Dec 16, 2013

Pre-Christmas Days

As a child I remember the joy of the Christmas season. How Santa magically brought gifts and the house was transformed. It was my favorite time of the year and it seemed to happen effortlessly. Once I became a mom I discovered that things become exponentially busier during the holidays for moms and it doesn't happen by magic, darn it! It's the busiest time of year for us moms. For me it seems to start in October with Ainsley's birthday, our anniversary and Halloween. About the time I've cleaned that up it's Thanksgiving and I think it's a proven fact that time speeds up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I'm going to catch you up since at this point in December I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to post again prior to Christmas. Maybe even this year.

I'll start with the Thanksgiving pictures since it looks like I haven't posted since November. Yikes!

I love that my FIL cooks the roast and meal at every holiday. His wife puts out an amazing spread of appetizers and more desserts than you can imagine. It's a team effort and always a great time at their house.

I love Blue Buffalo and the fact that they make special holiday pet food. Steve's dad said it was okay if we brought Penny along so that was nice that we didn't have to worry about her being lonely at home

For the first year Ainsley actually ate. Not just a bite or two but really enjoyed her food, including the turkey. It was fantastic. She is still eating about half her food orally (except when she gets sick).

Ainsley LOVES to put Penny on the leash. She begs, so sometimes we give in for a few minutes. Poor Penny. 

Evie performed for the group with one of Grandpa's many guitars.

We finished the night with a fun game of Guesstures (timed charades). Ross and I teamed up and won twice!

The next day we headed out furniture shopping. We're hosting and there is nothing like hosting to get you fixing up your house. After hours of looking at furniture we decided to reward the kids and meet up with Steve's sisters for the arrival of Santa parade in Bellevue. It was crowded. Generally I prefer to avoid crowds. 

A friend of my FIL knew someone and was able to get Ainsley to the front so she could see. Evie (and Adrian) went with her to keep a safe eye on her. It was a bit of a leap of faith for me to allow her to go off in this crowd, but I did and I think they had a great time watching the parade. 

Back to the decorating. Our family room has been used as a "therapy space" for Ainsley so it was a bit "unfinished". It just felt "off". We decided to make the changes for Christmas since we will have a large group and wanted to move festivities into this room to make better use of our space. We added a coffee table and got one on casters that is relatively light weight so it can be rolled out of the way. We also bought an area rug. Those two pieces "anchor the space" making the existing furniture work. It's amazing what a few minor changes make. The best thing is this arrangement still allows us to use the space for therapy and dance, yet it doesn't feel unfinished any longer.

I have been planning to make/hang this burlap covered cork board but needed Steve's help because this frame is super heavy. We got it done and it's a huge improvement over the temporary art we had up. Notice we succumbed to the pressure and adopted an elf this year? More on that another time. What is the world coming to?!

We've been short on seating for family movie nights so I ordered this giant furlicious bean bag from PBT. Notice Adrian underneath (on the left)? The beauty of this piece is that it can live in the family room by the fire but be easily moved into the TV room for movie night. And really it was cheaper than a chair. I think it's the new favorite place to sit. 

There was some drama with the rug. It was on clearance (had been on display at Macy's) and was damaged but it was hidden under the stack and they forgot to note it on the tag so I didn't know until I got it home. Talk about disappointing. After a lot of messing around we opted to keep it and a second rug repair place was able to repair it for $120. They wanted to cut the end of the rug off, but I refused and they found a patch from another Karastan.  I think it looks great and you can barely tell!  The savings was $1400 compared to what it would have cost to order the same rug new even with the repair cost and on sale. So that pays for all the other furniture. The extra padding will make this almost like a gymnastics mat (which I was considering buying) when we work with Ainsley on walking.

Doesn't the room look better? We're going for a "lodge" feel. Ignore the half decorated tree. I have a table and lamp on order too that should come in this week. In addition we had our antique dining room chairs recovered so no more hiding duct tape under cushions. I feel like a real grown up.

Then there was drama with Evie's pointe shoes. 

