Friday, December 16, 2011

Whoo Hooo!!

I just managed to get a video off my phone, on my computer, converted to the right format, and burned onto a DVD that will... wait for it, wait for it... ACTUALLY PLAY ON OUR DVD PLAYER!!!! This is a major accomplishment, if you couldn't tell from all the caps ;-).

Emma's now practicing her dances that I took video of. Her Christmas recital is tomorrow!! Off to watch my girly <3

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I love the way the house feels when it's decorated for Christmas. I love getting into those old boxes and getting out the decorations. So many of those decorations have great stories behind them. I thought I would share a few...

This tradition was started the year I was born. Grandma Butler started buying me a Reid and Barton cross every year. Each one is different and each has it's own story. I hang them on the tree each year on red ribbons. One year, before we had kids, this was all that was on our tree along with white lights and baby's breath. It was truly beautiful. This collection of crosses started a few years before I was born, and my mom was so sweet to fill in those missing years for me. She has also kept the tradition up since my Grandma was no longer able to get them for me. Year after year I am surprised at how many crosses there are on our tree.... hummm, guess what that means....

This reindeer was given to my mom by an old neighbor. It hung in our house every Christmas when I was a child. My mom passed it on to me. He has graced the back of our door since I got him. This year when the Christmas boxes came down I had three sets of little hands wanting to get into them. I made the mistake of popping Mr. Reindeer out of the box a little too fast (and maybe with a little growl - I know, bad mommy!). This made Luke scared of it, and he refused to come downstairs on his own for the first few days. Since then he has become friends with the reindeer and has enjoyed pointing them out whenever he sees one. (note to self: don't do that again!!)

Danny got me this train one Christmas after we got married. I think it's cute and the kids have always loved it. I love that he picked it out and got it for me.

Another year Danny got me this beautiful nativity. I love it! The characters expressions are so soft and lovely. I hope to treasure it always. I'm pretty sure there was no snow in Bethlehem, but the painting behind the nativity was done by Dan's Grandpa Browne and I just love the way it looks behind the nativity.

This nativity is so special to me. It's the one that was in my house growing up. I think I was 2 or 3 years old when my mom painted these characters. She let me help. Of course I don't remember, but these characters are like old friends to me. The cow has lost his horns, so has the donkey. Joseph's hand and staff are missing. There are many chips and glued heads, but I think that just adds to it. I'm sure that most of those bumps where done while me, my sister, or my brother playing out the scene of the nativity. I have this on a low shelf so my kids can touch and explore with it too.

This is our Jesse Tree. I made it two years ago, and we have really enjoyed adding the tradition of the Jesse Tree to our family during the Christmas season. It is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent - which means "coming" referring to the coming of Jesus. We read a story from the Bible every night along with a devotional and a prayer. We also add a leaf to our Jesse Tree that represents what we read about that night. This photo shows the first three days done. Day 1 was creation where we read about God creating the earth and about how Jesus was there then (John 1:1-4). Day 2 we read about the first sin and how God made a way for us to get back to Him through Jesus. Day 3 was about the flood and how we can have eternal life through Jesus. There is a lot of information on the internet about starting a Jesse Tree. Ann Voskamp has a beautiful free downloadable book. This is the book we have used the past couple years.

This is the jewel tree. Grandma Butler had this hanging in her house every Christmas. She made it long ago with costume jewelry. It has multi-colored lights that blink on it. For years I always thought it looked a bit tacky. This year however, I have a new appreciation for the jewel tree. Grandma Butler passes away last month, and having this hanging in the house is very comforting.

This cute stained glass Santa was made by a dear family friend. He found his place here in our front window the year we moved into this house and has hanged in the same spot every year since waving to all who pass by.

These are some of the items that make our couch cozy in December. I made these pillows after Zachary was born along with our family stockings. I also started a quilt, which has yet to be finished (someday...). I do however have a cute quilt made by a sweet friend from church. It has jolly Santa's on it, but I leave it out all year because this as the first quilt she ever made and was such a beautiful gift to our family.

