Christmas and New Year’s

This was THE BEST Christmas ever! I know I say that every year, but this really was! Turner is 5 and Gracie is 2 and boy were they excited! We did the whole “elf on the shelf” thing, which we swore we’d never do, but it was really fun! I’m not quite sure if Turner thought he was real or if he was just entertained by the fact that he showed up in a different spot each day. 

I spent Christmas Eve at church, singing, from 7am to about 7pm. We had 5 services! It was a long day, but it was also a great reminder about what Christmas actually represents! The kids stayed up a little later so we could have plenty of snuggle time before bed. I had all intentions of prepping cinnamon buns for the morning, but I was so exhausted. Luckily I woke up at 5 am, before anyone else, so I was still able to make them! Turner woke up at 6, but we had to wait for Gracie, so we spent time reading the Christmas story! 

The SECOND he heard Gracie rustle, he shot into her room and told her Santa came and we had to go downstairs and open presents. She didn’t quite get it, but she was excited because HE was so excited!

I feel like we collected so many toys over the years. Half of them were broken, unused, or missing pieces. So we had the kids make garbage and donate piles a few days before Christmas so we could make room for their new toys! Turner is really into drawing and painting. So we got him an easel from Target that was PERFECT! We got Gracie some girly toys, because all she plays with is trucks! And we found some board-games that they can actually play without much guidance! So after opening, we spent the entire morning playing and eating cinnamon buns in our pjs! 

Then it was a quick nap and off to Gigi’s for supper! They looked so cute all dolled up! 

Gracie’s faces are too much. Every time we tell her to smile, she does something like this:

It’s been quiet here the past few days. It’s so cold so we’ve been spending a lot of time inside relaxing! Last night we stayed in and passed out well before midnight! I even dozed off in Turner’s bed when I tucked him in! 

This morning, Gracie and I baked and prepped some food for back to school! 

It’s crazy that we’ll be right back in the swing of things in two days! School, work, rinse, repeat. My word for 2018 is “quiet“. I want to be intentional about carving out time to sit still rather than constantly being caught up in the busyness of life. I thrive in a fast-paced, to-do-list-filled atmosphere, but I have the potential to miss so much! 2017 was a great year, but I’m excited to see what this new year has in store! Happy 2018!

 

Make Everyone Your Favorite

We have had some major changes in the Watson house over the past month. The holiday season always adds a (welcomed) level of chaos. But, on top of that, I took a new job that has me working outside of the house for the first time since Turner was born! To make a long story short, I owned an amazing local vacation rental company called Dewees Rentals that had grown to the point that I needed help! I had been doing this alone and working from home. It got to be more than I could handle all by my lonesome, which is a good thing!

I had cultivated a relationship with a larger company in the area over the years called Charleston Coast Vacations. I got together for lunch with the owner of that company about 2 months ago to come up with a plan that would be mutually beneficial. What we decided was for my company to join with his and to work for him as his Director of Vacation Rentals in his Isle of Palms office. It ended up being an answer to prayer in a not so obvious way! That being said, the whole first-time-out-of-the-house thing has been an adjustment.

Yesterday, as I sat in church, the sermon was exactly what I needed to hear! How does that always happen? One major point the pastor made was, “Make Everyone Your Favorite”. That hit me like a ton of bricks! I had been so consumed in my own world that I hadn’t even opened my eyes wide enough to see the people around me, let alone make them my favorite! My mind is like hamster wheel. It really never shuts off: there’s work to be done, the house to be cleaned, laundry to be folded, the groceries to be bought, the presents to be wrapped, and on and on. The whole point is, if we make others our favorite, we shine like a light in a world where there is so much chaos happening! But our small act of kindness can make a huge impact on another person’s day. What an incredible thought to ponder, ESPECIALLY at Christmas! I never want to be too busy or consumed in my own “stuff” to make an impact on others. It was the perfect reminder as I prepare for this week and for Christmas!!!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s cozy meets crazy in the best way possible. But what’s really important for me to remind myself is that we are so fortunate. Even if the day to day brings ups and downs, we have the hope of Jesus, a roof over our heads, food on our plates, and these two angels! Merry almost Christmas!

Turner’s 5th Birthday

I can’t believe my baby is FIVE!? Where did the time go? I remember when he was born thinking 5 was so far away. I feel like it’s such a milestone! FIVE!?

I must say, he is like a fine wine. He gets better with age. He is a true first child. He’s a pleaser, a snuggler, and has the sweetest heart I’ve ever seen. I’d like to take credit for that, but he was born exactly that way. I love him more than words can describe! I see so much of myself AND my husband in him. What a joy it was to celebrate him!

This year he planned his birthday party for the first time. Usually I have a theme and matching food and am all Pinterest crazy. This year he just wanted his buddies (and Gracie, of course) and a jump castle. I must say, it was the easiest party I’ve ever planned! No frills. No fuss. Just straight up fun with his friends!

