All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!

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Advent Ornament Project – December 8

My goodness, it was another day in the kitchen for me.  I’ve been thinking about certain aspects of the Christmas Eve cake and decided to bite the bullet and do some more decorations for it and figure out the part that has been giving me trouble – the cabin windows.

I started with the fondant snowflakes and after cutting and embellishing all of them, realized I’d done them in the wrong color.  I was a bit frustrated, but I knew Matthew would like helping me with them so I held off on doing them in the right color until he was home.  He had a GREAT time putting the silver sugar beads in the middle of each one!

I then moved onto the cabin glass.  I was thinking I’d buy rice paper for the windows but that didn’t sound fun at all – I really want the entire cake to be edible and hand-made (aside from the twiggy tree because, just.. no!), so I searched videos on making edible glass.  I found one!  I employed the boys’ help and they helped me from start to finish.  Bryson helped stir the liquid sugar, they both watched me spread it out, and Matthew got to break it up with a knife once it was hardened.  They had a great time and I was happy to have my biggest cake problem solved.

We had so much fun with this Advent decoration that we quickly moved onto making homemade dark brown sugar cookies.  It didn’t go as well as making the cabin glass, but the cookies taste great!




Friday Favorites – Holiday Season is On!

We’ve had a pretty darn good week around here, but there have been sprinklings of sadness along the way.  In times like these, I like to really focus on the good stuff, the stuff that keeps my heart happy.  With these two boys, Hottie, and the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping my head up while my heart’s been heavy.

It was another productive week around the house.  We’re getting pretty good at starting and wrapping up projects within a weekend.  Our garage is organized (enough), more stuff is sold, a Christmas tree was chopped down and moved in, and Bryson’s car seat is now properly installed.  That’s enough for one week, I think!

Favorite Parenting Moment of the Week:

My boys get along really well, until they don’t.  Recently, there’s been a lot of nit-picking and fighting over ridiculous things (and so it begins, right?).  One of the things that makes them absolutely CRAZY is the little trike we let them ride in the house.  It really is Bryson’s because it’s his size and Matthew has a bigger one that he fits better on, but they both love to ride the little trike and will stop at nothing to get a chance at it.  Bryson is very possessive and likes to HOLD his trike in his lap when he’s watching TV.  This does not count as being in his possession or use so Matthew will often times walk right up and take it from him.  So the cycle begins.

But the other day, they were fighting over the trike and then… silence followed by… laughter.  They came in riding together like this, and now they do it every day, many times a day!  No, it’s not terribly safe and yes, Bryson’s head comes to many dangerous spots at that level, but they’re having fun together and solving their own problems without us.  WIN!


Favorite Outfit of the Week:


Hottie’s coworker texted me on Saturday morning and said she was picking me up for an in-home craft show right near our house.  It had snowed, we were snowed in, so I said, “yes please!”  Once there, she bought nothing and I bought this awesome orange shawl.  I absolutely love it and it is WARM,  but of course, it started unraveling that night.  It’s currently at the tailor’s being fixed making my “craft show shawl” even more expensive than I wanted to report here ($40 for the shawl, $7.50 for the fix = $47.50 for a blanket with a hole for my head).  But… it’s my favorite color and I really LOVE it!  Paired here with EB straight leg jeans and Born boots (along with an ancient Ann Taylor brown turtleneck).

