Wednesday, April 23, 2014

an Easter recap

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I'm not sure you'll remember, but I caught a little flack for the contents of our Easter baskets last year. I've never thought I was going overboard and I try really hard not to fall victim to comparison when it comes to how we provide for our children. Making everybody happy is too difficult, so I try to make sure my children are happy and that Josh & I are comfortable with the level of giving for Easter and Christmas. I do not want to instill a sense of entitlement in my children and we definitely say no when it comes to the "gimmes", but I do want them to know how to receive and enjoy good gifts, how to experience gratitude and real joy over getting something that you really wanted!

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In Sophie's basket this year, there was: a gardening bag with accessories, athletic shorts, a new water tumbler, sunglasses, socks for Easter Sunday and lots of Doc McStuffins stuff. Not pictured are three large Melissa & Doug doodle/sticker books that she loves!

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In Ella's basket were: a Melissa & Doug doodle pad, rubberbands and accessories for her Rainbow Loom, flip flops, a new water bottle, wedge sandals for church, athletic shorts and sunglasses.

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I got up pretty early on Easter Sunday morning to start breakfast and iron clothes. I'm always worried that the girls will be early risers on holidays and that I won't get any good pictures. About an hour after I got up, I poked my head into the girls' room and Ella said, "Is it already time to do baskets?!" She wanted to watch a movie! I left the girls in bed for a bit longer until they finally started peeking out of their bedroom door.

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We unpacked our baskets and inspected every item with intermittent squeals and lots of laughter. Sophie was mostly excited about her "running shorts" and Doc McStuffins' Big Book of Boo Boos, while Ella was super enamored with her new sandals. Surely the bunny is real since he brought high heels when mommy said she isn't old enough! She teetered all over our house and church that morning, beaming with pride.

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After much fanfare we managed to find all eighteen eggs, both high and low, tucked away in our living and dining rooms. We only dropped one and thankfully, Beemer didn't eat any for breakfast this year!

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I don't know why I even ask what they want for holiday breakfast anymore, because Josh always requests sausage balls and the girls always ask for piggies. I was most excited about a leisurely morning and the opportunity to finish my whole pot of coffee. The girls wanted breakfast in bed (we moved a TV/DVD player in their room on Saturday), so they jumped under the sheets and finished their movie over breakfast.

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After everybody was taken care of and I was dressed and ready for church, I chained myself to the stove top and made homemade macaroni & cheese for lunch. I didn't have any helpers this year, so I did plenty of taste testing myself. Cheese & coffee go well together, don't you think?!

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The sunlight was streaming right into our favorite place to take Easter Sunday pictures, so this years' aren't the greatest. Either way, these two girls looked mighty pretty for church! This was the first year of no smocks and I was kind of sad about it. Ella picked her own dress out this year when we went shopping a few weeks ago. Gran made a dress for Sophie to wear, but then she got this one in a care package from my aunt last week and had an eleventh hour change of heart.

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Josh and I had the nursery this year during Easter services, so we played with all the littles while their parents enjoyed a musical. We had a room full and they were all well-dressed and excited to tell us all about their Easter basket goodies. After church, we headed straight to my favorite house in the world. I love living in the Rock House, but the Log House is still my favorite place to spend a holiday!

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Can we discuss how adorable these three are? We LOVE our brother cousin and had to get some sweet snuggles and lots of pictures in before lunch. Poppy had to stay after church for a few minutes, but we did manage a fun photo op with Gran. The girls were anxious to get their comfy clothes on and eat lunch before the softball game, but we convinced them to pose for a few more family pics.

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This might be my new favorite family picture. Hoorah for smiling people and lots of pretty sunshine and green leaves. The weather was PERFECT for lunch outside and lots of egg hunting all afternoon long.

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We convinced Sophie to do a quick outfit change and wear her original Easter dress for a few minutes to get this picture of her & Hudson. How cute are they in their bunny outfits?! He did not want to stand still for a picture, so we had to sit him in the chair to even have a hope of capturing this image. My parents' cats were playing in the leaves and he wanted them bad.

