Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As we say goodbye to another year.....

We reflect on the happenings of the year. The ups, the downs. The awesome, the not so awesome.

2013 was a CRAZY  year full of every kind of emotion you can imagine. For me, it was a tough year. I enjoyed so much of it but mentally it was tiring. I have found myself DONE DONE DONE on many days. But I keep on chugging through. I keep on trusting in my husband to bring me back to the right level and make me believe in the things that I am forgetting in the moment.

As I look back and reflect on this year, I see how truly awesome my family is. Nothing is ever perfect and I would not want that changed! I am thankful for all that we have been given, all that we have been tested with and all that we have in each other.
Gary - He helps with just about everything under the sun. He always attempts to make me smile, laugh and remember that our life is wonderful. He makes me feel safe, reminds me of who I am and  when the kids are driving me completely bonkers that everything will be fine soon. We are a team and even on the days that I get the short end of the stick, he is there to cheer me on.
Dominic - He can be the biggest help with the kids. He is the best shopping buddy and I enjoy our time together. He is almost a teenager and will be going to college before I know it!
Logan - This kid is the funniest person I know. He is a whirl wind of awesome. Makes me smile every single day.
Charlie - She is just too much. Her cuteness kills us and her laugh is contagious. She can make you smile with just one of her expressions.

I did this survey last year and loved it so I wanted to answer the same questions and see how things have gone from the first one in 2012....

1.What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Took Dominic to NYC. It was a great weekend away from the toddlers, just spending time with him (and our friend's daughter Audrey). We went on a family vacation to the beach with NO help from family. We went to Sesame Place with my cousin and drove there and back in one day...NEVER again. Heh. The next few have happened before, just worth mentioning: We had a year without anyone getting a surgery! We had a year where our medical bills were under $8,000! (this is the first in a LONG time) Gary got his "dream" job in his field. I got a promotion and reached the highest level in my current position. Took my sisters engagement photos and they turned out pretty well for being a non-professional. Saw a huge yellow duck on one of our rivers!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never really make resolutions because in my mind that meant you were doing things wrong before. I do make goals for myself and I did accomplish some of my goals. We did meet a lot of our goals and we continue to strive to meet the others.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! We have had a couple friends have babies and we even have a new cousin.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
There was one death this year, yes.
5. What countries did you visit?
We did not travel outside of the good ol’ USA.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you didn’t have in 2013?
Find a way to make things work in our favor to get more goals accomplished.
7. What dates from 2013 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
January 27th, Dominic turned 11 years old.  April 24th, Charlie turned 2.  June 6th, our anniversary. October 16th, Logan turned 4 years old. June 27th Charlie finished fully potty training herself.
8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
At work: being recognized as a hard working asset to the team and being promoted.
At home: remembering that tomorrow is a new day and if the house is messy that I can do it tomorrow.
Mentally: proving to myself that I can be pushed beyond my limits and still bounce back.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not spending enough one on one time with each kid. I want to include more days like that next year.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My back continues to give me problems. It has been 5 years since my surgery and I think I may need to break down and go see the neurosurgeon again. I do not want to start 2014 off with huge medical bills but it might be what happens. 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Ipad minis for the little kids. It has stopped the constant fighting over the ipad that we had.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Charlie potty trained herself and we are beyond proud! We have not bought diapers in a year or pullups in 6 months! 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
There are a few that we will work on changing for next year.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, car payments, medical bills, daycare.
15. What did you get really excited about?
Seeing the kids faces when we went to the beach. They are real beach babes and love it!
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
There are a ton! Mostly anything One Direction or from Pitch Perfect. My kids LOVE music.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
A: Although I feel like I could break apart into a puddle at any time some days, I am happier and thankful. B: Thinner! YAY C: Same as last year.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Take more videos of the kids. I take lots of pictures but videos are few. (this has not changed from last year, obviously I still need to work on it) Taking more pictures daily of the kids-they are growing so fast!
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Yelling. Worrying. Being annoyed. Spending time in pain.
20. How will/did you spend Christmas?
Families houses.
21. What was your favorite TV program?
Criminal Minds, Pretty Little Liars, Parenthood
22. What was the best book you read?
Well I have not read a book that did not contain some type of animal or princess…so there is not answer to this.
23. What did you want and get?
Reassurance from Gary that I am still the person that I once was.
24. What did you want and not get?
I wanted a bigger raise with my promotion but the one I got was shockingly low.
25. What was your favorite film of 2013?
Pitch Perfect, Hunger Games Catching Fire, Thor
26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 in Oct and went out to dinner with Gary.
27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being able to do more with my family.
28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2013?
29. What kept you sane?
My husband. Venting on twitter.
30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Live for today because there is no guarantee for tomorrow!

I welcome 2014 and hope for a wonderful year filled with laughs, joy, fun, crazy, chaos and love!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Friends, Traditions and Fun

Each year we get together with our friends for a Christmas party. We look forward to it each year!

Group shot taken by Stef
In recent years, our group of kids has grown leaps and bounds. After discussing with Stef and Amber, came to realize that our first annual party was in 2006! It consisted of Audrey, Dominic, Noel and Dylan. As you can see above, we now have many many more. (we were missing a few families so there are actually 16 kids!)

We usually all just pitch in and order pizza, each bring pop and snacks/dessert to share....this year Stef came up with the pasta bar idea, complete with salad and fresh bread. It worked out really well! We had cheese sauce, alfredo sauce, plain sauce and meatballs. Each family still brought some drinks, snacks and desserts to share.

