God Bless America

I’m behind, way behind on blogging. I don’t really have a good excuse…writers block? Too many kids with too little to do on hot days? Too many house projects? I don’t know. I do know that Stephanie D says that when you finish your house, you die. And judging by the looks of things around here, I’m going to live for evah. Might as well carve out some creative time to write in between bossing around contractors and fighting with the HOA. Mac Attach is sleeping on my foot, the air conditioning is blowing and the house is quiet. Time to get to work.

We are so lucky to get to spend part of July in Montana. It was a big goal for Peter and I to be able to do this, so heading up for our second extended vacation was amazing. Nothing feels as patriotic as a small town Fourth of July. The parades, the fireworks, a rodeo and lots of roast pig. What more could you ask for?

The view from our rental house did not disappoint. This was the perfect way to end a full day of 2 flights (complete with vomit bags…), an hour long grocery trip with the kids, then a two hour drive. Phew.

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The parade in Livingston is serious business. Every “float” throws candy. Nasty, leftover Halloween, been-on-the-street candy, and yet it’s like gold.

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Auggie’s sweet waves to all firetrucks, tractors and any other kind of service vehicle melted my heart!

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Baylor is always our designated wrangler for pictures. She takes her job very seriously.

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Rides in Noni’s Gater are legendary. She lets them all take turns driving. It’s terrifying.

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Wildfires are terrible…and yet make for some amazing sunsets

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This guy. He fears nothing. But he is absolutely convinced that he hates fireworks. We bribed him with a set of shooting “ears” to get him to stay out side for fireworks (the pink ones were half the price, sorry kiddo. buck up and then you won’t have to wear them!). And thankfully it worked! He loved the sparklers and he made it through the big fireworks show after a bit of protesting. Progress!

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Oh How They Grow

We got the best surprise at Auggie’s school Christmas program last week – he sang! My money was on him crying his eyes out the entire time. But instead, he quietly sang along to 1 Little 2 Little 3 Little Reindeer and was particularly enthusiasic about the HEY! arm swing and all.

Sadly, his perfectly matched and pressed pants did not make it to the show. Sigh. Oh well. At least he was wearing pants, even if they were his back ups.

Please forgive my pictures – I was A. hiding from him and B. not using a flash so I didn’t distract them!

IMG_8035 IMG_8037 IMG_8038At this point my mom leaned over and said “Goodness they are tiny! I can’t believe B was this small at her first show!”. I dug around and sure enough, they were that small. It’s so cute to see all her buddies in these pictures were singing with her this year too.

IMG_3603 IMG_3607 This kid has never been shy a day in her life!IMG_3613

 I’m trying not to get emotional thinking about this being her last preschool Christmas program…

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Singing her face off…

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Holiday Do Over

I want a do over.

All of the Wand’s in our house fell like dominoes to the nasty flu virus the week of Thanksgiving. Slowly but surely, we went down one by one. We visited the doctor 4 times the week of Thanksgiving; fevers of 103, croup (momma learned her lesson – I refused to leave the office without steroids), wheezing, vicious secondary infections…by the time Monday rolled around, I took both kids back to the doctor and with very little examination, everyone walked out with antibiotics. I think our doctor took one look at my face and knew I meant business. There would be no “wait it out” on bronchitis.

That said, here we are a solid 2 weeks later and we are just now getting to enjoy the holiday season. We missed a whole two weeks of holiday fun. Instead of happily putting up the Christmas tree, it was a race to finish before the DayQuil wore off. Rather than enjoying hot chocolate, snuggled on the couch, we were downing fluids and hiding under the covers. We traded fun parties for household 7pm bedtime. Instead of the smell of warm, cinnamon candles, our house smelled like we had invested in Vicks Vapor Rub and bleach.

So now that everyone is feeling a bit more human, we’re catching up on all the fun. I’m squeezing our lost two weeks into the next two weeks. We’ve updated and added to the decorations. We’ve done Zoo Lights and watched Prep and Landing at least 15 times WITH hot chocolate (and a little Baileys…), presents are wrapped, cards are out. We are ready to participate! Christmas 2014, here we come!

