Friday, February 20, 2015

Lyla Isabell: 2.5 Years

Miss Lyla Isabell Beans, Queen of the Green Household, is 2.5 years old.

Motherhood is such a strange thing. Because, I sit here a bit misty eyed thinking how quickly time is going, pleading for it to slow down. Better yet, stop, so I can catch a breath. Yet, I also find myself nudging time to go ahead and get a move on, thinking, "this too shall pass" {usually right in the midst of a train-wreck temper tantrum}.

But mostly, I'd like time to stand still.

Since that won't happen, here is my best attempt to accurately describe Lyla Beans at this exact moment in time.

As of today, at her 2.5 year wellness check, she is 35 inches (32%) and 30 lb 2 oz (66%). She went from hanging out in the 80 percentile range for weight her whole life to 60th in the last six months. Want to know what also happened in the last six months? She stopped going to day care and GiGi and Bots house on a daily basis. Coincidence? We'll let the halt of mac&cheese and crackers do the talking.



Personality

- To be completely honest, we are often perplexed by our Sweet Beans' personality. Mostly because it's double-sided. There is the sweet, quiet, well-behaved, independent, good-listening Lyla. {Fortunately, this is the side that most everyone sees. Especially school and friends.}

- And then there is the needy, whiny, tantrum-throwing, sister-hitting, hysterical-crying Lyla. This Lyla is usually saved for Mom and Dad. And I suppose these qualities are evidence that she is indeed a two year old. Plus, there are really only two culprits that bring out "the dark side": tiredness and illness. Or an experience of discomfort of any kind, really. Fair enough.

- I find it so sweet that Lyla exhibits the same defining characteristics that we noticed way back when she was a baby, maybe 9 or 10 months old. A few words to describe her: cautious, aware, intentional, thoughtful, easy-going, and very low maintenance. She is definitely slow to warm up to new situations, but once she does, she's the life of the party. And she absolutely under no circumstance likes to be the center of attention. It took her a solid 3 months before she opened up in her Kids Day Out program - the teachers thought she couldn't talk...until she wouldn't stop!


- I am most certainly confident that Lyla will be our introvert. This is a beautiful quality that I plan to nourish and nurture as her mother and something I am learning to work with day by day {said the extreme extrovert}. She is easily over-stimulated, prefers one-on-one activities over large groups, desperately needs her alone time, and enjoys quiet activities like reading over vigorous and physical play.

- There's also this incredibly sweet and silly side to Lyla. She loves to laugh and loves making others laugh even more. If she's in a room full of adults who are laughing, she immediately chimes in and says "Lyla's funny!" And then there is this mischievous side to her, a side where she tries her absolute hardest not to smile and instead has the cutest little smirk on her face.



The Big Adjustment: Bringing Home Baby Sister

- Sweet Beans had to master the skill of being adaptable when we brought home Baby Adaline in October. She was used to being the center of everyone's world, as she's the only grandchild on both sides. Oh dear heavens did we go through an adjustment period. In fact, I think we're still going through it most days.

- I think Lyla gets confused by her emotions on this one. She adores Adaline - loves to share her snacks with her, shows her craft projects she's working on, talks to her, bosses her around, and covers her with blankets. But then she also gets enraged when I'm nursing the baby or when someone like Bots or Dad is holding Adaline. Enraged. Typical sister stuff, I suppose.

- Oh how my heart skips a beat with this whole sister bond thing is happening right before my eyes. They totally adore each other, adjustment period and all. Lyla likes to show Adaline the ropes and Adaline thinks her big sister hung the moon. Even when Lyla sits on her face or "burps" her a bit too hard.


- We've finally gotten into a routine with the whole paying attention to the toddler while Mama nurses the baby. For the longest time, Lyla would burst into tears, cause destruction, or decide she needed to go potty right when I would sit down to nurse. Now, she likes to join us by sitting in the rocker while I feed the babe and read her favorite stories.

