Friday, December 31, 2010

Hasta la bye-bye, 2010

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I could wax eloquent about 2010, about all the good and bad and change and growth it brought.

But I’m tired.  We have been going non-stop with the holiday festivities for a solid month; Seth is continuing to boycott potty training, Erin is teething, and the inner workings of my brain aren’t something you want to be privy to right about now.

So, instead, some NYE linky love.

My dear Mandie, who had a year much like mine, made me just laugh out load with her year end post.

The always eloquent Kelle.  Just go read it.  The post, and the back links.  You won’t regret it, I promise.

And if you just want some mindless-yet-inspiring homey project fun to while away the hours while you wait for the ball to drop, head over to Rhoda’s for a linky party of the best home projects of 2010.

Happy New Year, peeps.  I’d tell you I’ve resolved to be a better blogger in the new year, but….yeah.  I’ll do what I can do, how’s that?

Thank you for being faithful readers this year.  I know that so many of us read in Google Reader, or other feeders, and that makes a big difference in the ease and frequency of commenting, but I know you are out there, and I love you!

Muah!  Welcome, 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours….

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May your holiday be blessed, and may all God’s riches be yours this season.

Love,

Jim, Monica, Seth, and Erin

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You are my sunshine, Little Man

Happy third birthday, Seth James.

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Fighter.  We started the year out with a bang, didn’t we?  I look at that picture of you, sitting in that hospital bed at Vanderbilt, and my heart breaks all over again.  You were so little, and we were so scared.  But you are a fighter, little man.   Other than the day you were born, I don’t know that I’ve ever been so amazed by the creation of your body, your life, and the miracle that you are.

If we could not start out this year with an ambulance ride, that’d be great. ;)

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Hot mess, to quote Miss Jessi.  Dude.  Your hair.  It’s wonder of nature….and it just might be time to sport a new ‘do.  But for now, I see this snapshots of your double crown in the back, and the overgrown widow’s peak in the front, and I can only smile.

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Heart-stealer.  Ah, your favorite people – your grandparents.  Seth, they love you so much.  I hope you have many, many years with them.  One of the redeeming things about coming from a family with a history of divorce is that you, sweet boy, get to benefit from more-than-the-average-number of grandmas and grandpas.

I know that since we moved you to Tennessee, you don’t get to see them as much as you used to…. but know that distance doesn’t dull love.  Oh, who am I kidding? You already know this!  Even the hundreds of miles between you and your grandparents don’t phase you – they are still your best buds, and you talk about them as though they live across the hall.  Here’s to many more shake-milks with your besties.

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Oh, Seth.

This photo ranks top 5 for 2010.  You were so much fun this spring.  (You still are, but man, there was something special about playing with you in the days leading up to welcoming Erin into our home.)  Maybe it was because I was so intent on enjoying my last days with you as my “baby.”  I know all too soon – if not already – you’ll be too big (or at least too busy) to be pushed down the sidewalk on your Little Tykes trike.

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Brother.  I had no idea.  NO idea, when I snapped this picture of Erin’s first minutes home with you, that you would become the light of her world.  Seth, your baby sister ADORES you.  You are her favorite person, hands down, and I love that.  You are the best big brother, and she is so lucky to have you.

I pray that you will always love her and care for her as much as you do right now.  Compassion, tenderness, and a friendly heart will serve you well throughout your life; I’m glad you get to practice those skills with Erin.  I’m glad I get to WATCH you practice with Erin; you are teaching me more and more each day.

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Explorer.  Watching you learn, Seth, is the highlight of my days.  You are so determined to keep up with the big kids – it both warms and wrenches my heart.  On one hand, I want you to stay little, in 18 month shorts and size 4 Crocs.  On the other hand, I know you have to grow.  Your clothes have to get bigger numbers on the tags; your mind has to develop more – even to the point where you can begin to hold a logical argument with me; your world has to broaden, even as I’d hope to shelter you just a little longer.

Keep doing your thing, little man, even if it seems like Mommy isn’t ready.  I’m probably not; but you are.

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Daredevil.  No fear, little one.  You have no fear.  You’ll ride it, jump off it, crawl under it; you’ll build it bigger, stack it higher, throw it further; all with the gusto and gumption us “older” folks envy.  I love seeing you tackle new things, and I hope you’ll always be as curious and open to new things as you are at this stage of your life.  (Except when it comes to all the big no-no’s out there in the world….but you’re only three; we’ll talk about those later.)

