Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Countdown Is On

I'm counting down the minutes until our friends from Oklahoma arrive.

I'm counting down the moments until we are ringing in a brand spankin' New Year.

And while I'm at it I think I'll go ahead & count down some of our highlights from 2011.

Count with me, now!

10. Jett Jett turns ONE
9.  Turning the big 3-0
8.  Celebrating SEVEN years of marriage
7.  Roadtrip to Oklahoma
6. Jared's first half marathon
5. Summertime--every last drop of it
3. Finding out we're expecting our second baby
2. Discovering that second baby is a GIRL

2011 was one amazing year for our family. Last year when I wrote this post, I said I had one resolution for 2011 & that was to ROCK IT. Well I'd say we did just a little more than accomplish that mission. I mean, we grabbed our electric guitars, star studded microphones & we head-banged ourselves all over that stage of life. Seriously, we rocked it out like no other. It was one crazy, awesome year & I stand here in awe of just how good it actually was.

I'm not naive enough to think that every year ahead of us is going to be as kind as 2011 has been. There will be years that bring hurt. Years where we are stretched & broken & weak. Years where we will have to refocus, regroup & rebuild. And those years will be necessary in becoming the individuals we are destined to become.

But 2011 has taught me that there is a silver lining to every cloud. That just up ahead, if you keep trudging forward, there will be higher ground. Life is full of peaks & valleys, ebbs & flows, but at the end of the day, you can take a great big deep breath knowing that everything really is going to be okay in the end. Nope, scratch that. You can take a great big deep breath & know that in the end, everything is not just going to be okay--but that it's gonna absolutely rock.

So here is the moment--the moment we bid farewell to 2011. The time has come for us to move forward. But don't think for a second that we will ever forget the powerful lessons we've learned during the last 365 days that have been given to us. In fact, as we're headed into the uncharted territory & unfamiliar lands that lie before us, we will cling to the hope that no matter what this life sends our way, there will always be another silver lining waiting ahead. Another  "2011", if you will, where we'll have the opportunity to make a comeback & ROCK IT. 

And since I'm on a roll as far as New Years Resolutions go, {hey I'm one for one!}, I can't help but make one for 2012. I thought long & hard about my resolution & I've finally settled upon one. Wanna hear what it is?


I know life for us is going to change in a mighty big way in the course of the next twelve months. My goal for the new year is to embrace the changing of seasons in our lives rather than dig my heels in & resist them like I typically tend to do when I feel my world shifting. This year, I want to feel every single moment, allow myself to be bend, & know that a better me is in the works. I want to look back on 2012 & see that I conquered that uncharted territory.

And just real quick, before I make my final salute to 2011, I would like to take a moment to thank each & every one of you for allowing me to share our lives here on this blog over the past year. I've poured out the many happenings of our home & you've been here every step of the way. You've rooted me on, you've shed tears with me, & you've brought some of the biggest smiles to my face. I cannot put into words the amount of strength & encouragement I have gleaned from so many of you, but I what I can say is, thank you. Your words have made a difference, your support has meant the world, & the fact that you come here & find our day to day lives interesting, absolutely warms my heart. It's been a great year & being able to share it with each of you has been the cherry on top!

Goodbye 2011. Thanks for helping us find our inner rock star.

Hello 2012. Show us whatcha got.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's A Girl {behind the scenes}

Please excuse the horrible quality of this photo. It came off my phone. Grainy or not, I still love it.

I'm a sucker for surprises.

There's just something about the kind of excitement that makes your heart skip a beat, something about feeling those little butterflies fluttering about inside your belly, something about the kind of anticipation that makes you want to squeal & burst at the seams.

Which is why, when it came time to find out whether our little Jumping Bean was team pink or team blue, I had no choice but to turn the event into a full fledged sha-bang.

I say, why not? Why not take an already exciting moment & squeeze it, stretch it & mold it into a huge event that will leave one heck of a lasting memory? I call it making the most out of life--turning small moments into big ones, turning big moments into monumental ones--it just makes life a little sweeter. And when this life can be so sour at times, why not take the sweet times & drown them puppies in sugary, syrupy goodness?

So that's just what we did.

Here's the {behind the scenes} story to us finding out we are expecting a little bundle of pink:

First of all, I thought there would be no way of us finding out the gender of this baby before Christmas morning. I wasn't scheduled for another doctors visit until after the new year, so I figured our hopes of finding out on Christmas morning were pretty much shot. But I also figured it never hurts to ask, so when I did, I was surprised to hear my doctor say that it would be no problem at all to squeeze me in a few days before Christmas! Sa-weet!

