Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday's List

I had been doing really good. I made myself a little blog calendar to keep up with post ideas and a schedule so that I wouldn't inadvertently drop off the face of the blog again. Oops. I actually had posts planned for three days a week through the end of the year and then I just didn't write them. Last week, I was so excited about our girls trip that I neglected pretty much everything. Then this week I was trying to get my life back in order, celebrate my birthday and get us all ready to go out of town for the holiday. It's a miracle that I've squeezed it all in, but with vacation on the horizon and lazy days ahead I am excited to get back on the blogging train. Nothing much momentous happened this week, so instead of multiple posts I decided a list was in order to get you all caught up!

ONE: So, my birthday was yesterday!! It's weird to be thirty-five, because I completely don't feel like it. I'm thinking we're still college aged newlyweds with a long life ahead of us and then I realize that was a long time ago. There is an upside to being a grown-up, though. I'm in control of the credit card and I buy fabulous gifts. I was long overdue for a phone upgrade, so I picked up the iPhone 6  a few weeks ago and then might have bought myself a pair of Tory Burch Revas at Nordstrom Rack. 

Thursday doesn't make for a very exciting celebration, so I bought myself Chick-fil-A for breakfast, went to a yummy lunch with my friend from work, picked up Urban Cookhouse for dinner and sent Josh to get a chocolate milkshake at 9 o'clock. My day seriously revolved around good food. My best friend texted me at 3:17 in the morning so she wins the prize for first birthday wish of the day! After that, my phone pretty much rang off the hook and I got sung to multiple times throughout the day.


The real celebration is today and I should probably hate that we aren't doing something kid-friendly, but my husband completely surprised me with a fun night out on the town! We are headed out to see a band play at a really fun venue, eating a fabulous dinner and staying the night in town. I have to work again tomorrow, so I'm thankful that we can enjoy a lazy morning and a big breakfast and I don't have to dread a long drive into the office. Husbands for the win!

TWO: Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week?! I know people say this all the time, but I feel like this year really got away from me. I think part of it was my work schedule during the first part of the year and then life just never seemed to settle back down after that. Since I didn't get to join my family at the beach for our annual vacation, I've been looking forward to this week since June. We are taking the RV to the mountains on Sunday and enjoying the entire week out of town. It's always a little weird not to cook Thanksgiving lunch, but Cracker Barrel does a bang up job and I won't be complaining while I read a book by the campfire. Nope, not at all. The girls and I packed for hours last night and you would think we were moving out of our house!! I hope to wear sweats as much as possible, finish up some Christmas card orders, read everything on my Kindle and get our family photo shoot knocked off the list.

THREE: Did you see this video on Instagram? You can always watch Sophie in action by searching the #tazvod hashtag on IG. She keeps us in stitches on a regular basis and I always have a camera roll full of goodies to share. She and her daddy were rocking out to Pearl Jam a few days ago and they sent me this video. I die.


FOUR: Christmas shopping. Have you done that yet? I'm pretty much done with the girls except for a few things that I plan to order after Thanksgiving. I was really struggling with what to get them this year, but stumbled upon THE MOST AMAZING GIFT OF ALL TIME. I cannot wait to share with you on Christmas morning, but I'm keeping tight-lipped so as not to spoil the surprise. I still have a few gifts to pick up once I'm back in town, but it's a good feeling to have most of it knocked out. 

There isn't much wrong with this little moment. #justignorethatrolloftoiletpaper #tazandbellychristmas #tazstrikesagain

I'll be traveling for work the first week in December, which puts a huge cramp in our Christmas tree decorating plans. We always pick it up the day after Thanksgiving and this year we'll be waiting two weeks longer than usual. I did go ahead and get most of my other decor up so that we could enjoy it for a little bit longer, but I'm still kind of depressed about the tree. I might have to let it linger a little bit longer this year. Would you judge me if my tree was still up on Martin Luther King Day?!

FIVE: This is why I love my family. My MIL sent a group text out this morning and this is what followed. Josh had us all in stitches for several hours.

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SIX: I need some serious book recommendations, friends. My Kindle was virtually empty this morning and it was making my heart race. I usually have 25+ books at any given time, since I just buy them as I see something that looks good. When I bought the new phone, I started fresh and I'm worried I might run out before my vacation ends! I did download this book today and I'm going to pick this one up in hardback on my way home from work tomorrow. I've also heard great things about this one. Any other recommendations?! I have no idea what Tunnel Vision is about (it was free and sounded interesting) and clearly I have plenty of John Green on tap. I need to read something light and fluffy in between those, though, or I'll spend my entire vacation feeling depressed.


