What a Difference

I’m back!  I enjoyed the past week with my family and spending some much-needed time away from work!  It was amazing and I am sad to be returning to work today!  The week went so quickly!  We were busy with family visits starting on Christmas Eve until Saturday night!  It was craziness, but such great moments.  We loved all of the time we spent with our family and were spoiled beyond words!  We are so lucky!

One of the highlights from our time off was a get together that we had with our friends.  All of the husband’s are fellow police officers and all of the wives were pregnant together – completely unplanned.  We all became good friends during this time and now the babies are friends as well!

We’ve made it a tradition to get all of our babies together each Christmas.  We decided it would be cute to put the kids in their PJ’s and to snap photos each year.  Last year, the babes were so young – from left to right – Brooklyn – 6 months, JoJo – 9 months, Kenzie – 7 months.

Look at how big they’ve gotten!  It’s amazing the difference a year makes!  Last year, JoJo had mastered sitting up, McKenzie was just starting to on a regular basis and Brooklyn was just at the very beginning of sitting up – someone propped her up and let her go just in time for us to snap the picture!

This year, they were moving targets and impossible to get all looking in the same direction or sitting still at the same time!  I love these pictures and look forward to this tradition for years to come!

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Here’s hoping you all had a lovely Christmas!

Tinsel – Our Elf

I debated long and hard as to whether or not we wanted to start the Elf on the Shelf tradition with McKenzie this year.  To me, she seemed too young to grasp the concept of a magical elf reporting back to Santa each night.

Then Halloween came.  We don’t have many Halloween decorations, but I thought it was important to be festive and put some out.  I made a mental note to buy more decorations for next year.

Since we didn’t have that many decorations, they are stored in a bin with the other various holiday decorations – Valentine’s Day and Easter.  As we were decorating, McKenzie found the bin – along with the ceramic white bunny.  That bunny became her best friend.  She brought us each to the spare bedroom to show us the bunny and would say, “Shh..bunny sleeping.”  It was hilarious!

Being the slackers that we are, the bin never made its way back to the attic.  It remained in our spare bedroom until the end of October.  Each morning, McKenzie would run from her bedroom to see the bunny.  She loved it!  The bunny became our best friend, as well.  It became the ultimate distraction technique.  Need to sneak out of the house in the morning to leave for work? Kenzie and Dad would go on a hunt to find the bunny.  She would bring her Cheerios to bait the bunny and feed it breakfast.  So cute!  Temper tantrum that just wouldn’t end?  “Shh….the bunny’s sleeping” would stop her in her tracks every time.

That’s when Brian and I decided that the elf was well worth it this year!  Even if she doesn’t understand the full magic of the elf, she loves searching for him each day and will circle back to wave to him and offer him snacks throughout the day.   We’ve been very aware of where we place the elf, as to not tempt her too much, but she has been surprisingly good about not touching him!

So with love, we welcomed Tinsel into our lives.  He joined our family the day after we set-up our tree – November 24th.  Brian was hesitant at first to start this so early, but then he realized that I may be more excited for the Elf than McKenzie.

There were in-depth conversations over whether or not we should have a boy elf or a girl elf.  Brian laughed hysterically at me when I told him that we had to get a boy elf.  In my mind, elves are boys and (I know…this next comment is going to sound so bad….) boy elves take behaving much more serious than girl elves.  Girl elves tend to give second chances and reminders.  Boy elves are going to present the straight facts to Santa!  See why he was laughing?!  It’s just how my mind works!

Once we decided on a boy elf, then came lengthy debates over his name.  We liked Jingle and Chip (short for chocolate chip), but ultimately wanted something that we thought McKenzie would say.  We chose Tinsel.  The name also pays direct homage to the grandmother’s – one who dislikes Tinsel and never allowed it growing up (my mom!) and the other who is the sole reason that Tinsel companies are still in business (Brian’s Mom).

Needless to say, we love the name and love even more when McKenzie yells  – Tin-Sell each morning as she runs to search for him.

We’ve had some fun with this!  Below are some of Tinsel’s favorite hiding spots!  As an aside: It’s our first year, so we’re excited.  Don’t hate because we planned out a calendar full of ideas a month in advance.  There were still nights we forgot to move Tinsel, but all in all, it’s been fun!