And these are just some of the many (many) Christmas books that litter our couch most days. My kids love to read and be read to. Even Luke will sit still for most books. I got wise a few years back and packed all the Christmas books away with the Christmas decorations at the end of Christmas. It was so nice not to be reading Rudolf in July! It also made it so much fun to get them down again in December.

So those are just a few of our Christmas decorations/traditions that grace our home each year. A mix of old and new, comfortable, and uniquely ours.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Luke is 2!

Luke's birthday seemed to sneak up on me this year. I suppose that is something I'm going to have to get used to. It's right after Thanksgiving, right when the Christmas season is getting started. I'm sure there will be years when he will want Christmas to wait until after his birthday, but since he doesn't have much to say about that now we started decorating before his birthday.

His birthday fell on a Friday, and since Dan has Fridays off work, we took him to Disneyland for the day. But, before we left we gave him his first gift.

This old Power Wheels quad has sat in the garage since Emma used to ride it. Zachary rode it before that, and we originally got it for a steal on Craigslist. Well, the battery had worn out and so Luke has only ever seen it sitting in the garage. Of course this didn't bother him one bit. He would climb on and pretend to be driving it while Danny would work in the garage. Well, imagine his surprise when we got a new battery for it for his birthday! We put his helmet on and put it in the backyard. Danny showed him how to use the gas peddle, and away he went. I have a feeling there will many many hours spent chasing him around the backyard on that thing!

Here he is giving a "Thumbs Up" :-)

After a few laps around the yard, it was off to Disney. We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas decorations and the time together. We started at City Hall where they gave him a birthday button. All day long people were wishing him a happy birthday. It was really fun. Right outside of City Hall, Luke took my hand and started saying, "choooo choooo". So we hit the train 1st. I was a little worried that we would end up on the train all day. Luckily he was okay with us getting off near Toon Town which included a trip to see Mickey himself. We went on several rides in Fantasyland, all the while he would point out the whale on the Storybook ride and would open his mouth wide to show us how the whale looked. I didn't realize that this would cause a problem when we got on the ride and he buried his head in Danny's chest and cried (probably thinking the whale was going to eat us). Luckily, all was fine again when we got through to the other side of the whale.

On the train with his birthday button.

I think my favorite ride of the day was It's a Small World. I love watching Luke take it all in. It's so beautifully decorated for Christmas and he seems to have so many favorite parts of that ride. I think his favorite ride is Buzz Lightyear. He kept requesting, "buzzzz buzzzz". Since it was his birthday we decided to get him a Buzz toy gun and a Buzz doll. He loves them!! Even at Disney prices, it was so worth it.

Casey Jr. with Daddy and Zachary.

The Buzz Lightyear gun was a huge hit.

We decided to watch the fireworks with the crowds on Main Street. It was so amazing. Watching the show with the castle in the foreground was magical. The best part though was after the firework show they started playing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas", and it started snowing. Seriously, only at Disney can this much magic happen!

We waited until the next day to open gifts. Nana and Papa came over for dinner and Nana made the most delicious cake bites for Luke's birthday cake.

All in all I would have to say he had a pretty cool birthday. He was celebrated, we felt blessed, and I, well I have a two year old... again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Luke Riding his Quad

This is my first attempt at a video, but since I took it and it doesn't do any good sitting in the camera, I thought I would share.

This is Luke riding his quad on his second birthday.

Bringing home the tree

I have dreams of taking a hike in the forest to get our Christmas tree, but where we live in sunny California, a trip to Home Depot is usually the route to our Christmas tree. This year it was a blustery cold day, which helps when you are trying to feel Christmas-y. Danny always refuses the fresh cut they offer at the store, and comes home and trims up the tree himself. Then gives it a bath before bringing it inside.

I figured it was as good a time as any to grab the camera and take a couple photos of my growing kids. I had a hard time getting them to slow down so I could take a picture.

What a bunch of characters!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Desert Property

We recently spent an afternoon at my grandma's desert property. We had found out there was a squatter living on the property, and without getting into long details, I'll say he's gone now and we got a beautiful afternoon at the property out of it. We sat on the porch of the old cinder block cabin and had a picnic, did some bb gun shooting, and I got my knitting out. There was rain in the forecast for later in the day, but it was amazing while we were there.

