Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

She's Going to Be 30 in 24 Years

Here is the deal: I am not nearly old enough to have a six year-old little girl.

Oh, who am I kidding...of course I am...but that is neither here nor there. What I mean is that in my mind, Lilly is still a newborn infant, delivered three days before Christmas bringing instant smiles to all of us.

(Especially me...considering she was a miniscule little 7 pounder--a welcome relief on the heels of her Ten Pound Andre-the-Giant Brother.)

Thankfully, she LOVES have a birthday near Christmas time.

She is pretty sure all those lights and decor in your yard are for her.

She makes us laugh--the sight gags, the DRAMA, and the creative storytelling that always makes her look like a superstar to the detriment of her brother.

Her cheeks are still kissable, her thumb (occasionally) suckable, and her snaggleteeth? Adorable.

I want her to grow up.


I want her to stay little forever.

There's going to be a lot of celebrating today...the streamers, Going Bonkers, ice skating, and a VERY SERIOUS chocolate cake.

And if I take any blurry pictures, I'll be sure to post them soon.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

This is the actual image from the local news station's website:

Y'all, that current temp may be a mistake, but it FEELS true.

I take that actually feels like -784.

Praise God for:
*a warm home
*a mattress pad warmer
*heated car seats
*ample padding on my butt
*my Snuggie
*two giant-sized children that love to sit in my lap
*three layers of pj's
*pictures of our trip to Mexico

p.s. It is only -11 with a wind chill of -32.

Forgive my exaggerations.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

At Least We Haven't Caved to Disney's Grand Marketing Schemes

Brace yourselves, we are still riding the Magical Disney Train all the way to someone's 6 year-old birthday.

On the heels of one of the best vacations of my adult life, we received good news of glad tidings and great joy from Brad's employer.

This year, in the City of Denver, we watched Disney on Ice from the luxury box at the Pepsi Center. That would be a huge upgrade from the nosebleed seats we usually occupy at The Coliseum. (Which, for those of you out of towners, is nothing like the real one in Rome. It's more of a dirty, falling apart, get-me-a-shower-now, what-diseases-am-I-catching, monster truck rally kind of joint.)

Loooonnng story short, a sweet lady at Brad's office was generous enough to work some connections in order to provide Disney on Ice tickets for Lilly, her family, and a few friends.

Even though I'm always one for a delightful, homespun birthday, I will also jump at the chance to NOT clean my house amidst the December craziness.

One of my personal goals for 2009 was to have the kid's birthday parties IN the actual month of their birth. Being that I was still 7 weeks late for Jackson's Mario Bash, I was about to throw in the towel on my lofty birthday goals and aim for Mom of the Year in 2010.

But I was rescued in the nick of time and all I really had to provide were these adorable cupcakes:

They turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself. Who knew Hobby Lobby carried the perfect cupcake papers for Minnie Mouse?

And it was super easy to make those little zebra and polka dot picks from some scrapbook paper and toothpicks.

Before we go any further, I want to disclaim {AS ALWAYS} that I have exactly zero original thoughts. All decor fabulousness was scalped right off the interweb from other little girls' Minnie Mouse parties and shops where you could buy all of this stuff if you were insanely wealthy and/or lost your mind.

Don't you love my attempts at fancy schmancy photography? I think I caught the cupcakes sunbathing in this picture:

What do you think of that banner? It is hanging where my chalkboard usually goes on my exotic treasure, The Door I Found in My Neighbor's Trash.

I believe those banners are for sale for big money online, or you can feel your hands spontaneously cramp in chorus with mine while you picture all the cutting involved.

What's a party without Minnie ears?

Or cute treat bags?
Or a polka dot table runner I bought on clearance at Pottery Barn last year and forgot I had until it fell out of my island while I was searching for my fall leaf cookie cutters that I didn't find until AFTER Thanksgiving.

Oh, and what does every snacker need?

