The Christmas that Was (The Best)

How do I survive the holidays?

In retrospect, it was quite easy. Now, I know during the hustle and bustle there were certainly times I was wishing for a fast forward button. (If you saw me pulled over on I-29 with the flashers on, I swear I was only yelling at the top of my lungs at the Rs out of pure love).

But mostly, it was bliss. Snowy, crinkled wrapping paper everywhere bliss.

Here are some of the highlights that made the Holidays 2013 one I will never forget.

I remember alot of smiles: 
Sister. Mom. Reese & Me.

I remember a tons of shouts of "YES!" and "I'm so lucky!" coming from my kids as they ripped through their packages. Okay, I'll admit, I was shouting the same thing too. 

How can you have a highlights reel without some drink shots and a leggings picture? And yes, that's a Twilight themed tablecloth. Thanks Grandma. And when you're in a cabin with all of your closest family, it's apparently the perfect time for a really good nap. 

 And then there was this:
Possibly the best moments of mommyhood I've had so far. A no-holds bar snow fight with my wonderful best bud. The look of pure joy on his face was priceless and something I will never ever forget. Granted he was probably taking out pent up frustrations over me not letting him have orange sorbet for breakfast but it was still fun none the less! And even though my hair was frozen to my face and my glasses were almost a fatally, I wouldn't trade it for the WORLD.

And then my sister turned him into a snowman and it was the funniest thing ever. 

And how can I can forget about this beautiful snow bunny?  Granted, she was the cause of my interstate melt down mentioned above, but she's just so damned cute. 

And last but certainly not least, these days you can't really say you celebrated Christmas without an ugly sweater party. 

I'd say there are some real winners there. Notice the sheer joy on Dad's face there. And yes, his sweatshirt says "happiness is a furry friend." And see that happy couple there, third picture over? Yup, that's my aunt Aimee and her man, Greg. I can't help but brag about THIS reference, when I predicted in a Weekend Shenanigans post about the weekend I first met Greg this summer that he would probably still be around at Christmas. And I am so glad I was right! He's perfect for my wonderful aunt and I'm so happy for her! My sister and moms rocked the sweaters but I think the true winner had to be Miss Lucy. Those cheeks? I DIE!

Woofta, that is one impressive Christmas holiday, if I do say so myself!

I'm calling it a night. Tomorrow? More work from home and then a great New Year's party with some of my favorite people.

Happy Happy New Year Friends! 

A Battle of the Years: 2013 vs. 2014

There have been a lot of lists going around for the New Year. Resolutions, Recaps, etc. I thought I'd sit down and compare my 2013 to what I want my 2014 to look like. It's time for the ultimate show down: 

My Kids in 2013: In spite of a couple huge life changes and adjustments, my kids grew and flourished in 2013. R2 developed a diva attitude that's sometimes cute and sometimes NOT. But I'd rather her be spicy than just a lump on a log. R1 became a smarty pants. He does math, he reads, he corrects me ALOT. (The latter I could do without sometimes but I still find it endearing.) He lost some teeth and proved that there are no Legos that shall be left unturned. They sing Roar, they draw me pictures and giggle like crazy when I make funny faces. 

This year they taught me the importance of patience and the value of their unconditional love. I had a bad day? That's okay, R2 just wants to sit on my lap. I yelled at R1 while trying to rush out the door to school? That's okay, mom, he just wants to draw me a picture really quick. They have taught me
over  and over again what it's like to just keep on loving. I love waking up every morning with the clean slate they give me. 

In 2014, I can only hope the Rs and I get to know each other even more. I can't wait to see them learn more. R2 will go to the preschool, R1 will continue to shine in Kindergarten and move on to 1st grade, I want to take them on a vacation, I want to start marking their heights on growth charts, I want to take more pictures of them and I want to make them laugh every day. Most importantly, my  goal for 2014 is to not take them for granted and to appreciate the memories as they are happening. I want to tap myself on the shoulder while we are having a great time, cuddling on the couch or going on vacation and whisper to remind myself: "Live in this moment and know right now how amazing it is right now." 

Our home life: This took a huge blow in 2013 but I seriously think 2014 will be kinder. I want out of this apartment and into something more substantial. Let the saving begin! I love our space but I think the Rs are ready to have their own rooms again. It's funny how they fight during the day but as soon as they are in bed, they suddenly become best friends and want to play and talk all night. I love our living room and I love the coziness but we are in serious need of more space. Who knows, this time next year, I may be showing off pictures of a new home! (Fingers crossed). 

My career: If you would have told me in January 2013 that I would end the year with a new job, I would have given you the stink eye. There was no way I would have believed that I would be blessed with the opportunity that I have with my new job. I love it so much. Writing, meeting new people, stretching the creative side of my brain, it's all like someone started showing me things in technicolor, Wizard of Oz style and I love it. I hope 2014 means learning more about doing what  I love to do and how to rock it. 