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Bailey-bud.  And then there is your buddy, Bailey.  He is your best friend.  And I LOVE that.  Nonna could not have known when she brought you an ease-you-in-Erin present that we’d be getting the best dog ever as a part of our family.

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People-bud, too.  Thankfully, Bailey isn’t your only friend.  You also charm the likes of non-stuffed peeps.  Claire and Aylin are only a couple of the people you love most in your life.  I am so glad that you have such a sweet spirit, and that people like to be around you.  I think you get your social side from me (which is great), but I also think you get your more laid back traits from your dad (which is even better), and that makes you a great little guy to be around.

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Helper.  I know I don’t tell you often enough, but I love that you love to be around me, and that you want to do the things I do.  From bathing Erin, to mixing things up in the kitchen, to vacuuming, though I sometimes get exasperated with having you right underfoot, you are the best sidekick a mommy could ask for.

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Stud.  You’re starting to have some pre-pubescent tendencies.  Stopping to check yourself out in the mirror, closing your door for privacy…it cracks me up, but we’re just rolling with it.  You are becoming more and more your own self each day, and, well, we are just so lucky to be your parents and to be able to sit back and watch the transformation.

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Star-gazer.  No dream is too big, son.  We love you so very much, and are here to support you in your dreams every step of the way.  (Even if that dream is, today, at three years old, a purple unicorn PillowPet!)  No matter what, we love you.  You are God’s greatest gift to us.

Happy third birthday, darling boy.  You are my sunshine, today and always.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Random Thursday Musings

  • I love, love, love the way the sunlight warms up the rooms at the back of our house, especially in the dining room and Seth’s room.  There is just something about the way Sherwin Williams’ Blonde takes in the light and magnifies it hundred-fold.  It just makes me smile.
  • I can’t get used to Erin’s new toothy smile. It has totally transformed her face, and while that’s not a bad thing, my mommy-heart is aching with the cold, hard truth of her growth.
  • Potty training Seth is going to teach me more about patience and compassion that any other parenting experience to date.
  • It really is better to give than receive.  I’m not really anticipating what is under the tree for me – though I will appreciate any gifts; I’m much more excited about what I’ve chosen for my family.  I was much more intentional and thoughtful about what I selected this year, and I hope they all love their gifts as much as I love them (them being the recipient, not the gift, I mean).
  • I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a cup of coffee more than the one I made this morning.  Peppermint Mocha creamer, a favorite mug, no reason to get out of my jammies, and my littles both in a great mood = the perfect way to ease this non-morning-person-momma into the day.
  • I’m not going to stress about not getting a post up for the “show us your tree” part of the Holiday Home link parties.  It’d be simple enough to get a picture or two of our trees, but I’m letting myself off the hook.  However, I am going to indulge, and spend the rest of my coffee time browsing some links posted at the party.

Hope y’all are having a great day!  Anything random bouncing around in your head that you’d like to share?  Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear what’s going on with you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Picnik fun

As a mommy-reward for potty training going so well today, I’m spending a little nap time playing in Picnik.

I’m thinking of making these into canvases to hang somewhere in the house.

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love his features too

I already have canvases I could apply them to, so I’d be an easy, inexpensive project.  I love them, but that’s just me….  Opinions?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Craft 2010

It’s so basic it’s almost embarrassing, but hey, I’m a busy mom with two little ones who have a tendency to destroy things, so we keep it pretty simple around here.

So far, this concept has taken me from fall to winter seamlessly.  The formula is pretty much foolproof.

Take any number of any size (cleaned and de-labeled) glass jar – think spaghetti sauce, pickles, baby food, etc.) and fill with something seasonal.  Embellish as desire and time permits.

For fall, I filled my jars with candy corn, and tied a simple orange ribbon around the neck.

For the holidays, I did this:

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The jars were filled with sparkly, ribbon-y, bag filler, and although the lids were already spray painted black, I went a step further, and covered the top with some super-wide candy cane-ish ribbon I had stuffed in a box of gift wrap.  I merely used a rubber band to hold the ribbon in place, and then covered the rubber band with some narrow gold wired ribbon.

Placed on the end table in the living room along with Seth’s Santa pictures, the jars add a festive touch that I’m not super invested in, if, for example, inquiring little hands would happed to deconstruct. ;)  And, of course, there is the added bonus of getting to reuse the jars (and bag filler) for years to come.