From the maker of Sith Snacks comes this totally original combination of Stuff I Found in My Pantry.
And no party is complete without my two favorite Mouseketeers:

Even if one didn't hardly make it out of the parking lot without some beauty sleep.

Yes, that is my (almost) 6 year-old in her five-point harness car seat.


At her own party.

While her friends were still awake.

Party on, Wayne.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

There is something about sitting in a quiet house after a perfect day that makes my Thankfulness-o-meter go nuts. And if you can sit in a darkish room with enough Christmas lights to illuminate the Rockefeller Center and NOT be thankful, that is a feat unto itself.

Over the past year, I've been so blessed and humbled and grateful beyond words. Due to the obvious fact that I'm not a writer and I do much better explaining myself if you have several hours in person rather than 30 seconds on the blog, I'm not even going to attempt to express most of my deepest thankfulness via fancy electronics.

Right now, for example, I'm thankful that on at least 6 different channels, there are so many movies that make my heart race with joy.

(Even though we own ALL of them, there is something about a divine simulcast and Brad furiously working the remote that is just THRILLING.)

{And although my heart is sad that the college football season is drawing nigh, there were several fabulous games over the last two days.}

And I'm thankful that in this vast house, all four of us are sitting on exactly two couch cushions.

And I'm thankful that The Fabulous Four went shopping together and I found some very special gifts for some very special people and that's all I can say because I believe they are very faithful blog readers.

And I'm thankful for Asian Nachos, which I've had TWICE this week and whose leftovers are tucked securely in my fridge so I can have them for breakfast tomorrow.

I'm thankful for a body that tolerates long runs in the freezing cold and for David Crowder, who is a fantastic running buddy and a fine singer when I can hear him over my own sweet pipes.

I'm thankful for friends who sometimes know me better than I know myself and love me anyway. I'm grateful they laugh at my jokes, forgive my tardiness, drink lattes with me, cry with me, challenge me, love my kids, and give me glimpses of Jesus' love I thought would only be reserved for heaven.

I'm thankful for Disney World and feel slightly guilty that I enjoy something earthly so much.

I'm thankful for Christmas Vacation and love that Brad and I laugh harder every. single. year.

Oh, and Brad. He is just great. I love that we are learning new things together and can relive old memories and can talk incessantly to each other about the greatness of our kids (or how they might not live to see morning, if that's the case).

I'm thankful that for every piece of random furniture I bring home from a garage sale and want to hang/paint/stain/refurbish it, he is The Man. AND he puts up with my mismanagement of the laundry/oil changes/trash/ironing/cleaning/calendar/locking keys in car/general forgetfulness with lots of grace.

I'm thankful for scarves and flip flops and occasionally wear them together.

I'm thankful for my family. They live far away, but they are seriously The Best. I'm blessed they give Jackson and Lilly the time of their lives so we can go to Mexico. And I see their love pour out when they beg to share a bedroom and bathroom with J&L (for fun!) while Brad and I hog the master suite.

I'm also thankful for iChat.

And I am indebted to chocolate because it makes me even happier than Disney World.

And if we meet and if you have a few thousand hours, I'll tell you all the other bigger, awesomer, insanely wonderful things I'm thankful for because this year has been a leetle bit crazy {but wonderful at the same time.}

But Jesus, the One and Only, is my anchor. And of course, I am most thankful for Him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Barbeque Day!

That's turkey for us this year. After Brad and I spent last Thanksgiving on the phone with my mom for an hour trying to get the turkey's neck out of his cavity, we decided to go the ribs and chicken route.

Picture two "adults" on the phone, both wearing gloves to our elbows, alternately screaming and making gagging sounds.

(Yes, Brad was screaming, too.)

No one, not one person, told me that buying a turkey yourself involved excavating it's own body parts and a bag of gizzards (if that word isn't gross enough by itself) from the bird.

So, pig it is.

