Well this was our first Christmas that we spent together as a family (without going to visit extended family) and it was awesome! It was so nice having our own schedule, having Santa visit our own house, and to start our own traditions.
Christmas Eve I wanted to be all about the kids. Since Ruby is still pretty young, it really ended up being about Lyla. So we made a couple of ornaments and we painted two snowmen (see below). We played around, set milk and cookies our for Santa, and the girls went right off to bed without complaint! It was awesome!
As soon as the girls were down, we went straight to work. Nate started assembling a swing from Santa... Once mostly assembled, Nate, Lizzy and I helped put it together outside. (blurry pic, sorry) While Nate was assembling the swing, Lizzy and I wrapped up all the gifts, while watching Harry Potter.
A funny stories with Lyla before Christmas...
1) Ever since Thanksgiving, Lyla has said that she wanted Santa to bring her a swing. We bought her several other gifts thinking that she would change her mind (like she and most kids usually do) but about 5 days before Christmas, I realized that her answer was still the same and she even told Santa himself! So, in a panic, we ordered a swing that was at an awesome price and took back some of her other big gifts so it could fit within our budget. And this was actually a perfect gift because we really needed some activities to do in our backyard. Phew!
2) One morning before Christmas, Lyla was upstairs and I was down stairs and I hear Lyla screaming out "Mom! Mom, LOOK! Moooom!!" As I am about to head up the stairs, I hear "Look, it's Rapunzel, mom!" We find her walking out of the office (where the Christmas present closet was) holding her new Rapunzel doll with her mouth and eyes wide open! She was sooo excited!! So Nate just quickly grabbed it and put it back and surprisingly, she didn't argue! When she finally opened it on Christmas, she said "It's Rapunzel from upstairs!" It gave us a good laugh :) Anyhoo...
Christmas morning started with Lyla waking up and coming into our bedroom. We told her that today was finally Christmas and asked her if she wanted to see if Santa came. So we got Ruby and guess what?! Santa came!! Here's our Christmas tree with Santa's gifts on the sides (shopping carts and books).
Lyla was so excited to see that Santa ate our cookies and drank up our milk... And he even left the girls a note!
So, we weren't sure what was in the back yard. Maybe Santa left behind one of his reindeer! Nope! He left the girls a swing!!! Lyla and Ruby were pretty excited about their shopping carts from Santa... Despite this picture, Lyla was really excited about her new Toy Story book. Ruby got a Princess book. I tried getting a picture of the girls with their piles of presents...
I was unsuccessful.
The girls got some fun presents from us and some family. They each got a couple of learning games, fun magnets for the refrigerator (which they LOVE), princess dolls and barbies, books, clothes, a couple movies, and other little things.
Nate got some Duke stuff and a watch... I didn't get a picture of myself, but Nate got me an e-Reader, which I was SOOO excited about. Unfortunately though, it didn't have the feature that I really wanted it for (to read it in the dark so I could read in bed). So instead, we got me a Duke sweatshirt and today I am getting all the Harry Potter books (something I have been asking for for YEARS!)
After presents, we ate some DELICIOUS caramel rolls! The girls played with their new toys... We then all went to church, which was wonderful. And then we came home and started cooking dinner! This is the first ham that I had to prepare... Luckily it was already cooked and I just had to do some artful reheating. :) Our good friends, the Oakes family, came over for dinner. It was so much fun having good friends that stayed home for Christmas as well. And all of the food was amazing! The Oakes Family. And a picture of our little group. PS, isn't Nate's beard awesome? I convinced him to grow it since he doesn't have to shave or impress anyone for a while. This may be one of his only chances to grow it! We really had an awesome Christmas and we really have loved having Aunt Lizzy here to enjoy it with us. And I am a big fan of having Christmas at our own home with our little family. SO much fun!
And here's a pic of Lyla enjoying her (and Ruby's) new swing set. I love this picture of Ly and Nate. Today, Lyla asked to switch the swings into different spots and I said "Maybe Dad can do it later." To which she replied. "Or maybe Santa could do it". Thanks for reminding me that this was a gift from Santa, Lyla!
