Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Experiences & Booby Traps

We are in the midst of all the fun and excitement December has to offer! There are so many things happening right now- parties and festivals and birthday prep and trip planning and holiday dinners with friends- it almost feels like we've become a family of ping pong balls, bouncing excitedly from one fun thing to the next. Maybe moreso than in years past, even. Add to that Logan and Everett's excitement, and it's just really, really fun at our house right now.

In the midst of all the fun, however, I came down with a horrible case of strep throat. It was the yucky, in bed achey + shivering and my throat is filled with fire ants and shards of glass, kind of sick. I haven't felt that bad in a really long time. Thankfully Nick took a day off work and with my mom and Teri's help we managed just fine. It really and truly took close to a week before I felt 100% like myself again. Because of this, Beckham had to step down from his starring role as Baby Jesus at our church's Christmas Festival. Instead, Nick took only the big kids to run and around and play (and let me rest with the quiet of just one baby). But hey- lucky for me- the actual Christmas service isn't until  this Saturday, so I won't miss out on the awesome opportunity of playing Mary alongside my little Jesus baby. (I'm still lobbying for lashes and a blow out, FYI. Even if it's not historically accurate, I think Mary would want me to look my best on her behalf.)

Saturday morning I was starting to feel much like a human again, so I bundled Beckham up and we headed to a baby shower in the cold rain. (Perfect December weather, if you ask me!)
Okay, these two tall drinks of water right here were my former kindergarten students... many of you probably read all kinds of funny stories about them back in the day.
This is the class of students that I've kept in touch with so many of them. So Anna (in the middle), her mom is having a baby, and my friend Ashley threw the shower.

Back when I was pregnant with Logan they all threw me a baby shower, and Anna had written me this book with ten step by step instructions (and illustrations) on how to take care of a baby. It's as cute and kindergarten-y as you might imagine. I've held on to the book, and it was so much fun to pull it out at Darcy's shower to give to Anna. I love when life comes full circle like that!
In the blink of an eye in all happened, and here we are with this guy!!!

Saturday night Debbee & Fred had their family and all of the Salomones over for a holiday dinner. I don't feel like "holiday dinner" really does it justice. Let me see if I can put this in context. Okay, if I made a holiday dinner, I would cook something (or likely, pick something up) and get some red poinsettias for the table, possibly a plaid Christmas table cloth, and maybe- maybe- pull out the real dishes, rather than paper plates. So that's "holiday dinner" in my mind. This is holiday dinner in Debbee's mind:
The kids table, complete with monogrammed Pottery Barn Santa chair covers, matching plates and cups, a snow man candle and confetti, little Pez dispensers at each spot that match the kid's interests (notice Everett claimed his in a quick minute)...

Okay, then there's the adult table:

I've been to weddings- most weddings- that weren't as decked out as this table. There was food as far as the eye could see...salamis and cheeses and dips and lasagana and pizza rolls and salad and pies (so many pies!), any drink you could think about wanting...

It was truly, a carnival for the senses. Or as Logan said as we pulled away from the winter wonderland in their front yard, "Guys this is definitely the best house we've ever been to, right??"
So instead of a holiday dinner, I'm renaming this the Heldoorn Holiday Experience. Debbee totally outdid herself. We had a great time and appreciated all of Debbee and Fred's hard work. 
Aww he loves me
Debbee entertaining the boys (and possibly giving them more chocolate after I cut them off)

On Sunday we finally had to get our house back in order after me being out of comish for most of the week and put up our Christmas decorations. Did I mention our washing machine was also broken all of last week? Or how about that Lexi threw up more times than I want to remember and that the smoke alarm batteries started beeping one night at 2 a.m.?  Last week was really a doozie! 

This was the toy situation alone. You can imagine the laundry! I get so twitchy even looking back at these pictures. Please God, never let me get sick again.

We all pitched in (youngest to oldest!) and got things ship shape in no time. Nick had stayed up late on Saturday night trying to get the washer put back together once the part arrived, and saying all manner of cuss words and watching various YouTube videos along the way. But alas! The house was orderly, the washer was humming... life was good! On to the Christmas decorations!!!
Nick is all about the Christmas tree, even more than I am. There is a part of me that would like a matchy matchy, pretty tree. But Nick loves our hodge podge of sentimental ornaments in a really sweet and unexpected way. I got so much joy out of watching the three of them intently decorate the tree (Beckham and I helped some), and listening to Nick explain each ornament to them. 

