christmas, family, fun, gingerbread, hair dye, new orleans, new years, polar express, snow, travel

Christmas 2016 – New Year’s 2017

Christmas Day

Christmas Eve and Day was amazing, in spite of Dad’s accident. On Christmas Eve, the kiddos opened their traditional matching pajama sets from Gymboree, which I managed to snag a picture of before letting Elias sample the cookies and make a chocolatey mess all over himself. Emily came over and we decorated a Wilton’s pre-baked gingerbread mini house party kit (phew, that’s a mouthful!) and I baked chocolate chip cookies for Santa. I found a Santa-Tracker app on my phone, so it was fun showing the kids where Santa was located and when he’d arrive at our house. It was exciting for them as they hurried to bed. James swears he heard sleigh bells, so they hurried to bed before midnight.

Christmas Day was relaxing that morning. Everyone basically got what they wanted, plus some cool extra stuff. Santa only drops off one thing for each kid now (so much easier), so Zac and I buy whatever else. This year the big kids wanted robots. I blame cable TV in Dad’s room for all the commercials. So James only wanted an interactive R2D2 and Leah wanted a Zoomer cat. Santa brought her a Meowzie (Zoomer kitten) and she was disappointed that it didn’t roll, despite having wheels. She’s come to like it, though. And Elias has been glued to his new rocking horse.


We went to Sean’s for New Year’s. We arrived early enough for the kids to play for a little while before having to go to bed. Sean introduced us to his lady-friend, Erica, who Leah just loved to pieces. Erica is into Minecraft on a level similar to James’ so they’re all basically BFFs. Mom had bought tickets for the Polar Express train ride in New Orleans prior to Dad’s accident, so since they couldn’t go, we brought Marie and Francesca. It was such a fun experience. The kids loved it and it was nice going with Zac’s family.

Jessie invited us over to watch fireworks, but it rained all weekend. We hung out and she dolled me up all fancy while Zac picked up a pizza. She even baked some chocolate macarons, O.M.G. They were delicious. The big kids played with Orrin and his super cool Millennium Falcon hovercraft while us grownups enjoyed coffee and conversation. Elias was on such great behavior, we kinda forgot he was around, haha.

It was a great weekend, even in the rain. Karen came to stay with us for a few days to help watch Dad since it’s difficult for me to give him 100% attention when I’ve got kids to worry about.

We had our first snow of the year. I say snow, but it’s really ice. Cold, slippery ice. The kids are loving it, though, even without shoes.
family, gatlinburg, tennessee, travel

Gatlinburg Trip 2016

We had a blast in the mountains! Zac and I hope to move there before the kids are in high school, so wish that luck (lol).

Zac requested a half-day on Friday, so while he was working I took a trip to the grocery to purchase travel foods. I spent the next few hours baking cookies and making sandwiches and bagging grapes until Zac got off work. He picked Elias and me up and we picked up our rental van, then headed back to the house to load up. A good hour later, we were in the car, heading for Tennessee.

As expected, Elias slept a few hours in, but we ended up making quite a number of stops to soothe his fussiness, end a few quarrels between the big kids, and let the parents stretch their legs. I drove the first four hours, then Zac took over for the other four (or six?) until we FINALLY reached the Park Vista at 2am. Needless to say, we were all ready for our Walking Dead roles as zombies.
It was dark when we made it to the Tennessee border, so we weren’t able to look at the scenery. However, when we woke up early Saturday morning, the view from our window was absolutely breathtaking. We opted for a mountain view and I’ve never been so visually satisfied.
A trolley came along and picked us up and we rode to the city for a pancake breakfast at Pancake Pantry. I’m a sucker for crepes and raspberries, so I was happy to find raspberry crepes on the menu. Everything was so lovely and rustic and delicious!
Across the street were some of the museums, so we picked the Guinness World Records. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment. After visiting Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, we could have skipped the World Records altogether as the Odditorium had many of the same displays, except much more. Most of the games at World Records were out of order or just not working correctly due to overuse.
When we bought tickets for the Guinness World Records museum, there was a deal to pick two more exhibits and pay a lower price than to buy all three separately, so the kids opted for the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the Odditorium. The aquarium was super fun. One of my favorite parts was standing on a conveyor belt and riding through a tunnel where sharks could be seen swimming above me and all around. Leah and James pet (and picked up!) a few horseshoe crabs and I touched a jellyfish! Elias napped for most of the visit, but enjoyed the seahorses and cuttlefish. We picked out some candy from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen then ate dinner at Calhoun’s before heading back to the hotel so the kids could swim with Zac while Mom and I enjoyed the hot tub. Dad stayed in his hotel room to watch TV (as if he doesn’t do enough of that at home).
Sunday was spent window-shopping. Elias let me wear him in my wrap, which was convenient since the stroller was bulky on the trolley. We ate brunch at Smoky Mountain Brewery. Zac ordered a beer sampler (of course) and we devoured some of the best burgers. The Odditorium was on our list of things to explore, so we headed there first. I think the kids enjoyed it the most. There were so many fascinating things to see, but none compared to the view at the top of the sky lift. For dinner, we went to The Dixie Stampede. It was so neat! We had to pick whether we were on the side of the North or the South, so obviously we picked the south side. We sat at a long, one-row table at the very top of the arena and faced the inner circle. There was entertainment, such as people riding horses, a pig race, and a chicken roundup. The kiddos loved it the most. 
We came back to the hotel for our last night and Zac bought me an amaretto sour at the bar while the kids changed into their swimsuits. We took them down to the pool one more time and let them stay up a little later than normal. There were two separate water slides, one for the smaller kids and one for the adults, and James had a blast on the smaller. It took some convincing to get Leah to go down it, but she managed. Zac talked James into trying the bigger slide and after a few times riding together, James opted to go alone. That dude is crazy, sliding down on his belly like a penguin and backwards. Leah tested her bravery by checking to see if she could touch the ground before attempting to go by herself, but she did it! They enjoyed themselves while Zac pulled Elias around and I took photos.
We were so sad to leave Monday morning that none of us were even hungry on the drive home (except Elias). We stopped at Ihop for breakfast and a few gas stations along the way to stretch out and soothe the fussy baby, but finally made it home Monday night before midnight. Zac is considering us going back in November, but only if we stay in a cabin. I’m down. The kids want to fish and roast marshmallows and I’m dying to see the leaves in their autumn clothes.
family, father's day, kids, parenting, travel

