taz + belly: December 2008


30 December 2008

It was Tuesday, which means it was my last day at home before returning to work and real life. I really enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom. I loved sleeping late and eating doughnuts with Ella for breakfast. I enjoyed watching The Rescuers and Horton Hears a Who today. I even enjoyed being a short-order cook and eating chicken fingers, fries and ketchup AGAIN tonight. I enjoyed living in a dirty house, with remnants of wrapping and Christmas toys lying around... because it meant just one more day of quality time with Josh, Belle* and Beemer. I enjoyed plastic food and invisible tea. I loved videotaping Ella playing with Jaz {her new baby's name} and dancing, cheering and making up songs. I loved watching Jack's Big Music Show and laughing when she tried to remember the words. I loved her tee-teeing on the potty and having very few accidents. I loved that today she wanted a Reese's Cup for success and then asking me {while going potty} "what's the word?" when she couldn't remember what the Reese was called. I love that although all three bunnies look the same, she knows which one is which. She even knows that K gave it to her when she was a tiny baby. I love that she has figured out that Poppy is my daddy, Gran** is my mommy and K is my sister. And that she is still confused by the word husband. I love that I'm off work again on Thursday and can pretend for one more day.

mad at me for snapping pictures while she cooked
{and did a few other things, ahem}
Again with the fury, this time she was reading the bible to Jaz;
but I made her giggle with a tickle.

We finished off the night with some hide and go seek. Under the quilt. Together.

* I call Ella that sometimes, especially when weepy and sentimental. Ask Josh.
** For those of you out of the loop, this is totally pronounced Garan.

Just in case...

you were wondering what we're up to; yesterday we...

slept until almost 9 o'clock {a record for Ella},
ate cheerios and coffee for breakfast,
went to TJMaxx, Old Navy and Gap,
ate lunch at Chipotle,
fought crazy people at Target for Christmas lights and decor,
bought groceries,
had a major meltdown in the dairy department,
forgot to buy an iron {Beemer broke ours earlier in the day},
got a late start on our nap,
read books,
played with our princess castle,
kissed daddy goodbye {he had a basketball game},
put on polka-dotsie pajamas,
cooked chicken fingers and french fries,
ate lots of ketchup,
cried during our first viewing of Charlotte's web {both of us},
and took a silly picture of ourselves.

We LOVE to bowl...

29 December 2008

Sunday night we went bowling at Oak Mountain Lanes after eating a yummy dinner at Cracker Barrell for Pop's birthday. It has become something of a tradition and it is so much fun. Josh & I neither one bowl very well, but we all had a great time. Even Ella got to roll a few and loved it. I guess Josh & I will be taking her some now, she had a blast.

Click the photo for all of the pictures from our night...

Even more Christmas presents

Both my sister and my cousin are getting married in the spring and in our circle of family and friends the best shower to have is the Christmas one. We get together in the weeks after Christmas and give decorations, ornaments and dishes to help the new couple celebrate their first Christmas the following year. I think my shower was the first, but we've given several since then and there will be many to come.

K's shower was this past Saturday and Adrienne's was Sunday. The photos above were my favorites... they are of aprons given by Debi Ezekiel. Adrienne's says, "All my friends are Flakes" and K's says, "Don't get your tinsel in a tangle." Too cute. Click on the respective brides to see the entire album of their party.

Oh... and did I mention on my previous "Christmas" post that clicking on any of the images would take you to the whole shebang??

Peas in Heavenly Peace

28 December 2008

I was up at 6 o'clock on Christmas morning pacing the floors. Ella slept late. Finally at 7, I asked Josh if we could wake her up. Santa had come, stockings had been stuffed, all the lights were on, the cookies were just crumbs, the coffee was brewing and pigs in a blanket were cooling on the stove. When I woke her up I told her that Santa had come and we were wondering where she was. She said, "Mom, I was sleeping in my bed." I asked her if she wanted to go back to sleep or if she was ready for her presents. What do you think she said?

When she saw her presents she said, "Is that my kitchen?" We said yes. "Santa bringed it?" Again, yes. Then she squealed. She wanted to play with every single present as she opened them, so it took a little while. Thankfully Josh & I had opened gifts the night before so that Ella would remain in the spotlight on Christmas morning. She had such a great time looking at each and every thing.