After dinner, we had a visit with the big man! We went from oldest to youngest for visit Santa. I am so proud of Charlie, she is doing awesome with him this year! She tells us "My like Santa. He my friend. I sit on his lap, tell him I yike babies and barbies!"

After all the kids met with Santa, we had our gift exchange. We pull names (Logan picked the names this year) and each child buys another child a $10 gift. The kids enjoy this exchange so much! We went from youngest to oldest for this part of the evening. I am very proud of my kids for being patient and awaiting their turn! Logan did ask me a couple times but was told it is not polite to ask and if you keep asking then you have to go last!

Charlie received a cute barbie play set and coloring book
Logan received a lego set, a spiderman guy and a color book
Dominic received a game
After the gifts were all opened, the bigger boys ran off to play. The girls got out the sugar cookies and icing and started to decorate away! The enjoyed themselves, maybe a bit too much. Of course it started out very awesome and mellow but when the Moms left the room, Charlie and Lily got onto the table and were eating icing out of the containers. Charlie was also dumping sugar crystals into her mouth from the bins. Lily (the other Lily as Charlie calls her) was covering her hands in icing. It was quite a sight to see. Wish we had a photo but the Mom in Stef and I jumped into action to clean them up and get the dining room back to normal.

After cleaning up the mess, we got all the girls changed into their jammies. And great minds think alike...the Lily's had on matching pink Santa jammies and Charlie also had on pink Santa jammies!

Photo taken by Stef

While the big kids were enjoying every minute of their time together, the husbands were enjoying time in the basement/family room. George was playing guitar and the guys were singing along, having some adult beverages and laughing. Us Moms were in the living room with the adorable baby additions to the group. We always enjoy a good conversation, taking pictures and figuring out what to do next!

 Just look at little Liam....
And Violet (another photo taken by Stef) .....      

I am all about traditions. We as a family have so many....this is one tradition that I hope never ends! And next year, there will be another baby to add to the mix as one of our friends could give birth any day now! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elf on the Shelf Part 2

Let's see what Garland has been up to the last week.....
He took a bubble bath.....

He hung out with some snowmen....

He ate a Santa brownie and candy while looking at our gingerbread house....

He drew silly faces on the kids pictures.....

He got cozy in my stocking....

He reaches for the stars.....

He made himself comfortable in a wreath.....

He also switched the little ones' undies for their stockings but the picture of that got deleted from my phone, grrrr. I am looking at you Charlie !

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trendy Tot Tuesday - Christmas clothes


Time to link up with Kelly, Megan and Lindsay for Trendy Tot Tuesday! 

 Shirt: Gybmoree
Pants: Gymboree
Shoes: JcPenney

 Shirt: Osh Kosh B'gosh
Skirt: Old Navy
Leggings: The Children's Place
Hair Bows: Crazy 8
Shoes: JcPenney

Shirt: The Children's Place
Jeans: The Children's Place
Socks: Old Navy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A tear free Santa Visit

Today we went to our local township building to see Santa, make ornaments and decorate cookies! We met up with some friends, the kids think doing everything is better with friends! Dom decided to hang out at home.

They each made 2 ornaments: a reindeer bell and a pipe cleaner tree. They also decorated a cookie with icing and sprinkles, then ate every last morsel!

I was shocked that Charlie stood beside Santa and Mrs. Claus. She has never not cried before today. (which is good because we are headed to light up night tonight in our town and she will see him again!)

All of the kids looked so cute in their red Christmas outfits.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

The first week of December last year was pretty warm too! Today it is in the upper 60's in Pa. Last year it was in the 50's. I kinda like this trend because the very bitter cold, snowy days will be here before I know it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Elf on a Shelf

This year we adopted our Elf on a Shelf! I put it off last year because A- a $30 elf is a bit expensive in my opinion. B- Charlie was only 1.5 and I knew she would be clueless. C- I was way more overwhelmed by Christmas craziness last year than I am this year.

So on Sunday December 1st, when we went to pick out our tree, I pulled the trigger and bought our elf. I picked it up in secret.

We left the kids in the car while we took the tree into the living room. I quickly opened the elf and put him in the tree while Gary fixed everything. We went out to get the kids and told them "While we were putting the tree in the stand, Santa sent something for you!"

The kids ran into the house, Logan whining the whole time because he had fallen asleep. Charlie crying because she was super tired. Both wanting food and nothing to do with our fun Christmas stuff. I admit, I was a bit bummed. I mean, I just spent $30 on that damn elf and I was so excited to see their face when they found him! And they were totally killing the moment.

After a gulp of a drink and a few animal crackers, they started looking for what Santa had left behind. Logan quickly found the elf and asked all about him. Dominic read the book to the kids while Gary and I finished unloading our car full of stuff. The kids started to discuss names and Garland instantly became part of our family.

Our first night was simple. Garland was just hanging out:
The second night, Garland and Cinderella went for a ride:
The third night, Garland is trying to get the kids to understand listening. We have told them that if they are not good listeners then Santa replaces gifts with elf poop....so here is their warning from Garland:

Garland may bring the kids a small treat for the days that they are good! He has many things up his tiny little sleeves in the next couple week.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trendy Tot Tuesday - Christmas PJ's


Time to link up with Kelly, Megan and Lindsay for Trendy Tot Tuesday!  
It has been awhile since I have linked up, mostly because I have been slacking in the blogging department. Happy to be back and sharing my kids new jammies. We have a tradition of giving our kids new jammies on Christmas Eve to wear that night!