Okay, that's all I've got. Have a fabulous weekend with your people and I'll be back to share some actual posts next week!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stop, Drop & Selfie

You form all kinds of friendships over the course of a lifetime. There is the default sister-friend that you shared a bathroom with and who stole your clothes. There is your oldest friend who toddled next to you in diapers and knows all of your secrets. There is the church friend who has prayed alongside you and encourages your faith. There is the college friend who watched you do some things you probably shouldn't have and still let you sleep in her bed. I have had the pleasure of knowing so many of these amazing friends over the last thirty-five years. 

As luck (or divine intervention) would have it, some of the most important friendships in my life are by chance. I find myself part of this group of girls that might not otherwise have crossed paths. My sister, who as hard as I fought it growing up, is one of my very best friends. Wives of my husband's childhood friends. A neighbor. My sister-in-law. A dear friend that I met thanks to the internet. THE INTERNET. Isn't it crazy that making friends like that is even possible? It's like six degrees of separation or something, because everyone knows someone else's brother or sister or friend.

As I quickly approach my birthday, I can't help but think of how my life has been changed by these girls. We stand in solidarity when our sister is hurting. We pray when her life suddenly takes an unexpected turn. We celebrate holidays together and teach each other and learn from each other. I am so blessed to call them my own. We have struggled over the last couple of months to come together in any regular fashion for bible study. Because, children. We are at football practice or dance rehearsal or at home soothing teething babies. But we try and that is maybe the most important thing. We try to spend time together because we always feel recharged and refreshed afterwards and these girls know just what to say at the moment when I run out of words.

We went to the mountains together this past weekend. No children or husbands, no Bible study literature, just loads of luggage and some really funny stories.

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We were, of course, an hour late leaving on Thursday night and then we spent a few more hours eating dinner together and laughing when the waitress brought us this napkin. I didn't really think the photo through when I shared it on Instagram, so I'm hoping that Mike didn't get too many late-night telephone calls from our husbands. We were so late getting to our cabin that night and got turned around more than a few times before realizing we had been driving past our rental for half an hour. It was after midnight and we were exhausted and swore we were going straight to bed, but we sat by the fire for hours and talked in the bed long after that.

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After waking up to snowflakes, we decided to fill up on breakfast and run out for groceries and supplies (fuzzy slippers, anyone?) in case the weather got worse. We walked around town for a few hours, rode a mountainside roller coaster {click here to see} and decided on appetizers for a late lunch. All eight of us ordered something different from the menu and we shared. Best. Decision. Ever.

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After Beth took that photo of us on the street, we decided that to "Stop, Drop & Selfie" was a necessary thing at almost every place we went. I'm sure we held up traffic more than a few times, but these pictures are priceless. I can't look at them without remembering exactly what we were talking about to cause those smiles.

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Jen decided this flat-billed hat should be documented, so we all joined in with our favorites from the gift shop. There might also have been "honeymooning in Gatlinburg" tshirts that were abused. I expected to be yelled at by the management at any moment.

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On Saturday morning we started off slow, with breakfast by the fire and GameDay on the television. We all happen to be Alabama football fans, so there were no hurt feelings or rivalries among us. We cheered together all day long. We had lunch at a ridiculous restaurant and I'm sorry that my hat/sign wasn't as funny as some of the others. It was cringe-worthy, so we'll just blur it for the sake of your eyes. I couldn't resist the photo, though, because this face pretty much expresses my feelings exactly.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in our pajamas, cheering on the Tide and went only a little bit crazy when we pulled of that win. I'm not sure if eight girls have ever danced that hard in response to a football victory. I also can't begin to count the times the following conversation was had: 

ME: You remember that time we beat Mississippi State?!
FRIEND: You mean that time they were number one? Yes!

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It may have taken eight hours to get home Sunday afternoon and some serious virtual Tetris skills to get that luggage back in the trunk, but despite the rain and the traffic and the over-eating, I had the best day. The group text message hasn't stopped quite yet and the photographs on my phone make me laugh out loud every single time I scroll through them. 

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I'm not sure it's acceptable to wait twelve whole months to do that again and I promise next time I'll wear pants. Pretend you're a camper, friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Letters

Dear Small Town,
You know how some teenage girls dream of big cities and moving far, far away? I don't ever remember doing that. I'm sure I had visions for how my life would turn out that might not exactly mirror what I see today, but I never lamented my smaller than average circle. I dreamed of wide open spaces, red barns and family.


Untitled        Meet Snowflake (also known as the newest addition to our college fund) and his mom, Marley. He's one week old today and the girls and I decided to head over to the barn and pay him a visit! ��❄️

Dear Pop & Granmom,
Your house was one of my most favorite places to spend time as a child. The vast number of sand buckets, filled with strawberries, that we toted up the front porch steps were too many to count. I remember lazy days on the screened porch, too tall sycamore trees and rope swings. Some of my favorite stories still revolve around fishing in the pond and hearing Pop call the cows. 

