Friday, December 28, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Sarah's 3rd Birthday

Sarah's birthdays drive me nuts right now.  She's only 3 and I still can't figure out how to handle the birthday being so close to Christmas thing with her.  Last year we just kept it small and it was Chris, Cody, me, and Sarah's "Aunts" Susan, Steffanie, and Cam who celebrated it.  We went to a movie, came home had ice cream and opened presents in front of the Christmas tree.  I really am fine with that, except doing it in front of the tree bugged me.  I really want to have a clear separation of birthday and Christmas for her especially as she gets older.  I don't want her to feel slighted or like her special day is ignored because of a holiday.  (See, I'm a July birthday.  My birthday was and still is awesome every year.  Summer birthdays are just better...must remember that for child planning.)

This year I'm working on something "beary" special for her.  She's going to have her birthday party at Build a Bear.  We are so ridiculous excited about that.  Sarah's excited because she's going to build a princess bear.  Right now she insists its going to be dressed like and called Cinderella.  She's thrilled that she gets to invite friends.  Her guest list was pretty extensive.  When I asked her who she wanted to invite she said, in this order, "Jessie! Uncle Pete, Auntie Cam, Aunt Susan, Aunt Steffanie, Cody, Daddy, Me! (as in herself), Mommy, and Jesus."  We've since revisited her list a few times and come up with a good mix of friends to invite to her party.

I'm crazy excited because after the over board party I threw for Cody I've realized I don't like doing that.  I don't like stressing about food, and favors, and entertainment, and how to fit everyone some where.  Nope.  I don't to do that.  So for about the same cost, if not less, I get to take Sarah and 7 of her friends to build a bear.  I don't have to decorate, cook, clean, or really do anything other than show up and pay the bill.  Wahoo!  We're doing it a couple of weeks after Christmas too to make sure that the mall is all de-Christmas-fied and we can focus on it just being a birthday celebration.  And what makes it even better is that the day before Sarah's party Build a Bear is actually releasing a Disney Princess themed bear.  So she will actually get to make a Princess bear like she's been telling me!  How perfect is that.  So in a couple of days all I have to do is go online and print out the free invitations and mail them to her friends and then sit back and enjoy the party, and watch all the girls have a great time making their own furry friends.  Best. Birthday. Ever.

But you can't have a birthday with out a few presents so I'm going to stick with celebrating with whatever family we're with on her actually birthday.  Just a small cake-and-presents celebration to let her know that December 22nd is special and just for her.

This year we were in Pine Bluff with my parents so they got to do the birthday celebrating with Sarah.  Mom was so nice to get Sarah a pink cake and balloons just as she requested.  (Remember, since daddy's birthday Sarah has been wanting a pink cake and been obsessed with balloons.)

 Excited to open presents!
 Cute new clothes from Uncle Pete and Tia Elizabeth
 A new Furry Friend sent from Build a Bear with a Happy Birthday Shirt, cupcake, and a special note inside wishing her a "Beary Happy Birthday".  Thanks Amy at Build a Bear who's been helping me plan Sarah's party!
 Tearing the paper off in little bits as fast as she can to get to what she's been asking for for over 6 months:
 It's ARIEL!  She exclaimed.  She is absolutely in love with this doll.  She saw them at Walmart over the summer and said that she wanted it then.  We've visited them at Costco many times where I told her they lived.  And she was thrilled that this Ariel came home to live with her.  I was a little worried though because just this past week all of a sudden she started saying she wanted Cinderella.  
 Some new clothes and a Rapunzel dress up dress from Grandma and Grandpa Smith.  
 She loves her new princess gown and will be wearing it to her Birthday Party next month.  

 Singing Happy Birthday to our Princess.  

She had a very happy birthday.  Her favorite gifts are the Ariel doll and Princess dress.  My favorite gift is the Minnie Mouse rolling luggage that Grandma and Grandpa Schwartz gave her.  Sarah likes it too mind you.  She proudly rolled it out of their house and gladly helped me pack it for our trip to my parents house and then rolled it in there.  But I LOVE that thing!  It is so cool and adorable.  I'm going to have to keep my eye out for a matching Mickey Mouse one for Cody.  In fact, we need to run to the mall today and Disney is having their semi-annual sale.  Perhaps I'll get lucky.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Schwartz's vs The 12 Days of Christmas (updated)

On the 1st Day of Christmas the Schwartzs visited Redneck Santa at Bass Pro Shop

To kick off our Christmas celebrations we went to Santa Land at Bass Pro Shop.  It's a fun and free way to see Santa.  Way better than heading to the mall.  They have games and crafts for the kids.
 Cody tried out the kiddie camping gear.
 Nanook of the North tried on the furry hats.
 Cody wanted nothing to do with Santa.  Nothing!  He flipped out.  But Santa was nice enough to hold him and smile while asking the elves if they got the picture yet.  
Sarah enjoyed meeting Santa.  I couldn't quite hear what they were talking about.  I'm not sure if he asked her what she wanted for Christmas or if she was just talking about all her favorite toys and her favorite color.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas the Schwartzs drove around our neighborhood looking for lights.
No pictures of that.  Sorry.  It's us in a car, not very photo worthy.

