Washington Christmas 2014

2014 was a year of firsts. Christmas was no exception. This was the first Christmas I have ever spent away from my parents and little brother. It is also the first Christmas I've ever had the joy of sharing my favorite holiday with Dave's family out in Michigan. Before we made the long plane ride to Grand Rapids though, we had to celebrate Christmas early with my family in Seattle. We're so spoiled! Two Christmases with two amazing, loving families. We really lucked out.

Connor was too busy running laps around my parents house to really get too into unwrapping the presents (I'm sure this will quickly change). But he had quite the haul at the end of the day. I'm pretty sure our little guy has more stuff than Dave and I put together. Always a good problem to have :) Christmas has always been big in my parents house and this was no exception. We had a great time together opening presents, eating delicious food, working on puzzles (Dad, Jon, & Dave destroyed a puzzle in under 3 hours...ridiculous), and watching the Seahawks win another football game! Go Hawks!

Now it's time to celebrate with the Michigan family. Although I know I'll miss celebrating with my family and getting to see my Nana down in Arizona, I also know this is going to be an awesome Christmas in Michigan. Can't wait to see them all.

Pray for snow!!! I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

Connor's First Birthday Party

Tis the season of all the parties!! We kick things off early November 6th with Dave's birthday and then straight into our anniversary November 10th, then Thanksgiving, then the Christmas concert (which we only attend but have to prepare for), Connor's birthday, and finally Christmas and New Years. Throw in the handful of close friends we have that happen to also have early December birthdays and you can imagine that we're busy. So although I felt like the week leading up to Connor's birthday party was a little bit crazy!

Since he's a Christmas baby, I wanted to use the Christmas decorations that we already had up to supplement his party decor. So I ended up going with a sort of spin on the little prince theme. By that I mean I made a bunch of little kid crowns and used sparkly paper everywhere. It was fun! We were amazed at how many of our friends (and Connor's) were able to join us. It made it extra special that so many people showed up to love on Connor-man and his first birthday!!

We celebrated with little kids running around everywhere in prince and princess crowns. Connor received SO MANY GIFTS. We definitely needed a refresh on toys and books so I'm a very happy momma. Connor played all day with his new toys and was way more occupied than normal. Nice for me - I could actually get some chores done! Connor also got to try Funfetti cake for the first time. He was pretty into it. Best part was his two buddies who are closest to him in age joined in the cake eating too! Just walked right up to the high chair and grabbed a handful of smash cake Ilea & Julia were pregnant with Thatcher and Kennedy at the same time that I was pregnant with Connor. They're all about a month apart with Thatcher being the oldest, Kennedy in the middle, and Connor being the youngest. They're cute friends together. It is also funny that unlike all the photos you see of kids eating cake on their birthday, Connor did not smash the cake all over himself. In fact, he slowly and deliberately ate little pinches of frosting. I barely had to clean him up afterwards.

We forgot to sing happy birthday until sweet little Maisey asked if she could start the song. Obviously I have not done this before...normally you would sing as you bring the cake out right? Face palm. Oh well he doesn't know the difference, right? It really was such a good time. We still can't get over how many people joined us to celebrate his first birthday.

My Aunt Paige & Uncle Alan even drove all the way from Port Townsend to join us! I've talked about Aunt Paige before on this blog and I pretty much always credit her largely for my love of crafts (although my immediate family is pretty crafty too! Looking at you mom and dad!). She had an ulterior motive for coming out - CHRISTMAS VILLAGE! Oh my gosh you guys...my childhood dream has come true. This is a story for another post though! Get hyped. Christmas village post coming soon!

THANK YOU to everyone who came and everyone who brought gifts. The joy of your company made the night extra special. Love you all.

Christmas Concert 2014

This year we were actually able to attend our friends the Walter's Christmas Concert. They have been hosting this party for 7 years running now. We weren't able to go last year because Connor was literally days old and we were still in the hospital.

The Christmas Concert is a fancy holiday party where everyone dresses up and the Walters provide AMAZING holiday themed food, cocktails, and party games. It's pretty incredible. The only catch is, to attend you have to provide the entertainment! Every couple comes armed with a Christmas-themed act. Since this was our first year attending we had no frame of reference for what was expected of us. We knew some people sang while other people did skits...well neither of us have the most impressive singing voices and I hate acting...so we decided to film our act.

