12 Days of Christmas

I am taking a cue from my girl Brittany and wrapping up some of our favorite Christmas things in list style. It has been too long since I’ve posted anything and now catching up on all of our holiday activities seems overwhelming. So here goes…as concisely as I can possibly manage:

1. Gilmore Girls Revival Marathon

I lucked out that many of my close friends also adore my very favorite television show. So on the day after Thanksgiving we gathered for a feast of Pop Tarts, Ho Ho’s, Pizza and Chinese food. We spent all day watching the four new episodes. The only thing missing was my sister, Diana. I wished we could have been together to watch!

img_3751

2. Lights on the house!

While I was gone all day watching Gilmore Girls, Alex was busy at home making our house sparkle and shine. I arrived home from a full day with friends to this beautiful sight!

img_3761

3. Christmas in Davidson

One of our favorite annual traditions! We headed out early to have dinner with friends and then made our way through the Christmas celebrations hitting up the carousel, the live nativity and pictures with Santa. Ruthie is not a fan of the big man this year but Eleanor jumped right into his lap for a photo opportunity.

Side note: we teach our girls that Santa isn’t real but just a story book character that is fun to read about and watch movies about (just like a Disney princess). It is even fun to see people dressed up as Santa (also like princesses) but he doesn’t bring gifts and he doesn’t watch over boys and girls. I always knew we wouldn’t play Santa but sometimes I worry whether the girls are missing out. But watching Eleanor still get so excited reassures me that we are not stealing any fun out of Christmas by not playing along. I just wanted to add that here in case you too were on the fence with the Santa thing and worried about how to do it for your family and if it would steal the magic out of Christmas. It has been reassuring to watch Eleanor still get so excited and enjoy so much of Christmas this year!

img_3895

4. Trimming the Tree

Probably the most stressful of all our holiday celebrations but I’m still glad we involved the girls this year. We headed to Lowe’s to pick out our tree and landed on an awesome deal. We paid just $30 for our 8 foot tree and brought it home and set it right up. It was perfectly straight on the first try and we began to string lights while the girls sipped hot cocoa and watched Charlie Brown Christmas. Then we let them help hang the ornaments. It was a little chaotic and a few were broken but our tree looks absolutely stunning this year! It is just a reminder of how blessed we are to be back in our home and so comfortable this Christmas season!

img_4074

5. Foster Parent Christmas Party

This is our second year attending this annual party for all Iredell County foster parents. Alex and I were certified as foster parents after Eleanor was born (but before Ruthie) and we serve as respite for foster parents. We have never done full placements before but enjoy getting to do short-term care. The girls got to see Santa again at the party and Ruthie still wouldn’t sit on his lap. We had dinner and then a magic show and we all got to leave with a gift donated by local businesses.

img_4310

6. Family Visits!

My sister and her two sons drove from Missouri for a long weekend visit. We relaxed and just enjoyed each other’s company, ate a whole lot of Chick Fil A and watched our kiddos play together. Such a sweet time with my amazing sister!

7. The Caroling Bears

While my sister was in town visiting we met some friends in Charlotte for the ‘famous’ caroling bears. The kids were into it and stood on the little fence watching the performance. It’s such a simple little Christmas activity and that’s exactly what I liked about it. They play every hour for 45 minutes so you can sort of come and go as you please without missing too much. This was particularly helpful with toddlers! We ate pizza together after the performance before heading back north in the worst traffic ever!

img_4135

8. The Dixon’s Couples Christmas Party

Thank you Brittany and David for having a couples only party! I felt so grown up. Alex and I got dressed up, he even opened the car door for me, and we partied until the wee hours of 1am (who are we!?) The wine was going down easily, the shrimp cocktail was perfectly spicy and I couldn’t stay away from the cheese board. It was a great time and a much needed escape/date night for Alex and me!