My friendships: 2013 was the year for making new friends for me and I can't say I hate it. I think I have more pictures of me smiling with friends in 2013 than I have from the past 3 years. Isn't it craziest that when it comes to friendships, quality totally trumps quantity? I hope 2014 brings as many smiles, good times, jokes and smiling faces as 2013 and then some. 

See what I mean? Smiles for days. And I love it. 

Me: The 2014 version of me is going to look quite different, I predict. Mostly because I'm getting to know myself on a whole new level. My biggest goal for 2014 is to write more. I did more in 2013 and I loved cracking the surface. Where will I find the time? I have NO idea. But I promise right now I am going to try. I need more time to read and write in 2014. Maybe if I gave up watching crap TV, I'd find the time, but I've been faithfully addicted to worthless reality tv for 20 years, so why stop now? 

But most importantly, 2014 is going to mean pulling up my boot straps and taking control of the life I want to live. More time to read and write. More time spent living in the moment. Less time yelling at the kids (because it really can't matter THAT much). Less cursing, more sweeping, more organizing, less lost bills, more time cuddled with the Rs. More time traveling, less time worrying. More time appreciating the things and people that make me happy and less time giving room for the people who don't. 

So I am just going to go ahead and say 
That's pretty epic. I am so confident of the exciting and fun things that could happen in 2014 that I am going to say it beats 2013 before it's even begun. That. just. happened. 

Take time to make this last week of 2013 as special as possible! 

A Link Up! My 2013 In Review

It's pretty crazy that 2013 is almost over...
I can't decide yet if this year has been the hardest of my life...or the best. Does that make sense?  I've been through a lot but I can't say I hate it because I love where I've ended up. 

In celebration of 2014's debut, here are my favorite things of the last year! 

My Favorite Posts:
That's What She Wrote
 Why I Blog 
Writers: I Know You Are Out There
An Ode To Storypeople And Some Original Work 
My Reese Is 3
Lessons My 6 Year Old Taught Me 

My Favorite Book Reviews:
Someday, Someday Maybe by Laura Graham 
Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby
Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless 

My Favorite Songs: 

Feel Again by One Republic on Grooveshark

 Who You Love by John Mayer on Grooveshark 

And thanks to one of my FAVORITE BLOGS, you can link up your favorite songs of the year too at Helene In Between today!)

My Favorite TV Shows:
Orange is the New Black
My Favorite Pics: 

I met blog friends! 

I went on field trips 

Saw the Royals play 

Dressed cute.

Met more blog friends 

Had the cutest Fancy Zebra for Halloween 

Fell in love with my little girl everyday, over and over again

Hand new family pictures taken 

Took the kiddos to the park...hundreds of times

Threw some pretty amazing showers

Showered my super awesome son with love and kisses 

Drove like a mad woman to meet my brand new niece 

Toasted one of my oldest, best friends as she said I Do 

Fell in love with a little girl named Lucy  and much more! 

There are way more photos and happy memories, too many to list here! 

I became an aunt. My little man is in kindergarten, my daughter grew into a diva...I found a new career that rocks my world...I have new friends that I adore...and things on the horizon that I can't even begin to to say 2013 was an epic year is pretty much an understatement. 

It's so fun to take a stroll down memory lane and replay all of the great moments! 

And then I stop and go back to where I was last year at about this time...and I read this: 

My only promise to myself I wanted to keep in 2013 was to be happier. 

And friends, I think I did it. 

I even listen to happier music. AND I curl my hair more. And I surround myself with people who really truly care about me and love me despite my misgivings and shortcomings. That's really the best gift you can give yourself. 

Thank you so much for linking up with Steph and Me! We love reading them and are so happy to celebrate 2013 and 2014 with you! 

Weekend Shenans & Don't forget to Link Up Wednesday!

This weekend went by in a flash! 
We started one of the MANY Christmas celebrations with dinner on a boat. It's a tradition with my grandpa's family that is always so fun and the kids love it! 

After that we arrived at my grandpa and grandma's for a dessert feast and gifts. There's just something about opening presents with 13,000 little kids that makes me want to pop a Xannie.  I kid. I actually popped 2.  We came home with tons of cute little toys for the kids and a comfy scarf, candle and travel coffee mug for me. One of the said toys is actually dangling from my ceiling as I type...

But really, I love spending time with my family and can't wait to do it again next weekend. And the weekend after that too. 

My contribution to the dessert smorgasbord was a super easy recipe I found on Pinterest: A yellow cake mix, 2 eggs, 5 tbsps of melted butter and 2 cups of mini chocolate chips and mini M&Ms. They were a huge hit! (Both with the crowd and with me, since they are quick and easy! The kids even got in on the action: )

Here's a snap shot of some of my favorite women in the whole world: My mom and two sisters. Love them so! 

That sums up this shenanigans recap! 

Speaking of Recaps, don't forget to come back on Wednesday to link up your favorite things of 2013! 

I haven't gotten my complete list of favorites done yet, but I know it's going to include groups of my favorite blogs posts I wrote, favorites of others' that I have read this year, my favorite books, movies, pictures and more! 

Can't wait to read yours! 