After Wes & Leslie finished their interpretation of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, it was our turn. Our film is called Connor Saves Christmas. It's the night before Christmas and mom and dad are too exhausted from being new parents to put the Christmas decorations up...guess we won't have Christmas this year. BUT WAIT...there's a little elf ready to jump in and save the day.

Please excuse the potato quality. This was quite the learning experience...maybe next year's video will be higher quality ;) ENJOY!

Connor's First Birthday

Today one year ago you were just hours away from being born. We'd been in the hospital since early the night before. Daddy and I were so excited to meet you that as soon as the contractions started we went right to the hospital...way too early. Thankfully we did, since I ended up having pre-eclampsia with you. You were born at 5:30 in the evening and you were absolutely perfect. So healthy. So handsome. Just the sweetest little bundle. I held you for the first time and knew life would never be the same. Our family became whole with you. So many things that had seemed important before were immediately rendered inconsequential compared to you.

Your dad and I had no idea what we were doing. We didn't even know how to put you in the car seat properly...the super young nurse's aid had to help us. You were pretty nice to us though. Just the calmest, sweetest little guy. All you wanted was to be held all the time and we were happy to oblige. We didn't sleep much this last year, but it was totally worth it. A lifetime of sleep deprivation is a price I would happily pay over and over again just to have you.

Now you're one year old. You're walking (and running?) everywhere. You have the funniest little personality. You're so curious and reserved. You reserve your smiles for only the funniest of jokes (daddy peak-a-boo), but have the best belly laugh when you are really enjoying yourself. You're feeding yourself - although if you had you're way you'd prefer a strict diet of toaster waffles and Gerber cheese puffs. Sorry honey, looks like you inherited momma's picky pallet.

We have so many hopes and dreams for you. Some more meaningful than others. I hope you love learning and reading. I hope you're creative and expressive. I hope you stand up for yourself and others. I hope you never have to be afraid. I hope you know mommy and daddy will always be there for you and will always love you no matter what. I hope you love the Lord and live your life according to that love. I hope you and your (future) siblings are the best of friends. I hope all your dreams come true. I hope you never have your heart broken. I hope you play soccer, but not football. I hope you don't drive too fast when you get your drivers license. I hope you don't sag your jeans. I hope you go to U.W. so you can stay close to home and be a Husky...I mostly hope you aren't a Cougar cause the drive to Pullman sucks. I hope you live a very long and healthy life. I hope you, daddy, and I will always be close and that someday when you're all grown up that we can be friends too.

This first year with you has been the best year ever. I know this year will be just as sweet if not better. My life will never be the same because of you, and I couldn't be more grateful. I love you so much little buddy.


2 Year Anniversary

Well folks, we made it. TWO YEARS. Wooo! In two years together, Dave and I have bought a house in a new neighborhood, had a precious baby boy, switched churches twice, flown to Arizona, driven to Michigan, watched my little brother graduate college, watch Dave's little brother get married to his beautiful wife...so much happens in just two years.

Before I met Dave, all my married friends would tell me: marriage is a real commitment, it is hard work. This is all true...but being married to Dave has been the best "hard work" I've ever had to do. Honestly, it's not hard at all. It's really easy and really wonderful. Someday I expect that those challenges will happen and I can only pray that we'll be ready for them as a team when they do come. But for now I'm pretty much just enjoying being married to my best friend. I know Dave thinks he "married up", but I'm pretty convinced I'm the lucky one to have snagged him.

So for those of you who didn't want to read some mushy ramblings of how much I love my husband, here's an update on what we did for our 2 year anniversary....

Dave planned an overnight for us in downtown Seattle!! Ever since we took this hilariously awesome food tour in Pike Place Market with Dave's parents we knew we had to go back and try all the amazing food our tour guide was gushing about. So Saturday afternoon we dropped Connor off with my parents and headed to theInn at the Market right in the heart of Pike Place.

OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was glorious. We were stuck in Seattle traffic on our way downtown and I turned to Dave...We could be stuck in traffic for HOURS and I wouldn't care. There is no crying baby in the backseat who is late for his afternoon nap, or is hungry, or is cranky, or just doesn't want to be in his car seat anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my little guy...but I didn't realize how badly I needed a night with just Dave and I until we were there.

Our trip was basically just about walking around Pike Place and EATING ALL THE THINGS. Once downtown we headed to Pike Place Chowder. So good. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Sitting outside in the cool crisp winter* air was perfectly complimented by steaming hot creamy seafood chowder. Then we wandered around the market before making our way back to the hotel to relax before heading out again to dinner.

