Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Vacation in Missouri

I’m recapping the rest of our stay with my in-laws in one post. This may get long so I’m sorry in advance for the pictures and ramblings!

Wednesday
The day after Christmas, we all headed into Columbia, Missouri, which is about 20-30 minutes from my in-law’s house. We went mainly because I wanted to do some after Christmas shopping at Hobby Lobby and Target. I needed new Christmas wrapping paper and I love to check out the after-Christmas sales.

Can I also just say how much I love being able to just run to Hobby Lobby and it not be a big deal? I hate that a trip to places like Hob Lob, Target, Old Navy, etc, are a full day trip for me. I so want to move to a city where I can have all of these things near me and not have to drive 90 miles to shop.  Okay, end rant.

Between Hobby Lobby and Target, I’m all set on wrapping paper for a few years.

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The black/red/white paper on the right is from Hobby Lobby. I’m in loooove with the polka dots. Perfect for all occasions, too, not just Christmas!

We drove around the University of Missouri campus. Possible place for Stephen to get his doctorate? Deanna would love that!

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We went to a popular pizza joint, Shakespeare’s. The pizza was good but not the best, but the atmosphere was really neat. You could watch the pizza guys throwing the dough through the window on the sidewalk, or when you first walked in you could watch. We lifted Christopher up to let him watch and he thought it was really neat. One of the guys saw him and gave him a ball of dough, which of course C loved. He said “thank you!” and they were like “wow - you’re a polite little guy!”

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Notice the dinosaur under his arms? It’s a brachiosaurus, but on an episode of Dino Dan there’s a baby one that Dan names “Long Necky.” (Neckey? Neckie? Neck-ey? Ay yai yai.) Christopher received this dinosaur from Santa and it was one of the first things he saw and he said “Santa brought me a Long Necky!” So, Long Necky made the trek to Missouri with us.

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After dinner at Shakespeare’s we drove to the “Crazy Tree” that some friends had told them about.

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Exhausted after a fun day!

Thursday
We left my in-law’s house around 9 on Thursday morning to head to St. Louis. It’s about a 2.5 hour trip and I was in the back seat with Christopher and Deanna, so I made sure to grab my headphones before we left the house. =)

IMG_4913A little Adele to keep me sane.

We first went to the St. Louis Science Center. It was free admission, just $10 to park. I would highly recommend this to anyone with kids! It was really neat and we only saw a fraction of it. You could spend the whole day here, which I would actually recommend, especially for kids 5 and up. There’s a place to eat lunch (Pizza Hut express and a snack bar with different things) and there’s like 3 or 4 floors of stuff, a planetarium, Omnimax Theatre… SO SO much stuff to do.  We’ll have to return and spend the whole day sometime.

We spent the majority of our time on the bottom floor.  Three guesses why????

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T-Rex!!!!!!

Actually, Christopher was scared of it. It moved around and made noise and there was a “hurt” triceratops on the other side of it. Christopher loved looking at it from the floor above when we first walked in, but when we went downstairs and I wanted to take his picture next to it, he was clinging to my neck and wouldn’t look at the camera because he was afraid it would get him. I couldn’t help but laugh, don’t call me a bad mom!

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Digging for fossils…

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After we left the Science Museum we headed to the Gateway Arch! I was so excited to visit the Arch – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  Since we had spent the morning and early afternoon at the museum then had a late lunch afterwards, it was a getting close to dusk by the time we got to downtown St. Louis.

We accidentally took the wrong exit and ended up going over the Mississippi River. As we were going over it I saw an “Illinois” sign and realized we were crossing the state border! I had never been to Illinois, so I took a screenshot of my location. What can I say, little things excite me.

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I LOVED getting to see the Arch! LOVED it! Is that weird? Am I a total nerd? We got in line to get into the entrance (underneath the ground/arch) and saw a sign saying that the ride to the top was sold out. SAD FACE! I was upset, but we still got to go underneath and view the Westward Expansion museum. The next time we visit St Louis we plan on going back to the Arch and buying tickets to the top ONLINE in ADVANCE. None of us even thought about needing to buy tickets in advance. Duh.

Regardless, really neat experience that I thoroughly enjoyed!

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Friday
Thursday was a long day! I think we were all exhausted because all 3 of us slept until 10:30 the next morning! My mother-in-law actually had to wake me up because we had an appointment that I needed to start getting ready for! The guys stayed at home while Deanna and I went into Columbia and got a manicure and did some shopping. While we were in Missouri my favorite pair of shoes (black glitter Toms) got a hole in them, and I wanted a new pair and just couldn’t wait so we found a store that sold them and I bought these ADORABLE black herringbone glittery pair.  Can’t see the glitter in the pic… but it’s there.

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That evening, Leonard’s kids came over for dinner. We had a good time visiting and catching up with them.

