Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Tale of Four Trees (Christmas Open House)

Ever have those moments when you literally become the paradox of which you complain?  I didn't put out all of my Christmas decorations that I have used in the past.  In fact, someone just starting out could go into my attic and have a full house of cheer using only my leftovers.  I say I didn't put out all of my Christmas decor this year because I am too busy with more kids than arms.  However, I may have lost steam after decorating Christmas Tree number...wait for it...four!  Mid-way through number three, I began questioning my sanity. Nevertheless, I love my trees.  And for the sake of over sharing, I thought I would let you see all of my Christmas decorations. 

First up, our "family" tree.  As an aside, I should warn you that I let the older kids help me decorate as much as possible.  So if you see clumps of ornaments or bare spots, that is probably the culprit.  Actually, the bare spots may be on account of my dividing ornaments among a whopping 4 trees....nah, let's blame the kids! This is the tree with the most heart.  Here you will find laminated hand prints, dated snowmen, and general mismatched glory! 
This is also the tree where I did the most experimenting with poly deco-mesh.  I made the tree topper from scratch by arranging decorative sticks above the bow.  All were 50% at Hobby Lobby.  Is there any place else to shop for craft goods?  If it's not on sale this week, just wait and go back next week!  Love and holla!

In the foyer, I put up a smaller tree that actually belongs to my brother, Mark.  If I'm gonna store it, I think I get full rights to use it.  Mark, if you are reading this, please don't go all Grinch and steal the tree!  I like this tree because it has a random collection of large ornaments, some cool thrift store finds, and most of my "pretty ones".

Caroline's pink tree looks pretty much just like it did last year, with the exception of a new Hello Kitty ornament on there somewhere.

Rob's tree got a boost.  It's only a 3-foot tree, so I put it up on a chest (normally housed in my foyer, by the way.)  I also technically moved his tree out of his room.  Rob's room is the only room at the top of our staircase.  So by putting this tree at the top of the stairs, when it is lit it lights up the whole stairwell so lovely.
One of my favorite details of his tree is shown below.  On the right is a hand painted wooden ornament my dad made for me when I was a baby.  Then when Rob was a baby I went to Christmas Village (a humongous arts-and-crafts show in Birmingham) and saw a vendor selling these little hand-painted ornaments.  So Rob got one to match mine.  Love!

Moving into the kitchen, I have a little display of Christmas plates and a cookie jar over on one of my counters. 

Then on my buffet, a collection of decorative trees (yep, more trees) and a picture frame with no picture.  That's extremely typical for my house...
Not pictured when I took these shots was the addition of the family gingerbread house:
Still in the kitchen, I have a wine tower which usually also holds my cookbooks.  They have been replaced by a nutcracker display and the whole "look" was made a little more festive:

Moving into the living room, I have still more nutcrackers watching the family activities from their home on a side table.  If you look closely, you will see Sherlock Holmes, a rock star, Big Al, an Army soldier, and a chef -- he is our new 2012 addition.

Last but not least, my mantle.  I didn't put a wreath on this mirror which I usually do.  I think I was secretly hoping for a festive family monogram which I have seen all over blogland, but I never got around to purchasing.  I still need to hang my stockings ("...with care/ In hopes that St. Nick soon would be [here]".)
Can you tell I love nutcrackers?
Surprisingly, neither older child has messed with my stuffed snowman and Santa this year!  I think the addition of the Fisher Price nativity (as Rob says "Jesus scene") has helped them leave my decor alone!

That's all for this holiday home tour!  I'm linking with Kelly, The Nester, and  Thrifty Sarah.  And, yes, I am a little late for all of these link-ups.  But my heart has been so heavy and yet my plate so full this last week, that I really have neglected my blog.  I am still praying for Connecticut, and I'm praying for the peace that Christ's birth brought the world will once again settle into all our lives.

Merry CHRISTmas,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why, Hello, Ms. Kitty! (A Party Recap)

Caroline recently went to a Hello Kitty birthday party and fell in love.  This, combined with the resurgence of the little feline in pop culture quickly sparked the theme for her birthday party.  Here's the recap:

I have found a new hook up for ordering invitations. I have listed all of my sources below.  How cute did this turn out?

The colors, in person, are a little more vibrant.  The pink is pinker, the green is less lime and more green, the blue is more of a teal.

How cute is Caroline in her custom made shirt?  She's posing, by the way, in front of a banner her Aunt Laura made her which reads "Happy 3rd Birthday."

