Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014 Recap.

I hope this post finds you well and recovering from all of the Christmas festivities of 2014. I wasn't even sure if I'd get to blog again during this year, but happened upon a few lone minutes to myself and decided it was now or never.

We had a great whirlwind of a Christmas in Louisiana this year. We really didn't even decide if we were going to travel for Christmas until a few weeks prior. I just can only juggle so much and it seems as though as I get older, I become more and more of a procrastinator in making decisions. I was excited to be back in my home state, especially with the warmer weather that they boast. We got to see lots of our favorite people, which is always a favorite.

Our first day down South was spent in NOLA to visit my Uncle Mike and Aunt Rina. We ate a hearty seafood lunch (Tyler ate his first shrimp meal and he was a FAN), and then headed to our family farm (which is really in the middle of the city now, but it's where my Great Grandfather farmed WAY back when) for Uncle Mike to give tractor rides. The boys LOVED it.
Uncle Mike has been rebuilding the old tractor that my grandfather used to help my great grandfather on the farm. It's a work of love in progress

Unfortunately, Sunday evening my mom came down with the flu, so most of the week leading up to Christmas was spent with my mom in quarantine and me sanitizing like CRAZY so that none of us got sick (especially Tyler, who had just finished his antibiotics for pneumonia). I'm happy to report that we've all remained flu-free 9 days out, which is a bit of a miracle. Praying that we don't come down with it... seems like it's going around bad this year!

Christmas Day mom escaped quarantine and was able to rejoin the craziness of Christmas with littles. Actually, it wasn't really too crazy and was oh so much fun to watch the boys light up with every gift they opened. Brayden had been a little skeptical of Santa after a child at school had told him he wasn't real (daggers from my eyes)... but woke up Christmas morning and exclaimed "HE is REAL! I heard footsteps and a whisper HO HO HO!" Glad to see the magic will live for another year at least (and if you're wonderinh how I handled B coming home and telling me his friend had said that, I just responded with "what do you think?" While I don't want to prolong the Santa thing by lying to him if he asks me, I also want him to make up that decision on his own instead of me just coming right out and telling him one way or the other).
trying to take Christmas Eve pictures with these three monkeys was IMPOSSIBLE
we have a tradition of reading Luke 2 with the boys before we open gifts. The boys were so good at listening this year, and Drew got festive and dressed up like Joseph ;)
this is by far my favorite Christmas picture. Last year we had a let down on presents as I tried to assume that what I got would fit the bill on Brayden's list. This year? Nailed it.
Connor got "Ant Ant an Insect chant" from my parents. We had borrowed this book from the library earlier this year and Connor fell in love with it. When Connor opened the book he said "Oh it's my FAVORITE BOOK! It has poop in it!" (there's a dung beetle in the book).

Tyler had quite the help in opening most of his gifts

My parents hosted my Uncle Mike, Aunt Rina (and her son) along with my Grandmother for Christmas lunch. It was calm and relaxing and perfect in every way. Tyler was a crowd pleaser, as always and the older two boys enjoyed the extra attention.
Christmas is never dull with my Great Uncle Mike. Always keeps us laughing. #MboysChristmas2014
Uncle Mike bought the boys Army hats for Christmas. Tyler generally won't wear hats for me, but he has been OBSESSED with the Army helmet and wears it all the time. So hilarious!
he is a mess and a half.

I totally forgot to get pictures of my parents with the kids or a family picture on Christmas day. In fact, I forgot a lot of things this Christmas; Santa didn't get cookies, I missed the last 4 days of Advent... I had to give myself a lot of grace, as I tend to struggle with wanting to make things, especially traditions, exactly perfect. Thankfully no one seemed to notice the missing pieces, and although I might be lacking pictures, I know that my kids (and Drew and I), really enjoyed all of the memories we made with family, and we were still able to celebrate Jesus, which is all that really matters anyway.

