Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas 2017

We had a really great Christmas weekend. Nothing beats Christmastime with little kids. Every little thing is so exciting to them. This year was extra special because we had Rob home with us all day on Christmas Eve. We decided to take advantage of two full days together and do our family presents on Christmas Eve morning. In addition to the kids’ presents from us, they also had quite a few gifts from aunts and uncles that had arrived in the mail. It was a lot, and we didn’t want Scarlett and Clark to be overwhelmed by the excitement of it all. It was great to have that Christmas morning feeling two days in a row. We opened presents, ate breakfast, and then spent the morning lounging around in our PJs watching Home Alone and getting food ready for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day. It snowed all day on Christmas Eve which made things extra magical. I LOVE having a white Christmas.

That evening we went to Rob’s parents' house to spend Christmas Eve with his family. We did presents, had dinner, and the kids got to play with our niece’s hamster which was the highlight of their evening. I was in charge of let the daycare dogs out that evening, so while I went to work, Rob went home and put the babies to bed. My parents drove down to spend the night, so they hung out with the big kids until I was home. Then we read The Night Before Christmas, put out milk and cookies for Santa along with some treats for the reindeer and then it was off to bed for Harrison and Brooke. They were quick to fall asleep, and then it was on to making the magic happen.

I woke up at 5 am on Christmas morning to go hang out with the dogs again, which was fine because I was so excited I was sleeping terribly anyway. I made it home by 7, but Harrison and Brooke had already been up and 30 minutes. My dad sent me pictures of them sneaking a peek over the balcony before they crawled into bed with their dad. The morning was a happy blur of opening presents, eating candy, coffee cake, and egg casserole, and chugging coffee and mimosas at an equal rate. Santa brings mostly books and clothes in our house, and Scarlett got to the point where she was so tired of opening clothes that if she opened something and saw a white box, she’d throw it to the side and move onto the next present. Once Clark opened his Elmo phone, he didn’t care about anything else.

Home Alone 2, lots of snacking, a visit from Rob’s family, failed nap time, lots of Lego building, and by 4pm it was just Rob and I and the kids. We watched the Steelers game, put the kids to bed by 7:30, and then fell asleep on the couch watching SNL.

It was a great couple of days. All of the decorations came down yesterday and we’re ready to move onto the babies’ second birthday tomorrow! The kids still get to open presents at my parents’ house later in the week, so the Christmas season still lives on, just not inside our house anymore.

I am so grateful for our kids and that we get to experience this season through their eyes. We are beyond blessed. I hope that all of you had a blessed holiday as well, celebrating the birth of our savior. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Holiday Home Tour

The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped, our halls are decked, and we've baked holiday snacks. Now we get to sit back and enjoy it all. We have a visit with Santa, holiday light viewings, and a whole lot of Christmas movie watching planned for this week. I am loving spending my evenings in the living room with the fireplace going and the glow of the Christmas tree, so movie nights currently hold extra special appeal. 

While the babies were sleeping, the big kids were at school, and there wasn't a bag of popcorn dumped all over the floor, I thought I would snap a few too many pictures of our home dressed for the holidays. 


Our Christmas tree has been knocked over twice, two light strands and a tree topper have died on us this year, and there's usually at least 3 ornaments laying on the floor. Baby Jesus is constantly missing from our manger, our fireplace snowmen are crumbling on the inside from being carried around, and the presents under the tree will have to go back on the built ins before the babies wake up unless I want them opened today. All this to say, Scarlett and Clark are loving Christmas and slowly killing all of our decorations. And you know what, I really don't care. We have to buy a new tree for next year, purchase more light strands, and the snowmen Clark and I both love so much may not survive, but that's ok. My little people love it all as much as I do, and we're going to enjoy the heck out of it all for another week, because it's all coming down on the 26th.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gift Guide - 2 Year Olds

Shopping for Scarlett and Clark is so much easier than shopping for Brooke and Harrison. I can buy things I think are cute or things I think they need, as opposed to making sure I get whatever item they saw in a magazine or on the TV that they insist they have to have. As easy as them not having a say makes things, it's somewhat difficult because their brother and sister have EVERYTHING! Harrison and Brooke broke our teepee and lost most of our play makeup, so those are easy replacements. Books and clothes are always staples under our tree, as are art supplies. Scarlett and Clark are currently all about our play kitchen, so the food truck and hot cocoa set seemed like logical additions to their growing food service business.

