Monday, December 31, 2018

52/52: My Forever Date

2018 Best 9 + Most Read Posts!

Well friends, another year has come and gone and I feel as though 2018 flew by, even faster than previous years! This year has been full of change for us. We've had so many new experiences as a family of 4. There were big career changes for Georgia, we began our journey to become fit moms; I purchased my first brand new grownup ride and the list goes on and on. 2018 was good to us and I'm thinking 2019 will be even better! 

Our plans for tonight are to order our traditional NYE sushi feast to enjoy as a family, before putting the kiddos to bed and celebrating with a cocktail or 2 (or 4), as we ring in the New Year. It's snowing like crazy right now and it's supposed to snow all the way through Wednesday, so we'll be closing my office early and I'll be heading straight to the grocery store to prepare to be snowed in. 

Spending the New Year all cozy at home with my little family watching movies, as our neighborhood is blanketed in snow, sounds like a dream NYE to me! So, as I close out 2018 and welcome 2019 with open arms, I thought I would share our 9 most popular pictures posted on social media, along with a list of our 9 most popular blog posts shared over this past year. As always, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to check-in and visit this space. We truly appreciate all of you for following along as our 2 mom family raises 2 beautiful babies in the Southwest. This is a community that we need and do not take for granted. We just hope you all know that!

#4: 364 views | A Letter to My Wife

#5: 281 views | Keto // The Game Changer

#9: 169 views | 12 Months of William

:: Our Instagram 2018 Best Nine ::

Wishing you all a very happy New Year's Eve and a wonderful 2019!  
See you next year. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

51/52: 10th Annual "Girls Christmas"

I'm not sure how it's possible, but me and the homies just celebrated our 10th Annual "Girls Christmas". Girls Christmas, is a tradition we started way back in 2008, when we all used to work together and it's one of the things I look forward to most every year. A group of us, which has gone from 7 to 5 (some have moved away) get together every year to do a Secret Santa gift exchange + favorite Christmas foods potluck + consume massive amounts of alcohol, ha! Over the years we've grown a bit older, some have sent kids off to collage; we no longer all work together and so many other things have changed, but our friendship remains the same. I'm just so thankful for each and every one of these humans!

Crazy to think that I only have one more of these to go before wrapping up another 
year of Project 52! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018 Family Photos & All the Feels

December is always a month of so much reflection for me. If the year's been difficult, I spend the month going over all we've experienced with hopes that things improve and when it's been a good year, I'm left feeling very thankful (and slightly nervous for the upcoming year... hello anxiety). For me, 2018 was a mixed bag of both blessings and some struggles. There were challenges with G's sudden career change and that was tough. If I'm being completely honest though, other than the job stuff, this past year has been one of the good ones! 

I've been super excited to share our 2018 family holiday photos, but wanted to wait until Christmas cards went out and were received - so here we go! Below are a few favorite snaps of my beautiful family this holiday season, accompanied by some of the things that I'm most thankful for, as this year comes to a close. My apologies for what I'm sure will be a bit of a sappy post. Y'all know I've never shied away from sharing the hard stuff and I hope to always have the courage to do that. With that being said, it's also important that all of us make time to celebrate the good and give thanks where thanks is due.

The older I get, the more that good health seems to climb my list of what's most important to me. We've experienced our share of struggles with health in years past; whether it be infertility, Gracie's cleft lip and surgeries, pregnancy loss, or family members and animals getting cancer. Thankfully, things on the health front have been good in 2018, in so many ways! My sweet babies made it through several strong strains of the flu in our community, without getting sick. In fact, neither experienced any serious bugs or sickness of any kind this year. Our sweet boy outgrew his egg allergy, which made us so happy and his eczema seems to get better and better, the older his gets. Then there's the HUGE changes that G and I made to improve our health, beginning this past June. As I type this, we are on day 203 in our quest to become fit moms. We began our journey unsure of where it would take us and yet we've stayed committed (for over 7 months) to eating better and staying active, working out 4-5 times/week, every week! This is a first for us, in the 12+ years that we've been together and I'm just so proud that we've made it this far and are still going strong! 