We grilled up some hot dogs, made some PB&Js, and had cupcakes. Simple and perfect! Happiest of birthdays to our sweet Bubba!

Happy Halloween!

What a weekend of celebrating we had! I swear each year gets better and better! Turner and Gracie dressed up as Beauty and the Beast which was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! It was Turner’s idea, which is hilarious! They looked adorable, although it was like herding cats trying to get their picture! They used to pose so nicely! Now either one is crying, one’s hungry, one’s distracted, or one’s touching the other causing a screaming fit! I managed to get a few. Their faces say it all :o)

We had, what felt like, party after party! Over the weekend we had two parties AND our neighborhood parade! Our neighborhood is amazing. There are tons of kids and tons of moms that are so good at doing creative things! We had our neighborhood chili cook-off, pizza and an ice cream truck, and jump castles! The fire truck even came to lead our parade. And of course, we have a ton of kids in our house on the regular. This time was extra cute (and insane) because they were dressed up!

Gracie guarded the food like she was Queen of the Castle. And Turner just tried to sneak cookies every time I turned my head!

Tuesday was the first Halloween that we didn’t have friends over to trick-or-treat with us. We usually have the same routine year after year! A big pot of chili and cornbread for dinner and wine on the porch while we hand out candy. This year, Turner wasn’t feeling well enough to have friends over. But, by golly, we did trick or treat and we did eat chili and drink wine! It was one to remember! Happy Halloween!

 

Halloween Gingerbread House

I was in Trader Joe’s the other day and noticed one of those boxed gingerbread kits in the “impulse buy” section. I’ve never seen one for Halloween before! But the thought of it excited me. I contemplated, as I stood in line, whether or not to buy one. Every time we attempt building one, it falls over, or the kids eat all the candy, or our giant dog knocks it off the counter and eats it. But I sure do love building them! So I grabbed one and put it in my basket.

I told Turner that we would build it after school on Monday. He was counting down the seconds! Yesterday, after Gracie’s nap and his quiet time, we started the festivities. We put on our Fall Music (a.k.a Nat King Cole), lit our pumpkin spice candle, and got to work! They were each in charge of kneading the bags of icing which they thought was extremely thrilling. Once they were finished, I assembled the house. We had to let it sit for a few minutes to dry before decorating. That’s the mistake we’ve always made in the past! We would start decorating, and the whole thing would collapse. I finally learned my lesson. So we sorted our candy and waited!

I put the icing on, and the kids added the candy. I think Gracie ate more than she put on the house. At one point she had shoved so much candy in her mouth that she looked like a chipmunk! I kept trying to push everything farther away from her so she would stop eating it. But she literally climbed on the counter so she could reach!

I fought the urge to try to control their decorating, but every part of me wanted to tell them what to do. You know, the way my older brother did to me as a kid? So, instead, I decorated my side and let them decorate theirs :o)

And Stew walked in just in time to get a photo of me giving them the Mom Eye threatening their very existence if they ate another piece of candy!

I’m not sure what I expected. Giving kids three bowls of candy and expecting them not to eat it is just setting them up for failure. But we finished our house! And we had a lot of fun doing it which is all that matters, right? Here is the finished product!

Now that the weather is cooler and it’s October, we’re officially ready for the holidays!

4th of July and Self Control

I don’t know whose idea it was to do Whole 30 over 4th of July! We literally had three days of BBQ’s. We contemplated starting over on the fifth, but we were already 3 days in, and I kinda wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, even with 7 layer dip, crescent roll wrapped hot dogs, and deviled eggs staring me in the face.

Guess what! We did it! We made food for our friends and had a little separate dish of grilled lemon chicken for us. We also ate and drank our body weight in watermelon and LaCroix. If I was more prepared I could have made a Whole 30 feast for everyone! But my impulsive decision to start on July 1st left me lacking a plan, so alas, I stuck to our original menu!

We had a blast! And having three separate occasions to dress Turner and Gracie in the festive outfits my mother in law sent was the icing on the cake!

Our neighbors across the street set off the loudest, most obnoxious fireworks! Up until this year, Turner would wake up hysterically crying because the noise scared him beyond words. I’m thinking he might be able to handle some firework action this year. So our plan is to keep Turner up and watch them! Hey, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em! Can’t wait to mix up a mocktail and party it up! Happy 4th!!

