Christmas in a nutshell

Christmas with kids is so magical. I think it's the combination of everything- twinkly lights everywhere, unlimited hot chocolate, unwavering belief, family traditions- it makes my heart skip a beat. 

Some things I want to remember about December:

 One of the traditions we've carried on and sort of tweaked from my childhood is December 1st! Where we make cookies and get new Christmas jammies. It's both delicious and cozy. Last year I found a book called The Pajama Elves that we read and then their new jammies are "mysteriously" delivered! Jillian was especially impressed that her jammies were made with some gold thread- it was magic thread in her opinion.
The first real snow! Olivia's face says it all...those girls couldn't wait to get suited up that day and roll around in it all! I happily watched from indoors wrapped in a blanket with a mug of cocoa.

There is still work to be done in the snowman department...to their credit, it's not like I grew up building these, so I'm not entirely sure of the best method either! But it didn't matter- they were proud nevertheless.

Normally I try to pack in as much Christmas related hooplah as I can in December to make it last just a little longer, but this year I didn't have that kind of energy (thanks fetus). Though I almost didn't mind at all because we got to pick a few of our favorite things to go do and savor all of the little things about Christmas and really enjoy our outings. One such outing was seeing the lights on Temple Square! It was packed (always) and freezing (of course), but the display there is always beautiful. It also helped that we got some hot, delicious mini donuts afterward from the Art City Donuts food truck! 

 Decorating gingerbread houses at one of our family Christmas parties was Jillian's favorite! She is such a crafter and was so meticulous and detailed about every single piece of candy that went on her house. By the time she was done, every square inch of that board was covered! It was one of those things that we had to leave on the counter and admire for days and that I had to throw away after she went to bed then hope she didn't notice the next morning...you know those kinds of projects.
Olivia was just really happy to see at a table full of unwrapped candy!

 On Christmas Eve, the girls and I started the day by cleaning (my new favorite parenting trick ever is to say "Santa won't deliver new toys if..." pretty much the whole month of December- it made clean-ups a breeze). So we had to prep the house for Santa. ;-) Then we decorated sugar cookies and arranged them on a plate with carrots for Santa and his reindeer. That night we went to Grandma & Dave's house for dinner and presents! One of my favorite things was that Olivia got some animal figurines and one of them was a kangaroo, but she didn't know what it was called so she just referred to it as a "boing"! 

The whole ride home from Grandma's, Jillian was using an app on my phone that can call or text Santa, to make sure he had everything that was on her list. She was very worried that she never actually mailed her letter, so she needed something "express". 

And of course, Christmas morning! We put the stockings in our girls room before we go to bed (a tip I picked up from my parents), that way when they wake up it keeps them entertained and in their rooms for a little bit so we, the parents, get to sleep for a few more minutes! Plus it's really fun to gradually wake up and hear their "ooos and aaahs" coming from the next room.  

 This was the first year we didn't have our usual big Christmas brunch, the way I always did it growing up, because our church starts at 11! But we embraced Christmas dinner instead and I think it turned out just fine! I put together a little video of our day:

All in all it was a wonderful month- as always! Though to be completely selfish I AM glad it's over, because as the weeks went by I finally started feeling human again (thanks to finally getting to that second trimester)- plus we have some really fun things to look forward to in 2017! All good things...all good things.
Merry Christmas! 


tacos, fetus, & puking: an update

A few disclaimers before reading:
1. Don't read this if you are easily grossed out by bodily functions. Sorry. I grew up with endless stories from the ER and lots and lots of potty humor (blame Dr. Dad)- it runs deep in my veins. I am phased by nothing and farts are always funny.
2. Just because I complain a lot these days doesn't in anyway shape or form mean I am not super excited and extremely grateful to be bringing another life into the world! Because I am- both- very complainy and very grateful. Don't tell me I can't be both. ;-)
Okay. Moving on. 