In addition to her pink{ish} kitchen, she got a princess castle. She has really played more with it than anything. It makes music and the princess can sing and dance. She also got the horse-drawn carriage that goes with it. She got TONS of kitchen stuff - an apron and chef's hat, pots and pans, utensils, potholders and food. She got several outfits, some art supplies and a stocking full of fun things.

How cute is this Chef Ella? When she was going through the food that morning she kept asking what everything was. She got to a can of peas and turned to Josh, "What's this?" He told her and she said, "Oh. Like 'peas in heavenly peace'?" How stinking adorable is that?

I know this is turning into "All the cute things my kid said today", but she was really full of funny one-liners and quotable quotes that day. At the end, she was holding a tube of Reese's Cups with a Santa topper. She said, "Santa bringed all this?" We affirmed and she looked at that Santa topper, held him close to her face and said, "Santa, you are a big gul. Thank you and Merry Christmas!"

That's right ladies and gentlemen, Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town!

I was really impressed that Ella was still awake when we got home from my parents' house. It was after 8 o'clock, but thanks to that trusty flashlight, she was wide awake when we got here. She helped her daddy pick out two really pretty cookies for Santa and poured him a glass of milk. Above is a picture of her helping carry it from the kitchen to its perch near the tree.

Beemer really wanted a bite! We were working on putting a table near the tree for Santa's treats and she was standing guard. Santa is lucky that we were paying attention. His cookies could've been gone before he ever had a chance.

Here is Ella saying goodnight to Scout and reminding him that she had been a really good girl. She was hoping Scout would put in a good word for her when Santa came to pick him up. We left him out with our milk and cookies knowing that it was time for him to be reunited with his elf friends and family. We'll miss you Scout!

To Grandmother's House We Go {Part Two}

27 December 2008

After celebrating Josh's parents, we met my family for Christmas communion. This is always one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Our pastor and music minister lead us in communion as a family during a candlelight service. This year Ella was upset about not getting to have juice and a cracker, but she was very good. We had been explaining to her that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and she was worried about not attending a party. During the service she asked Brother John about singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and he was sweet enough to sing with her. All the way home, though, she asked us why nobody else {other families waiting in the sanctuary} came up the steps to sing to baby Jesus and why he wasn't there either?!

Once we return to my parents' house, we always enjoy a snack supper - we all get to contribute to the menu and mom makes our favorites. Just to name a few, we had sausage balls, pigs in a blanket and a home made cheeseball. There was lots of food and we were stuffed!!

Ella enjoyed opening her stocking from Gran & Poppy and was thrilled to see her new pink scooter. Although she is as clumsy and un-balanced as her mommy, she managed to figure it out in no time! K and Cory bought her the pretty Fancy Nancy doll in the first picture. She has carried it around since; she is beautiful and looks just like the illustrations in our books.

She also got a cute horse flashlight that neighs when you turn it on. Although she has one similar to this at Nana's, she's never really understood the concept of a flashlight. Her daddy got in the floor and explained that you use it to look in really dark places. From them on, she was investigating ever crack and crevice in my parents' house. She even shined it on us the entire car ride home.

This year, instead of buying gifts for everyone we decided to draw names and buy for one person each. I had my mother's name and bought her pretty jewelry at Christmas Village. Josh had my dad and we got him a gift card to his favorite on-line computer store. My parent's had K and Cory and they got an island for their kitchen. Cory bought Josh new, hip golf shoes and I got a pretty jewelry dish and a necklace from K. The necklace is from one of my favorite bloggers' etsy shop. I can't wait to wear it!

We finished the evening with The Night Before Christmas read from my dad's childhood story book. Merry Christmas Gran, Poppy, K & Cory!

To Grandmother's House We Go {Part One}

To minimize the travel, drama and hissy fits on Christmas morning, we continue the tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve with our parents and siblings. We start the day at Nana & Cookie's with them, Uncle Bull and Isabella. Nana always cooks up a feast of ham, dressing, homemade macaroni & cheese and lots more. Ella's favorite {and mine, too} is the endless peanut butter fudge, which we got lots of to bring home and share!

