Owen turned 3 on December 21st. I will never forget that first glimpse of his quivering lip! The nurse said “oh boy, watch out for that pouty lip”.  His round little face. His new baby smell. His daddy passing out just after his birth. His flipping and flopping inside me going breech and back to head down and back again. We were hooked up to an IV on December 19th for a c-section but the snow storm blew into Northern Virginia as Owen decided to flip head down so we were unhooked and sent home to wait out the storm.  That silly boy.  He was born a few days later via C-section because he went back to breech. The swine flu had broken out so we weren’t allowed to have visitors except for my mom, sister-in-law and a friend. Jackson couldn’t come meet his brother…which at the time was so sad but meant we spent lots of time resting and cuddling those first days! Owen has had quite an adventurous life with a move to Switzerland at 6 month, lots of travels and then another big move at 2 1/2.  He may be the younger brother but he is doing his best to at least make as big a presence as his older brother.  His favorite things to say are “yea, that’s right”, “hi guys”,  “and then…and then…”. His favorite food is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches…correctly pronounced as “peanujelly sanwich”.

For his birthday this year we kept it to just family. My parents had flown in from Texas for Christmas and my brother and his family live about 25 mins away with my two nieces and nephew so it was a crowd! Our friend Bonnie also joined in on the fun.  Owen requested a fire man birthday party and we just so happen to have a fire station around the corner from our house.  We took the kids over for a tour of the station and then came back to the house for dinner, presents and dessert.


























the kids colored at the table while we pulled dinner together. We served giant hot dogs and chili with fixings so people could have chili or make a chili cheese dog,  We also served loaded baked potato dip with chips and fruit.







Owen didn’t remember opening gifts from last year so he was pretty comical. He kept telling people not to look and then when he had a gift opened he would lift it above his head and yell triumphantly “here it is”.













the cake tasted great but was by far not my most creative creation. The cake was red velvet with cream cheese frosting which worked well per Owen’s request for a red cake. The flames on the chandelier might have been Owen’s favorite and accompanied by the red table cloth were my minimal attempt to make the house look appropriately dressed for a Fire Man party and not Christmas.

Happy Birthday little man!




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Holiday Superlatives

Merry Christmas to all of you!  We started our marathon with a birthday party for Owen on Sat, followed by a baby shower Sunday, Christmas eve on Monday and the big shebang yesterday. We have had a merry time but I won’t lie, this extrovert has been stretched if that ever was possible. We are all tired and using this day to re-coop and enjoy the surprise snow!  My parents arrive this afternoon to stay at our house. We are planning a less exciting and lower calorie few days before they have to head back to Texas :)

Before I jump in to pictures of our holiday festivities I thought I would share a few holiday superlatives!

Most applicable book







I won’t be shocked if someone writes on here that this book doesn’t exist in real life and appeared miraculously for our family. Jackson came home with this from the library and as I read it I laughed out loud. Grab The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett. This child, Teeka, is supposed to train the reindeer for guiding the sleigh and they are wild and keep fighting and locking antlers. Teeka realizes that she continues to lose her patience and raise her voice and that doesn’t help the reindeer obey. So she determines to not yell and the reindeer begin to obey her. Hmmm. If that isn’t a Christmas miracle I don’t know what is.

Most likely to cancel each other out?! 










the chia and flax seeds are camping out on top of the Christmas cookie tins. Hmmm. I just gave in to adding the seeds to yogurt and oatmeal, but I haven’t totally given up the tin contents. Is that like ordering fries and a diet coke?

Most likely to be treasured forever







Jackson gave us the first gift of the season. He made this pinch pot in his class. I love that he used his little fingers to craft each part. It was wrapped in crumpled tissues paper and a little frayed piece of red yarn, such sweetness.

Least likely to stand still award

Owen performed a few Christmas songs with his bible study class. I hadn’t really prepped him for the performance but for those of you that know Owen I was fully expecting him to be jumping off the stage, calling out about going to the bathroom…instead he held his hands together and stood perfectly still, and he didn’t sing a single word. He did flash a few smiles!