We didn't announce to the world that our big ultrasound was scheduled, but we also didn't keep it a huge secret. We tried hard to dodge any questions that came up & we always gave a sigh of relief when we managed to shimmy away from the big question. But if somebody came out & point blank asked us the exact day we would be finding out, we begrudgingly told them our little plan.

The big day--Thursday, December 22nd had finally arrived & Jett & I met Jared at the doctor's office like we always do. Together, the three of us walked back to the low lit ultrasound room, where Diana greeted us with a great big smile & of course, Elmo stickers for Jett. Diana & I, we go way back. She was my ultrasound tech when I was pregnant with Jett so she is quite familiar with us & our shenanigans. She knows the drill. She understands our system-- that we don't find out the gender of our babies the traditional way. Instead, she smiled sweetly & held out her hand as I placed in it the little homemade card I had made--on the outside of the card a little ribbon, 2 crocheted flowers, & white shimmery letters reading--baby. On the inside--boy or girl. 

Eagerness grew as we took some time to see the little beating heart, the perfect railroad track spine, the wiggly arms, the crossed legs {at the ankles, just like our Jett Jett sits}, & the sweet little perfect round head. We oohed & ahhhed over every little detail we could see on the screen & we laughed & laughed when our baby grew tired of being poked & prodded & did a complete somersault away from the ultrasound wand.

Then the moment we had been waiting for was just a peek away. I froze as I heard Diana say, "Okay, look away & I'll get a look." I held my breath as I stared at Jared, both of us grinning from ear to ear, praying silently that the little booger would uncross *it's* legs so that ever so important peek could be obtained. After a quick jiggle of my belly to loosen those crossed ankles, followed by a few more seconds of silence, Diana piped up with an, "Okay!" Of course my doubting self immediately responded with a, "You got it?" {I was surprised how quickly she had gotten the shot}. This time she replied with a VERY confident, "Yep!".  She placed the card inside the envelope, sealed it with scotch tape, wished us a Merry Christmas, & we were on our way. I was a ball of giddiness.

Our next destination--Lauren Alexandra--my favorite baby boutique in the whole wide world, located in the quaint little storybook community of Brookside. This store makes me go weak in the knees. Most of Jett's tiny baby clothing came from this little boutique, all of my nursery bedding & linens were designed & custom made at this little shop, & I cannot tell you how many endless hours I have spent wandering around this little gem of a store. It was no question that this was the place to do the job.

We hurried out of the cold & into the cozy little boutique where we immediately bolted to the newborn section. First we chose our little boy items--a little shirt & pant set with airplanes scattered all over them & a fuzzy little blue blankie, chosen by Jett. And next we headed off to the girl section where I stood paralyzed by the amount of choices I was facing. Tutus, ruffle butts, frilly socks, pink fur coats...geez, Louise. I had to pull in my backup {aka Jared} & together we chose our little girl items--a gray & white striped onesie & the most adorable little frilly pink & gray striped leg warmers. Jett did the honors once again of choosing the blankie--the softest, sweetest, little pink lamb blankie you've ever seen. We handed over to the store clerk our sealed envelope, along with all our findings--the stack of girl items & the stack of boy items & asked the young girl to take a peek at the card & wrap accordingly! We left the boutique to do a little shopping & when we came back to pay for our purchases, we were handed a small bag, with blue and pink tissue spewing from it & our card sealed back up with tape & tucked neatly into the perfectly wrapped gift. I never looked at the receipt. I never looked at the prices of our items. I didn't even glance down at the bag {I know myself & my wheels would have started spinning trying to figure it out}. I tossed the bag into the back seat of my car & headed home as fast as I could to wrap that sucker in a big box & cover it in Christmas wrapping paper. I couldn't stand another second of that temptation staring me in the face.

Okay, let's stop right here. This is the part where I'm going to tell you what I THOUGHT was wrapped up in that bag. I was 99.999999 percent sure that inside that bag, all wrapped up in blue & pink tissue paper, laid a little airplane outfit & fuzzy blue blankie. In fact, I spent the next three days dreaming of the little boy I was just sure was in my belly. Jared was sure we were having another boy, as well.

So you can only imagine how my heart raced when I tore open that gift on Christmas morning & caught the slightest glimmer of pink just underneath the wrapping. I carefully pulled back more tissue & saw gray {there was no gray on that airplane outfit}. Then I uncovered that sweet, soft, PINK, little lamb blankie & my eyes grew as big as saucers. My mouth dropped to the floor & I sat there speechless, just processing what was before my eyes. Jared & I locked eyes in disbelief--She's a little girl! Our baby is a little girl! What started out as complete shock was quickly spinning into pure elation!

