19 December 2014

My Favorite Holiday Tradition

December chaos is in full swing, but my all time favorite tradition is slowing down for a few minutes each night to read a Christmas book next to the glow of the tree. I wrap up 25 books and the boys take turns opening them. Some are silly and some are meaningful but all are enjoyed.

We started the tradition last year and I'm just as happy about it now as I was then. There are so many "extras" that we could cram into our holiday celebrations, but this is about as much as we can take on in this season of our lives. The baking, caroling, crafting, volunteering, and adventing will have to wait. This is perfect for us right now.
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18 December 2014

The Difference a Year Makes

It's hard to believe how much baby Crew has grown in a year. Although he's walking and talking now, he still fits into the elf pajamas that he wore last year.
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I've been thinking a lot this December how much our lives have changed in a short year.
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We had no idea when we celebrated Christmas last year that we'd have another baby under our tree this holiday season. 
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Each of our boys have worn these elf outfits at Christmastime and we just keep passing them down.
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It's still up for debate who has been nice and who has been naughty.
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But one thing is certain. These two make a sweet little duo of elves.
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17 December 2014

7 on the 7th

Blake's golden birthday celebrations stretched all weekend long. In addition to his pool party, he was spotlighted at school. He received cards from each one of his classmates. I loved looking through them and trying to decode first grade spelling, such as, "Blake, you are osum."
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One girl drew a picture of them holding hands with hearts surrounding her head. Blake was equal parts embarrassed and flattered.
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He also created a larger-than-life painting that included lots of "Blake facts" to share with his class.
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Blake helped me make a sprinkle cake to bring to his party.
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Even though the party wasn't at our house, our kitchen was sufficiently strewn with sprinkles once the cake was finished.
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I thought there would be enough cake leftover to serve at Blake's family gathering the next day, but he and his ten friends gobbled it right up at the pool party. I wasn't about to make a double layer cake again, so we settled on a rice krispie cake for round two. With sprinkles, of course.
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That cake sure filled up with candles quickly. I can't believe we're already at seven.
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We barbecued with family in our unusually warm December. It seemed a little strange to be eating hamburgers and watermelon around the Christmas tree, but we didn't mind having an excuse to light up that grill one more time. Then it was on to the most anticipated event of the weekend; the presents. 

Blake accidentally ran over my ancient iPod with his bike more than a year ago and he has been asking for a replacement ever since. Nothing fancy, just an old school nano with a scrolling wheel. Troy scored him his heart's desire at a pawn shop of all places. 
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We gave him some water speakers to go along with the iPod. The water dances to the beat of the music. They are so cool I almost want my own set.
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The evening turned into one big dance party with all the lights off and the water reflecting on the ceiling. That trend has continued pretty much every night since his birthday. Any visitors that stop by are promptly led to the basement so Blake can introduce them to the art of water speaker dancing.
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We sure love our seven year old who loves to have pool parties and dance parties. His golden birthday celebrations suited him well.

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14 December 2014

Finn | Three Months

It's happening. I've always said that you get about three months of the newborn stage and then all of a sudden you have a full fledged baby. The snuggling decreases gradually until one day you realize that your baby hasn't taken a nap nuzzled up against you for awhile. 

It breaks my heart that Finn rarely falls asleep in my arms anymore. But he has also turned into the smiliest baby ever, which almost makes up for saying goodbye to the newborn stage.

I packed away the first stack of too-small newborn clothes this week so I guess it's official. Finn is now a full fledged baby and there is no stopping him growing up.
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12 December 2014

Blake's Golden Birthday Party

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This was technically supposed to be an "off" year for a birthday party. With four children, we decided that parties with friends every other year will be sufficient. But this year was Blake's golden birthday, so we gave in to his puppy dog eyes as he reminded us of the significance of the event for over a year.

We settled on an afternoon at a nearby indoor waterpark. Our options were limited in December and we've admired the hotel with a red water slide mounted on the outside of the building for years, so it was the perfect solution to make his golden birthday extraordinary.

The closer it got to his birthday party day, the happier I was that I wasn't hosting a dozen kids at our house. Don't get me wrong, I love planning parties. But eliminating the stress of cleaning the house, shopping for party supplies, decorating, preparing food, running activities, cleaning up and going overboard on a theme (which I tend to do) was ideal during an already jam-packed holiday season with a new baby and a hundred other things going on.

All we did was show up with a cake and everything else was taken care of. The kids had the time of their lives. It was especially fun to be able to swim during the winter since no one had been in a pool in months.
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After swimming their hearts out, the kids moved upstairs to the party room. The venue provided all the food and then Blake blew out his candles.
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His friends gathered around him while he opened a few gifts.
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He was very excited that one of his friends gave him $7.
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I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to host birthday parties in the upcoming years. But I have to admit, having an offsite party was a whole lot of fun and a lot less stress. We may have to incorporate more of these in the future.

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