Sunday, December 29, 2013

One Last Christmas Memory...

After uploading my Christmas post, I received this picture of the kids with Santa today.

Since we've never actually made it through the mall lines to sit on Santa's lap, it sort of feels like I should post this picture for posterity since 3 out of 4 kiddos sat pleasantly on jolly old Saint Nick's lap, but poor Emerson wouldn't have anything to do with him.

Thankfully we didn't have a long mall line to stand in at the Holiday Sunday brunch a few weeks ago. The kids enjoyed talking to Santa and eating their candy canes while we enjoyed our time visiting with Gigi and G-Dad.

I loved this beautiful smocked dress that my Mom did for Ava Jane, what a fun keepsake, a handmade dress from her Gigi. My Mom has quite a lengthy list of things that she's good at, and once again, proved she's still got it, after twenty-something years since smocking for Whitney and I, she quickly and easily whipped out this piece. Thanks again Mom for wanting to do something so special for Ava Jane to wear!

And G-Dad with his little "mini-me"…oh how I love these two!

This Christmas season really was such fun. Its hard to believe its come and gone already. I genuinely had such a great time with my immediate and extended family and am so thankful for the memories made and the time we got to enjoy.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Gatherings and Memories of 2013

I can hardly believe that Christmas 2013 has come and gone. This holiday truly was so much fun because the boys are to the ages where they understand what Christmas is and they've been anticipating it for weeks. We had lots of gatherings with family and even got to celebrate a very big, (60th) birthday with my Dad, just days before Christmas. We had fun celebrating him and the blessing that he is to our family.
G-dad & Ava Jane Dec 2013

Christmas Eve day Adam worked a portion of it so the kids and I held down the home front. (It's worth noting, without fail, if given the opportunity to choose his own clothes, no matter the outside temperature, Lawson will alway choose these map shorts and this sleeveless Thomas the train t-shirt to wear).
The kids did lots of playing upstairs while I prepped food for Christmas day. It was one of those days that kept "giving" ya know what I mean? It started with Emerson wanting to "help" me cook (which is ideally really cute and fun, but usually never goes without some kind of mishap). I left the kitchen just briefly and to my chagrin when I returned I found he'd pulled the egg carton off onto the floor and cracked a good 6 eggs…lovely. Then there was his faux pas with the tupperware full of Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake-- all of which ended up squished on the tile and it all culminated with him throwing his lunch plate on the floor. It was then that this Mama, who by the way had been going back and forth between spankings, time outs, the KitchenAid mixer and the oven all morning long, was completely exhausted and more then ready for nap time. So that's where he went, and that's where he stayed (thankfully) for the next several hours. Praise the Lord, Emmanuel, God with us, was answering my desperate arrow prayers, cause I was desperate for a reprieve…I love that little guy but he is so INTENSE!!

After our very eventful day you can imagine the fear and trepidation that I felt in just thinking of taking him to our churches candle light Christmas Eve service. But I'm happy to report Emerson sat quietly in Adam's lap and as long as we kept the suckers and goldfish coming, he was more then satisfied which allowed me to really enjoy the service as I prepped my heart for the real meaning of the season, the gift of Jesus to me. Oh how grateful I am for Emmanuel, God with us! (This was the best pic I could get while holding Ava Jane in my lap and trying hard not to burn her with my candle.)

We came home and had a low-key, leftover, lasagna dinner and put some very excited kids to bed. Adam and I had NO idea just how excited they were until until about 4:15 when they came into our bedroom ready to open presents and eat breakfast. Adam got up with them 3 different times between then and 6:45 when we finally said "ok". They were thrilled with all they received!

We had a Happy Birthday Jesus party, after breakfast, and lit the last of our Advent candles. Each week as we prepared for Christmas the kids genuinely listened pretty good and enjoyed lighting the candles.

The boys have thoroughly enjoyed the Wii, it's been fun doing the Dance Party and playing each other in Mario Kart…we will definitely have to set some time constraints for this new activity.

Ava Jane was less than impressed with the games, she thought reading would be a much better option!

We had brunch with Adam's side of the family, opened gifts and played a few rounds of Balderdash, it was fun all being together. Here's the 7 cousins all together.

For dinner we joined my family at my parents house.