I'm not sure what will become of that place in the future, but for now it sure is a nice place to enjoy an afternoon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being Thankful

I am posting something I am thankful for every day for the month of November on Facebook. Perhaps I will cross post here at the end of the month. But it wanted to share that I have found that it is very difficult to have a bad day while you are intentionally being thankful for the things (and people) around you.

I wanted to pass this excercise on to my kids and so we started a paper chain. I have a stack of paper strips laying out with a pen and the stapler ready for whenanyone thinks of something they are thankful for. They can write it down on a strip and add it to the chain. I am considering saving it in our Thanksgiving box to continue next year. I think it will be a great keepsake and fun decoration to pull out every year.

Why not make a Thankful Chain of your own?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We had a really fun Halloween this year. We were invited to a party Saturday night at our dear friends the von der Linden's house. They went all out and made their garage into a mad scientist lab. The kids had so much fun and so did the adults. There was a popcorn machine and tons of hot dogs and chili with all the fixin's. There was a sling shot area for the kids to practice their aim and a pinata. They even had black and white movies playing outside on the wall of the garage when it got dark. It was really a fun night.

Since the party was for adult too, Dan and I had to figure out what to go as. I was having a really hard time deciding until I saw some 80's paraphernalia at the local party store. It was so fun to go back in time.

Dan was thinking about being a mad scientist, but decided on dressing as a tourist. He did a great job, complete with a "First Visit to Disneyland" button. It was also great because he had the camera on him, so we got a few shots of the evening.

We carved three pumpkins Sunday evening, one for each kid. Luke loved having daddy's help making his own pumpkin. Zachary and Emma did a great job too, all by themselves.

Zachary had the great idea of dressing up as a Lego this year. We had a box and decided we would glue tuna cans to it and paint it red. I think it turned out pretty cute.

Miss Emma has been pretending to be a kitty for years, and decided she would finally get to be one. She really acted out the part (just short of spraying our front door as the neighborhood cats all seem to love doing).

As for Luke, Danny and I found an adorable doggy costume on the sale rack at Gymboree. It ended up being $8 and we couldn't leave the store without it. I wasn't sure he would want to wear it for Halloween, but I figured for $8 it would be fun for dress up. Well, I'm happy to report he loved being a puppy. He also played the part barking and lick us...

And the whole puppy and Kitty thing was pretty cute too!

Yes, we did have some fun last weekend. And now it's November.... NOVEMBER!!!! How in the world did that happen??? I am working on continuing to remind myself to slow down and enjoy each day as it comes so as not to miss any of these precious moments with this clan I love.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birthday Post

I am more than a week overdue, but I wanted to share a little from my birthday. Danny and I left all three kids overnight for the first time and it was GREAT!! My parents love having them overnight, and my mom has been waiting to get Luke overnight since... well, probably the day he was born. The kids love it too! And mommy and daddy really enjoyed it. We got a room at a beautiful hotel in Carlsbad and had dinner at a wonderful steak house. I had a great nights sleep and actually slept deep enough to dream. Ahhh, lovely. Dan took me to the outlet center the next day and we walked around eating Godiva chocolates, yum.

Honestly, I couldn't wait to get back to my babies by then and loved walking in to hugs and kisses from them all. My mom and dad were already hard at work on my birthday dinner. Dad made an amazing crab bisque and giant crab cakes and mom made fresh pasta. In lieu of a traditional birthday cake I chose whoopie pies, which were wonderful.

Feeling blessed and celebrated by family all around!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mommy/Daughter Time

Lately I have been feeling like mama is all about school and chores. Not so much fun for the mama and not so much fun for the kiddos either. We are blessed with a lot of fun things to do as a family, but often I am a bit more wrapped up in the planning and doing of it all, and don't feel like I am enjoy things in the present as I should. I am watching these three little kids grow up right before my eyes, yet occasionally I blink and one (or more) of them seem to have matured overnight into a whole new stage of childhood. Too soon these days are going to pass, I'm sure.