All of the items listed are still available with guaranteed Christmas delivery if you order before the weekend is over, so get shopping.

Harrison and Brooke have been asking for an elf this year, and I refuse to do Elf on the Shelf, because there is no way I would remember the darn thing every night. Our "elves" will start leaving a few little surprises in their stockings starting this weekend, and there's a strong probability that I'll forget to put something in their stockings at least once. Maybe I should just get them the darn elf they want? I'll save that decision for next year.

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? What about invisible elves that visit in the days or weeks leading up to Christmas?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gift Guide, The Big Kids

We are officially done with our Christmas shopping. Hallelujah!! I also have everything wrapped, save for a couple things that are being delivered at the end of this week.Christmas music is on repeat, all of my favorite holiday movies have been watched at least once, and it is snowing like crazy outside today. It's safe to say, the Christmas spirit is at an all time high around our house right now.

As much as I always try to be on top of gift giving, wrapping, sending Christmas cards, it doesn't always happen that way. Case in point, I should be addressing our Christmas cards that have been sitting on the piano for 2 weeks. Instead I am writing this post. Usually I am scrambling last minute to get things ordered before the 20th and then I wind up wrapping the last of the gifts on Christmas Eve. I always love looking at gift guides to see what other people are getting their kids, and what fun gift I didn't know about but should have picked up. Today I'm going to share a few of the things that will be waiting for Harrison and Brooke under the tree.

All of these items are still available and if you order them now, will be received before Christmas. The Fairy and Wizard wands, which were number one on both kids' lists, have a big mark down on Amazon. I actually re bought them while writing this post and will be taking the ones I bought at Target back. The mark down is that good. 

Are you done shopping, or still trying to piece together a few last minute items to finish off shopping lists?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Breakfast With Santa

We're still here! We survived November, had a great Thanksgiving spent at my parents new house on the lake with most of my siblings, and are soaking in all things Christmas. The warmer than usual temperatures we've been having a great, but I could really go for some snow right about now to add some extra holiday cheer.

Over the weekend I took the kids to one of our favorite annual events, Breakfast with Santa. The YMCA puts it on each year, and it's always a blast. Reindeer, bounce houses, crafts, really good coffee. The highlight of the morning was doing the chicken dance and the Casper slide with the littles, Brooke, and my mom. They love to shake it!

The kids got their first chance of the season to sit down with Santa, and no one cried. So, winning! (Although I do love a good screaming kid on Santa's lap picture.) Once the kids warmed up to the big guy, H and B told him what their #1 must have item is on their wish list. Then they wrote him a letter to make sure he doesn't forget. Thankfully their lists haven't changed, so we already have the desired item tucked away in the back of my closet. Santa is on it this year!

We started our nightly advent books and scripture readings on Friday evening. The first night involved tears before we got started, tears when we tried reading a book, and a general IDGAF attitude by the two littlest people regarding the whole ordeal. Saturday night went much better, and so have the nights since.Once the babies realized there were books and treats involved, they were all in.

We got a chance to go look at downtown lights with Rob's parents a couple weekends ago, the large tree lighting at the outdoor mall was a couple weeks before that, and we've been driving by a few our our favorite houses with great light displays. It's been wonderful to reintroduce Scarlett and Clark to so many of our favorite traditions. Brooke and Harrison are as excited as we are to show the babies all of the Christmastime fun. Clark especially is enthralled with all of it. He's obsessed with lights, he calls them "ligh, lighs," so something as simple as an evening Target run turns into holiday heaven for him. We have a few more things to check off our holiday bucket list, and I can't wait to experience it through their eyes.

What are you favorite traditions with your family?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Each holiday with these kiddos is more and more fun that the last. We carved pumpkins over the weekend with Rob's parents. Harrison and Brooke had very definite ideas of how they wanted their pumpkins carved. Brooke still refused to touch the pumpkin guts, but Harrison got in there and pulled out the seeds this year.

As soon as Harrison and Brooke got home from school on Halloween, they wanted to get their costumes on and go. I forced them to eat some food before we got ready, then they were off riding bikes in their costumes waiting for 5:30 to roll around. Rob got home just as I was finishing getting the babies layered up and ready to go. We made it out the door on time, and after a few pictures we were off.