Favorite Meal of the Week:

This one is easy – Thanksgiving (Thursday), of course!  Hottie’s parents do not enjoy cooking like we do, and if you’ve read me long enough, you know that holiday meals are not as tasty as I’m used to having been raised by a guy who loves to cook.  Every year, Hottie and I take more and more on and this year, we covered LOTS of bases!  We brought homemade coffee cake (baked the night before to save time), homemade apple pie (baked a month ago and frozen), butternut squash soup (made and frozen 2 weeks ago), and peppermint and mint-chip ice cream bars (made two days ago).  When we got there, we cut into the coffee cake and then we basically took over the kitchen and cooked together for a couple of hours.  We didn’t want a dinner without gravy so we winged it with a milk gravy recipe I found online and it turned out great!  I’m not sure how ONE person could have made the gravy – it was THAT complicated – but that doesn’t matter since there were two of us.  We finished up the turkey, casseroles, and stuffing and made mashed potatoes – dinner was served (oh, and we brought wine… lots of wine).  Dessert was an hour later and along with the pumpkin pies and peach pie that Hottie’s mom made, we had lots to choose from.  All the kids had my ice cream bars, I had apple pie and half an ice cream bar, Hottie had pumpkin pie and apple pie, and Bryson had “crunchy cake” (coffee cake).  Everyone was HAPPY!

Favorite Purchase of the Week:

This is stupid, but I just love this shirt.  Target – mens department – $8.00.


Favorite Project of the Week:

I wasn’t even a part of this project, but got in on the tail end.  On Wednesday, Hottie and I decided that Matthew needed an outing with just his dad, so they went to the tree farm.  I am told that once there, Matthew took his job of picking out the tree very seriously and grabbed his measuring stick before heading out on his hunt.  He found a great tree after much deliberation and insisted on helping the dude load it up on the truck.  Hottie said that Matthew watched very carefully to make sure that our tree made it back to the parking lot where they tied it to the roof of the car (there is just something so festive about that!).

They then headed to the mall and that’s about when Bryson woke up so we went there too to hit up the PBKids 20% off sale for Bryson’s comforter.  As we pulled into the parking lot, Bryson yelled out, “It’s a Christmas tree car, Mom!”  He spotted OUR car with OUR tree on top, but didn’t know it was ours.  It was adorable, and fun!  We took photos!

After playing at PBKids, eating dinner together as a family at chick-fil-we-hate-gays, and checking out all of the super fun mall kiosks (groan), Hottie decided to take Matthew on one more errand and I kept Bryson to pick up a very special gift.  It took FOREVER to get Bryson to the other end of the mall without a stroller, but we had nothing but time.  He spotted the mall strollers in the shapes of fire engines and, well, we were there for quite a while playing firemen.  I forgot how easy and fun it is going to the mall with just one kid!


Favorite Realization of the Week:

This is a big one… and one I’m not proud of.  We decided to turn Bryson’s car seat around to be front facing (yes, I know the research, please don’t send me resources) and his seat is different from Matthew’s and the Britax.  I absolutely despise his seat, but it was the best option at the time (I needed a full convertible from infancy to 120 pounds in a booster.  I LOVE Matthew’s seat but it has a 30 pound weight minimum and is forward facing only, and we needed this seat when Bryson was less than a year old).  Anyway, I installed it and forgot that I wasn’t installing one of the easy seats, and I installed it WRONG!  Not only did I not thread things properly, I also didn’t know about some extender that needed to be put on his chest straps.  We drove to and from Hottie’s parents’ house (1 hour each way) on Thanksgiving with our child in an improperly installed car seat.  Good God.  The only reason I even thought about it was that he couldn’t sleep in it, it was tilted too far forward, so I researched the recline.  Turns out, it was all screwed up.

So – his seat is not properly installed and no harm no foul… but I still hate that seat!


Favorite Photos of the Boys This Week:

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Favorite Twinkle This Week:

One of our trees is up and decorated!  Matthew insists on decorating every single night, but we’re not fully ready yet.  So… I got out his little tree and set it up for him.  He lost interest quickly, because he said his tummy hurt from all of the food.  Bryson and I lit and decorated the tree for him and an hour later, Matthew spewed all over my bedroom floor.  Huzzah!



Friday Favorites – Blah

I did a TERRIBLE job of remembering my favorite things of the week.  I snapped some photos here and there, but I must have been in a funk.

