Thursday, December 24, 2015

A whole new world

Ever since we've moved in, we've had construction going on at the end of our street to connect our neighborhood to the one directly next to us. When the street finally opened up last week, Troy was begging to go check it out. He says, "there's more new friends on that street, Mommy!" That's just the way he looks at opportunities :)

Nice surprise waiting down the road was a farm with some horses we could walk past. The kids loved it! So great to have some new walking opportunities awaiting us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

First Ever Cookie Decorating Party

Cookie decorating has been something I've enjoyed doing with Troy (and now, this year, Cassidy!) every year since he was 2 yrs old. (See 2012, 2013, 2014 here.) Last year I had the idea to host a cookie decorating party before Christmas, but being in a house that was *supposed* to be show ready at a moment's notice, cookie party didn't end up happening. This year it was definitely going down!

I was on the fence whether or not to do it when I found pre-cut sugar cookies ready to bake in boxes at GFS Marketplace. Sold. The rolling out/baking/cutting was the part I was least looking forward to so I was super glad to have that done. We baked the cookies a day in advance. I got out all the sprinkles and supplies the night before after the kids were in bed. Keeping them OUT of them was a chore. I mixed up all the icing the morning of.

I did some royal icing you could spread, but really didn't like it very much. Some of the kids used it (mostly because they wanted pink and the red looked like pink here). What was the REAL hit was the icing I put in squirt bottles (like for ketchup). This was the recipe I used (and multiplied several times over for the different colors). This filled a bottle, I think. I like using the wilton food coloring because the color is richer than the ones that you get at the regular grocery store.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional

I set it up as a "cookie decorating open house" and invited several friends and neighbors. Shortly after our start time, the first friends arrived! And my kids happily sat down to decorate with them, as I didn't let them get started until friends came :)

Toppings were set out in muffin trays with liners. There were also a number of sprinkle shakers. I made three muffins pans full of toppings so i could swap them out as new kids came and the previous one was picked over.

A larger wave of kids arrived about an hour into the party. Troy was already done decorating, went upstairs with a friend, and came back down to about 15 new people in his house, lol.

Many of the kids just wanted to play. Fine by us!

Moms were able to hang out in the kitchen and chat once the decorators fled the kitchen!

A collection of Troy and Cassidy's masterpieces below.

I let Troy do two more cookies after everyone left and Cassidy went to her room for some quiet time. He was so happy!

I was really unsure as to how many cookies to make for our group to decorate. In the end, we had 18 kids here total (three of them didn't decorate though). So 15 decorators. And we went through about 60-65 cookies. Really about 3-5 cookies would have been enough for each kid. I WAY overprepared but I really had no idea what to expect. Thus, I jot this down for next year! We also went through TONS of powdered sugar. I was glad I picked up two extra bags because we used all of my original bag and more. It was a LOT of sugar!

Can't wait to do this again next year. It was a BLAST! I am so thankful to be in a home where hosting people for things like this is so simple!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gingerbread House Decorating Party

Our friends Sarah and Benjamin invited us to their home for a gingerbread house decorating party. I was excited it landed on a weekend Mike would be home and right during naptime meant that I could get out for a date with my favorite (little) man.

We appear to be taking our building very, very seriously here.

This pic of Troy is just awesome. I love this smile. So genuinely happy. What a kid.

The finished masterpiece. I asked him what his favorite part was and he said the gummy worm door.

The happy little decorators snapping a pic before running on to the next activity. They all made such great houses! We had to "borrow" Benjamin's awesome marshmallow chimney idea :) Thanks for having us, Sarah and Benjamin!!

Christmas Party Spouse Pic

Things that would have been easier than what we did to get a pic of the two of us the night of our awesome friends' adults-only Christmas party.

  1. Having our five year old take a pic of us before we left.
  2. Having someone at the actual party take a pic of us (They have a GORGEOUS Christmas tree, so this would have been great. And there were tons of people very very much capable of snapping a pic.)
  3. Having our babysitter take a pic of us before she left at the end of the night. 
Instead, we opted for the option where we (after a night out of fun) were going to prop my iPhone up on a window to take a pic of us on timer. Many laughs were had, but we did end up with a pic I love!

Little Ladies

The "friend" stage is so new to Cassidy that it still makes me smile when she scurries upstairs with a little friend to play baby dolls and look at books. Thankful for a neighborhood where there are many friends to be made and lots of families to play with!

A day for the books- a keeping it real post

This day. It was rough from the get go. So, so many factors at hand. On this day, this is what my house looked like.

To which a dear friend responded with this message when I was talking to her and sent her the above pic:
My house always. Always. Always. looks worse than that. Who the heck cares? You're not taking pictures for Better Homes and Gardens, you're living in your home. Nobody cares what it looks like and if they do then they can go away and leave you alone.

I love my friends.

And I also love pizza places with drive throughs. And our attached garage. So we can make shoeless pizza runs in December in our small town :)

Cheers! Mommy share coffee!

Cassidy jokingly asks for coffee all the time at home but this was the first time she brought one of her play tea set tea mugs over to me to "fill up coffee". I laughed so hard! And for what its worth, she still didn't get any :)

So I guess this means...