Our little Indian Princess wants to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving:

Do you see the headband she got at school? The one she randomly chose from several her teacher made?

Hmmmm....ironic, don't you think?

I think she is better off as a Pilgrim anyway.

And for those of you who share a gene pool with me, here is the boy as well:

We love you, we miss you, holidays aren't the same without you. In my deep sorrow, I will bury my face in some ribs and breakfast burritos.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Black Friday Reality Check

So here we are the week of Thanksgiving. What on earth? Where has the fall gone?

I am giddy about Thanksgiving, time to reflect, breakfast burritos, football, and barbeque.

Yes, barbeque.

More on that later this week.

I'm also doing the happy dance (which actually resembles laying on the couch in my Snuggie) at having all of my halls decked on November 22! This includes the outside lights (props to Brad and Joel and Joel's Ladder).

I'm decidedly unappreciative of all the naysayers who think this means that my heart is without Thankfulness and that we're just skipping over a grateful attitude to get to Christmas.

Honestly, I love combining "thanks" and "giving" (since they seem to go together anyway) and stretching the season.

I feel so relaxed and able to enjoy December now that my decorating and shopping (did I forget to mention that?) are finito.

As I'm sure many of you can relate, when you have December birthdays, class parties, church activities, trips to visit family, family visiting us, and a lot of Peppermint Mochas to drink, it's much less stressful to have the Dreaded Christmas Bins already emptied.

Now I can enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights in the morning when I trip over laundry (can't get it ALL done) on my way to the coffee maker.

On the shopping scene, we're keeping it REAL simple this year, so finishing that was not even a big accomplishment. A few deals here and there over the last month, and things feel great.

Despite my shopping being complete, I will still wake up at crack-thirty and hit the stores on Black Friday. Not to buy Christmas gifts necessarily, but to check out the crowds, steal some deals (did I mention we have some December birthdays?), and just have fun.

My "less is more" philosophy is guided by this photo:

That is Lilly, with the FREE calendar/planner I got from the nail salon last year. It was her absolute favorite gift and she is STILL playing with it as recently as last week.


See those wrapped presents behind her?

Yes, they were fun and the kids played with them and I love opening gifts as much (or quite possibly more) than the average person, but the FREE present gave her so much happiness.

I know I'm starting to sound like the Allstate Commercial Man who implies that we all love Jenga and Meatloaf, but maybe there is something to that...

The screams I'm hearing right now from ten kids out back on the trampoline remind me that a) playing creatively outside is free, and b) maybe I should put all that money I'm saving towards some kind of liability insurance.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Making Random Look Organized

We've been home from Disney World for almost a month now and my mind is still full of untold fables and lore from our amazing time there.

However, I think most of these fables and lore are going to stay in my mind because I AM TIRED.

I've started getting out Christmas stuff, planning holiday cheer, taking Jackson to the orthodontist, and trying to shower at least every other day. So, in addition to tired: BUSY.

I picked out five more pictures since that's all Blogger will allow me to upload at once and I thought I'd share them, and then MOVE ON from all the Disney.

This was probably my favorite moment:


Now the best thing about going to Disney over Fall Break is that lines were non-existent. We'd exit Thunder Mountain and run (because walking is too slow) back around to the front of the line and not have to wait even a little bit.

Pretty much our only wait was for Mickey himself.

Come to find out, in Disneyland he wanders the property freely and you can find him on the grounds.

Not so much in Orlando. You have to go to his house where he is waiting just for YOU.

Minnie's house is next door, where you get to wait for her. I always thought they were married, but now I'm wondering if they're brother and sister? In a Luke and Leia sort of way? But I think they've kissed in some Disney specials so I'm not clear. Perhaps Mickey is dating Daisy.

Anywho, after waiting for about an hour, we walked into a little room where we'd get to have some quality time alone with Mr. Mouse. Lo and behold, his sister/wife was with him!!

The kids' eyes (and ours, honestly) lit up like spaceships.

