Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ice-Cream Bar Bridal Bash

Every once in a while your little brother calls with news that he is getting married in three weeks. Upon asking questions about the general plans of the day, it will become clear that the planning phase is still very fresh and unknown, so you will offer up a generic, "Well. Let me know if I can help with anything!"

After a few laughs, you will realize with great conviction that there IS something you can help with -- a bridal shower! So with a forceful "I want to throw Haley a bridal shower," you may just find yourself neck deep in Woodland Bridal Shower Pinterest searches and your husband may find himself barraged with texts saying things like, "Can you pick up 30 pinecones on your way home from work? Like from a forest?" or "Can you get a 2" tree branch for me?" or "We're going to need to clear out all  the furniture in our living room."

The planning began in a hurry, came together in a hurry, and gave me added compassion for Ben and Haley who were managing to pull a wedding together in the amount of time that was stressing me out just to plan a shower!
My first order of business was to track down a bunch of pine cones so I could make a pine cone garland. Jeff jumped on board the Bridal Shower Party Train with a commendable positive attitude as he wisely met the requests of two weeks' worth of crazed texts -- asking questions only after he had gathered whatever woodland items I had sent him hunting for that day. 
I began setting up several days before the shower, starting with the pine cone garland, and then moving to the shelves in our kitchen where it felt a little out of place to eat dinner with a subtle shrine of Ben and Haley staring at us...
Before long a heart garland was added to the decor in the living room...
After watching me fidgeting with decorations all week, Eli got to crafting his own decorations for the party. He taped a bunch of decorations to our sliding glass door, beaming with each new decoration he added at the thought of all the ladies delighting in his efforts. My favorite decoration he made was his version of a heart garland:
The main stress of the event was hoping there would be enough room for everyone! I had control over the amount of food I had. I had control over how cute the decorations were. But I could not expand my house should we reach beyond maximum capacity! I was so nervous we would feel so cramped in my house, so Jeff and his friend cleared out our couches and living room as much as possible which helped open everything up.
On the day of, Jeff took the kids down to my parents' house and then my mom, sister, and Laurie all came up to help me pull the whole look together. I kept imagining them as my team of birds and squirrels like in Cinderella who swoop in and fix everything up cute for me while I spin around in a daze and just kind of watch them do their thing. 

Eeeeeek! I love it when a party comes together!
Jeff chopped a tree branch from my parents' back yard for those food tag holders. I think they were my favorite part of the whole party...that...and the cookie dough. 
We did an ice-cream bar with homemade ice-cream and oodles of toppings. 
"The trick to a good party is to make it look effortless." -said by me as I was a frantic, nervous mess just before the picture below was taken. 
The REAL key to a good party is to get your mom to splurge on her strict diet for a few bites of cookie dough. 
All my visions came to fruition as the guest-of-honor arrived and kicked off the party!
You're not fooling anyone with that bowl of fruit, Mom. I'll sneak you some more cookie dough later. 

After gifts, I had a video down in the basement of Ben and Haley answering a few questions so the guests could get to know them as a couple a little bit better.

Yay! The great news is -- we had plenty of food, plenty of people, and exactly the right number of chairs squeezed into my house! It really turned out to be a lot of fun and I loved that we had a chance to get to know Haley's side of the family before the wedding.
And I'm so glad Jacob worked to get Laurie out in time to help me get everything cute-sied up.
And I'm glad my mom and sister came along to bring us this moment? Maybe the cookie dough got to all of us? 

Welcome to the family, Haley! Thanks for giving me an excuse to steal my parents' ice-cream maker!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving

Eli had crazy hair day at school. I convinced him to let me do his hair "like Lincoln's"...
Linker Lou is 10 months old!
Here's his latest:

  • Wears size 3 diapers and size 6-9 month clothes.
  • Says "Hi" and "Da" and is starting to make recognizable efforts to mimic things we say.
  • He just started waving this week.
  • Loves to stand, holding onto furniture but doesn't really cruise and can't pull himself up.
  • He eats pretty much whatever we eat these days plus a little baby food here and there.
  • Nurses 3-4 times a day. He's getting significantly less interested in his afternoon nursings lately.
  • We did a brief sleep training session which involved one night of 20 minutes of crying it out and he's started sleeping through the night. 
  • Takes two 1 1/2 naps.
  • Loves his brothers and loves being in the middle of all their craziness.
  • He has yet to do anything that I didn't find 100% completely adorable. He's just so sweet!
  • He's on the verge of crawling as of this week. He's started scooching forward, launching himself at toys in front of him.
  • He loves books! We read to him every night before bed and after he nurses, he stares at the books behind the rocking chair until I get one down to read to him. He gets ticked if I don't pull a book down fast enough!

Thanksgiving morning began with me piling gobs of warmth onto my children so they could play out in the snow at 7:00 AM. Blah. I pray for the day when my children can fully dress themselves in their own snow gear to come quickly.
The boys' idea of playing in the snow is shoveling the snow. Probably because that's the only thing they've seen me or Jeff do to "play" in the snow as we've never really built a snowman with them or had a snowball fight with them or showed them the art of making the perfect snow angel. But maybe if they were out in the snow ANY OTHER TIME THAN 7:00 AM I would have perhaps a tiny inkling to frolic through the snowflakes with them. Until then, you're on your own kids. And don't forget the driveway while you're at it.
I did brave the cold for pictures of their first snow day this year. So there. I'm not a terrible mom after all.

Eli dutifully cleaned off the trampoline we neglected to put away yet this year while Carson cheered him on.

One warm shower for everyone later and we were off to Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle's house.

After dinner, we went to my parents' house for more Thanksgiving invoked family bonding time.
On my very first real, official date with Jeff Excell, it was somehow brought to my attention that he owned a pick-a-lock set. Meaning he had the ability and the tools to open what I perceived to be any locked door. Like a murderer.

Did I find this concerning? Yes. Did I perceive the skill and access to open locked doors to be mostly unnecessary? Yes. Did I sleep with my apartment front door jammed closed with a chair for extra security until I was able to further discern whether or not Jeff was a creep who would use his skills of intrusion against me? No. But I really probably should have.

I remember asking a series of questions after learning about Jeff's pick-a-lock kit. Why would you have that? Why would you need that? Do you really know how to use it? HAVE you used it?!? WHAT have you used it on?? Do you also go by the name Ted Bundy?

Well, let me tell you Sarah-of-years-past, you will NEED that pick-a-lock set AND a husband experienced in picking locks when you unexpectedly and unexplainably come home from church to a completely locked house.
I had the thought not too long ago that we should really get a house key. Because...I had lost the only house ket we had. And just a couple weeks ago I had the fleeting thought, "You should really get a house key." Nah. Let's ride this out. I replied to myself. I like to live on the edge.

So when we came home from church and found the door going into our house from the garage was locked, we had a problem. That door is never locked. But it is slightly broken and the knob gets jammed easily. Anyway, much shimmying of the door knob later and we still were getting the cold shoulder from a place we once called home.

"The window!" Jeff announced. There's a window he at one point always left open as our backup entrance for such an emergency. Locked. "The sliding glass door!" Locked. "The front door!" Locked.
It was all funny for the first 15 minutes when we were all sure Jeff would be able to weasel his way into our home. After many failed attempts to break in via the credit card swipe method, he finally materialized the very kit that we had discussed on our first date. I was praising the heavens above that he was experienced at breaking into houses. 45 minutes later we heard a crack, saw the door swing open, and everyone's arms victoriously flew into the air as we cheered Jeff's handiness.

So if we've learned anything today, it's that if you're dating someone who is sending off red flags that they might be a serial killer, keep dating them. One day you may need a door opened and they're just the guy to do it.

(Jeff innocently gained his burglarizing knowledge and skills when he worked at a locksmith shop in college which should answer any lingering questions.)
Eli has homework once a week to go on an "Alphabet Adventure." A couple weeks ago the letter was "O" so he dressed up as a police officer complete with self-constructed hat and badge.
Lincoln sink-bathed it up while watching Eli run around the house chasing bad guys. Breaking into houses. With pick-a-lock sets.