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Thanksgiving Prep

I think for the last two Thanksgivings, someone in our house has been sick. And this year, sadly, is no exception. Baylor started running a fever over the weekend and it is still going. Now Auggs has decided to join her. I’m currently spraying them and their room with Lysol while they nap and simultaneously popping zinc.

All the care taking and a lack of recovery from Peter being gone for SEVEN DAYS (more on his hunting trip later when I’ve recovered from my adventure in solo parenting) has left me with a little less zeal for Thanksgiving this year. It kind of feels like it’s snuck up on me. And I can’t summon the excitement I usually have for entertaining. However, the show must go on and as Peter pointed out, you can’t reinvent the wheel on Thanksgiving, which should make it easier to tackle. None the less, there’s still a very long list of things to get done before our 18 hungry guests arrive. Here’s what I’m doing to keep the urge to say screw it and open a bottle of wine for some day drinking:

1. Scale Back

We typically have dinner outside at the great table PW built for me a few years ago. But getting the patio, plants, table, table cloths, string lights, heaters, etc ready is a lot of extra work. So we decided to move inside. This might prove to be a terrible idea later, but it’s allowing me a lot less work on the front end so that’s a good thing. Prioritizing your to do list and or editing it is essential.

2. Create A Lot of Lists

I’m a list person any way, but the holidays call for many more lists and a lot more detail. I started a spreadsheet last year with tabs for each topic: guests, food, grocery list and a few recipes. That way I only have to amend each tab instead of redoing all the work. Keeping them each separate allows you to separate your thoughts and print each one individually.

3. Schedule 

I start a schedule about 2 weeks out based on how much work I need to do. I try to divide all the tasks so that I can do a few each day. This leaves a lot of room for last minute stuff and GASP! maybe even some down time. Starting ahead on cleaning votive holders, stemware, locating serving pieces, ironing napkins, etc is all essential to not loosing your mind the day before.

4. Ask For Help

Everything from some child care to bringing various dishes, ask for help. Most guests like to participate so let them bring their favorite dish. Just be sure to prioritize oven space and time for baking off vs reheating. Use crockpots for things like potatoes, sweet potatoes and green beans.

5. If You Can’t Ask, Buy Some Help

It’s often worth not only your sanity but your time to pay for some help. Yard maintenance, house keeping, professional laundering of linens, window washing and even store bought dinner are all great ways to make everything come together AND actually enjoy yourself!

 

 

Halloween Recap

Better late than never, yes? Totally worth it when you see Auggie in his Olaf costume.

Trunk Or Treat was bigger and better than ever! We had the “party section” with an extra space for chairs, pizza and umm, we’ll call it juice.

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It was 90 degrees so Olaf was not happening. Good thing his Fireman costume from last year still worked (with the hem ripped out anyway…).IMG_8019 IMG_8021 IMG_8014The C Family haunted truck!

IMG_8016 IMG_8026It’s such a bummer no one was dressed as Elsa…

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Too much juice

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Actual Halloween was cooler…but still involved me cutting Olaf’s sleeves off

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I always get really excited to carve pumpkins. Then the reality hits when we sit down to get to work and realize that the kids can’t use the knives. Thankfully B was happy to sort out the seeds for roasting.

If I was a nicer mom, I would let them draw something and then I would carve it. But how can they deny me when I have such talent?!

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Thankful

This perfectly sums up our Thanksgiving. Warm, beautiful, delicious. Family, friends and pumpkin pie.
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The rest of our weekend included:

Brunch with the lovely Karen and Patrick

Melissa (Missa) and Jullien’s wedding

Post reception, reception

Wedding brunch

Lunch with all my cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles

Invoicing (bleh)

Full house Christmas decorating

Addressing and stamping 80 Christmas cards

It was a fantastic weekend. And completely exhausting. Yeah holiday season!