You're Always A Kid On Christmas

The Daily Tay

It's no secret that I love presents. Everytime I send gift ideas for the kids to my mom, I get an eye roll and a "yeah right, this is totally so you can play with it" look.
And it's true. I can't help it. I LOVE Barbies. And plus, I never got an Easy Bake Oven or a drivable Barbie Jeep so I'm pretty sure my maturity for toys was stunted at age 7. I blame my mom.

I remember quite fondly those gifts that I did score as a kid. I remember several pictures of me (with bowl cut hair all messed up and flannel, floor length night gowns of course) on Christmas morning with a look of pure joy as I reached inside the thin cardboard boxes filled with what would surely be my next favorite thing.

A pink fuzzy robe, a Mickey Mouse lunchbox, a cat that moved by remote control, a kitchen and once, an adorable Yorkie puppy who eventually terrorized the neighborhood.

You know how I know my mom loved Christmas when we were little?
Because we always were wearing something tacky. We wore Tacky Christmas sweaters LONG before Goodwill was jacking up the prices on them because everyone was buying them for office parties.

I'll always be a kid on Christmas because I love opening gifts...almost as much as I love watching loved ones unwrap the ones I've given them. I almost always burst out "It's a foot spa!" or "it's a Snuggy in fashionable leopard print!" before they've gotten the paper off because I can't take the excitement. 

I'll always be a kid on Christmas because I love to pick up wrapped presents and shake them to guess what may be inside. (The heavier, the better) Unless it's a little teal box. Winky face. 

I'll always be a kid on Christmas because I still love Cheez Wiz on celery sticks, candy canes and those Butterfinger candies in the shape of a bell. Oh and chocolate covered cordial cherries. 

I could go on for days! Can't wait to capture all the pictures of my little ones enjoying all the things I love about Christmas too! 

Weekend Recap and my blog Idol Always Ashten

Well lookee there, someone finally got the motivation to do a weekend recap again! 

Sami's Shenanigans

I present to you: The weekend we spend in Kansas City shopping, cheering and smiling ALOT: 

1. I saw this sign on a "mom apparel" shop and just about went inside just to tell them they obviously have never met a blogger. "There is life outside of yoga pants and we will help you find it" they say. I'm sure there IS life outside of yoga pants but I can't imagine why you'd ever want to go there. That's a terrible idea. Shopping on the Plaza in Kansas City is one of my favorites. I can't even pin point why. Maybe it's the fountains, maybe it's the charming rooftops, and it's maybe a little because I can live in a dreamworld by window shopping at Tiffany's and Michael Kors. I also love people watching from the upstairs window of the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble. All around, if we could have stayed for hours and hours, I would have accepted the challenge with jingle bells on. 
2. Have I ever talked about my niece Lucy on here? Oh that's right, I have. Only about a gazillion times. Because she's amazingly cute and huggable and will smile at just about anything. Sunday we stopped my sister's for a great afternoon of lounging, football and making baby noises at my favorite little butterball. 
3. The fountains on the Plaza are beautiful and they're even more stunning when they are covered in icicles. I thought this was fake at first! 
4. We stopped for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and our 19 year old waiter suggested putting a shot of Fireball whiskey in my Angry Orchard Apple Ale draft. (He swore his of-age friends had "told" him about it. Right.) But friends let me tell you, it was perfection in a glass. Not to sound like Chris Klein circa 1999, but it was like warm apple pie. Amazing. 
5. Snacks for the drive home. Because when you've already drank your weight times 10 in food and beer, you might was well come down on a high. 
6. More of me in my happy place: with my sis Jessica and her wonderful babes.
7. The first snow of the year. And it's perfect, powdery and soft. I love it! Now, when said snowfall turns to ice, I will be singing a different tune. But for now, I'll enjoy it.

*Notes on things that happened that I didn't get pictures of: This weekend I also discovered the AWESOME-NESS that is Soccer Fandom. Holy COW those people are intense. We walked in a bar to hear crazy cheers and I assumed they were cheering for Mizzou but come to find out, no one was even paying attention to the Tigers. It was all about Sporting Kansas City. And in the 1 hour I watched the fans and the game, I can tell there's a chance I might become a die hard myself. Now, will I wear a crochet soccer scarf and have my buddies lift me up in the air, twirling me around in celebration like the one dude we saw? Probably not. But still, watching Sporting win the MLS cup in the longest overtime EVER was exhilarating. 

This weekend was pretty much jammed packed with all of my favorite things. 

(best segue ever by the way)

I have a very special treat for you today. 
My blog idol Ashten at Always Ashten (the girl who never fails to make me giggle and nod in agreement with all the things we have in common) is here to tell you about her favorite Holiday things, in honor of a little link up Steph and Life According to Steph and I are hosting on December 18. 

Come back and link up your FAVORITE things about 2013. Your favorite posts, other bloggers' posts, your favorite Tweets, the best vacations you took, the best TV shows, books, recipes, whatever! Hell you can even write about your favorite socks or dog walks. Anything goes! 

That's What She Read

So here's Ashten to blow your mind with her cuteness and affinity for amazing Christmas movies!