Cookie Weekend!!

One of my favorite Christmastime traditions is a little something call we call COOKIE WEEKEND with Wayde's Step-Mom Leslie & younger sister Paytin at their home in Northern Iowa.

We basically hole up in their beautiful bungalow-style home for the entire weekend watching movies, playing games, decorating cookies, and eating ourselves silly.

There were soups, pies, fancy dips, & relish trays on every kitchen surface made available at all times. Leslie sure knows how to spoil us;)

Their small town hosts a Saturday morning pancake breakfast with a visit from Santa Claus, which we've been including in our annual visit since Ruby was born.

All I can say is that last year's meeting with Santa wasn't quite as dramatic as this year's...oh, my.

These two under the mistletoe just melts my heart...

Ruby's 1st cookie decorating attempt! She helped spread on the frosting & shook on the sprinkles. Such a proud mama...

Most Creative Cookie Award would have to go to Uncle Andy. GO VIKINGS!!

Ruby's tween Aunties introduced her to One Direction this visit. The kiddos had a huge 1D dance party while the adults played Balderdash. This might have been the first time I got to play an entire board game since Ruby was born.

She was so busy playing with all the other kids that I wouldn't even see her for long stretches of time. My baby is becoming less of a baby every day...

Ruby new castle from G-Ma Leslie, which she ADORES. Leslie may not realize it, but she's taught me a lot about the kind of hostess I would like to be someday when we have our own house.

This weekend always comes and goes too quickly, but we are already SO looking forward to next year!!


O' Tannenbaum

It's that time of year!! And I must admit, having Ruby help me trim the tree (a.k.a. bringing me the ornaments that Papa pulled out of the box) might have already make this the best Christmas ever. And it's not even December yet. I know, big call, but the holidays are just that much more precious having little ones around to enjoy them with.

I haven't always felt the way I do about this season. Maybe it's because I've just associated it with the cold weather. Christmas music sort of irritated me. I even used to say that I hoped my kids didn't mind that I wouldn't decorate for it because I didn't like decor/ etc that wasn't fashionable year round.

Boy, did that all change once I became a Mama. Heck, I'm even down for watching the cheesiest of Hallmark Channel Christmas specials. Sign me up for anything that gets me into the spirit.

We're also in the process of sorting out which traditions we would like to continue celebrating, as well as new ones to adopt.

It seems a little early to make this a meaningful Advent season for our toddler, but I love the idea behind it and the time of reflection on the days leading up to Christmas. We definitely want the focus to be on Christ during the holidays.

I would also like to integrate some kind of service project for our family to participate in. Also a bit challenging with a toddler, but if you have any ideas, please shoot them my way.

Hoping to share our experiences throughout the month of December!! xx


House Hunters

The time has come...the search for a home has begun! We've been renting a pretty amazing place for 2.5 years and feel ready to put down some roots in our city.

As exciting as it has been to start looking, it has also been a little discouraging. Just not a lot on the market that meets our criteria. I know you've got to do some compromising when purchasing a house, but it doesn't feel like you should have to when that much money is involved.

Some things that are on my wishlist:
- Good price (naturally)
- 1920's Bungalow style (preferably 2 story...I'm not really into the 1 1/2 stories)
- Hardwood floors (so I can cover them with fancy rugs)
- A dishwasher (never in my married life have I had one...this would be huge)
- 3 Bedrooms (w/ a 4th non-conforming room that could be used as an office or BR)
- Our preferred neighborhood (we're flexible on this...just no suburbs)
- Outdoor entertaining area (could be a porch, deck, or patio)
- A yard (not too huge as I'm not crazy about maintaining it)

It would also be AMAZING if this nearly 100 year old home had a fireplace, attached garage, and/ or central air & heating.

Ok, so maybe that's a lot to ask for.

Sincerely, we want a cozy place to bless our family & friends; where they would feel right at home whenever they're visiting and that we have a good amount of space to accomodate them. We want a place where Ruby (and any other children we have) can make special memories and call home.

Based on what's currently available, it might be closer to Spring before we find our home. Until then, I will enjoy the anticipation of not knowing which one it is as I drive down the streets looking for it. Because it's out there. I just know it...xx


#Letsgetpraisy Link Up

Here's a little submission I did for this little thing that Jami Nato started called #letsgetpraisy. It's about finding the sacred in the unlikely. I think Jami put it best by saying, "God lives in the sweet and precious places, and he also can be found in the scandalous and obscene places. There is no where he is not."

If you like what you see, head on over to her blog and VOTE FOR ME:) And check out the rest of her web musings while you're there. It's one of those blogs that sort of sucks you in and before you know it, you've read almost every post. Not to sound like a creeper or anything.

[Also, I am not a graphic designer. I can just pretend to be one with all those magical apps out there.] xx


Viva Las Vegas Pt.4

We finally had a rental car on the last full day in Vegas, so we packed in as many non-Strip activities as possible. Like seeing the original "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.

