Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Holiday Bucket List Wrap-up!

11 posts in a month’s time is something I haven’t accomplished since 2015! I credit doing a holiday bucket list for my motivation to write regularly again and I plan to do this every December going forward, because I’m actually writing! I love this blog. I really do. The blogging community has changed so much over these past 7+ years and I think that’s to be expected. Many of my favorite LGBTQ family bloggers have come and gone and while I miss following their lives, I get it. Sometimes you’re just done and it’s time to move on to something else. I honestly thought I would retire More Than Words last year when I wrote a whopping 18 posts all year long. Interestingly enough though, it wasn’t until I stopped blogging that I realized how much I need this space. I need to document our lives. I need to have something to do with the tons of pictures I take of my family. I need to read stories of other families who look like mine and I love being able to go back and re-read about our experiences – the good and the bad. I’ve made amazing friends here, in this space. I’ve survived infertility, in large part thanks to the support of the people found here. I’ve been inspired and laughed and cried, reading all your stories. So, as I get ready to begin my 8th year of blogging, I’m here to tell you – I’m going to make every effort to be present here this year and I’m sure I’ll be here the year after that. I’ve rediscovered my love of writing the past couple of months and I’m so happy about that, so I just thought I would share my feels. Now, moving on to our Holiday Bucket List Wrap-up…


Make Christmas Cookies | 4th Annual Cousins and Cookies Exchange
There are a few of our holiday traditions that I treasure the most and making cookies with our little loves is at the top of my list of favorites! Georgia and I started the tradition, along with my mom way back in 2007, just a year after G and I started dating. We wanted to do something fun with our 3 nephews during the holidays and because they weren’t into going to the Nutcracker or watching the local Christmas ballet, or really anything of that nature – we started a tradition that incorporated food. Because who doesn’t LOVE food, especially Christmas cookies!


We normally have our nephews, our niece and Gracie make cookies with us each December, but this year things were too crazy for that! My mom and stepdad just finished building their dream home complete with home gym, a music studio and 4-car garage (like, the house is crazy amazing), so they were moving-in these past 3 weeks. At the same time, my big bro and sister-in-law closed on the sale of their house and moved into my mom’s old house days following her move out with plans to stay there while they shop for their forever home. The entire family was busy packing boxes, packing u-hauls and moving furniture, so baking cookies was pretty low on the list of priorities. We decided that it would be most helpful to take my niece for the day and have her join us to bake while also freeing up their time to really get stuff done. It’s amazing what all you can accomplish shipping your 6-year-old off for the day!


The girls always have an absolute blast baking cookies together and with this being the first year that they could read the directions and do the measuring, it was like a whole new experience! They made cookies for Santa, cookies for their parents and decorated a gingerbread house! They also opened their annual matching Christmas jammies and this year, Will joined the pajama crew! They’re so stinkin’ cute!


Decorate a Gingerbread House | I have a secret to share…
Maybe it’s just been my experience, but making and decorating gingerbread houses with little ones is such a HUGE pain in the ass. It just is. First off, sugar frosting makes for crappy cement and never does the job of keeping the walls of your gingerbread house together. Unless you plan to let the frosting dry overnight before decorating (which, who seriously has the time or energy for that)?! What you end up with are walls that keep caving in on each other and kiddos having meltdowns, right and left. After last year’s gingerbread disaster, I decided I would only buy pre-built gingerbread houses from now on and guess what – it’s the best damn idea I’ve ever had.


The thing is, kids don’t want to build the damn house! They want to decorate it and then they want to eat it! It’s a bit pricier to go the pre-built route, but so worth the additional 2-3 dollars! I purchased one for the girls to decorate and they each decorated their own half of the house and had a blast! I divided the candy, gave each of them frosting to work with and let them have at it. There were no arguments. No meltdowns. No sudden loss of interest leaving me with a pile of graham cracker/frosting hot mess-ness. It was great and I 100% recommend doing this, to all you parents out there. You can thank me later!
Look how pretty!