I'm grateful for how much our babies have grown, learned and developed; individually and as sister and brother. They have this amazing bond and get along incredibly well, 90% of the time. I attribute this mostly to their 5 year age gap, but also credit us mamas for showing them what it means to love and support each other. Gracie's parent/teacher conferences at school continue to outline what a shining star she is among her peers, testing a grade above her level in several areas since kindergarten. Academics are so important to us, which is why we started Gracie in pre-k at 2.5 years old and plan to do the same with Will (dude's been on the co-ops waiting list since he was born, haha)! Even more than this though, it makes us most proud to hear that we have some very kind kiddos. Kindness needs to come first and that's what we try and teach, everyday. Some days we drop the ball, as all parents do, but the lessons and message is always clear. Be nice. Help others. Show respect. Love yourself and love your family. 

The relationship that Georgia and I share is also something that I am very thankful for, even when I occasionally want to strangle her. ;) For all different types of reasons, we've had 4 friend couples that we know, separate or file for divorce, this past year. I was shocked when I learned of the first and then I began to get worried about what the hell was going on in the world, when I found out about the 2nd, 3rd, 4th... to call it quits. It scary stuff to see a marriage end. It's heartbreaking to see friends go through it and you almost can't help but let it get under your skin. The wife and I spoke a lot on this topic this year and at the end of the day, it was a great motivator for us to check-in with each other more often and connect more than we had been. Marriage is hard work, you guys. Some years it's butterflies and date nights and amazing sex and some years it can feel lonely and frustrating. The thing is, we all have one choice to make when it comes to this kind of commitment and that choice is: are you going to show up for each other and keep showing up, everyday? It takes honesty and putting one another first. It takes making time to have fun together and intentionally working to be more than just exhausted co-parents, passing like ships in the night. Let me tell you, it's damn near impossible to do this when you have a new baby at home, but I'm here to say that it's worth the work and as long as you both want to make it better and make that effort - you can get back to where you want to be.

And while my wife will likely never read this, I want to tell her thank you. Thank you for being an honest and true person, always. Thank you for loving me, even when I haven't felt lovable. Thank you for making me laugh and thank you for the love and commitment you show me and our babies. 

This life, with these three. I'm a lucky Mama and I recognize this, with all my heart.
Merry everything, friends.

Visiting Santa + No Tears!

Yes, you read that right! Our big 20-month-old handled his visit with Santa like a champ! I was pleasantly surprised by this, considering all the tears our sweet boy shed last year. I was also surprised by the fact that we even made it to see Santa this year.

We've visited the same Santa since Gracie's 3rd Christmas, so for the past 4 years. There's a local photographer who specializes in mini photo sessions for things like Christmas, Easter and Halloween and we've always loved her Santa session setup and the fact that it's allowed us the opportunity to skip those horrible lines at the mall + we've been able to jump in on a few Santa photos with the kiddos. This year, we noticed that once again the mini sessions went up in price and the sessions went from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. Yes, 5 minutes - which is just a bit ridiculous, if you ask me. I booked anyway, because I wanted to keep the same Santa (he's a really good one) but didn't realize when I booked that I picked a date that we would be in AZ for Thanksgiving. Thankfully our photog was super understanding and allowed us to reschedule, so that worked out. 

Another thing that totally worked in our favor was that the matching Christmas outfits we received last year, still fit! My sis was so sweet and gifted us a set of matching family jammies that she sent all the way from Vancouver BC, last Christmas. I was super bummed when they arrived just days after Christmas but thought I would hold onto them, just in case they still fit the following year - and they did! The kid's jammies said "lil' Deer" and ours said "Lady Deer" and they're adorable!

Gracie was such a ham and smiled from ear to ear for every single picture, just like she has since meeting Santa for the first time at just 9 months old! Will wore the puppy slippers that G bought for her future child years and years ago, when Will was just a twinkle in her eye. :) Our photog is amazing and super LGBT friendly, so she insisted that we take the smooching mom pic, a photo pose that I adore. 

Here's a few more pictures from our evening visiting Santa and a few from decorating our lovely tree, earlier in the day. 

Only ONE week until Christmas! Yay!