This was Scarlett and Clark's first time trick or treating and they were totally into it. It took Clark a couple houses until he was comfortable stepping onto strangers porches, but once he realized there was candy involved, he was all about it. We brought the wagon along, but it was easier to carry them. After a couple streets we put them in the wagon with some popcorn, and they were pretty content for a while. Harrison and Brooke were happy to be moving along faster without having to wait for the babies.

Clark decided he was ready to go up on more porches at about the same time Scarlett decided she was completely over being out in the cold. We let Clark finish the street we were on, the longest cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, and then the babies and I headed home and Rob did the last 30 minutes with Brooke and Harry.

We left a huge bucket of candy on our porch along with some bubbles. We knew we were out of candy after about an hour and the last bottle of bubbles disappeared right as the babies and I were rolling up the driveway. Perfect timing to turn off our lights. Also, note to self, buy more candy next year.

I made hot chocolate for the kids while we waited for Harrison and Brooke to get back. They rang the doorbell right as I was putting marshmallows in their cups. We listened to Halloween music, drank hot cocoa, and dug into 4 buckets full of candy before sending everyone to bed once their sugar highs wore off. I was so beat after all the fun we had, I planted myself on the couch and didn't move until I went to bed.

Today we cleaned up, took down the Halloween decor, and sent the kids to bed early because they were definitely all tired from yesterday's excitement. Our mantel is all ready for Thanksgiving and there's a 99.9% chance I'm getting the Christmas tree down from the attic this weekend. I'm looking forward to all the excitement the next two months bring.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

If You Give A Baby A Peanut Part 2

When Scarlett was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy last year we started counting the days until her retest in a year. We were hopeful that she would be one of the kids that outgrows their allergies. Her allergist explained to us that less than 15% of kids outgrow their allergies, but we were hopeful. We read labels and tried to make sure she didn't come in contact with nuts of any form. There were a couple times where she accidentally ate something she shouldn't have either by our fault of not properly reading a label, or more recently when she started being able to grab things off the counter. We would immediately give her a Benadryl dose, and we thankfully never had to use her EpiPen Jr.

At the beginning of October she had her annual appointment and her doctor talked to us about the component testing they now have available for peanuts. How great would it be if her test results came back that she was only allergic to the part of a peanut that don't cause anaphylaxis? I took her over to the hospital for the blood draw, and she was a champ! She barely cried at all and was so good about holding still. They needed a lot of blood.

It was 2 weeks until we got the results back, but her test came back negative for all nut allergies. Say what?!?!?!?! Yep, she outgrew all of her allergies! We celebrated with peanut butter toast. She goes back in in December for a skin test to confirm a complete lack of allergy, but we were given the ok to let her have nuts is moderate doses. Bring on the Reese's cups and Chick-Fil-A!!

I know every mom who has a child with allergies worries about what they'll do when their kids are out of their supervision, at a friends house or at school. You can't expect everyone to be as cautious as you are about your child's allergy. You hope they will be, but if they aren't in the habit of avoiding allergens, it doesn't always come easy. What about that kid who offers your kid a Butterfinger but doesn't realize it has peanut butter in it? It is such a relief to not have to worry about these things as she gets older. 

She gets to go trick or treating this year without us having to worry about what treats she's getting in her pumpkin. We will still be putting out a teal pumpkin and allergy friendly treats this year, because even though we don't have to worry about her allergies anymore, there are so many other kids who still do. I'm thankful for our experience because it has made us more aware of what other families of children with food allergies go through.

You can read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

When You Give A Baby A Peanut Part 1

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Weekend For The Big Kids

Harrison and Brooke didn't have school on Friday, so we got to enjoy a 3 day weekend. Well, 5 out of 6 of us did. Sorry, Rob. 