And of course, The Mice acted like they had been waiting, just waiting for us to arrive. I am completely dazzled at the Disney cast members' ability to make each visitor feel so special.

If we ran into Mickey in a bar, I think he'd remember our names and slap us on the back.

Or at least nod knowingly.

Here we are at Epcot:
The craziest part of Epcot was running into our next door neighbors who we didn't even know were at Disney World.

Other than that, Epcot was a little underwhelming.

Did I already show you this picture at the Spectromagic Parade? I can't remember.

The sabers of light and magic are still in hot demand around here.

Kind of like the swords we got at Sea World a few years ago. Because you know, Sea World = swords.

This next photo cracks me up because it screams of our Leg and Joint Failure on Day 6.
(And also shows where my horrible photography skillz come from.)

We were only paces away from the park exit, but couldn't take another step. NOT ONE.

Like vagrants at a bus stop, we just sat and waited hoping our location would change despite the fact that we weren't moving.

The babes WALKED through these four ginormous parks, from parking lot to tram to monorail to park to seven thousand rides to the queues and all back again for six days straight.

No strollers, no nothing...fueled only by ice cream and EXCITEMENT.

So when the excitement ran out, so did our legs.

{A quick shout-out to my Reefs, which propelled me the ENTIRE TIME in great comfort and airy-ness. I really hate socks, so the flops were phenomenal.}

Oh, and lastly, here's Splash Mountain:

Both Jackson and Lilly declared this their favorite ride. I really have no idea why, but they loved getting wet during the big drop.

I rode it once, but the temperature dipped below 85, which means COLD FRONT.

Our initial voyage soaked me so badly that my underwear was sopping for at least 5 hours. Um, not comfortable.

Therefore, due to great experience and training, I took over as photographer.

Brad only raised one hand because he had just texted me to herald the arrival of their Splash Mobile and was praying it wouldn't get wet.

Even though there are over 250 more pictures from All The Fun, I will spare you (and myself, really) from them.

Instead, I'm going to go eat some cookie dough and review the changes our benefits package for next year. So all in all, exciting!

See ya real soon!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Unfortunately My Commission is Nothing

Today while I was in Costco {and it shocks me how many sentences I start just like that} I found myself selling yet another pack of French Onion Soup to a perfect stranger.

So I thought y'all should know about it, too.

Everytime I find myself in the freezer aisle, someone is reaching in, checking out the packaging, flipping it over...hoping for some kind of taste sensation to seep through the cardboard box.

Clearly, they're deciding whether or not to purchase this goodness.

So I, faithful Costco shopper, and consumer of obscene amounts of french onion soup, always jump in and say, "It's delicious, amazing, I eat it all the time. Just try it, you will thank me."

Then I turn around and revisit all of my favorite samples on the way to check out.

I had another bowl of it for lunch today (because that is just what I do) and it never fails me.


If you do not like cheese, onions, or croutons, then NO, you are not going to like this soup.

But if, like me, you grilled onions several times a week just to eat because they are in fact, that good, you will love it.

If my math is correct (which it probably isn't), I've earned Costco at least $100 because of my well-honed soup-selling skills.

That number is pretty impressive, huh?

Monday, November 02, 2009

You Know I Am Wearing It Right Now

I interrupt the Disney Madness to offer you proof that I've officially lost my mind.

File this lapse in fashion judgment with the Crocs and character t-shirts.

Except worse.

Way worse.

I've gone the way of infomercials and crossed to the dark side of insanity.

Y'all, I bought a Snuggie. (And so did my mom.)

Although the Orlando days were a perfect temperature, the night air, combined with my insatiable desire to see as many shows/parades/fireworks extravaganzas as possible led to some interaction with chilly weather.

I'd been secretly longing for a Snuggie (or honestly, a Slanket) for awhile. Every morning, I'd been unsuccessfully juggling my coffee, books, pencils, Bible study lessons, laptops, and occasionally, balls...all while trying to stay warm under a blanket.