christmas-party-2016-11-of-13

photo cred: Brittany

9. Story time with Santa

This year our library hosted a story time with Santa (they also do Mrs. Clause each year). Santa started by leading the kids in a few songs and then reciting The Night Before Christmas. They had crafts to occupy the kids while others stood in line. The girls weren’t anxious to sit on Santa’s lap again so we just did our craft and headed home. Many of our friends were there too and I couldn’t get over how cute these girls all looked in their matching Eleanor Rose dresses!

img_4025

10. Craft Night with the Girls

I was invited through some girls at BBC to attend a holiday craft night at a local business, Sweet Grass. I made this pallet wood tree. With the help of the employees I got the letters just right and a giant bow for the top. We had wine and snacks. I was nervous because I’m not particularly crafty but I had a ton of fun!

img_4096

11. The Cookie Exchange

My annual event is now back in full swing with our move back into our house. I had about 12 girlfriends over who all brought about two dozen of their favorite Christmas cookies to exchange. We had wine and hot apple cider and I was inspired by Brittany to try my hand at a beautiful cheese tray of my own. It made me feel right back at home hosting my favorite party.

img_4200

12. Alex’s Graduation Party

Alex officially graduated with his Master’s degree this past weekend and we threw a big party. We invited all of our friends to a local brewery/restaurant to celebrate Alex’s amazing accomplishment. His team at work also threw him a surprise party last week and invited me and the kids and my sister and her kids to attend as well. It has been amazing to watch Alex persevere through late nights and long hours to achieve this goal and getting to celebrate in this giant achievement with him! I am so incredibly proud of what he has done!

img_4309

So now as we head into the last week before Christmas we are just planning to relax a little and prepare for another busy weekend. We still have several Christmas parties to attend and I am hosting Christmas dinner this year for Alex’s mom and stepdad. I also want to find some time for a couple fun activities with the girls like making ornaments and driving around to look at Christmas lights.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

Tea Party Birthday

This party post is long overdue! Eleanor has been four for almost an entire month now, so without further ado…let’s take a look back and celebrate her big birthday!

tea-party-birthday

With the help of my friends at Epoch Notable Events we put on the perfect Tea Party for all of Eleanor’s friends. This was the first “kid party” I have thrown and it was a complete success. I had so much fun and I think Eleanor did too!

dsc_2678

Dress//Monogramming//Crown

As Eleanor’s friends arrived we put them straight to work on their craft. I ordered these adorable chunky bead necklaces from Oriental Trading Company. The Easter necklaces fit our theme perfectly and were on sale (still are!) We had one for each girl and with the help of their parents and Alex and me they used the beads to make their own unique necklaces.

dsc_2562

I was actually really nervous about this craft. I had visions of beads flying everywhere and crying children fighting over colors. But the scene above accurately shows just how smoothly it went. Eleanor has a handful of friends that are a few years older than her and they easily strung the beads on the string while the younger girls needed just a little assistance with the smaller beads. I walked around and taped the edges of string down as the girls finished and went behind them and attached the clasps after they were all finished. The finished product was that each girl had a beautiful beaded necklace to take home with her.

dsc_2597

After the group photo we led the girls back inside for food and drinks.

img_3228

We served a variety of tea party treats including Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, fairy bites, fairy bread, fruit fairy wands, cookies and princess popcorn. We served hot chocolate in their mugs and handed out juice boxes.

dsc_2522

For the adults we had an assortment of treats including deviled eggs, scones, cucumber sandwiches and cookies.

dsc_2526

Julie picked up this cute book from the library and suggested reading while the girls were eating and it was the perfect filler since some finished before others.

dsc_2622

Then it was time for cake.

dsc_2523

These adorable princess cakes are from Ikea and absolutely delightful. While the girls didn’t all enjoy the marzipan top, I gobbled up at least two! My girls also gobbled them up.

dsc_2647

After cake we let Eleanor open her gifts. She was excited to receive a couple Disney princess dolls, books, an umbrella, Rapunzel lanterns, coloring books and her own tea set.