Lyla-isms

Oh the tiny, soft, girly voice of Miss Beans - I don't think I've ever heard anything sweeter. And she's says the cutest things.

- I love how she remembers and can recall things. We'll ask what she did at GiGi's house or at school or at church, and she can tell us exactly what it was that she did. "At church, I play airplane (no clue what that even means), I see fwiends, I eat snack, I sing Jesus loves me."

- For the longest time after I had Adaline, Lyla would go around the house saying, "Mommy belly bye bye. Where is it?"

- Her favorite sayings: "there's bubbles on it"(referring to anything she sees that has bubbles: milk, bathtub, juice, pee in the toilet) and "at's a BIG boogie/bite/sandwich" (everything is HUGE to her).

-  She has become such a little mommy lately. She'll nurse her babies and say "shh. shh. shh. Right there." or "Froggy, go to timeout. We do not hit mom." (hmm. I wonder where she's heard this?)


- She went through a phase where she was having frequent nightmares. Gabe would go in and she would say over and over again in her super cute toddler groggy state, "that's a big tiger, Dad.  or "A big gorilla, Dad."  Finally, after months of reassuring her, this has changed to, "Tiger can't get you. Gorilla can't get you."

- The only way to get her to brush her teeth is by telling her all the food we see in her mouth. She loves it. She'll open really wide and say, "I see a chip. I seeeeee green beans. I seeeee pizza".

- "Hold you". We hear this all day everyday.

- Favorite mispronunciations: "tankles" (tangles), "chichen" (kitchen) and sparsles (sparkles). Oh and of course "Adawine". ;)

- It absolutely amazes me that she knows all of our adult friends' names. The other day, she saw a picture of a bunch of our friends and named every person in the photo. Even people she's only met a few times. And she knows the names of all of her friends' parents. I have no idea how.

- Lately, she's been saying to me, "You're so pretty, Mama." I mean, I can't.


- Our little observer loves to tell us where things are. "MOM! The moon's waaaaay up there." "DAD! Samson's over there. What's he doin?"

- When she's trying to make a decision, she'll think for a moment and say, "How bout..."

Lyla Loves

- putting on makeup with Mom. (where I pretend to dip my makeup brushes in actual makeup and let her brush it on her face)

- cooking/baking/coffee making. Oh this excites me so much. Maybe there is hope for someone in this family to be domestic! But this kid could be in the middle of a hurricane temper-tantrum, and she immediately stops if we offer to let her help us make breakfast where she helps to "stir, stir, stir" or uses the French press to make our coffee where she helps to "Lyla pour in beans".


- helping with chores. SCORE on this one. She loves to "help" fold the laundry, feed the dogs, vacuum, dust and any other daily chore. Of course she ends up making more of a mess, which takes everything in my control freak nature to let go, but she sure loves to help.

- reading. She probably reads as much as she sleeps. Which is a lot. She goes through phases where she wants to read the same books over and over. For awhile it was "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" - she could recite every word to that book. Now, it's "The Places You Go" and a nursery rhyme book that she calls "The Cow Jump Over the Moon".

- outside. Man, winter time is so unfortunate. This kid lo-o-o-oves to be outside. If it's above 40 degrees, we typically find a way to make it outside. She is an overall happier kid when she can play!

- music. Oh my word, does Miss Beans love music. She loves music class, begs for us to turn up the "shoo-sic" in the car, and asks at least 4 times a week to have a dance party in the living room. And she stalls for a good 30 minutes every night at bedtime because she loves songs so much. The best is when she asks for a song, like ABC's, and then she belts out Jesus Loves Me while I sing ABC's. Her favorites are: "Up Above the World so High" (Twinkle Twinkle), "Children" (Jesus Loves the Little Children), "Let it Shine" (This Little Light of Mine), and "Do the Right Thing" (that is the actual title! Dad sings this one). But her all-time favorite is Jingle Bells.

- "more teekle". This kid would be tickled 24 hours a day if we had the energy.