 Baby number thrreeeeeee! I still can't wrap my head around that. I've heard the transition from 2 to 3 is the hardest- and then after that it's kinda like "Meh, what's one more?" Haha! I guess time will tell. Jillian is beyond excited to have another baby in the family. She's already decided it's a boy and that his name will be Arnold or Wes. (..Arnold?) I'm currently almost 14 weeks so we'll find out the gender in another couple of weeks! Then I guess we can debate that Arnold thing a little more if needed...
She also asks me at least once a day if it's time for the baby to come out yet. This is going to feel like one reaaallllyyy long car ride if she keeps that up. ("Are we there yet?!").

It's the getting there part that's the hardest though. I'm not one of those happy, glowing pregnant people. Well...unless you count the glow from the porcelain toilet reflecting off of my pale face as I heave into it. Then I gots it glowin' on. I would rather deliver 5 times than be pregnant for 9 months, truthfully. This time around has been especially rough- the worst one yet by far. For example: one time I threw up and peed my pants at the same time. Another time I threw up so much in one night my throat started bleeding. Some days I literally haven't gotten off the couch. One day I had Taco Bell for lunch AND dinner (God bless the inventors of the Dorito taco- I mean seriously). You can judge me- it's fine. I'm just a pretty gross person at the moment. But- I AM CREATING HUMAN LIFE FROM FREAKING SCRATCH so BAM.

Needless to say I'm REALLY hoping the second trimester comes with all the promised renewed energy and less sickness it's supposed to. Overall, I can tell I have been getting better week to week- just at a snail's pace. 

It's funny though with #3 how much faster everything happens- like the pee stick turned positive and my body was instantly like, "IT'S TIME TA' GROW!" I've been living in leggings the past couple of weeks out of comfort mostly, and today I thought maybe I could wear my biggest pair of jeans- wrong. I can't. 
I already had to loosen my bra hook by one rung. I mean SHEESH. 
(Doritooo taacccooooo. SHH. Shut up.)

Speaking of tacos...Some people have asked how the eating well/weight watchers/workouts have been going. I HAVE been trying to keep up with at least exercising regularly this pregnancy- something I definitely didn't do the first two times. Instead of an intense hour workout 6 days a week it's more like 45 minutes of low impact/4 times a week, but hey, it's SOME thing! I totally plan to be that pregnant lady at the gym in class where everyone is thinking, "For the love, please don't jump again- it might COME OUT."
I haven't been following Weight Watchers since the sickness started- we were in survival mode for a solid 8 weeks- which meant mostly dry, plain carbs and sometimes days without a fruit or vegetable. When I first found out I was pregnant, I psyched myself up so much mentally about the food aversions I knew would come- telling myself "it was just mental" and I could totally still eat the way I was- lots of fruits and veggies- which I genuinely love. But then week 6 hit and I was reminded just how NOT MENTAL it is. It's oh so real. Get that corn outta' my face. I couldn't even look at my other Weight Watchers specific instagram account without wanting to hurl! I silently cursed anyone who would share a recipe video on facebook that would trigger my gag reflex when I was just tryin' to scroll through. I'm slowly starting to get over a lot of those food aversions though, so I plan to make healthy choices when I feel like I can stomach it! Green smoothies have been my saving grace, but I'm not quite ready to sit down to a big plate of salad just yet. 

But overall I'm not stressing one bit about the inevitable weight gain. 'Tis part of the process, no way around it. I lost it before- I'll lose it again. Huzzah. In the meantime, we'll do the best we can, fetus and I. 

 Soooo to sum it up- it's been rough. But we're happy! And excited. And nauseous. 

And if you ever want to hit up Taco Bell with company, I'm your girl. ;-)



Jillian surprised me with her costume choice this year! She decided to be Tigress from Kung Fu Panda- a movie both the girls just love! I think we saw all 3 of them when they each came out in theaters...anyway- fat panda theme-let's do this.

James was Po (he was actually pretty excited about it!). To make his costume I bought two giant sweatshirts, eyeballed it and cut them each and sewed them together, then stuffed it with pillows! For the belt I just sewed yellow and red scraps of fabric together. Let's stop there for a moment- don't be impressed- I am NOT a sewer- I can sew basic straight lines but anything much more complicated than that and I'm out.