Monday, December 17, 2018

50/52: Our 2018 Christmas Card

My quest to become more of a minimalist and overall less-stressed Mama, continues! This year my goal was to simplify the holiday family pictures and Christmas card combo. I booked a mini holiday photo session for the fam, rather than a 1 hour, $500+ session like I've done in years past... but more on that in a separate post. I also designed and ordered our Christmas cards through Costco Photo Center, saving myself the pain of shopping through 100+ card designs on Etsy and Shutterfly, while also saving even more mula! 

I will say that I'm proud of myself for taking an easier route at so many different points, over this past year. What this effort has shown me is that we don't always need to go with the fanciest thing available and we don't always need to select the more expensive option, as moms trying to do our best for our kiddos. Often times, easiest is best! 

Just look at these beautiful babes! I ordered our cards in about 30 minutes and paid 1/3 the cost, while the wifey made our return address labels, DIY style! The best part is that I love the way they turned out and none of it stressed me out (even when Will decided he didn't want to wear his sweater and we were running late, lol). 

Cheers to an even more simplified 2019!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

All Things Halloween | 2018

Holy Halloween Batman! October was quite possibly the busiest month we had all year. We had events every week, the entire month and most weeks there were multiple things on the family schedule. I'm thinking this is why I really didn't have the time to write about any of it, lol! Thankfully, I adore Halloween and so does my tribe, so it was welcomed and super fun chaos for us. This year our little cuties coordinated their costumes and dressed up as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger! The costume theme was Gracie's idea, which was the result of a mama + daughter trip we took to Target (our fav place on earth) where she spotted a Hermione costume and just had to have it. I explained that with it being so close to Halloween, I would only get it if she wanted to be Hermione for Halloween, to which she replied - YES please! I honestly feel like our gal's obsession with all things Harry Potter is born of the fact that her Mommy loves it but for whatever the reason is, it has her reading Harry Potter books, watching the movies constantly and what's not to love about that! HP is such a nice dude and he's smart, so it's a win/win! 

When the bean declared that she wanted to be her favorite wizard for Halloween, the idea immediately came to me that Will would have to be Harry and just the thought of that had me swooning! When we came home and shared the news with my Harry Potter obsessed wife, she just about died and I got planning. I really wanted to sew William's costumes until he's at least 5 years old, like I did with Gracie and so I jumped online and started looking for a HP cloak pattern. You would think that it would be easy to find a baby pattern for this, but let me tell you... it was not. It took about an hour of searching to find a custom baby pattern, but then I ran into delivery time issues as both patterns I found had a 6 week delivery and looked to be coming from Germany (which was sold on weird looking website that seemed a bit sketchy). Nani suggested we just buy a big kid size, cut it up + sew it back together and create a whole new costume using the bigger one - so that's exactly what we did! The entire project was finished in one afternoon and I'm so happy to report that for the first time in my 6 year sewing career, my mom didn't have to step in and help me! I turned a kids size 6 into a 2T and the result was just the cutest thing imaginable. Look!

The week of Halloween we had soooo much stuff going on. We had our annual pumpkin painting party and invited Gracie's BF and her mom, so that was all sorts of Pumpkin Patch fun for us! G found cute little outfits for the kiddos because she knows that I love sending them off to school and Gaga & Papa's all dressed up in festive gear the week of all holidays. Above is one of the matching shirts she picked out that had dinosaurs dressed in Halloween costumes, which were just the cutest! Have I mentioned how much I LOVE dressing these stinkers alike? I thought it would be hard to do this when we found out that we were having a boy, but I was way wrong about that. Little cuties! 

The totally adorbs trick-or-treating bags that I had custom made for the kiddos arrived that week of Halloween too (which gave me a mild heart attack) but were totally worth the wait! You can't really tell in the picture, but they're made of bright and shinny, durable material that is washable and super cute. Each has their names with Gracie's having a cute little pumpkin and Will's complete with his name on a black bat. We carved pumpkins a few nights before and by we, I mean Georgia and Grace carved pumpkins while Will drove cars across said pumpkins, while I baked Halloween goodies. It's a tradition for G and little G to carve together and I just love seeing what they create every year. My work had our annual Halloween party complete with costume contest, pumpkin carving contest and bake off, none of which I won... but it was still a good time! I dressed as Minnie Mouse this year and totally threw my costume together at the last minute and loved it. I had considered ordering a Harry Potter themed hat at first to go along with the kiddos' costumes. It was a replica of that hat they use to pick which house the wizards go to, but then I forced myself not to purchase it when I realized it was $87 dollars! Turns out, if you spend some time cleaning your 6-year-olds room, you will find all sorts of costume stuff in the mess and if you're lucky, you'll also come across a set of bedazzled Minnie Mouse ears with the perfect amount of bling and a pretty red bow. I painted my nose black and was ready to go! 