5 on Friday | December – Week 3 – McKenzie’s Favorite Things Edition

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

I’m linking up with Darci and friends from the good life blog for another version of 5 on Friday! This week’s theme is McKenzie’z Favorite Things!  These aren’t necessarily things that she’s wishing for from Santa, but items that we have and love and think you should too!

Favorite ThingsONE/TWO/THREE/FOUR/FIVE

One.
Fisher Price Little People Christmas Story!
  This was actually an early Christmas present to McKenzie this year from her grandmother.  We wanted her to be able to play with the set and really enjoy it.  It was also a great time to incorporate the Christmas story in to her play-time. She loves the set and little animals and even says Jesus…well, more like Cheeze-us, but we know what she means!  If we ask her to find Jesus, she runs and gets the little baby in the manger!  So sweet!

Two.
Mr. Christmas Red Lighted Goodnight Lights Ornament!
 Kenzie received this little ornament as an early Christmas present, as well.  I had never seen something like this before, but thought that it was a novel idea.   The ornament is Santa holding a candle.  It has wires running down the back of the ornament that you run through your tree.  These wires are attached to a box that you plug-in to the electrical outlet.  One you hang the ornament and run the green wires down through the tree (just as you would your light wires), you plug your lights into the box and the box into the electrical outlet.  That’s when the magic happens.    The candle has a small pin-sized hole in the front of it.  If you want to turn the lights the Christmas tree lights on, you blow on Santa’s candle.  If you want to turn them off, you blow the candle out.  It’s adorable and McKenzie loves it.  She can’t walk by the tree without pretending to blow out the candle.    She doesn’t have the height or enough power, but it’s fun all the same!  Plus, Brian and I love it, because it means that we don’t have to maneuver around/under the tree to get the lights plugged in.   It’s adorable!  Check it out!

Three.
Highlights!  For those of you who grew up in the 80’s, you probably already remember this magazine.  I know I loved it!  There were stories, crafts and hidden picture puzzles.   My mom mentioned that there was a new version out for toddlers – Highlights Hello.  I was so excited!  We signed McKenzie up and she now she receives her own mail and magazine each month.  The books are amazing.  Toddler sized and printed on durable paper that can’t be torn and can be cleaned!

Amazing!  Printed with non-toxic ink, the magazine’s durability was even tested by being placed in a washing machine!  As good as new!

McKenzie loves the short stories, the songs and the hidden picture puzzles.  There are even tips throughout the book for parents on how to incorporate the themes, stories and songs into learning each day.  Plus, it’s one of those books that’s small enough to throw in to the diaper bag or purse and will keep her occupied forever!  Love!

Four.
Rileyroos!   These have been our go-to shoes since McKenzie started wearing shoes.  Sadly, her big feet no longer fit in them, so we’ve had to move on.

These shoes are developmentally friendly, with flexible soles and curled toes to provide leverage as your little one learns to crawl.  They are lightweight and perfect for providing the protection and traction that little ones need…all while imitating barefoot walking.  Plus, Rileyroos is  a local company from Baltimore – a win-win!  Kenzie literally had shoes to match each of her outfits.  I know…it’s an obsession!

If you’re looking for adorable shoes, that both you and your baby/toddler will love, check out Rileyroos!

Five.
Crochet Creations by Bibi!  Need a small gift that’s affordable, yet personalized for babies, toddler’s, tween’s or even adults?  Then check out my mother-in-law’s page!  She’s working on getting her Etsy page up, but for now, Facebook is it!  She has created some adorable hats and will work to create a personalized piece just for you!  Don’t see what you want?  Send her a picture with your request and she’ll create it for you!  What talent!   Hats range from $7 to $18 (plus shipping) and are completed within a few days!  Check out her page and let her know that you heard about her from Heartbeats and Little Feet.  There may just be a surprise in it for you!

Side note: Bibi is what Kenzie calls her grandmother.  Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law refused to pick their Grandparent names, so we chose for them.  It was a very scientific choosing. Brian typed Grandmother and Grandfather in to Google translate.  And there you have it…Bibi and Babu – Grandmother and Grandfather in Swahili.  I bet they wish they had thought that decision through! 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Random Acts of Holiday Kindness

Happy December and the beginning of Christmas craziness!  I completely enjoyed Thanksgiving and spending so many days home with my love and little girl!  It was nice to disconnect and really just spend time with family, some of whom traveled in from Houston!

