Let's start with christmas eve...that's when this picture was from, after the day was done, the kids were all matching jammied up and ready for bed. But, christmas eve was a full one this year. It started with church in the morning. Then we actually went and got bread from our favorite baker before heading out to Ian's parents to celebrate. Ian's brother and his family were there too. We all had lunch together, then opened presents. We stayed there all afternoon. In the evening, we were planning on taking the kids to the same light show we have for the past three years. But, we got there and it wasn't happening. Kind of sad. There were a bunch of other cars there all confused too. However, I knew of a cool house light show, so we drove to that instead. We watched that for probably 20 minutes (without any of it repeating!?!) before deciding to head home. That night the kids went to bed without a peep. It really was a christmas miracle! But I did tell them they needed to stay in bed and be quiet so I could set everything up. Apparently they listened! 

Christmas morning, everything was all set up and ready to go. I actually gave myself a blood blister trying to put together Callum's scooter. I guess I'm not always the handiest. Like last year, the kids each had different wrapping paper and didn't find out which was theirs until the bottom of their stockings. I asked the kids later what their favorite presents were. Connor said his was a box of jokes, which was in his stocking. Isla's was a fashion designer toy that I purchased on a whim. It ended up being really neat. Callum didn't tell me, but I am pretty sure his favorite were the Paw Patrol books. Paw Patrol is kind of his thing right now...which is sort of funny given we only have netflix and it isn't on there, so he doesn't really get to watch it. 

After all the presents were open, I made us pose for a family picture. In full disclosure, I first tried in front of the christmas tree, but given that the tree blocks our one large window in the living room and we only have one light in the room, it didn't turn out well. Sooo, I drug everyone up to our bedroom where the lighting is excellent. And, I have to say, it was totally worth it! 

The rest of christmas day was spent at home. We made dinner for my parents, my brother and his girlfriend and my aunt and uncle. We kept the fire burning in the fireplace all day. The kids got to play and play and play with their toys. It was a good day. 

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Connor's School Christmas Performance

Let's go back to last seems like weeks ago, but really it was just last week. Connor had his christmas performance at school. Apparently it is a bit of a big deal. They started practicing two months ago. There were speaking parts, but there was a mix up and Connor thought he would have to make up what he was going to say, so didn't apply. But, as luck would have it, he put his name in the hat for the air guitar solo and was chosen.

Connor really wanted a leather jacket for the performance so he could look like a rock star. I found one for him at a thrift store. That statement makes it sound like it was easy to find. I actually checked many a thrift stores and even target for something. It wasn't until a few days before the performance that I came across this one. He liked the jacket way more than I thought he would and has actually worn in a few times since the performance.

At the performance, Connor was so incredibly serious through the whole thing. If you watch the video below, you will get what I am talking about. But when it was time for his air guitar solo, he went to town. It was really cute and fun. I am glad he got the chance to do it.

Also, on a side note. The older the kids are getting, the less and less parents seem to bring big cameras to functions. I was the only person there with a camera. And it was a packed house. Plus I managed to score a front row seat, thanks to Isla who ran in and excitedly grabbed them. Anyway, I had a few parents ask (even ones texting me from farther back!) to take pictures of their kids during the performance...ha, ha! I may get made fun of in jest every once in a while for carrying around my beast of a camera, but it does come in handy.

If you just want to watch the good stuff, fast forward to 51 seconds to see Connor's air guitar solo.

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Our 2017 Family Photos & Christmas Card

The one big thing to me about family photos are the actual family photos. I just can't seem to get all of us in the frame otherwise. Tripod and timers don't work well for us and it doesn't seem often that I remember to have someone snap a photo of the five of us together when we are somewhere. Plus, I feel like I do a good job at getting pictures of the kids on an all the freaking time basis. So really, the pressure is on for a good photo with all of us in it. 

You can't tell by these pictures, but Callum was literally running away from us 90% of the time we were trying to take pictures. On the drive to our photos, I told Ian I knew this year was going to be a hard one photo wise. Last year Callum wasn't walking, this year he is constantly running. And pictures with toddlers are NEVER easy. Let's just say, he didn't underperform. But, our amazing photographer, Leah Galloway, over performed and got so many amazing pictures of the five of us. I was seriously blown away. I already got a bunch of them printed out and in frames in our house. 

Going hand in hand with family photos are christmas cards. For years now, I've been a sucker for the review type card. This year was no different. I am a bit of a card snob and went with Minted for a second year in a row. I got an amazing deal (several stacked discounts for the win) and love their quality. Not to mention, they took a couple days getting them printed, so overnighted them to me at no extra fact, they informed me of this, I didn't ask for it. Talk about amazing customer service! 

