Christmas Lights

I love Christmas lights. They are just so beautiful, and they make the dark, dreary, cold nights just a bit more welcoming.

We started putting up our lights on November 30th- the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  We got back from visiting my sister and her kids on the 29th (see post), which meant we had Sunday to get the house prepped for Christmas decorations.  And, to top it off, the weather was lovely!  It was in the 50s, which is astounding. We knew we had to take advantage of that break from the cold.  So Jon climbed up on the roof and hung all the icicle lights.  By the time we finished on Sunday, the roofline was done- a MAJOR accomplishment!

image

Over the next few days Jon tackled the small bushes in front of our house, and then we did our porch, our large bushes (for the record- I HATE NET LIGHTS), and our deer/spotlight.  Since we broke up the decorating over about a week, it wasn’t all that overwhelming and it was done before we even knew it!  And now the house is all lit up and just beautiful. 

image

When did your lights go up?

Advertisements

Baby Makes Four!

image

I am so excited to announce that our family of three is growing to FOUR!  Yes, that’s right!  My husband and I are expecting, and our little bundle of joy should be making his/her arrival in May 2015.  We are both thrilled and excited- if not a little apprehensive about the changes to come.

We have told Ian, of course, that a new baby is coming and that he is going to be a big brother.  I don’t think he gets it.  But that’s ok- he’s only two.  I’m hoping that as I get further along and he gets a little older he’ll start to grasp the concept. And I hope he gets excited about it.  I loved growing up with siblings, and I can’t wait to see how their relationship will develop and turn out.

So far, this pregnancy has been pretty easy, and in some ways it’s been similar to my first.  But in others it’s been VERY different.

1) Morning Sickness
I had this with both pregancies for basically the entire first trimester (starting even before I had a positive pregnancy test).  With Ian, I just had a constant feeling of nausea- that unsettled stomach feeling that’s similar to motion sickness.  With this baby, I would go a few hours feeling fine and then BAM! Out of nowhere, I would suddenly feel ill.  Fortunately, I never vomited with either pregnancy… but that doesn’t make the feeling any easier to handle.

2) Showing
I didn’t show with Ian until I was 20 or so weeks along.  I mean, if you KNEW I was pregnant, you could probably tell earlier.  And if I wore a skin tight shirt or something you could tell something was amiss (but it mostly just looked like I needed to do some sit-ups).  But I was wearing regular clothes through my 20th week, including regular jeans.  Not true with this pregnancy.  I started showing by 8 weeks.  Not horribly obvious- probably about the same amount of obvious that I showed from weeks 14-20 in my first pregnancy.  And now, at 18 weeks, it’s pretty obvious that I’m pregnant.  I’ve been in pregnancy pants since about week 12, and pregnancy tops for about 2 or 3 weeks.  It’s insane how much different this is!

3) Cravings
I really didn’t have any cravings with Ian.  The only thing I could potentially put into this category is that there were times when all I really wanted to eat were hamburgers.  Jon would ask me what I wanted to eat for dinner, and I’d inevitably say that I could really use a burger.  I haven’t really had any cravings this pregnancy, either.  But I also haven’t been wanting hamburgers… this time around, it’s nachos.  If we are going out to eat someplace that has nachos, I’ll more than likely order them.  I don’t really count these as cravings because they aren’t things I MUST have- just things that sound good and I’d prefer to eat.

4) Overall feeling
With Ian, I never felt overly sick or tired or swollen or anything.  So far, that’s held true for this pregnancy, too (with the exception of some mild heartburn that recently made its appearance).  But I’m still less than half-way through, so we’ll see if this continues!

For those of you with mutliple pregnancies- did you find they were very different, or pretty similar?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Last week, Jon and I had the pleasure of going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert again this year!  We went last year and had such a good time that we knew we wanted to go again if they came back here again.

If you’ve never been to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, you really should go!  The music is fantastic and the performance is amazing.  And you can bet that at least a few of the musicians will run up and down the aisles at some point.  At our show, there was a separate stage at the back that raised and lowered- and the musicians mounted that stage and were raised into the air to perform.  It was definitely neat!

image

image

Their Christmas shows are normally split into two parts.  The first part is a story based around one of their Christmas CDs. This year, it was “The Christmas Attic” (last year was “Lost Christmas Eve”).  They have a storyteller (who has an AMAZING, deep, booming voice, by the way) that narrates certain portions as lead-ins to the music that weaves the tale.  Each song played during this portion of the concert adds to the story and drives home the overarching theme of the performance.  This is about 1 – 1.5 hours long.

