Trimming the Tree

Well it’s almost the end of January, and I think I could use a little reminder about the holiday season. This time of the year is so dark, I miss the lights on the trees and outside. In past years, I’ve used a sun light at my office desk to counteract that, but this year I work at a place that means I can drive to work in the morning light (or overcast as the case may be). I don’t feel the wintertime blues quite as much as in previous years.

It was rainy and wet this year, so we picked out our tree at Home Depot instead of going to the tree farm. The tree did just fine, and actually had some good sturdy branches, which was important since Jameson tried to put all the ornaments in one spot.



On the way home with the tree, Brian told Jameson told hold onto the string to keep the tree from falling off, which was pretty hilarious. Jameson took his job seriously.


Look there’s me trimming the tree too! We put on the lights, and this year we used the multicolored LED star lights. I really don’t like them that much. They are pretty in person, but don’t come out as nice in photos (maybe it’s the LED flicker?). The kids really enjoyed them though. I also got to bring out the wooden cranberry bead garland like I had growing up that my mom bought for me last year.


Then it was time to decorate! As usual, the kids wanted to decorate with all the breakable ornaments. Coraline did actually break one, my tennis racket ornament from high school. It didn’t shatter though, so I was happy there wasn’t clean up. She wasn’t super great at hanging them up, and was much better at taking them down.




Brian helped Jameson reach way up high!


When it was time to take down the tree, I tugged at the garland, one of the strands untied, and a bunch of wooden berries unstrung. I was picking those off the tree and floor for a while (I found most). I love the lights and Christmas time, but there’s something of a relief that happens when the space is cleared up and uncluttered. Ready to fill back up with new toys, of course.

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Thanksgiving Throwback

I hope you’ll forgive me going backwards in time for a bit, all the way to Thanksgiving. Just extending that holiday feeling for a bit more! We visited Meemaw and Grandpa for Thanksgiving this year.


I was a little concerned about how Jameson would take Mayzie being gone, but he was surprisingly chill. It almost was as if he expected it. We didn’t tell him ahead of time, so Meemaw told him when we arrived that night. The only tough part was figuring out how he could walk Shiloh! It was easy to give him Mayzie’s leash, since she didn’t go far or fast. But Shiloh needs more restraining, so we took walks with two leashes attached to her collar.



Coraline liked putting olives on her fingers after I showed her how. It’s a Thanksgiving requirement. We had a great meal with potatoes and green bean casserole, turkey of course and stuffing. We all enjoyed the time away from home for a bit.


Black Friday, I had to go through all the ads. The kids wanted to help, of course. The only place I ended up really going out for though was Jo-Ann, in order to get flannel to make the kids flannel pajama pants. Mom and I walked around the mall, and it was fun to see all the new stores in place! It really had been years since I was last there.


We did a lot of relaxing, snacking and playing with things that aren’t toys. Likes boxes and pianos.







On Friday, we visited with Marky, who is the same age as Jameson. Coraline found a playmate in Finley, now that they are a bit older. Finley’s several months older and taught Coraline how to go up and down the stairs.







All the kiddos enjoyed playtime. Jameson asks to visit Marky every time we visit, and comes home with new things he loves. Last time, it was Ninja Turtle. This time, we were introduced to Rescue Bots.

We had a wonderful visit for Thanksgiving, a nearly 5 days visiting with Meemaw and Grandpa and Aunt Holly all together with Brian able to come as well. It was of course bittersweet that we were able to all make the trip without Sasha waiting for us at home.

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Polar Express

This year, we got to see Santa 3 times. We made our annual visit to see Santa at the tree festival before Thanksgiving, and then we also got to visit the North Pole to see him on the Polar Express the weekend before! Both Jameson and Coraline came in matching pajamas, and we met our neighbors there as well.

The Polar Express provided assigned seating with our tickets this year, which made the journey more relaxed (or as relaxed as it could be on a train with 8 people in 6 seats since the two youngest didn’t require seated tickets)



We did a lot of snacking. My snack-stealer, Coraline, tried to eat Lily and Peyton’s dinner. Well, Jameson was no exception either. The train did give everyone hot chocolate and cookies. Neither of the kiddos really like hot chocolate (I haven’t really let Coraline try it) but the cookies were a hit!