That week before the best holiday of the year we also had Gracie's Boo Bash! This is her second Halloween at her school and Georgia and I just can't get over all of the amazing things the PTA does to celebrate holidays, especially Halloween! Two of the Bean's besties from Pre-k go to elementary school with her, so we love that all us mama friends still get to get together and do fun school type stuff throughout the year. G's little bestie T and her mom and baby sis met us at this year's Boo Bash and we all basically chased the girls around the school as they played games, won prizes and ate way too much candy. This year Will was old enough to really enjoy the sights and sounds of the bash, but because there were so many people and stairs everywhere, we mostly wore him. I figured that it would be difficult to put him in the carrier with his cloak on, so I ordered a little Harry Potter outfit made of cotton that was super comfy like jammies. I swear, this guy was the hit of the night and had people coming up to us constantly to tell us how amazing he looked. People were really surprised that a one and a half year old would happily keep his Harry Potter glasses on and honestly, we were surprised too - but he did and he looked adorable! 

We had a pretty HUGE surprise for Gracie this year that she had no idea was going to happen! About 8 months ago her uncle A and G got together and decided to surprise me for my bday (which is 6 days before Halloween) with tickets to the off Broadway show, Wicked! I had the awesome fortune to see Wicked in NYC on Broadway 12 years ago and I have regularly talked about it since. When G and A began seeing advertisements for the show, they thought this would be the most awesome way to kick off my bday week and they were right! Because of where G and A work, we had preferred seating right next to the orchestra and could see everything! This was the Bean's first show experience and she was in total awe! She sat, completely engrossed in the experience from the time the curtain lifted to when everyone took the last bow and told us it was the best night of her life, haha! 

It was just the most amazing surprise and a perfect way to begin my birthday week / the week of Halloween! Now that we know Gracie is old enough to sit through a show that lasts several hours, we'll definitely be going to more!

Because my birthday falls just a few days before Halloween, the week of is always cray cray and shared by lots of other Halloween type happenings, as mentioned above. I'm so thankful though that even though I share the week with lots of other stuff, my wife knows me well and knows how much I enjoy doing it up for my bday and so she goes all out! This year, in addition to my Broadway show experience that kicked off the week, my sweet humans woke me up with the most amazing witch bunt cake that tasted like heaven! Totally worth every carb! That morning of my birthday day, Gracie woke up extra early to get her brother dressed for the first time ever and put on his shoes, as a "gift to me". She even put together a little plate of goodies to "feed him breakfast" so I could get ready and not rush. It was seriously the cutest thing EVER and made me cry happy tears, just a bit.

Gracie then sang to me, the entire drive to school and gave me a big kiss before telling me to have the best birthday ever. My girlfriends took me to lunch at my favorite place and G and the kiddos took me out to the new neighborhood brewery for dinner and a tasty beverage. I had the next day off, so G and I stayed up watching movies + wine sipping and had just the best night. It was a great birthday, for sure. :)

And this brings us to Halloween! Our day started with getting Gracie in costume and doing her "Hermione hair", which was basically taking out braids from the night before and fluffing out her hair to look like her favorite wizard's do. The Bean had all sorts of fun stuff planned for the day at school and was just so excited to get out the door. After school, my awesome MIL brought the kiddos over to my work to do some trick-or-treating at my office, where they were spoiled beyond belief! We were expecting around 30 kids at the office, but only ended up having around 15 little visitors (because it was freezing out) so my co-workers literally dumped their bowls of candy into Gracie and Will's trick-or-treating bags... I ended up retrieving most at home and bringing it back to the office breakroom, but they were beyond excited to be spoiled so much!