When the story ends, the lights come up, and the musicians come out on stage for introductions. They also do the typical thank yous to the audience, road crew, fans, etc. 

Then the lights dim again and the second part of the show starts. This is where they play all of their traditional favorite Christmas songs (if not already hit during the first part of the show) plus other songs off their non-Christmas albums.  This also lasts 1 – 1.5 hours.  

Throughout the entire show there is smoke and lasers and lights and video… it’s quite the sensory experience, and supremely enjoyable.  They also do a really good job of getting the audience to participate.  And just watching the way they bound across the stage leaves me in awe- no wonder they are all in such good shape!!  Jon and I also like trying to see how many bow strings the violinist has lost over the course of the night- inevitably, the bow is shredded and strings are flying all over as he goes to town on the violin!  It’s pretty amazing.

Have you ever seen TSO in concert at Christmas time?  What did you think?  What are other concerts/shows you try to see every year at this time?

Getting our Christmas Tree!

My husband and I have now celebrated 6 Christmases together as a married couple. Each year we have bought a live tree, carefully selected from the myriad of trees and options abundantly available each winter.  For the past four years we’ve bought our tree from a nice little nursery down the road from us.  No matter how many places we visit, we always came back to that one nursery because they always have the absolute BEST trees.  Nice shape, good price, fresh.  

This year, we decided to try something different.  We’d always thought it would fun to go to a Cut-Your-Own Christmas tree farm.  I did a half-hearted search a year or so ago online but didn’t really find anything.  Maybe I just didn’t know what I was looking for, or maybe I just was intimidated by the idea of going someplace new.  Regardless, we’ve never made it work.  This year, however, the Cincinnati Moms Blog published a list of Christmas events in the area… and included in the list was a section for Cut-Your-Own Christmas tree farms.  It was fate!  I scanned the list for a farm nearby, and one that was also open on Nov 22nd (since we were going out of town for Thanskgiving and wouldn’t be able to get our tree until Dec 6 if we waited- which doesn’t give much time to enjoy it before we head to visit family for Christmas!).  As luck would have it, there was one farm that would work, so we decided to check it out.  We reasoned that if it didn’t pan out or we couldn’t find a good tree, we could always default back to our favorite little nursery.

We pulled into the tree farm and were blown away by HOW MANY trees there were.  There were tons; the selection was pretty overwhelming.  It helped that they had the trees organized/grouped by variety so we were more easily able to focus our search, but it was still a lot to consider.  

image

Ian loved running through the field and darting in and out of the trees.  Trying to keep track of him while also looking for the perfect tree was a bit challenging, but we made it work. 

We finally narrowed it down to 2 trees. 

image

Tree #1

image

Tree #2

We called Ian over and asked him to pick the one he liked better.  He looked at both trees and carefully considered his options before pointing to one and exclaiming “THIS ONE!” 

image

Tree #2 for the win!

With Ian’s seal of approval, we flagged down an employee and got our tree claimed and cut.  The employee was a kid, maybe 11 or 12 years old (and that’s being generous), but he was friendly and chatty and had us cracking up on the inside.  He told us he was working here to save for college (admirable, but interesting!).  So I asked him how long he’d been doing this and he told us “my WHOLE life!” At which point I had to stiffle a grin and a chuckle.

After the tree was cut, we headed back down to the main house to pay for it and get Ian one of the free cookies.  It was about 50 degrees, so we decided to pass on the free hot chocolate, but it was a nice gesture!  The employees helped us load the tree onto the top of our Flex and tie it down, and then we were soon on our way.  We got home, unloaded the tree, and set it up in the stand.  We agreed to wait to decorate it until after Thanksgiving, but it was so nice to have the tree in the house and ready for us when we got back from visiting family in Delaware!

image

Us with our tree!

image

Tree decorated!

Do you get a real tree each year?  Or do you go artificial?  If you get a real tree, do you cut your own?

Visiting Family- Thanksgiving in Delaware

This year, Ian, Jon, and I made the drive out to Delaware to visit my sister and her kids. It was a long, boring, 10 hour trip, but the visit made it all worthwhile.

