M & J Monday

And this, our life exempt from the public haunt,
finds tongues in trees,
books in running brooks,
sermons in stones,
and good in everything.
One touch of nature
makes the whole world kin.

-William Shakespeare
Happy Friday!


The Year of Color Link-Up (an announcement) Edition

2017 has started off relatively slow, and quiet on the blog front. Aside from wrapping up the holidays there hasn't been a whole lot of notable and, in my opinion, post-worthy things going on around these parts. I try not to post just to post, or put together a half-hearted post.

Luckily for me - and you - I've joined up with some talented, inspirational, fabulous ladies who will hopefully give the push to do something a little different, and perhaps spark a blog post or two.

Justine, Stefanie, Whitney and myself are hosting the Year of Color Link up. To sum it up, the third Friday of each month we ask you to join us in show casing just one color. The color isn't limited to any one thing. Perhaps an outfit, a recipe, a craft, or a book is the inspiration, anything goes! I have a few ideas in mind for each month, and can't wait to share!

The calendar looks something like this:
January 20 - white
February 17 - pink
March 17 - green
April 21 - pastels
May 19 - yellow
June 16 - purple
I'm pretty excited about this challenge and hope you are too! I can't wait to see how each color inspires everyone!

Happy Friday!


Julia || 17 Months

I feel like month 17 has brought us to a nice, sweet spot with Julia. For the most part, she's a pretty easy little lady (as long as she gets what she wants), and life is pretty good. Let's forego any other fluffy pleasantries and cliché phrases (another month really has gone by, and it really did fly!), and just jump right into a few highlights of the little lady.
Height: last I measured, she was 32ish inches (very precise).
Weight: meh, I'd say probably 21ish pounds - her cheeks are nice and chubby, so I'm going off of that.
Teeth: Three canines have popped through, with the fourth thisclose to breaking the surface, so I'm going to round up and say 16. And let me say that the canines have been exactly zero fun the past few weeks. 
Marcus' toys.
Being held right after waking up in the mornings and after naps.
Dancing. She will dance to any music or beat.
Having shoes on her feet.
Being outside.
Leaves. Rocks. Sticks. Hence the stick in every.single.picture.
Being pushed in her tricycle.
Her baby dolls; it's the sweetest sight when she totes those around and plants kisses on them.
Climbing on everything.
Cheese - the food, not the phrase for photo taking.
Any snack.
Mac and cheese. All day, every day.
Marcus, when he's touching her toys.
Being told, "no."
Being held when she wants to run wild.
Cooperating for pictures. It's a workout with this one to get just one picture that isn't a blurry mess.
Diaper changes (when does this battle end?).
Our lab, Drake, when he gets too close while she's eating a snack.
There still aren't a ton of words in Julia's vocabulary, but a few notable new ones:
Bubble - "bubba"
Baby - "day-dee"
Cheese - "eeeese"
No - "nah" (complete with a head shake)
More - "mah"
Milk - "mil"
Water - "ah-wah" (sounds so much like the Spanish word for water, "agua")
Grandma - "Mawmaw"
I also have to note that to Julia all birds say "quack."
She also loves to make this gruffff sound when she's playing around, she thinks it's hilarious when we copy her.
Other notables:
After naps and waking in the morning, when I pick Julia up she rests her head on my shoulder, wraps her arms around me, squeezes tight, and lightly pats my back. I hope she does this forever and ever.

I'm not taking too much stock in this, but a few times this month Julia has let me know when her diaper has been dirty. She's pointed to her diaper and said, "poooooh." There's not potty training in our sights, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed with the few times this has happened.

We're currently flip-flopping from two-naps-a-day to one-nap-a-day. This transition period isn't my favorite, but I have high hopes that once a nap is cut we'll be able to sleep in past 5am.
I love you, little lady. You are something else: equal parts sweet, and sassy, and spunky, and naughty (oh so naughty), and feisty, and fun, and simply a joy.
To month 17 I say, "Cheers!" I can't wait to see what this next month has in store for us.


M & J Monday

Blessed are those
 who are curious
 for they shall have
~Lovelle Drachman
Happy Monday!


The || Catching Up to Speed || Edition

After an intentional and very much needed hiatus from blogging and the blogging world I figured a Friday post was as good as any to jump back into the saddle. A few weeks off was exactly what was needed to recharge and refresh. And, most importantly, almost every single minute of the last two and a half weeks was spent with family, soaking up time together that we aren't often allotted.

To efficiently sum up our time together, as well as our celebrations of the holidays I figured a little (I use "little" relatively) recap would be the best way to go about it.

1. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Our family of four spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, just us. We started the celebrations with Mass on Christmas Eve, followed by our tradition of opening two gifts, which are always new pajamas and a new ornament.
After we tucked the kids into bed Scott and I played Santa, which consisted of consumption of cookies and a lot less assembly of toys than the past few years.
Christmas Day was a flurry of wrapping paper, boxes, squeals of delight, and big smiles. Santa delivered, and the favored toys were a new skateboard for Marcus and a shopping cart for Julia. I didn't take a single photo of the festivities because I really just wanted to be present and savor the magic that the holidays have when it comes to kids.

2. Travel
The 26th brought a super early start filled with travel and relatively well behaved children, minus the one epic meltdown from Julia right before we boarded. 
During a quick stop in Vegas - where we didn't get off the plane - Marcus was invited to the cockpit. It was a toss-up as to who was more excited, Marcus or Scott and me, about this moment.
3. Iowa/Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's
We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's just in time for dinner. The next four days in Iowa were filled with lots of one-on-one time between the grandparents, Uncle Tyler, and the kiddos.
Most of our time was spent simply playing with grandma and grandpa, be it building trucks or tossing pool balls, the kids loved the attention they received. And Julia set about to explore all the nooks, crannies, and decorations that were within her reach.
At first Marcus was crushed that the ground wasn't blanketed in snow. However, both kids took great delight in the remaining snow piles, and several snowballs were formed and tossed. Grandpa was a great sport about being pegged with snowballs that were more ice than snow. This was Julia's first time experiencing snow, and she took to it immediately. I also have to note that after the first snowball was thrown Marcus declared that Grandma and Grandpa had a TON of snow.
And, no time spent at Grandma and Grandpa Dudding's is complete unless at least one quad ride is had.
To beat one of the colder Iowa days, we spent an afternoon bowling. Marcus has become pretty good at knocking down the pins, and rarely were the bumpers used by him. He may or may not have legitimately beaten me in game one. Julia had her first shot at rolling the ball. I did most of the leg work, but she seemed to enjoy pushing the ball once we got to the line. I had to laugh when we walked into the alley, not a single thing has changed in that place since I was in high school.

Our last Iowa adventure brought us to Des Moines to visit Uncle Tyler. And, I mean, when you see this wall how do you pass it and not stop? You don't.
We spent the afternoon feasting at Zombie Burger and spent some time at the science center where the kids were free to touch all the things and run amuck.

4. Kansas/Grandma and Grandpa Macke's
From Iowa we made the four hour trek to Grandma and Grandpa Macke's. We were quickly met with more Christmas gifts, and perhaps the best present of all, time with cousins! 
Words cannot express how amazing it was to send three rowdy boys off to play and entertain themselves for serious chunks of time.
The tradition of Christmas donuts continued with the help of a few very eager little boys.
"It's sure nice to have family."
When cousins weren't around Grandma and Grandpa helped make ice cream, push little toy cars, and grinned and bared every piano key that was banged. Marcus and Julia didn't not lack time or attention one single bit. At the end of each day I'm not sure who was more exhausted from all the fun and shenanigans.
We couldn't resist a trip to Union Station to see the holiday train exhibit with friends. I was impressed by how captivated both Marcus and Julia were with all the displays.
Of course I couldn't leave KC without a few walls for the photo collection.
The wall on the left is in the parking lot of one of our favorite BBQ joints.
The wall on the right we stumbled upon when we grabbed pizza one afternoon. The sweet little lady with me was a girl I mentored when she was in fourth grade - that was almost eight years ago!

As quickly as it began it all came to an end.
After our plane landed in LA (a flight I will not soon forget, as Julia cried for a solid two hours during the 3.5 hours we were trapped), and we were buckled in our vehicle and heading home we noticed Marcus looking very sad. It wasn't soon after we asked him if he was ok that he became a puddle of tears, telling us he didn't want to leave Grandma and Grandpa's, and that he wanted to go back. He was inconsolable for the 30 minute ride home. Talk about crushing. We've since convinced him there will be return trips that are equally as fun and full of love.
And just like that, in a blink, the holidays have come to a close... 2016 was pretty good, but I'm so excited for the fresh start of 2017!

Cheers to the weekend!