Head over to Kate’s blog for Part III of the Holiday Home parties for more crafty inspiration.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

I “big, pink, puffy-heart” Shutterfly

And apparently, they big, pink, puffy-heart bloggers, because they are giving away 50 free holiday cards to bloggers!

All you have to do is share about the offer and you've got yourself 50 free cards! Just click HERE to register.

They have so many layouts for Christmas cards that I’m having a hard time narrowing my selection down…. that, and the fact that I have an awesome photographer friend who just got us some awesome shots of our family, so I’m having a hard time narrowing those down, too.

How about you?  Have you selected your holiday cards yet?  Do you even send cards?  Last year was the first year I did so, and now I’m hooked.  There are just so many awesome designs out there!

Even if  you don’t send out cards, there are some other great items like gift tags or return address labels that will add a festive touch, whether it be to the gift, or the credit card bill that bought the gift!

Whether or not you have a blog, and can take advantage of this offer, I think Shutterfly will be able to meet all your  holiday stationary needs.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vignette 2010

It’s simple and straightforward.  I have other little spots around the house that are more creative or elaborate or impressive.

But this little scene is everything I love about decorating for the holidays.

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A silver Pottery Barn candlestick – a thrift store steal at $1.  A beautiful large basin  -- also a thrift store steal at only $2.  Pinecones from the yard, with a select few painted gold.  A baby poinsettia from the market.  And my all-time favorite scent from Yankee Candle filtering through the house.

Every time I walk by the piano, I smile.  This, to me,  is Christmas at it’s finest.

See you over at Rhoda’s for Link Up Holiday Party Part II.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mantle 2010

Being pregnant (and working hard to keep it a secret from my mom) kept me away from the majority of the holiday link-up parties around ye ol’ blogosphere last year.  So, although I decorated for the 2009 holidays, y’all didn’t get a chance to see much of it.

This year, there are no secret pregnancies, so, yea!  I can share photos with the world Mom!

First on the docket is the 2010 Mantle Party, hosted by Layla via The Lettered Cottage.

The entries will blow you away, and load you up with inspiration if you have yet to decorate your mantle.  Be sure to head over there if you have an hour or ten to spend on blog-hopping.  (If time doesn’t allow that luxury, just look at my pictures!)

It’s taken several years, but last year, we were able to complete our Willow Tree nativity.  It took me a while to come up with a “backdrop” of sorts, since our mantel is so long, and the wall above it so high and narrow.  Glittered rattan stars from Old Time Pottery above the manger, and natural pinecones from my mom’s home in Florida flanking each end, finally gave me the look I wanted.

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Our family stockings hang, for now, in front of the (wood-burning-which-is-why-we-don’t-use-it-with-little-ones) fireplace and chimney.  It works, since we don’t actually fill them (since we spend Christmas elsewhere), but if ever we are home for Christmas morning, I think the stockings might move to the open staircase banister…

(And, yes, I know I need to have Erin’s stocking embroidered.  I’ll get right on that…)

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One of my favorite things about our mantel/fireplace is how I’ve dressed up the firebox, since we don’t use it.  It’s nothing complicated –  a sampler from my grandma, a few more pinecones, everyday glassware with extra bulbs and ornaments, and some jute-wrapped vases I had lying around.   I think the sparkle, though, adds so much to what would otherwise be a drab spot.

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Last year, I even had some candles in amongst the jars, creating a great spot for some photo ops:

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And finally, just a $5 Kroger bloom in a usually-has-a-hosta-in-it pot, set with a stocking holder we aren’t using this year, and that’s it!

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It’s nothing extraordinary, but it reflects me and my tastes and I love sitting in the room looking at it.  Since our two trees are in other rooms of the house, the mantle has solo holiday-inspiring duty for the living room.

Speaking of the trees…..you’ll see those soon enough!

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In addition to Layla’s party today, Rhoda (SouthernHospitalityblog.com) is hosting a “Christmas Vignette” linky party on December 2nd; Kate (CentsationalGirl.com) is hosting a “Christmas Craft” linky party on December 7th; and Sarah (ThriftyDecorChick.com) will wrap up the Holiday Home event by hosting a “Christmas Tree” linky party on December 9th.