We left Tuesday night around 5pm and unfortunately hit some rush hour traffic getting out of our area.  Once we were freed of that, we drove for another hour or so before stopping to get some dinner.  Our dinner stops normally take between 40 minutes and an hour (you just can’t be quick with a 2-year-old itow!), and this one was no exception.  We used to be the type of people who HATED stopping, even for a quick bathroom break, but having Ian has definitely changed our outlook.  He needs this break to stretch his legs and get his wiggles out. And since we drove at night, it was his last chance to move freely until we arrived in Delaware.  So though we try not to dawdle too much, it’s pretty much inevitable.  We got back on the road in under an hour, though, so I consider that a success.  

We hit some pretty awful construction traffic (really, why does the department of transportation do construction during a holiday week??) which slowed us down and generally made the drive annoying, but once we got out of Ohio it was pretty smooth sailing.  We pulled into my sister’s driveway around 3:30AM, carried Ian up to bed, and unloaded the few necessities from the car we required right then (bathroom stuff, suitcase, pillows, etc).  Then we all crashed.  

Unfortunately, before we could really fall alseep, Ian was awake and unhappy.  He was in an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar room, with his unfamiliar 11 year old cousin sleeping just a bed away from him.  Needless to say, he was a little freaked.  In an effort to salvage some sleep, I grabbed the little moster and brought him into bed with us.  If he wasn’t such a wiggler, this would have worked like a charm.  But he kicks, and flops, and tosses, and turns.  And generally takes up way more space in a bed than a 2-year-old ought to.  So it was a night punctuated by spurts of dosing and waking until he finally roused himself at 7:30AM raring to get started with the day.

My sister, angel that she is, tried to take Ian off our hands and give us a few more hours of sleep, but he wasn’t having it.  He only sees his aunt and cousins once or twice a year, so he doesn’t really “know” them yet, and he just wasn’t too thrilled about spending the morning with (to him) strangers. So I dragged my butt out of bed and accompanied him downstairs for some playtime and breakfast.

Ian’s a wild, boisterous child, but he’s pretty timid around new people and situations. So it took him most of the day to really figure everything out and get accustomed to everything.  By that evening, the kids were all sprinting around the house and playing like they were old friends- but those first hours were pretty rough (and clingy).

Wednesday was a wonderful day of relaxation. We did pretty much nothing. Mostly because it rained all day, but also because we were just tired and lazy and it felt good to sit around and not have anything in particular to do.

Thursday morning was a crisp and cool fall day, but we dragged the kids to the park down the street anyway to get their energy out.  It was pretty soggy from the rain (and the slides were pretty drenched), but you know how kids are- that didn’t bother them one bit.  We only lasted about 30 minutes before sucumbing to the cold and calling Uncle… though I think Ian would have been content to play there for the entire day.  The kid just loves being outside and loves playgrounds.  We changed out of our soggy clothes when we got back and began to prep for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was my sister’s first time ever cooking and hosting Thanksgiving (she visited us last year, and has always gone elsewhere in years past), but she did a fantastic job!  The food was delicious- and there was PLENTY of it… the mark of a good feast.  The turkey was done sooner than we expected, so we ended up eating a bit earlier than planned- but that just meant seconds later in the day!  Nothing wrong with that!  We all went to bed that night with nice, full bellies and the promise of leftovers the next day.

image

Friday morning my sister and I got up at 5am to do some Black Friday shopping.  Last year we got up at 4, and we probably should have done that this year, too, but 5 just seemed so much more appealing.  We hit Toys R Us first which was a MAJOR disappointment.  Nothing we wanted was on sale, so our guess is most the sales were targeted for Thursday night (and we had no desire to shop on Thanksgiving).  We went to the mall next to hit a few specific stores, but again, not much promise there.  Our next stop was Kohls, and oh my, did we hit the motherlode! Everything was discounted even more deeply than usual, and we managed to get a great haul for a fantastic price (and terrific Kohls cash!).  We vowed then and there to just shop Kohls next year and not bother with anywhere else.  We had wanted to hit Target, too, but it was nearing 9am and we were pretty much done with shopping, so we skipped it, grabbed donuts, and headed back.  Minus the black mark that was Toys R Us, it was a successful adventure and a fun sister outing.  This type of stress-free, laid back Black Friday shopping with my sister is something I’ve really come to enjoy (and look forward to).