On the 3rd Day of Christmas the Schwartzs went had Breakfast with Santa at the Firestation.
Tina (top left picture with Sarah) told us about the local volunteer firestation's annual breakfast with Santa and we decided to check it out.  It was wonderful!  They have a big breakfast with all the fixings, a coloring contest for the kiddos, and christmas tree waffle cone decorating.  

Then it was time to sit with Santa.  Again, Cody wanted NOTHING to do with it.  Sarah was ready and ran right up there.  This Santa was great.  He asked her what she wanted and talked to her about her baby brother.  Look at that huge smile on her face.  She's loving talking to Santa.

They even had someone there taking pictures for you and then you gave them your email address and they sent you the pictures they took.  I love this one of Sarah and Santa.

We dared to take a family picture with Santa.  It took a few minutes for Cody to stop crying.  He was pretty sure we were going to hand him off any minute the man in the suit.  Oh well, maybe next year he'll be ready to sit on Santa's lap.

On the 4th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs made Jingle Bell Wreaths.
 Sunday we made wreaths with pipe cleaners and jingle bells.  Sarah put the jingle bells on the pipe cleaner and then I helped her wrap it around a pencil.  
Cody didn't want to take a picture with his jingle bell wreath but we did snap this cute one of him with his reindeer antlers.  He only let them stay on because he didn't know they were there.  

On the 5th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs strolled Starry Nights.
 This year I heard that on Mondays Starry Nights is car free.  You can walk, bike, roller blade, or even pay for a carriage ride.  Lots of people brought their dogs which Cody was so excited about.  He loves dogs right now.  We asked the Williams if they wanted to go with us and we had a great time.  It took longer than I anticipated but I also walk really slow and I didn't think about the fact that when you drive through it, you do just that drive THROUGH.  If you walk it, you still have to turn around and walk back to your car!  So I think we spent about 3 hours there if you count from getting in line to try to get into Shelby Farms to getting out of there after watching a few people get towed out of the mud.
I loved walking it!  I think that's the best way to enjoy Starry Nights.  I dare say I like walking Starry Nights more than Zoo lights.  It wasn't too cold for us adults because you know, we were walking.  But Sarah's legs were pretty cold when I was changing her into her pjs.  Still she said she had a good time.  I think the cutest thing was when we were walking back to the car Sarah said, "Daddy I want to hold your hand".  So Chris walked beside Sarah while she rode in the stroller holding his hand.  Then Cody looks around and holds his hand out for Dustin.  So there's the two big men walking along the side the stroller holding my little kids hands.  So sweet.

On the 6th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs watched Frosty the Snowman ate Snowman Poop.
 Snowman poop
I told Sarah in the bath that tonight we were going to watch Frosty the Snowman (she loves the song but hadn't seen the cartoon) and eat snowman poop.  She said, "What?!? Eat Snowman poop!  That's yucky!  You can't eat snowman poop.  Snowman poop is stinky like mine."

Funny girl.  When I brought out the bowl she was content to eat it.  And smart enough not to say it wasn't snowman poop.
This is my new favorite picture of Cody.  Look at that face!  He was pretty excited about his bowl of snowman poop.  And I think he even sat with Chris and watched most of the cartoon.  He got up to dance at one point and then wandered into the kitchen with me.  Such a silly boy.  Sarah stayed glued to the tv.  When it was over she was upset it was time to go to bed.  She told me, "Mom, I NEED to watch more frosty."  She's a tv addict.

On the 7th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs rolled and cut out sugar cookies.

I'm not a big "from scratch" baker.  I make cakes using boxes.  I have no shame in that.  Someone else already measured out the flour, sugar, and whatever else and put it in a box and that works for me.  I still consider it homemade because I have to add eggs and stuff and beat it up and bake it.  So there ya go.  But once a year I get out the beautiful red kitchenaid I got as my college graduation/wedding present and make some honest to goodness from scratch sugar cookies and cream cheese frosting.  And I must brag, my sugar cookies are delicious!