Once the gifts were done the girls ran around outside and played. The weather was beautiful and we had about 20 minutes before the party wrapped up. Eleanor kept sneaking off into the dining room to color on her own.

dsc_2576

I had so much fun hosting Eleanor’s tea party. Because of Julie, Denise and Shannon I was able to focus more on Eleanor and her friends and stress less about the party details. I am so lucky to have these three amazing women in my life! They sure love our little family a whole lot!

dsc_2555

And in case you are wondering we did allow a few important men to join our pretty tea party including Alex!

dsc_2681

I can’t believe my first born is already four (said every mother ever!) But really, she has grown up so much this year. She is such a funny girl who loves to make others smile and laugh. She loves to play jokes and surprise or scare us by sneaking up on us. She is polite and sweet and full of energy and cheer. Her smile never fades. She loves her family fiercely and loves being a big sister. I could go on and on and on about all the wonderful things she is and can do. This kid really is the best!

dsc_2540

Happy Birthday sweet child! I can’t wait to see what this next year holds!

dsc_2536

Gift Guide: Two Year Old Girl

It’s official, the holiday season is upon us. Despite what the weather says (hello highs near the 80s!) Thanksgiving is almost here, which means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also right around the corner. And right behind is Christmas and all the parties and dinners that are involved. Also on our list of celebrations at this time of year is Alex’s completion of his Master’s Degree!

With all of these holidays and events so near, I am trying to get on top of our Christmas wish lists. Like mother like daughter because yesterday my mom called wanting ideas for the girls’ Christmas gifts. I put together this little wish list here to help our family and friends shop for Eleanor and Ruthie but I think you might find it useful if you are shopping for that little girl in your life. So without further ado, Ruthie’s Christmas Wish List (if she could write one).

Affiliate links contained in this post. When you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission.

2-year-old-gift-guide

(In no particular order)

1.Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace

Thank you big sisters everywhere for introducing the tiniest girls to the princess craze. Ruthie knows all the Disney princesses by names so this Little People castle would provide her favorite characters in shapes that are age appropriate.

2. KidKraft Noah’s Ark Shape Sorter

I am a sucker for wooden toys. Particularly ones that help kids learn and if you throw in the religious edge you’ve got me. Thus this. I just love this toy and I think Ruthie would too!

3. Eleanor Rose dresses

Am I beating a dead horse (why such an awful saying!!)? I love Eleanor Rose. Enough said. Except that Ruthie is currently in size 2. TIA (winky face)

4. Skip Hop Zoo Toddler Backpack

Eleanor has the giraffe style and Ruthie is so jealous. We have chosen the bumble bee style for Ruthie and I am certain she will be ecstatic to have her very own backpack and be just as cool as big sis!

5.Personalized Wooden Name Puzzle Stool

There is a theme in this list. Buy Ruthie everything Eleanor already has. Maybe if Ruthie has her very own name stool there will be many less fights in our home (fingers crossed). This stool has been one of Eleanor’s all time favorite items. I attribute her ability to spelling her name at two year’s old to this stool. This is a must on Ruthie’s Christmas list!

6.Kid Kraft Doll Cradle and high chair

Ruthie loves playing mommy to her baby dolls. She can often be found reading a book to a doll or cradling one in her arms with a blanket wrapped around it. She would be eager to put the dolls to bed and feed them in the high chair if she had these accessories.

7.Toddler Swing

The girls are getting a giant swing set from Alex and me for Christmas but we are missing a few accessories including this swing for Ruthie. She will be sure to love hours and hours of swinging in this swing!

8.Disney® Mickey Mouse “My First Books” 

Ruthie’s current favorite is Mickey Mouse. She walks around the house exclaiming “Mouse, mouse, mouse” all day long. She loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and all the Christmas movies on Netflix. A few new board books with her favorite character on it would be a great gift for Christmas!

What would you add to this list? What toys were your daughter’s favorite at this age?

Interested in a gift guide for 4 year old girls? Check out this post.