Father’s Day 2016

Aunt Trish invited us to a family gathering for Father’s Day this year. I like that she’s been hosting these visits. She set up a sprinkler and we brought foods. I baked a cake and decorated it, which gives me gratitude for the experience at GAC. I gotta say, I did okay.
I saw an idea on Pinterest about painting a giant D from Hobby Lobby for Father’s Day. I couldn’t decide if we should get a Z or a D, but the kids call him “Dad”, not “Zac.” Elias was obviously thrilled to get his picture taken. We do love this guy, though. So so much. He’s awesome.
Mom took us out to eat this evening at a pizza place called Soulshine Pizza Factory. Almost as good as Mellow Mushroom. I did like the music, though. Very blues-rock, my current favorite genre. My kids were on their best behavior, even choosing to sit together and away from us so they could talk about Pokemon.
family, louisiana, tattoo, travel

Louisiana & Tattoos

We took a trip to Louisiana over the weekend and stayed with Sean. He was off for the weekend, so I drove across the lake by myself for the first time ever while Zac stayed behind to hang out and keep the kiddos for me. The lake wasn’t as scary as I thought it’d be. It was actually a bit relaxing. I liked the few hours alone without the kids, even though I missed them. It was nice to just talk to Jessie about things without being interrupted. I had an appointment to see Jessie for a bat tattoo. I also had my Taurus covered up with Maleficent. James isn’t too disappointed, but I’m going to get constellations for all three kids eventually to make up for it.
Since Sean was off, he cooked chicken Parmesan and tiramisu for us. So good! It won’t be long before Elias can have bites. He’s got two more teeth peeking through. 
2016, beignets, cafe du monde, family, fun, louisiana, new years, reginellis, travel

2016, micro post

You ever feel like Robin Williams in Jumanji when he’s back from the jungle and asks, “What year is it?” because you’ve been away from a blog for so long? I do.

It’s 2016. Incredible, a new year. I started writing and saving drafts, but just decided to backspace the whole thing, have an alcoholic beverage, and just wing it.

I bought a pair of beautiful boots from Target. When we left for Sean’s, I was wearing some comfy slippers Zac bought me for Christmas. I completely forgot to pack my damn shoes. Target had a pair of boots on sale from about $50 to $25.

We hung out in New Orleans and went to the mall, then ate lunch at Reginelli’s to see Joey and hang out with Jessie.
At Sean’s, to bring in the New Year, we lit sparklers, ate king cake (baby wasn’t included, despite the label), and watched Ant Man. I’m a little surprised my kiddos were ready for bed before midnight arrived.
We were able to visit Mawmaw and Marie, but I forgot to give Mawmaw her gift. I’m hoping we can visit again soon. We just had too much fun this time.
aunts, christmas, family, kids, presents, relatives, travel, uncles

Christmas 2015

Happy holidays!

It was truly a Christmas miracle that I woke up, able to breathe through my nose. We had a wet Christmas, not a white one. Such is the south… My littlest sugarplum kept us up late, but one can’t resist smooching such a sweet face.