Make a Christmas Wish List | The 1st Gracie’s Written Herself!
Grace’s been blowing our minds with her development these days! Well, we actually started seeing crazy changes in her development around 6 months ago, when she started kindergarten. Watching your kid learn to read and read to YOU, is the most amazing thing. Watching them read big words that you had no idea they could read, is incredible. Hearing them count to 140 when you didn't know they could count that far, is incredible. Hearing them talk about science and how things like clouds are formed, is just so rad! Basically, it’s all amazing and it leaves G and I bursting with pride, on the daily. We’ve decided to push our gal even more than before, because she’s showing us every day that she is dying to learn all the things! G just bought the Bean her first set of chapter books, “The World of Beverly Cleary Collection”, which has all those great stories about Ramona and Beezus! She’s already working her way through book one and is loving it! These days, she’s obsessed with writing letters to all our relatives and so we mail them out for her. She’s always painting or coloring or making things, which you know pulls at my crafty mama heartstrings! I just love every bit of what I’m seeing.


For the first Christmas ever, our big girl wrote her very own Christmas list! She did it in like 5 minutes, while driving in the car and only needed a little help with spelling (she spelled Play-Doh by sounding it out, which in itself was pretty darn impressive, and the fact that two of her numbers were written backwards just added to the cuteness! For Christmas this year, she asked for: 1. Orbees Spa 2. An Elena Guitar 3. Sleeping Beauty stuff and 4. Play-Doh! She helped write out all the gift tags for us throughout the month and she did great! I’m so looking forward to what the 2nd half of the school year brings. :)
* Host a Family Cookie Exchange – Check!
* Make Christmas cookies – Check!
* Make a Christmas wish list – Check!
* Decorate a Gingerbread House – Check!

I can’t believe that it’s officially 2018! For New Year’s Eve, we had a sitter so the wife and I took her new Lightsaber Chop Sticks out for sushi and then went to watch the new Star Wars movie (which was amazing btw). We basically had the geekiest NYE ever, but that’s ok. I knew what I was getting into when I married a nerd and happy wife = happy life!   

  
* Happy New Year, Friends *


22 of 23 things checked off our Holiday Bucket List. Not bad for the first year!
* * *
2017 // Holiday Bucket List
* Take brother to meet Santa for the 1st time!
* Make homemade ornaments
* Get matching Christmas jammies
* Hang Christmas lights
* Attend the Old Town Holiday Shop & Stroll
* Decorate the Christmas tree
* Make a Christmas wish list
* Go watch Sister Bear in her school’s Holiday Concert
* Go to the movies (preferably a Christmas movie)
* Make Christmas cookies
* Select a baby Christmas tree for little bro
* Have a holiday date night
* Fill a sack of toys to donate to kiddos in need
* Take a drive to see Christmas lights
* Find the perfect Baby’s 1st Christmas Ornament
* Go to a holiday party
* Host a family cookie exchange
* Decorate Gracie’s bedroom Christmas tree
* Send out Christmas cards
* Visit the Botanical Garden River of Lights
* Welcome Twinkle Toes home for Christmas (our Elf on the Shelf)
* Make a gingerbread house
* Try a fun new Christmas cocktail
* Watch Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

HBL | Twinkle Toes | Year 4

Our little elf, Twinkle Toes made her 4th trip to our casa, all the way from the North Pole this year and she was a hit! Grace believes in her elf with all her heart and gets such a kick out of her daily visits, which begin on December 1st and end on the 24th. The mamas LOVE Twinkle Toes as well, because she’s the handiest tool for keeping Gracie in line, lol! Anytime that holiday, sugar-induced sassiness begins, we just have to remind the Bean that TT is watching and WILL report bad behavior to Santa. It works like a charm every.single.time - God bless it!
Watching our gal run out of her room every morning to search for Twinkle Toes is just about the cutest thing ever and we didn’t even mind the minor scares we had that were a result of early morning screams of excitement. We picked up a few toys and goodies from the $1-$5 section at Target and every couple of days our elf brought the Bean a little something, which she thought was the most amazing thing! Her first gift was a big envelope for Grace to use when mailing her wish list to Santa and she was thrilled to get it! My hope is that she continues to believe in this stuff for years to come! Or until middle school, at least.
A few highlights from this year include the personalized letter TT brought for Gracie the first day she arrived and the lesson she helped us teach the Bean following her getting caught peeking in her stocking! Twinkle Toes took her stocking back to the North Pole that night, and thankfully she decided to bring it back on Christmas Eve. It was a really great lesson in patience for our gal and TT was a huge help.
{Here are a few favorite Twinkle Toes visits from this year } 

