Showing posts with label Derek and Me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Derek and Me. Show all posts

Two Dates (This Never Happens, People)

(Note: This is not actually what I wore on our date, I just am feeling lazy about taking a new photo this morning, and outfit photos seemed like a good fit for this post.)

Derek and I went on two, count 'em two, dates last week!  This is very noteworthy.  I know there is that big push to do a weekly date night as a married couple, to which the only thing I have to say is - "ha!".  We have four kids under the age of six.  There is no possible way we could do a weekly date night.


For our dates, we rely exclusively on the goodwill of our families as babysitters.  Which made me curious, does anyone hire babysitters for their kids?  If you do, I have questions.

Where did you find your babysitter?

Have you ever regretted who you hired to watch your kids or felt the need to switch babysitters?

What is the going rate these days? I'm pretty sure I can't afford it (x) four kids.

I only ask these things because I am curious, because I think it would have to be a pretty special young lady for me to feel like she could be an acceptable substitute for grandparents.

Bowling Date Night

First date night - we went bowling! (Thanks to my sister for watching the kids!)  I haven't been bowling in forever, but Derek and I have been thinking of starting a monthly bowling night for the last...three years?  We clearly can't seem to get our act together.  However, they just opened a new bowling alley in our mall, so we went to check it out.  It was so fun!  

I've determined I need to develop my bowling style though.  I always feel self-conscious when I see everyone around me (my dear husband included), bowling with such flair, and I pretty much just walk straight up and swing the ball.  Derek tells me my style is girly, but I know it's also boring!

Even though I wore something else for our date, this would be a good bowling outfit, no?  Just switch the boots out for bowling shoes (I am proud to say that I actually have my own bowling shoes.)

Earrings: $0.50 at Forever21
Shirt: Francesca's
Moto Jeans: JustFab
Snap Sweater:
Bag: JustFab
Button socks: Target
Booties: A Christmas gift.

Lunch And Shopping Date

This was our early Valentine's Day date, because next weekend is Wyatt's birthday, and the weekend after that we already have plans.  So we dropped the kids off for a day with Gramie and Poppa, and went out to lunch at Macaroni Grill.  I got the lasagna, but unfortunately it was cold.  We asked them to heat it up, but I didn't finish it because then it felt soggy.  You win some, you lose some.  After lunch we walked around the mall, and Derek won his way into my heart (again), by telling me to pick whatever candle I wanted in Yankee Candle (Yankee candles may be my love language).  

I chose Meadow Showers.  I was going to pick Emerald Isle, but they only had three of those left, none of which was oily enough.  If you don't buy a really oily Yankee candle, it's just not worth the money.  But pick one with lots of oil, and it will fill an entire floor of your house with scent.

We topped off the date with ice cream at Cold Stone creamery! 

Notice The Lack Of Movies

We did not go to a movie for any of our dates, and the reason is that I am convinced Hollywood can't come up with anything worth seeing anymore.  The last three movies we went saw were a disappointment, and I just wasn't sure I was willing to risk more money on a movie I might not enjoy.  Derek and I have discussed at length what we think the problem may be, and here are a few of our theories:

1) They can't come up with anything original anymore.  So many movies lately are remakes of stories that have been successful in the past.  And they still manage to mess some of those up!  Case in point - Tarzan.  One of the several movies that have been a big old "wah wah wah" over the last year.

2) Someone in Hollywood needs to take a class on character development.  The last several movies that I've seen, one of my main complaints is that I can't seem to connect to the characters.  I don't know who they are as a person, their personalities aren't presented well, I can't see the progression of their relationships in the movie, I can't really figure out why their problems are such big problems to them personally, they aren't relatable.  In short, I don't really care about them.  And that's Hollywood's job, to make me care about the characters! Something is going awry, and I would tell them how to fix it, but then what are we paying them the big bucks for?

3) Did someone forget that there is a category called "romantic comedy"?  The last time I saw a decent romantic comedy...well no, a romantic comedy at all, was several years ago.  So many of the romantic movies that are out right now are so serious and/or depressing.  What is going on here?  It's almost Valentine's Day, shouldn't there be a wealth of this category at this time of year?  Where are all the rom coms?  Am I missing something?