Favorite Parenting Moment(s) of the Week:

Straight out of my FB post:

My kids do really well at the mall until… I’m in a line. They both lost their minds as I was ordering their Chipotle and the guy behind me told me how much Matthew reminded him of his son… And that it really does get easier every year. Truly what I needed to hear (it’s usually men who say the right thing in situations like this). We chatted, I thanked him for his kind words, and we went on our way. Until he came back 10 minutes later with a cookie for each of the boys, saying he waited until he saw that they ate a good lunch. He told the boys to be nice to their mom the rest of the day. And then Matthew said, “that man is very nice!”. Yes… Yes he is.


This parenting moment reminded me that we have ALL been there, and that the only thing to say to other parents in difficult situations is that… we have ALL been there and that they’re doing great.

Favorite Outfit of the Week:


Here are those camo leggings again, and the “Don’t Shoot” bear shirt… but I edged it up with buckled tall black boots and let me tell you – I looked badass.  I got a few, “whoa, edgy, love it” comments from the moms.  😉

Favorite Family Time of the Week:

Our weekend was soooo busy with family!  My aunt and her guy were in town on Saturday for a visit.  The boys LOVE them like grandparents – well – differently than grandparents because they are so young at heart and act like kids with the boys.  They do everything with my kids that my parents don’t.  They are engaged, loving, and fun, fun, fun!  I took these quick photos of the boys dancing with them outside our favorite restaurant!

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We headed to Hottie’s parents’ on Sunday for his dad’s birthday.  The boys and I made him a chocolate cake with super rich ganache frosting.  The boys decorated it and we headed up, made lunch for everyone, had cake, and over-stayed our welcome (not really, because they are never ready for the kids to leave).  Hottie’s parents are everything my parents aren’t, and the boys feel sooooo loved by them.  We love going there!

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Favorite Surprise of the Week:

New Year’s Eve is almost around the corner and I have the dress and earrings, but no necklace.  I have been shopping for something to match the earrings and just could not find anything cheap.  I do have an old marcasite Judith Jack necklace but the style doesn’t match the earrings.  So Hottie and I started searching on Ebay for something that would match the earrings and we found something that I LOVED, but it was more money than I wanted to spend.  I really wanted to spend $20.00 max.  HA!

So Hottie said, “just get it,” and I said no way.  There was no way I’d spend more than I wanted to spend on a necklace I’d wear just a few times.  I had the necklace in my watch list and headed to the mall to search for something cheap (again).  NOTHING.  I was lamenting my frustration to Hottie via text and he wrote, “by the way – I already ordered your necklace.”

He is still so thoughtful after 9 years together!  He said he knew I wouldn’t spend the money, and he didn’t want me to have to worry about it so he got it.  My heart melted!

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Favorite Workout of the Week:

I live and breathe my FB feed – but I don’t pay too close attention to where the posts come from.  I saw some fitness challenge and assumed it was for the fitness group I’m in, so I did it.  It.Was.Not.Easy.

Again, straight out of FB:

So I saw a daily challenge in my feed, and assumed it was from this group. So I did it. Turns out, it was a photo that Jos was tagged in, not a challenge here. But I found that out too late. PiYo Core done (30 minutes), and then I did the Name Game thing, where you get an exercise assigned to each letter of your full name. I have a long ass name. Here’s what I did:
30 Squats
40 jacks
30 second arm circles
15 Push Ups
15 Squats
25 Burpees
1 min wall sit
10 crunches
30 squats
1 min wall sit
30 squats
30 jacks
3 min wall sit
15 push ups
40 jacks
30 burpees
50 jacks
2 min wall sit
15 push ups
30 burpees
40 jacks
30 burpees

Took me 27 minutes, and burned 200 calories, so I added 3 minutes of abs to get me to a full hour today. I’ll be doing that again!



Favorite Quiet Moment of the Week:

We had a busy weekend and the drive home from Hottie’s folks’ put both boys to sleep.  I took one, Hottie took the other.  This never happens, and I really eat it up when it does.  Double quiet loves at the same time!