Olivia was Master Shifu! She's tiny...he's tiny...seemed fitting. She would only wear her mask for this picture though and then immediately wanted it off so most people thought she was that girl Star Wars character like half the world dressed up as..(what is her name? We aren't Star Wars people...)

And I was Mei Mei! A fat ribbon dancing panda? That's my spirit animal right there. ;-)

 For both mine and Olivia's felt masks, I used the templates here and just modified mine a bit to be more like a lady panda, including gluing on fake lashes.

Trick-or-treating was magical- as it is every year! Our tradition is to join our friends the Gunnells and have dinner at their parents' house, then head out to their neighborhood to score candy! It really is something out of a movie--fire pits lining drive ways, hot chocolate, butter beer, caramel apples and hay rides- it's like a real live Halloweentown.  

Olivia caught on REAL quick about how the whole trick-or-treating business worked. "Oh, I just go ask for candy and they give it to me? EVERY time? Done."

I was also really proud of Jillian who was brave enough to head up to the doors with just her friends this year! 

Long live Halloween. Oh, and we STILL have candy stashed at the top of the pantry. Mostly Snickers, because blegh. ;-)

a halloween dinner party

I know...the rest of the world has moved onto Christmas at this point (Olivia even commented on all of the Christmas decorations taking over the stores, "Look! Dare's Chri-mus ev-ee-where!"). But I'm currently running my life approximately 3 weeks behind schedule (including laundry), so here we are.

The weekend before Halloween I threw a Halloween dinner party for some of my favorite people! With the girls' birthdays this year being pretty simple, I start to go a little crazy if I go too long without coordinating napkins and centerpieces (you know what I mean?..If you don't, congratulations on being sane *insert upside down smiley face emoji--why don't computer keyboards have emojis yet?) 

I LOVE Halloween. Not so much the scary, bloody, haunted house parts...more like the candy apples, Hocus Pocus, and cheesy parts--that I can totally get behind. I wanted to go for a gothy-glam vibe, so I used lots of black lace, a neutral color scheme, and candles for mood lighting. And huge thanks to Aleksi and Nick for one- letting me crash their house and use their patio,  two- already having the perfect lighting strung from the trees, and three- helping me set up earlier that day!!! 

 ^Let's take a moment to appreciate that Clayton did his own makeup.

The candle holders were a cheap DIY made by painting a bunch of thrift store flower vases sloppily painted with brown and black craft paint. Once that dried I used the "toothbrush" technique to spatter on more black paint. The centerpieces had floral moss, skeleton bones, and some greenery.

Vampire napkin rings were another cheap DIY! I bought plastic vampire teeth from the party store and spray painted them with antique gold spray paint in like 5 seconds- my kinda project.
 ^Torn up cheesecloth is another quick and easy added layer of spook!

^Kristen and Kyle went for the hard-working, successful, and awesome parents look-- and they NAILED it! ;-p 

 ^Olivia slept with that skeleton chihuahua for probably a week after Halloween. Not weird at all. 

 ^A pirate, Wendy Darling, and the cutest little Tinkerbell I ever did see! 

 ^Cupcake goodness from Alisha's Cravings in Pleasant Grove- hands down the best in Utah!

 ^And this is why I love Jenn and Gordy.

 I decided I should buy dry ice more- it's just really cool. Also, I scored a punch recipe for my Mom that sounds so simple but is like- beyond amazingly delicious. I'm going to share it with you, because it feels wrong not to:

1 quart orange juice
1 quart pineapple juice
8 oz lemon juice
2 quarts water
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 quart gingerale 

Just to give you an idea, that is supposed to serve 80 people...maybe 80 midgets because the 12 of us went through almost an entire serving...yeah...

 ^US! A pig in a blanket and a ceiling fan! (Totally stole the non-costume costume from someone at our church party the night before, but it was very fitting for James and his anti-Halloween nature. ;-)

 ^I didn't know the candles would look even cooler when they started melting- so that was a fun surprise!