Basically, we've decided that there are no recent good movies except ones that are based on true stories.  If we want to see a movie these days, it better be based on a true story, or there is a better than likely chance we aren't going to enjoy it.  

Am I the only one with current movie woes?  Have you seen anything good lately (that wasn't a true story)?

Old School Blogger Shoutout

These are a couple ladies that I've gotten to know largely through social media over the last couple years, and their blogs have become some of my favorites to read!  They share thoughtful, encouraging posts, and I'm happy to introduce them to you today.

Gina at Baby Blue Mom - Gina always has great insights and encouragements for moms, and she really inspires me to be a better hostess!  I love her hospitality tips.  She is expecting her third baby, due pretty soon!  Her husband also works at White Horse Inn, a great resource that I have been enjoying (when I have time to read something other than books for review!).

Elisha at Grateful With Two - Pronounced "uh-lee-sha"!  Elisha is homeschooling her two boys, and she is also an avid I think you see why we have become friends! She is a sweetheart, and I love reading her thoughts!

Also, a repeat shout-out to Meghan and Alex, old-school blog friends who had their babies over the last couple weeks!

What I'm Drinking: Vanilla Jasmine herbal tea.  With candy hearts, of course! (A delight for my tastebuds, a bane for my waistline.  I will not be too upset when Valentine's day is over and this temptation is out of my life.)

P.S An old-school blog friend, Brittany, is throwing me an Usborne book party! If you are interested in joining the Facebook party on Thursday, let me know in a comment and I'll send you the link to join - otherwise, check out Usborne books here!  I'm hoping to have a post up tomorrow about my Usborne wishlist for homeschooling next year, so stay tuned!

It Was A Good Year

Each year on this little blog I finish off the calendar year with a year end post.  I love that I have eight years of these posts to look back on now (and it comes in handy when I forget when we went on that vacation, etc).  This year, my year end post might include some personal life details that I never got around to sharing through my apparent blogging mid-life crisis this year.  I want all that to change in 2017, because those life details are the things I want to remember when I look back on this blog someday.  I think they are the reason my kids will read it.

I give you our year in bullet points!


-January was a hard month for me this last year.  Looking back (no, even in the middle of it), I realize that after having Clarice I dipped into some mild postpartum depression (my 2016 word hinted at this).  It was never serious or scary or anything like that, but it did make it hard for me to enjoy my life for a while.  Unfortunately I have few pictures from January, except a few I shot at the end when I realized Clarice was going to turn four months old and I had barely photographed that month in her life.

-We took a lot of trips to Starbucks.  At least once or twice a week, when I was feeling overwhelmed by life, I'd pack up the kids and drive to Starbucks, and splurge on an iced coffee.  Is it really splurging if you do it twice a week?  I shudder to consider my Starbucks bill those months, but if a car drive and coffee helped me make it through hard days, I think it was money well spent.

-Gwen had a little trip to the ER! I woke up one morning, thinking the kids had let me sleep in a little, and came upstairs the find an empty bottle of children's Tylenol.  I wasn't sure if they had drank it, or how full it was or anything, so I called poison control and they determined that if the bottle had indeed been full and Gwen drank it by herself, that would not be good.  So off to the ER we went to determine what happened.  Thankfully she actually only had a tiny bit in her system.  Needless to say, I put the medicine further out of reach.  In my defense, they dragged chairs over and climbed up the shelve sin the closet to get it.  I didn't know they were capable of that!  We had a good talk about not touching medicine ever again in their entire lives, or something like that.

-Clarice turned four months old (and I couldn't even get up the motivation to write her a post, so I combined months four and five).

On The Blog: I shared about not ignoring the news in 2016 (still applicable for 2017), and I talked about why I can't quite drop the word "probably" when people ask me if we're done having babies.


-In February we decided to take the plunge and do a remodel of our house!  We had been considering moving to a different area in late 2015/early 2016, but we finally decided we'd be pushing our budget in moving, and we'd be better served by refinancing with a lower interest rate and taking out enough for a remodel.  So we started planning.

-I took a bunch of pictures of the kids for Valentine's Day.  I really love Valentine's Day, and every year I find myself wanting to take some pictures of the kids that involve pink hearts.

-Derek got me a museum membership for Valentine's Day.  He knows the way to my heart.