We've potty trained! Two weekends ago, I decided to take Cassidy out shopping for underwear and bought some Princess Anna (Frozen) undies and try to put her in them. That day we went through all seven pairs of underwear before 10am. Nope, not ready yet. But that WAS a catalyst to getting her interested in going on the potty and she did several times over the next week.

But the following weekend (in between Christmas events 3 and 4, while Mike was traveling) I woke up on Sunday and heard her in her room saying "Mommy...... Poopy...... Potty....." And so I took her. And the switch "they" all speak about had flipped. That day she was in undies.

And even though I feel like I lived in the bathroom for almost a week, she's rocking it. Undies all day except nap and bed. And I'm usually sticking her in a diaper for church and the Y (for now). As soon as I'm sure she's going or holding it when she's one of many kids in a group :) But even out running errands, all day at home or mornings at daycare, she's got it down! We've had some accidents but she's done great. Hey, if I will let her sit on my bed in undies and watch iPad we MUST be doing pretty good huh!?

And I do find myself saying the phrase "we need pants to leave the house" fairly often these days, too...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kids lead worship at church (AKA Christmas event 4 of 4 in 48 hours)

My little Christmas fashionista posing. No, I did not pose her that way. Yes she is wearing fancy black shoes with a heel.

Troy is so stinkin' cute with his sister. He loves her so :)

And the kids did a great job. Shout out to our Kingdom Kids team for being fabulous!

Joy Project

Beema passed along these nativity crafty kits to us at least two or three years ago and I saved them in with the Christmas stuff until our kids were old enough. And decided to pull them out today while Cassidy napped played with her babies in her room for two hours without falling asleep.

He assured me he could glue them himself. I hadn't let him use elmer's glue much at home but I let him at it. And guess what? He did outstanding!

He also didn't want any help. So he worked on this for a half hour or more and then I got to check it out. The one on the top was the "prototype" and the one on the bottom was the one he did all on his own. Nice work, Troy!!! Good job! (Happy Birthday Jesus sticker added to his for a little extra Christmas spirit.)

Vineyard Family Christmas (AKA Christmas event 3 of 4 in 48 hours)

Preschool Christmas Program

Restoration Dinner - Christmas

For several years, I organized a monthly dinner to serve at Restoration Urban Ministries. Earlier this year, I felt prompted to give that coordinating opportunity away, preparing for what, I did not know. But the Lord certainly did, as many things have been added to my plate since then. Even though we're not going every month any more, it is a deep desire of mine to stay connected at Restoration and to bring the kids several times a year, as not only its a great ministry in our community, but its the single best place I can take my kids to share how we can practically bless others in need that are right near us. The conversations about how some kids don't have money for toys, dinner on their table, their own beds/bedrooms, are ones I take seriously from Troy so he can somewhat understand.

I think he understands.

When we walked in and saw no less than a dozen people already lined up behind the table to serve, he was SO disappointed that he wasn't going to have a spot to serve that I realized I needed to find SOMETHING for him to do. So kindly, the new coordinator slotted him in right at the breadstick station. While I stayed close in the very beginning, I eventually talked to the woman next to him and asked if she could be his helper if he needed something so I could move my crazy toddler away from the food for 150 people mingle with the crowd. He did SUCH an awesome job serving EVERY single person a breadstick in that place! At one point, one of our pastors came up to me and said, "Not only is he serving breadsticks, he's wishing people a Merry Christmas, too!"

Troy told me on the drive home he was worshipping God that night by serving bread. I said, "yes you sure were!"

Cassidy did her part by coloring, eating two helpings of dinner (there was a LOT of food) and mingling, too. Thankful to have had a wonderful night there!

First Cookies of the Year

Yes, I'm a coach and yes, I'm now a group fitness instructor too, but yes, there will always be some Christmas cookies baked and enjoyed during the Christmas season with my kids! Troy had been asking to make some so we whipped up a small batch and threw in some sprinkles for good measure!

#fitfam15 is drawing to a close

We first introduced #fitfam15 at the very end of 2014 when we were signed up for our Y membership and just a couple weeks into our new workout routines as a couple and a family. The Y literally opened up a floodgate of opportunities for us to be healthy and active together and #fitfam15 was something Mike came up with for our family visits. Most times, its the kids and I there on our own, but any time Daddy has the day off or some spare time, we love to have him join us... like one random morning this past week!

Troy's (Actual) Birthday

Troy had his birthday on a Wednesday and we had already officially "celebrated" earlier that weekend, so we didn't have anything super duper special planned. When I picked him up from school, I did tell him there would be a few fun surprises coming his way that day, though :)

First up, after I got Cass down for nap, I went out to the car to retrieve a birthday cake donut from Pandamonium Donuts for him. I'd paid a visit to the donut truck earlier that day for myself for enduring 50 hours of labor five years earlier the birthday boy. He enjoyed this first treat :)

When Cass awoke, we ventured outside for our 50+ degree mid-December day and took a walk on the trails. I told him that the fact we were on a 2 mile walk in December was purely a gift from God :)

We had taco chili (his fav!) for dinner that night with a little shrimp appetizer. Troy LOVES shrimp and had asked if we could buy it earlier that weekend. I happily obliged.

At the very end of the night, Ms Laura, Leah and Ethan stopped by to take us around to see some lights in Mahomet. Troy liked the big displays and wanted to get up close :)

And he's already looking forward to turning 6....