All the cousins…

Some of my favorite people...Gigi and Ava Jane.

Have you ever seen a cuter little Santa's helper?

We are learning how to use the self timer on the camera…I thought this one turned out pretty well. As long as we put it in front of the TV with a movie going, we were pretty much assured to get all the kids looking.

Hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas spending time together. I love all that comes with Christmas: the lights, music, smells and sweet treats. I do believe I will savor the last few days with the glow of the tree in the evenings after the kids are down and the house is quiet. We had a wonderful Christmas season and look forward to what the New Year holds.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Lights!

Wednesday night we got to do something that I've wanted to do for four years. This is the first time that we were actually able to go (whether it was do to bad weather, a child in the CVICU like last year or being pregnant, our house being on the market and trying to move to Birmingham in 2010). But even this year had its challenges, our Christmas lights excursion got rescheduled no less then three times, but as the saying goes, "third times a charm..." well, let me just say, I was certainly charmed!

I've heard all about Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs and its one of those things that I've been really wanting to do, so when the stars aligned and the weather more than cooperated, I was thrilled to say the least! And getting to do it with friends was just the cherry on top!

We left town late afternoon and grabbed dinner at the Purple Cow in Hot Springs before heading to the Garden. We were quite the posse as we trailed into the restaurant. I'm so glad that Carol thought to call ahead and forewarn them…they would certainly need it with our party of 8 adults and 14 kids. It's starting to get easier to eat out with friends, now that we can put the kids at one table and the adults at another. But lets just say that our Emerson and the Helmick's Sophie were neck-n-neck going through the styrofoam cups. I think at the end of the night the grand total was 6 (3 each)! With Emerson, life is just a little intense, he does everything with such gusto and lots of volume. Ya know what I mean--- "MOM I NEED SOME KETCHUP", "MOM-I NEED MORE HOTDOGS", "MOM-MY SHIRT IS ALL WET", "MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM"….you get the idea. We did enjoy our meal then we did the obligatory diaper changes and potty break then we were off.

As we arrived, I could tell it was going to be a treat, and it truly did not disappoint.

We decided to try and get a kids group shot right off the bat because thats always the best time, you never know how the evening will end or what kind of mood they'll all be in at the end. They were very agreeable and this is the best we could get. The kids were amazed by the lights and had a great time walking through the Garden.

The lights were really spectacular…I enjoyed them immensely!

It was A-MAZ-ING how they wrapped each and every branch of the trees with lights!

It was fun experiencing the magic of the lights with friends.

Unfortunately "all good things must come to an end". As the evening drew to a close, this was what we ended up with as our commemorative family photo. Thanks for not disappointing Garvan Gardens, we'll definitely be back to see you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meeting My Newest Nephew

This past weekend Adam's sister Molly and her husband Joseph finally got to meet their newest little blessing! He wasn't sure if he was ready to grace us with his presence yet, being that he was a full two weeks over due. So we were all excited to get the word that Malachi Louis Utter arrived safe and sound at 7:54 pm on Friday, December 13th weighing in at 7 lbs 11 oz.

He is adorable; tiny and perfect! He looks a lot like his big brother Jojo except he has dark hair. To me it's always amazing to see a freshly born baby, to think that God creates everything down to their teeny tiny fingernails and those precious little eyes.

It was so fun to finally get to hold him after having prayed for a safe pregnancy and delivery for them. What a miracle, what a fun Christmas gift! Congrats Molly and Joseph, enjoy being a family of four now! What a blessing Malachi is in for, and what a great opportunity he has, to have you two as his parents!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Week's Worth of Christmas Parties...

We have had four different Christmas parties in the past 5 days. It's been fast and furious to say the least, but its also been a lot of fun.

I enjoy hosting and feel like its something that comes fairly naturally to me, so I was excited to get my BLOOM (Building a Legacy Out of Motherhood) Bible study group together to have a playdate and a cookie exchange. We missed those who couldn't come but we still had 13 kiddos 4 and under and thankfully had two wonderful girls who watched them in the playroom so that us Momma's could really visit. Thanks Emily and Anna!