M & J Monday

I had just nodded off, at a quarter past four,
when the Spirit of Christmas stepped in through my door.
With a great show of sparkles, he decked all my halls
in tinsel and twinkles and bright, shining balls.
I was really quite fond of  the trimmings he'd brought.
"But there's just something missing this Christmas," I thought.
"Bells!" he said. "Jingle bells! Bells right away! 
Bells on a one-horse galloping sleigh!"
"A toy soldier band dressed in matching red sashes!"
"Candy can tongues and marshmallow mustaches!"
"Everyone caroling songs of goodwill."
"So merry that even the trees can't be still."
I shook my head. "You are really so kind.
But it's just not exactly what I had in mind."
He spoke to me then in a whisper of wings.
"There are gentle things the season brings."
"Snow that lies silent. As quiet as a mouse."
"And roads that all lead to your grandmother's house."
"Ten lords a-leaping as seven swans swim."
"And of course, Santa Claus, I'm just getting to him!"
I lifted my chin and started up at the ceiling.
I still wasn't getting that warm Christmas feeling.
That's when the Spirit of Christmas smiled.
"Remember, this all began with a child.
Because it took nothing but love to begin it,
it's not really Christmas if love isn't in it."
Your tree may be large as the room will allow
with a big yellow star on the uppermost bough,
but of one thing I'm certain, I'm sure of one thing.
It is love that makes the angels sing."
And that's when I got it. That's when I knew!
The thing that was missing from Christmas was you!
And so then, my darling, wherever you roam,
may you always be safe... may you always come home.
For as long as the world still spins and still hums,
wherever you are, and no matter what comes,
the best part of Christmas will always be...
you beneath my Christmas tree.
The Spirit of Christmas
~ Nancy Tillman
Happy Monday!


Ornament Exchange & A Few Favorites

For as long as I can remember ornaments have been a pretty big deal in my family. Each year since I can remember, my parents have gifted us a new ornament at Christmas. Usually it's something that's representative of a major event that has happened in our lives within that particular year (lettering in a sport, graduating college, getting married, having babies, you get the idea). Along with the annual Christmas ornament we've always picked up an ornament whenever we travel. I've carried both those traditions along to my family. I have hopes that when Marcus and Julia are grown they will have a nice little collection of ornaments to adorn their trees when they have families of their own.
That said, to this day I love receiving ornaments. When the Annual Ornament Exchange was announced I couldn't pounce on the opportunity fast enough. In the last six years of blogging I've met some incredible ladies, and many of them I consider friends - even if we haven't actually met face to face.

When I learned Johannah and I were partnered I was pretty excited. I've followed Johannah for about as long as I've been blogging, and I feel like I've gotten to know her quite well in that time. Picking an ornament for her was pretty easy, as she shares a love for something/somewhere as much as I do. I'll give you a hint - it involves a mouse and the most magical place on earth. To see what I sent her, hop over to The Sirois Family for her reveal!

When I opened Johannah's ornament it couldn't have been more perfect.
Can you guess which one she sent?
Johannah gets our love for the Royals (she and her family are big Red Sox fans themselves). When I opened this guy he immediately brought a smile to my face. Though our beloved baseball team didn't have an October like last year, it still reminds me of home, as well as the two World Series games Scott and I were able to witness in person (the first in San Fransisco in 2014, and again in Kansas City in 2015). I am also so appreciative that this ornament isn't breakable. The bottom portion of our tree is merely sprinkled with ornaments, so anything that can withstand Julia's not-so-gentle touch is very much welcome.

Johannah, thank you for the sweetest, most perfect ornament! Each year when we hang it on our tree I will be reminded of home as well as this wonderful blogging community.

Because I couldn't stop with just one ornament, I wanted to show a few others that are on display (albeit much higher on the tree, because, Julia).
1. This Swarovski maple leaf was our wedding cake topper. While I was searching for the perfect top for our cake I knew I wanted something that we could make into an ornament. This ornament goes in the same spot every year; at the top of the tree, right beneath the star.
2. Recently my has dad gotten back into the art of making stained glass (he did this years ago when I was little), and he made us two gorgeous snowflake ornaments.
3. Our travels to Cabo this year included the annual hunt for the perfect ornament. When we found this manger scene I knew it was meant for our tree. 
4. The year both babies were born I had block ornaments made commemorating their arrival. Each side of the block holds a photo and birth stat (height, weight, birth day).
5. The first year Scott and I were married my mom kept a wedding program and made it into an ornament. I love that she did this because I don't think I kept a program for myself. 
6. In 2014 Scott took it upon himself to make an ornament out of our Christmas card. I sincerely love that he did this on his own, and that Marcus helped in its creation.

Narrowing down six wasn't easy! I just might have to come back and share six more...


M & J Monday

You know Dasher and Dancer
and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid
and Donner and Blitzen
But do you recall
the most famous reindeer of all...
Happy Monday!
Marcus' shirt
Julia's shirt
Julia's skirt & knee highs