--------

Oh, life with a two year old. It's so sweet and sour, and I completely understand why someone coined the term "terrible twos".

There's never a dull moment, that's for sure.

Below are some of my most favorite pictures of all time, captured by my sweet friend, Ali. These were taken when Lyla was brand new to the big sis role - 9 days after Adaline was born. And they are treasures.








Monday, February 9, 2015

The Little Years

Life has really picked up speed lately.

Much of the day is chaotic and abuzz, but it really is a welcomed change of pace. And although I'm still trying to get the hang of working from home with a toddler and a baby, I really like it. I'm in my element - home with my babies while still flexing my brain muscles and social skills.

But I must admit, I've lost my patience more than usual. I'm constantly going. And many days, it feels like Gabe and I are passing ships in the night. Sometimes, it's 2:00 in the afternoon, and I truly have to think hard to remember if I ate or not that day. And I have had to completely let go of the fact that the house always has at least one layer of dog hair and dinner is more often than not something that requires less than 3 ingredients and a crock pot. {Oh. and the fact that the chalkboard in our living room still says "have a holly jolly christmas"}. I bring that up not to say, "look how busy I am", but to remind myself that I've come so far in my journey to slow down and be more intentional. And I do believe it's possible to be fulfilled by working and having a full schedule from time to time, while still being intentional with my time and focusing on my family.

Addie's lovely Sip and See thrown by special friends

And that is exactly why it is so important for me to continue documenting these "little years". But man is it hard to have enough creative energy to sit down at the end of the day to pump out a blog post. However, it is a priority for me because we so quickly forget the everyday.

Have you read this post that's been circulating lately? I loved it. Great advice from empty-nesters. I especially loved that they talked about recording the ordinary, the mundane. Because those really are the things we forget too quickly.

I never want to forget...

- the way Lyla says "eh" before every sentence. "eh, that's dad's oatmeal. eh, there are bubbles on it. eh strawberries in my yogurt."


- how the girls already seem to have a secret language. Lyla sweetly tells Adaline, "Ok. Don't drop it" when referring to the pile of toys she sat on top of her. And Adaline adoringly looks up at her big sister, cooing and gurgling.

- the way Lyla exerts her independence by putting her palm up and saying "No MOM, leave. I'm playing." Or how she tells me "leave mommy" every morning so she can finish reading her books in bed.

- how Addie has been dishing out deep, belly laughs. They make the entire room light up with laughter - big sis included.


- how Lyla wants everyone to be happy. If I say, "you're making mom sad", she quickly responds with "NO. Mom is HAPPY."

- the moment anyone makes eye contact with Addie, she breaks out into a smile that makes my cheeks hurt.

- when i ask lyla how school was, she always responds with the simple word, very confidently: "fwiends."

- how Lyla asks us to sing Jingle Bells every single night before bed. {Maybe she's taking cues from our overdue chalkboard?}


- and begs us every night to "snuggle, Dad. snuggle, Mom."

- how peanut butter crackers and vitamins are Lyla's most favorite things on the planet right now.

- how Lyla loves to cover Adaline with any material she can find, mostly fabric squares and bubble wrap

- how the world stops when I sit in bed and read with my girls, both of them warmly snuggled on both sides of me
- - - - 

These little moments are why I exist. And I'm going to document them, even if it means I lose more sleep than I already am.

c'est la vie.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Adaline Mae: 3 Months

My baby bug is three months old.


And I've already broken one of my 2015 goals for the year. {I do not create new year resolutions, but instead set casual and achievable goals or "try's" for the year.}

One of my "try's" was to live in the present. More specifically, I don't want to dwell on the fact that each passing day means that Adaline is one day older than the last. A day I'll never have again.

I can't help it. I love my babies as babies. But I've also learned, I love every other phase too.