Ella & Isabella had such a good time playing together. They were all over the house, eating and opening a mass of presents. For the first Christmas since Ella was born, we managed to get a picture of her with Nana & Cookie. I don't know we have such a hard time with that, but we made a special point to get some group photos this year!

It took Ella & Isabella both FOREVER to open their gifts, but we enjoyed watching the long process. Bella is still little and Ella really struggles with the tape. I had to unseal everything for her and then she could pull the paper off. We got lots of great things for Christmas! Ella got a LeapFrog computer console that connects to the television and several games. She got a trunk of dress-up clothes with pom-poms that she was thrilled with. She got a holiday Barbie, clothes and big girl boots. There was MUCH more, but how can I list it all?

One of Ella's favorite toys last year was a drumset that I bought while in NYC. She loved it and we still bang around on it every once in awhile. I was thrilled to find it at Target this year for Isabella and she never put it down. She walked around with shakers and drumsticks all afternoon. It was so much fun watching her enjoy it. I hope her parents don't kill me for buying such a noisy toy!
That is a picture of Sweet Daddy trying on Uncle Bull's Bear hat. Doesn't he look silly? Ella has a death grip on some of her stocking stuffers - Barbie bubble bath and lip gloss. What girl wouldn't be thrilled with that? The big kids got lots of great presents, too. Josh got some Alabama gear and memorabilia, along with an Academy Sports giftcard and movies. I got an Alabama shirt {since I was the only one in my family without one}, a Latta family cookbook that is awesome, and a new hat/gloves/scarf set. As a family we also got front row circus tickets that we are all VERY excited about!!

Merry Christmas Cookie, Nana, Bull & Isabella!

Gifts from Scout

26 December 2008

Despite the fact that Josh really loathed the elf in the beginning, he's the first to admit Scout has been a huge hit around our house this holiday season. For those of you not following along, he's made an appearance in the following places: our Christmas tree, Ella's stocking, the Christmas card tree, a wreath in Ella's room, eating Reese's cups in the kitchen, coloring in the playroom, at Gran's house and multiple places in the bathroom {hence our mega-potty success over the past few days}. She was so enamored with him, that we've been really concerned about how she would react when Santa took him home on Christmas Eve.

To ease the pain, we decided maybe it was a good idea for Scout to bid farewell with a gift. Not only would this remind her that Scout was very sweet and looking out for her, but she'd get to open an early present at home and hopefully the gifting would distract from his journey to the North Pole. Lucky for us, Santa brought Mommy, Daddy & Ella all new Christmas pajamas for the big day. Ella was very excited with her "candy-mint" pajamas {that's her hybrid word for candy canes & peppermints}. Josh got cute reindeer flannels and I got pajama pants with tiny Christmas trees and a cute green t-shirt. We're all geared up for Santa's big scene!

Incremental Christmas

So I just looked at my camera and it says I took 128 pictures Wednesday and Thursday... and I don't really think I took enough. Since there is no way I can paint the perfect picture in the course of one post, I'll be breaking it up a bit over the next several days. Just know we had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you enjoy the recap!

Wednesday morning we woke up to presents from Scout {more on those later} and a strong desire to bake Santa some cookies. Since I haven't yet received the recipe for mom's excellent cookies and she didn't send any dough home with us, we were sort of on our own.

Instead of slaving away on such a busy day, I bought a sleeve of sugar cookie mix and tested it. It took us several tries to realize that cookie cutters just weren't "cutting it". We ended up dropping dough balls and decorating those instead. Ella had a great time and I even convinced her to share those cookies with Nana and Santa. Huge accomplishment here, people.

Despite our rough start, the cookies turned out beautiful and yummy, and Ella was pretty darned proud of herself. We wrapped up some for Nana, plated some for Santa and were off to wake up sweet daddy. Time to open those surprises that Scout left!

Merry Christmas-Eve-Eve

23 December 2008

Tonight we're watching Christmas movies. How the Grinch stole Christmas and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas to be exact. These photos were our poor attempt to capture the cuteness of my child in her Christmas 'jamas. In the first photo we have eyes closed, the second one we're swinging bunny and in the third we're squealing "Santa's coming tomorrow!!" Oh well.