Nana & PopPop with Brooke, Baxter, and Ava.
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PopPop and Ava
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Christopher & Ava. I love this picture!
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Saturday morning we had yummy French toast (Deanna always makes French toast as a “going-away” breakfast) and loaded our things to leave. Christopher was NOT ready to leave. He told us we could go and he would stay and we could come pick him up later. =) Sweet boy. He was so sad to leave his grandparents house and kept giving them “one more hug.” Pretty soon he will probably spend several days alone with them and I know he will enjoy it immensely!

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We had such a great time! We stayed up late, played cards, talked, ate great food… So glad that we got the opportunity to spend Christmas with them. (Although I was SO MAD that we missed the biggest Christmas Day snowstorm that Polk County has seen in years! Six to eight inches of snow. Are you kidding me?!?) 

We can’t wait to visit them again!

Christmas 2012 {Part 2}

After Christmas celebration with my family we hit the road headed to my mother- and father-in-law’s house in Sturgeon, Missouri. This was our first trip to visit Deanna (Nana) since she married Leonard (PopPop) and moved to Missouri last October. They have visited us several times but this was the first chance we have had to go up there. We were pulling out of Mena at 6 pm for the 8-hour drive. We took Baxter with us – the first time we’ve taken him EVER on a road trip. He did great! Stephen and I took turns driving and we would stop every few hours to top off on gas/use the restroom/let Bax pee/etc. I was initially nervous that no gas stations would be open and we would be stranded with no gas, but apparently that was a stupid fear because gas stations were open everywhere! We pulled into Nana and PopPops driveway at about 2:15am. Christopher had fallen asleep around 7pm and slept the entire way until just about 30-40 minutes from Nana’s house. We had stopped to switch drivers and Stephen needed to use the restroom, and Christopher woke up and needed to use the restroom as well, and he ended up staying awake for the rest of the drive – just about a half hour or so. We told him we were almost to Nana’s house and he was so excited!

Nana was waiting on us when we got there, and while Stephen and I were carrying things in from the car, PopPop woke up from all the commotion and Christopher was REALLY excited to see him! He was seriously acting crazy and running in circles like it was mid-day. Stephen and I were afraid that he would never fall back asleep! I think we finally fell into bed around 3:15 or so that night. (Morning? Ha.) We were both exhausted after the long trip, but I’m glad that we did at night because neither of us are morning people and I’m not sure our original plan to leave at 4am would have worked out for us.

We had a very relaxed, low-key Christmas Day at Leonard and Deanna’s house. I didn’t get out of my PJs all day long! It was wonderful. Stephen and I both got a wonderful present from them and Christopher received several fun things, as well.

Again, no actual pictures of the gift-opening process. I enjoy it so much that I don’t really want to take pictures, because I just want to enjoy them moment, ya know? But then I regret that decisions afterwards.

We were at Deanna and Leonard’s from Christmas Day, Tuesday, thru Saturday morning. We had such a GREAT visit with them and I’m so glad that we were able to make them trip up there for Christmas. I’m doing the rest of the trip in a separate post.

Christmas 2012 {Part 1}

We had such a wonderful Christmas this year!

Our original plan for Christmas was to spend time with my family on Christmas Eve, have Santa visit Christmas morning, have a brunch with my family Christmas morning, then head to Missouri to my mother-in-law’s house for the rest of the week to celebrate with her and Leonard. Our plans changed when we starting having predictions for snow and ice on Christmas Day. We really weren’t sure what we should do, but ended up deciding to have Santa come visit on Christmas Eve morning then we would do Christmas Eve evening with my family (tradition) and leave super early Christmas Day in order to avoid the bad weather. On Christmas Eve the predictions changed a bit and my MIL voiced concerns that the roads might be bad by Christmas morning, so we changed our plans at the very last minute and decided to leave for her house late Christmas Eve evening, after celebrating with my family.

We are so thankful Santa could come to our house a day early this year. =)

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Santa brought Christopher a Radio Flyer wagon, three different boxes of dinosaurs, Candy Land & Memory, a Dream Lights penguin, and a stocking stuffed with useful things like underwear, socks, teeth flossers, etc. I have a video I’ll be posting to YouTube later.

After discovering Santa’s gifts, we spent Christmas Eve morning packing and getting things together to leave that evening. I got everything packed and loaded into our G6 then we headed over to my parents house in our Murano mid-afternoon so that we could have our Christmas celebrations with my parents and brother and sister-in-law. I did take my camera, but by the time we finished opening gifts and having dinner, I was in a hurry to load up our stuff and get home to switch to our other car and hit the road! I’m mad at myself for not taking pictures of Christopher with his grandparents and aunt & uncle. I seriously need to get better at taking pictures of him with family.