I went to sew on the elastics and found out through the Gaynor Minden YouTube videos that she wasn't properly sized. Little did I know that I'd have to educate myself about this. I thought you just go and get a pair, simple as that. There is the length, box size, width, vamp, shank and cut to consider. After driving all over town a second weekend (low inventory) she now has the right size. (1 1/2 sizes smaller, different width, box and shank.) Pointe shoes come in thousands of combinations, and just in case you can't find a good fit you can even have them custom made. She would be starting pointe tomorrow but has her school dance recital. I decided to take her to PNB's Nutcracker as a celebration of her making it to pointe so we have that coming up this Friday. It'll be her first time and I think she will find it inspiring.

We made it to the tree farm. It should be fun but for some reason every year there is drama at the tree farm. Usually Steve and I fight because he is in a hurry to get to work. This year we didn't have that because he is no longer working crunch, but Evie had her heart set on a large tree that she saw and someone bought it while we were deciding. We weren't going to buy it anyway since it was $160 and too big to fit in our tree stand. Then this tree, which was perfect fell over and broke a few branches. We bought it anyway and "glued and wired" it when we got home. 

Ainsley was freezing despite being bundled up so she was crying so then everyone was staring at us. Good times. Evie disappeared and nearly missed the free hot chocolate and candy canes, which is the best part of going to the Red-wood tree farm. She is very upset that we are putting the tree in the family room instead of the more formal living room. We need a fake tree next year. If only my spoiled rotten lovely children could get over the change. They don't do well with change.

Ainsley warming up by the fire when we got home.

We put the village out in a new location which caused another mini tantrum. I think it's nice here but it's "a change". Oh no.

Some day she might be sleeping in a box out of necessity (like when she turns 18), not just for fun. Just kidding. And actually we didn't let her sleep there the whole night.

Sunday we went to our realtor, Darcy LaBelle's, Santa breakfast at the Montake Community Center. It is always so nice to see her. Isn't the cottage adorable?! She always does such a nice job with every detail. Since moving to Redmond it has become our new tradition. I bring my camera and take my own "Santa photo". 

Adrian cracks me up, he wants an IPod or erasers. Evie and Ainsley asked for a surprise.

It was so cute to see her waving at him during breakfast. This year she actually ate sausage and pancakes. I caught it on video so you can see.

Look at these adorable cookie kit favors she made. 

Santa made a special point of saying goodbye to Ainsley. I think she's his favorite. Shhh, don't tell.

Despite all the pre-holiday drama I am still hopeful that this is going to be a more relaxing holiday than usual. If not then at least January will be. I hope that your holiday season is providing more joy than stress and that you have a very Merry Christmas. XOXO.

Nov 27, 2013

So Thankful I'm A Mom (And Other Stuff)

I am so thankful that I am a mom. It's a job that doesn't ever always receive appreciation in proportion to the effort it takes but my kids are awesome and they mean everything to me. I'm lucky that I don't work outside the home. It allows me to do more than I otherwise could. Some of the things we do just wouldn't be possible. I am thankful that my husband works hard and has a good job. And I am SO thankful that his new job doesn't require the kind of work hours that kept him away so much in the past. Having him at home has been life changing. We are lucky to have a nice home and food on our table every day. Life is good when I really think about it.

Of course there are always bumps. Like the windstorm the first weekend of November I've been meaning to tell you about. The neighbors tree fell and hit our fence and totalled our swing set. I was so excited when we bought our house 2 1/2 years ago, that it had a Rainbow swing set that Ainsley could use. I've been dealing with insurance all month and I'm worried they'll try to screw us over but I'm trying not to stress. These sets range from $2500-15,000 and come to find out that the one we had was exactly what we need compared to the new models. With any luck we'll get it all fixed before the weather gets better.

 After the tree was removed this is how it looked. It completely destroyed one of the two large platforms as well as the access steps which were perfect for Ainsley to climb up.

Here it is with the tree.

And here you can (kind of) see the size of the trunk at the top. It was a good sized tree. 

I'm scared of wind storms now, and with good reason after seeing the tree fall (we were in the living room interviewing a nurse) and smash the timbers like twigs. This is the second neighbors tree to fall and cause damage in our yard in 2 1/2 years. And just look at the size of these trees! (Mostly all belong to the neighbors.)  I am very thankful that it didn't hit our house! And I have to wonder if the trees we had cut down in August might have fallen had we not had them taken down. One was dying and another was rotted. It could have been a different outcome. So maybe we are lucky.