Our elf, Elfie also made his debut this week, mostly because Logan has been asking non stop when he would come. The boys are all about Elfie this year and overjoyed to find him each morning, even though he's kind of lame and only just moves from spot to spot. Elfie doesn't do all of the fancy, Pinterest-y things many of his other elf friends do for their families, because rumor has it, Elfie spends enough time cleaning up after three little people as it is and doesn't need to clean up after an elf on top of that. Elfie's kind of lame, I know.

Besides Elfie, the other thing Logan and Everett are loving right now is Home Alone. It's pretty much on constant loop in our house. 

We had one really sweet moment yesterday after school where the boys came home and we sat on the couch under a blanket drinking hot chocolate and watching Home Alone while Beckham napped. It was really, really great and what holiday dreams are made of! But to be fair, an hour later they were dive bombing one another off the arms of the couch, so the sweet, cozy, calm was short lived.
Here's the thing I want to say about Home Alone... that movie is totally different through adult eyes. Woah! The language in that movie is something else. And the McCallisters... they're basically like the worst parents of all time. I feel like when we were kids our parents let us watch that without a second thought, so what's changed? Are we just raising a generation of precious flowers or what? Why is this movie so bad to me??

The best thought on that came from my friend Liz who said, "I have yet to show Zach this because it will for sure raise a panic in him of bad guys attacking our house. But should I just toughen him up and teach him awesome skills to fight back like hot irons swinging from banisters?? Also, I guess the home owners insurance covered damages to the McCallister's home or else they wouldn't have had the funds to go on vacation two."

I laughed so hard at that. Exactly. That's where I'm at. I guess this says something about where we're at in life if we're worried about practical things like home owner's insurance and feel like we basically need to stage a family intervention after showing our kids Home Alone. ((Kids- I swear! I wasn't always this lame!))

Logan's learned all kinds of valuable things from Kevin, too. He made this super durable twine booby trap for Nick to walk into after work...
 And for me, the ole tape trap. That tape trap will getcha every time, I tell ya what!
 Have a great Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Letting Go With Tacos and Yoga

I look forward to Monday mornings all week. While Logan's at museum school, I go to the most wonderful yoga class. I call it my hippie yoga class.

Originally I thought I would use this time for a really intense workout- maybe a spin class or Orange Theory- or maybe even to run errands and be productive. But it turns out what I'm craving instead is quiet. And still. And slow. And hippie yoga.

When I finish class, every single Monday without fail, I go down the street to Yucatan Taco Stand and get two tacos. Because if tacos aren't the perfect compliment to yoga, I don't know what is. It's basically the hilight of my week, every week.

So I stumbled upon the studio randomly, thanks to Google, which happens to share a wall with an Irish pub. It's in a really funky party of Ft. Worth. There are crystals scattered around the room and artisan jewelry for sale in the lobby area. The class is a hybrid of young ultra bendy types, middle aged types, and one really old lady with long, bright purple hair who never says a word to anyone.

We get drops of essential oil delicately placed on our upturned palms during savasana, and our instructor Megan says things like "I want you to cultivate the relationship between your feet and the earth right now." And "Think of what it is in your life you want to put momentum behind. Linger in that word. That is the reason for your practice today. That is why you're here. Breathe it in!"

Obviously I'm obsessed.

Then, I saw a poster hanging near the cash register and realized that Rebecca, whose blog I've probably read longer and more faithfully than any other over the years, is one of the instructors there, and my mind literally exploded. Right here in this very place she teaches?? GET OUT!! As if I could love that place one iota more!

This was a poem Megan read to us a couple of weeks ago during class. It's good. I thought you may need to hear it as much as I did this time of year.

She Let Go

By Rev. Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

NAMASTE, friends! Just reading that gives me a hankering for some shredded beef and tequila lime chicken tacos.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Turkey to Santa: A Week of Fun

I feel like I owe my brother an apology. 

Lately I've been paying close attention to the big brother/little brother dynamic that's developing between Logan and Everett, and I have to say- it's a tough lot being the younger one. There are definite perks, but overall, Everett just has three parents. 

I overheard two scenarios this past week that just made me feel so bad (and flashback to the exact same kinds of things I used to do to John Garrett). The first, Everett's toy was stuck under the couch and Logan volunteered to get it out for him. Then I heard Logan tell him, "Now you'll have to do some competitions and win them to get this toy back."

Another time they were upstairs playing in Logan's room and I overheard Everett ask Logan if he could use his disappearing ink. "Well Everett, you can, but only if you let me put my hand sanitizer on your first." (There was silence, which I'm assuming meant hand sanitizer was being distributed.) And then Logan said, "Now, the next time I invite you back in my room, don't ask if you can use it again. You can only borrow it this once."