We only had one night that we forgot to move her this year (winning!!) but thankfully she had fallen over and Grace thought she moved all on her own, so it wasn’t a total fail! Gracie didn’t get her Elf on the Shelf until she was old enough to name her and we’re thinking we’ll do the same with Will, so for the next 2 years, TT will just have to visit them both. :)

 2017 // Holiday Bucket List
* Take brother to meet Santa for the 1st time!
* Make homemade ornaments
* Get matching Christmas jammies
* Hang Christmas lights
* Attend the Old Town Holiday Shop & Stroll
* Decorate the Christmas tree
* Make a Christmas wish list
* Go watch Sister Bear in her school’s Holiday Concert
* Go to the movies (preferably a Christmas movie)
* Make Christmas cookies
* Select a baby Christmas tree for little bro
* Have a holiday date night
* Fill a sack of toys to donate to kiddos in need
* Take a drive to see Christmas lights
* Find the perfect Baby’s 1st Christmas Ornament
* Go to a holiday party
* Host a family cookie exchange
* Decorate Gracie’s bedroom Christmas tree
* Send out Christmas cards
* Visit the Botanical Garden River of Lights
* Welcome Twinkle Toes home for Christmas (our Elf on the Shelf)
* Make a gingerbread house
* Try a fun new Christmas cocktail
* Watch Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

HBL | Christmas Countdown!

* Go watch Sister Bear in her school’s Holiday Concert – Check!
* Get matching Christmas jammies – Check!
* Decorate Gracie’s bedroom Christmas tree – Check!
* Go see a Christmas movie – Check!


Christmas Concert | Heart Melts!
I don’t think I was at all prepared for how awesome having a kid in Kindergarten would be! It’s just cuter than I ever imagined. Gracie absolutely loves it and we adore her school and her teachers. All in all, it’s been a wonderful first-half of the year! The Bean’s school plans fun family-based events, just about every other month and the parents in charge of the PTA are the most creative bunch around. The officers of the PTA consist of 100% stay-at-home moms and they are so dang committed to doing anything and everything for our kiddos. G and I joined the PTA at the start of the year, but we definitely fall into the “working parents” category, meaning that we paid an annual PTA membership fee, we go to one meeting a month and participate/contribute to school fundraisers. The other folks who hold office basically live at the school and I’m super thankful for all they’ve done to make this year so awesome, with the most recent adorable event being Gracie’s 2017 Holiday Concert.


Our gal isn’t the best about keeping us in the loop when it comes to the stuff that goes on at school… (remember that time we just happened to find out that she was Student of the Month because G noticed her picture on the bulletin board), yeah, she’s a Kindergartner, so I don’t expect the best communication, haha! Anyway, what contributes to this being out of the loop stuff, is that my MIL picks Grace up from school and has her from 3:30pm to 5:15pm, Monday -Thursday and often lets her rummage through her backpack. I can’t complain too much, because my in-laws are amazing for all they do for us + Gracie is stubborn and doesn’t listen when we tell her to leave her backpack alone! The issues this creates is that we only end up getting around 25% of the information flyers that get sent home and in this case, we didn’t even find out about the Bean’s concert until a few days before! We never received the lyrics to the songs she performed that she was supposed to practice at home in the weeks leading up to the concert… We had no idea that there were specific things that students needed to wear… and we didn’t even get to invite the grandparents until 2 days before! Thankfully it all worked out though. It just so happened that Gracie’s Christmas dress was red this year and that was the color she needed to wear for the performance and our little princess gal already had a tiara Santa hat, which also covered the request to, “put your child in a holiday hat that reflects their personality”. She ended up looking adorable with her matching candy cane jewelry and she could not have been more excited!


We arrived early, for once in our lives – so we had great seats! Brother Bear looked all adorable wearing the “Baby’s 1st Christmas” shirt that was Gracie’s for her first Christmas and he was quite the crowd pleaser in his black tweed cap and skinny jeans. Grace was a ball of energy when we arrived and spent the hour before the show running, full-speed all over the school cafeteria with her buddies. She wanted to show us all the projects she’s been working on and didn’t seem nervous at all when it was show time.


I must hand it to our little Santa princess. For someone who literally didn’t practice one single song at home, she did great! She seemed to lead the group for one of the songs that had hand movements in the performance and looked like a pro up on stage. My mama heart melted about a hundred times during the 45 minutes that she performed!