Dear Marley,
You did good. First time mamas are always fun to watch and that doesn't change just because you're a cow. We tried so hard to get a close up of you and that baby, but you were showing us who was boss and keeping yourself between us and the baby at all times. 

Dear Snowflake,
I hope you aren't traumatized by your name. The girls had settled on Lulu, but were surprised to find you a bull when we arrived! You are bright white and Pop was thinking we should call you Snowball, but we went with Snowflake instead. I'm sorry your mom pooped on your head while you were nursing. I can see that might be a little hard to deal with. My girls thought it was pretty much the best thing that happened all day.

Dear pastures and blue skies and crisp air, 
Thank you for a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Halloween Recap

If you've been reading here for any amount of time, you might remember that we usually head to our church's annual Trunk or Treat to celebrate Halloween. Last year we partnered with another local church to celebrate, but this year we didn't host anything at all. There is a part of me that is so sad when established traditions screech to a halt, but this year we were able to squeeze our week with so many other fun things that we didn't have time to be sad.

First up was "Tappy Halloween" at our dance studio. The competition teams don't participate, so I didn't get to watch Ella dance, but we did get to observe the little girls and have a special snack after class. Sophie was a mermaid for Halloween this year. We bought her costume over the summer at the beach and she has been so excited to wear it all year. Since it kind of looks like a ballet costume, it was perfect for class.

Can you tell she was happy to see me there? This is the cheeky grin I got almost every time I pointed my camera in her direction!

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If you didn't notice already, 7 of the 16 girls in her class were Elsa (if you haven't seen the drinking game meme going around you should google that now). It was funny to see them all lined up in a row because NONE of those seven girls were wearing the same costume. Of course, we were in the car approximately 7 seconds after class dismissed when Soph asked if she could just wear her Elsa dress up for Halloween this year?!

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We got to watch them do a few dances and activities before the party began. They did a cute routine to the theme song from Ghost Busters (which Soph is convinced says "Go Busters!") and then marched in a circle to another cutesy song and got to show us a few ballet moves one at a time. Again with the grin.

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These two were mostly excited about the candy. They barely said a word or glanced in our direction while they were scarfing down the goods. We did manage a few photos of them together, but you'll notice that they rarely look at the camera AND smile at the same time. At least they are both looking in the same general direction this time. Fortunately, Jen got a great picture of them together and it only took us about 18 months to accomplish!

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At school last week, it was drug free week (or something, I can't quite remember what they called it) and the girls got to dress up every day. I wish I had gotten a picture of them every day, but since Josh gets them ready most mornings I didn't always get to see them. Monday was crazy sock day, Tuesday they wore sunglasses, Wednesday it was hats, Thursday was camo day and on Friday they got to dress up as a storybook character (a.k.a. Halloween costumes). Ella has been saying she wanted to dress up like Dorothy for months. Gran made her beautiful dress and I found her sparkly red slippers at Walmart! We had a wig for her to wear (I was Dorothy several years ago), but she didn't like the way it looked, so we just french braided her own hair. I didn't want Sophie to wear a glorified ballet leotard to school, so we pulled out this pink costume and sent her to school as the owl in Hello, Harvest Moon. She wanted to be the pink owl last year, so it worked out great!

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Then a cold snap came through and we realized that she couldn't wear her mermaid costume on Halloween night either! She was just as excited about being the owl again, so we freshened her up, added some lip gloss and were good to go! I was so thrilled that both girls ended up in handmade costumes this year anyway, that's pretty much my favorite thing.

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We headed to the same local Trunk-or-Treat as last year and took pictures with some of our very best friends. This church is where Ella goes several Wednesdays a month for a missions class, so she saw lots of people that she knew.

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Brother Cousin and his parents met us there and he was so much fun to watch! He was pretty enamored with the lollipops and a certain Halloween pencil. We were so surprised to see our Pop & Granmom hosting a trunk and they had some pretty special prizes for us to add to our buckets.

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We tried our best to get some pictures of the kids together after we finished grabbing candy, but they were over-excited and hopped up on candy, so we weren't exactly successful on that front.

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These are some of my favorites, but they prove how difficult it is to get an 16 month old to hold hands with two stinky girls. Hey, at least they were all looking in the same direction!

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I did manage to get one super good picture with my girls (thank you, K). I told Josh he was off the hook after our porch step photo op, so I didn't even bother asking for a picture here. I generally make him pose way too many times over the course of a holiday, so I was trying to be kind.

