All the Sun For You

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


Advent Ornament Project – December 6

We had a crazy busy day – and I didn’t leave my house!  I spent the ENTIRE day in the kitchen, kicking it off with a fresh-baked coffee cake for my in-laws.  My mother-in-law LOVES coffee cake and after I took one up to her on Thanksgiving, she said that she would love to come for a visit soon at our house and just sit and eat cake and drink coffee together.  So, we did that this morning!  While they were here, she asked me how we made the paint-filled ornaments and because I knew I had a lot ahead of me today, I figured we’d repeat that ornament to show her and to check off the Advent project for the day.  😉  The boys had a great time sharing this with Grandma and Bryson’s ornament looks like it will turn out much better than the first time we did it (I put too much paint flow releaser in his the first time).  Matthew picked some questionable colors that ended up looking awesome!

After the kids went down for a nap/quiet time, I got to work on my fondant decorations for my Christmas Eve cake (I am documenting the building of that cake here).  I finished them up pretty quickly so got to work on dinner (shrimp with garlic and breadcrumbs and roasted green beans – a repeater for sure!).  Our best friend came over for dinner, as she does every Sunday, and we all put the kids to bed rather quickly so we adults could frost sugar cookies. HA!  I am a total cheater and ordered unfrosted cookies from our grocery store because I do NOT like making cut-out cookies.  I love making cakes and pies, but cookies are not my thing (they’re Hottie’s thing!) – so I buy my cookies fresh-baked by the Hy Vee bakery and naked, ready for my frosting and sprinkles.  That’s the way to do it!

A day in the kitchen, on my feet, logging 11,000 steps without a single workout or venture outside of the house.  That’s a lot of cooking!

Advent 6

Bryson’s is the green one, Matthew’s is the blue one, and mine is the gold one.



Advent Ornament Project – December 5

Holy smokes, I almost forgot about our daily advent project! I was making dinner (Thai chicken and mushroom soup) when I realized my screw-up and wracked my brain for a quick idea to do after bath time.

Thank god for clear acrylic ornaments, glue, and glitter!

I have no idea how these will turn out once dry, but I don’t really care – all I care about is that they loved making this one! I put the glue in and then let the boys pick their glitter and poor it into the funnel to get it in there cleanly. 😉 They seriously love glue and glitter, so they thought this was tops! I let them shake the heck out of them and then they got dressed for bed.


Bryson was not at all interested in having his picture taken – poor kid is soooooo tired these days (despite 2-3 naps) and just wanted to get to bed. Matthew put his ornament on the sofa table garland right after I took his photo, without being told. That means he liked it. 😁

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Friday Favorites – Fun Week!

When I went to select my favorite photos from the week, I was stunned by how many I had!  Last week, it was hard to find enough for this post, and this week, I found way too many!

Favorite Parenting Moment of the Week:

It has been a week of “snuggle buggles!”  Both of my boys have been very affectionate this week with both of us, asking for “snuggle buggles” and hugs and kisses all day long.  I’ll take as much of this as I can get, because I know that they won’t want me to love on them forever!  Bryson wants his snuggles after his daily nap, and Matthew wants them just before bedtime or right after he wakes up in the morning.  I caught a couple of these moments, one with each of them.  I feel lucky to have these!

Favorite Realization of the Week:


Matthew is so creative, and this week, we found out just how wild his imagination is!  We got a huge box from Amazon this week and it is sturdier than normal, so it’s lasted a LOOOOONG time in the house.  Matthew works on it daily, making it into an “ice cream robot” and he asked us for paper towel rolls for the arms.  Hottie brought a bunch home from work (don’t ask me why they had so many there, I don’t know) and Matthew got to work.  I have no tape left in the house  😉

Favorite Meal of the Week:

Whenever I go back to basics, we have a great meal.  I made curry bison burgers tonight, paired with roasted sweet potatoes.  The sweet potatoes are new – Hottie brought them home and I was going to mash them (like always) but he asked that I make them the way I make all of our veggies (tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and put in a hot, hot roasting pan).  They were delicious and they were perfect with the bison burgers.  We were both so happy with dinner that we finished it off with an ice cream bar dessert!

Favorite Purchase of the Week:


I received a coupon code for a free metal photo ornament from Shutt.erfly because of my heavy usage of Bing, so I ordered one for the first time ever.  I love it so much – it warms my heart every time my eye catches it.  I love it so much that I’m having them made for all of our years with kids so far.

Favorite Project of the Week:

This one is a no brainer – our advent calendar project!  I am having so much fun with this and the kids are too.  Sure, there are rough moments, but all-in-all, the kids are loving it and every time I say, “let’s do our project!” they come running screaming with glee.  It’s actually quite unreal – they’re enjoying it way more than I thought they would!

