Friday, December 27, 2013

A Very Merry Day

Can I just say that watching your kids love the magic of Christmas is magical?

This Christmas was a little crazy. We spent many hours looking at MLS listings, trying to find a home to buy in Austin, on the phone arranging moving details and generally cramming too much into a short period of time. Sounds like life, right?

 Christmas Eve anticipation!

Christmas morning anticipation is worse! But can I just tell you how much I LOVE spending special days with these three little people. They make life fun (and hard, and frustrating, but the fun is usually worth it).

This little Beanie Boo was special to Allison. She saw it at Michael's just a few days before Christmas and fell. In. LOVE. She had to have it, but we talked to her about how Santa had probably finished his shopping and was working on wrapping and packing the sleigh. But, he's pretty magic, so he managed to slip it in her stocking. She was so excited to find it there.

This is a pretty big stocking for someone with such little arms. But digging down was totally worth it. Lindsey came out of the deal with... 

 ... Princess figures galore! Santa must know this little girl pretty well... ;)

 I LOVE the look on Carter's face here. Legos: best thing ever. Happiness (and hours of occupied time that does not require screen or batteries) in a box! 

I love this picture. I think is sums up and awesome Christmas morning from a kids point of view: watching a movie, in a sugar coma, surrounded by new toys.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Cheer

Skaneateles is an adorable town in the Fingers Lakes region and they do a beautiful Dickens Festival every year at Christmas time. Knowing we were leaving NY, we decided that we could NOT miss the Dickens Festival this year. Can you imagine how jolly, festive and Christmas-y it would be to wander around the cute little village in the upstate New York snow with actors in period Dickens dress around?

We'll have to imagine too, becuase it RAINED on us. And hard. We were soaked! So soaked that these native Washintonians broke down and bought an umbrella, which is basically renouncing your Washington-ness {never fear, however. We did our penance of 3 rain dances, and ten 12th man yells. They let us back in the club. ;)}

In spite of the rain, we did enjoy ourselves. The kids saw Father Christmas (Lindsey was not so sure she wanted to see him), met Scrooge at the library during story time, wandered the town for sweets and found hot chocolate (and an adorable photo op) at the Mirbeau Spa.

She would NOT get any closer... 

Three, smiling kids... a Christmas Miracle!

A few days later, we upheld our family tradition of making Gingerbread Houses for display slowly eating. Each year the kids stage and personality show through when we do these. (PS: look at those pretty, pretty white cabinets! I painted those!)

Allison was very planned and meticulous in her house. She even drew a sketch of what she wanted it to look like.

Carter was a bit less planned, and more about getting as much candy and STUFF on his house as was humanly possible.

Lindsey, true to 2-year-old form, was pretty much just concerned with shoving as much candy in her mouth as fast as possible. Get while the getting's good, and before mom decides you've had enough!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Terriffic Two!

This little girl. Who let her turn 2?  Where did my baby go? Seriously, I need answers!

Pizza for dinner. Birthday crown courtesy of Allison. Because you can't have a birthday without a birthday crown!

Owl Cake. 

She makes the best facial expressions. The series of photos I have from singing happy birthday to her is hilarious. She LOVE to be the center of attention and LOVED having "Happy Birthday" sung to her.

I'm telling you... best facial expressions!

Happy birthday, sweet girl! Now please stop growing up! Love, Mommy

Monday, December 9, 2013

What a difference a year can make...

For some reason, I found myself skimming old blog posts a few weeks ago. I think it was so I could get a "before" photo of my kitchen. While skimming, I happened upon last year's "holiday decorating" post and I was struck with how different my home now looks one year later. I knew how much work had been done, because I did most of it all by myself (2 hours of preschool/nap every day has been so productive!). But when you work on a project that evolves slowly, you tend to forget where you started and how far you've come.

So here's my house, pieces of it anyway, before and after.
Entry 2012

Entry 2013
 front hall/staircase, 2012

Front hall/staircase, 2013

(MESSY!) Playroom, 2011

(Less messy) Playroom, 2013

 Kitchen, 2011 (its one of the few reasonable "before" pictures of the kitchen I could find)

 Kitchen, 2013

 Master bedroom, February 2013

 Master bedroom, December 2013

Huge differences, right? I took a minute to think about all the things I've done to this house JUST this year. Its huge! In 2013 alone: *painted all the trim white *replaced 6 closet doors *painted 14 interior doors white *painted exterior front door teal *painted interior of all exterior doors charcoal *painted master bedroom *painted both halls and stairwell grey *painted brick fireplace & mantle white *painted the stained concrete hearth grey *painted the chevron-ed half wall over the fireplace *removed all door hinges and knobs and painted them oild-rubbed bronze *painted kids' and half bath *painted the kitchen and back laundry hall *refinished kitchen cabinets to white *Re-painted Lindsey's room (cause the color I picked in 2012 was ugly) *made new window treatments for kitchen, half bath and master bedroom *purchased new window treatments for living, dining, Lindsey's and Allison's rooms *new over-the-sink light fixture *new front porch light fixture

I think that's it for "permanent" changes. Quite a year, huh? And on that note: anyone want to buy a beautifully updated home? Move-in ready! 'Cause we're moving to Texas in 4 weeks... :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Where've I been?