The boys and girls all played in the yard for a bit (because even though it was Dec. 2nd, the high was 70 degrees!) while the grown ups munched on some yummy food.  I took no pictures of what I served, so stock photos will have to do.  I have also linked you all the the recipes.  You're welcome.  Everything turned out exactly as promised, so it's safe to say these are fail-proof.  'Cause the Good Lord knows I can mess up a good recipe from time to time.

Source, via Pinterest
In addition to the ham sammies, I also served a so-good-they-were-scraping-the-dish sausage and cream cheese dip courtesy of this site:  Now, I am not the best photographer, so I'm not judging, but I didn't borrow her images of this dip because, trust me.  It just tastes way better than it looks on this site.

Back to the party.  I am sure we have all pinned the tail on way to many poor bob-tailed animals in out day and beaten helpless pinatas to an unidentifiable pulp.  So when coming up with party activities, I just deferred to the obvious: all the little children have nary a thought that doesn't involve Mr. Bearded sleigh-driver.  Thanks to the magic of--you guessed it--Pinterest, I produced a fun little craft.

I remembered seeing this but, gasp!, not pinning this last year.  Basically you use Santa's beard as an Advent Calendar / Christmas countdown.  The Organised Housewife provided the image download here, and the poem at the bottom was found here, courtesy of Alison.  I combined the image download and retyped the poem in MS Word using 11 x 17 paper and uploaded it to Staples Copy Center so they could print it for me in color on card stock.  This is what the final product looked like:

There was cake for the grown ups and cupcakes that the kids could decorate themselves with an array of sprinkles and sugar crystals. 
I love that "look of concentration" both my kids get.  See Rob's above for comparison.
I think our friend Maddox approved of his cupcake.  Don't you?
After Caroline's mad dash to open her gifts, this party was done!  One final "Happy Birthday" to Caroline and now we can officially start the Christmas season!
PS: Notice that football was on in the background.  Priorities! 

Party Sources
Birthday Shirt: a personal friend, Jenny
Birthday Banner: created on a cricut from Aunt Laura
Cake and Cupcakes: Publix
Food and Crafts: documented via hyperlinks

Monday, December 3, 2012

Caroline Elizabeth is 3 years old!

Dear Caroline,
When I was a little girl, all of my baby dolls were girls.  When your older brother, Rob, was born, I thought I could never love anything or anyone more than him...a boy!  Then you came along and I knew that God would see to it that my heart instantly had just enough love for you both.  The same thing happened a third time with your little brother.  But this is about you.  Going back to when I was a little girl and I was a "mommy" to my babies, how little did I know that I was always daydreaming about you.  You are everything I have ever wanted in a daughter.  You are the perfect blend of sugar and spice -- your laughter, your dimpled-smile, and your funny antics consume me.  Then again, your free-will, your determination and your independence challenge me on a daily basis.  I thank you for those challenges. You keep me from becoming a complacent parent.  You create in me a continual desire to do better by you and your brothers.  You are, in essence, exactly what I need.  Happy 3rd birthday!
[All of the pictures featured today are taken from Caroline's birthday party which was held the day after her actual birthday...more on the party in a later post.]

Height: (approx) 38 1/2" or 3' 2 1/2"
Weight: (approx) 30 lbs
How Big You Are: You wear a size 3T in almost all clothing and a size 7 1/2 shoe.
Sleeping Patterns: You never sleep (it would seem)!  Mommy and Daddy have finally waived the proverbial white flag in surrender to your sleeping patterns.  You are not meant for a "set" bedtime, and you will not conform to a "proper" time slot for sleep.  Rather, we let you decide when you are ready for bed.  Believe it or not, you know your body better than we do; thus, what used to be an hour-and-a-half battle of wills has now settled back into a quick book, sip of drink, and you are asleep in about 30 minutes.  You usually are ready for this around 8:30 or so.  You no longer nap and you rise with the sun.  So I guess you simply are not a "sleepy" little girl!