She mostly likes to swing on her stomach. I think the fact that they are not the bucket/baby swings, she gets a little nervous sitting on her bum. Baby steps.
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!! Only 360 days til' we get to enjoy the madness again!
A little more than a week before Christmas, our friends Bill and Christianne invited us to "Lights on the Neuse", a Christmas lights park. It was in a rural area where the city's downtown was decorated so beautifully! Inside the park itself was a 3D Christmas light maze, Santa in his sleigh, a 30 minute hayride taking you through a Christmas light feast, and last but not least, there was lots of candy, hot chocolate, kettle corn, etc!
Nate and the girlies...
Our family with Santa. This was the best picture from our camera, but the one they took was picture perfect, but I didn't feel like scanning it in :) A tired Lyla will have to do...
Bill and Christianne in the 3D maze.
The cute, ENGAGED, couple again :)
Oh look! Here they are again on the hayride...
The hayride was really great. The unfortunate thing was just as they hayride took off, it started to rain. So we spent the next 30 minutes trying to cover up and keep warm. Thank heaves we had our hot chocolate!
There was a section where it "snowed" (aka sprayed bubbles) that stuck all over us.
Nate and the kids with "snow" in their hair. I love this picture! Santa's elves working in his workshop. The creepy elf. And by the end of the hayride, Mine and Lyla's hair was soaked. Ruby had our friends jacket covering her hair, but Lyla refused to wear anything on her head. We love Santa!! Thanks Bill and Christianne for an awesome time!!
Lyla had her last dance class earlier this month. She LOVED this class, and especially her teacher, Miss Camielle.
Unfortunately, with Lyla starting Joy School and me taking on Fuqua Families Co-Chair, we aren't going to be able to continue dance next semester. Just too much in our busy schedules. Hopefully we can pick it back up in a year or so :)
Every time Lyla goes potty she insists that I come help her finish up. And every time when I help her finish up and she is off the toilet she gives me a huge hug. So the other day I hugged her really tight and said "I love you Lyla. You're the best"! And she said so lovingly, "You're the best, too"! Melted my heart!
She has started to compliment the chef during dinner saying things like "Mmm, wow, dinner is delicious. Thanks mom and dad!".
Scene: We were eating dinner and I got up to put my taco in the microwave. I look at Lyla and she has her arms folded and is scowling at me.
Lyla: You disgust me.
Me: What? Did you just say I disgust you?
Lyla: Yeah. You disgust me.
Sheesh! Apparently dinner wasn't very good! And I think that she got that phrase from Elf but I'm not sure.
Whenever we turn on our Christmas light's outside she insists on going out in front and proclaiming "PRESTO"! as we plug them in.
We were talking to her about the whole concept of Santa Clause the other day.
Us: Lyla, do you know where Santa Clause lives?
Us: What? He does not! He lives at the North Pole!
Ly: No, he lives in China!
The other day Ruby was crying and I was holding her trying to calm her down and Lyla cocks her head to the side and squints her eyes in a not so sorry way and says, "I don't think she likes you very much."
Nate and I have started surprising her with little gifts for doing so well at various things. And we typically have her close her eyes as we place a little gift on her lap or something. Anyway, she has loved this! Anyway, now she has adopted the idea, but only to surprise me with something she has broken. A few of those items were a styrofoam ball that she bit into, a cleaning stick for her new recorder that was broken into pieces, hair clips, etc. So now whenever she says, "Mom, close your eyes, okay"? I know I have something to dread! Hopefully she doesn't wise up because each time I have had to send her to time out.