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Favorite Photos of the Boys This Week:

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Happy 4th Weekend!

We had a darn good weekend!  Hottie had Friday off so we kicked off our Independence Day festivities a day early.  The weather was perfect and the kids were on their best behavior (until they weren’t, but that was rare), so we really maximized the outdoor family time.

On Friday, Matthew had camp and Bryson had a strange rash, so Hottie dropped Bryson and me off at the pediatrician on his way to drop Matthew off at camp.  I took the running stroller with me and dressed appropriately to just run home from there, but I felt guilty about ditching Hottie on his day off when I know he loves nothing more than getting a coffee together  😉   The doctor was super efficient for walk-in hours (grass mites – who knew?) and we were done before Hottie was back.  We ran a bit while we waited for him to pick us up.  We ended up getting drive-thru coffee and some donut holes for Bryson and then Hottie drove us to a trailhead and we ran home from there.  Our community does an amazing job with linking up all suburban trail systems, so I was able to run 5 miles back to our house without having to cross busy street without an overpass or underground tunnel.  It was a beautiful run!

We picked Matthew up with Ji.mmy Joh.ns in the car waiting for him and headed to the park.  The kids played, we stood and ate, and I got some super cute pictures of them in the covered bridge and along the creek.  It was a great way to spend the morning before naps!  Naps HAPPENED for 2+ hours so I mowed the lawn and Hottie washed our cars.  We had our favorite dinner as a family (curry bison burgers which Bryson gobbled his up while Matthew ate leftover salmon from the night before) and then we went out for ice cream.  Baths happened on time and Bryson was in bed by 8:20.  Matthew and Hottie camped out in the backyard, leaving me to myself to make this AMAZING brussels sprout salad and this sparkler cake for the next day.  I finally dyed cake batter, which I’ve never done before, and it was super cute.  I did not take a single picture of my cake, but it looked just like the one below without the thin sliced strawberries on top.  The layers were blue, red, and blue and I added fresh blueberries to the frosting between the bottom and middle layers, and fresh strawberries to the frosting between the middle and top layers.  I’ll be making it again next year!  I’ll be making the brussels sprouts salad again next week!  After cooking, I sat in bed and spent some much needed alone-time while everyone slept – it was wonderful!

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Saturday started EARLY… at 3:45 AM.  HA!  I woke to the sound of a door opening and a bunch of “Shhhh.. they’re sleeping.”  It got too cold outside for the boys so they headed inside to sleep in Matthew’s bed together.  CUTENESS!  Bryson then woke up at 6:05 and snuggled into bed with me for his morning “Ogurt.”  I gave the boys until 7:00 to wake up but no luck, so Bryson and I went for a nice 5 mile run.  We arrived home about 5 minutes after the guys woke up so we all got ready together and headed for the parade.  WHAT FUN THAT WAS!  I was the official candy collector (of the candy that didn’t get picked by the kids = tootsie rolls) and Bryson was the official candy taster.  We saw lots of politicians due to Iowa being the first state in the nation to vote in the primaries (ick) and a lot of fun trucks.  Success!  The candy was mostly mediocre and that reminds me I need to toss it out now that everyone’s asleep.  HA!

We had lunch and then naps… well, Bryson had a nap.  Matthew tried to sleep but couldn’t, so he got to help me finish prepping food for our dinner family playdate with some new friends.  The cake was a hit (the twin boys kept tasting the frosting and put the cutest finger prints in the side of the cake – making it obvious that Landon is the lefty and Andrew is the righty!), we learned that children need to be taught not to hold their friends under water (I shudder when I think of all the times we’ve stepped out of the bathroom with the boys in the tub together – they don’t understand that dunking is not a good idea even if the other kid likes it), and Matthew had a really great time with one of the boys.  Bryson kept to himself but came out of his shell when he got in the pool (clothes on) and hit it off with Landon who is more docile than Matthew and Andrew.  HA!