Busy. Going crazy. Losing my mind, and generally engrossed in this journey called motherhood. Trying really hard to like it, but not succeeding very well...

But while I've been struggling with that, here's what's happening with my cute kiddos (who I love, and even usually like... even when motherhood in general isn't busy being my favorite thing).

1) They started school. About 8 weeks ago, just like the rest of the world. Their mother is, shockingly, not on the ball enough to blog about it in a timely manner. Actually, I blame Facebook. Facebook (and Instagram) makes me less likely to blog, since all my cute photos get shared there first. Speaking of cute photos:

 Favorite Color: Pink - Favorite Food: French Fries - Favorite Book: I-Spy - Favorite Movie: Barbie Mermadia - Favorite Activity: Drawing - Favorite Animal: Unicorn - When I grow up I want to be: An Artist

Allison loves school. She loves it so much that she doesn't even realize she's bored. She pre-tested at the beginning of the school year, which showed her to have a mid to late 3rd grade reading ability and to be "above average" in math. Allison spends a lot of time at school reading and coloring on the back of her worksheets. But she loves her teacher and has made a new "best friend" in class that I hear a lot about. :) She is currently working really hard to earn and save money for the American Girl Doll of the Year, Saige. She's almost there (almost $80 in her piggy bank!).

 Big thumbs up for 5 days a week at the district's UPK program! 

Favorite Color: Blue - Favorite Food: Sandwiches - Favorite Book: Lego Ninjago Encyclopedia - Favorite Movie: Power Rangers - Favorite Activity: Legos - Favorite Animal: Ducks - When I grow up I want to be: the Blue Power Ranger

Carter is really loving pre-K. I was worried that he'd hate 5 days a week, but he likes his class a lot. It helps that they have Legos to use as manipulatives in class, I think. :)  He is making friends and learning names in his class. His teachers are very brave: Carter's class is 18 little kiddos, 14 are boys. Can you imagine trying to run a class with 14 four-year-old boys in it?

Sadly, the only two photos I got of Carter's list is blurry, AND the dates are wrong on both lists (I used last year's file and edited it, but forgot to change the year on Allison's and date on Carter... *sigh*).

2) Allison participated in a little local pageant. Don't judge me. Its not a Toddlers and Tiaras type pageant, its a local, natural pageant focused on building confidence. They are also now doing the local Miss America prelims. :) Allison "won" a princess title in her age category, which is the title they give to all the girls who don't win a Queen title (1 Overall Queen {with the highest score of the day} and 1 Division Queen in each age group). She was thrilled with her title, since it came with the tiara that had the biggest red jewels.

Allison is also going to have her picture featured in a local magazine because of her participation. It hasn't come out yet, but I think it'll be out soon. :)

 Cute girl waiting for crowning. :) 

Princess! :)

Beyond that, we're just trying to survive life as usual around here. Excited for Halloween this week. Maybe I can get those pictures up before Christmas. Maybe... 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lego Land Discovery Center

While dragging the kids around to run Saturday errands at The Home Depot, we were given an advertisement for Merlin Entertainment Groups. They're the people who own and operate Madame Tussades, Sea World and Lego Land. The ad was a "Kids Go Free" promo, so we decided to take our kids to the newly opened Lego Land Discovery Center in Yonkers this summer.

They loved it. Brian and I decided that it probably wasn't worth the 4-hour one-way drive JUST for Lego Land, but as a part of a larger trip to the city it would be totally worth it.

The Discovery Center is like a Lego-themed children's museum. Lots of interactive exhibits. Lots of big Lego builds. Lots of building stations. A few rides, a "4-D" interactive movie... lots of fun for kids Carter and Allison's age. If we lived closer, it'd totally be worth an annual pass, I think.

 In the "Lego Factory"

Mini-Manhatten... made from Legos!

 Puppy love!

 Its probably time to get our Duplo back out from the basement... 

Carter could do this all day some days... just sit and build.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Allison turned 6 last month. I keep wondering where the time has gone. We threw her a fun art-themed party with her friends. Allison loves art and crafts and is so talented (you should see her drawings! She draws better than I do!), so this theme was perfect for her. 

Our easel, out on the driveway for easy location. 

 Table set up for painting canvases. The girls really had fun with this project. 

 Decorated party room. Did I mention that it was a rainbow art party? :)

 Our spread. We served lunch of hotdogs, rainbow gold fish, rainbow fruit salad (which was adorable and I didn't get a photo of it), and a rainbow candy platter. 

 We played "Pass the Parcel." Everyone loved that they got to unwrap a layer of the gift (which had the party favors in it for everyone.

 Everyone eating lunch. :)

The cake. An artist's palette seemed perfect and simple for an art party. :) And since we still had leftovers of this on her actual birthday a few days later (and she took cupcakes to ballet camp the morning of her birthday)...

 I totally talked her into a simple angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream on her actual birthday.

 My grown-up girl wasn't' much into toys this year. We did give her a horse for her 18" doll, which she's loved. And Carter gave her a Lego Friends set (which he's gotten to play with ever since) but she didn't ask for toys for her birthday this year.

What did she want instead? A watch... perfume (we compromised on vanilla body spray)... jewerly. This one's 6 going on 16 I tell ya.

Happy birthday, Allison! Don't grow up too fast!