Several weeks ago during bath time, Lyla backed into Ruby and Rube slipped in the tub and her whole head was submerged underwater while she was facing up. She had an expression of terror and I was so grateful (I usually am)that I was right there so I could immediately pick her up. Anyway, so I explained to Lyla how careful she needed to be and that Ruby could die. The word "die" has no meaning to Ly whatsoever so I tried to explain it a little bit and how sad we would be (just to make her WANT to be careful in the tub with Ruby). Anyway, so a couple days ago (several weeks later) Ruby slipped and her head was partially under the water (all her hair) and I sat her back up and Lyla exclaimed, "Oh no, Ruby died"! I tried to correct it but she was convinced for about 2 minutes that Rube had indeed died.
And then a funny thing about Ruby...
Ruby has become very picky with her food lately. Just today I put a slice of bread on her tray for her to eat (which she usually LOVES this) and she immediately picked it up and tossed it off the side and just looked at me as if to say "You get the hint?" She has been doing this with almost everything I feed her. I am not used to a picky baby! They are all things that babies her age would eat. But she'll eat pb&j, any kind of chicken or meat, pasta, fruits, veges, etc. But the other day she wouldn't even eat her pancakes, even after we put on the delicious vanilla syrup but downed the berries we served with them! Funny girl!
She LOVES to bump her head against the wall because she thinks it's hilarious. I'm worried she'll seriously injure herself but she seems to think she is awesome when she does it. FYI, I do pull her away from the wall when she does it and tell her no... I'm not that bad of a mom :) And if I put my forehead to hers to rub noses or something, she takes that as her go ahead to head butt me really hard and she grabs my face until she accomplishes it. Typically I'm able to dodge them but sometimes she gets me. Silly kid.
Happy Birthday Mom! (warning, this is sort of journalistic and I'm feeling pretty emotional. Read at your own risk!)
This may be one of my favorite pictures of her ever!
Today is/would have been my mom's 56th birthday. Most of you know this already, but she passed away this year on January 18th. I've just been thinking about her 1 year death anniversary and wondering if it will be hard or if I will be fine. I wasn't even thinking about her birthday or Christmas time until recently. I had been so busy preparing for Lyla's birthday party and then her actual birthday. Then the evening of her Ly's birthday after everyone was in bed and I was in the kitchen doing some dishes, in dawned on me that it really was Christmas time and also my mom's birthday in 5 days and I've pretty much been crying ever since!
I think it's especially hard since the last time I was with her was Christmas time where we were able to take our last family photo with her and we were able to bless Ruby. That was one of my favorite trips to California with my little family and we were so sad to leave. We had no idea that it would be the last time we would see my mom. So now that it is this time of year again (her birthday, Christmas, and the last time I saw her), I can feel the loss of her so deeply and I'm a complete mess. I just miss her. I miss talking to her. A TON has changed within our family since she died and I wish I could talk to her about all of those things. I want to talk to her about our move, Nate in school, my beautiful and sweet daughter's, my photography, new and old friends, etc. I miss all her updates on family, friends, her "crappy" body, and her stories about when she was a young and able mother. I. miss. her. A lot.
So anyway, I've been extremely sensitive all week and I even cried during Elf. My brother Mike blogged about her today and he did a bike ride in honor of her. You can find his post here. His post is very happy and positive, unlike mine. And he said that mom would want me to be out and having fun and would want me to be happy. Maybe that will be next year for me. I'm just not feeling that way right now. But don't worry, I am going out on a date with Natey tonight and I'm going to do some retail therapy so maybe that will help :) Anyway, to make up for my negativity, I think I'll recycle my post for her birthday last year since it all still holds true. Here it is. I love knowing that she read this and loved it so much that she put it in her personal journal that her friends were helping her compile.
And mom, if you're able to read blogs in heaven or if you're reading over my shoulder as I'm typing away, know that I love you with all my heart and I miss you so deeply. I hope you're dancing and running, and skiing your heart out! Happy Birthday!!
I bought a new lens for my camera and I am in love. I have only used it once so far and was able to get these sweet gems below for Lyla's 3rd birthday pics. I may do other ones but these will do for now :)
After a long week of lots and lots of prep, Lyla's birthday party day finally arrived!! We were originally going to have a "Lollipop" themed party, which Lyla thought was great, but we weren't wild about it. Then one day, Lyla and I were reading a book about Monster's and I thought out loud, "What about a monster party?" Lyla's eyes immediately lit up and she said "Yeah, I want a MONSTER party, yeah!" And so we went to work.