We headed home to grab some things for fireworks and headed to the park by 8:30.  This is when our day went from great to horrible in an instant.  We got tickets for the bounce house and let both boys go in.  We kept checking on them, keeping a close eye on the exit.  I saw Matthew at one end so I headed back to the exit where I met up with Hottie who had just seen Bryson on the other end of the bounce house.  Hottie asked where Matthew was, I said just on the other end, he looked, and… no Matthew.  He was gone.  I wasn’t too concerned at first – there’s no way he could have gotten far.  Wrong.  He was nowhere in sight.  NOWHERE.  Hottie took off to look for him as I loaded Bryson in the wagon and asked some moms to keep an eye out for him.  As I panned the area over and over again, I started to panic.  This hadn’t happened before – not like this.  There was a sea of people and Matthew was not amongst any of them.  When I realized that he was not in the section of the park that I was in, I looked for a city festival worker to help me.  When he asked me what Matthew was wearing, I fell apart.  I mean – I sobbed, started to hyperventilate, and then almost threw up.  The guy called the police right away to help and I heard him put out the alert on the walkie talkie that a 4 year old boy named Matthew was missing.  JESUS.  He assured me that this had happened many times earlier in the day and that the kids are always found.  I nodded, fighting back tears (I remember blinking back tears, trying to nod confidently, and biting my lower lip.. oh, the lower lip is my tell), but it was getting dark.  This was different.  He told me to come back to where we were after a bit of looking and he was off like a shot rounding people up to look for him.  I decided to cross the road into the other part of the park (the bigger, scarier, too-close-to-the-road part of the park) when I heard Brian yelling for me.  He had him.  He had him in his arms.  Matthew had slipped out of the bounce house, thought that WE were lost because we weren’t there, and decided to find us.

“I got out of the bounce house and you were lost. I went to find you because you were lost. I found another Mommy (this is what we’ve taught him to do – yay!) and said, “I can’t find my daddy, he’s lost. Do you know where he is? I need help.”  She picked me up and held me until daddy came. She was nice. She had on green (correct) and was eating popcorn.”

I don’t think I’ve cried happy tears like I did last night – total relief!  Seriously, at one point, I thought to myself, “he’s gone.  GONE.  He is GONE!”  He asked if I was mad and of course I wasn’t.  I then had to call off the search, thank everyone for their help, and go and meet this woman who picked up my kid and kept him safe for us until we found him.  All of that was done through tears and nervous smiles.  The festival guy said, “this is the 10th one today, and we’re still 100%.  I know it’s scary, but it will happen again.”  He was a rock – he was just the right person for me at that time.  Amazingly, this all only lasted between 5 and 10 minutes.  It felt like a lifetime.

With the drama behind us, we went “back to the car where we will wait for fireworks” (Hottie’s words).  Hottie came prepared with a picnic blanket, camp chairs, bubble blowers, glow sticks, etc. so there was no shortage of things to do.  Matthew stayed right next to one of us at all times – he had to be touching us at all times once we were back at the picnic blanket.  We obliged, and quite happily.  Fireworks started, they went on forever, Bryson and I packed up our stuff (he lost interest in the fireworks quickly), and we were out of there.  The kids fell asleep on the way home and transferred into bed without a peep.  Hottie and I sat up together, equally relieved and happy to be home with both boys safely in their beds, and watched a movie until 1:00 AM.  It was… perfect!

