31 January 2013

Italian Soda Bar

I hosted book club last weekend, and to go along with dinner, I set up an Italian soda bar.

We read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which has nothing to do with Italy, but you never really need an excuse to have Italian sodas, right?

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, I stuck with pink and red accents.




Since there were only eight of us I limited the flavors to strawberry and peach.

I wasn't 100% sure the Italian sodas would actually taste good even though they looked good, but they were surprisingly delicious.


And of course, there is always occasion for monster cookies as well.

UPDATE: I received so many requests for the Italian Soda Bar instructions that I offered it as a free printable here. Enjoy!

29 January 2013

Freezing Time

A slight panic washed over me this week.

I was listening to Nash happily singing every song he knows in the backseat with his own variations when it dawned on me. 

He will never be this age again.

His smile will change. His cute lisp will subside. His voice will deepen. One day, he won't run to me anymore when he can't stop his tears.

I'm sure the panic has something to do with Nash turning three later this week. Every once and awhile amidst the craziness of getting through each day, it dawns on me that our children are gradually changing and molding into newer versions of themselves.

Whenever I start to feel panic about them growing up, it makes me want to do something that will freeze time and make the moments stay with me longer.

So, I hurried and whipped out my video camera so I could "freeze time," at least for today. I captured Nash in his element, reciting a nursery rhyme with his adorable voice and expressions. I know all too well that even a few months from now, he won't give it quite the same vigor. 

It helps me to relax a little bit when I have records of moments that I never want to forget. I need to remember to take more videos, because there's so much that can't really be captured in a photo.

22 January 2013

Why I Love January

I love January.

I used to view it as a month where the let down of the holidays sunk in and endless bitter cold days were to be endured without any exciting events on the horizon.

Not anymore.

It's still dang cold outside and my skin is so dry that my knuckles are cracked and bleeding, but January is filled with possibility. No more stress of trying to fit it all in. No useless gifts to buy for people that will most likely never be used. No obligatory parties and holiday events. 

Back to our routines! January is filled with planning. The year to come! January is where we find our most optimistic selves in our resolutions. Our goals of getting organized. Of doing things differently this year.

My camera may be collecting dust as of late, but I don't know if I've ever felt so satisfied with how much has been accomplished in a few short weeks. Even though I don't have any picture documentation, here are ten things we've been up to that prove we are alive and keeping busy:

1. We decided to finish our basement. I think. We've been in a vicious cycle of decision making the last couple of years. Are we moving? Are we staying put? Are we starting grad school? Should we make some upgrades to our house, only to move again? But I think we've finally committed to adding a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom to accommodate our growing family. 

2. I spent the first two weeks in January completely organizing and clearing out our basement, getting it ready for the remodel. And I'm happy to say we have sufficiently gotten rid of every single item that might not be used again. Loading up trash cans and taking car loads of stuff to charity is one of the best feelings in the world in my book. Now I can sleep at night knowing we aren't holding on to needless clutter. As organized as I am, I still couldn't believe the amount of stuff we were able to get rid of.

3. My original plan was to spend a week reorganizing and purging each floor of our house, but the basement took two weeks. Now I'm on to the main floor and next week is upstairs. I'm trying to figure out how to condense stacks and stacks of cd's that Troy and I have held onto since High School. The cases were disposed of long ago, but I can't decide whether to dump all of the discs or if I should really spend the time making digital copies.

4. Work has been crazy the last few weeks. Apparently everyone and their dog thinks that January is the best time for a website makeover. It's a good thing I really really love my job.

5. We've gotten back into better habits with family nights, scripture reading, date nights, family meals, etc., which is in large part due to finally reaching my "happy" spot in pregnancy. Even though I want to burn all of my maternity clothes, I'm so happy to have energy again.

6. I enter the third trimester this week. The first four months were the longest of my life, but now I feel like this baby is coming right around the corner. My only complaints now are the constant heartburn and aching ribs, but I'll take those anyday over having the equivalent of the stomach flu every hour of every day.

7. I'm still trying to figure out how to nix the bad technology habits the boys got into while I was sick for so many months. It doesn't help that we're cooped up inside.