Speaking of christmas cards, I have gotten loads in the mail. A few people have mentioned feeling awkward asking for my address, but it has made me feel so excited over how many people have gone out of their way this year to participate in my christmas card challenge. And the cards this year haven't disappointed. From the scalloped edges, to the foil overlays. From the beautiful handmade, to the funny photo. I've loved them all. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to each of you that have sent me a card. It has filled my mailbox and card wall with love this year...but the challenge isn't over until the end of December, so no winner will yet be declared. So for you procrastinators out there, there's still time! 

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Just Gnoming Around

Get it? 

Instead of just clowning around, just gnoming around. 

Yep, I really do love gnomes that much. 

Buddy the elf says the best way to spread christmas cheer is to sing it loud for all to hear. But I am inclined to believe it really is to put on a pair of festive pjs and have some fun. Actually, not even pjs, just festive clothes. Last week at the park, this kid was wearing the cutest christmas dinosaur sweater. It made me smile. I enjoyed it so much that introvert Jessica actually started up a conversation with a perfect stranger just to talk to her about her son's awesome sweater. I tell ya, the older I get, the more generous I become with my complements, even doling them out to perfect strangers. But festive pjs, something that even a couple years ago I would have found an unnecessary frivolous splurge, have become something I enjoy getting. Of course, I am still very much me and managed to stack two coupon codes and a sale when buying them this year!

I got all the kids the same pjs as mine. They are Isla's favorite. She wears them as soon as they are washed. She wore them to pajama night at church and is planning on wearing them to pajama day at school on Friday. Even Connor likes his. I'm sure it's the gnomes. Because, when do gnomes not make people smile?! Come on, even the hardest of hearts crack a smile looking at adorable gnome Callum!

I really do love gnomes that much. Seriously.

Speaking of gnomes, did you know I've had a gnome stolen off my porch only to be returned a week later? Or that someone anonymously sent me one in the mail. And, just a couple weeks ago, one showed up in my yard, with gnome care instructions coming in the mail a few days later.

So, I'm just going to be over here gnoming around until Christmas.

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Our Christmas Decor

I kind of can't believe Christmas is only a week away. I don't know why it's snuck up on me this year. I am normally so on top of this season. I don't know if it's the warm weather, the fact that the kids have to be in school right up until Christmas or all the fall birthdays, but something has me feeling a bit out of sorts. 

No matter how I feel about it, I still decorated the day after thanksgiving. I love Christmas that much that I always decorate right away. In fact, funny story. We pulled out our old tree (had it for 13 years) and maybe 1/8 of the lights worked...whomp, whomp, whomp. So we went out in the black friday chaos to hunt down a new tree. Basically Ian would circle the parking lot while I ran in and found the perfect took a couple stores, but I am really happy with the one we picked! 

My Christmas decor style has changed a lot over the years. It started with cheap things bought at kmart our first Christmas. It then transitioned when I worked at Pottery Barn for three years. Alas, many of those Pottery Barn decorations have just become unpractical with children as the years have gone on. So, this year, I gifted my aunt with a bunch of the decorations. I was just happy that they were going to someone who would appreciate and enjoy them. 

Besides the tree, I really haven't bought any new decorations. I would like to get a new tree skirt. I've probably said that for the past three years, but I haven't found the perfect one at a price I'm willing to pay, so I am still holding out. I do have to say, I love all the homemade decor that has made it into our rotation from the kids school projects over the years. Those pieces make me smile the most...especially the ones involving pictures! 

^^ The little people in our house keep rearranging our stockings. I've given up trying to keep them in order because the reality is, it really doesn't matter. 

^^ The 24 Christmas books that I collected from thrift stores six years ago are still going strong. There are actually now more than 24 and I didn't wrap them for advent like in years past. But the kids, especially Isla, still really enjoy reading them. 

The glow of the Christmas tree at night will always be one of my favorite things. I just enjoy the warmth that the lights and all the decor bring to our house at Christmas. Now to get my butt into gear and start wrapping presents!!!

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Callum {two years}

Weight: 28 pounds, 8 ounces
Length: 33.5 inches
tooth count: 16

Likes: throwing balls, playing with older kids, climbing on things, playing on playgrounds, locks and latches
Dislikes: sitting still, being forced to do anything he doesn't want to do, being in his stroller for too long

This kid is mr. independent. He wants to do everything on his own. And he certainly never wants to be forced to do something he doesn't want to could even be something he normally likes, but if he isn't in the mood, he will let everyone know. Climbing is his jam. He likes to be high up on the play structures at the park and put a foot out like he is going to jump, then look at me and smile. Little turkey! 