For dinner we went to Zig Zag Cafe (know for their cocktails), where we split a burger and drank some of the best mixed drinks I've ever tasted.. Then we slept ALL NIGHT. I haven't slept through the night since I was like 7 months pregnant. Sweet, sweet sleep. Breakfast was at Cafe Champagne, a sweet little Parisian cafe next door to our hotel. Mmmm delicious baked goods. Of course we had to stop off at the Original Starbucks (thankfully the line was really short otherwise we would not have been interested) and then grabbed some delicious donuts from Daily Dozen Donut Company. Talk about feeling spoiled.

Heading back to my parents house to watch the Seahawks and play with Connor we felt so refreshed. What an awesome two years it's been. Lucky me, I have an awesome husband.

*I know it's technically not winter yet, but winter seriously feels like it's in full force already over here in the PNW. Don't judge Midwest family...just cause it's not snowing over here doesn't mean it's not cold by Western Washington standings ;) ;)

Halloween Party 2014

Kirsten : "So are you guys going to throw a Halloween party this year?"

Me : "Um I don't know, we weren't planning on it, but I guess we could?"

Kirsten : "You should cause I just came up with a GREAT family costume idea but we have nowhere to go..."

Me : "Let's do it. You guys co-host with us?"

Kirsten : "Yup"

And that is the story of how we decided to throw a big Halloween party this year. We invited all our friends and neighbors and spent the last few months making our costumes and a Halloween decorations. We had a hard time at first trying to come up with a good family Halloween costume idea. We were standing in Costco looking at the baby Halloween costumes when inspiration struck. How to Train your Dragon...so off to the fabric store we went.

For Connor's costume I was able to use a black hooded onesie. I researched quite a few tutorials on making dragon wings and found the best one here. Dave's costume was just patterned after some of his shirts. My costume on the other hand was so intense. All the tutorials I could find on Astrid were from cosplayers...which meant I had to hand make all my pieces out of clay and then hand paint them. That's 10 small bird sculls, 54 spikes, and 50 small brackets. Then I had to paint them all to look like metal and try to attach them to my skirt and pauldrons. My skirt probably weighed a good 20 pounds.

The kicker? Kirsten called me up after seeing my Pinterest Halloween board blow up with How to Train Your Dragon tutorial...

Kirsten : "So I'm pretty sure we're the same thing for Halloween"

Me : "REALLY? We're How to Train Your Dragon! What are you??

Kirsten : "Oh good, we're Valkyries and Vikings...so sort of not the same thing?"

Me : "Welp, too late now"

Kirsten : "Yup"

Normally the Walters keep their Halloween costumes a big secret until Halloween day to surprise everyone...so this year we got to find out early :) A few of our other friends also do Halloween day costume reveals so as the day approached we all started to worry that we were all going to be vikings...thankfully it turned out everyone came up with pretty unique ideas! We had the Lego Movie characters, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, some Bulvarians, Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother Wolf, Valkyries & Vikings, How to Train Your Dragon, Batman & Robin, and some pirates at our party last night.

It was fun to catch up with everyone (although we sorely missed seeing a few friends whose kiddos got sick this week). There was good food, good drinks, and great conversation. The kids played games and watched halloween Curious George while the adults actually had uninterrupted adult conversations. Crazy!

Most importantly: prizes were won!

  • Best Couples Costume : Wes & Leslie as Little Red Riding Hood & Grandmother Wolf (Wes was Red)
  • Most Creative Costume :
  • Best Group Costume: The Walters as Valkyries and Vikings
  • Best Kid's Costume : Connor as Toothless Nightfury
  • Best Individual Costume :  Leslie (she literally came up with her costume hours before showing up)
  • Honorable Mention: The Bannisters as Goldilocks and the Three Bears (those bear heads were seriously cool)

The food was also a lot of fun. People brought some pretty tasty items to share! I spent most of Thursday baking the spider cookies, rice krispie treats, and the sugar cookies. The sugar cookies were just a pre-made mix from Costco with your basic cream cheese frosting. The rice krispie treats were also just squared rice krispies dipped in melty chocolate and sprinkles. The spider cookies were actually from a standard peanut butter cookie recipe where I substituted in nutella (because I forgot to pick up peanut butter at the store). Truffle chocolates cut in half for the spider heads and then just standard store bought tube frosting for the legs and eyes. Oh yea and the punch! The punch was two big bottles of 7up, 2 cans of frozen lemonade, one packet of frozen strawberries and like 3 cups of gin?? SO GOOD.