 Cody and Daddy cutting some ginger bread man cookies.
Sarah and Daddy cutting some cookies.

On the 8th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs had the missionaries over to decorate sugar cookies.
Cody was not as excited to decorate cookies as Sarah was.  We put some frosting on one for him and gave him a pinch of sprinkles to add to it.  He just ate the cookie and then whined to get down.  Sarah on the other hand had a great time.  After she dumped almost the entire bottle of red sprinkles out on one cookie though I learned to hold the bottle for her and let her shake my hand.  That seemed to work better.  She had a great time decorating cookies and we even let her eat a few.  

On the 9th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs opened a new Christmas movie to watch in the drive over to Grandma and Grandpa Smith's house.
I know this one is a stretch but we had a long drive ahead of us but I didn't want to not do something for our day of Christmas.  So I bought Sarah and Cody the Santa Paws movie since they've been advertising it on Disney Junior so Sarah wanted it and Cody loves dogs right now.  They got to watch it on the drive over to Grandma and Grandpa's.  I have no idea what it's about, but she said she liked it and asked to watch it on the drive home too.

On the 10th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs went to the Enchanted Lights Display in Pine Bluff.
This was a cool light display!  They had over 165 (I think, I can't find the brochure they handed out) and I'd say 90% of them were some sort of moving display.  You know where the soldier saluted or shot a cannon ball over the street.  They had quite a few arches and tunnels to drive through.  It was a really nice and long display.  We consolidated down to mom's convertible and put the top and windows down so everyone could look around and really see everything.  We bundled up in blankets and blasted the heat so it was a nice drive through the display.

On the 11th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs made snowmen.
Sunday we crafted quite a bit with the kids.  They made snowmen out of cotton balls and then decorated them with construction paper.  Sarah was so cute, she kept saying, "I need some paste on this".  After a while we realized she learned that from Doc McStuffins since we all say glue.  They also decorated some construction paper Christmas trees with buttons from Grandma's stash.  Sarah loved it!  Cody could have cared less.  But I think Chris enjoyed it the most.  After we were all done he said with a huge smile on his face, "that was a lot of fun dear!  Thanks!"  
 Click to view larger

On the 12th Day of Christmas the Schwartzs opened our Christmas jammies and read the Twas the Night Before Christmas.
I wrapped up their Christmas jammies not because they were a surprise but more because I had the wrapping paper out and kids like to open things so there you go.  They were both excited to tear into the paper and pull out their new jammies.  This year I went with a reindeer theme.  It was really the only coordinating pjs that weren't ridiculously over priced.  And then I just fell in love with a reindeer applique dress and shirt that I had a friend make for the kids.  (See bass pro pictures above)  The book was given to Sarah for her first Christmas but again, kids like to open presents so I had wrapped that up with the pjs too.  Ha!  I'll probably just keep wrapping up that same book every year because you don't need more than one Christmas book to read on Christmas eve.  =)

We had a great time doing some little things every day leading up to Christmas.  It wore me out and I was ready for it to be over, but everyone enjoyed it enough that I'd do it again next year. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Schwartz's vs These Are Few of My Favorite Things...Party

Last year on pinterest a pin about a Favorite Things Party went around a few times.  I didn't pin it, but I kept it in the back of my mind because I loved the idea.  Gifts for adults are stressful.  It's not that I don't want to give my friends stuff it's just really I don't have the time or money to go shopping for gifts for all my friends.  I'd rather focus on my kids.  Even Chris is lucky if he gets a gift from me (kidding...sort of).  But I do enjoy giving my friends things because I love them.  So that's what attracted me to the favorites thing party.  The gist of it is you bring your favorite thing to give to everyone else.  Then you go home with other people's favorite things.  Now depending on your group you can change it up.  If you have lots of people at the party then you would bring maybe 5 of your favorite little things.  Then at the party everyone's name would be in the bowl 5 times at when it was your turn to give a gift you would draw five slips out (not yourself or any repeats) and then give those people your things.  If they were bigger and more expensive then you might just do 3 of your favorite things.

So for our little get together there are 6 of us.  So we decided to each spend about $6/person on our favorite things and bring one for everyone.  So you bring 5 gifts, you leave with 5 gifts.  Get it?