We finished our trip to Louisiana with a trip to the local zoo, but those pictures haven't been uploaded yet, so I'll post them later this week. I hope you're soaking up the last few days of 2014 with family and friends, and are able to rest as we enter into a New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fortunate (And Not So Fortunate) Events.

I've sat down on the couch the past three nights and said to myself "I need to blog about this..." and then get sucked into the nothingness of Christmastime TV and realize I'm dosing off to sleep at 11pm without blogging.

The struggle is real, y'all.

In all honesty though, the past several days have been a string of unfortunate events that have led me to be grateful for fortunate events (or things). I thought I'd tell you about a few of these events/things.
Double ear infection and being treated for beginnings of pneumonia. Boo for sickies at Christmas time.
Feverish toddlers (not so fortunate). Last Wednesday Tyler was acting crummy but still not having any physical symptoms of a cold other than what I refer to as the "winter time funk", which is a combination of a runny nose and a slight cough. The cough he's had for a while, and on Monday Ty's teachers had made a comment about it starting to sound different, but I shrugged it off because honestly, he basically has a cough all of winter. Anyways. Wednesday evening it became apparent that we were going down for the count when a fever sprung. The next morning the fever was gone, and then in the afternoon sprung again. The same thing happened Friday, but taking into account that the last two times I had gone to the doctor over a fever and a cough we were told "it's just a virus" I thought I'd give one more day of all of the symptoms. By Friday evening I was regretting my decision, when the congestion was clearly not just in his chest (his normal breathing produced a rattly sound, which I knew from previous experiences can be a sign of pneumonia). Saturday morning Ty was diagnosed with not just beginning stages of pneumonia, but also a double ear infection. It was a sad trombone moment for sure.

Urgent care and modern medicine (fortunate things). I left the clinic Saturday morning thankful for urgent care clinics, which are now readily available all over our area. I was also extremely grateful for antibiotics and modern medicine. We truly live in such a blessed time in history.

Changing of the foods (not so fortunate). Concurrent with all of the pneumonia drama, I had switched Toby's food. I am not a rookie pet owner, yet for some reason I can't get my act together when it comes to my dog's food, and sometimes have to convert his foods without a gradual transition. People who are dog owners will read this and know the problem that ensues; for those of you who don't, I will just save you the grotesqueness and say that the smell alone of the problems switching your dogs food brings is enough to make a grown man cry (or in this instance, a grown woman). Last Friday night Drew and I literally tag teamed between rocking a sick baby and hurrying to let a dog out of the house before he crapped on everything (and our couch did not escape the nasty, which was QUITE unfortunate). Mercy. I'm hoping that we're over all of that, and I am swearing to myself and my family that I will do a better job of remembering what kind of food my dog eats.

HOT Christmas toys (not so fortunate). I did most of my Christmas shopping around Black Friday, before things got crazy. And by crazy I mean, people who buy out stores of certain HOT toys and then sell them on ebay for exorbitant amounts of money because they know crazy parents will spend crazy money to buy things that their kids are begging for. Thankfully the only thing left is a semi-spontaneous purchase, but it has been making me crazy trying to chase it down. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have THE ONE THING that your kid wants be on this list and know that you're either picking a Christmas morning meltdown or your wallet being emptied. I feel you, procrastinators. I really do.

Growing kids (fortunate things). If you follow me on social media you'll know that I sort of begrudge my kids growing up. I just hate it (in most respects) and wish they'd stay little FOREVER. But yesterday Brayden about had me in stitches from some of the funny things he was doing and saying and it made me realize that perhaps my little person becoming a big person won't be quite so bad afterall. Especially if he shares my sense of humor (which he does).
Brayden said "mom. Take my picture like this because I am SO handsome like this. Then, send this to Daddy, Poppa D, Gigi, Aunt Megan, Aunt Laura and her husband Uncle Jacob and Uncle Mike. They need to see this."  He lacks no ounce of confidence.  Also: p
(He came to me and said "Take my picture like this, because I look so handsome like this." And then gave me a list of people to text it to. I'm so glad he has so much confidence. :)