Most comical Bedtime song

Silent Night…they just aren’t so silent around here. Between casts and dreams and earning stars on sleep charts we are just in a funny season of life. Sure glad the stable was silent and baby Jesus didn’t make a peep but mine sure make a peep.

Most memorable Christmas gift of Christmas past!










tiredest elf










Best Joke-ster Award









Santa brought Jackson a joke kit and he was cracking himself up all day. PopPop was the recipient of the bug ice cube!  and we’ve all got snapped fingers from his gum offers!

Most Helpful Husband










Seth and I hosted a Christmas eve buffet for our family and my sister-in-law’s family. He worked all day with me to pull it off!

Most unexpected treat!










snowy day!

Biggest Christmas surprise of 2012!

my little brother is going to be a daddy in June!


Hope you all are enjoying a cozy holiday season!

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Last weekend we did the drive to NYC to see my younger brother and his wife. It was such a fun day of seeing the sights! The only thing missing was my parents who know the city like the back of their hand and my older brother and his family! In the future we might have to do it again with the whole gang.  New York City at Christmas is so magical.

We didn’t tell the boys where we were going or that we would see Tina and Graham. We got them into the car super early and drove. As we drove in we pointed out the Statue of Liberty. (Jackson has had a fascination with it for yrs) He was so excited when he spotted it. I asked him where we were on our adventure and he squealed excitedly “France!!!) Last he had heard we had seen the one in Paris so he was so confused. He was so excited to find out we were in NYC.

NYC is a crazy city to do with kids in many ways but the people watching alone kept them entertained most of the day. The city was having their Santa bar hop while we were in town from 10 AM on so we saw hundreds of people dressed like Santa and elves, festive costumes, etc…Jackson spotted this gingerbread man as we began the day. A city filled with people in costume was kind of a kids dream.

































FAO Schwartz was a highlight of the day! FYI if you have a stroller you can skip the line and head in the back door! I remember going as a child so it was fun to take the boys. Owen slept through lots of it but Jackson enjoyed it so much! We were all kind of amazed by the giant candy section.
















I tried to talk the boys into adopting a baby at the pretend baby nursery






















After a quick lunch we stopped by my cousins new bar in Brooklyn. It’s called Exley if any of you are ever in Brooklyn you should check them out!  They have done a great job with the space that used to be an old garage. The boys enjoyed ginger ale so no worries!




















we left Brooklyn and headed to Central Park where the boys ran and played and we watched a street performer doing bubbles and then there was a big bird spotting.
















we finished the day with a walk through Times Square (rather a push and shove through, it was packed! ). I’ll spare you the naked cowboy pics since this is family friendly. Once we survived Times Square we grabbed dinner and exchanged Christmas gifts. We got dessert at a little bakery called Amy’s Bread. I highly recommend it!   Not one thing didn’t look yummy!

We said our goodbyes and loaded up the kids to head back. We stopped over near Philly for the night and met friends for lunch in Wilmington on our way back. It was a whirlwind trip but so fun.

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You know on here I am huge on having people in your home and building relationships. My friend Ashley’s mom comes to mind when I think about entertaining and having an open house!  Ginger and her hubby have people in and out of their home ALL of the time. There is always a bag of chips and homemade salsa on hand and people are typically discussing the next meal! Because they are amazing cooks and love to gather around a great meal! I haven’t been to Ginger’s house in probably 10 years at least but I know it’s still the same.

As I was thinking through holiday activities and things to share with all of you I thought of Ashley and her family and wondered if I could talk her into sharing a bit about their gingerbread house party tradition. Now, like Lisa from the last post, these gals are in Texas so they do it up big.


One of my favorite times building up to Christmas is my family’s
tradition of making gingerbread houses.  As far back as I can
remember, my mom had made the dough (as did her mother), rolled it
out, cut it into little pieces, and baked the pieces for assembly day.
We could much easier go out and buy the kits, but the process of
actually making the houses has been a fun memory of mine.

