Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leg Wrestling Anyone?

I interrupt my Christmas recap to bring a few extra smiles to your face & hopefully a few good chuckles too.

For anyone that knows me, I am pretty competitive when it comes to basically anything. & for as long as I can remember my family has always had some sort of competition or tournament during the holidays. One year it was Mario Kart on the Wii. Another year it was a Pitch Tournament or  Pool Tournament. And when we were younger we always had Leg Wrestling Tournaments. Not only does it make for a great laugh but it allows a certain nephew to know that even though he may be bigger than his mother, he still isn't as strong!



& its never too early to start practicing the fine art of Leg Wrestling. I just know this will be an Olympic Sport in 2028.


and take two…



But by far, my most favorite video is of Kaden and his high jump. His Uncle Zack will be proud when he sees this. The back story--Kaden, Logan and their Cousin Colton were "high jumping" the other night and it was pretty cute to watch them go back and forth. Colton had a "huddler" style while Kaden  was most certainly a long jumper or high jumper. So of course after Justin and I got done telling the story we got out a yard stick and had Kaden go for it again. Notice his attire---he loves to be in absolutely nothing but his underwear.



& because we can't just can't record it once…



The second attempt is never as good as the first but the running in place and the slapping of his hands is pretty priceless & of course ME TOO had his turn at it too.

This is what holidays are all about. Loved being home and spending some much needed time with some of my favorite people in the world.

The Biggest Tree EVER

Everyone is always talking about how magical Crown Center is over the holidays and it was about time we checked it out too. Our initial plans were to go last Saturday, the 21st but a little snow/freezing rain kind of got in our way. With only days left before Christmas & very few nights open, Becky & I loaded up the boys and headed out to see the "biggest Christmas Tree EVER".

& of course we would leave it till the 23rd so of course that meant it would be the COLDEST night of the year yet & the weatherman kept his word. We got there just as it was getting dark, found a great parking spot, only to be told it was private parking and that I would have to move my Yukon.  & For the record, I still hold my ground on the fact I was not parked on private property & this "valet attendant" was just lazy.

We had decided that since it was dinner time that we would just treat the boys to dinner at Fritz's, they love the trains & since we have one 4 year old that doesn't recognize his own inside voice, it makes for a pretty good spot. Only issue, the line was winding around and around. They kids probably would have done just fine waiting but I wasn't even wanting to attempt it so we settled for D'Bronx which ended up being a WAY better choice. The boys devoured their pizzas and cheese bread in no time.



We had one of the best seats in the house--right across from the "Biggest tree EVER" & honestly, we contemplated standing the boys up in front of the glass and taking their picture and calling it a night but what kind of moms would we be…

So we bundled the kids up from head to toe and took off on the freezing 30 yard walk to the tree. The boys, were so excited. But not because of the tree but because of the SNOW that was on the ground. We did a little bribing to get them to "cooperate" for a few pictures and then we turned them loose for what seemed like 30 minutes but in reality was only about 3 minutes long. They ran through & checked out each of the houses in the holiday village & finally were ready to go when they weren't able to feel their noses!





Once in the car we announced that we had one last surprise for them---we had some special "trains" to show them & drove over to Union Station. We were hoping that there were a couple trains outside lit up so that we could just do a drive by but when we pulled up, it was as dark as it could be--we had a few bummed kiddos so we hatched a back-up plan & went on the search for some neighborhood Christmas lights. 

20 minutes later, a few wrong turns & detours and we found exactly what we were looking for, only problem---the boys were a little less than excited. They seriously were over our Christmas Lights outing  & asking to go home. Crown Center Magical? It certainly was for Becky & I but maybe next year we will have to do our Christmas Tree/Lights Tour a few weeks earlier when hopefully it isn't as cold out. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Me Too.

Let's face it, we should have named him Me Too. 

Every other phrase out of his mouth is "Me Too." "Me Too."

& so it only made sense that when I was going through his closet looking for something for Logie to wear today that I found this sweatshirt. It has always been one of my favorite shirts of Kaden's but the poor guy only got to wear it once because it shrunk too much in the dryer…Oops. Even though he only wore it once, I was able to get my most favorite picture of him EVER!