-I went to a women's retreat with my church, and happened upon a booth for a local pregnancy resource center, which was the start of my journey volunteering with them!  This was something I had been praying about on the previous New Year's Eve, and I felt like the Lord answered my prayers by bringing me to that booth.

-It snowed a lot, and the kids loved playing outside in it!

-The Bachelor started back up (which is obviously a highlight).  I shared why I watch the Bachelor.

-The Broncos won the Super Bowl!

-We celebrated Wyatt's fifth birthday!

-Clarice turned five months old!

On The Blog:  I shared some of my love for Valentine's Day here and here (P.S. I really love it), and I shared a friend's Etsy shop (she makes adorable baby shoes!).


-House remodel in full swing, and I was just sure we'd be done by summer (ha!).

-My sister surprised me with a pedicure!  For no reason! I pretty much have the best sister ever.

-I repainted practically our entire house.  We ripped the trim off everything.

-We went to a friend's wedding in several inches of snow.

-Our family and my sister's family took a lovely visit out to our friends' ranch!  The snow melted, Springtime showed it's pretty face, and the kids loved seeing all the animals.

-Clarice turned six months old.

On The Blog: I finally shared about how Wyatt asked Jesus to be his Savior (which happened September 2015)!  I wrote a letter to newlyweds who might be scared to have a baby.


-A pretty quiet month.  We stayed home a lot and baked cookies.

-My new nephew was born!

-We celebrated Clyde's 2nd birthday!

-I tried out a couple vlogs.

-I finished repainting the entire house!  It was a long project.

-It was an unseasonably warm month, and I may have broken out my summertime music.  I also read on the porch!  In April! This spring was almost good enough to make me like the season.

-I got a head start on Clarice's first birthday party.

-I got my first load of laundry to wash for the pregnancy center.

-Clarice turned seven months old.

-I finally felt like I was pulling out of my postpartum depression.

-We had to leave the house for a few days while Derek finished some remodeling jobs, and one day I did a little rainy springtime photo session with Wyatt while the other kids napped in the car.  He was so cute!

On The Blog: I shared Clarice's first birthday invitations (I got them way early!), and I shared three photo-printing apps I've tried.


-We went to a picnic with my whole family on my mom's side.

-I started a blog Instagram account (another way to keep up on blog posts).

-I started getting into audiobooks!  What took me so long?

-We celebrated Mother's Day.

-Took several trips to the zoo, and I drank a lot of iced coffees.

-I started on a lot of yard work around our house - the thistles and dandelions were out of control.  The thing about living in the mountains is that no one really notices or cares about yard work, so it's easy to let things go too far.  This was a particularly terrifying specimen, and made me think about how the Lord cursed the ground with thistles.  This one definitely looked cursed.

-Clarice turned eight months old.


-We celebrated my birthday.

-I went to the libraries used book sale for the first time - and I am a fan!  I got so many good ones!

-We celebrated Father's Day.

-Our car broke down right before we left on vacation. We delayed our trip by a day and bought a new car.

-We went on vacation to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole!  We tent-camped in Cody for most of the trip and had a great time. (Though I wouldn't let any of us get out of the car to explore Yellowstone because it FREAKS ME OUT. People die there every year you know, and I just can't really imagine a worse way to go than boiling to death.)

-Clarice turned nine months old.


-We celebrated the 4th of July on the road!  It didn't stop us from dressing the kids up and breaking out the sparklers.

-We spent a lot of lazy days at home with our kiddie pool and makeshift water table (wheel barrow with water and bath toys).

-Lots of trips to Home Depot and the science museum while Derek worked almost every weekend on the house!  We wanted to get it done before Clarice's birthday, so the countdown was on.

-Gwen seriously informed me that she wanted to believe in Jesus, and prayed to ask Him into her heart!  She'll understand more and more as she grows, but this was a sweet moment and big day!  She was so excited about the "big girl Bible" I gave her the next day and I often catch her in her room "reading" it.

-Clarice turned ten months old.

On The Blog: I shared my homeschool mom reading list, and I wrote about how I explain the gospel to my kids.


-Frantic weekends trying to finish up the last details on the house! I helped Derek put new white wood planks on our ceiling during a couple of these weekends.  Talk about back-breaking work.

-The kids and I explored some new parks while Derek worked on house stuff during the weekends.  We also ate a lot of watermelon.