Although my favorite time of year, it’s also one of the busiest.  Our family has lots of traditions and fun events that we like to do during this holiday season.  I’ll touch on more of those later. All of these traditions keep us so busy though.  I don’t think there is a weekend until half-way through January that we don’t have something planned!

I find this season incredibly fulfilling, yet at times, incredibly stressful.  It’s those stressful moments that remind me that I am loved and blessed.  From buying presents to holiday parties, I know that I am lucky.  Lucky to be able to afford to do so.  Lucky that I have so many family and friends.  Lucky that we like each other so much that we want to spend time together.   It’s this time of the year that causes me to stop and think.

What if other’s aren’t so lucky?  What about those that spend the holidays alone?  What about those who wish they had enough money to buy presents?  What about those that wish they had a warm place to stay?  What about those whose only wish for Christmas to is be healthy?

But better yet…

What about those that have all of the above, but get so caught up in the commercialism and business of the season that they forget about others?

This holiday season, wouldn’t it be nice to show others that we care?  That’s why I’m requesting that for the month of December, you join me in displaying random acts of kindness.  To help those in need. To help those who need a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season.  To help remind yourself that even the smallest acts of kindness can mean so much.

Below are just a few ways that you can pay it forward this holiday season.  There are so many others!


Not all of the acts of kindness need to be momentous.  Just the other day, while sitting in the Starbuck’s drive through, I decided that I would pay it forward.  I pulled up to the window to pay for my order and told the barista that I would like to pay for the car behind me as well.   She was taken back and just kept saying over and over again, “That’s so sweet.  That is so nice of you! This just made my day”.  I didn’t even do anything that directly affected the barista, yet, she was moved.   I’ll never know what the reaction of the person in the car behind me was, but I can only hope and assume that it brightened their day.

I know my random act of kindness was just coffee.  I didn’t solve world hunger or find a cure for cancer, but I can hope that the cup of coffee and scone reminded the customer that there are still good people in the world.  That maybe it changed their mood and outlook for the day in some slight way.  That maybe they chose to pay it forward to someone as well.

This holiday season, let’s pay it forward with random acts of kindness.  You’ll never know the impact that you could have on someone’s day.

What random acts of kindness will you do?

The Thankful Project: Day 25 – Something You Know

After cutting down our Christmas tree and decorating with a toddler this weekend, I learned a lot.  Who would have thought the lesson would have been taught by a toddler?

Let me back up.  This weekend, we spent Saturday cutting down our Christmas tree.  It’s a tradition that Brian and I have done every year.   Last year, Kenzie was just 6 months old and I carried her in the baby carrier.  Let me tell you, much easier!

family 3

Tree Farm 2012

This year, we have a 18 month old who has more determination and will to do things her way than most adults I know.  Honestly!  We arrived at the tree farm and had a slight melt-down early on because we were making her wear a hat.  Once we were over that, things were smooth sailing…until they told us the tractor that takes you to where the trees are, wasn’t up and running.

“OK”, we thought, “we’ll walk it.  It can’t be that hard.”  Again, naive parent’s here.  McKenzie wanted to walk the gravel road herself.   She wanted to walk it at her pace and if you attempted to pick her up, then she would lose her mind.

trail

See the tree on the upper left side of the screen? The one at the top? That’s where we walked to!

The whole tree experience, that should have taken 30 minutes from start to finish, ended up taking 2 hours.  When we finally reach where the trees were, she had a melt-down because she didn’t want to walk in the grass.  She wanted to stay on the gravel road.

melt

Melt-Down

We finally found the perfect tree and cut it down.  We figured she’d be tired and would want to be carried on the walk back.  Again…we were wrong.  She walked the entire gravel path back.

bri tree

Our tree 2013

I wish I had a way to track how far this little girl walked.  It was easily 3 miles.  She never gave up.  She never quit.  She just kept walking, as fast as her little legs could carry her.

So you know what I know?  Toddlers…they can teach you a lot.  Like how to slow down, to enjoy the moment, to take your time and to really appreciate the things that you are doing, because if we hadn’t, we would have missed the opportunity to capture such gorgeous pictures – the lake, the green trees and the sky.

family

Tree Farm 2013

I’m really thankful.

 

thankful project titleI’m linking up with Kenzie over at Chasing Happy for the month of November.
Be sure to stop by and check it out!