So of course I just had to take a few pictures of Logie to be able to compare them to one another. Now in this picture Kaden is a little over three and Logie just turned 2 1/2. 


& of course the outdoors image with Kaden is much better quality because it was so much nicer and we could capture him outside but there is just something about this little man that just makes my heart flutter. Every. Single. Time. I look at him. 







Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I think I love being a parent during Christmastime more than being a kid. It really is the most magical time of the year. & to me, I look at this picture & all that comes to mind is...

BELIEVE.


in HIM.

A Different Kind of Christmas Eve

This year Christmas Eve was spent a little differently than every other Christmas Eve I can remember. Most Christmas Eve's we are with my parents. We typically spend the night on the 23rd and then celebrate as a family on the 24th. We finish our little trip off with a Hartley Christmas & then drive back to KC to set out milk & cookies & we tuck the boys into bed as we try to get everything ready for Santa's arrival--if we make it to bed before 1, we are in good shape.

Christmas has a number of reasons to celebrate & at the top of my list--family. So when we found out that my brother had to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day working, there was no question about figuring out a different day for us all to be together. & since we wouldn't be traveling on Christmas Eve, we decided to spend the day baking. Baking with family--Justin's family.

Now, I may not cook, but I can bake with the best of them & wanted to try out some new recipes from Pinterest & my all time holiday favorite of my Grandma Dorothy's. & since we would have SOOO many different treats, we figured why not share them with our neighbors & lucky for us, Grammy, Becky & Colton were all for helping out and bringing some of their favorite recipes too.

Justin and I both did a little prepping--we made dough for our Rolo stuffed Snickerdoodles, dough for our Sugar Cookies & the Oreo Fudge ahead of time. I had all the ingredients ready to go so we could just plow through everything. I truly had no idea just how long all of this would take but I was fully prepared for an all day baking extravaganza.

My two little guys were starting to get a little impatient and needed something to do so I put them to work on their first baking project--lining up their pretzels for our Chocolate Covered M&M Pretzels. For every one pretzel they placed on their cookie sheet, they ate two. Same thing happened with the kisses...





Next up, Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles--and Becky & Colton rocked these out. & as an added tip--don't use the regular rolos, that would be a nightmare to unwrap but buy the minis they are slightly smaller, already unwrapped & you don't have to use as much dough for each cookie which means more cookies! After Becky and Colton stuffed each cookie, all three boys and Grammy took to adding a little color to the cookies…





As you can see, Logan LOVED the red sugar sprinkles, a little too much.

& while the Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles were being prepped for the oven, I took on my Grandma Dorothy's bite size Smore's--my favorite holiday treat. & no one can make them like she could but just making them makes me feel as though she is right there beside me.


Next up on the baking agenda, sugar cookies. It was time to let the boys ice their cookies for Santa so we went to Pinterest to find the perfect icing recipe. We were wanting something that was a little thicker, not so messy so the boys could possibly ice them all on their own but everything we found looked somewhat runny--i.e. Royal Icing. Just not what we were thinking, so we kept looking and finally ran into a fluffy white icing that had crushed candy canes in it & luckily for us Justin actually had marshmallow fluff on hand and Janet had brought some too. We were in business & in the end, the Candy Cane Sugar Cookies ended up being my favorite cookie that we made, totally festive.




Grammy Janet made peanut butter balls--with a touch of paraffin & Justin's Grandmother Ruth's Peanut Butter Fudge--both of which the boys did flips over!

Oreo Fudge



& after all the baking was over, all that was left was to deliver them to our neighbors. The boys, along with Colton, walked up to each of our neighbors, handed them the Christmas goodies & wished them all a Merry Christmas. We might not live in the "youngest" of neighborhoods but it doesn't bother me one bit because although we aren't the only one with kids on our street, our neighbors just adore our boys. Then again, who doesn't!



