the first gift of Christmas for the kids, and they watch these videos. ;)

Here are closeup details of a few of our items....

...fa la la, la la la, la la la! 

Happy shopping. ;) 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Happenings 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year, here at home and all across the country! 

We don't share a lot about Eric's trips to New York, but they continue still (and are about to ramp up again before Christmas) and Times Square is looking awfully festive these days. 

It is very rare that Eric gets a lot of free time in between meetings and business dinners, but occasionally he can sneak away to have a little fun. Here he is at Aladdin on Broadway a couple of weeks ago. He really loved the show, and as soon as he came home we listened to the soundtrack and have been humming the songs ever since. :)

But finally this weekend our whole family was able to get out and do something fun and festive together. It was Holiday Happenings, which means craft fairs and chili cook offs and of course, the annual light parade. 

It was COLD. It usually is. Haha. But last year I recall blogging that the temperature was just perfect for our night of fun. We didn't get so lucky this year! So we bundled up, kept the kids in the van for as long as we possibly could, then slipped in just minutes before the start. 

Our kiddos were rocking around the Christmas tree in the town square! 

I backed up to get a photo of our unusually bundled baby (our kids don't typically wear coats in their car seats!) and as soon as I did, I managed to capture the exact moment that Reagan face planted into the concrete....

Poor little guy! It wouldn't be a normal event without someone getting hurt, ay yi! 

But he did perk up soon, because it was time for the parade to begin. We like to find a spot near the square usually, because it's the best lit and most decorated part of town!

Various business, churches, and services deck out vehicles and floats in lights and often pass out little trinkets or candy. Our kids were ready with their glowing red buckets! As a child I always thought it was strange that parades existed in some places without candy. Not in this town! If people are parading down the street for any reason, they are gonna give you something. Haha.

How's it going, Ev?


We parents hung out in the back and let the kiddos have their fun near the street. 

There were several great floats, swirling fake snow, and some holiday tunes blasting...just another great light parade! Red Bud Utilities always has a great float. This year they went with a Star Wars theme. (Which we loved. We've been binge watching all of the Star Wars movies here!)

Most of the memories we made this night were captured on video, so stay tuned for a Light Parade vlog later this week! 

Because our Saturday night was spent parading it up, Eric and I had a day-date after church on Sunday. We enjoyed lunch and shopping, the already crazy. Black Friday sales have started early for a lot of stores. Traffic is nuts, parking lots are full, stores are bustling. Merry Christmas. :)

Meanwhile the three oldest kids went with their grandparents to a rock show! Not the kind with wailing guitars and pyrotechnics, like, a real rock show hosted by the St. Louis Mineral & Gem Society. Haha. They loved it! They came home with their very own rock collection and boy were they enthusiastic about those rocks. 

It was a great weekend, even if we nearly turned ourselves into Robertcicles. Seems like some of us will do whatever it takes to keep traditions alive and well. Just don't talk to Eric about it. I see everything through holly-rimmed glasses during this time of the year. Eric swears he is NOT a grinch...he just doesn't enjoy 75% of the normal holiday activities most people participate in. :D He humors me, because he knows I love it. And that's just one reason why I love him. :)

I have several videos in the line-up this week. I have no clue if anyone actually watches them, but I have them! Tomorrow we are sharing some of our picks and reviewing kids' holiday clothing for the year. I hope you'll visit us here throughout the season as we share all of our memories. Have a great day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Halloween Night Vlog

Happy Friday, all! :D

Typically you would find a Disney post here today, but I have to be honest. I couldn't bring myself to sit down and film a video this week. Every time I tried to sit down and think about the most magical place on earth, it just felt...odd. A little irreverent, to be honest.  Going forward the holidays will also complicate things a bit, but I will continue to post those Disney updates when I can! I am definitely not done yet. :)

Speaking of holidays.... I did still want to share a video with you today, and I'm running out of time to do it! We are rewinding the clock back to Halloween night. This is the footage we took while our family was out and about trick-or-treating, and I figured I better make sure this one gets posted before the NEXT holiday comes around!