-We finally took a break from our house project and went on a trip to our local (five hours away) peach festival! Derek's mom came with us and it was a fun road trip!  We're hoping to get back into this as a yearly tradition (we missed 2015 since I was nine months pregnant). We learned that Clarice loves peaches.

-Clarice turned 11 months old.

On The Blog: I shared all my plans for Clarice's birthday party, and someone asked me how I "do it all", so I wrote a response to the "how do you do it" questions.


-We took several gorgeous fall hikes.  Despite being such a busy month, I think this year was one of my favorite Septembers.

-Start of football season, and we kicked it off with going to a college football game!

-We started homeschool Kindergarten with Wyatt, and I wrote about our homeschool philosophy.

-More house projects.

-Debate season! (I am a politics nerd and actually enjoy these.)

-We repainted our house, one of the last projects before Clarice's party.  I helped Derek with this as well.

-Clarice turned one year old, and we celebrated Clarice's first birthday!!  I took her first birthday pictures (planning on sharing them ASAP on the blog).  On her actual birthday we went to the Children's museum as a family.  You can read my birthday letter to her here.

-We had a woodland themed birthday party for Clarice (it turned out even better than I had pictured!)

On The Blog: I watched part of a show that made me question what kind of things we as viewers are allowing on TV, and I wrote a guest post on Save The Storks about what you need to volunteer at a pregnancy resource center.


-We decompressed from all the house projects and birthday party prep to go on a late anniversary weekend trip.  The main event was going to an amusement park!  It's been forever since Derek and I were on a roller coaster!  It made me feel like a teenager again (when I wasn't sitting on a bench with my head in my hands waiting for the nausea to dissipate).

-Luke's Diner day! In which coffee shops all over the country turned into Luke's Diner from Gilmore Girls.  It was so fun!

-I started my Christmas prep, because I was determined to finish everything early this year!

(This snow only lasted one morning.  But it was pretty.)

-Clarice started standing and even taking a few tentative steps.

On The Blog: I shared 18 ways I would style mustard yellow leggings, wrote about preparing kids for Thanksgiving, and I shared about my literary society (and how to start one) - we are still going strong!


-I got a new iPhone!  An iPhone 7 Plus, and I am quite impressed with the camera on it.

-I took the kids out to drop off our ballots on Election Day!  I know it wouldn't be fun to stand in line with four young kids, but I kind of wish we weren't forced into only doing mail-in ballots.  I had to hunt down my "I Voted" sticker.  I stayed up far too late watching Election coverage and giving (in my own head) keen political analysis to any of my family members who cared to listen as the (surprising) results came in.  It was a good day.

-We finally got some more snow!  We went to MOPS in the morning and built a blanket fort at home in the afternoon.

-We set up our Christmas tree right before Thanksgiving!

-I got to try out a great photography program, and I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn their DSLR.  Read more here.

-Celebrated Thanksgiving with breakfast with Derek's parents and dinner at my parent's house.


-We started advent! I made an advent playlist.

-All my Christmas prep was pretty much done before Thanksgiving, and it was a good thing because we hit December running!  Three different Christmas parties in the first week, with other events scattered in, including a trip to a Christmas parade that we do almost every year!

-We went to a magnificent walk-through light show with my family!  They have this huge tree (like fifty feet tall) completely covered in lights!

-We went to see "cowboy Santa"in our little town.  Clarice was not a fan.

-Around the middle of December it slowed down and we had some time to bake Christmas cookies!

-My friend Cassidy wrote a post on blogging like the old days, and it served as an epiphany to me. I wrote about old-fashioned blogging, and now that's what I'm doing on Tuesdays.  Old-fashioned, tell-a-story blogging, with blog reading and commenting galore.  I've missed it.

-We made a gingerbread house together!

-We celebrated Christmas!  Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas Day at home, day after Christmas with Derek's family.

-We celebrated Derek and Gwen's birthdays!

-We went to see Rogue One.  I had opinions.

-We got our act together and had a game night on New Year's Eve!  This has been a slow hosting year for our family since we were remodeling for the first nine months of 2016, so it was fun to have some friends over again!  We are hoping to do more things like this in 2017.

-Our party ended early for kiddo bedtimes, and we rang in the New Year by cuddling on the couch and watching New Year's Eve (one of my favorite movies).  We counted down at midnight with sparkling cider in hand.