I think I was 4 when I remember (only by seeing pictures in old photo
albums) my mom starting this tradition passed on from my grandmother.
Mom did one house for our family for a long time, but my mom wanted
more and more families to enjoy the joy of “art” of making their own
house.  This year (2012), my mom and I rolled out 20 (!) gingerbread
houses.  Mom made the dough and I was her workhorse for the rolling
and cutting the next day.  We started rolling and cutting around 9am
and carried on until about 4 in the afternoon so that everyone we had
invited would have their own house to do.  Turns out my little family
took up 3 of the houses this year.  Landon (12), Riley (6) got to do
their own houses and I had to do mine myself (or I would have taken
over the boys’ houses)! OK, it was mine and my husband’s house, but he
graciously let me have all the fun 😉






On assembly day, I got to my mom’s house around 8 in the morning to
help set up.  My grandmother, aunt and Mom were already hard at work
in the kitchen making the “glue” for the houses.  Mom has a recipe for
Royal Icing she uses to glue the houses together and for all the candy
to stick on, as well.  While the icing is being whipped to oblivion
(it’s gotta be STIFF– think DQ Blizzard thick), we are setting up
more candy than you can imagine!  A few bowl on every table leaves
just enough room for the actual houses to be decorated!  Our guests
arrive around 10 and the fun really starts!  There are always people
who have not assembled a house before, so we help get them started,
but from there, it’s just icing and candy flying around for the next 4
hours.  It’s literally a SWEET time:) 







We try and get pictures of everyone before they leave with their completed houses and it’s so
much fun to look back every year and see how the houses have







I could go on and on about the houses, but I’d rather Kristen share
with you our pictures!  Hope you enjoy!  Merry Christmas!










Thanks  for sharing, Ashley! I should be sending my boys down for gingerbread house school with you and your mom next year!  I might just have to try my hand at making some homemade next year. I do love me a good kit but this looks like so much fun!  Another friend mentioned doing gingerbread nativities so that might make the list next year too!

For those of you that find yourselves bored this weekend (this is kind of a joke because I don’t know anyone who isn’t packed with activities) before Christmas and your house does not yet have a little fragrant gingerbread house roll up your sleeves and give it a try! Don’t be intimidated! The walls might fall in and your hands will be sticky but it will be a good time!    And you don’t need 50 kinds of candy although they look divine, start slow and small. Pull out graham crackers if you don’t want to bake!

For you brave folks, Ashley has shared the family recipes!! Invite someone in to enjoy it with you!

this is my 90 year old Nana making on with the boys last yr! This is their “tada”



6 cups flour

1 ¾ cups sugar

2/3 cup shortening

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 8-ounce container sour cream

2 eggs

To prepare dough:  Into large bowl, measure 3½ cups flour and remaining ingredients. With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. With hands, knead in remaining 2½ cups flour to make a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until dough is not sticky and is of easy kneading consistency.

To roll dough: Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Working with half a batch at a time on lightly floured work surface with lightly floured hands, knead dough until smooth. (Do not skip this step!!!) Roll out to 1/8” thickness on well-floured surface such as muslin stretched over a cutting board. (To help create uniform thickness, roll out between 2 wooden dowels placed on either side of dough.) Lay patterns on top and cut with sharp knife. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and very firm when lightly touched with finger. Cool on wire rack.



1 16-ounce package confectioners’ sugar (about 4½ cups)

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

3 egg whites at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in bowl. With mixer, blend until smooth, then beat at high speed until very stiff. Makes 3 cups. Keep icing covered as it dries very quickly. Yum.

This recipe came from Grandma Lina, who got it out of a Good Housekeeping magazine sometime in the 1960’s. The original gingerbread houses she made were placed on a paper Coke carton for stability. As long as the air inside remains humidity-free, the house should stand. In 2007, Kelly’s lasted through August of 2008!

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