Oh Heeeyyy Halloween

Listen, better late than never….

I don’t want to brag…but we ROCKED Trunk or Treat this year! Thanks to the D family for their refrigerator box, their awesome painting skills and creativity, we made two super cool haunted houses. Bonus? They are stored safely away for next year!

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The black lights really put it over the top!IMG_5764 IMG_5763Where’s the fire ma’am?

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We also Fall Fesitivaled and had actual Halloween – I was all too happy to pack up the decorations on November first. But having a holiday hangover is the sign that you did a good job, right??

Auggie’s look of confusion is priceless.IMG_5776 IMG_5779

Someone did not appreciate their butterfly costume

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B and I thought we were sooo cleaver making a crying baby pumpkin for Augg

IMG_5785The beauty of cardboard haunted houses – they’re portable!

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Christmas Rerun

Everyone was in the mood to have their picture taken (well the little girls were for awhile…) on Christmas Eve so we got some great family shots that were so festive. Although it was yet another reminder that I need to use my gift certificate and learn to use my camera in low light…

Don’t laugh – but when I saw this picture I said to Peter “We have TWO kids! We are a family of FOUR!”. I don’t know why but seeing all of us in a picture made it seem more real than 3am feedings. Did I mention I don’t sleep?IMG_4655

Cousin Zoe, Titi and Uncle Mike
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The BIG cousins (this is the point where the little girls and babies were not having it)

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PW pointed out that each cousin tortures the next oldest – can you tell who precedes Baylor? Thankfully Quincy doesn’t seem to mind.

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It’s too bad we don’t look anything alike…

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Three generations. Again, too bad they don’t look alike.

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Auntie Ali, Uncle Gary and Mason
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After the Christmas Eve festivities, it was time to put out Santa’s snacks – reindeer food on the lawn and carrots on the plate, homemade cookies with milk and a carrot “squeezer” for Mrs. Clause.

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Christmas morning came early – even for the kid who gets to nap at will and was the reason no one else slept…cousin Blaise was so awesome with Auggie – and it showed since Auggie was so happy to sit with him. No seriously, that’s a yawn.

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I love these:

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Noni and the man.

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Waiting for everyone to arrive to open presents got a little long…which apparently in three year old world means you convince your cousin to let you ride him like a horse. Also? Those are only about half the presents #firstworldproblems.

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Mason was ready to get his rip and tear on.

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Isn’t this cute? Nancy puts all their Christmas cards on the cabinets – adorable!

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Holiday Hangover

Is anyone else exhausted? We had an amazingly fun and full holiday season that was all accomplished on 90 minute sips of sleep each night. Which I think is what has lead to me just needing a breath. And a nap. And an empty social calendar….and yet the social calendar is filled for January already!

~Bought a Christmas tree permit for Payson for the second year in a row and then went and bought one at a tree lot instead~

~Auggie turned two months old~

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~Didn’t loose two three year olds or a 2 month old at the Train Park for Christmas lights with the DeHavens~

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~Survived the preschool Christmas party that Peter described at the 7th ring of hell~

~Enjoyed Zoo Lights as a family of four~

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~Saw all of my cousins at the Schumann annual get together~

~Threw a holiday brunch for work friends~

~Watched Baylor sing “If it’s Christmas and You Know It, Ring Your Bells!” in the Christmas program at school~

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~Watched Charlie Brown Christmas soooo many times~

Dear Santa

Baylor’s list this year includes a baby Bjorn for her doll Shirley and a real camera.  Grandma’s got the Bjorn and we got her a really cool, kid’s digital camera – in pink of course. The thing that bums me out is that Santa is going to get the credit for the amazing present idea!

She’s also so much smarter than me – I started to write out an envelope and she informed me that she’s going to hand deliver it to Santa at the mall this weekend. I’d like to think I just don’t get enough sleep and not that the 3 year old is brighter than I am…

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