And although this might not turn into a Christmas tradition that occurs each Christmas Eve, it will certainly not be the last time that we have a holiday bake-a-thon as a family. It was so great to be around family & to be able to just enjoy our time, sure we were making candies and sweets, but it didn't seem like work. It was enjoyable. It was one of those many reasons to celebrate Christmas that I was talking about--family. There's nothing better.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Tradition-Ornament Style


I am sure I am not alone with this one--each year growing up my mom & dad, probably more my mom than my dad, got us each a new ornament. Each ornament had some sort of special meaning behind it…

Like a baby's first Christmas ornament, a la 1982. 



Or an ornament from 1983 when I was no longer the baby of the family--can you believe that 1982 baby's first Christmas & then 1983 I get shoved aside and a new baby's First Christmas ornament goes up for my brother. Way to take away my spotlight dude!


1990--we got this guy on our family vacation to Disney World.


2005--my mom & dad bought this ornament for Justin & I's first tree together, in our first home together.


Once I got my own tree my mom handed me the rest of my ornaments to fill my tree. & I figured why not keep the tradition going with my boys--each year we would pick out an ornament that captures either what they like or who they are during the past year. 

When it came to find this year's ornaments, it was pretty simple. In fact, a few friends did the work for me, they had sent me links and Pins that they thought the boys would like & they couldn't have been more right. 

This year we went with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme. Leo for Logan and Raphael for Kaden. At first Kaden was the only one really interested in TMNTs but it doesn't take long before lil' brother Logan follows along right behind his big brother. Before we knew it, we were buying him his own Leo pillowpet to go right along with Kaden's Raph pillowpet. So it just made sense to get two--one for each boy. 





I am not sure if my boys will appreciate this little tradition as much as I do looking back over my childhood but maybe someday their wives will & as they have children maybe they will continue the same tradition. Our tree isn't just covered in random ornament (we do have some) but instead, covered with 32+ years of memories & counting. 

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I love that not only were they hand painted but they have their names and 2013 on it as well. & if you son or daughter are into something specific & you would like to order something for next year check out her site…TheGildedMoose



Thursday, December 19, 2013

One Proud Mommy & Daddy

Kaden started pre-school back in November (which I just remembered I haven't blogged about!) & luckily we were able to get him into a pre-school near my work & one that is also really close to our daycare provider. The best part about this pre-school, Kaden's Grammy teaches there & he loves knowing that she is close by, as do we! 

Each Friday he brings a folder home with updates and announcements--the first of which announced this year's Christmas program and the pre-school group would be kicking off the entire show. To say I was a little nervous when I saw the songs he needed to learn was an understatement--I mean the kid only goes twice a week for 3 hours--how much could he really learn & memorize? 

So for the next month we worked here and there on the songs but I was keeping my fingers crossed that he was doing a lot of practice at school. Each day as I picked him up I would ask if he had learned any songs and his answer was always a big NO! Oh dear. 

Last week we got an announcement about a run through practice the afternoon before (last night) which meant that he would have to miss nap time BUT he would get to go to school on one of his off days--so of course he was thrilled. Justin fortunately was able to take him to his practice and when he reported back, it wasn't the best. Kaden made it through the first song perfectly & then lost it on the second song. Cried through the whole thing, didn't move, just cried. & every time Kaden told me about his practice, he started it off with "I cried Mommy." 

So what would today bring? We started the day off letting him know just how excited we were for his program tonight and that we couldn't wait to watch him sing with all his friends. We had plans to dinner before and then off to the program we went. 




When we arrived at the church he was so excited to show us where he was suppose to go. He walked right up to his teachers and sat down and waited. A few times he would turn around and make sure we were still there and wave or reach for us but with a little "its about to start" he would turn back around. Right as the program is starting he looks at Justin and I & announces he has to go to the bathroom, "I need to poop." 

That's our Kaden! Justin ran him to the bathroom & I am doing everything I can to think about how I can stall this program. Can I stand up, fall, and act like a broke my ankle? Could I trip over the piano and send all the music flying in a million directions so that it takes them a few more minutes to get everything put back together? And as I am contemplating the best stall technique the kids started to take the stage, where was Kaden? He was NOT going to miss his first performance due to poor potty planning on our part!