Regardless. Call it the breastfeeding hormones, but I've been so sad and feeling extraordinarily sentimental lately. Maybe because Addie is no longer a helpless little newborn. She's getting stronger! And more socially aware! And she talks! Of course all of these things are what we want because they mean she's growing. But they also mean time is completely out of my control as the sand in the hourglass seems to be dropping much faster than it did with Lyla.



But then I always come back to Lyla's favorite book we gave her on her first birthday. {So favorite that we've had to tape it back together again several times}. If I Could Keep You Little. You've read this, no? Never mind the fact that I hold back the tears every.single.time. we read it, which is a lot, but it's such a good reminder to me. I often wish I could keep my babies little, but even more, I want them to grow and thrive and get older to experience life!



So. Adaline is three months old. And we're going to focus on all the exciting growth that's occurred.

Babies' first years are absolutely miraculous, I tell you.
  • I wish I knew how much Miss Addie-Mae weighed or how tall she is. The last check up we had was when she was 6 weeks old, and we don't have another until 4 months. Something tells me that appointment is going to be a shocker. 
  • This kid watches and observes everything. I swear I can see the wheels turning as she holds stare-downs with the pups, or as she carefully watches her big sister. She stared and smiled at her baby-buddy Carson for a solid 20 minutes this past weekend. 
  • I think the baby of the family may be the social one. Too early to tell? Wishful thinking? We still witness the saddest little bottom pout if we leave her alone in a room. I mean saddest. She lights up when she's around a big group of people, something Lyla-Bell never quite enjoyed.
  • We started music class again! Not only is Lyla thriving, but Adaline just loves it! She listens, watches all the big kids, kicks her legs with each song, and SMILES the entire class. 
  • Everyday she gets stronger. She may grunt and groan the whole way through and dislike it just like big sis, but she works hard during tummy time. Which, if I'm honest, tummy time is totally a check on the old to-do list. Mostly because she screams like a banshee the moment we put her down. My kids hate being on their bellies. 
  • Poor baby has cradle cap, which makes her look like a lizard, and she's got a glamorous bald spot on the back of her head where she sleeps. Quick. Where's the baby beauty pageant sign up? ;)
  • Baby girl is a TALKER. She just chats with everyone she meets. Lyla loves it too and gets so excited, runs into the room where I am and squeals "She's talking to me, Mama!" We've even gotten a few small giggles out of her. And by we, I mean Lyla. Because big sis is the funniest. 
  • That smile. This one smiles so big, all day long. Sometimes I worry it's going to extend out past her face. And unlike big sis was, she's generous with her smiles and gives them out to everyone she sees. *Lyla saved those big ones for family.*
  • Her favorite position is still the fetal. Just on the crook between my neck and shoulder. Oh that smell and warm skin when she's that close to my face. {Quick. I'm getting baby fever over here}.
  • She completely fills out 3-6 month clothes. And everyone who sees her says "She's so BIG" - first thing out of their mouths. Wrench my heart why don't ya?
  • When I go into her room in the morning, you'd think I was Santa Claus. The excitement is so palpable. She looks like she might explode with happiness. She sure lights up when Daddy shows her some attention too. 
These girls. They sure know how to wrap their dad around their fingers so tightly, he'll never be free. 


What joy the past 3 months have brought. We love you, sweet baby Bug!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

12 Weeks: Only the Beginning

Twelve weeks is such a pivotal baby landmark in my mind.

Lyla turning 12 weeks old stands out vividly, as it brings up a heap of emotions. It was that moment when I walked into her room and suddenly realized I no longer had a newborn. She had graduated from newbie to baby overnight.

The fourth trimester, as difficult as it was, was over in an instant.

That, and my maternity leave of course.

Oh to go back and read my thoughts from my last day of maternity leave two years ago. What a painful moment in time.

And now I'm experiencing some of those same emotions with Adaline. How is it that we brought our sweet baby girl into the world 12 weeks ago already?



Time is cruel and has a heart of ice.

However. This time around, I'm no longer looking at it as saying goodbye to my most-favorite-of-all-time newborn phase. Instead, I'm excited to be welcoming the next phase. The babbling, the endless smiles, and the eagerness to soak in the world. Oh the joy that comes with entering each phase!