Your heart just hurts for the little guy, man. It's so unfortunate.

We had a fun filled Thanksgiving week! The boys were off from school, and we made the most of it. The weather was gorgeous on Monday so I took them all to the Fort Worth Zoo.  
They were all so well behaved, and it was just an easy, fun day. Beckham never once cried, the boys sat on a bench and watched birds while I fed Beckham, and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch I packed. We weren't without a lot of gear though. Logan's legs got tired so he sat on the front of the double stroller. This was us walking out to the car.
The best part was how into the animals the boys were. We hadn't been in a while, and they were both enthralled with everything. Logan wanted to hold the map and quite literally located various exhibits he and Everett wanted to see and guided us around the park. Let's just say, following a map or any sort of directionality isn't strong suit, so his map skills were quite impressive to me.

On Tuesday we went to see Trolls (for the second time- it's so cute!!) with my mom, and then Nick came home from work on his death bed with what turned out to be strep. We spent the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday trying to stay out of his way and clear of any germs that might be lurking around. 
Backyard swinging

Wagon rides

Living the brother life
Logan built a stick structure that is supposedly a teepee in our backyard, so he and Everett spent a great deal of time on Wednesday hunting for sticks around the neighborhood. 

This picture fits no where, it's just so sweet I had to include it.

Thursday was Thanksgiving! Luckily Nick was on the mend, and we had such a wonderful day with the fam. We went to Al and Teri's along with my mom, JG & Stacey, and Stacey's parents from Canada. Nick and Chris deep fried two turkeys to perfection. Between that, the ham and all the sides there was no shortage of food.

First bite of real food was Aunt Stacey's sweet potato casserole

We never got around to having Christmas card pictures taken this year, so I was determined to try and get one while we were all together and spit shined. We had a couple of outtakes and my dress is hanging in a rather unfortunate manner, but I love them none the less. Christmas card pic- CHECK!

 Of course, Andrea and I had to amuse ourselves with some cousin pics as well.
You're not not gonna buy these onesies. 

On Friday morning my mom and I went to the spa with Stacey and her mom. After a fun, but busy week (and taking care of a sick husband and three kids for two days)- YES PLEASE!!
That night my mom had us, plus Scat, over and cooked the most delicious meal. She made THIS recipe for pea and basil soup, baked chicken, wild rice and kale salad. I love living in a house full of boys, but sometimes you just need girl time!

Saturday was another day the boys have been anxiously awaiting. We took them to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags. Every time we go to my mom's house we pass Six Flags, and the boys have been begging to go for at least a year. 

More tongues + Nora giving the stink eye. Classic Vest-o-mone fun right there!

Nora and Everett had their share of fun in Loony Toon Land, with little kid rides galore. Meanwhile, Hattie and Logan charged through the park in their matching capes staring fear straight in the eyes. First they rode The Mine Train with Dillon and Nick, which led to a ride with Kimba and I on Judge Roy Scream. We thought surely they had reached their fill of fun, but our little adrenaline junkies begged us to take them on Shock Wave next. This is the big coaster with several big hills and two upside down loops. Kimba and I gone on all sorts of crazy adventures over the years, but this one just may take the cake. We were seriously questioning our judgement allowing our 4.5 year olds to ride this ride. But they met the height requirement and off we went!
Not once, but twice! They both absolutely loved it!! And I have to say- Logan comes by it honestly. There isn't much better than the thrill of a terrifying roller coaster. This was such a fun night we will all remember for years to come.

Sunday was pretty low key. I made some homemade soup and snuggled with this guy. 
Those eyes! Those eyes! Not even a filter!!
The boys wanted to ride things with wheels
I pulled out a bunch of the boys' old baby toys, and Beckham loved them. He is so close to sitting up! He will sit up for a few seconds and then slump over to one side.
That evening the fun train started rolling again. We decided to give the boys early baths and head to see Santa in their Christmas pj's before dinner. There were no tears this year, and the final product was one that my future self will always love. When they're 35 and 33 and 31, I will still be dusting off this very picture and remembering when...
Naturally, we had to walk over to Starbucks and get a little "hot chocolate coffee" as Everett says afterwards to celebrate successful Santa pictures.
It's definitely been a week chalk full of fun! We have a ton of fun stuff planned in December, plus Logan's birthday- so we very well may be ruining our kids with all this excitement and fun! fun! fun! galore. When January rolls around and it's back to life as usual, I think we may all suffer terrible holiday hangovers and have to take some time to recalibrate. We sure are having a blast and making memories right now though!