On The Blog: I shared our upstairs Christmas decorations and our brand-new downstairs Christmas decor, and I shared three winter outfit ideas (Christmas parade outfit, Christmas cookie exchange outfit, New Year's Eve outfit).


That was our 2016!  I know it was a rough year for a lot of people (or is every year just "the worst year ever" for some?), but for us it was a really good year.  I feel finally settled in our home after eight years of living there, the kids grew and thrived, and it ended better than it started.  I don't know what the Lord has planned for us in 2017.  Maybe it will be a straight-forward year, or maybe we'll get a few surprises!  I love recording the years here though, because then I can look back and see everything significant that has happened in each year of my adult life...and how the Lord is working in all of it, the good and the bad.

But if I had to guess now, I feel like 2017 is going to be a good one.

Why I Didn't Love Rogue One

(Warning: There are Rogue One spoilers below!  Read at your own risk.  Also this is me at the theater last night.)

Before I start into my opinions about the new Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, you should know that Star Wars pretty much runs in my blood.  My dad saw the movies as a young teen and when my siblings and I reached an appropriate age, we all gathered around the TV, and a new family tradition was born.  We watched those movies countless times growing up, and I will always remember going to see Episode One when it came out in the theaters.  We watched the movie as a family, went to Taco Bell and discussed it endlessly, then drove straight back to the theater and watched it again.  There are many Star Wars enthusiasts, and dare I say even experts, in my family.  They may not all share my opinions, but this is what I thought of the latest installment.

First, when I say I didn't "love" it, I don't mean I hated it either.  I thought the plot was really well done, and I loved all the references that tied into Episode Four (the Star Wars movie that comes right after Rogue One).  I thought the connection between Jyn and her father was well-formed and added a sweetness to that part of the story.  The ending was bittersweet, as was fitting since we knew from Episode Four that “many fighters died to bring us this information”.

There were a few small irritants in this film, such as the lack of backstories and making the Force too “religious”, but there were a couple things that bothered me more, and I think are a reflection of some of the ways our culture is changing, so I want to talk about those here.

The first point may seem petty, but I think it’s worth discussion - and that was the flatness of the characters in this movie.  Do you remember the variety of personalities in the original Star Wars trilogy?  We had Princess Leia, with all her spunk and conviction.  We had Han, with his arrogance and recklessness and lovably absurd connection to his ship.  We had Luke, the whiney farmer turned introspective brooder turned indispensable Jedi.  What tied it all together, what made these movies classics, was the color of their personalities, the sense of history, the development of relationships.  It was their tenacity in the fight, their grit, the conviction that the Empire was evil and must be stopped, but it wasn’t only that - their personalities were what made it fun, their flaws were what made us laugh, and you got the feeling that they couldn’t have finally defeated the Empire without being exactly who they were, flaws and all.

I didn’t get that in Rogue One. I was disappointed that many chances to give the characters more depth were not taken.  Not only did we get too much Luke Skywalker brooding and not enough Hans Solo reckless and arrogant determination, but the characters in this movie didn’t even really seem to know why they were fighting (except for a brief speech from Jyn on the need to fight against an Empire “this evil”, a mark in her favor).  The scene that was most frustrating to me was the monologue from Cassion that was supposed to be inspiring as he pulled all his buddies back into the fight, but the whole speech was really rather depressing.  

“We’ve all done terrible things in the name of the rebellion - without the rebellion all those terrible things will be in vain.”  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the whole speech goes against the reason why my family got hooked on Star Wars in the first place.  I’ll tell you why I have loved Star Wars so long - and it’s because Star Wars has always been about good versus evil, and there was no confusion between the two.

In the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) we have the classic fight between good and evil.  It was the dark side and the light side, tyranny and freedom.  In that world, you either gave in to the draw of power at the expense of the innocent, or you fought against those who would oppress others for their own gain, or you were one of the countless rabble of spineless bystanders.  It made you want to choose what was good, and never give in and let evil win.

In the second trilogy (Episodes 1-3) we see how good intentions aren’t enough by themselves, how you need a strong grounding in what is right and wrong to avoid being seduced by the desire for power.  How a hunger for control can twist easily to justify terrible evil, and how governments can slide so easily into tyranny when too much power is willingly put into one man’s hands.