The official start to the holiday fun begins this weekend with "Holiday Happenings" in our town, and I cannot wait! I just hope the weather holds out and we don't turn into little popsicles tomorrow night while we enjoy the light parade. I am still slowly but surely working on getting our house in order as well, and that's exactly what I'm getting back to right now. This turned into a MUCH bigger project than I could have ever dreamed, haha. Thank you so much for watching our memories if you did, and we'll see you next week!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Holidays in the In-Between

Posting this here, because I really don't want the picture representing this post to be of my husband's undergarments. :D

We're in the lull between seasons here. Other than Thanksgiving gatherings with our families our fall festivities and traditions are over, and we have a busy busy Christmas season to look forward to. Last week was a nice and restful time for us as we gear up for the holidays. In an attempt to get our lives in order before Christmastime I've been spending most of my free time organizing all those spaces that most people don't ordinarily see and throwing away a lot of stuff. We took just a couple of boxes to the thrift store this weekend (there will be many many more!) and I already feel lighter. I may share more about our cleaning out process later on...if I can pluck up the courage. That post might be titled something like, "Oh my gosh we're HOARDERS!"

I just won't feel right hauling out the holly this year until our home has reached a certain de-junked status. I've even adopted a new way of folding as per the methods in "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." When Eric opened his drawers for the first time after the switch last week he had just one thing to say....

"Oh. How very Soviet."


This picture was taken after Eric packed his bags for New York. There were even more shirts tightly filed in there...and a little more neatly. :D Also, he doesn't have enough undershirts. He bought more this weekend, claiming he will get rid of some of the other ones. "What?"

This folding method works great though, I must say. I used to not be able to fit all of my undershirts and leggings into one drawer. Now I have room to spare....

The trick is to fold into small rectangles and stack vertically, not pile up horizontally. 

Anyway, I think that's about enough of our drawers. I refuse to post our totally awesome and organized underwear on the internet. :)

As we hover in this in-between time our towns have sort of an identity crisis...gourds and hay bales still sit on some porches alongside the twinkle lights and garlands of the holidays in store windows and on the streets. It's a grab bag of seasonal fun. And even though we are still sitting among leaves and pumpkin decor in this house, we have been getting our Christmas craft on. Have to be prepared you know. :) The girls have been helping me make wreaths. 

Much more sparkly in real life, haha. We girls love the sparkle. :)

This is how I'm tempering my strong desire to bust out every holiday decoration we own at the moment. Not yet...I can't just yet. I have to keep telling myself this like a mantra. Must. have. house. clean.

It is also how I'm taking my mind off of of the awful things happening in our world today. Not just in Paris, but in so many places. As a wife I always worry just a little bit any time Eric has to travel away from us. I always pray for his safety. But in light of recent events, it's a little more unnerving sending him off this morning to the epicenter of the free world. When you close your eyes and think of New York City...that's where Eric is. Not in the obscure places, but in the heart of it all. Thankfully he assured me before he left that he's staying a little further down the street these days. So I pray for a very uneventful week there and everywhere. 

We've had sweet times just being together and hugging our babies. I'm sorry there isn't anything more interesting to report, but that's because we're busy fueling up and preparing ourselves for a crazy ride. Crazy in so many ways. Work, holidays, and all that those things entail. A lot is happening. Eric is going to be busy busy with the conversion. I'm going to be trying to maintain my sanity. And we're going to try to have a lot of fun in there, too. The holiday festivities start THIS weekend in our tiny town.

The train is pulling out of the station, and it's only picking up steam from there. And I refuse to let any person...any evil...steal our joy this year. If there is one thing the enemy wants from us, it's to encapsulate us in a state a fear. I refuse to play that game. This was definitely my favorite picture of all this weekend:

As I prepare my heart for the season this year, I pray. Not just for the innocent people being victimized by evil all over the world, but for the ones performing that evil. I will pray for the enemy. I will pray that maybe, somehow, something will happen to them that will turn their heart around. I can hope that love wins them over. Because ultimately love wins. That's why Love came to this earth. And that's why we celebrate. And they can't take that from anyone. They can murder and victimize and steal a few battles through underhanded and dirty means. But they will not win the war. 

As I spend this time in the in-between, I quiet my spirit, fill my cup up with love to sustain me, and pray for a peaceful and joyous holiday season. 