I don’t know that I can participate in the craft one….unless I count the bag-filler-stuffed-pickle-jars adorning my end tables…..I’ll have to think about that one.  But as for the other two, count me in!  See you at the party, Interpeeps!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Full circle

So, I’ve been away from the blog for about 3 weeks.  Which I’m pretty sure is as long as I’ve ever gone between posts in the three-plus years I’ve been writing.  I’d had grand plans of coming back with some great post, which would not only explain my absence, but also draw you back into reading with my wonderful, witty writing.

Yeah.

That’s not gonna happen.

Instead, I’m going to merely share with y’all an email I received last night from my dear friend Sara.

But before I do, here is the back story.

Back in June, I wrote a whiny post about my disappointment in Erin’s hemangioma.  At just a few weeks old, it looked like this:

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It’s grown a little bit:

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But for the most part, I don’t even notice it any more….though I’d say, on average, at least once a week, I am questioned about it by someone.

One of those someone’s is dear Zeke, who is quite smitten with our Miss Erin:

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Anyways, Zeke was just here visiting us (with his family, too), so some quality time with his bride-to-be prompted the thought process that led to the conversation that facilitated this email from Zeke’s mommy:

So Zeke walks up to me in the kitchen to get his bowl of popcorn.

His shirt is off & I see a giant hicky (hickey?) on his left bicep.

I say, "Zeke! Where did you get that bruise?!" not realizing what it was at first. He looks at me like a deer in headlights. Then I realize that it was the perfect location to be a self-induced suck mark. I ask him, "Honey, why did you do that to yourself?"

His response? "Because I wanted to have a bruise mark like Erin."

Sooooo...I told him that it was NOT a bruise mark, but a birthmark & God gave Erin that special mark while she was still in your belly and that God & I don't approve of sucking on oneself.

Sweet goodness, the conversations I have to have with that child.

And to think, just a few months ago, I was wishing her mark away.  Now, it’s just a part of her – a part that identifies her to others.  I love it about her now.  As do others who know her.  I hope she will carry it confidently as she grows.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Family pictures 2010

We are so blessed to have a wonderful photographer built into one of our dearest friendships.

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Not only is Jessi a great friend who loves my children like her own, she is a very talented photographer.  And she bravely undertook our family photo session this year.  I say brave, because we requested she do not only our family, but Doug and Sara’s brood, too.

So, that’s 9 people, with 5 children ranging in ages 6 months to 5 years.  That’s brave, people.  (Or insane, but let’s go with brave.)

I couldn’t be happier with the results:

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Thank you, Jessi, for your willingness to tackle all of us, and for your amazing talent!

Friday, November 19, 2010

An early celebration

One was so intermingled with our move from Ohio to Tennessee, it didn’t really have the emotional sucker punch that society usually insinuates.

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Two didn’t really phase me, either.

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But three?

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Yeah, three was a doozy that no one warned me about.

Insensitive parents that we are, in 2007, Jim and I welcomed Seth into the world dangerously close to the present-infested, celebration-overloaded Christmas holiday, so we knew that this year – the first year that he really understood the wonderment of his own birthday celebration – we wanted to make sure to pick a day for him that a) would be separate from the grandparent plethora of holiday gifts, and b) early enough in the season that his best buddies (and their families) would be able to attend (rather than already have every available date filled with holiday gatherings.

So.

We had Seth’s third birthday party a whole month before he actually turned three, and it was a great success.

The best part of the celebration was that Doug and Sara and their brood traveled from Ohio to spend the weekend with us.  And Sara brought her to-die-for caramel corn for the party favors (thank you, SJ!).
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I learned several things, in this, my first child’s-birthday-party-throwing endeavor.

  1. A three year old has a lot of friends.  I mean, really.  Each person invited to his party is a very big part of Seth’s life (and ours, too, and we love him/her).  However, seven or eight “besties,” in our case, come with at least one sibling, and since I’m of the “more is merrier” mindest, both parents, too.  Which made for a LOT of people, both big and small, in my house.  Probably not going to do that again. ;)
  2. I’m not Betty Crocker when it come to baking, and I’m certainly not Martha Stewart when it comes to prettying up said baked goods.   I decided to make my favorite cake recipe into cupcakes…which was fine, except that the “icing” for said cake is cool-whip based…..and that doesn’t hold up well unrefrigerated.  So, yea.  I had “frosting” falling off these cupcakes like molten lava.

    No matter, apparently, as I was repeatedly told that they were yummy, and they disappeared pretty fast.  But still.  Next year?  I’m totally getting a sheet cake from Publix.