The past twelve weeks have been some of the most high-quality, beautiful, and heart-expanding of my life.

And like that precious time with Lyla, my sweet "maternity leave" with Adaline is now complete. It is time to move onto the next phase. And I am ready. I welcome it with open arms, lots of excitement-nerves, and plenty of coffee to compensate for the late nights. {and now an annoying cold, that I somehow managed to avoid until this point}.

But I am abundantly thankful. Because this time, as I say goodbye to maternity leave, I do not have to say goodbye to my babies. I get to be home with them. And live up and savor these years that pass too quickly.

So dear friends, here I am... entering the realm of entrepreneurship. That's right, I'm a mamapreneur.

I am fast and furiously working away to prepare for the launch of a new resource for our community: Wichita Moms Blog!


I am incredibly excited to be part of a larger network and bring this resource to Wichita. I'm currently in the process of taking in all the information I can, while figuring out behind-the-scenes technology stuff {where I am horribly illiterate}, while networking, while building my site, while searching for other mamas to contribute as writers for the blog. 

It's a smidgen overwhelming, but also THRILLING.

I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me, and my hope is that I'm still able to find time to hang out in this little corner of the internet to document life and post plenty of pictures of my babes. For me. For my girls. 

- - - - - -

So, Miss Adaline Mae. Happy twelve weeks, my darling. Although I'm a bit sad this chapter of ours is coming to an end, there are no tears this time. Because I still get to pursue dreams and show you what it's like to work hard for those dreams, all with you swaddled right next to me. 



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Seasons

Most of the time, blogging is my heart.

Usually it's a much needed, stress-releasing form of therapy and a really important memory-capturing creative outlet.

But sometimes I get in a rut, sometimes I put pressure on myself to blog even when I really don't feel like it, and sometimes I feel inadequate.

I've talked about it often. But blogging, and social media in general, can create this horribly false sense of who someone really is. Worse yet, it paints this picture that someone has the perfect life. With perfect children. Who dress in perfect outfits. Who live in a perfectly styled home.

Oh my goodness, it drives me CRAZY.

Of course like most normal people do, it's so easy for me to get caught up in this desire and portrayal of perfection. It can leave me wanting and wishing for more. But all it takes is a quick glance around to realize that my life has everything I could possibly ever want or need.

Besides, I find perfect quite boring really. {Ironic coming from the queen of perfectionism - a quality that is simply a defense mechanism I use as a crutch when feeling insecure, I suppose.} But I tend to seek out and connect with others who embrace imperfection. Not because it makes me feel better about myself. But because we put others at ease when we share who we really are. And I like that. I strive for that.

While being conscious of my family's privacy, I try really, really hard to portray reality here on my blog. In fact, anyone who knows me will tell you that it's near impossible for me to hide what I'm feeling. I'm the poster child for wearing my heart on my sleeve. And I thoroughly enjoy tracking, writing, and sharing what I am truly going through in every season of life.

It's just that this particular season, specifically after leaving teaching, starting a new job, and then deciding on permanent maternity leave after having baby#2, has been a really fabulous one. So my blog posts for the last year and a half have really been about how lovely life is. How much I'm obsessed with my babies. How I'm sickeningly happy.

But I must say, although many of my recent posts have only focused on the blissful, I too have experienced quite the opposite. I've gone through my share of darker seasons. I can think of periods when I would wake up, praying for that particular season of life to be over. More recently, I look back at the time I returned to work after having Lyla, and I don't even recognize that person. For quite a many reasons, that was a very trying year. But it is only through these difficult seasons where we are shaped, become stronger, and walk out on the other side with a lot more confidence.

Because, after all, without darkness, there would be no light.

{And suddenly this post got a whole lot deeper than I ever intended it to be. Refer back to earlier paragraph re: my inability to hide emotions}.