In Rogue One, we have an evil Empire willing to destroy planets to reach it’s ends, and we have a well-established rebellion…who apparently has no idea what they are fighting for, except to make past “atrocities” worth it.  And I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it.  I don’t want to see a movie of people who are just fighting to justify past misdeeds.  

I resent the attempt to muddy up the side we all want to root for.  I resent the attempt to give Star Wars shades of grey.  I resent the attempt in our culture to remove heroes and cut them down to size.  They do it with historical figures all the time, and now apparently we can’t even have fictional characters that are good and right and true, and know why they are fighting.  I resent the segments of our culture that say there are no more heroes.  Because I don’t buy that.  I think there are still heroes who take risks because they believe in what is right - and they don’t have to be perfect but they should know what they are fighting for and believe in it’s goodness.  I think there are heroes hiding down in many, waiting to come out when they find something good that is worth fighting for. 

I want to see a movie where the good guys know that there is right and wrong, good and evil, and they fight to defeat that evil and preserve all that is good in the world.  They fight precisely because they recognize that good and evil exist.  That is what Star Wars has always been about to me, and it resonated so much because I think it touched down on that truth in the human heart.

In Rogue One some of the main “heroes” are muddied up and cut down to size, and die simply to undo their own or other’s mistakes or to assuage their own consciences.  Some may say that is more true to real life, but the reason I watch movies like Star Wars is for moral clarity, not moral ambiguity.  It was not inspiring, it was disappointing.

Will Rogue One ruin Star Wars for me?  No, because it’s only a Star Wars story, a side plot.  I can dismiss or overlook the parts I don’t like.  Should you still go see it?  Yes, because there were a lot of tie-ins and themes that were worth the time.  But will it be a Star Wars favorite for me?  No, because it missed the boat on portraying why I love Star Wars in the first place.  I just hope Episode Eight doesn’t continue down this same path, because in a culture where morals are muddied, Star Wars has stood out for making good and evil crystal clear.

P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind, but this is my initial reaction.  What did you think of the movie?

It's The Day After The Day After Christmas

Which also means that it's my sweet girl's and husband's birthday!  If you are new around here, you might not have read Gwen's birth story, but trust me, go read it.  It's a good one.  

I am having a hard time believing that she is four years old, and I'm not sure why.  It just struck me this morning that she is four years old.  At age three it seems like there is still a bit of baby left in them, but she is solidly in the "big" little girl stage now, and I'm rather sad.  Of course, my sadness may also have something to do with the fact that a recent crop of pregnancy announcements are making me sentimental since I'll probably never have another pregnancy announcement, and I get nostalgic around the New Year, and I am on a sugar low from all those Christmas cookies.

Let's Talk About Christmas

That's a nice segue, so let's talk about Christmas!  Last week I spent three solid days baking.  In years past, Derek and I used to throw away so many Christmas goodies that had gone stale, so for a while I was limiting our Christmas treats.  But this year I went a little crazy again because I have four kids who are able to eat the extra cookies now!  We are still living off cookies and cheeseballs, and probably will be all week.  I may just eat a ginger cookie (my favorite) for breakfast.

We had a lovely three-day Christmas - my side of the family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day we officially stayed home and had our own family Christmas, and then the day after (yesterday) we saw Derek's side of the family.  It was a beautiful celebration, and I have a bunch of cute pictures, but unfortunately you won't get to see them today because it'll probably take me all afternoon to sort and edit them, and I don't want to get out of my Tuesday old-fashioned blogging habit.  For now, here's a picture of me from baking last week that I shot by propping my camera up on a bunch of books.

What Did We Get?

I'm glad you asked!  I record this here for posterity's sake, and so I don't buy the same things two years down the road because I forgot what I already got the kids.  Feel free to comment and tell me what you got for Christmas too!

This was a fun year to shop for the kids because they actually had opinions about what they wanted, and I was confident they would like their presents.  We gave them three presents each, and then a couple family gifts of games and books.  

Wyatt is five years old, and he got a talking Percy (from Thomas The Train), a Paw Patrol scooter (it was just plain black, but I put Paw Patrol stickers on it - it was a big hit), and a remote control truck.  He wanted the huge (expensive) one, but I just got him the largest remote control vehicle I could without breaking the budget!