And just to make sure the gift & the card matched up, we unsealed the envelope, pulled it out & sure enough--

Girl, it is!

Well, I told you I'm a sucker for surprises. And little sister, she sure surprised our socks off! In fact, I don't think we could have been more surprised on Christmas morning.

Here we sit almost a week later, perched up on cloud nine, with no intentions of coming down anytime soon. We are thrilled beyond thrilled, over the moon excited, & so very anxious to snuggle our little bundle of pink in our arms. She is already loved, she is already adored, & my goodness, is she so very celebrated.

So there you have it--all the behind the scenes footage! I hope you've enjoyed our shenanigans!

Be sure & stop back by on Monday. I'm adding to my Memory Lane Monday Series where I'll be sharing how we found out that our little Jett Jett was Team BLUE. His story is just as fun & you won't want to miss it!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Gift From Christmas Past

Man oh man, did we get a slew of gifts this year. I got a stylin' new camera bag. Jared got a GPS running watch. Meatball got a Power Wheels Jeep, workbench, Rockin' Elmo, dump truck, tow truck, legos, lap top, golf clubs, train track, puzzles, books, movies...oh geez, I'm going to stop there. I'll be here all night if I name off everything the little stinker got. He's slightly spoiled.

But there's one gift in particular this Christmas that tugged at my heartstrings. One that took me by surprise. One that deserves a post all its own.

You may remember this post, where I wrote very briefly about my childhood home burning down my freshman year of high school. 

Memories from that cold November night are still so very crystal clear & vivid to me & are probably ones that won't ever fade with time. I will never forget standing on that black top country road in front of my home while flashing lights of red & white lit up the smoke-filled sky. The desperation in my father's eyes, the helplessness that was smeared across his face as he realized just how small he was against the monster that roared inside the walls of what used to be our residence will forever be etched in my mind. The hot tears I watched stream down my brother's face as he screamed & begged for the firefighters to save his pet fish will resound in my ears for as long as I live. The comfort my mom tried to bring to us as she stood, fighting back her own tears will never be forgotten. When I go back to that tragic night, I can still feel the pit in my stomach, the numb that swept over me, the complete shock I felt as we stood & watched a whole lifetime of memories go up into raging flames. We lost everything we ever owned in that fire. The belongings of ours that didn't crumble into ashes were so severely smoke damaged that they couldn't be recovered & we walked away with nothing but the clothes on our backs--literally.  

Of course to this day we are so very thankful that we walked away with that which is most important--each other. We rebuilt our home & we bought new things to fill it up with. It's funny, you realize just how little you truly need when you are stripped of everything. You realize that things aren't the substance of this life here on earth. Our lives eventually fell back into place & looking back, it was just another event in our paths that helped to build us & grow us stronger. 

But sometimes? Sometimes I can't help but wish I had back some of those belongings from that childhood home. Once in awhile I wish I could hold in my hands some of the things I once held so dear--like the porcelain doll my Aunt Suzie finally gave to me after the many years of me begging to be able to take home & make my very own. Or the little, metal, antique doll house I spent hours on end with, sitting in my bedroom tinkering little dolls from room to room. Or my Little House On The Prairie book collection, the one that came packaged in a little blue boxed set that I read over & over again until the pages had grown worn & tatty. Yes, sometimes I wish I had something to pass down to my own children. A piece of my past.  Something I could hold in my hands & say, "When I was your age...this was so very special to me."

Well, this Christmas, that little wish of mine came true. 

Remember that Nativity Scene I spoke of in that same post about my home burning down? The Nativity Scene that was made from beautiful porcelain & was painted in muted hues of cream & gold by my very own Aunt Elaine? The one my mom would set out on display come Christmastime & I would be found kneeling in front of it for hours, playing out the majestic Christmas story with the tiny figurines?  

Well, on Christmas morning I received my very own Nativity Scene--one identical to the one that burned up in that house fire so many years ago.

It turns out, one of my faithful blog followers {aka-- my mom} read that post, shed a few tears, then quickly got Aunt Elaine on the phone. Between the two of them, they located the exact set, met every Monday & Wednesday evening to paint each delicate piece, & worked as hard as they could to finish the entire manger scene by their deadline--Christmas morning. 

This Nativity Scene has been prayed over, has been engraved with scripture, & was handcrafted with solely me in mind. This Nativity Scene isn't just another Christmas decoration that I will set out every year once the holidays roll around. It is so much more than that. It is a little piece of two people I love. It is a keepsake that I will tell my children about one day. And it is one of the very few memories from my childhood that I can actually hold in my very hands. 