So much going on lately

Let’s start right where we left off…

img_3137

On Halloween, before the evening festivities, Alex defended his thesis and passed! It was a stressful day and I kept busy entertaining the girls with Halloween activities. Poor Alex was a ball of nerves. We were incredibly excited to find out immediately that he passed and get to celebrate on Halloween with our friends!

More big news for Alex…the Cubs finally made it to the World Series! We stayed up every night to watch the games. It was a long week for the guy with late nights watching games, long working hours, and grad school work to finish up. When the Cubs made a huge comeback and won 3 straight we decided to go out for the final game. A joint World Series/Grad School celebration night. We got a babysitter and met friends out for a wild night that lasted well past midnight. We rejoiced with a big win!

img_3142

What an amazing and fun week we had. But Thursday hit both of us really hard. All the sleep deprivation began catching up.

No rest for the weary because we threw ourselves right into birthday celebration mode!

img_3113

Our biggest turned 4 years old last weekend and we celebrated with a tea party for all her friends.

img_3228

Some of my best friends helped plan the entire event and it was as pretty as it was fun! We made necklaces, ate tea party treats, served hot chocolate in mini cups, feasted on Princess Cake and opened gifts. The beautiful weather meant that after all the activities were finished the girls could run around and play outside. It was the perfect morning.

img_3240

Sunday was Eleanor’s real birthday and we wore matching dresses for the occasion.

img_3258

We had lunch out with Alex’s mom and step dad. I let Eleanor pick the restaurant and she chose Bad Daddy’s. Smart kid. One of her gifts was this new hat that matches perfectly to my own. Twinning!

img_3261

Our 8th anniversary came right after Eleanor’s birthday. Five years ago we wrote love letters to one another and bought a bottle of our favorite red from our favorite winery. We agreed we would open both the letters and the wine five years later for a romantic (albeit cheesy) date. It was perfect. The wine and the letters.

img_3338

It was so interesting to read back into the people we were five years ago and to see how much has changed. Several moves and a couple kids later and we are still as madly in love as ever!

img_3340

Speaking of moves…we are preparing for another one. The boxes are packed.

img_3281

We move back into our old house on Saturday. It is going to be a crazy couple weeks as we have a bit of work being done in our home and will have to live through the construction. If we can just get through this month I think maybe we will be able to slow down a bit. Here’s hoping!

img_3351

Happy November all! My favorite month of the year!

img_3128

Fall Festivities

Our family crammed as much Fall fun into this weekend as possible. On Thursday my friend Brittany explained to me the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out) and I realized how accurately it describes my life. I felt like we hadn’t fully taken advantage of all the activities this time of year offers and so we did our best to make it out to as many as possible!

Friday we started with Patterson Farm.

img_2778

I invited our friends Amanda and Piper to join us. It was a million degrees out (where is our Fall weather!?) but we didn’t let it stop us. We arrived and set up picnic before buying our admission tickets and heading to the puppet show. While the show left a little to be desired the rest of our afternoon was amazing.

img_2748

The girls got to feed the farm animals. Piper was all over it. Eleanor and Ruthie were a bit more timid. Eleanor warmed up to the idea but Ruthie stayed far away!

img_2809

I try to get the girls to enjoy animals but admittedly it’s not my favorite either. I think they can sense my hesitation. I put on a brave face though.

img_2790

After feeding the animals we jumped on the hayride for a tour of the farm.

And then picked out our pumpkins.