We decided for food to bring either your favorite appetizer or favorite dessert or both if you were so inclined.  I know they hoped I'd bring cake balls but those things are a lot of work and I'm lazy.  So instead I stressed and stressed over what to bring to the point that it was too late.  30 minutes before the party I still didn't have anything so I had to run to Chick-fil-a and get a party platter of nuggets.  I'm awesome.  We had so much food and it was all ridiculously good.

Then after dinner it was finally time for presents!

I was so excited about this party and immediately knew what I was going to bring as my favorite thing.  Because my favorite thing is junk food.  That's right.  I love it.  And not just any kind of junk food, sweets in particular.  I really try not to keep them in the house because I will inhale them.  When I was working it was quite common for me to come home have dinner with Chris, go to the gym, work out for 1.5 hours, and then come home, immediately walk in the door and fix myself a bowl of ice cream.  I can sit around and complain that I work out all the time (about 2 hours a day, 5 days a week) and yet I never lose weight.  Except I know why I never lose weight.  I like to eat.  And I like to eat junk food.  Yum!  So in the gift bags I handed out were:
* Full package of Double Stuffed Oreos
* Box of Peanut M&Ms
* Box of Raisinettes
* Half a bag of fun size Snickers
* Can of Coke

I'm pretty proud of not making a bag for myself to keep at home.  But it worked out well since apparently Annie and I are a bit too much alike because sure enough, in her bag were a package of Milano cookies (I almost got those but figured you get more bang for your buck with oreos), peanut m&ms, and a coke!  Ha!  She also gave us a pair of her favorite type of no show socks and some chapstick.  Ashley and Michelle had the same idea for their favorite things too so we got some awesome nail polishes from both of them and manicure accessories.  Jen made us some of her favorite peppermint sugar scrub with a disclaimer.  Good times.  And Megan passed out her favorite leave in deep conditioner, chapstick, and gum.  It was so much fun to see what everyone else's favorite things and the perfect way to exchange gifts with friends.

Then we talked and laughed until our faces hurt.  Before finally calling it a night.

I don't know if I mentioned it before but I really had a hard time with my last calling in YW.  The pressure was ridiculous, I was miserable, my kids were miserable, my hubs was miserable.  It was either not the right calling, or not the right time for it.  And every now and then I think about it and wonder why I was put there at that time.  As I sat around that table and just laughed and talked with these other women I finally realized why it was the right time and place for me in that calling.  I may not have had any deep and resounding life changing impact on the girls in YW, but I made deep and sincere friendships with the women I served with.  A lot has been going on at church and for whatever reason the conversation has been on the importance of fellowshipping recently.  I never considered myself lonely in my ward, I still wouldn't say I ever was.  I always had someone to sit next to in each class and make the requisite small talk with.  But until I served with these women, I didn't really have strong bond of friendship with anyone in my ward.  I am so grateful that I have these ladies in my life.  I talk to at least one of them in some form or fashion on a daily basis.  They are fantastic examples to me of how to be a better woman, wife, and mother.  They are talented beyond measure and generous beyond means.  I didn't know I needed them, and now that I have them in my life I couldn't imagine any of them leave.  Thanks ladies for all our good times together!
PS, this may not look like a good picture, but considering I just propped my camera up on a bookshelf set the self timer and ran and we got it in one shot.  I'm calling it a picture miracle!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Schwartz's vs My Day in Pictures

We decided to play a game on instagram and facebook today.  At least once an hour we took a picture of what we were doing.  It was a lot of fun to see what my friends do throughout their day.  Now before you review my day in pictures I must tell you that I was busier yesterday then normal.  And no, we usually DON'T go out to eat after dance class but we had some friends pop by to see Sarah so we went out with them afterwards.  

 Milk and Cartoons

Breakfast for the kids.

Yoga class at the Y. 

My first run post St. Jude Half.

Got Milk?  Quick run to Kroger

Prepackaged lunches for everyone (not the norm, impulse buy while picking up milk).

Nap Time! (Yes, that's right I usually don't shower until nap time.)

Working on some Christmas crafts

How I normally spend nap time

Running late to dance class!

Mrs. Bing helping correct Sarah's stance.

Hanging out with Annie at dance class.  (She was also playing a day in pictures with me.)

Kids eat free night at Lennys.  

Still hanging out at Lenny's with friends.

Running late for bed time.

Icing my knee with my favorite ice pack.

Cuddling on the couch watching one more sitcom before bed.

 After I reviewed my pictures I initially noticed I had a super busy day, which I did.  But then I also noticed there's not a single picture of me playing with the kids.  Next time we play a day in pictures again I'll make sure it's not on a Wednesday so you can get a better idea of what our days typically look like.