Favorite Daddy Moments of the Week:

Like I said, these boys have been super affectionate this past week.  Matthew has been getting a lot of bloody noses at night and comes into our room in tears, needing help getting cleaned up.  Of course we let him climb into bed with us and we all snuggle.  Hottie and I don’t get much sleep, but there’s something magical about sleeping next to your child.

And straight from FB:  “This is evidence that a 4-year old cannot keep a Christmas present secret. I took Matthew to target today to pick out his gifts for Daddy and Bryson. Before Hottie was in the door, Matthew announced what his present was and, when we gave it to Hottie, Matthew shouted to Bryson, “AND I GOT YOU A HOT WHEELS TRACK WITH GRAVE DIGGER AND A DINOSAUR!!!!!”  Matthew is a giver, not a receiver, and he gets so excited about giving gifts to people that he can’t hold his horses.  He is  He cannot keep a secret (or lie).  It was the cutest thing ever and I just melted!  All three of my guys got to work on “Daddy’s present that he’ll share with us” and played mini-hoops until dinner!

Favorite Workout of the Week:


It’s been a rough week here, some devastating news came our way.  I REALLY needed to get out and run OUTSIDE and the day after receiving a tough phone call, the clouds parted and the winds stopped.  I went for a 5 mile run by the boys’ school and really didn’t know where I was headed when I took off.  I did an out-and-back for 3.1 miles and then wanted another 2 miles, so headed one way from the school for a mile.  I was really hurting after 0.6 miles out but for some reason, kept pushing.  Just as I was about to turn 1.0 miles, I looked up and realized I was right outside the cemetery where my friend’s nephew was buried in September.  I ran into the cemetery, turned off my music, and had a chat with Sam.  It was peaceful, it was calming, and my soul felt better.

Favorite Photos of the Boys This Week:

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Advent Ornament Project – December 4

Ahhh… much better today… sort of.  😉  This project was so simple that I thought maybe Matthew and Bryson would lose interest, but quite the contrary!  All you have to do is put a bunch of glitter and twinkly things in front of these boys and they’re all in.

I bought the clear, picture-holding ornaments at Michaels and then a bunch of filler stuff – glitter, sequins, snowflakes, buttons in the shapes of stockings and the such.  I couldn’t get the packages opened quickly enough for them – they just kept handing them over saying, “I want those, I want THIS!”  The main issue with this ornament is that they can be opened up, and Bryson did that quite quickly back in our bedroom.  There is glitter all over our carpet now  🙂

Advent 5



Advent Ornament Project – December 2

I almost forgot about this today after hearing some difficult news. It was about 5:30 when I hopped off the bed and said, “Shit! Our daily project!” I ran downstairs to get the supplies, did a test run, and called the kids in for their turn.

So today, we filled clear acrylic ornaments with paints and shook the hell out of’ em. After the day I’ve had, shaking those ornaments felt great! The kids picked their colors, I pointed them into the ornaments as they squeezed the bottles, I did the initial shake for good paint distribution, and I handed them over to the kids.


This was a great test run because I’m planning to do this with 20 kids at Matthew’s school Christmas party. It will go great!

No pics today of them hanging them on the tree… They’re drying right now in an egg carton!

Oh, and…. I did not raise my voice even once!



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Advent Ornament Project – December 1

I picked a SUPER easy project today that required nothing but a pair of scissors. I’ve had this little foam ornament package for over a year, just waiting for the right moment. We literally had 15 minutes between getting home and nap time, which made today at 1:15, precisely the right moment!

Bryson was INTO it! He was so excited to help me make his ornament and put it on the tree. It had to go, “right next to Thomas!” Every single favorite ornament of the moment must go right next to Thomas… He is VERY popular and like the cool kid in school, his spot at the lunch table (or in this case, on the tree) never changes. 😉

Matthew was all about making his ornament and I let him, because that’s what this is all about. He took no instruction from me (“don’t put stickers up the middle, you can put stickers on both sides of the tree, use up all the stickers I gave you if you’d like”) and ignored everything that Bryson and I were doing – he was in the zone. Once done, he tossed it at me and grabbed some crayons to color on the HUGE Amazon box that arrived yesterday. He was over it!

Pictures with Bryson went so well because he meticulously put his ornament on the tree himself. I had to force Matthew to pick a spot on the tree and stand still for two seconds so I could take a picture.

Official Day 1 (but actually Day 2) was a success!




Mother of the Year… or Just Plain Stupid

Remember how going off of the pill made me more pleasant?  During that high (my realization that the pill has probably made me a crazy you-know-what for 21 years), I went to Michael’s and  It was full-on Christmas preparation there and they were stocked full of the things that would be hard to find a month later (been there, done that).  I started buying things, craft things, creative things, things for me, things for the kids, you name it.  As I was perusing the aisles, looking for clear glass ornaments to fill with paint and glitter and shit, I decided…

Our advent calendar will be one of daily craft projects this year, not chocolate!