Coraline kept crouching down between the seats, and sitting on the diaper bag as a little seat of her own.


Then we had a “Ho Ho Ho” contest, and Jameson really got into it!


As we approached the North Pole, the kids had to wipe down the windows to see out. It was warm in the train car and a wet misty and cold outdoors. There wasn’t any snow at the North Pole this year, though!



Santa climbed aboard the train and visited with eat of the kids. Jameson was shy but excited and happy. Coraline didn’t want to take the bell that Santa tried to give her, but was delighted with it after she had it in hand, ringing it over and over.









During the final part of our journey, the conductor punched our special tickets. Coraline by this time was restless and tired, but I was really happy with how everyone behaved overall.


Next year though we will definitely have a full 8 seats for all of us. It was a bit tight!


Our last meeting with Santa was a special night where our neighborhood invited Santa to ride on the fire truck and pass out special gifts before Christmas! All evening the kiddos rushed to the door thinking they were hearing sirens (Brian did, too!). Grandma and Poppa joined us for the evening as well, and Aunt Melissa came but had to leave early. We had her scope out the neighborhood when she left to see if Santa was close, so we could decide to keep Coraline awake or not, and luckily it was almost to us!



Both kids loved their gifts. Jameson got a reindeer to put together in different ways, and Coraline received a little bear puzzle with different shoes and clothes and faces. It was such a nice thing for the city to do, and the highlight may have been the fire truck, not just Santa! We really had some magical Christmas experiences this season!

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All I want for Christmas…

This year, Jameson wants a new lawn mower for Christmas. Like last year, he hasn’t changed his mind at all. The lawn mower is supposed to be like his friend Jonathan’s, and should be ALL blue and ALL orange. It should be like Lily’s lawn mower, but not pink. Of course, we already have a lawn mower, but there’s no harm in having two since it’s the only thing he’s been asking for and we do have two kids, so we let Santa know this is an a-okay gift idea.




Yesterday, he came home with a little wishlist they did at school, which has lawn mower first of course, but also: book, cd, and toys. This kid is easy to buy for! I’m cracking up a little bit about the cd though.

Coraline can identify “Santa”, but otherwise has stayed pretty quiet about what she wants for Christmas. I’m sure a box would satisfy both the kiddos, so I’ve put that close to the top of their wishlists.

Amazon has the best boxes

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Obviously, it is WAY past Halloween. Not even relevant, to anyone but myself for record keeping purposes. Coraline and Jameson were Captain Hook and Tick Tock Crock. It was super cute. I am hoping that I can swing one more year of coordinating costumes, if Jameson picks something reasonable I should be able to get Coraline to go for it next year. Crossing fingers!


This year, we did Boo at the Akron Zoo. It’s our favorite, since the zoo isn’t too big. It’s wonderful for littler kiddos. We went with two groups of friends, which was difficult to keep everyone together but we made it work.


Here’s our regular gathering of kiddos, between 3 families. Jameson’s friends Bobby and Jonathan and their siblings. Coraline also had a little friend there as well, Adelyn (not pictured), who was born the same night as her (though technically a different day!)



This year the big kids were old enough to trick or treat, and they loved it!

Coraline didn’t feel left out though. She loved feeding the goats and running around freely. We went on a great day, because it was rainy before and rainy as we were leaving, but clear while we were there. It wasn’t crowded and was perfect!





After we left the zoo, we had lunch with Bobby’s family. We couldn’t believe how well-behaved all the kids were, for being out so far past naptime for Coraline in particular. We really felt like we were getting freer to be more flexible, it was lovely!

The next weekend was our haunted neighborhood party/gathering. A few houses get together to do sets like photo booth, food, games and activities, etc. They also do little hayrides through a couple streets. I’d totally consider hosting, but our house is far away from the main gathering point and other houses.




We pay a little fee and the kids get a little something. This year and last year was a light up necklace, which is always a hit!