I'm sort of in love with this season of the in-between. It is well with my soul. :) 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Disney FAQ's: Dining Reservations

Hi friends! We took a week off of making Disney videos last week with the busy holiday weekend, but we are back at it today and picking up right where we left off!

If you've been following along with us then you know we were last discussing where to stay at Disney and for how long. The next major thing you will contact Disney about is your dining reservations. Today I'm sharing some information for any newbies who aren't familiar with Disney's policies on booking those coveted reservations!

One thing I did not get into in the video are Disney dining apps, and these are special apps you can use if you are planning a last minute trip and missed out on the reservations you wanted initially. These apps will "scout" reservations for you (for a price!), and when one becomes available they will email or text you so that you can get online and snatch them as soon as possible. I purposely left these out of the video, because there is a rumor that Disney is not very thrilled with these apps and is working to get them shut down. I don't know how much validity there is to that rumor, but it is possible that eventually they will no longer be available for people to use. Your mileage may very, but the two most popular apps are called Disney Dining Buddy and Disney Dining Scout. :)

Crowd Calendar Link: Easy WDW

Food Blogs: Disney Food Blog   Great Reviews Here!  Find Menus Here

Hope this helps you get one step closer to planning your dream trip!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Warm Winter Wishes and Gingerbread Kisses!

I'm already seeing *friendly* arguments break out over whether or not people are "allowed" to start thinking about Christmas stuff now that Halloween is over. The great holiday debate cracks me up every year, and most people see a very clear line drawn in the sand. Either you're ready for all things holiday when the clock strikes Midnight on November 1st, or you are bent on making sure everyone else in the world puts it off for as long as possible. (Don't forget about Thanksgiving!) I am obviously biased on this issue as I have been listening to Christmas music and began scouting sales a month ago.

But here is the thing, in defense of all Christmas lovers everywhere. No least no one I know, said anything about skipping Thanksgiving. That is blasphemous. Who would dare? Who doesn't love food and friends and family and being thankful? It's a huge part of the festivities, not overlooked in the least. Christmas lovers just enjoy their turkeys with a little bit of holly jolly, that's all. ;) It's officially the "holiday season" and it's ALL good! There are a lot of holidays happening between now and the end of the year, and just about eight weeks to fit them all in. Some of us think limiting the most wonderful time of the year to a few weeks at the end is a waste. :D So....

I am currently mapping out a month of activities for our family to enjoy once December rolls around. If I waited to do it, it would be too late! (I'm trying out this new thing called "organization" this year. It's foreign to me. Please don't look in any of my closets.) And I purposely got a jump on all things holiday so that I could actually enjoy Christmas this year. I don't want to be that person running around the week of Christmas still tying up loose ends. I want to have time with my kids to read the Christmas story. Explain the true meaning of Christmas (again) and be able to play with them and be with them. Have you SEEN that Ikea commercial? Eee gads. I also wanted to make sure that I had our own family's affairs in order early so that we could focus more on giving to others outside of our little bubble. That's what I want to fill our December with. Loving and giving and playing and appreciating. Learning and focusing on what Christmas means to us. NOT stressing about other stuff.

With that said...we took our Christmas card photos yesterday. :) We went with a gingerbread theme this year. I've narrowed it down to a few I like of each kid, but now the hard part is deciding which ones to put on the card! And I'm not sure if there will be one or two photos of each child...depends on the layout I go with.

Miss Evelyn....





Gracie Girl....




Mr. Reagan....





I had to work ridiculously hard for just those, haha. Reagan, once again, thinks this whole thing is an excuse to be a giant stinker. So... here are his "bonus" photos. :)

Hiding his face...

Mid raspberry blowing....

Completely stoic....

...and I will spare you all the pictures of him blowing spit bubbles.

Baby Charlotte....





So far I'm leaning towards:

Evelyn - 4
Grace - 3
Reagan - 3
Charlotte - 3...or 4....

We'll see! If you were of any assistance helping me decide, I definitely wouldn't complain about that.  And to send you off today, I'll just leave this right here....

Happy Holiday

Happy holiday, happy holiday

While the merry bells keep ringing

May your ev'ry wish come true

Happy holiday, happy holiday

May the calendar keep bringing

Happy holidays to you!



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