Following the Bean’s adorable concert, she asked for a microphone stand for Christmas to go with her karaoke machine my mom gave her last year, and since she got it on Christmas morning, she has only stopped singing to sleep and eat!


Mama’s little performer! :)


Get Matching Christmas Jammies | Holiday Pajama Party


In what’s felt like a blink, our gal’s finished out half her school year and my gosh – it flew by! Her class hosted the cutest little holiday pajama party earlier in the month, which was an award for raising the most money in the school’s recent fundraiser. I had a feeling they would win, so I ordered matching jammies for all of us in November and Gracie and Will looked adorable! The Bean was beyond excited to wear matching PJ’s with her brother and paraded him around her classroom introducing him to all her friends! I’m just so thankful that she totally digs being a big sister!


We all joined in the festivities and watched Christmas movies with the Bean’s Kindergarten buds and their parents, while snacking on holiday goodies. As I was setting out the food we brought, G let Gracie walk around the classroom introducing Will to everyone. A few of the parents acted a bit shocked that we let her carry the baby, which I thought was funny and ridiculous. One mom commented that Grace seemed a bit small to be carrying her brother, “who is just a baby”. She said it nicely and in a joking way, but it was still annoying. I had to then explain that Gracie is the tallest girl in her class, that’s she’s freakishly strong (lol) she’s nearly 6 years old and that we taught her how to safely carry him since she’s insisted on doing so since he was around 4 months old. Helicopter parents and their freak-outs… gotta love’em.


After the little party, we walked around the school to deliver presents to the Bean’s teachers and it took the longest time because Gracie has a ton of teachers! We delivered tins of cookies to her classroom teacher and teacher’s aide + her technology teacher + her music teacher + her art teacher + her PE coach. Thank you Costco for selling tins of cookies in bulk!
    
Decorate Gracie’s Bedroom Christmas Tree | Thanks Twinkle Toes!


I plan to share a post of all of Twinkle Toes’ surprises for Gracie this year, but this one may be my favorite! She has a mini tree lot in her room with the cutest little house and this year her elf brought her a new pink Christmas tree! She was so excited when she woke up that morning that she nearly gave all of us a heart attack because she screamed when she saw it, haha!


Go to a Holiday Movie | William’s First Movie


The first time I ever had a “boyfriend” was in the 3rd grade and his name was Adam. Now, by boyfriend, I mean that he let me wear his water watch (remember those!) and I think we held hands for like 10 seconds one time and that was about it, lol. What I didn’t realize was that this guy would become one of my best friends and would still be my absolute best guy friend, 28 years later. He is known as uncle Adam now and is the best uncle ever! He is such a dedicated uncle and constantly spoils all the kids in our crew of friends. For Christmas this year, as a gift to all the kiddos, he rented an entire movie theater so they could watch the movie STAR, the story of the birth of Jesus. We decided that this would be the perfect first movie for Will because, were he to cry, he would be in a room full of friends and family and they wouldn’t mind. As it turned out, he did amazing and didn’t cry once! He was so into the movie and didn’t fall asleep until the last 15 minutes. He did so great that we’ve since taken him to a second movie, Disney’s Coco!


I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas! Ours was so great but I’m also glad we’re through the craziness that is Christmas! I’m off for two more days, so hopefully I’ll have time to share a few Christmas Eve and Christmas pics! Merry everything. :)


2017 // Holiday Bucket List
* Take brother to meet Santa for the 1st time!
* Make homemade ornaments
* Get matching Christmas jammies
* Hang Christmas lights
* Attend the Old Town Holiday Shop & Stroll
* Decorate the Christmas tree
* Make a Christmas wish list
* Go watch Sister Bear in her school’s Holiday Concert
* Go to the movies (preferably a Christmas movie)
* Make Christmas cookies
* Select a baby Christmas tree for little bro
* Have a holiday date night
* Fill a sack of toys to donate to kiddos in need
* Take a drive to see Christmas lights
* Find the perfect Baby’s 1st Christmas Ornament
* Go to a holiday party
* Host a family cookie exchange
* Decorate Gracie’s bedroom Christmas tree
* Send out Christmas cards
* Visit the Botanical Garden River of Lights
* Welcome Twinkle Toes home for Christmas (our Elf on the Shelf)
* Make a gingerbread house
* Try a fun new Christmas cocktail
* Watch Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer


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