Christmas with my family went really well! Christopher received a lot of fun stuff from them…  new movies, cars, a nap mat made by my mom, a toy story flashlight, Buzz t-shirt… I’m sure there’s more but I’m at a loss right now.

My parents went ALL OUT with Christmas this year and Stephen and I received so much great stuff from them! I got a new Coach purse, clothes, Stephen got an awesome portable bluetooth speaker, we received gift cards for restaurants and movies and we both got Christmas Cash to spend on whatever we wanted. We’re debating what to spend it on right now. I’d love a KitchenAid stand mixer and he’d love an iPad for himself, but we’re considering putting it towards a new mattress because ours is SO bad. A new mattress is one of the first things on our “list” of things to buy once I get a job.

After opening gifts, we ate white chicken chili then started loading up our gifts. We said our goodbyes and came home, where we changed into comfy driving clothes and grabbed a few things last second then switched Christopher into the G6 and headed to Missouri!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Proof is in the Pin (better late than never!)

I’m blogging from my laptop! In my last blog just a few hours ago (2012 Christmas Card) I explained that my laptop had been dead for over two weeks. I ended up calling tech support after I wrote the blog because my husband’s desktop was seriously bugging the ever loving snot out of me when I wrote it.

Want to know what tech support had me do to fix my computer? First of all, the problem was that my laptop was dead. Wouldn’t charge, turn on, nothing. It was like the charger wasn’t working at all. But the light on the charger was on, so the charger was receiving power. Stephen even went to the store and bought me a new charger, but it didn’t fix the problem.

Tech support had me remove the battery from the laptop, then, withOUT the charging cable hooked up to it, hold down the power button for about a minute. She said that this would release any static electricity that was built up in the computer. Then I plugged it back in to the charging able and BAM. My computer fired up automatically.

I’ve NEVER heard of that before and neither had Stephen. And we’re both fairly savvy with computers.

Regardless, my baby is back and working like new and I am SO glad because I seriously felt like I was missing my right arm without my laptop working.  I didn’t get to write up a “Proof is in the Pin” blog last week because I seriously couldn’t deal with the desktop. But now I’m linking up with just a few hours to go. Better late than never!

Here are my pins for the past month:

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Pin #1: Lemon Cookiesdelicious. like a lemon bar… but in a cookie form. my husband and I both LOVED these. and they were super easy to make and it was all ingredients I normally have on hand. If you’re a fan of lemon, you will LOVE these.

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Pin #2: Free Christmas Fonts – I downloaded a few of these fonts. “Cinnamon Cake” was used on the back side of our Christmas Card this year. (See previous post.) I’m sure I will use more of them in the future! I LOVE downloading new fonts. (I confessed my love of fonts to Stephen and he laughed at me and called me a nerd.)

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Pin #3: Crockpot Hot Chocolate – I made this for Bunco last week. It was good, just really sweet. (Um, hello can of sweetened condensed milk and an entire bag of milk chocolate chips.) I liked it (of course, add vanilla or peppermint mocha coffee creamer to it) but I would only make it for big groups because Stephen’s not a fan of hot chocolate and I would gain about a thousand pounds if I drank this every time I had a hot chocolate craving. I don’t even want to THINK about how many calories were in it. Yowza.

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Pin #4: Tomato Cage Christmas Trees – I’ve loved these trees since I first saw (pinned) them. BUT, there’s no real “tutorial.” I really just work so much better with tutorials! I went to Walmart sometime in November and bought the supplies to make them – tomato cage and garland. I had plenty of extra lights at my house. When I went to choose the garland, there were several different options. I chose the cheapest, which was 50 feet of garland for like 12 bucks. When I pulled everything out to start making the tree, I realized that the cheap garland I had gotten wasn’t going to work, because it didn’t have any wire in it. I got the type of garland that you would put around your Christmas tree as decoration. (I hope this is making sense. I should have taken pictures!) Anyway, I couldn’t use it because when I wrapped it around the tomato cage, it wouldn’t go in a circle because there was no wire in it.

IMG_4658My Tree!♥

My point is this: buy the more expensive garland. It has wire in it and you can shape it the way you need to so that your trees are shaped like circle and not triangles. I paid $4 for a 12-foot section of garland at Walmart. I have a 53” tomato cage (I think) and I used 5 sections of garland and honestly could have used one more. I ended up making three trips to the store to get everything I needed for this tree and it ended up costing me about 25 dollars without the lights (I used 3 strands) or deco mesh. I LOVE this and would love to make more! These would work well outside or inside and I think it would be cute to put ornaments on it and use it in kids rooms… anywhere, really!

My Walmart is already out of the garland I used on this tree which is disappointing because I was hoping to buy the stuff on sale after Christmas. I may keep an eye out for it at discount/wholesale stores throughout the year.