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After we had gotten as much candy as possible in one stop, we headed off to a Halloween party to finish off the night. Jennifer had joked earlier in the week that her husband was throwing a last minute party and it turns out he wasn't kidding! Since we live in a pretty rural area, my girls had never been trick or treating door to door, so we knew they were in for a treat. Of course, the party was adorable and we spent some time around the fire warming our hands and melting marshmallows for s'mores. The real treat, though, was a hayride through a neighborhood a few streets over for trick or treating. There were about 10-12 kids on the trailer and we joked that the houses were going to start flipping their porch lights off when they realized how many kids were headed their way!

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It was hard to get any good pictures, but we would drop them off at a house and then drive alongside them as they walked door to door. My girls were so enamored with the process and got way more candy than we know what to do with.

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We had planned to hang out around the fire a bit more, but by the time we got back to their house these girls were so tired and Ella's ruby red slippers were starting to take their toll. Josh and I stopped to get gas on the way home and this was the scene in my back seat. I joked that they were asleep before we ever got out of the driveway!

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We usually eat candy before bed on Halloween, but they didn't even wake up when we changed them into pajamas. They slept late on Saturday morning and it wasn't until almost lunch that they remembered the candy. We sorted through it, tossed everything that we wouldn't eat and put it all in one big bowl. We let them each keep one type of treat from their buckets before combining it, so they each had a ziploc bag full of Reese's Cups that they didn't have to share. We all had some candy for lunch and then E was so exhausted that she fell asleep in her bed before noon (this may have been prompted by a game on the iPad where her daddy beat her score handily). Not only did she sleep with her favorite childhood bunnies (background story here, here and here), but she slept with her candy bag close by. I'm guessing she was concerned Sophie might finish off her own bag and move on to Ella's!

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It was such a different Halloween for us this year, but we all had such a good time and I told Josh before bed that it might have been my favorite one yet. There isn't much better than friends, new and old, and happy little girls.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Letters

Dear October, Where the heck did you go? I feel like I blinked and you were gone. While we did Halloween night up right, there were so many things that we missed. We never made it to the pumpkin patch this year and we didn't carve or paint any jack-o-lanterns. Fortunately, I don't think my girls even realized the error of our ways.

Dear Scrooges, I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion about Christmas and when it's appropriate to begin decorating or singing along with the radio or whatever. I welcome Christmas music whenever the radio stations want to start playing it. Thanksgiving is fine, but so is Halloween. I do kind of hate seeing decorated trees in the stores in early October, but there is a tiny part of me that understands. When I looked at our calendar for November and early December this year, I just don't know when I'll fit it all in! We gave our house a deep cleaning on Saturday and we'll start digging out the holiday boxes this week. I'm not apologizing, we just want to enjoy it as long as possible. Thanksgiving will get it's proper celebration, I promise, but twinkle lights and evergreen might just be present. Don't judge.

Dear Girls' Weekend, Why are you still two weeks away? I love my family so much, but I am so excited about getting away with you all for three whole days. I don't care if we ever leave the cabin, I'm excited about only bathing, feeding and caring for one person the entire weekend. I hated missing our beach weekend this year, but a weekend in the mountains might be just what the doctor ordered.

Dear Kitchen, I put you to pretty good use this weekend, no? Once I got my house cleaned all I could think about was warm comfort foods. We started with this soup on Saturday afternoon and there is still plenty left to enjoy for lunch for a few more days. We had breakfast with our Sunday School class the next morning and I already had everything I needed for baked apples. They are just as good for dessert as they are for breakfast! Last night we had a Thanksgiving Dinner at church, too, so I whipped up some quick roasted veggies to eat with our chicken and dressing. We ate way too much over the last few days.

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Dear Fast Food, When am I going to learn my lesson? We went almost three weeks without eating at a restaurant and then spent the last week making up for it. It was a result of poor planning and being lazy, but it never fails to leave it's mark. I've been so sick for the last 24 hours and I know it's all the wheat and extra sugar. Please remind me to avoid you at all costs.

Dear Design Clients, Please forgive my absence. I haven't forgotten about your projects, I've been doing the best I can. I had some minor technical difficulties over the past few weeks, so I'm playing catch up. There are super cute birthday party invitations and Christmas cards to come!

Dear Ankle, Get it together. You're holding up so well when I'm running, why does walking give you such problems? I need you to act somewhat normal at all times. There are some long runs in my future and I need you to be reliable and strong. Seriously.

Dear Gone Girl, I really really want to see you before you leave the theater. Unfortunately, SD refuses to hit the movies during football season and I feel silly at the movies all by myself. Any takers?


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from these three darlings to yours! We have lots of fun planned for today -- it's book character day at school, we're "Trunk or Treating" at a local church and then headed to a Halloween party with some great friends. We're hoping your day is as spook-tacular as ours!

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