My mom hosted a big Halloween party at her and Grandpa K's house and had everyone over to watch our fav Halloween specials, have Frito Pie and then go trick-or-treating! Will and Gracie looked sooooo stinkin' in their costumes that I could just die and they had way too much fun. Our night ended with 2 exhausted little ones that were more than ready for bed. William stayed up way beyond his bedtime and was out the moment we buckled him in his car seat. 

I honestly can't believe that another Halloween has come and gone or that Gracie just celebrated her 6th Halloween! Where does the time go?! I already have an idea of what these two will be next year, however Gracie will ultimately be the one to decide, so hopefully I can persuade her, haha!

I'll leave ya'll with this - my favorite picture of our boy from Halloween. I had planned to have a mini photo shoot at the park across from Gaga and Papa's house of our boy in costume, like I did last year but it was FREEZING and Will was not having it. Instead, I got one picture of this pouty little wizard clutching his wand and owl and I just love it. He's getting so big, but is also still such a tiny baby and seeing him with that little lightening bolt on his forehead and his cloak was such a heart melter! 

I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween too! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

49.52 #momfail Holiday Edition

I tried so hard to make this water look blue, using food coloring... Then Gracie came running to me this morning screaming, "Mama, Mama! I found our elves and they're fishing in Diet Coke!" #momfail // Gracie, age 6.5

Friday, December 7, 2018

Visiting the Pumpkin Patch x2

I feel like I'm all over the place with this blog, you guys! I'm still committed to posting a wrap-up from our SBL (as ridiculous as that sounds) but I wrote the damn novel of a post and I just need to upload photos, so it's happening... eventually, haha! I do realize that it's December and if you are reading this, you're likely in full Christmas mode right now, so my apologies for bringing October back into focus. As I wrote a few weeks ago, my new mission with this ol' blog of mine is to share our lives, even if the sharing isn't in chronological order. :)

Soooo, with that being said - back to fall. I touched on this in my Nashville post but to recap, in October, the wife left me with 2 kiddos to keep alive on my own as she headed out to TN for a work trip, for an entire WEEK. I was nervous, but everything honestly went great! I've come to notice that our children behave like sweet angels when they are with just one of us, as surprising as that may sound. It's when we're all together as a foursome that they bounce off the walls and push limits. I wonder why that is... I have no idea, but I'm not complaining! 

As life would have it, we had a ton of extra stuff on the calendar the week that Georgia abandoned her family (hehe). We had all the usual commitments like Gracie's school, swim school, work and USA Girls Swim practice, which that alone is a lot. But in addition to this, the Balloon Fiesta had just wrapped, so we still had family in town and our gal had her fall school field trip. I had the foresight to request the day off for her field trip to the Pumpkin Path and I'm so glad I did. As a working mama, I'm always super thankful when I get to be around for stuff like this!

William looked so stinkin' adorable in the little ghost outfit that I found on clearance when he was a 12-week-old little bean in G's belly and Gracie wore the super cute orange bat shirt her Gaga picked out for her. I had a major #momfail the morning of the field trip, sending Grace in shorts with no jacket and only bringing a thin sports jacket for Will... When I looked outside it was sunny and the weather showed 75 degrees the night before, so I figured a long sleeved shirt for Grace would be enough. Wrong! The temp dropped by 15 degrees by the time the school headed to the pumpkin patch and so when I arrived she was a little ice cube. Thankfully they had a gift store where I was able to purchase a ridiculously overpriced thermal shirt for the bean and remembered that I had a blanket for the baby.  

 When Will and I arrived, Gracie's class was boarding the hayride out to the pumpkin patch. Per usual, Grace selected the biggest pumpkin she could carry and thankfully, this year I brought the stroller, so Mama had a place to store our big ass pumpkin! ;) It worked out that Will lost his mind when I tried keeping him in the stroller, as he much preferred to run around with the other kids. So basically, I ended up pushing around a stroller full of pumpkins the entire afternoon, ha! That's far better than holding them, I guess.

Gracie's absolute favorite part of the day was going through the 16-acre corn maze with her buddies! She had a hard time staying with our group and had to be told literally 10-15 times to wait for us, but she listened (for the most part) and even held her bro's hand through some of it, telling him all about what they were seeing as they walked through. I love that even if our gal is with her friends and doing things much more exciting then playing with her baby bro, she always thinks of him. She spent her entire day helping him climb things and walk through rough terrain and never complained. She even asked her friend J to include William in their game of follow the leader, which Will LOVED. It makes my heart so happy that she's such a sweet sister!  