It is a gift from so many of my Christmases past.  

See? I told you it was the best.Christmas.ever.

Mom & Aunt Elaine--Thank you so much for helping to make this Christmas one I will never forget. Thank you for the time, the effort, & the love you poured into this Nativity Scene. It will be displayed in my home every single year & I will treasure it forever & ever. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you both.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Best. Christmas. Ever.

The aftermath

From Christmas Eve clear on through Monday evening which held our third & final celebration, this Christmas was hands down the Christmas of all Christmases. I sit here desperately wishing I could bottle up all the wonderment & take a big swig of it whenever I'm thirsty for a little Christmas cheer. It would be the sure remedy to a rough day, a straight shot to cloud nine & a dash of pep in my step, no doubt.

While I may not be able to bottle up each drop of joy the entire season brought to our hearts, you can bet I will most definitely be replaying & reliving each spectacular moment for oh say, the next 362 days or so.

Christmas Eve:
There's something about the Eve of Christmas that makes my heart go boom boom boom. It's the night that holds the magic. It's the evening where traditions, both old & new are carried out & it's where giddy excitement reigns free. It's where imagination flows & twinkling eyes sparkle. It's precisely the reason this momma insists her family be under our own roof every year on this particular night. I can't stand the thought of missing a single moment. Christmas Eve has always been my favorite night of the Christmas season--ever since I was a little girl. And this year was no different.

We spent Christmas Eve day at home, just the three of us, tying up loose ribbons on the great big, beautiful package called Christmas, that would soon be unwrapped. We cooked, prepped, tidied & spruced.

Official "taste testers"

Our home began filling up with love & energy as family trickled in throughout the afternoon & evening hours. And don't think for a second that Papa & Grandma held off for the break of Christmas morning dawn to get spoiling started. No siree--no sooner had they carried that mountain of packages inside the door before Meatball was tearing into his stocking & his "Christmas Eve gift" {As kids, my brother & I were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve. My mom thought it only right that she carry this tradition on with Jett.} 

Papa's boy. He asks for his "Papa" about fifty times a day.

Once evening settled in, we carried out our timeless Christmas Eve traditions.

Making reindeer food. Reindeer love red sprinkles-- just so you know.

He loved scattering the reindeer food on the driveway! 

Twas the night before Christmas...

Tasty treats for Santa

After Meatball was all tucked into bed & everyone else had mosied off to bed themselves, Jared & I stayed up a bit longer...just breathing in the wonder of Christmas Eve. We felt the joy it is to be parents & the honor it is to bring these magical Christmas moments to life for our little boy. We counted the blessing it is to have loved ones who travel to stay in our home, under our roof & all the love & energy they bring along with them. And then we too, slipped into our sheets, anxiously awaiting the morning, when all our tedious work would pay off.

Christmas Morning:
This year, Christmas morning brought its A game . I've got to admit, it gave Christmas Eve a pretty good run for its money. Who knows, Christmas morning may have just slid into first place, becoming my new favorite. {I'm not making any rash decisions just yet, though.} Meatball's little voice over the monitor signaled that it was GO TIME & everyone corralled into the living room to get the Christmas show on the road.

Notice he's not wearing his adorable custom jammies. He peed out his diaper & soaked them during the night. Go figure.

It took him a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but once he opened a few gifts & realized there were new toys inside, he quickly got the hang of things.

My Christmas morning breakfast casserole tasted like vomit & had to be thrown out but my cinnamon rolls saved the day!  Thank you Pioneer Woman. You never let me down!

The big reveal {Papa & Grandma's gift}

That smile says it all! 

The Icing On The Christmas Morning Cake:
As if Christmas morning wasn't already all that I could dream of & more, we go & top it off by finding out a little girl will be making her way into our arms in just a matter of months. Talk about exciting! {Many of you have asked how we pulled the announcement off, who wrapped the gift, how all the details were woven together. Don't worry, I won't leave you hangin'. I'm going to fill you in on everything. That post is coming soon.} 

Clearly, I was shocked!

The Gift That Keeps On Giving:
The thing I love about having so much family is that Christmas continues to go on for days for us. It doesn't end once the shredded wrapping paper & ribbon gets tossed in the trash at 10:00 Christmas morning. No, it lingers just a little while longer. And what could be better than a little more Christmas, right?

We celebrated with Jared's family on Monday & like every other get together with this bunch, the excitement was crankin'!