Friday morning I woke up well before the kids and ran out to grab some Halloween donuts to start off our weekend right. The night before I decided the kids and I were going to hit up our favorite u-pick pumpkin patch. It's a 40 minute drive from our house, but I love it so much we still go to this specific patch even though there are at least 20 u-pick patches closer to us. Within 2 minutes of getting there Clark fell and busted his lip and I then had blood all over my shirt. We should have given up then, but we kept at it and wound up with 5 great carving pumpkins, 4 kids who were over it, and 1 mom who just wanted a picture of all her kids at the pumpkin patch. I'm sure you can figure out who won that battle. (hint - not me)

The 40 minute drive home resulted in car naps as opposed to real naps, but everyone stayed in a good mood for the rest of the day. Rob got some free tickets to go to a local haunted house, and we decided H and B would be good to go. This particular haunted house, The Haunted Castle, is put on by boy scouts. Sounds pretty tame right? That's how I remember it being. More Halloween fun house than haunted house. They've changed a lot since the last time I went 15 years ago, because it was definitely more haunted house and taking two 5 year olds was probably not the best idea. Brooke was ready to leave 30 seconds after we walked in the door, and I had to carry her the entire way through. I'm lucky I didn't pass out from her lack of oxygen due to her death grip around my neck. We made it all of the way through and rewarded their bravery the way any good parent does, with ice cream on the way home. ;) I thought for sure we'd wind up with them in our bed in the middle of the night, but that hasn't happened yet.


Saturday morning we were up and out the door early again, this time for Wild Zoo Halloween. I took all 4 kids by myself, which I'm painfully learning is not as easy as it once was. I think they all had fun which is really all that matters. It was perfect weather to spend the morning outside, but my 3 bears were hot in their bear costumes, so I would up with 2 normal kids, a puppy dog, and Goldilocks. Thanks to a pit stop for lunch on the way home, we made it without anyone falling asleep. Yay, saved nap time. An all 4 kids nap time on top of that!

We dropped off Jules at doggie daycare and then headed to the lake to spend the night at my parents. We went out for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant on the lake. The kids ate their weight in chips, salsa, and queso while we watched the sun set over the lake. 

For the first time in about 8 months, Scareltt woke up in the middle of the night and would go back to sleep. Around 3:15 am I woke up to her yelling "mom" in her pack and play. I tried laying her back down and tucking her in, bring her into bed with Rob and I, putting on her sleep sack in case she was cold. I eventually had to rock with her in a my mom's recliner for about 45 minutes until she was asleep enough for me to put her back to bed. As soon as I laid back down, Brooke was up to go to the bathroom. Then Harrison was awake and talking. Then he was out of bed and downstairs in bed with my mom. At 6:30 I finally said eff it and stayed up, which wouldn't be a big deal except we were road tripping with the big kids, so there would be no nap time.

Harrison and Brooke have been talking about Cedar Point for months, and they are finally 48" tall, big enough to do some big rides, so we decided to take them before CP closes up for the season. We watched a whole lot of roller coaster POV videos on YouTube before we left hoping it would get them excited about the big rides. They were excited by scared.

We started out on the racing carousel, then went with a mild roller coaster. Everyone was still good then. Harrison would stop talking about the Millennium Force, so we went and got in line. In the 20 minutes we were in line, both kids decided they didn't want to go. I tried bribery, and it worked on one of them. Harrison was ready to ride it, but Brooke refused. I thought Harrison was going to die during the ride. It was so much more than he was ready for. When it was done he said he liked it, but it was scary, and he laughed and cried a little. There was a guy in front of us who told Harrison how awesome it was that he rode it and that he did a great job. I think that helped with Harrison's emotional state after the ride. We told him how proud we were of him for being brave, and he insisted he didn't want to ride again.

I got Brooke to ride the "big swing," Skyhawk, with me. I almost feel bad for encouraging them to ride big rides, but not really. I want them to grow up loving roller coasters as much as I did. Riding Skyhawk did not create a love for thrill rides in our little girl. After the excitement of a couple big rides the kids were ready for something more their speed, bring on Camp Snoopy. They were so happy running around there doing the kid rides. 

Brooke didn't go on any more roller coasters for the rest of the day, but she rode every ride we saw. Harrison asked to do the Millennium Force again with his dad, so they did. I managed to walk onto one of my favorite rides, Wicked Twister, while the kids were waiting in line with Rob. We ended the day with a few games, and Brooke won a ginormous pink emoji. Just what we need in our house.

The day was magical. If I could do it over and over again I would. My parents took us almost every year when we were kids, and they are some of my favorite memories. Running around the park with my brothers and sisters and then meeting up with my parents for a picnic lunch.We would ride from the time the park opened until it closed, sometimes riding every coaster in the park. We are all already looking forward to going again next year. Do you think they'll grow another 4-6 inches before next summer so we can take them on even more rides that will scare the heck out of them?