 ^Adorable babies disguised as pumpkins are always welcome at ANY party of mine. ;-)

All in all such a fun night with a fun atmosphere, delicious food, and the BEST company!


anniversary trip to portland

James and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary last month! (Yes, I'm THAT behind on blogging...oops...). We flew to Portland for a long weekend getaway (huge thanks to my Mom for flying out to be with the girls! Not like I have to twist her arm to make a trip out though!)

Originally we were going to stay almost the whole time on the coast, but a bad storm decided to make landfall the same weekend. Our hotel said they couldn't guarantee we wouldn't lose power, so we changed our plans at the last minute and spent most of our time (eating our way through) in Portland- which is such a fun city!

First we hit up Blue Star donuts and Powell's Books. I was impressed with both- the key lime curd filled donut was easily our favorite. Powell's in one of the biggest book stores I've ever been in- ever! James was happy to find a whole section about soccer and I of course ended up in the children's literature aisles. (It's a life goal of mine to write a children's book. It's already done in my head but in reality- not so much. ;-)

 After a little more city explorin' we made our way out to Multnomah Falls. Pictures don't even do it justice- it was beautiful! We did the 2 mile hike to the top of the falls (stupidly without bringing any water along), but the views along the way of the Columbia River Gorge were spectacular. 

 I was also pretty happy about having an excuse to wear my Hunter's every single day, thanks to the drizzly weather. ;-)

Another day we visited the Japanese Gardens, which were also beautiful! I also loved the neighborhood around the gardens- all of the houses looked like magazine cover homes. I made us walk around the block under an umbrella in the rain because houses like that deserve to be looked at and appreciated. ;-)

I pretty much planned our whole trip, except for the Portland Timbers soccer game we went to! Because sitting for 3 hours in the rain watching what feels like nothing happening isn't exactly my favorite thing, but it IS James- and that's true love people. ;-)

 ^Pine State Biscuits y'all...worth the wait AND the hype. 

Our last day there we finally made it over to the coast! We decided to go to Cannon Beach.
Growing up in Florida, I definitely was not used to needing boots and coats while on a BEACH, but the whole cliffs and rocks plus sand and water thing was pretty ah-mazing. We enjoyed some delicious clam chowdah' and the cute little beach shops.

^More beaches need swing sets, don't ya think?

Before heading to the airport we stopped by for some Salt and Straw ice cream- best decision EVER. They have some really funky flavors that I wasn't brave enough to try...but the flavors I had were exceptional! James even bought a t-shirt- so that's sayin' somethin'. 

Oregon you are GORGEOUS! We had a wonderful time recharging and celebrating our eight years of awesomeness. :-D 


raspberry pickin'

Friday afternoon we went raspberry pickin'- one of my favorite new traditions! And not a day too soon because it was the last day the farm was open for it! There is the cutest little briar patch in Mapleton, run by the cutest little old couple- they have a dog, and a porch swing, and I want to be them when I grow up, basically.

 ^Happy faces hunting for berries! Truth be told- getting out the door to drive to the farm wasn't this happy- it was one of those "WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES!?  I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO PEE- JUST GO PEE! GO TO THE CAR NOOOOOW OR ELSE..." moments and everyone was whining and crying. Fortunately (for everyone else at the farm), their mood improved significantly we when picked up my sister to join us, and even more so once we arrived.
Crisis averted. Hallelujah. 

 Last year when we went, Olivia pretty much just downed the berries as fast as she could pick them! This year I was surprised she just wanted to collect them in her bucket and didn't sneak any- she actually kept taking them out of my bucket just to add them to hers! She's also the perfect height to see the berries growing under most of the vines- so it worked out well.

 We also scored some pears while we were there that were mostly devoured on the way home- they were so ripe and delicious!

 The cute little couple told us to pick some of their wildflowers and take them home with us, which we happily did! Wildflowers are my favorite. 

I'm glad we could sneak in one of our favorite summer things just in the knick of time!

Now...bring on allllll the Halloween!