Finally we made our way to the playground where the girls played in the corn pit for a solid hour and Amanda and I finally relaxed for a bit.

img_2870

It was way past nap times and we were all getting cranky so we headed back out to the cars and after saying good bye to our friends I ushered the girls inside the little farm store for a promised treat. We found out they sell ice cream and so of course we chose it for our treat!

img_2880

I let the girls play on the playground for a bit and then in a moment of insanity decided to throw Ruthie in the Ergo and usher Eleanor through the corn maze.

img_2901

I wasn’t sure how it would go but they had these little boards set up with the story of Spookley the square pumpkin and it kept Eleanor interested throughout the maze. We only made one wrong turn and before long we were out on the other side. And Ruthie was passed out on my back!

img_2902

We finally called it a day and I got the girls home in time for dinner and a little movie night. We watched The Great Pumpkin since Peanuts seemed to be the theme at the farm.

img_2842

Saturday we spent the day trying to stay out of Alex’s hair. He had a giant presentation for grad school this week and needed time to study. By the evening he was ready to call it a day and join us for some fun. We headed to out for a little Trunk or Treating and a bonfire party at our friend’s house.

img_3002

On Sunday we attended another Trunk or Treat at Awanas. We invited our friends Chrissy and Savannah to join us. This was a well executed event and we had a blast! Eleanor and Ruthie couldn’t get enough of the bounce house. Once we pulled them off we walked around collecting candy and playing games.

img_2963

There was pizza, a hayride and a petting zoo!

We had a blast but tried to get home early. Too many late nights in a row!

Monday was the main event. Our family dressed up as The Little Mermaid and our costumes were pretty epic! It will be hard to top this year!

img_3065

The girls and I attended the Halloween Party at the library while waiting for Alex to get off work. They had a costume parade and contest and cake and punch for everyone.

img_3038

Sadly we didn’t win, but we still scored plenty of candy!

Next we headed to a friend’s house for dinner and to let the kids play before it was time for trick or treating!

img_3053

As the sun was setting we drove to another neighborhood to trick or treat. It has been our tradition since Eleanor was born to trick or treat with our friends in their neighborhood. Eleanor talks about this all year long and was super excited to go again this year!

img_3089

The above photo was taken at the very end of the night and they are all looking a little worse for the wear!

img_3086

Every year we manage to find my friend Brittany and her kiddos while out as well. Love this little gaggle of kiddos!

We came home and attempted to watch the Bears play but crashed hard. All these parties and late nights watching the Cubs play in the World Series has really worn us out this week! Not to mention all of Alex’s studying!

Dare I say I’m glad this weekend is over even though we had such a full and fun time? We packed as much as possible into four days and now I will no longer fear I’ve missed out this Fall!

Happy Halloween!

Gift Guide for a Four Year Old Girl

gift-guide-4-year-old-girlAlternate title: Eleanor’s Birthday Wishlist


Somehow our little girl is already turning four years old! I look at baby photos and I can hardly remember what it felt like to bring her home or hold her. Watching her now, so independent and full of life, I hardly believe that little personality was bottled up inside this tiny little baby.

59037_970692812141_1360702822_n

Eleanor’s birthday is right around the corner and I am busy preparing for her perfect little tea party. We offered the kid a vacation instead of a party but she insisted. She is after all her momma’s girl! The invitations went out last week and I’ve received several requests for ideas for gifts from family and friends. With the holidays looming ahead I thought it would be fun to do a quick round up of presents that any four year old little girl would be sure to love!

Affiliate links are contained in this post.