This led to much spilt coffee, pencils lost in the abyss of my chair, and general frustration.

(You can see where this is going.)

I resisted buying a Snuggie because of:
a) the name
b) the electric blue airplane blanket color
c) it's on infomercials
d) it's also sold at fine retailers like Walgreens
e) mostly the color
f) but the name is terrible, too.

However, it became obvious on the vacay that some sort of blanket coverage was necessary for us to see Fantasmic.

And if I was going to spend money on a blanket, it WAS going to have sleeves, and it WAS going to be a Snuggie.

Much to my delight, the local Orlandian Walgreens carried a leopard print Snuggie!

Glory in the highest!

(Dad, what are you doing in this picture?!)

Fearful of me bringing (greater) shame to our household, Brad balked at the spending of $14.99.

But approximately 2 minutes into the show, he was begging for forgiveness and searching his Blackberry for the 2-headed version that we could share.

{Come to find out, that's the "Slanket Siamese" and while I don't think it's the best choice for us, if you are into being close and not moving for awhile, it might be nice.}

Since getting home, the Snuggie has pretty much become a beloved member of our family.

It's been on a trip to the mountains and even comes with me to friends' houses with suspect heat situations like our own (aka husbands who freeze out their wives).

It waits patiently each morning on my chair, welcoming my coffee and me with a gentle purr and invitation for warmth and love.

So it goes without saying that the kids are getting them for Christmas and Brad may have some Texas Tea under the tree.

I opened Photo Booth to take a picture of me in it right this very moment, but we both would've regretted it in the morning.

My Leopard Lovely is fleece...but there ARE microfiber versions available. Had I known the great attachment and love I would feel towards an inanimate object (that is neither flip flops nor coffee), I would've shopped around a little more.

But I didn't know that $14.99 could make a girl so happy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Like the Macy's Parade, Except FANTASTIC

So, if you can believe this, we're only on Day 2 of Le Tour de Disney. We actually spent it at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM, as I came to find out) and I adored every magical moment.

{By this point, I was telling Disney employees--it's still hard for me to call them "cast members"-to 'have a magical day.')

We did as any light-saber toting, sci-fi loving American family would've done and sprinted to the back of the park to begin our Star Wars experience.

The "Star Tours" ride was honestly a little lame. And it was a simulator, which in my mind, simulates nausea.

Jackson, however, loved it. And of course, I pretended to.

Next, we moved outside to the Jedi Training.

Despite Brad's and my ridiculous and downright shameful attempts to get crazy and freak out so the Jedi Master would choose Jackson as one of his next Padawans, we (I mean, Jackson) were not chosen.

J was seriously bummed, but handled it amazingly well (considering it was a lifelong dream and I don't envision us returning to Disney anytime soon). Even without being selected, the whole training sequence was super entertaining and I found myself quickly sucked in by the force.

To combat the great sorrow, Papa led everyone into the gift shop and the Jedi Rejects picked out a souvenir to remind them of their great struggle with the dark side.

Jackson picked out Boba Fett (the bounty hunter) and was instantly happy. Plus, the ginormous AT-AT walker in the background was just plain cool.

At this point, I should admit that I know all the names of obscure characters and Star Wars vehicles without looking them up.

Because I am a dork.

Finished with simulators, we split up into two groups.

Brad, Lilly, & Grammy headed to the Tower of Terror.

Jackson, Papa and I jammed to the Rock n' Roller Coaster.

Thanks to Steven Tyler and his cool limo, it was tied for my favorite Disney ride. I did feel bad because Jackson audibly cried during the "fun," but he wasn't prepared well since I didn't realize it went upside down a few times in the pitch dark.


But he recovered and actually wanted to ride it again at the end of the day.

From all accounts, Lilly braved the Tower of Terror and will brag about it to anyone she can.

