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


The Secret Santa Book Exchange Edition

My love of reading runs deep. If there was an extra hour in the day I'd have a really tough time deciding between more sleep and reading a good book. When Courtney, Elizabeth and Ashley announced their annual Secret Santa book exchange I couldn't hop on that train fast enough. 

Each night we read a few books to the kids, and while we're in no short supply between the kids' libraries, there's just something kind of magical about opening a brand. new. book. Is it the smell of the paper? The crispness of pages? What is it that makes a new book SO good?

Marcus, Julia and I were paired up with Stephanie and Connor. If you'd like to take a look at which books we selected for them hop on over to Wife Mommy Me and check it out!

When Marcus learned there was a package in the mail for him he was so ready to tear into it! I was equally as anxious for a couple of reasons: 1) who was our Secret Santa 2) which books were in the box?! 

When I discovered Meghan and Noah were our Secret Santa I was thrilled. Meghan amazes me on a constant basis with the fabulous arts and crafts projects she does with Noah. I want to take a personal day and allow Meghan to take the reigns in our house! 

Let's take a look a the goodies from Meghan and Noah!

The Wrapping
Right now is there anything more fun and cute than a red truck with a Christmas tree in the back? I think not. 
This wrapping paper is easily some of the best I've laid eyes on, and the cute tags that Meghan attached to each were such a sweet extra touch. These were almost too pretty to tear into. 

Marcus' Book
Press Here has been on my list to add to Marcus' library for some time, and I was so excited to see it was the book Meghan and Noah had selected!
The book is interactive and positively perfect for a 4-year old. We immediately read the book. And then read it again. And again. And again (seriously, we read the book four times in a row right after we opened it). Press Here has been in constant rotation since receiving it.

Julia's Book
I had to add this photo. For documentation's sake.
In Julia's defense, she had just woken from a nap (waking isn't something she does with ease, nor does she wake quickly), and she has yet to grasp the glorious concept of tearing into wrapped packages.
Sheep in a Jeep is honestly the cutest, most funny little book we've read in some time. I'm not sure Julia totally gets it, but it has a great little rhythm and it rhymes. We've read it every morning since unwrapping it!

My Book
I first read Jojo Moyes' Me Before You a couple of months ago, and I quickly found I love her writing. From the get go she drew me right into her story.
When I unwrapped After You I could not finish the book I was reading fast enough to start in on this one (I'm not one of those people who can read multiple books at a time). I'm not too terribly far into the book, but as I expected, Moyes has me up late at night to read, "Just one more page."

Not only did Meghan and Noah shower us with the perfect books, they were also so sweet and included holiday Pez for Marcus and Julia (which have been a smashing hit between the both of them!), as well as caramel filled Ghirardelli for me (which are already long gone).

Meghan and Noah, thank you so much for your generosity and perfect book selections!


Julia || 16 Months

December just crept right in, and 16 months kind of slipped right on by me yesterday. When I realized the date I did what any good and guilt-ridden mom would do. Promptly got Julia up from her nap, dressed her in holiday appropriate attire, and tried to take a few photos during the notoriously most challenging hour of our day. Not ideal, but a few photos (albeit not my best) are better than none.

To the update.

I haven't weighed or measured Julia since last month, but I'd say she's finally broken into the 20 pound range. And, height wise, very likely around 31-ish inches. Julia's holding steady with 12 teeth.

When Scott comes home from work.
Birds (so gross).
Being outside.
Playing chase. 
Playing Patty-Cake.
Playing Peek-a-Boo.
Being tossed into the air.
Waving to every person she meets.
Picking up objects (sticks, pine needs, imaginary things) and handing them to the nearest adult.
Picking Marcus up from school (she literally runs into the building to get him).
Trying to keep up with the big kids.
Climbing on any and everything.
Taking the ornaments off the tree and relocating them all over the house.
Taking out every item from any drawer and cupboard that isn't child-locked shut.

Most vegetables.
Waking up from naps. 
Sleeping in past 5a.m.
Diaper changes (whyyyyyyy?!).

Other mentionable moments:
I decided just a week after Julia turned 15 months that it was time to cut out the nursing. The first few days were kind of rough, but by day three things were pretty smooth sailing. Occasionally I miss that time between us (like right before bed), and it saddens me to think that was my only time to nourish a baby exclusively. But, in all honesty, it's been so nice to finally have my body back. 

Vowel heavy words continue to be added to the vocabulary. As of late we've been hearing a lot of "pretty" due to Christmas lights. And we're not in short supply of "ooohs" and "ahhhs" because of said lights.

The dance moves, attitude, and sass keep us entertained and on our toes. When my head finally lands on the pillow each night I give thanks for such a spunky little thing. Life certainly is busy with this one, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Cheers to 16 months!


M & J Monday

You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town
He's making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is comin' to town
He sees you when you're sleepin'
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
Oh! You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
~Bing Crosby

Happy Monday!


The San Diego Edition

Last week we were able to sneak away to my favorite Southern California city - San Diego - for a few days. In the short amount of time we were there we managed to pack in quite a bit.

The entire reason for our trip was to spend time with family for Thanksgiving. 
Each year my cousins host the most fabulous, delicious meal.
This year I was most thankful that my parents and brother were able to join us. My only regret is we didn't get a photo of just my family. Guess that just means they're going to have to join us again next year!

Turkey Trot
The last time I participated in an organized run/race was *last* year on Thanksgiving. And then Scott had to push the double stroller. 
This year we recruited Grandma and Grandpa to watch the kids while Scott and I ran. 
The neat thing about this race is that before the event there was a full Mass which we attended, a pancake breakfast (which we opted to skip, because, running), and one of the best atmospheres I've ever experienced before a run.
Aren't race photos so flattering?
It's also fun when the photos are sponsored by Michelob Ultra, and the logo is splashed across the bottom of each picture.
As silly as it sounds, I was nervous for the 5k. I can't remember the last time I ran at a pace I was truly happy with, but this run I was pleasantly surprised to see I ran sub-8s the whole time. Official race time: 24:49. May it be noted Scott and I didn't actually run together, he's entirely too fast for me to even think about keeping up. But, it was such a nice way to start Thanksgiving.

I could/should probably do an entire post on this (but if you know me you know I have an intense and legit fear of birds, particularly chickens)...
Doesn't my cousin look like Jackie O?!
Nope. Nope. Nope. Marcus is far braver than me.
Julia was fascinated, too. However, her attention span was much shorter than Marcus'.

My cousins neighbors have this garden that is phenomenal, replete with a chicken coop. We checked it out, and Marcus found eggs in the coop, which he found to be the most incredible thing in the whole wide world (he talked about this for *days*), was able to hold/pet a chicken, and feed them as well. The chickens were easily Marcus favorite part of the whole trip.

Sunrises and Sunsets
Sunrises and sunsets rank pretty high among my list of favorite things, ever.
1. Sunset #1 2. Sunset #2 (on Thanksgiving)
3. Sunset #3 4. Sunrise on our way home from San Diego
We were treated to some pretty incredible sky shows, both at sunrise (because we're up that early) and sunset. 

That's a wrap. Until next time San Diego!