We kept our Christmas Eve tradition of opening the stockings, but I let the kids open one gift for both of them: the Guess Who? board game. I loved it when I was a kid, but never owned it. Luckily, I spent most weekends at friends’ houses and discovered a love of board games and jigsaw puzzles. I had a terrible time coming up with stocking stuffers, but thanks to Pinterest, I was able to keep it simple. I think the kids had a great Christmas. They even got new bikes from Santa and Pikmin toys like they wanted.
I sneaked up on Santa eating cookies.
The day after Christmas, we went to my Aunt Mavis’ house in Toomsooba. I drove the Buick, my parents squished beside me in the front, while my kids sat in the back. I have vowed to always always always take my own car from now on. Too much side-seat driving while I’m listening to my GPS, too much talking, too much of everything… for over an hour! Absolutely horrible. It was a nice visit with Mom’s side of the family, though. But then I had to drive home with the parents… Ahh! Zac had to work, so he couldn’t come. Emily and Alex also worked.
Back row: Molly Leah C., Josh, Seth holding Axel
Front row: Wes, James holding Elias, Luke, Leah W.
Me, Meredith, Britney, Rodney, Kim, Matt
Mom, Dad, Granny, Aunt Mavis, Uncle John, Aunt Trish, Papaw.
Mom gave me a candle last week. It’s one of those jewelry candles where you melt it down until you get to the jewelry. Meredith used to buy castle-shaped candles that had money in them. I finally got mine down far enough to scoop the foil out and collected a ring worth $30-$40. It’s a topaz on a silver band, so I decided to keep it as topaz is my birthstone.
I’m glad the holidays are over and I can start getting things back together. Come January, my family is going to start eating better and spend more time outside. I’m going to start cooking again and maybe even get myself a part-time job. I’ll also be on a weightloss/fitness journey, so there’s a chance it’ll be in the blog. Yikes!
cat, christmas, crafts, family, gingerbread, holidays, louisiana, pets, thanksgiving, travel

Louisiana Trip

Two weeks until Christmas. I don’t feel ready at all. I mean, I’m ready as far as it’s expected and the gifts are waiting to be wrapped, but I’m not ready for this year to be over. When I was a kid, Christmas took a century to arrive from one year to the next. Now, I blink and my babies are no longer babies, Santa is lurking around the corners, and there’s one more gray hair to pull from my eyebrows. Elias is now four months old. He isn’t as fussy as he was last month. Now, he cries when he’s hungry (which is almost always), tired, or needs a diaper change. He laughs, and when he does, I forget that he cries. 
Wednesday was killer-stress. Zac made a to-pack list, James washed laundry, and I packed our bags for the trip. Elias had to get his second round of vaccinations, so he was coping with a fever Wednesday night. I took the kids to church for 6 so they could practice their Christmas songs, then I stayed for choir practice (I miss singing and soprano is getting harder). Zac had to work til 1am and I stayed awake until 4am trying to rock Elias and monitor his fever. I wanted to be up at 8am on Thursday morning so we could get to Sean’s before lunch. However, I fell asleep around 5am in my bed and didn’t wake up until 10am. Oh well. We left the house at 2. After stopping for gas and food, plus dealing with traffic, we made it to Sean’s around 6. 
We went to Slidell on Friday and walked around the very barren mall. Most of the stores closed or went out of business. It’s a shame. Books-A-Million is still there, which is nice since it was my most favorite place to spend my 30-minute lunch break when I worked at Bath & Body Works. I found a few books I want to read (mostly based on the covers) as well as some ideas for the big kids’ Christmas Kindles. I also found Mom a religious coffee tumbler (something she’s been hinting at). After walking from one side to the other, we left the mall and went to visit Mawmaw. She held Elias and he just laughed for her, even chuckling. It was so precious. I learned that my dear husband used to cry just as much as our little baby. Fancy that.
Amber is still alive and well and so sweet. She was outside on the driveway and was purring and chirping at me. I miss her so much and wish we could take her home. Zac and James have horrible allergies and it wouldn’t be fair to them. Mawmaw is taking good care of her, though. 
We headed to Marie’s to visit for a bit. She brought out some giant gingerbread man cookies for the kids to decorate. James was just saying recently how he misses visiting her because she always seems to have crafts to do, though more specifically, edible crafts.

We spent one last night at Sean’s to watch Ant Man and eat banana’s foster. Zac and James came home with horrible allergies. I helped Zac unload the car and he went to nap before working tonight at 7. I won’t see him until 5am tomorrow. The kids and I went to church tonight to practice the Christmas music. Tomorrow, the kids are singing with the choir (I even joined for the cantata). It’s a bit weird… I haven’t really been involved in the church (or any church, for that matter). I’m exhausted and I’ve gotta get these kids in the bed.