Timeout (fortunate things). Neither Brayden or Connor were especially traumatized by timeout, so we had to create other methods of discipline to mold our kids. With Tyler though, one time in timeout was enough to send him to his emotional grave. I was so shocked, as I had never had my own child so upset by the isolation of the corner. I find myself biting my lip to hold back my laughter when Tyler does something wrong and I just simple watch as he PUTS HIMSELF in timeout.
I finally have a child who is sensitive to time out. #alltheangelssang

Christmas (fortunate). This Christmas has been so different for me this year. I think it's because I'm getting old (ha!), but I have been so sentimental about everything. The other day as I was driving to Braydens school I got teary eyed listening to Pentatonix's version of Mary Did You Know. I resonate with other boy moms.... I feel like boy moms just "get" each other. We know what it's like to have a bond with a son. And I kept thinking about how Mary must have felt KNOWING that Jesus would die. My heart just can't even handle it. I'm just so incredibly grateful for this season of the welcoming of a tiny infant, a Savior. My hope is that everyone would come to know and feel the great Love that God has for us. It is the most FORTUNATE thing I could ever fathom.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tis the Season (for Christmas Traditions).

This will probably come as no surprise, given the more sporadic blogging I've been doing lately, but I haven't been quite organized this holiday season. I feel like the year somehow flew by and here we are at Christmas time to figure out things to do.

Thankfully I'm a sucker for tradition, especially Christmas tradition, so we've been enjoying some of our fun traditions as a family lately, despite the fact that they're not as organized. We've been doing Truth in the Tinsel as our advent of choice. This is probably the first year the boys have actually sat and listened to the bible readings and participated in some of the questions we have for them. It's been fun watching them remember pieces of the story and being able to get excited for knowing about key figures that aren't necessarily talked about in the mainstream Christmas jargon. I've also been doing the cheap chocolate advent calendars from Hobby Lobby with the boys. They look forward to the chocolates every morning (even Tyler has learned to point up to the counter first thing in the morning) and even request I read the verse to them all 3 times (if you don't know what I am talking about: Hob Lob makes these adorable advent calendars with little flaps for every day of December leading to Christmas. The child opens a flap every morning and gets a chocolate, but it also has a bible verse that tells of the birth of Jesus. Most days the verses correlate with what we are also reading in Truth in the Tinsel, so I love it because they get a lot of repetition.

We're doing the Elf again this year, and my boys LOVE IT. Cue all of the controversial gasps. Really, I can't believe that we sit around and debate things like the Elf on the Shelf and Santa (and really, a slew of other topics that I don't have the time or energy to list). I get why people do it and I get why people don't do it. At the end of the day, it's really not a subject to get worked up about in my opinion. Unless the person who does Elf on the Shelf or Santa is also beating their child or neglecting them in some way, then I think we should just leave well enough alone and find areas to be unified in, as motherhood is hard enough as it is. That's all I'm going to say about that. ;)

And quite possibly two of my favorite Christmas traditions are the Christmas train and our annual White Elephant ugly sweater party.
The boys have looked forward to the Christmas train all year long this year (you can view last years post and get links to all the previous years by clicking HERE). I was SO thankful to get on my favorite car of the train... it was built in the early 1900s and just has an old vintage feel to it... very polar express-y.
The most wonderful time of the year! #MboysChristmas2014
Santa surprised us by coming on a lot earlier than normal. So I was left scrambling for a camera and ended up with my phone to take pictures spur of the moment. Braydens face in this one just about does me in. This is my favorite Christmas ever with him. He was just MIND BLOWN when Santa came onto the train car.
Tyler was OBSESSED with the people in costumes. There was live music, and he spent most of the time before the train dancing and going from character to character in awe.
My older boys loved the train sets as usual, but we weren't able to stay near them too long, as Tyler thought the trains were fun to rip off the tracks. We wore our welcome out about a minute before Tyler arrived to the train sets.
Connor wasn't feeling much himself most of the morning. Turns out that he came down with a fever at some point while we were out and about. Poor buddy.