A Healthier “Easter Basket” & Toddler Snacks

I recently saw a blog post by Danielle Walker on building a healthier Easter basket. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am plagued by the thought of feeding sugar and candy to my kids! Not that it never happens, but when it’s within my control, I try to have healthier (and just as delicious) options for Turner and Gracie to avoid the temptation and help them build healthy habits! Enter the Easter basket…

I just can’t get down with loading a basket full of candy and handing it over to my kids! I just can’t! So, after reading Danielle’s post, I decided to take a trip with the kids so they could pick out some of their favorite snacks from the bulk aisle of Whole Foods. They were actually SUPER excited about this! This is what they picked out: pistachios, dried mango, banana chips, cacao energy bites, and some frozen berries. (I know you’re probably thinking, well your kids are freaks. My kids would never pick out pistachios. But the idea is, get them to pick what they want within the boundaries that you’ve created. And remember, you can always say NO!) So these are the goodies they’ll snack on Easter morning! We had to test it out of course…

While we’re at it, I wanted to share a recent lunch and breakfast idea. Basically, anything that is arranged in a pretty pattern will have my kids gobbling it down! So our lunches recently have been Peanut butter, honey, and Coconut Butter (this is the bomb. Warm it and spread it on bread, or drop a huge spoonful in your smoothies) with a side of fruit, cheese, and pistachios. They tear it up!

Another idea, now that it’s getting warmer, is the smoothie bowl! You can make it however you want. Here’s the deal though, it’s thicker than a smoothie, so that means more work on your blender. I use a high speed blender (like THIS) so it doesn’t explode. Another option is the food processor which works great. OR if you don’t have either of these, just add some more liquid to thin it out a bit. It’s still delicious! So in this bowl I had about (I don’t measure) 2 cups organic frozen berries, 1/2 ripe avocado, 1 cup frozen banana, heaping Tbsp Coconut Butter, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of strawberry cashew milk (use whichever liquid you like), 1/2 cup raw walnuts, 1 Tbsp Acai Powder. Start on low speed and build up to high using the tamper (if you have a Vitamix) to blend completely. Pour into bowls and top with goodies like Cacao Nibs, coconut, and fresh or frozen berries. SO GOOD!

 

Happy snacking!

Valentine’s Day Traditions

Ahhhh Valentine’s Day. One of my favorite holidays! Not for the romance and flowers (that part’s nice too), but because we’ve weirdly made it a super special holiday! Stew and I started the tradition of making fondue every Valentine’s Day more than a decade ago. It’s evolved from sitting in his garage apartment that shook when someone walked up the stairs, to being in the comfort of our home surrounded by our babies (who stress us out and teach us how to love so deeply all at the same time)! It’s no better or worse, it just shows how life is ever-changing!

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that makes me think about love and relationships. It’s not like the movies. The years go by and people change. I don’t get butterflies when Stew and I hold hands, but there’s a different kind of love that has grown. It’s one of depth and comfort and need. It makes me think about how no one person is going to fit every check box and marriage isn’t easy. But it’s worth working at. It’s worth talking through the downs and celebrating the ups. I feel blessed to have a husband who loves me more than words can express and who thinks I’m beautiful in my sweatpants and glasses. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Once the newness and passion wear off, hopefully there’s a depth that keeps you coming back for more!

As moms, our husbands get the leftovers. They get the tired, stress-out version of us at the end of the day. They are the ears that hear our complaints. While we give to our jobs and our kids all day, our husbands don’t get any of that! So this holiday reminds me that our husbands deserve more than the other areas of our lives to which we give. Because when Mommy and Daddy are happy, the rest falls into place. So here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day, wherever you may be!

Happy New Year!

This is my favorite post of the year! It’s a recap of our year in pictures! It’s been one of the best to date!

We dressed in our holiday best

We moved to a dreamy nest

We celebrated birthdays

And went on family vacays

And caught up on much needed rest!

It was a year to remember. One of growing, and learning, and loving more than we ever thought imaginable! A year of thanking God for our many blessings and praying for many more to come!

Thank you for letting us share our family with you! Wishing you a Happy New Year! May 2017 be filled with joy and blessings (and sparkly dresses)!

Merry Christmas!

To say that this was our best Christmas yet is a huge understatement! We are blessed beyond measure and have enjoyed every last second of this holiday season! Decorating the house was an absolute joy! I loved sprinkling every inch with holiday cheer!



This Christmas was filled with festive garb, Christmas movies, nebulizer treatments and snuggles, hot chocolate-a-plenty, and reading about Baby Jesus! We packed as much into this Christmas month as we possibly could!

Christmas morning was perfect! I was up at 5:30 and went downstairs to put Monkey Bread in the oven before anyone was awake. I crept upstairs with coffee and Stew and I waited for the kids to wake up! Turner slept in later than he ever has (6:45)! I wanted to wake him up but since both kids were just getting over strep throat, I figured he needed his sleep.

FINALLY, he started yelling from his room, “I’M AWAAAAAKE”! So we went to get him and then headed downstairs to see if Santa came! And boy did he come! But before anyone could touch presents, we had to get our token family photo (insert post-traumatic flashbacks of my dad setting up spotlights for the perfect video which seemed to take hours)!

Turner had a blast opening gifts! Gracie didn’t really get it. She mostly got food and stuffed animals which kept her happy!

After a morning of playing, napping, and cooking, my family arrived for more presents, food and celebrating!

And of course, Christmas with my family wouldn’t be Christmas without our token Christmas carol singing and nearly fatal dance party!

Merry Christmas to you! I hope it was a great one!