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We had such a great time celebrating Holy Week and spending the day with all of our favorite people under one roof. I am so thrilled for spring and warmer weather and lunches at the picnic tables. I love white dress shoes and ruffly socks and new sunglasses. Now we're just counting down the days until Memorial Day when we can do it all again around the pool!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the eggs

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Can somebody please tell me that I'm not the only one who seems to dye eggs at 9 o'clock the night before Easter? K texted me early in the morning to say she felt like a terrible mom -- like we should have something planned for the day to celebrate I laughed and told her that Josh was working at the baseball field, my girls were spending the day with Nana and I was spring cleaning. Not exactly festive, right?!

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What I thought would be a half-day of cleaning house and folding laundry, turned into ten hours of scrubbing floors and moving furniture. Josh was home by lunch and we ate BBQ at the tiny table in the playroom. He helped me finish up the housework and I was finally on my way to the grocery store by 4 o'clock, praying there were still white eggs to be found.

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We had plans to dye some eggs with our traditional $1 Paas egg kit, but Ella wanted to spray paint some, too. I picked up cheap spray bottles in the travel section and we diluted some acrylic paint and gave it a shot. It was a total bust. Ella was disappointed, but still had a great time dipping eggs with her sister.

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Sweet Daddy joined us at the table and, of course, had the girls mixing colors by the second round of eggs. I'm such a perfectionist and go out of my way to wipe off the eggs and color coordinate them in the tray so there isn't any cross-contamination and Josh is just dropping them in multiple dye baths willy-nilly. Sometimes I think he intentionally feeds my obsessiveness.

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We wrapped up the egg dyeing party at 8:30, sliding in thirty minutes earlier than we did last year. We cleaned up the table and were preparing for bed when Ella pouted about the failed painting technique again. Instead we whipped out a bottle of pink paint and a tiny paint brush and I started adding their names to the eggs. Before you know it, we had peace signs and flowers and rugged crosses to add to the mix.

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Everybody went to bed happy, with smiles on their faces and Frozen on their television. They couldn't wait for morning and asked 101 questions about the Easter Bunny's techniques and how he would gain entry to the house. I swear my children are beyond neurotic when it comes to strange characters entering the front door! Why wouldn't you want a scary man-sized bunny to bring you candy?!

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The girls fell asleep in no time and the bunny made an early stop by the Rock House. There were lots of prizes to unearth (even a few I had forgotten about) and once the baskets were filled and sitting on the dining room table, I got so excited to see them all put together. Am I the only mom that can just sit and stare at Easter/Christmas loot waiting to be found? That last moment before bedtime on a holiday eve is one of my favorite times of the year!

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By the time I went to bed, there were eighteen brightly colored eggs tucked all over the house, waiting to be found on Easter morning. They were on high shelves, behind picture frames and nestled in pillar candles. Everyone and everything was waiting for morning. Sunday was coming!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter + Labor Day

Have I mentioned lately how unbelievably amazing my extended family is? I love Easter for so many reasons, but being able to spend the day with this bunch certainly ranks near the top. We had a superb pot-luck lunch and spent the afternoon outside enjoying the gorgeous weather. My mom says she remembers playing a family game of softball after Easter lunch when she was a little girl. She told me earlier in the week that everyone participated -- young and old -- and that they played in the pasture in front of her uncle's house. She asked everyone to wear comfies to Easter lunch this year and we migrated to their front yard for a family game as soon as our bellies were full.

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That photograph isn't even of everybody who spent the afternoon with us. It's just those she convinced to run around and look ridiculous. There were a few of us on the sidelines taking pictures, kissing boo boos and cheering on the runners. What's a competitive sport without cheerleaders, right?

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I will admit I was a bit skeptical about this "sporting" event, but we had such a great time. Nobody kept score, I have no idea how many innings were played, players swung long after their third strike and I distinctly remember seeing people round bases even after their balls were caught mid-air.

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This pretty girl had a blast! She sat in my lap for a minute because she "didn't want to be on a team anymore", but she quickly swung the bat and rounded bases with Gran again. We laughed because she clearly doesn't know the difference between a home run and a touchdown. We have work to do!

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Softball wasn't the only fun thing we did. There was so much food to be eaten -- lunch and snacks alike. We watched the kids hide and find Easter eggs, there were books to read, card games upstairs and even an impromptu fashion show.