I only bring all of this up to explain that my most upbeat and restful season has been desperately needed as it followed a much darker one. I have done a lot of reflecting, catching up, spending quality time with those who really matter, and detoxing things that created stress in my life. I have learned to say no. I have stopped over scheduling and focused more on my family. I have infused peace and simplicity into our home. I have thought about my role as a mom and what that means for my girls. I have realized that maintaining my personal identity is equally as important.

Then, we had Adaline. And while bringing home a new baby presents its own set of challenges, it also helps us to remember to slow down and breathe in the everyday. That it's okay to pick up takeout and leave the vacuuming of the dog hair for another day. And it's okay to stay in the same sweatpants two days in a row because you are too busy building a lego tower with your two year old in between nursing sessions with your newborn. That it's okay to hibernate and do not much of anything else but snuggle under blankets. {There are some definite advantages to having a baby in the winter}. And most importantly, it's okay to not focus on accomplishing but to focus on being. Being with these little people who will no longer be little much sooner than I'd like.

And that's exactly what I've done these blessed 10 weeks.

But, my friends, the seasons are about to change yet again.

The newborn haze has begun to lift, and it's time to hop back in the saddle. Admittedly a teensy bit nervous, I'm ready to begin a new venture and enter a season of a little bit more...productivity. One that will boost my need to create and build connections with others, while still focusing on what matters most. One that will require being strategic and intentional with my time. One that will motivate me to get out of my yoga pants and out of the house. I'm ready and very excited to get started on my next project. {I'll share specifics soon soon!!}

I truly feel that I've taken the time I needed to start with a fresh slate. I have a positive outlook, have had much needed quality time with my girls, and am ready to bring on some new challenges. Because in all reality, we only grow when we step out of our safety zone and face challenges head on. There will be plenty of hectic moments I'm sure, but my hope is to always return back to this exact moment where things are clearer than they've ever been.

That family is my number one.


More info on this exciting life change to come soon...



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Little Christmas

Phew. The holidays always leave me feeling a bit like I just ran a marathon. Or gave birth. Or both.

Simultaneously.

It could be the fact that we go from one family event to the next for four days straight. Or it could be that we typically have company stay with us for a few days. Or that we have friends in town from all over the world whom we make every effort to spend quality time with. Or that we throw an annual Christmas party, inviting just about everyone we've ever gone to school with and beyond.

Even though all of the hustle and bustle still took place {minus the Christmas party - we settled for a very casual Wine Wednesday with a close group of friends since many would not be in town this year}, there wasn't a bit of frazzle in me this holiday season.

It only took 8 years of "Adult Christmases" {counting since I've gotten married} to finally get the hang of this whole holiday thing.

...to where I finally have the right mindset and have learned to not sweat the small stuff.

...to prep Christmas brunch the day before, instead of the morning of.

...to be in search of great sales for gifts year-round, rather than wait until Black Friday when everything from my "saved carts" gets emptied. Only to begin back at square one in figuring out what to gift people.

...to realistically accept the fact that we won't get to everything on our holiday bucket list.

...to be okay with a dollar limit and find more creative ways to give.

...to appreciate the fact that Gabe and I tend to give the gift of experiences over material things to one another.

...to eliminate stress {as much as possible} and to embrace the sentiment of the holidays.

...to stop creating memories, and let the memories create themselves.

That's right. Memories create themselves. Who knew?

I just can't help it. I'm a sucker for sentiment. I love all things that generate something special to look back on. And I especially like to capture those memories so I can go back and remember, relive even.

But I think I can, at times, get obsessed with sentiment. And quite possibly even try to create it. And when you try to create what's pictured in your mind as perfect memories with children, it more often then not backfires. Because children, if you haven't heard, are unpredictable. Especially during the overstimulating blur of the holidays.

So, I guess after a lot of practice and self-motivating talks, I've simply learned to plan ahead for the details that can cause stress if left until the last minute. And I've also learned to let memory-making details unfold naturally.