I have to give major props to Seth for being so great with all his new presents.  I mean, really.  A three year old hasn’t pull from a pretty deep reserve of selflessness to not go completely “THAT’S MINE!!!!!” at his own birthday party, and Seth did great.  He thanked how friends (or, their mommies, as the case may be), and even allowed his besties/frenemies Hayden, Gage, and Tabitha to look at (and in some cases, even touch!) his new toys.

People say that babies born close to the holidays get the raw end of the deal when it comes to celebration.  Um, no.  Not in this house.  In addition to his November party, Seth will also get a celebration with us on his actual birthday, and most likely, again in Florida before Christmas.

Thankfully, amid all the material trappings, Seth seems to be maintaining his sweet spirit, and I can only hope any birthday parties to come were as fun and rewarding as this one!

(That said….I’m thinking his next party will be when he’s…….I dunno, eight, maybe?  These things are a lot of work!)

Happy early birthday, buddy.  Work or not, you’re worth it, and I love you!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let me give you a tip

Maybe you already know this.  Maybe I should have known, but I didn’t.

So, in the interest of saving you, reader, some effort, planning, eventual disappointment, and mayhaps even a last-minute dash to the grocery store for a substitute fruit for your next MOPS meeting/potluck/get together/baby shower/whathaveyou…

There is no point in freezing watermelon when it is in season, thinking that when the cold days of fall and winter descend, you’ll be oh-so-happy to have a small taste of summer goodness still at your fingertips.  You won’t, trust me.

Because you can’t freeze and then thaw watermelon and expect it to remain firm.  It won’t.  It will, however, be the exact opposite of firm.  Which, in this case, is slime.

And that just doesn’t cut the mustard in the “lovely fruit platter presentation” category.

So.

Watermelon in the trash at the curb; me, off to Kroger for a nice bunch of fresh – not frozen – grapes and berries.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ready or not…

….here we come, Gramma!

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Maybe I shouldn’t have packed his suitcase on Monday, since we aren’t taking him to Gramma’s until Friday.  He has been telling me, “let’s go, Mom,” and, literally, throwing his suitcase down the stairs for four days now.

Notwithstanding the dents in the stairwell, I’m glad he is excited about his trip to Gramma and Grandpa’s house.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Am I crazy?

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  Do y’all see it, too?  I know my mother-in-law does, and I know that this isn’t an ideal comparison shot, but truly…you see it right?  She IS her daddy’s girl…

Monday, November 1, 2010

Git ‘er done…???

Okay, Interpeeps.  Supposedly, I have at least 128 people “following” my blog.  Between them, my mom, and Sara, somebody should be able to help me answer the question hanging over my head this week.

How does a stay-at-home mom juggle getting stuff done, while still being present for/engaging with/tending to her children?

Point in case:  I have four days to prepare my family for 10 days away from home.  Suitcases need to be packed for four people, for time spent in a variety of climates, for a variety of functions.  Not just clothes, but baby paraphernalia/breast milk/favorite toys.  Meals need to be planned/prepped/executed for the week that will both nourish and deplete the perishables in the pantry/fridge.  Laundry, too.  Erin’s well-baby check-up on Wednesday (and did I mention she is not-so-well?  Poor lil’ miss is sick).  That’s just the list off the top of my head.

All the while, I feel like I’m neglecting my littles.  Seth is asking for Diego, [Imagination] Movers, and Backyard[igans] in turn, which to me = too much Playhouse Disney and Nick Jr.  Erin, bless her heart, is plopped in the exersaucer or onto the playmat, snot and all, while I “chore.”

It all needs to get done, but I want time to  love on my kids, too.  Seth is getting old enough to recognize where he falls on the priority chart, and I want him to know he is at the tip-top. It wasn’t so much of an issue when there was only one underfoot, and he was content to “help” with the chores…but now.

I'm on the TO Do list

Advice?  Tips?  C’mon, people.  Blogger lets you leave a comment for a reason.  Talk to me!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

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Our weekend has been crazy busy and crazy fun, leaving little energy for creative writing to accompany these great pictures.

But I think they speak for themselves: I pretty much have the cutest kids in the world; I feel like I get some mommy-brownie-points for making sure even Bailey had a costume this year; and I think people who say Erin looks like me are nuts!  She is her daddy’s carbon copy through and through!

Hope y’all enjoyed the sugary holiday as much as we did!

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