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A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity by Influenster and Paramount to enjoy a complimentary download of their newest release Labor Day. They were looking for people to host viewing parties and enjoy an advanced preview of the movie. I had already downloaded the book on my Kindle and was hoping to finish it before the movie came out on DVD, so this was seriously perfect timing! What better weekend to have a movie party than one where we were already together and spending time with our favorite people?!

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In case you're not familiar with Labor Day, it's based on the best-selling novel by Joyce Maynard. The synopsis from IMDB reads, "Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited." 

Josh and I usually agree on most movies, but I must admit we didn't see eye to eye on this one. I wouldn't put this in the chick-flick category, by any stretch. It's definitely a drama with a little hint of romance and mystery, but I think it will certainly appeal more widely to a female audience. The story is set in 1987, but frequents flashbacks to the late sixties and early seventies. The film is a beautiful one and I loved the set design and how the story was treated as a whole. The casting was wonderful -- Kate Winslet plays Adele and does a great job of being thoroughly depressed and downtrodden. The story was peculiar from the start. Adele & her son pick up an escaped convict at their monthly trip to the grocery store. What starts out as a few hours of rest for the drifter, ends up being a holiday weekend spent as a make-shift family. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around them accepting a perfect stranger -- a convicted felon no less -- into their home, but by the end I was sort of in love with Josh Brolin's character myself and started feeling so sorry for the lives of everyone in the movie! I loved how they treated the ending and there were definitely a few tears shed on my part. 

I would definitely recommend the movie to all of my girlfriends and maybe the most sensitive men in my life (hello, dad!), but it might be a bit too romantic and far fetched for the average guy. It's rated PG-13, but there was very little questionable material and I don't recall being turned off by any bad language or innuendo. There is one scene that shows the crime Frank is charged with and another when a handicapped boy is slapped my his mother -- it was by far the hardest part of the movie for me to watch.

Have you read Labor Day? Or watched the film? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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I hope your Easter weekend was equally filled with food, movies, beautiful weather and lots and lots of family! I'll be back tomorrow and Wednesday to recap more fun from our Easter weekend.

I hosted a Labor Day viewing party with my friends and family and Paramount gave me a copy of the movie on Digital HD. I am in no way affiliated with Paramount or its partners and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Why.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard this song for the first time. In college, I had a serious girl crush on Nicole Nordeman. I was in my sophomore year and had just moved into a condo with a few other friends. I had bought this CD, but hadn't made it through all of the tracks yet. I was standing in my closet, hanging up laundry as I listened to the words. I remember just sitting down in the floor of my closet, sobbing. Trying to fully grasp the magnitude of a sacrifice I will never begin to understand.

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." 

Galatians 2:20




Thursday, April 17, 2014

throwback thursday // tiny dancer

I am immersed in all things dance related these days. We have two competitions, one photo session and one birthday party under our belt for the year, but have another photo session, out of state competition, recitals and summer camp still to go. I feel like it's turned into my job and let's face it, I pretty much hand over my salary to the studio each month.

Since this is Ella's fifth year to dance, we're buying an anniversary ad in the recital program book this year. They will showcase photographs from each of her years dancing, along with a larger photo of her this year. I've known for months that I needed to look for the images, but I'm clearly a procrastinator. Before dinner last night, I started digging and managed to find two of the four years. Then right before bed I remembered one place I hadn't looked and came across one of the missing years. I went to bed irritated, but woke up with an epiphany this morning and dug out lasts years photographs. How ridiculous is it that NONE of the envelopes, dating as far back as 2010, had ever been opened. I also ran across Santa pics, school pictures and a hospital photographs that had never been distributed. Mom fail. Again. I guess we'll be handing those out at Easter lunch this year!

I absolutely LOVED looking back on these images. She looks exactly the same, but completely different to me in every single one. It is hard to remember her hair ever being that curly -- man I wish it was still like that now. The first photo was taken about three days after Sophie was born. I remember being completely overwhelmed and so thankful for my mom that spring. The crocodile photo is probably my favorite photograph of her. Ever. That massive bun in the third photograph is 100% her hair. She was so paranoid about its size, but the other dancers were jealous of her crazy amount of hair. In last year's photo you can barely tell, but her front two teeth are hanging on by a thread. I notice it immediately -- her smile already looks so different to me. We don't have this year's images back yet, but you can sneak a peek of her individuals here and the group pictures here, here and here.