Workbench from Coach & Gigi. He hasn't stopped playing with it since we brought it home.

A little game of Cranium--guys against girls. {The girls whooped some boo-tay, just for the record.}

Bustin' some moves to Kinects Dance Central {check out Jett waving that arm!}

For so many reasons, Christmas 2011 is a Christmas I won't ever forget. It's a tall order, trying to pull off the best Christmas ever.

But we did it.

By golly, we did it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Special Delivery

Well, it turns out that Santa wasn't the only fella cruisin' the night skies on Christmas Eve. You won't believe it, but there just so happened to be a stork on duty & he was buzzing about, making his rounds as well.

And when we woke up bright & early Christmas morning, raced out into the living room to get the Christmas show on the road, we found one very special package waiting for us under the tree.

You know, nothing big...just a little delivery telling us the kind of package we can expect on our doorstep come May...








A soft, tiny, sweet smelling package all wrapped up in


EEEEEK! Can you believe it? We are having a GIRL!

Best. Christmas. Ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There were so many wonderful, magical, truly amazing Christmas memories made this year & I simply cannot wait to gush over every single detail. And I will--soon--very soon.

But right now we simply want to be still in this moment, cling to this excitement, & feel these feelings that are making our hearts beat double time.

Oh, & of course, brace ourselves for the tsunami of PINK that will soon flood our home!

EEEEK! {Did I say that already?!}

Be back shortly, friends!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We've got loved ones under our roof, reindeer food spread on the driveway, cookies & milk waiting for Santa, a heart bursting with gratitude to our Lord & Savior. 
 Life is so good.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Capturing December | Playing Catch Up

***this post is part of the Capturing December Project***

Day Twenty: A Town Hotspot
Sure, I could've chosen The Plaza or Crown Center, but if you really want to know what I consider to be the hotspot in town, you just need to come along with me to my local grocery store. Nope, not kidding. We just got a brand spankin' new supermarket in our little community & I am addicted to this place. It's got three different restaurants, a sushi bar, coffee shop, amazing salad bar...I'm telling you, this place is awesome. Most definitely a hotspot in my book.
Jett agrees =)

Day Twentyone: A Holiday Meltdown
I already told you about my meltdown over the reindeer antlers on my cookies, right? How my homemade chocolate covered pretzel antlers melted & wouldn't stick in the cookie & it ticked me off to the point of tears & had me running to my local grocery store to pick up the store bought kind {aka hotspot} at 9pm? Yeah, I told you.
 So here's a little peek at a different Holiday meltdown around here--not me this time.

{this was just after I took away the Buzz Lightyear ornament he broke the arm off of. Mean ol' Momma.}

Day Twentytwo: Christmas Recipes
 I'm having my family here for Christmas Breakfast this year & here are a couple of new recipes I'll be trying out:
Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls--I hear they are to die for & my mouth waters just thinking about them!
This Breakfast Casserole--What could be easier than throwing a casserole in the crockpot & letting it cook all night so that breakfast is ready when you wake up Christmas morning? Props to the genius who came up with that idea.

Day Twentythree: Loved Ones Laughing
Well, I don't have a photo that captured our laughter, but you'd better believe Jared & I were dying laughing when our little Meatball ran out of his room wearing nothing more than a diaper, fuzzy hat & gloves. Silly goose!

Jammie Day

Today marked our second annual Jammie Day. Gotta say, it's turned into one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Yummy breakfast at Panera -- check.

Comfy jammies -- check.

{yep, that would be my baby bump poking out there}

Two Christmas movies watched {so far} -- check.

Christmas sugar cookies baked -- check.

Pretty sure Jammie Day is a tradition that's here to stay.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Five Boys A Baking

What do you get when five cute boys decide they want to get their bake on?

One rowdy, wild, rambunctious, crazy, noisy, sprinkle covered, frosting smeared, bursting with energy kind of day that I can't help but look forward to every. single. year.

 I love my boys & the memories I am so privileged to make with them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Elves

Well, we may not be Santa Claus, but Meatball & me, we make some pretty awesome Christmas elves.

We bundled up, loaded the Radio Flyer down & set off to hand out some Christmas goodies to our fellow neighbors. {Meatball insisted on riding along with the goodie bags so we made room & squished him in.}

We didn't cover an entire world in one single night & we sure didn't have a sleigh & eight reindeer to guide our way. But with a "NICE" list of neighbors in one hand & a little red wagon handle in the other, we sure did light up the day for a few of our loved ones. 

Happy Wednesday, my friends. I sure hope some Christmas elves come along & light up your day real soon!