Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankful Hearts

I really enjoyed this Thanksgiving season. I usually am ready to push that turkey aside and hurl myself right into Christmas a few weeks too early, but this year, I wanted to give the turkey his due. I think I got into the spirit of the season when I made these turkey shirts for the girls. It was my first shot at an applique--I got the idea from Pinterest... where else?--so it was really messy and very imperfect, but I loved them anyway. I freehanded the design; my wonder-under fell apart, and then I just went for it with lots and lots of pinning and seam ripping. :) We still wore them every week. :)
Because all moms are partial to their children, I say with no reservations that I could just gobble them up...

We had April and the Stephens boys over one afternoon for some turkey fun. Addison and Carter decorated these cookies as turkeys and make some construction paper/toilet paper roll turkeys. April and I loved having an excuse to get together, and we also loved actually getting to do things that we had both "pinned." [Maybe even more than our little turkeys did...] Even though we just live across neighborhoods from each other, it is hard with little ones to make playdates happen as often as we'd like. We all sure do love it when they do. I am so thankful for such neat friends who have such neat kids to go through life with.
I was excited to get to participate in The Eagle's Nest Thanksgiving Feast with Addison and Ansley.

It made me even more thankful to have my girls just down the hall from me at school. Addison was so proud of her crafts and decorations and she loved showing off her friends.

Pictured below is one of her best buddies, Jack (she calls him her "school husband" and they have been sweet friends who take care of each other since they were itty bitty babies) with his sister Juli Claire (who is one of Ansley's best buds), and their mom Jen (who is one of my best buds and the only friend I've ever had who shared the same birthday as me... Plus, we show up to school dressed exactly alike too often for it to be coincidental...)
We enjoyed a nice week long break from school, and I was thankful to drink coffee in my real coffee cup while holding by babies and watching the TODAY show... During this week, we slept in, made Daddy a birthday present, painted, colored, went to the mall, decorated for Christmas, made thankful trees, caught "Bieber Fever," spent time with family, and traveled to Louisville to spend time with more family. I taught Addison how to sing "Over the river and through the woods..." and how to play "Jingle Bells" on her keyboard. We stopped and reflected on our blessings. One of my favorite memories of this Thanksgiving will be Ansley's version of Gobble-Gobble which sounded more like Boggle-Boggle. :) My other favorite part was listening to my 3-year-old who, unprompted, went around the Thanksgiving table and called everyone by name, and directly asked them what they were thankful for in her sweet little voice. She then repeated it the next night in Louisville. I almost did gobble her up right then and there.

Here was my Thanksgiving project--I Christmas-treed up a dress for Addison. Sewing ribbon onto an already made dress was more difficult than it looks. I'm choosing to embrace my crooked little tree on this dress. :)

Playing catch up

I just realized that it is almost December, and I never blogged about Halloween... Don't want to miss this opportunity to post pics of my little sweethearts.
We kept it simple this year and let the girls dress in their birthday party themes: a ladybug and Dora. They got to trick or treat at school with their friends.
They even came to Mommy's room:

It was super cold that night, so we quickly transitioned our Dora into a little butterfly--which I thought complimented her little ladybug sis so well. Thank goodness for dress up boxes, right! We got to trick or treat with some cute pirates after our traditional 1st chili of the season supper.

Addison is so into every holiday this year, and Halloween was super fun for her. Addison is really into scary stories; she loves ghosts and witches and getting scared--but no too scared. She and Savannah went all around our neighborhood and then went through their loot like Linds and I used to. This Halloween was fun for me too--especially considering that I spent the last one in the hospital with a super-jaundiced Ansley, and we missed out on the tricks and treats. We sure did soak it all up this year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Holidays are beautiful and magical, but as an adult, and more recently, a parent, I have learned to adjust my expectations. I haven't taken a negative view--I still love every single minute of holidays. I've had my tree and decorations up for weeks. I've been preparing crafts and stories for celebrating the advent. Our calendars are full with Christmas events. We even brought out our elf Bubba this weekend, but when I reread this Christmas Llama Llama book to Addison for the first time this year, and sweet little llama had his meltdown, it hit me that there is only so much a 3-year-old and 1-year-old(or anybody, really) can take when it comes to holidays.

It isn't about squeezing in every event--the breakfasts with Santa, trips to Opryland to see the lights, ornament swaps, open houses, work parties, church special services, or even benevolent acts of taking food, wrapping gifts, and other serving opportunities. It isn't about making everybody "happy." Don't we all feel pulled to make every friend and family member feel happy and special and satisfied that they got "their time" in? Sure, those things are important... they matter... we even want to do most of them...

But sometimes it just takes a meltdown of a preschooler and/or toddler to make us stop and reflect and ask ourselves, What is all of this for?

Even as I write this, I am frantically cleaning my house for an Open House that we are hosting for neighbors this weekend. I'm addressing Christmas cards each day so I can get them out when I set my goal. I'm trying to fit in every fun event that friends and family have planned. So I know I am challenging myself as I write this.

However, this year I am giving myself permission to say "no." Not just no for the sake of being contrary, but a no for the sake of family time, a no for the sake of knowing my kids and their thresholds, a no for the sake of sanity.