We had an awesome opportunity come our way. At the last minute a friend called with free tickets to see Selena Gomez. Steve was gone all week on a business trip but my sister came and took care of Ainsley and Adrian so that we could go. I had to cancel therapy because she couldn't be in 3 places at once. (Adrian had play practice and his first basketball practice.) So I have to give Sheryl a shout out of thanks for making it work and on a school night at that! They were special seats in a suite and that's not something you can pass on, especially when your daughter is a huge fan. We even got a free parking pass. I felt like such a VIP.

We got to use the Suite entrance, ie. no line.

Our seats were really close to the stage. 

There are table tops to set your food and drinks (a waitress) and extra space.

And best of all....a private bathroom in the suite. Wow did we feel spoiled.

It was an awesome and special mother daughter night out that we'll remember forever!!! 

Since this is Adrian's last year in elementary school I agreed to let him be in the school play even though I knew it was a huge time commitment. AND I signed up to be in charge of the PR committee. There have been so many times I just couldn't help out, I decided to just do it even though I knew it would be a lot of work. Which it was. I took headshots of all the kids during recess/lunch, spent hours "photoshopping" them (to get rid of pimples, stray hair, food in their teeth, etc.). I built the above display for the gigantic school cafeteria wall. The kids LOVED having their pictures displayed. In addition I made and placed the posters, and the programs which included the headshots. I have a whole new appreciation for the volunteer work that so many of the moms (and dads) put in to make school programs like this possible for our kids.

Adrian has been part of the "safety patrol" program for the second year. So me being there worked out nicely and I got a picture of him in the crossing guard position. I love the energy at school, and do miss not being there as often now that the kids ride the bus.

Adrian had 2 hour rehearsals 2-3 days a week for 6 weeks and 3 hours a day for the final week. The kids all worked so hard and the show, Princess Who?, was a huge success. They performed it for the entire school and the kids giggled the whole time. They performed it again last Friday night. A bunch of our family came to support him (19 total) so we had a little party afterward and it was SO FUN! 

Adrian played "Big Bear"....

....and Herald, Servant to the Queen of the North. It was the funniest part and the one he wanted. He did awesome and we were so proud!

Taking their bows. 

Adrian is such an awesome kid. At the end of the night we realized that he was gone. He was exhausted so he'd just gone and got into bed by himself. 

Still cheek pinching cute while he sleeps. Love that boy so much!

The 5th graders had Heritage Week, celebrating a country of their heritage. That meant a big project as well as bringing in food for a feast today. Adrian chose England (Steve's parents immigrated from England in the late 60's) so we headed to The British Pantry in between basketball drop off and ballet drop off. Got there just in the nick of time to buy sausage rolls, Phew!

While we were out Ainsley made this in Toca Bocca Hair Salon and saved it (and a few other copies) to my phone. Too funny! Then she shaved it's hair. Talk about a bad hair day. Wowza!

Later....the day finally came. Evie has reached her goal and made it to pointe! I am so proud of both of us for sticking with it for 9 years! 

(Penny comes with us everywhere these days.)

 So it looks like I'll be making a trip in to Seattle soon to buy Evie's first pointe shoes. Will post pics.

We celebrated with pumpkin pie and eggnog. I am SO proud of Evie!

Ainsley's been doing awesome too. She put this puzzle together by herself with a little verbal coaching. 

And last week she was able to trace her name all by herself!

Today this came home from school and our nurse said she cut out the shapes all by herself. I think she did the gluing too. Every day Ainsley does something that makes me realize how lucky we are to have her in our life. Just now she was asking for snuggle time with me on the couch so I have to go. Our cuddle time is the best. 

Today I took Evie and Adrian to see Frozen since school got out early and our nurse was working. They loved it. They were going to pay for the tickets but they were so appreciative, which made me feel good, so afterward I paid. It was such a fun way to start out the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend. I'm looking forward to spending time with family and am grateful not to be cooking this year.

I want to wish you all a great turkey day!