  1. Our daughter has only asked for one thing this year…Barbies! Wha?! How are we already here? I am not ready for this stage but my compromise will be the Disney Princess Dolls. (By the way, she already has the Belle, Ariel and Jasmine dolls if you are curious.)48d42bf6320d0fafca5e3eede5d83d97
  2. Going with the doll theme, a doll house is every four year old girl’s dream come true. I have grand plans of one day building and decorating one with Eleanor, but until that day I have my eye one one of the beautiful KidKraft Doll Houses. We may hold off until Christmas (hint, hint grandparents) when we are in the new house.e1abed3ca26839abb1c64cb5cd577dbd
  3. Eleanor loves to pick up Alex’s guitar and strum. I have hopes that our offspring will have some sort of musical talent and I just love the idea of this kid guitar. Another KidKraft item; they really do have the prettiest toys!kidkraft-lil-symphony-guitar-ptru1-20589076dt
  4. We have been working on reading with Eleanor and she is amazing. She can read lots of books already and the Dr. Seuss books are some of our favorites. She really wants What Pet Should I Get. We also need to purchase the curriculum we use for reading and let the library have their copy back. Eleanor also loves The Little House on the Prairie and these picture books would be perfect for her.51lxvnjk3xl-_sx258_bo1204203200_
  5. Another four year old favorite is coloring and art. Eleanor could use a few new coloring books. I would also like to get into larger projects with her. This easel and this paint set would be a great start! kidkraft-deluxe-wood-easel
  6. Eleanor is into watching football with us this year. It’s incredibly adorable when she starts yelling “Tapple ’em!” at the TV. We don’t have any Chicago Bears gear for the girls this year and she could use a t-shirt or hair bow or this adorable outfit to cheer on her favorite team. Eleanor wears a size 4T.img_6306_large
  7. Giraffes are Eleanor’s spirit animal…despite her short and stout frame. I am loving this adorable giraffe umbrella that matches her backpack! While the giraffe one is perfect for Eleanor, any little girl would love carrying her own umbrella on a rainy day!_11205352
  8. Also specific to Eleanor is this amazing felt hat from Old Navy (on sale right now!) Wouldn’t we be an adorable Mommy and Mini-Me with matching hats?old-navy-floppy-felt-hat-for-toddler-size-l-dark-red
  9. As we prepare to move next month I’m dreaming of all the larger toys we can get the girls to fill up our new space. This teepee would be such a fun hideout for the girls to play and read. teepee-2
  10. And last but not least. I can see many “campouts” in her teepee with a fun, girly sleeping bag. Eleanor loves mermaids right now and this would just make her smile. mfaotw5ykdocplfi0k_cxyg

I love celebrating birthdays! Eleanor and I talk about her birthday every single day. I am excited to see what the next year holds for this precious little girl!

dsc05056

Life Lately

img_2167

So I have officially fallen off of my everyday blogging ways. We left for vacation and I have yet to feel caught up enough to put the time into my regular posts. For a half minute I contemplated giving up on this space altogether (I’m kinda an all or nothing person if you can’t tell) but I knew that wasn’t the answer. For now I will pop in and out as time allows. Things are really starting to gear up right now so I’m not sure how much time I will devote to this space in the next few weeks. We have a couple big things on the horizon. Namely, Alex finishing grad school and moving houses next month.

At any rate, I wanted to throw up a few of our activities lately. Here’s some of what we have been up to since getting back from Lake Tahoe.

img_2099

The weather has been gorgeous so we are spending all our time outside these days. Last week I got to watch my friend’s little girls. Together our four kiddos play so well together so I just sat in the sun and basked. We have also been spending a ton of time at the park.

img_2056

This past weekend was an exceptionally busy one and we crammed as much fall fun in as we could stand. Starting with the Food Truck Festival downtown.

img_2185

And the pumpkin patch. Ruthie especially loved the bounce houses! She pretended like she was a big kid and scaled the giant wall and went down the slide all by herself! Check out my Instagram for an amazing video!

img_2263

That is Ruthie’s real smile. Kid cracks me up!

img_2306

We had dinner with friends and drank pumpkin beer. And I’ve been cooking up chili and cornbread like it’s going out of style. I love fall!

img_2382

We are still loving our weekly activities, Community Bible Study and Awanas. Eleanor is learning so much and each week memorizes more bible verses. Despite those being our only regular activities it still feels like our weeks are so busy! I try to fit in gymnastics and swimming when I can but we often don’t make it. One place we never get tired of is the library!

img_1970

Coming up is my favorite fall activity, the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We will try to do the corn maze and maybe even the pumpkin patch again this coming weekend. Fall is seriously the best! I mean, it’s not like the two best sports (football and baseball) overlap any other time of year. And yes this is me wearing a Cubs hat. I sure do love my Cubs-loving husband! But seriously, if they could just win it would make his life!

img_2384

What are your favorite Fall activities?