8. We took a little getaway with our friends over MLK day weekend. It was really relaxing and I made it through a whole book, which almost never happens since I always choose work over reading. It's a good thing since I'm hosting book club later this week.

9. I've been using the eTo-do app on my phone the last few months and it feels so good to check off nagging little tasks. Stain chairs. Christmas returns. Oil changes. New ink cartridges. Touch up paint in bedrooms. Check check check.

10. Just when I was feeling on the top of the world as far as productivity goes, I hit a parked truck in the Costco parking lot. I wasn't rushing, I wasn't distracted, I literally just overshot it when I pulled into a parking spot. My car got the worst of it, but we're still going to have fork over cash to fix a crack in the truck I hit. So frustrating. I've never been in an accident in my life. Can I blame it on pregnancy?

I'm equally as excited for February. Nash will turn three, we're planning a Superbowl party, homemade Valentine's are on the horizon, and we're taking one last family trip before the baby comes.

For the first time in a long time, I am relieved to say, life is good.

13 January 2013

Close Call

Every night before I go to bed, I go in to each of the boys' rooms to check on them and tuck them in.

But from time to time, I fall asleep early or get lost in a book or work and it slips my mind.

Thankfully, last night was not one of those nights.

I walked into Blake's room and immediately picked up on an overwhelming burning smell. It didn't take long to find the source.

Apparently he had plugged in an old nightlight in between his bed and the wall. Not only had it burned a hole through his sheet, but it was starting to burn through his quilt as well. 

As he lay soundly asleep just a few feet from the burning, I couldn't help but run through the list of what-ifs. I don't even want to think about how long his sheets would have taken to catch on fire if I hadn't come in and yanked the nightlight from the wall.

I'm still a little shook up about the whole ordeal. And you can bet I'll never miss a night of checking on the boys again.

03 January 2013

Christmas and the New Year

I'm not going to sugar-coat it. This Christmas was a mix of exhaustion and unmet expectations and family drama and sickness (still) and tears and the loss of dreams resurfacing all over again. 

I'm mostly just glad it's all over with, especially now that I have the stomach flu while being 6 months pregnant, not one Christmas decoration has been put away yet, my house is begging to be re-organized, our cupboards and fridge are bare, I'm behind at work, and I have a growing list of things I need to do for the new year in Primary.

I'm grateful for the fresh start that a new year holds, even though I have yet to put concrete goals and new dreams into writing.

It'll all happen eventually, I suppose. I'm trying to not be too hard on myself. Especially since I can't get out of bed even if I wanted to.

Thankfully, our boys were too excited about the magic of Christmas to notice the fragile state our family was in. I'm so grateful for their youthful innocence. I don't think I'll ever tire of their anticipation and excitement for Christmas morning. It's one of the best parts about being a parent. Both a distraction from our trials and a reminder about what matters most.

They remind me over and over that life is about second chances.

I'm excited for a Christmas do-over twelve months from now.

And I'm hopeful about what 2013 will offer.

02 January 2013

Christmas Morning

At last, the most anticipated morning of the whole year arrived.

Five years old + almost three years old are the perfect ages for Christmas, I've decided.







The best part of Christmas morning was how excited Blake was to give. He spent hours crafting "Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel" masterpieces for each relative. He helped me wrap them all and insisted that they were the first gifts to be opened.

He couldn't wait to give his cousin a toy either. For days leading up to Christmas, he kept telling his aunt and uncle, "Sterling's going to love the present we picked out for him."

Nash's ultimate favorite gift from Santa was two new Leap Frog DVD's. He didn't care about opening anything else, he just kept asking, "Can I watch Numberland now?" 

And Blake asked for a car set from Santa. Santa had no idea what a car set was, so we searched on Amazon one afternoon to give Santa a more specific idea. Blake set his heart on a Shark Ship, which I guess is similar to a car set except it's a boat? Regardless, he was one happy camper to receive the Shark Ship on Christmas morning.

We spent the day in our pajamas assembling new toys, eating good food, and watching movies. I think everyone even got a nap in, except me of course. There was no way Blake was going to take a break from playing and he needed someone to share all his excitement with. I didn't mind one bit.