Originally I wanted to go simple with this party. Unfortunately, I went to the wrong place for simple ideas... Pinterest. This site completely took me in the opposite direction and helped me find soo many cute "monster party" idea's that were to die for! Anyway, here are all the details of the big day...
The morning of the party, Nate and I were frantically doing some last minute prep. I had some serious frosting difficulties and didn't have a minute to relax or eat. My wonderful husband thought to make me a smoothie while I was working the cake problems out and as I went to take a sip, the whole thing clumped up and fell right on my face! I looked soo pretty :)
Anyhoo, here is the monster cake...
Since our cake only had about 5 cake pops, we had like a million left over. So we decorated those and used them home with the kids as party gifts. And a big thanks to Nate for helping me with those!
Nate did all the decorating with the black icing, which totally completed them!
When the first kids arrived, their first activity was to go to the "Monster Lab" (I am SOOO sad I did not get any pictures of this!!). Basically, all the kids got to pick out a felt puppet to decorate. We had eyes, eyebrows, mouths, shapes, pipe cleaner, etc., and the mom's were there to help them glue it all together with hot glue guns. The kids were all excited that they got to make their own puppet that they could take home as well.
Most the kids with their puppets...
After the Monster Lab, we went into the back yard to play "Hide the Monster". Basically, we had 2 monsters that we hid in the back yard and the kids were supposed to go find the monster. When they found the monster, they were all supposed to scream all the way back to "home base". I think this was one of the highlights of the party. The kids loved being able to scream and run around.
Explaining the game to the kids...
They were supposed to be facing the house with their eyes closed so they couldn't see where we were hiding the monsters. Plus, my backyard is extremely bare so the monsters were ridiculously easy to find.
Screaming back as they found Cookie Monster.
Screaming coming to home base again...
Tagging my hand at "home" and telling me all about the monsters and where they found them. Next was our "Monster Toss" game.
Nate and I explaining the game...
As it turns out, I should have made more pink bean bags since some girls were upset they didn't have a pink one, haha! Should have known!
I had planned on using this as a photo prop at the party, but totally spaced it. Oh well! At least I got one with Ly.
After the games, we ate lots of pizza and then it was on to presents!
Lyla was so excited for all of her gifts that her friends gave her! She was one spoiled girl!
After presents, it was onto the cake!
Lyla blowing out her candles. I thinks he did a pretty good job of not spitting all over it, too! Haha! :) Also, the frosting on my poor cake started to fall off on part of the side. But my friend Laura made me feel better by saying it made it look more "monsterish". Thanks for the positivity, Laura!
This cake was amazing!! I don't take any credit for it either. Just two awesome recipes that I had at another little girl's birthday party a couple weeks before. When I had it there, I knew that was the recipe I wanted to use for this cake and it was soooo yummy!! Lyla had such a fun time at her party and with all of those friends of hers! We missed a few other friends that couldn't make it for one reason or the other (plus, her other friends in IL), but we knew they wished they could come.
Lyla LOVED her Cookie Monster backpack (the one we used in Hide the Monster). We got that thing for 5 bucks at the one and only Walmart... great find!
Me and the birthday girl!
And this little chicklett slept throughout the entire party and woke up as the last guests were leaving! Here she is enjoying some leftover pizza. Anyway, I ended up doing a whole lot more than I originally planned for but all of it was so worth it! I had fun doing the prep, and Lyla had fun helping me with it (especially the bean bags). Plus, sewing those puppets really helped me get comfortable with my sewing machine (only my 2nd time using a sewing machine, ever!) and so now I feel so much more confident using it! I am so happy about that!! And the bottom line was that all had a great time, especially Lyla! Oh, and a BIG thanks to Emily for taking pictures for us!!!!