Anyway, I’m glad I was finally able to get this blog up and I am hoping to get on the ball with blogging now that the school semester is over and things have calmed down a bit here!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

I’m so excited to share our 2012 Christmas Card!

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I’m linking up with
Faith this year!

I designed our cards this year. Last year was my first time designing our own card, and I had a few issues with it that I needed to correct for this year’s card. My biggest problem with last year’s cards was that I printed them on cardstock and even though it was thicker than regular paper, it still wasn’t that nice thick quality like when you order through Shutterfly.

This year I printed them through mpix.com and it was SO much easier than I though it would be!  I was a little worried about the picture quality because every single picture on the card was taken with either an iPhone or iPad… but they turned out great!  I was SO happy when they came in I literally squealed with joy! I will definitely be ordering through mpix in the future.

Anyway, moving on. I designed these on my laptop…which died the 2nd of December and is still dead because my husband is supposed to call about our extended warranty on it and hasn’t and probably won’t so I should probably just go ahead and put that on my to-do list for tomorrow.  Luckily I was on the ball this year and ordered our cards on November 25th! (If you know me then you know that it’s basically a miracle that I got something done that far in advance!) Had my computer died before I finished designing these I’m pretty sure I would have had a freaking stroke.  (Me + Stevo’s desktop = not friends.) SO, you’re getting a picture of it. Deal with it. :)

Front of Card:
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Back:
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Yes…the back of the card has seventeen instagram pictures of Christopher. I went a little overboard…but SERIOUSLY…he’s the cutest 3-year-old EVER.

It’s a very busy card but I really do love it. Next year I’m going to try to do something a little more low-key and maybe less traditional.

Things I love about this year’s card:
*all the pictures of Christopher – with the exception of my immediate family, all of our relatives live out of town and most of them do not read my blog or follow my instagram. i love that they can see pictures of him from all year long.
*it’s two-sided. i wanted to do that last year but didn’t know how.
*it has our dogs on it – first year to include our fur-babies since 2008, and we didn’t even have bella or jasper then.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

O Christmas Tree!

My Christmas tree bit the dust. I put it up a week or two before Thanksgiving, and over the Thanksgiving Holiday (more on that later) the lights at the top of the tree stopped working.  We tried all sorts of stuff to try to get them to come back on, but nothing worked. I decided to live with it until after Christmas and I would just buy a tree on sale somewhere.

Then the bottom section of lights went out

Then the next section down from the top went out.

Then the a section on the side and back.

And my anxiety was through.the.roof.

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SEE WHAT I MEAN?!?!?

So what’s a girl to do? Take it all down and get a new tree!!!!

I wasn’t TOO upset with this decision. I love Christmas trees and honestly, I wasn’t happy with the multi-colored lights on the old tree.

So I found a good deal on Walmart.com and Stephen granted me permission to get a new tree.

I ordered another 7.5’ tree white lights and double the tips of my old tree.

In the future, remind me.. 2000+ tips on a tree = 2000 tips that I must fluff.

New tree BEFORE I fluffed the top and after the first fluff of the lower section:IMG_4629

New tree AFTER I re-freaking-fluffed the entire thing and added two strands of white lights:
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Makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE, people. Most pre-lit trees need an extra strand or two of lights on them. Its what makes them glow. =)

Yesterday, we made a quick trip to one of my favorite discount warehouse stores about 1.5 hours away. They sell deco mesh at a really reasonable price, plus picks, ornaments, decorations… you name it and they probably have it. I picked up some materials for making wreaths and to decorate the new tree. I wanted to do something different to it instead of putting everything back up the same way.

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This is the final result and I am over the freaking moon in love with it! I tried to keep it a red/white/green theme with the exception of a few pieces that are sentimental to Stephen and me.

Comparison:
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I may try to do a more detailed post on some of my favorite pieces of the tree. But first I kind of need to catch up with Halloween and Thanksgiving and other random things! I was just so excited about my tree and I wanted to share it.

I ended up keeping my old tree and taking off all six hundred of the pre-strung lights on it. Wire cutters are my friend… but it was still a 4 or 5 hour long process that I had to break apart into 2 nights. It’s packed away and will be used in the future. I love Christmas trees and could easily have at least 4 or 5 of them. This year I only have two – the one in our living room and Christopher’s small blue tree in his room. There was no good place for my white tree this year since we are in my mother-in-law’s house. I’m hoping next year we will have sold our old house and will be in a new (to us) house where my white tree will fit in.

Keeping with the Christmas spirit, I sent off my first batch of Christmas cards today. I think this is a personal record. I’ve never sent cards out this early in the 4 Christmases that Stephen and I have been together. Two years ago I had major problems and I think they were finally mailed out on like December 22 or 23. I designed our card again this year {click here for last year’s card} and super pink puffy heart love it. I’m hoping all our friends and family do too!