It was a little crazy so I didn't get very many pictures but here's a few…

After all the sugar, sprinkles and icing were cleaned up I prepped my house for the next Christmas party. Our D-Group from church got all dressed up and headed to Bravo for dinner. It was so nice to have a quiet adults only dinner. After that, we headed back to our home for some dessert, drinks and a friendly game of Dirty Santa. It was fun to pull out my holiday china, silver trays, Lenox mugs for Hot Cocoa and wine glasses. Adam and I love this group and greatly appreciate the spiritual encouragement we get from being around each of these friends. We feel tremendously blessed!

On Wednesday we enjoyed a Christmas dinner with our family at S. Tyler Street's Opportunity Center. We have really grown to LOVE Shana and Cache. Our boys enjoy playing together, running up and down the hall is one thing they always look forward to doing! We ate a delicious meal together, got to hear the Christmas story and played a few rounds of Jenga. We had a lot of fun!

Lawson liked playing with the Nutcracker from the centerpiece…

Friday night we did Christmas with Adam's side of the family. With getting food, gifts and 4 kids there in the pouring rain I forgot my camera and I didn't take even one pic with my i-phone, boo! It was fun seeing everyone and getting to visit.

Saturday my Mom had all the grandkids over to decorate sugar cookies and make gingerbread houses. I think the kids had a great time! After the first couple of dozen they got tired of decorating and it became a family affair…it was really fun! Thanks for putting it all together Mom!

Saturday night was Arkansas Heart Hospital's Christmas party. It was a great evening. Its always fun getting to dress up, but getting to go and meet all the doctors, nurses and staff that work with Adam was a real treat for me. The Cardiologists were quite entertaining as they did skits, sang and spoke to the crowd as they passed out all the different door prizes. The music and dancing was great, I think a good time was had by all.

Well, thats a brief synopsis of our week. Hope you had a restful and fun weekend. Happy Monday!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Melt My Heart...

Ava Jane turned one back in September. We had her 1 year pictures done then, but it wasn't until yesterday that I got my CD of pictures from Kristin Hollensworth. All of them were so good I couldn't narrow it down so we ended up purchasing all the digital copies and I'm loving being able to use the pictures and post them on this here blog. I owe a big "Thanks" to Kristin, she captured Ava Jane so well…these pictures are precious to me! I think they might melt your heart too.

Her Great Grandmother gave her an adorable little rocking chair that her Dad had sat in as a child so the chair is over a 100 years old, I couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity to have her portrait done with it, so here's a few of my favorites of her sitting in it.

I absolutely love these next pictures of her…

We did some outdoor pics with her balloons and tutu…

Oooohhh! I can hardly stand it! I just love those little legs! Don't you want to eat them up?!

There were some indoor pics of she and I together…

Isn't she a doll?

And of course there were the cupcake pictures…

I'm pretty sure she had a great time!!

I can't believe she's a year old. She looks more and more like a toddler then a baby every day! She wasn't quite walking by herself on her 1st birthday so she was the slowest of the kiddos to start walking but she took her first steps and was then off and going on October 30th and she's not looked back one bit. She's definitely enjoying her new found freedom of going and doing whatever she pleases. She's into everything right now. Her favorite thing to do is pull all the items out of my bathroom drawers. She's gotten really good at chunking brushes and makeup not only onto the floor but into the tub. She's also figured out that I keep the bread and flour tortillas in a drawer in our kitchen, regularly she gets into the tortillas and can be found traipsing around the house with two handfuls of them with a few bites eaten out of each one. If I try taking them away from her, lets just say you'd think all hell had broken loose. She might not be talking a ton, but she certainly gets her point across! She's been solely on a sippy cup for the past two months and transitioned to whole milk easily. She does a great job of feeding herself and loves yogurt covered raisin, yogurt, goldfish and pretty much anything we eat. Her favorite vegetable is green peas and cooked carrots. At her 1 year checkup she weighed 22 lbs 20 oz, she was 30" long and her head was 18". Her blood pressure was 93/78 and her heart rate was 105. All of her heart check ups have gone well so far and things are looking steady and good which we are so thankful for. She seems to be growing and developing right on target now and we are so grateful for that! Just in the last few days she has started saying something that resembles "thank you" when I give her a cup or food and regularly says "uh oh" when she drops something. I love her so much and am so thankful for this first year we've had with her! She's a blessing and a true joy! We love you sweet Ava Jane, we can't imagine a day without you!

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...