Callum is talking up a storm. He says so many words I couldn't even count. If I don't acknowledge a word he said the first time, he will repeat it over and over until I get it. He is now also stringing two words together, with "stop it!" being his favorite. Though he has also said things like "Connor school" or "dad car". And another favorite, "ucky poo"...haha, now you know what I say when I change him! Callum loves saying Connor and Isla's names. They are literally the two most used words he says. He says Connor's name "nonnor". It's really sweet. Besides knowing our names and grandparents names, he also knows Uncle Jeremy, as well as a couple kids from the school (Pierson and Jack). And he knows the names of practically all foods, haha! The kid takes eating very serious. 

Callum will eat mostly any food, as long as he is in the mood. That is the big caveat right there, it has to be his idea. He loves him some meat. He never turns any type of meat down and will eat copious amounts of it. He also loves eggs, yogurt and bananas. Oh and noodles. He likes noodles. We offer him milk all the time, but he doesn't seem to like it at all. Speaking of milk, we are currently in the process of weaning him from nursing. This has been going on for almost two weeks and I feel like he is finally getting it. But it is so sad when he wants his "ilk" and I say no, he literally goes hysterical...but in a sad way, not a temper tantrum way. Sort of breaks my heart each time. But it's time. 

Callum willingly reads with us these days. He will endlessly bring us books to read. He even calls certain books certain names, like a book with a rainbow on it he calls rainbow and a book with a bunny on it he calls bunny. In fact, I would consider the board book I Am a Bunny his current favorite book. Though his grandparents got him the book Good Night Planes recently and he really likes that one as well. 

Besides enjoying playing and being outside, Callum loves planes and helicopters. That started with him spotting them outside and turned into him enjoying playing with them as well. He also loves playing with all the matchbox cars we have. Literally his favorite past time is pushing them off a bookshelf one at a time. Then he picks them back up and does it all over again. He also loves scribbling on anything when he can get his hands on any writing utensil. And balls are a huge source of entertainment for him. He is a good thrower too. 

Some things I want to remember about Callum right now; how you can't walk past leaves without picking them up and throwing them. And how you can't resist picking up a stick and hitting anyone or anything near you with it. How you come to me wanting kisses when you hurt yourself and how you like giving me open mouth kisses on my lips. How you say a word over and over until I correctly acknowledge it. How you will ask for candy or otter pops ("pop") pretty much any time day or night. In fact, a piece of candy is pretty much guaranteed to make you stop crying for any reason. 

I can't believe how much this kid has grown and changed in just six months! Makes this mama all sappy and emotional. And since I am already that way, I may as well make it even worse and check out Connor and Isla at the same age.

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Homemade Daily Facial Serum

I have been slowly on a quest over the past couple years to change all the products I use on myself to products as natural as possible. Many of these products I have purchased, but some I have found easy ways to make myself. This daily facial serum is an easy one. I have been using this recipe for about a year and love it. It doesn't leave my face feeling like there is a film on it, like the facial lotion I was using before did. It leaves my face feeling clean and moist and I have never gotten any breakouts from it.

When using the same essential oils daily on something like your face, less is more. It's important to not overwhelm your body with too many essential oils day after day. That is why you will find this recipe really doesn't have a high content of essential oils. As for ingredients, the carrot seed oil helps provide sun protection, while the other three help with breakouts, anti aging and more.

This recipe is for the half ounce dropper bottles.

  • 2 drops of carrot seed oil
  • 2 drops of patchouli
  • 2 drops of lavender
  • 3 drops of frankincense 
Fill the rest of the way with the carrier oil of your choice. I use hemp seed oil, though I know jojoba and avocado oils are also popular choices. 

I use 4 drops every morning and find that is plenty of coverage. I used to use more drops when I would rub my hands together to put it on, but when I switched to applying it with a finger, I found I could use a lot less. 

In case you are curious about some of the other things I've made - back to school oil recipes, coconut oil for shaving cream, homemade baby wash and homemade laundry soap

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The Perks of Being the Youngest

I remember when my older brother and I were in school, my younger brother telling us the things he got to do while we were in school. He got to go to lunch with my parents or he got candy from my dad's receptionist when he visited my dad at work. I am sure my parents heard "that's not fair!" more than they ever wanted to. But now I'm learning, there's perks of being the youngest...and there's perks for me still being that the youngest cannot yet form a sentence!

The other day, while Connor and Isla were at school, I decided to throw away their gingerbread house. Then I decided I should offer it to Callum and see what he does. The kid lit up as soon as he realized I wasn't playing a sick joke on him. He was seriously ecstatic. He went to town on that thing, until I finally had to pry it out of his sticky little hands.

It's one of those memories I want to remember forever because he was just so excited. It was bliss, pure bliss. His joy about something as simple as getting to go to town on a gingerbread house was palatable.

And given that Callum can't quite talk yet and the kids haven't even noticed their gingerbread house is missing, no one is none the wiser.

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