We skipped the photo booth this year, though not really on purpose, and went straight to do some crafts.



Grandma, Papa and Aunt Melissa joined us for the party this time, as well as the neighbors.


We also got to see Nathan! Jameson was so excited to see his best buddy from school. Nathan doesn’t go to our preschool anymore but still lives in our neighborhood so we have still been able to stay in touch and get the kids together. They loved it!


We never looped back around to the other houses except for the food one because for most of the evening, we were watching a live animal show! All the kids were simply fascinated. Coraline, my baby crocodile, got to pet a real one (or alligator… I can’t remember the difference :)) They also had a really large snake, chinchilla, and parrot too.




It was a great evening and always a fun time. It’s the only big thing our neighborhood really puts on (plus a garage sale day), but what a wonderful annual activity!

The next day we finally carved our pumpkins. This year, Jameson was all about it. He didn’t mind the “gross stuff” and he helped to clean out one of the pumpkins. He told me to make a scary face this year.

I expected Coraline to actually be a little less squeamish than Jameson had been at her age, but she was very concerned with the texture or cold feel of the pumpkin guts, so she didn’t participate.




Except at the very end, she was totally fine with hanging out in the empty pumpkin, as long as she had her snacks.

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Independence Weekend

As I mentioned, we had a great time all weekend in our backyard over the 4th of July. We did get out for a little while though on Saturday morning, when we went to Jameson’s swimming lessons and the Heritage Festival where we usually go to the farmer’s market.

Ice cream at the festival

We went early, but I couldn’t help but get a veggie Stromboli. The kiddos and daddy got ice cream (Coraline loved tasting daddy’s). Jameson was concerned about his ice cream cone and not a fan of getting messy (he said he wished he had a bowl after it started melting down his hands and face)

Snake, flag, balloon, suckered, sticker. Good day to be a little dude (all free but the snake, cause I still love sand animals)

There was a lot of free stuff being passed out, including flags, promo balloons and stickers, and a sucker. We bought him a little $3 sand-filled snake, because I love sand animals. He loved carrying that around and “ssssss”-ing loudly to frighten us.

Heritage Festival fun

We saw old cars, fire engines and trucks too! It was a good time, but I’m always happy to go early and escape before the crowds and heat.

In the afternoon, we had our friends come over and the boys played together in the water bouncer. The neighbor kiddos and their cousins joined us as well, so we had a full bounce house!



Baby Jack and Joshua are getting so big. Joshua enjoyed splashing in the water and Jack loved the baby tent sheltering him from the hot day. And it was hot! A great day to play in the water.


Joshua loved the swing as well. Glad someone is getting use out of it, since Coraline still isn’t a fan.


She loved splashing in the water though. Baby pool, water park, or splash table: all water is fun! She’s getting used to the cooler water as well, and didn’t mind the hose water at all (though the baby pool we did warm up some for all the babies around!)



I remember last year when we had to coax the kids on the water bouncer at first. Now? They’re sliding down the wrong way, trying to climb up the slide, and otherwise making mischief.


All the kids loved playing in the water bouncer, though the girls quit early to get dried off.


We cooked out that evening and enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, pasta salads and more. A perfect end to a summer’s day!


Sunday, we followed suit, though it was a bit cooler. Our neighbor’s had other cousins over, and I went shopping while they played on the bouncers. We had an early dinner that evening and we all went out to eat with all the kiddos. It was chaotic, but hilarious.

Lots of kids out to dinner. Just a heads up to anyone in the area

Good thing we went out to eat though because I was ready to stack up all the dishes in the sink and call it a day! All the same, it was wonderful hosting and not needing to travel over the holiday weekend. It was really like a vacation with the kids at home!

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Independence Day

Our 4th of July weekend was simply amazing; we were able to stay home to celebrate all weekend long. We didn’t see fireworks up close, but Brian and I got to see some from our front yard Saturday night. Those kids crashed out every evening!

Friday, I tried to get some photos of the kids together, though they were less than cooperative about that.



Once I let Coraline do what she wanted, she was much happier.