Yes, that is Ruby completely passed out in my arms. I'd say that's a good representation of how we were all feeling at the tail end of our vacation.

We also made the trek to Hoover Dam. The scale of it all was pretty astonishing.

We couldn't take the littles on the whole dam tour, so a few of us stayed back to supervise them in an observation area. At least the kids made a good time of it.

Are those jazz hands, Braxton?? Haha.

The other greatest sign in Las Vegas. For how close our hotel was to In-N-Out Burger, I'm sad we only made it there once. The "Double-Double" was as delicious as ever.

Pawn Stars fans out there?? LOVE IT. As soon as we started planning our trip to Vegas, visiting the "World Famous" Gold & Silver Pawn was high on my list. The line to get in was out the door & the length of the building the first time we drove by, so I was afraid we weren't going to make it in.

We cruised by a second time to find NO LINE!! There also weren't any stars from the show working, but I wasn't really expecting to see anyone. Still, it was super cool to see where one of our family's favorite shows is filmed.

Suddenly, Ruby wanted to wear my clip-on earrings. I think this girl was inspired by seeing all the jewelry.

More driving around Vegas. The famous Little White Chapel (with 24 hour drive up).

Fremont Street. Now this is what I think of when I imagined Las Vegas before visiting.

Filming part of a magic show for the Travel Channel.

At this point, I was feeling a little overstimulated by it all.

Leading up to the finale of our trip--seeing a Cirque du Soleil show with my Mom, sis (& her husband). We got to see Ka at MGM Grand and it was MIND-BLOWING.

One thing I didn't expect was to have so many options to see Cirque shows (there are currently 7 running in Vegas). The shows are a little pricey, but worth every penny.

One tip is to call the box office on the day of the show and do some "negotiating". Our other sis saw this same show for $70. Our tickets weren't as cheap, but they weren't much more. Tickets for shows can typically run $110-200.

So long, Vegas...it's hard to say when we'll be back again. But if we do, I'll be seeing another Cirque du Soleil show and will also pay a visit to the Neon Museum/ Boneyard (which sadly, we did not squeeze into this trip). 

One last story to share, and this one it pretty crazy...

On our flight home from Vegas, an elderly man starting choking and passed out in the aisle. The flight attendants called for medical personal over the intercom, and my Mom (a nurse) was able to provide assistance (as well as two other people). They were pumping oxygen, doing chest compressions, and at one point thought they lost the man. It was pretty dramatic. Then miraculously, he came through. He even told my Mom afterward that could see everyone working on him outside of his body. 

It was pretty amazing to see my Mom in action and staying so calm through it all. She even made the call to keep the plane going (an emergency landing was being considered) after checking his vitals and confirming he was ok to continue the rest of the flight. WHAT. A. LADY. Her daughters were all so proud (not to mention teary-eyed over the whole ordeal). 

Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip & maybe you even picked up some tips for planning your own Las Vegas vacation:) Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions! xx


Viva Las Vegas Pt.3

After nursing a sick baby & not leaving our hotel grounds for almost 24 hours, I was encouraged/ forced to go out for the night with my sisters & their significant others. We ate a late dinner at the Sugar Factory, where the food was as delicious as the decor.

Ruby was back to normal the next day, so baby girl & I wandered through some more hotels along the Strip.

The luxurious Wynn Hotel. Can I stay here next time

Ruby was pretty excited to stumble upon this "bow wow" in one of the shops at Wynn.

The Secret Garden of Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage. The mini-zoo was a combined dolphin observatory and white tiger habitat. The kids had SO MUCH FUN (and so did the adults).

We especially loved the dolphins. I could've watched these guys play all day. The one laying it's head on the cement was the sweetest little thing ever. I'm pretty sure he (or she) wanted to come home with us.

The box office at Cirque du Soleil's Beatles show, "Love". Watching the kiddos play & dance in the lighted tunnel might have been the highlight of my whole trip. Ruby showed off dance moves I had never seen:)

Don't ask me how, but we ended up at a Senor Frog's for dinner. I wasn't expecting much for the littles, but was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating they were to us. We all ended up leaving the restaurant with happy tummies and some rather ornate balloon hats.

As if our day couldn't get any more exciting, we got to watch the entirely cheesy (and free) pirate show outside of the Treasure Island Hotel. The music and storyline were almost unbearable, but to my 4 year old nephew, it might have been the coolest thing he had ever witnessed.

OH, YEAH! He also met CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW after the show!! It's hard to express the magnitude of this encounter, but believe me when I say it was EPIC. (And does this dude seriously not look exactly like Johnny Depp? Um, hello!).

Ruby also made a few new friends, but she does pretty much wherever she goes:)

I've got a couple more Vegas posts, but they're good ones - trust me!! Thanks for reading, y'all...xx
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