Will's favorite part of the day was playing in the corn box. He was the smallest kiddo in that giant box, but you would never know it because he was chopping it up like a big kid. He was diving from the side rails into the corn (giving me a heart attack) and had a blast being buried in corn by Gracie and her friends. There were big toy tractors in the box, so he was obviously obsessed with those! It's funny that G and I, in no way push trucks, planes and automobiles on him and yet, they're his favorite things! Those and dinosaurs! When it was time to head to the princess castle and leave the corn box, Will had his one meltdown of the day, crying buckets while saying, "NO GO, MAMA, NO GO!" I had to pull him away (breaking his little heart) which always makes me feel like such an asshole, but we had to stay with the group. Thankfully, our dude recovers pretty quickly and was totally fine once he noticed that we were walking towards the farm animals. Such a little animal lover!

We ended the day playing in the Old West Play Fort, where they blasted music and I got to chase William up and down about a million stairs while also keeping an eye on Gracie to make sure she didn't hurt herself. At about 20 minutes in, I thought to myself, thank the dear lord that I've been exercising these past 5 months because otherwise - I would be dying right now! Ha! We stopped by the Miner's Shack on the way out to climb some tires and then called it a day. These guys had a blast!

:: Pumpkin Patch, Take 2 ::

I'm not one to go crazy visiting every pumpkin patch in town each Halloween, because - just no. The way G and I see it is, if you've seen one pumpkin patch, you've seen them all and so we usually just go once. This year however, the coolest looking pumpkin patch sprung up just down the street from our house complete with circus lights, jumpers, a train and lots of rides. We got to watch the process of it going up and Gracie thought it was just the coolest, so we agreed to take her. :)

The bean's had the same BFF since she was 2.5 years old and G and I get along great with her parents, so we try and plan stuff together every couple of months, as the girls just LOVE to get time to hang out, outside of school. We immediately thought of T when we began planning our Annual Pumpkin Painting Night and thought, why not include our visit to the local pumpkin patch in with a fun night of painting. T and her mom were game and so the weekend before Halloween, we headed down to our new pumpkin patch with our big sister besties and their little sibs to have some fun! 

How funny is this picture! I still had Will in the baby carrier when we snapped this, so please ignore my legs, lol!
This was a man-made pumpkin patch, but had more cool stuff than others like it that I've seen. There were a ton of pumpkins (of course) but what surprised me was that there were EIGHT giant jumpers and kids were encouraged to jump to their hearts content. The girls went nuts for this and both literally started screaming in excitement when we first arrived, which cracked me up!

William is 6 months older than T's little sis, so he had a bit more freedom to run around with the girls, with all us mama bears following closely. He wasn't big enough to get on any rides and didn't like that one bit, but he was able to do some jumping and honestly, just being out of the stroller/baby carrier and chasing Sissy is all he needs to have a blast. This was the first time we visited a pumpkin patch at night and we all LOVED that part the most! There's just a different energy when it cool out and you're under the glowing lights and the beautiful New Mexico sky. It was so pretty!

Because Grace had already picked a pumpkin at her field trip, we asked her to help brother pick the perfect pumpkin and girlfriend took that request very seriously. Between her and T, it took them around 30 minutes to finally decided on the perfect pumpkins. We then took a train ride and wrapped things up with carnival rides. Watching William watch his Sissy get on rides was a sweet memory I'll hold in my mama heart forever! She laughed hysterically on every ride and screamed as she whipped around on the spinning rides and it was all just so concerning to William. He kept yelling, "Sissy, you k?" and was just so worried about her. He also yelled "SISSY" over and over, which had all the moms in the area swooning over his cuteness. My sweet boy.

After about 2 hours at the pumpkin patch riding every ride, jumping for days and finding the perfect pumpkins, we headed to our house. Our little artists had some pizza and painted their pumpkins before watching a Halloween special. The mamas enjoyed some apple martinis and had just the best time. I'm so thankful for the village we're a part of. :)

Halloween post coming next (hopefully before Christmas, haha)!   

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