Tomorrow we're baking cookies for Santa, bidding Scout farewell, sharing Christmas communion and spending time with grandparents. Enjoy your holiday and remember the true gift of the season. God Bless.

p.s. Although we've had two accidents today, we've more than made up for it over the last three hours. She's used the potty successfully five times since I got home at 6:30. Yeah, Ella!

Merry Christmas, Alston

22 December 2008

Does it get much sweeter than this? Okay, it does. Below. Look at those cheeks! And those eyes! Oh, and did I mention the princess holding him?!

Tonight our great friends Beth & Patrick came by for dinner to celebrate Christmas before life gets hectic and they head out of town. We were so excited to spend several hours visiting with them and snuggling up with that sweet baby boy. He was a dream and let us all hold him, even Ella. We managed to get a few snaps in of the two of them and boy am I impressed when Ella smiles on cue for the camera. I think she's too afraid of being bad at this point... Christmas only being two days away and all.
Below is a random picture from last night that I find hilarious. Two girls, wearing polka-dotsies and pony tails, snuggling on the couch watching The Little Mermaid, our new favorite. In fact, every time I talked to Josh or Ella today I could hear Ariel in the background. What a sweet daddy. Did I mention that the two of them were home alone today? AND they went Christmas shopping. AND we're potty training? What a guy! They had a great time, bought me lots of presents and only had two accidents. I'd say that was a pretty good day...

Great Job, Ella!

21 December 2008

This post is gonna stray far from our usually
Silent-Sunday posts, but it's for good reason.

Finding the elf here yesterday was a great
success. We got squeals of laughter and she was
really impressed with my Scout's coloring skills.

Putting Scout here would have been a great
idea, had I known Josh would bath her in the
sink this morning before church.

The kitchen sink, however, wouldn't have
led to this extreme excitement twice today...

... when we put Scout here!!!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Having
Scout in the TP basket inspired two very
successful trips today, both of which were
followed up with candy from the stocking
stash. I think Scout might have found a new
home. Please pray this continues to work!!

::UPDATE:: The title of this post was inspired by sweet
Ella, who both times said, "I did a great job mommy!!"

::UPDATE 2:: Make that three times!

::UPDATE 3:: Okay, I hate to say this... but 5 times!!!
And one of those times was in public. I am SO very
excited. Maybe we've finally figured it out - I'm praying.

Merry Christmas Blog-Friends!

20 December 2008

our Christmas card {front}

our Christmas card {back}
I don't know why the bible verse is WAY off center here.
I promise on the printed version it looks perfect :).

Since the posting might be few and far between in the next week, I wanted to share our Christmas card with you. Many of you will get one in the mail (although it might be Wednesday or even Friday before you see it... come on, I live with a two-year-old), but for those of you who won't, I wanted you to see it and know that we are wishing you a Merry Christmas from the rock house.

We have lots to do this week. Fellowship with family. Bake more cookies. Wrap more presents. Take a token shopping trip amongst the crazies. With Ella in tow. Write letters to Santa. Hunt our friendly elf (who was coloring a picture this morning!!). Watch Christmas movies. Pray the gifts that are arriving in the mail actually get here on time. During all of this preparation I don't know how much blogging will occur. Maybe a lot. Maybe none. Trust that I'll give you a full recap on the 26th if that happens.

Have a WONDERFUL holiday season,
A Merry CHRISTmas,
And a VERY Happy New Year!

Cookies for Santa

18 December 2008

In case you don't know this, my mom makes the best cookies in the world. Hands down. No exceptions. She makes them for everyone, especially around the holidays. Some people like icing, some don't. I'm not picky, just give me the cookies.

Today, she and Ella baked cookies for Heidi and Santa Claus. How adorable are they in matching aprons? AND as if a baking project wasn't cool enough, Scout made a surprise appearance there this afternoon. From what I hear, Ella was beside herself with excitement. It isn't everyday that your magic Elf travels to Gran's house without you knowing it. The story of his amazing appearance was the first thing I heard when I got there to pick her up. Immediately following was the most precious telling of the birth of Christ I've ever heard. "Mommy, Mary named her baby Jesus! See the star?"

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