It was just a little cooler that day, though still plenty warm, we didn’t want to get out the water bouncer. Instead, we opened up a new one that we had in storage. It’s for kids slightly older, though Lily and Jameson enjoyed it plenty anyway!







However, they were not fans when the other would jump while they were trying to climb!

Coraline really wanted to join in the fun, but this one was definitely too big for her. Later, we brought out the obstacle course bouncer and had more friends join us for the evening. We had a fajita night with margaritas and corn salsa sides. I could’ve had this dinner every night for a week!


I even joined in and climbed up once. Only once, since I felt like I was going to topple the whole thing over!


Love this funny face Coraline is making!

The kids have really been enjoying the hammock that we got for Brian last year. I jumped in with a few of the kids climbing on top which was hilarious. Jameson liked to “climb” to the top of the hammock. He wasn’t a big fan of being wrapped up in it though!





Surprisingly, by Sunday, I was exhausted from hosting! Friday and Saturday we had friends over, and Sunday the neighbors had family over. By the end of the weekend, I didn’t want to do dishes or clean up. Here I thought being able to stay home meant it would be more relaxing!

We did have blast though, and it’s always a nice change of pace to stay home for a 3 day weekend.

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Happy 3rd of July!

I won’t be posting on the 4th of July, so here’s some early wishes for a Happy and fun 4th of July!

The kids had a parade at school today that Brian was able to go to. It was supposed to be outside, but started raining. He still got some great photos of the kiddos. They made t-shirts!


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Father’s Day


For Father’s Day this year, after strawberry picking in the morning, we had a Father’s Day cookout (which seems to be our usual get together). We ate inside though because it was so hot out!



We invited Brian’s parents and sister over and put up a bouncer for the kids.

We had a few “races” through the bouncer, and Jameson had to help Aunt Melissa get out.


Jameson threw a few water balloons, though we opted not to get drenched with the water bouncer or sprinkler that day. This is his sly grin face, as he’s approaching me to get my feet. (Luckily, just my feet)



Coraline enjoyed splashing in the pool, though we didn’t put her all the way in.




The men put a tarp over the bouncer to help prevent it from getting too hot. It worked pretty well!



Coraline loved the obstacle course bouncer and can crawl through the entire thing (going around the sides of things she can’t yet get over). Her favorite  part is the slide!





She was so proud of herself, every single time, with her wide wrinkly nose grins. It was a great day spent with family, the kind you wish you could have every weekend. But summer is in full swing and there is more fun to come!

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Time Together

In the past month, Brian and I have been doing a better job at getting out and spending some time together. It helps that Brian had a birthday and we had an anniversary in there for occasions to celebrate!

A couple weeks ago, we were finally able to try Momocho, recommended to us by several friends and on our list to try for a while. It’s in Ohio City in Cleveland, and Brian scored us seats at the Chef’s table which got us a couple extra little appetizers and guacamole. It was a blast! We ordered 6 samples of their margaritas, and loved the spicy mango. Brian was also a fan of the cucumber. You can’t go wrong with traditional either!

Chef's table!

Then, just this weekend, we celebrated our 5 year anniversary by going to Elevation, a fundraiser event put on by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I scored some free tickets from work, and it was the perfect night out for us when Brian realized that we were engaged in the park, married in the park, and now celebrating our anniversary there.

We first went on a hike with our trail mix we made from the trail mix bar at the ledges, and then had some fresh veggies and dip before the main meal of different sliders with pulled pork, burger or veggie. They had beer and wine, s’mores by the fire (for a bit, before it really started raining), and even dancing.

Happy anniversary hike

When we got home, we opened our love letters in our love letter and wine box. Believe it or not, neither of us cheated and opened this early. This was also before we really started drinking and making wine, so I was concerned about the quality of the wine we purchased. But the wine tasted great (and was meant for aging), and the love letters were perfect. We were so young!

I am insisting we do it again for the next 5 years, and we’re going to get the next bottle of wine from Canada when we go on a weekend trip in July.

Tonight we dusted off our love letter and wine box. There's nothing like sappy, beautiful love letters written right before the wedding.

Love you Brian!

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