However, we couldn't convince her to ride it a second time...which didn't surprise me at all.

{Before I continue, I should mention I don't have ANY pictures of the best part of Hollywood Studios--the Lights, Motors, Action show. I was too stunned and amazed to do anything but repeat, "How in the heck do they do that?" about 50 times. You should see the show. Amazing}

After scaring the children silly (on the roller coasters, not the Motors, it was time to enter the land of Pixar and happiness and Toy Story Mania.

This ride was amazingly creative and just as fun for the adults. Plus, we got harassed by Mr. Potato Head himself. AND we got to wear 3D glasses. AND shoot stuff. Perfect.

I'm going to be very vulnerable and reveal yet another super lame thing I love: The Muppets.

I mean, love. I always have and I always will. Miss Piggy first charmed me in "Muppets Take Manhattan" and I remember many a Saturday morning filled with the Muppet Babies cartoons.

{You can all go ahead and walk away from our friendship now if you wish.}

So here are the kids with the Statue of Miss Piggy. Because I had to.

If you aren't exhausted yet (which I was, because Grammy, Lilly, and I RAN--not jogged, RAN--from the Beauty and the Beast show all the way across the theme park and crowds of people to the Lights, Motors, Action show. This was accomplished in my flip flops which are made for standing on soft beach sand, NOT athletic conquests.)

(My shins are still aching.)

But finally, the magical hour of 3 o'clock arrived and you know what that means: PARADE TIME!

This was considered a "Block Party Bash," which meant my beloved characters and shockingly-old Disney dancers parked their floats on Hollywood Blvd. and danced with us for awhile.

It was mostly Pixar characters and I don't believe I need to convince anyone that they are great.
The Green Army Guys were the lead vocalists/MC's and they were hysterical...even ad-libbed most of it.

Led by the Spirit, I let out a "whoo hoo" during "Celebrate Good Times." (If you can keep your whoo hoo to yourself during that song, something is sorely wrong.)

Anyway The Green Army Guy yelled right back at me, "Did you just whoo hoo me? Don't whoo hoo me!"

A Macy's balloon has never done that.
Lilly even got picked to come out and dance, but there was so much stinkin' ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! that even she was a little overwhelmed.

I am just thinking about how much money someone would have to pay me to wear that costume and entice little kids to do the Macarena.

The amount is lower than you might think.

Now for my favorite part of each day:

You knew it had to do with food. The ice cream break. YUM. It was like a delicious encore to the parade.

Our favorite Ice Creamery (because there are many and it seems like I should lead you directly to the best one in case you visit) was Mrs. Potts at the Magic Kingdom.

They had full-on sundaes. Usually, we restrained ourselves and shared a couple of cones.

But in the interest of full-disclosure, let me reveal our order before the Spectromagic Parade (sometimes there are parades at night so you can watch TWO in a single day. Brilliant.)

*strawberry shortcake sundae
*brownie sundae
*chocolate milkshake
*rootbeer float
*chocolate ice cream with hot fudge sundae

After conforming to the shape of Mrs. Potts herself, we decided to start sharing sundaes.

Oh, speaking of Mrs. Potts, here are Grammy & Lilly at "Beauty and the Beast." (It was FAB.)

And our favorite talking, racing, cow-tipping, animated vehicles:

Dear Jackson & Lilly,
Those awful things on your feet are Crocs. I know Crocs are ugly. I know they are ridiculous, obnoxious, and plastic.

I completely understand that you will look back at this trip and a) complain about how they compromised your sense of fashion, b) wonder how I could've possibly let Lilly wear red Crocs with a pink bow on her shirt, or c) Photoshop them right out and tell you friends I was a much better mother than I actually was.

You did thank me for them after you were soaked on Splash Mountain and even told me they were comfy several times.

I know, that is no excuse.

In the same way that I've never forgiven Grammy for the Dorothy Hamill haircut, I understand that you may withhold your forgiveness as well.