Decorations were also hand made...this party has convinced me to really research a die cut machine because I hope to never cut out that many tiny things by hand ever again. I think Carson counted 140+ bats? Thankfully I had a tiny hole punch and a circle punch for the circle garlands :) My favorite part though was the photobooth. Kirsten found this awesome snarly old branch in her back yard and we strung it up with fishing wire...seriously so cool.

All in all it was seriously such a fun party! I think we may have to make this more of a tradition! Maybe do a better job getting invites out to the neighbors sooner (than the day before) next time! At least I get to box up all the decorations and save them...if there is a next time it won't be half so intensive!

Thanks to those that were able to join us for helping make the party such a success and so much fun! We missed those who couldn't come, maybe next time? :)

Park Dates

It's officially September here in Washington and that means the summer is ending. Although summer break hasn't ended for University of Washington students just yet, the start of the rainy season is upon us! So while the cooler weather has begun its slow creep back into our lives the past few weeks, the sun decided to make its final (probably?) stand this week! So it good Seattlite-fashion we had to take advantage of it!

One thing that I love about living in Seattle is that people here go bananas over good weather. When the sun comes out, the parks will be packed and shorts will be worn...regardless of temperature. Washington does parks well, and Sammamish is no exception. There is a great park right down the road from us that has a fun little splash pad for the kiddos, a full playground, a giant grass field, and a beautiful pavilion.

So my dear friend Kirsten invited us out to the park to get the last semblance of a tan to last us all winter and get our kiddos out of the house before the cabin fever of winter starts to set in! I love these fellow moms so much. We have felt so lucky to move into a neighborhood where we have made so many friends so quickly. These ladies and their sweet kiddos are such a blessing to me, and they are just a snapshot of the relationships that we have begun to build in Sammamish.

Hooray for park babies and summer sun! Looks like next time we meet up at the park we'll be in our galoshes and rain coats! That's okay though, I'm terrible at summer clothes. I hardly feel myself without my boots and trench coats. I guess that's what living your whole life in Washington will do to you.

Port Orchard Trip

Well we are back in the great Pacific Northwest! It's been wonderful to be home, although we do miss those mornings of sleeping in while Connor plays with the grandparents!

It's been a super eventful month back. We finally got around to taking my parents (+ Jon) out to Herb Farm. This was supposed to be our 'thank you for paying for our beautiful wedding' gift...it just got delayed by quite a bit since we got pregnant 3 months into our marriage! Well this way Jon got to tag along so we could celebrate his graduation (again!) from WSU. I love having Jon back on the west side of the state again. The gangs all here! Bonus: Casey and Nancy got to babysit Connor and he slept 8 hours straight that night. What a champ. Good times were had by all.

Speaking of sleep, Connor has been going through the magical 9 month sleep regression. I think we may have just turned the corner last night. He slept 11 hours straight last night. Oh sweet bliss. This is soooo much better than the waking up every 2 hours business that he was trying to pull earlier this week. He also has 6 teeth now, for those of you keeping track! 2 on the bottom and 4 on top. He no longer is allowed to gnaw on fingers...ouch!

This last weekend we got to go on a fun adventure over to Port Orchard, WA to visit good friends from church. We love this family. They used to be in our community group at church until Guy was given a new position at the Fire Station over there which allowed him to stop community from Sammamish to Port Orchard (wow!) and move his family over. While we miss them loads, they have quite the sweet setup over there and now we have a great excuse to go visit! We were able to kick back and relax in their beautiful mother-in-law suite above their garage and spend some great quality time with them while exploring Port Orchard.

We made it back just in time Saturday night to get a good night's sleep before getting our house ready for mom's birthday! The festivities including eating delicious food and drinking wine while watching the football game. The 49ers are looking scary (again) this year. Here's hoping the Seahawks can hold onto their title!!

While running around doing all of these other fun activities, I have started getting this blog in ship-shape to be able to support a little portfolio for my own graphic design work. Recently I started partnering with my mom who does database work for a variety of private clients. Getting paid to do something that I love and put skills learned in my college degree to work sounds pretty good to me! You can check it out here. Please don't judge, it's not fully completed yet!

Also if you've been keeping up with the news on our church you know we're going through some rough times as a congregation. We would love your prayers and good thoughts coming our way as we work through what to do as a family with the new information.