Because Connor came down with a fever, only one of us got to attend our annual ugly sweater party with our friends. It was a super bummer that Drew couldn't come, but I do have to say that, husband or not, I can still rock a jumper like a rockstar ;)
Who says you can't rock the jumper/turtlekneck combo in your 30s???? #uglysweatergoesuglyjumper #MboysChristmas2014
My fellow jumper wearing friends. I about peed my pants anytime we'd start talking. It was just too funny. I highly recommend wearing a jumper to a party. It's sure to bring some laughter. Also, please note how my jumper was a bit ahead of the curve... front pocket large enough for a smart phone. BOOM.

We still have a few more traditions to complete before wrapping up the first semester of Kinder (someone hold me... how can it already be halfway over???!!!) and jumping right into the thick of winter. I hope you've been able to enjoy your own holiday traditions and spend time with your family and friends more than usual as we reflect on the birth of Jesus. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Things I've Learned During Thanksgiving Break.

This weekend has been unseasonably warm, which our family was super excited about. We celebrated by spending most of our time outdoors. Of course, with it being Arkansas, our warm front is followed by a pretty strong cold front, complete with freezing rain. {cue sad trombone noise}. I thought I'd share some of the things I learned during Thanksgiving break.
  • Having one kid in school really does lighten the load of three kids. Sure, our weeks are filled with car line and school drop off and such, but only having two kids at home lessens the bickering and fighting. In some ways, I was glad to have days where we could just stay in our pjs with nothing on the agenda. But, I found that no agenda often meant more crazy, which I am not a fan of. 
  • I am egregiously unprepared when it comes to writing down what I need for Thanksgiving dinner. I made 3 trips to Walmart in a 2 day period. 
  • Hosting Thanksgiving is a lot easier when your house is not flooded. Thankful that we had no thawing out of turkey flooding incidents like last year. 
  • Creating the Thanksgiving meal takes planning, and there is a calm before the storm, ala 10 minutes before everything is finished. It's like you're sitting there thinking "man, I got this grown up thing." and then BAM. Everything needs stirred and finished and broiled and, HOLY CRAP I JUST BURNED THE MARSHMALLOWS BECAUSE THE STUFFING NEEDED TO BE FLUFFED. 
  • I can survive Black Friday. I have never participated in Black Friday until this year. Partly because ALL THE CRAZIES. And partly because I just haven't seen the need to do it. But when Brayden started making his Christmas list and I realized it paired nicely with all of the toy sales at Walmart for Black Friday, I knew I was having to dive in full force. I actually did really well, had no anxiety attacks (I did almost start crying when people were shoving my buggy out of the way to get to the next thing) and will probably do it again if it means I can get everything my kid wants for 50% off (or more). (I also have realized that people get REALLY excited about sheets and DVD sales).
  • The Hogs play with my heart. After having two weeks of back to back shut outs of ranked teams, the Hogs totally deflated on me. Friday was a sad day for sure.
  • this may be my favorite Christmas yet. Christmas is about 482717 times better when you have kids. This year both Brayden and Connor are both SUPER into everything. Christmas music, Christmas tree decorations, our Elf on the Shelf, Santa, etc. It's awesome. I just love being able to celebrate with them and create memories. 
  • family time is becoming more fun. We went adventuring as a family and it actually didn't feel like a chore to get everyone out of the house and rounded up to go to the park. I hope this is a sign of things to come... because I am a fan.
We went adventuring in the woods together and actually got a pic of all 5 of us. Yay for warm weather and family!

And that's about all I learned. Or at least all I can remember. Yesterday we started advent, welcomed our Elf, Bonner, back to our home and broke out matching Christmas Jammies. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, y'all!
Matching Christmas jammies (and a reindog) make me smile. #MboysChristmas2014

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