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Today, Sunday, was another beautiful day but I didn’t run.  Instead, Hottie got up with Bryson 6:05 (AGAIN) and I went into Matthew’s room to sleep in with him – we got up at 8:00 (that is WAY late for me!).  We tooled around the house, made breakfast hot dogs for the kids, and took a family shower before we went out for a late breakfast/brunch.  Bryson fell asleep on the way home with his sunnies on his forehead and was tossed in the crib while Hottie and Matthew did some “house projects” together for a little bit (sanding and re-staining wood windows).  At 1:50, I called it nap time and I crawled into bed with Matthew and slept with him until 4:15.  It was …. wonderful.  Hottie got more windows done while we all slept and then he made the boys’ favorite dinner, which Matthew thanked him for over and over and over again!  We went out for ice cream (again) and then the boys had baths and went to bed.   My first order of business was to order these disposable ID wrist bands  and Road ID tags for the boys’ shoes.  Done and done.  And here I am, with a sleeping Hottie beside me and my laptop right where it belongs before heading off to bed myself.

Great weekend – even with the scare of our lives!



Happy 2 & 4!

Yesterday and today are all about birthdays! Matthew turned 4 yesterday at 11:54 AM as we ate lunch with Hottie, and Bryson turned 2 today at 8:03 as we decorated his cake!

These boys are full of spunk and energy and I think the next year is going to be exhausting! But I KNOW it’s going to be great!!!

Happy birthday, sweet (and naughty 😈) boys of mine! We love you both so very much!!!


Birthday Party 2015!

The party is over.


It was a busy day starting with lawn and yard work at 7:00 sharp before a quick shower and errands. I love a freshly mowed lawn, especially for the kids to play in! Everything was tip top in the yard by 8:15 and I had 45 minutes to shower and dress before picking up cupcakes. Hottie fixed the shower heads so I took my time, enjoying his hard work to make my showers relaxing (rather than painful from too much pressure). I love my rare showers without kids in there with me. 😁

Hottie took the kids to the store for buns, and to just get them out of my hair so I could wrap everything up the way I wanted them. He knows me so well! The cupcakes were ready on time so I got home quickly to construct the cake.

Decorating the cake was, in a word, FUN! It turned out just as I wanted and I finished it right before the boys walked in. They loved it! And then they asked for their donuts. Ha!

We got all of the serving dishes out last night so we were really in a good place by 10:00. The cupcake toppers were on and the cupcakes were on their serving plates and platters, the cake was ready and safe from little fingers, and the banner and door sign were hung. We just needed the food to arrive.

10:30 came, and 10:30 went, and we had no food. No one was answering their phones so I was a bit panicked. Did I forget to verify the date on the quote? A quick check confirmed the date was correct. Whew! At 10:50, they called to say they were close. They arrived at 11:05. The party started at 11:00. But they were very efficient at setting it up and the food was ready by 11:10. Not bad considering the 35 minute delay!

Everyone but one family came, so we had 33 people including us. That’s small for us… Most of those people were family. It was a really good sized group. Manageable. The bounce house was setup out back, t-ball was ready in one part of the yard, basketballs were out by the court, and a water table was fresh and clean in the adult seating section. It was an outdoor haven for the kids. Inside, the kids played in the cool (I mean temperature!) basement and left the adults upstairs to eat and visit. Over half of the food was consumed and only two bottles of wine were drunk (and no beer… that surprised me).

The birthday song was sung at 12:05 (goal was noon) and the house was empty by 1:06 (goal was 1:00). The house was clean by 2:45 and the kids were napping by 3:00. And then I headed off to a friend’s son’s birthday… Because one party wasn’t enough for me. Ha!

The only pictures I took are here. We have some of the boys blowing out candles on the SLR, but they’re not that great. Ugh!

It was fun, but I’m glad it’s done!


Almost Ready!

My cakes are baked and leveled, my chocolate graham crackers are pulverized into “dirt,” my fondant decorations are hardening, my chocolate for the frosting is chopped, and my raspberries for the filling are thawing. I’m in a good place with this birthday party right now! I can’t construct my construction cake until the boys are in bed, for obvious reasons.

So now I focus on dinner… after I rest!

(I got distracted while writing Matthews name on the yellow “sign” so I made a new one. It was still drying, so I used the messed up one for the layout diagram.)