Friday evening we drove out to Rehoboth for dinner, pictures with Santa, and a tree lighting. Even though it was cold, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The line for Santa pictures wasn’t long at all, and we zipped right through it.  Ian was really intruiged by Santa until it was actually our turn to get our picture, and then he was less than thrilled.  So we have this really wonderful picture of him completely freaked out by the whole thing. 

image

We probably have at least one more of these types of pictures in our future… 

Dinner was delicious- we ate at a pizza place nearby, and the pizza was wonderful!  Ian’s favorite part was the pepperoni, but he was eating and happy, so that was fine by me.  After dinner, we wandered over to the tree-lighting area and listened to the carolers.  Ian loved the music and was pretty sad when it was over.  But he was definitely excited and awed to see the tree light up suddenly!  In fact, he loved the Christmas tree so much that he didn’t want to leave.

image

It was a fairly late night for him, but he weathered it well.  We put him to bed once we got back and settled in to watch the Virginia Tech game for the evening (and we won- woo!).  

Saturday we packed everything up and let the kids run and play all morning.  After a good lunch and delicious desserts, we got ready to head out.  It was definitely sad leaving my sister and the kids behind but knowing we’d see them again in a few weeks for Christmas made it just a bit easier.  We got on the road about12:45pm- just in time for Ian to settle down in the carseat for his nap.  He fell asleep shortly after 1 and actually slept until nearly 4, which was wonderful! 

image

We drove another hour or so and then stopped for dinner and gas.  Then it was back in the car for the rest of the trip- and got back to our house about 11pm.  The drive was easy and stress-free, and Ian did really well.  We tossed him in bed when we got home and he promptly fell back asleep, allowing us to get a nearly full night’s sleep in our OWN bed- always a lovely feeling after you’ve been away for a while.

Sunday was spent unpacking, recovering, and decorating the house with Christmas lights. A fantastic end to a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better and am incredibly thankful for loving family and safe travels.

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  Did you travel anywhere or host out of town guests?

Barefoot Books- Season’s Readings

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I know many of us are rushing (and stressing?) to get our holiday shopping done.  So many people to buy for, so little time.  And what to get everyone?  It seems to just get harder every year!

In addition to things the kids on my list specifically request, I also like to give a book.  It’s just my thing.  Call me a weirdo if you want, I don’t care.  It’s something I like to do, and I’m going to keep doing it until there aren’t any kids left for me to purchase for.

This year, most, if not all, of those books will be coming from Barefoot Books. Yes, I sell Barefoot, so that’s definitely an incentive.  But also, I just LOVE these books.  They are so unique and such a perfect fit for so many different kids.  It’s really a no brainer.  And with Barefoot’s current 20% off sale (ending tomorrow night- 12/3), I can get all my shopping done at a discount- does it get any better than that?

I’ll probably be getting my son some new Bear books for our collection and probably a new sing-along, too:

image

"Bear About Town" is part of the Bear series and helps teach the days of the week

image

"Bear on a Bike" is part of the Bear series and emphasizes different types of travel.

image

"Driving my Tractor" is one of our extremely popular sing-alongs.

For my new baby nephew, I think Alligator Alphabet will be going in my basket:

image

My 9 year old neice is a bit tougher since she’s on the older end of the Barefoot spectrum, but I’m thinking a copy of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” (hardcover) would be perfect for her:

image

And my 11 year old nephew will probably be getting Achilles (hardcover w/CD) because I think it’s something he’ll really enjoy!

image

So if you’re looking for something new and unique this year, why not check out Barefoot (http://bethbfb.barefootbooks.com)?  You won’t regret it…especially if you are able to try them out during this sale. Just use code TOGETHER20 at checkout to get your 20% off.  And if your order is over $60, it ships free.  Don’t you just love savings!?

image

(By the way, I’m also hosting a little Season’s Readings sale over on Facebook and Instagram.  I’m selling off some inventory at steep discounts, and you won’t want to miss you.  Hop on over and check out what I’m offering… if you see something you want, message me or comment on the post to claim it as yours. The prices are great and the products are amazing- things will go quickly!).