Oh yes.  Oh YES – this would be fun!  Every day, starting on December 1st, we would come home from lunch and make a Christmas ornament, or a decoration, that would then be put on the tree or strategically placed wherever the boys chose for said project.

I loaded up my cart – at both stores.

When I came home, so proud of my idea, I just had to tell Hottie about it and his response was luke-warm, at best.  “Every day?  You’re going to make them make an ornament every day?  I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.  You’ll just end up yelling at them and doing the projects yourself – like when you did those Pint.erest cupcakes.”  What?  Of course it’s a good idea!  We’d buy a tree for each of their rooms and they would slowly decorate their tree up until Christmas.  What wasn’t he getting?  This was a freaking OUTSTANDING idea!  This was a Mother-of-the-Year (or at least, a Mother-of-the-Holiday-Season) idea.

This was going to be FUN!

My idea started going downhill when I left my two HUGE bags of projects out while I ran on the treadmill one morning.  Bryson came in, carrying a strip of foam stickers, and I thought, “hmmm.. I wonder where he got those.”  It didn’t take long to figure that one out.  He’d of course ripped open the box of foam bits and pieces to build a pretty cool foam sticker train (tacky, but age-appropriate) because you know, it was full of stickers.  I smiled, unfazed, and stuffed everything back in the box.  I was sure there were missing pieces, but who really cared.  This was going to be FUN!

I became a little concerned when I tested out the glass-ornament-filled-with-paint project.  I have a shit-ton of these glass ornaments in the shapes of balls, boxes, and tear-drops.  I have two big containers of acrylic clear ornaments especially for the kids.  The project is a no-brainer, but I will likely end up doing 95% of them, leaving the kids the job of picking the colors for each one.  Not a ton of fun for them, but their attention spans aren’t great, so it will be fine.  This was going to be FUN!

I started to worry quite a bit when Bryson proved that he is not ready for his own tree this year.  Matthew has a very small tree in his room and Bryson likes to take the ornaments off of it and play with them, leaving a trail of hooks behind him.  He does the same thing with the big tree in the living room, and has destroyed quite a few ornaments shaped like cars and toys because, you know, they look like cars and toys to play with.  Again, I’ve kept my cool because they’re just ornaments and who really cares?  Even if he can’t put them on his own tree, he can put his daily creations on the big family tree.  This was going to be FUN!

So today, on November 30th, a day ahead of schedule, I pulled out project #1 (no, they’re not all planned out).  I picked an easy one, one involving felt sticker bits to make a Christmas banner, complete with a snowman and Santa.  I figured this would get them in the spirit – it had all the things they love (Santa, a snowman, sticker pieces, ribbon) – and this would get them excited about doing a similar project each day.  They were into it for about 90 seconds before Bryson started putting the discard pieces in his mouth and Matthew started sticking random pieces all over the place.  I kept my composure and just kept working through it, asking for pieces here and there and letting Matthew peel off the sticker backings (Bryson was still eating discard pieces and having a great time doing so).  We got it done – without any yelling (take that, Hottie!), without any tears!  And they loved it!

I decided to take a picture of them with their “very neat” banner and asked them to sit next to it (“but don’t touch it, that glue is drying.  I mean it, don’t touch it.  Please stop touching it.”)… and that is when it happened.  That is when the inevitable, the unavoidable, happened.

“Please look at the camera.  Please look at the phone.  Please stay there a second.  Please look at Mommy.  Please, both of you, smile and sit still.  Please just look at me.  LOOK AT THE PHONE!”

I raised my voice…

But only once!



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!


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Weekend Highlight – Our First Snow

We finally got snow yesterday for the first time this fall. This is unusual for us! Usually by Halloween, everyone’s making bets on when we’ll see our first snow flakes if we haven’t already. We usually have had at least a flurry or two by the start of November, but not this year (which has been awesome!).

Saturday morning brought us 6 inches of real snow – enough to play in but not enough to ruin our moods (ha ha!). Our “snow guys” had our drifts cleared out by 1:00 and the kids were ready to go! Bryson was pretty sick with a virus but he refused to stay in while Matthew got to go out, so we bundled them up and Hottie did the honors – I believe it is the Dad’s job to take them out in the freezing cold. They were out for over an hour (I ran on the treadmill) and I think the cold air cleared out Bryson’s nasty sinuses. He’s still feeling exhausted and yucky today, but I really think the cold air helped.

They had a great time together and with the neighbor kids. I snapped a few photos from inside behind a screen, so those photos are not good. The good ones are from the neighbor!

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