Finally as the last few kiddos were finding their place, Kaden came charging through the crowd of pre-school parents, "excuse me. excuse me." & finally made it to his place on stage just in the nick of time. Whew, crisis averted. 

Now we just needed to make it through two songs…  (he's the one on the top right--grey and red)



How awesome are these little kiddos?!? They nailed it and Justin and I couldn't have been prouder. He did such an awesome job. And I won't lie, I kind of chuckled when my friend Korie said she teared up when she watched her daughters' first program but I get it now! I saw Kaden up there singing his songs and doing all his hand motions and I too started to get teary. When did my little man get to be so big?!?! I hope he knows just how proud he made us tonight and how much we LOVE him. All I wanted to do was stand up and shout "way to go buddy!" but I refrained myself and just gave him a big thumbs up with the biggest smile I could manage. I think get got my message.

After his performance he followed his friends off the stage and took his seat where he sat for the rest of the program, not even coming back to his mom & dad. Not digging this my-baby-is-growing-up-too-fast-feeling!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happiest Holidays

Over the last couple of years our Christmas cards have been plastered with our family pictures. Last year I took it a step further & went the Instagram route to show a little bit of our everyday life & I'll admit, I loved it & wasn't sure how I was going to top it but somehow, I did. 

This year, I wanted something that SAID it all & with as few words as possible. I wanted to show what life is all about… 


& these two little guys bring so much joy and HAPPINESS not only to their father & I's life but to everyone who crosses their path. They both have personalities that SHINE for days & I can't imagine where it will go from here but I can't wait to find out. 

So, wishing you and your family the HAPPIEST of holidays---may you be surrounded with pure LOVE. 

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photo credit to Katy Gitto Photography 

& I apologize to those who will be receiving your cards over the next few days, still waiting for something special in the mail for you!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gingerbread-ing

I have seen a number of people post pictures of their families making gingerbread houses over the last few weeks & decided that this year would be the perfect year to start that tradition with our boys as well. And why not make it a party too! A few texts later & we had the afternoon planned-the mommies & the kids would make gingerbread houses as the daddies watched the Chiefs play.

But first--the kids had to nap. When they woke the would wake to all the fixings they would need to make their masterpiece. & a few extra treats--Tiffany's homemade chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk.



The houses were a little harder to put together than what we anticipated but with a little extra icing we got the job done. Logan was first up--needed to keep the little guy occupied & waiting & two year olds don't always mix.



He covered every inch of icing with his candies & when he was done he sadly said, "aww, no more spots!" & gave us a pretty good puppy dog face--so we added more icing & gave him more candies. he was good to go, for at least another ten minutes. Pretty sure for every one piece of candy Logan stuck on the house, he dropped two more on the floor.

We then moved onto Nathan, who had been running around while we got Logan all up and running. Nathan's was the "easiest" of the gingerbread village or at least that is what we were thinking it would be. For some reason, we had the most difficult time getting it to stand up and in the end, it didn't really make it. He did get to decorate it before it met its demise though.


Now Sophie & Kaden were troopers as they had to wait for both of the little ones to get started before we made it over to them. They also probably enjoyed it more & I felt kind of bad that I just had a measly little house for them to get crafty on. Sophie's gingerbread house had some major renovations--halfway through we decided to pull it apart & add some additional icing for stickiness. Round two was much better---we had a house that was standing tall.



With each kiddo their concentration grew. Sophie was all about her gingerbread house but so was Kaden. & for a kid who doesn't really sit still, especially with not being able to go outside and burn off any extra energy, that was something. He sat there for the next 30 minutes helping me build the house & then decorating it. & just as he was getting ready to declare that he was done, he found the back of the house bare & we went back for more icing.



They may not be the most beautiful houses on the street or the village in this case but they couldn't look better in my eyes. And we can consider this our trial-run, headed back to get another tomorrow so we can take it home to my mom & dad's for the holidays. Hopefully they are just as into them then as they were today.


See. Beautiful. They look so good you can almost taste it or at least Kaden can!