Eating Habits: Some of your favorite foods still include chicken nuggets/tenders/fingers, broccoli with cheese (crazy girl), and -- of course -- pop-tarts.  You are much more ambitious than big brother Rob, though.  You will usually at least try whatever is put in front of you. 
New Discoveries and Accomplishments:  You have learned to propel a 3-wheeled scooter.  You had a hand-me-down from the neighbor, but Nona bought you a princess one for your birthday.  You try so hard to keep up with your brother and the neighborhood big kids.  This scooter is a major help in doing just that.  This summer you potty trained, got rid of your beloved pappy (pacifier) and got your ears pierced.  You can count, you are working on your ABC's, you can sing many songs including "Sweet Caroline (Bum, Bum, Bum)", "Jesus Loves Me", "You Are My Sunshine".  But your current favorite song that you sing and want mommy to play in the car is "We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together" by, as you pronounce it, Tay'r Siff

Places You Love: You love going to Ms. Beth's daycare and seeing "my girls" as you call the little girls who go there.  You love hanging out with your MeeMaw at her house because she has tea parties with you and plays dress up with you.  We had a wonderful beach vacation this summer and you were not scared at all of the ocean or the pool -- a fact which terrified Mommy and Daddy!  You like shopping with Mommy so long as a trip to the Riverchase Galleria includes a carousel ride.  And you love the Birmingham Zoo, too.

Special Friends: Addy and Kambell are "your girls" at Ms. Beth's.  Your Aunt Kristy is still the apple of your eye.  You really like playing with Shelbi, too.  But you would do anything in the world that your Bubba tells you to do.  You practically idolize big brother Rob!
Current Events: It's been a newsworthy year.  This summer the Olympic Games were held in London.  This November saw the Presidential re-election of Barak Obama. Mother Nature has unleashed her fury with Colorado wildfires and Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.  There is terrible unrest in the Middle East.  In more exciting news, 2012 started off with an Alabama football National Championship (#14 for those who are counting). And now Bama is now ranked #2 in the BCS standings with a record of 12-1.  We just won the SEC Championship and are headed to Miami to play for a back-to-back national title.

What We Did This Day: Today (December 1st) was a Saturday.  We woke up bright and early and headed to downtown Birmingham for some family photos.  Then we ended the day at Nona's house for a small birthday celebration and a large football celebration -- Bama is the SEC Championship team!  32-28 Woot, Woot!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

William Joseph is 3 months old!

Length: (approx) 24" (19" at birth, 20 1/2" at 2 wk check up)
Weight:  (approx) 14 lbs (6.9 lbs at birth, 7.1 lbs at 2 wk check up)
How Big You Are: You are currently wearing clothing that ranges from size 3 mos to 3-6 months.  You wear a size 2 diaper.

Sleeping Patterns:We seem to have hit a plateau with sleeping.  As Bobby says about all competitive things "Sometimes a person just has to look himself (herself) in the mirror and said 'I just ain't that good.'"  I had great intentions on sleep training this one, but it is work, I tell you!  I will brag that I can swaddle you and put you in the bed still awake and you will self-soothe yourself to sleep.  But through the night?  Not yet.

Eating Habits: You are now about 50% nursing and 50% formula.  I still nurse you at dinner time and during your overnight feeding.  I nurse you first thing in the morning.  Then you get bottles of formula during the day.  It is working just fine for you.  I am thinking that nursing is on the down slope, though.  It's been okay, but you never learned (I never taught you) a proper latch.  So this has not been a great, bonding experience like some mommies describe.  Ouch!
New Discoveries and Accomplishments:  You are a talker!  You love to coo and babble.  You have discovered your fists and gnaw them frequently.  Which also means your mouth has discovered how to drool!  Your head and neck strength is great.  You don't sit up alone yet, but that's likely coming soon.  You have control over your hands and you are starting to grasp objects.  Namely, your pappy!

Places You Love: This is a hard one.  You still haven't been many "places" other than family homes.  You are starting to love lying on a blanket pallet and stretching.  You love your own bed which is a blessing!

Special Friends: You love your family.  Your face lights up in the mornings when I appear to you.  You giggle when you see daddy come home in the evenings.  And you are so happy that you rarely meet a stranger.

Current Events:  We have had a crazy month.  First was the Presidential re-election of Barak Obama.  There is terrible unrest in the Middle East.  People are still recovering on the eastern seaboard from Hurricane Sandy's destruction.  And Bama is now ranked #2 in the BCS standings with a record of 11-1.  Next we play UGA for the SEC Championship and for a bid (if we win) to the BCS National Championship game.  C'mon, Bama!

What We Did This Day: Today (November 21st) was a the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Rob and Caroline were out of school today.  We didn't do much because we were getting ready for Thanksgiving Day.  Mommy got the Christmas decorations down from the attic and started getting the house festive.

And, for comparison's sake, check it out:
Your "look" hasn't changed much this month, but you definitely have more neck control!