I've also tried my best to avoid stress and embrace simple. Not that we didn't do gifts or introduce Santa or decide last-minute the week before to sand/paint/and put together a new play room for the kids. Ha! I guess embracing simple, for me, was more of a mental shift. To focus on what really matters.

And let me tell you. It may have been simpler than years past, but this was the best Christmas I can remember. {Next to the Christmas where I woke up to find Malibu Ken, a set of Pound Puppies, and a pair of "high heels" under the tree, of course}.

This year sort of felt like a first. Maybe because it was Adaline's first Christmas. But also because Lyla was just so excited and really got into the holiday spirit. She couldn't wait to wake up Christmas morning to see if Santa did in fact put "lunch" under the Christmas tree like she asked.

We hear it over and over again, but it's just so true. Experiencing the holidays through your child's eyes is even better than when you were a child yourself.

And this year was so wonderfully special.

Even though Gabe and I didn't account for the fact that Lyla and Adaline's kitchen would take 4 hours to put together. Or that Miss A blew out her sister-coordinating Christmas jammies first thing when she woke up Christmas morning...and I didn't get a single picture of her in them. Or that Lyla wanted to open every single present's plastic packaging instead of opening the remaining presents under the tree. Or that we forgot to buy coffee for Christmas brunch, and so we had to use my stocking-stuffer.

It was still perfect.

The holiday started with Lyla and I baking and decorating Christmas cookies to take to our neighbors on Christmas Eve Eve. This recipe was extra special too - one of my sorority sister's lost her mom years ago, and to honor her, my friend sent out her mom's famous sugar cookie recipe. They were delicious, and I kept thinking how special it was to be part of the fun memories that were created year after year with this recipe. I can't wait to bake them again next year! #cookiesforpaula



While the girls napped on Christmas Eve, I prepped for the Christmas brunch we host each year. I was super bummed because we had to skip Christmas Eve service this year as Gabe had to work. Bah Humbug. But I still dressed the girls up before we headed to GiGi and Bots' house for our traditional chow-down on shrimp, cheese, mushroom soup, and fudge.



 Lyla is going through a new {hopefully} phase where she is nervous around the camera


GiGi and Bots sure know how to make a Christmas Eve spread. If only I had a picture of it. Luckily, I did get a picture of Lyla trying ginger beer for the first time. She felt sooo big because we were all drinking Moscow Mules and she got to drink ginger beer out of a fancy Fostoria glass. She has been saying "more ginger beer" ever since.





After rushing home to tuck in the kiddos, we got started on Operation Kitchen Project. It was 9:30, mind you. Four hours later, and thanks to the best husband and daddy of all time, we had a play kitchen! The girls slept until 8:30 Christmas morning, which was the best gift of all because I still had some dish-prepping to do. And even though it totally takes away from the romanticism of Lyla waking up and running out of bed to see what Santa put under the tree, we went in to get her {because she doesn't get out of her bed} and fed her pre-brunch breakfast first. I mean, she's two and wanted "lunch" for Christmas. Girlfriend has to eat. So after breakfast, we dug into the stockings and presents under the tree.

Wearing Mama's old holiday dress





And then the BIG REVEAL. Santa's Elves decided to finally complete the last room in our house. It only took 4 years. The trim and walls were painted and shelves were stocked with current toys to make a play room. {One that is not yet complete. Like, it has exposed outlets. But that's neither here nor there. Because I'm avoiding stress...remember?} And of course the four hour kitchen was revealed as well.






Then we topped off the rest of our four-day-Christmas-extravaganza with more family, food, and merriment.







And that is what I like to call a merry little Christmas.

**Oh. And I just want to give a special shout-out to my saint of a mother-in-law. Who spent her entire day-after-Christmas rummaging through bags upon bags of garbage to find an ornament we misplaced. Only to find it in the very last place she looked: the garbage bin at the curb ready to be picked up in the morning.

That, my friends, is what we call the Christmas spirit.