HOW is my baby so big?!



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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

a weekend recap.

I'm not sure if I told you about our weekend that you would believe we squeezed it all in. I knew by mid-week that it was going to be crazy, but I'm not sure I realized just how little time between events we would have.

Because of the rain, Josh & Cory's baseball team had cram in a ton of area games last week to qualify for the state playoffs. We had been looking forward to a date night for weeks, but they ended up playing a double-header on Friday night instead. I rushed home from work after running some last minute birthday errands and got the girls dressed and packed for their first birthday slumber party. We have such a great group of friends and it worked out great that they would both be invited to the same party. They were super excited and I was kind of thrilled for a few hours of quiet while Josh finished up at the ball field. I dropped them off, stopped by Dollar General for one last birthday party item and rushed home for almost 3 solid hours of party prep in solitude. I got my car cleaned out and packed, cookies made and managed to hop in the shower and fix my hair before Josh came in the door at 9 o'clock. I practically shoved him in the bathroom and we made it to dinner by 9:30. We were starving and it was pretty late for us to be getting started (by our usual standards), but we had a great time eating with K & Cory and were still home and in bed by 11 o'clock. I did manage to get a photo update from the slumber party of Ella crashed out in her sleeping bag with all the other little girls playing all around her. That kid can sleep through anything and when she's ready for bed, there isn't much that can keep her up!

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I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and was at Walmart by 7 o'clock. I never had enough time during the week to finish up all my errands, so I kept running in one or two stores every day until I got it all done! We needed roses for the birthday party and I had one little surprise to pick up for another birthday girl before the day got too crazy. I picked the girls up at 8 and got them dressed and ready and we were at the dance studio to decorate by nine. We had a few extra helpers during set up and I was trying not to be stressed out, but I wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed things a little bit more. By all indications, the party went great and I can't wait to see the photos to see what actually happened?! Fortunately, Sophie had a wonderful morning and I doubt she even realized I was so frazzled. K sent me this one party sneak-peek on Sunday afternoon and I can't wait to see the rest! It might be a few weeks before we get a full recap, but I promise the party details were adorable.

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Did I mention that right in the middle of Sophie's party, Ella had dance pictures taken?! Thank goodness our party was at the studio because she just dressed the part and helped teach Sophie's friends a few new dance moves. Once the party was over, but before I had a minute to breath, I was changing her into her jazz costume and swapping these braids out for crazy hair. We managed to get all three photos taken and were running out the door by 1:15 for our next stop. Let's pause to talk about how beautiful she is...

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I'm pretty sure we squealed into the zoo parking lot on two wheels to celebrate our next sweet friend. The girls reminded me half-way there that they hadn't eaten lunch yet. Mom fail. We survived on cupcakes and bottled water, but had a fabulous time at Braylen's birthday. She and Taz are just one day apart and it was fun (albeit overwhelming) to squeeze both of their parties into one day! This is the only picture I managed to nab of the birthday girls together and it's a miracle I managed to get them looking in the same direction. They are both pretty much on the go all the time!

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After the party, we explored the zoo for another hour before making our way home. We weren't even onto the expressway yet when I saw these two in my rear-view mirror. They crashed pretty much the moment their heads hit the car seats. I grabbed us take-out on the way home and managed to wake Ella up to eat before she went back to bed. Tazzie, on the other hand, could not be roused and was down for the night by 4:30!! The kid slept for FIFTEEN HOURS and that has never happened in her four years, ever.

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Sunday was full, too. We left straight from church to eat lunch with Josh's parents. I barely sat down on the couch after lunch before I was fast asleep. I slept the entire three hours we were there. I admit I felt a little bit bad when Josh woke me up, but we were all exhausted. We drove straight back to church for a meeting and bible study and were finally at home in our pjs, for the first time in three days, by six o'clock. We did a quick recap of our birthday gifts for daddy, since they had been in the car for 36 hours, and then headed to bed.

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I will admit that I stayed up for a few hours and waxed nostalgic about the fact that my baby was going to wake up four years old. It seems like it happened so fast! Josh and I laid in bed looking at baby pictures and watching old videos of her and it seriously brought tears to my eyes. Ahhh, I miss that squishy face!!

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