Well, yesterday I decided to seize the day with my little girl. I was working with my hubby installing flooring, when I mentioned to him that I felt like Emma and I needed some girl time together. Half an hour later Emma and I were on the way to Disneyland.

I can't even explain how fantastic it was to hold her hand and just go. We started at California Adventure and went on Soaring Over California, which was a first for both of us (can't do that one with baby in tow). Next we walked over to the new Little Mermaid ride and only waited 10 minutes to get on it. Emma loved it and she was loving the one on one attention she was getting from her mama (honestly I was loving it even more). Next we went to walk through and see how they make sourdough bread while sampling (yum!). We decided to head over to Disneyland next. We walked in at 5:00 and found out the park was closing at 7:00 for a Halloween party. Emma wanted to walk through the castle, so that's where we headed first. We climbed up through the castle and read the story of Sleeping Beauty. Next we started over to Splash Mountain, another ride we can't do when Luke is with us. I knew Emma would be frightened of the big drop, so I did my best to distract her from it but it didn't work. We got in line and she started asking questions. The line wait was 65 minutes, and right away I was beginning to think we were not going to make it. After waiting 2 minutes a woman walked past us and ask if we wanted her fastpasses!! We got to walk right up to the front of the line!! We also got the back seat on the log, so we got to sit together, which was perfect. It was so fun, and Emma LOVED it too!

When we got off that ride we went into the Hungry Bear to get a honey cupcake to share. Perfect snack!

Them we start walking toward Big Thunder Mountain, but i couldn't talk Emma into it so we walked on by and decided a trip to Disneyland wasn't complete without It's a Small World, so that was next. We had 10 more minutes left, so decided a trip on the monorail to Downtown Disney may beat the crowds walking down Maim Street. It was perfect! Time for dinner. We got in line at a place in Downtown Disney, but decided to skip it and head back into California Adventure to have dinner. Man was it packed!! Seams like everyone getting kicked out of Disneyland had the same idea. We ended up walking by the crowded lines at the food places and found ourselves in front of Ariel's Grotto, a restaurant you normally have to make reservations for well I'm advance, but for some reason we walked in and were surprised to find out they could get us in!! We were seated near the window where the popular World of Color show was to start just outside in 15 minutes. We had an amazing meal that just kept getting better and better with every course. We could see the water and lights outside too, not the front of the show, but it was still beautiful! What was really fun was sitting and relaxing with my girl and having great conversation over great food. It's a time I will never forget. Absolutely perfect!! But it got even better because when the check came the waitress brought two tickets to see the next World of Color show up front and center. I thought it was a mistake, but she explained it was part of our meal. So we wrapped up our amazing day under the mist of the amazing show. I tried to hold my growing girl as much as I could so she had the best view possible. My eyes teared up a bit from the magic of the whole Disney moment and the fantastic day spent with my daughter.

So here I sit at 10:40 the next morning trying to get the fresh memories down while Emma is still sleeping in her bed hopefully dreaming about our fun day. A day that will not be forgotten!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

12 Years

A week ago my husband and I celebrated our 12th year of marriage by taking the kids and Grandpa Noack to Catalina Island for the day. Dan and I got to enjoy a date night alone the Saturday before thanks to my parents, so we decided it would be fun to make our anniversary day a family event. We had purchased tickets on Groupon for the Catalina Flyer earlier in the summer for half price and (after much persuading) talked Grandpa Noack into joining us for a day of fun.

We decided to rent a 6 person golf cart for 3 hours. I think that is the best way to see the town of Avalon. It gives you the freedom to travel up into the hills and see gorgeous views of the harbor. We also drove over to the casino and took in the view from there while letting the kids run around. We stopped at a park and let the kids play for a while too. It was a very slow paced and relaxing day.

After we returned the golf cart we had lunch at a restaurant right on the water and had just enough time to walk back and catch the boat back to the mainland.

It was really a wonderful way to celebrate our marriage, together as a family making memories.