I also am going to try be intentional about the things I say yes to. I hope to remember the spirit of the season, the joy of the grace we have received, and the love that permeates this time of year. I hope to make each moment count for something. I hope to snuggle with my kids and my husband in front of the fire with hot chocolate and Justin Bieber Christmas. I am going to teach Addison about Jesus' love for us--what joy that brings! I am going to add a cotton ball to Santa's beard each day as we count down to Christmas. When we host neighbors, swap ornaments, and spend time with family, I will love every minute of it.

And if one of my kids has a meltdown due to the holidrama, I am going to scoop them up, give them a hug, show them some grace, and then shake it off. Thanks for that, llama llama.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let her eat cake...

Well, it happened. Somehow, our baby turned 1, and I am still reeling at how fast this year went by.

Part 2 of our celebration included Ansley eating her very own birthday cake, something that at one point during the first year of her life, I wasn't sure would ever happen. If you've been around here, you know that she suffers with severe allergies to milk and eggs (and earlier in her life, to MANY other things). Thankfully she got to eat her very own ladybug (not to be mistaken for porcupine :) ) cake:
The winning recipe (I tried several) was 1 box Classic Duncan Hines Yellow cake mix (the only milk free kind I have found), 1 can of pumpkin, and 1/2 cup of water.

We stripped her down to watch for rashes, but there was no need because she did GREAT!

I made each of the cousins their own bugs and the adults cupcakes with these cute toppers.
We started off her party with a prayer from Patrick over her precious life.
Then we ate lunch. I served only things that Ansley could eat, and our menu was barbeque sandwiches, baked beans, chips, apples, and cake. The kids had some hot dogs too. Ansley had her favorite: bananas and peas. :) She'll end up being the healthiest eater of all of us.
Then we had cake!
And opened presents...

Then we went outside for some family pictures.

For treats, I got the girl cousins ladybug cups, stickers, and bubbles. I got Sawyer a book and bubbles. I also displayed her costume picture that I took on her actual birthday, the invitation the Haley designed for her, and her costume. We ladybugged it out! :)
And finally, my sweet girl on her birthday:

At one-year-old, Ansley weighs 20 pounds, 3 ounces and is in the 30th%, is 29 3/4 inches long and is in the 70th%, and has a head in the 95%.

She is learning to walk, and takes more steps and gains more confidence each day.

She moves her mouth all the time, and some of her new words are "gobble, tree, night-night, peas, potato, chicken, Bible, this, look, book, Elmo, Big Bird, Dora, and Boots.

Her favorite foods are peas and bananas and cheerios. As of last Thursday, she is no longer a breastfed baby! She is drinking 20 ounces each day of the second stage soy formula from a cup (but I still give her a bottle at night)! We are going to keep her on this for a little while so that she can have a complete nutrition for a little longer, and then we are going to transition her to straight soy milk. She is eating a mixture of finger foods and pureed foods. Getting her nutrition is my main concern with our slow start, so I am taking my time with making her do all finger foods.

She loves books. Elmo's So Big, Are You Ticklish?, Twinkle Toes, and Brown Bear are her current faves. At night, when I am reading to her, she signs for "more" when we finish a book. It makes my heart so happy.

We are thankful to have a happy little one year old in our house! Thanks to everyone who celebrated her birthday with her. She is so blessed!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ansley-bug's 1st Birthday Party: Part 1

I cannot believe my baby girl is 1.This has been a long and hard and wonderful and special year with her, and we celebrated her birthday ladybug style. We had 2 celebrations for her, and the first one was an after school ladybug picnic with friends.

I wanted to document her growth and changes throughout the year, so I made this month by month banner:
The tissue paper flowers are leftover from Addison's Dora Soiree. I also wanted to decorate her high chair because I knew we'd take pictures of her smashing her cake. I wish I'd gotten a close up of the ladybugs in between the words. I had tooooo much fun with those. :)

For this party I served pink lemon/limeade, homemade tortilla chips and guacamole and salsa, apples, pumpkin spice muffins, and chex mix for the kids. Here is a picture of the spread:
I know the tablecloth is a little wrinkled. While I love the details of things, I am oblivious to those kinds of details. I was just excited that at the last minute, Patrick found this in our linen closet.
I am going to do a separate post on her cake (an allergy-related post), but here is a picture of the mini pumpkin spice muffins and toppers that I made. We devoured them!
I found this grassy piece in my mom's guest room and the ladybug eggs in my holiday tub when we pulled out our fall stuff, so that was an easy kitchen table centerpiece.
For treats, I got these ladybug wings for the baby girls, the books for the baby boys and babies on the way, and the bubbles for the big kids.
I made the tags below:
Ansley did not love her hat at this party:
But she DID love being sung to:
And she loved opening her presents:
I am so lucky to work with some of my closest friends. Through our friendships, our children have also bonded. Many of them spend most of their days together in the Eagle's Nest. Even cooler, 4 of us had 4 precious girls within 9 months of each other. Here are the 4 sweet baby girls and their mommies. These are Ansley's friends from school:
Jen and Juli Claire (6 months); me and Ans (12 months); Angie and Stella (4 months); Wren and Molly (13 months).

Thanks for celebrating her birthday and for all the prayers and encouragement from the past year, dear friends.