Gwen is (now) four years old, and she got a Melissa And Doug magnetic doll set, a Disney princess mini guitar, and a new baby doll with a doll cradle.  Gwen proceeded to tuck her new baby doll in the cradle with a bottle, and rock the doll while serenading her with "Jingle Bells" on her guitar.

Clyde is two years old, and he got a talking Percy (same as Wyatt - they both love trains), a wooden train track set (Percy will go on it), and a large remote control Thomas.  Do you notice a theme here? When I asked Clyde what he wanted all he said was "trains!".

Clarice is one year old, and she got wooden magnetic blocks, a wooden Melissa And Doug key/lock house with wooden doll figures, and a Baby Stella.  Apparently Baby Stella is a big thing right now?  All I know is that I had to get a Baby Stella for her because she saw it in the store and grinned at it from the cart, and when I handed it to her she kissed it's face.  Her reaction on Christmas morning was the same!  

Me - Derek got me a bunch of good stuff!  I got four Yankee candles!  I'm a little picky about my candles, and I like Yankee because they really fill up the room with scent.  I got "Sparkling Snow" "Crackling Winter", "Happy Tonight", and "Beach Walk", and they should last me the rest of the winter into spring. I also got a hand-lettering book, an artist pen and brush pen with India ink (to practice lettering), and a book of Emily Dickinson poems, because I told Derek I wanted to read more poetry.  Watch out now, I'll soon be firing lines of poetry at you all I'm sure!

I got Derek Starbucks white chocolate syrup so he can make his own white mochas at work, a Technic race cart lego set (those things are complicated!), gel boxing gloves for when he works out, and the game of Risk.  We ended up playing Risk the rest of Christmas Day, and I have yet to win a game when we are playing for world domination.  Give me some time though.  I've decided I should stop focusing on conquering Asia because it's a lost cause, and I'm feeling really good about the next round hopefully tonight (though I should probably let him win on his birthday, huh?).

Back To The Birthdays

Last night we got home late and I dug into the birthday decorations.  Gwen wanted a Minnie Mouse birthday party, and it's really important to me to make sure to individually recognize Gwen and Derek's birthday since it's so close to Christmas.  Christmas-time birthdays are easy to forget, and I made a vow never to wrap birthday presents in Christmas paper (we got Gwen dress-up clothes in a lovely shoe-and-purse birthday paper), and to always decorate and have a cake. 

Derek and I stayed up late decorating for Gwen, but he was a bit bummed that everything was pink and purple, so I snuck downstairs and decorated the bathroom door with streamers and balloons and birthday notes so he would see them before he went off to work.  Perhaps an odd place to decorate, but I was going for the surprise factor.

So if you need me today, I'll be sorting toys and putting away Christmas presents, baking a cake, and trying to lug Derek's ginormous present out of the shed by myself.  I don't think he's reading this today, so I'll tell you what it is.  DEREK, STOP READING NOW!
I got him a basketball hoop!  It is massive and heavy, and we probably won't be able to set it up until spring, but I am confident he will be fully surprised!

Old-School Blogger Shout-Out

If you don't know what I mean by "old school bloggers", check out my posts from the last couple weeks (here and here), in which I bemoan the loss of old-fashioned blogging and resolve to get back to it, and attempt to encourage others who are doing the same.

First, Emily from Live A Charmed Life!  Emily has been so consistent at maintaining the relationship side of blogging by sharing about her sweet family on her blog and also caring about other people's doings as well.  She's a long-time blog friend of mine!

Second, Brittney from With Eager Hands!  Brittney is also a long-time blog friend who is getting back into old-fashioned blogging with me, and you have to read about the stars on her ceiling (it's making me kind of jealous actually)!

Go visit their blogs and say hello!  These girls are getting the shout-out this week because I know they are the kind of bloggers that will comment back, and as I said last week, I think that is a big part of what we are all missing.  

Feliz Navidad (is it too late to say that?) until next week, at which point I will regale you with all my New Year's thoughts and opinions (I am pretty opinionated about the holiday).

(Our Christmas outfit photo from this year. I really actually love snow. People like to complain about it, but how can anyone deny how pretty it is?)

What I'm Drinking: Junior Mint hot chocolate, which my sister got us for Christmas.  Junior Mint hot chocolate!  Is it just me, or does that sound fantastic?

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