Holiday Photo Booth

We decided it would be fun to try doing a photo booth this year over the holidays. This was our first adventure with it, so we weren’t sure what to expect. My friend Ashley of Ashley Bruschi Photography was a big help with loaning me her flash, and educating me on what camera settings would be good with the flash… because I have NO clue when it comes to using an external flash. It’s whole new world for me!  I found the backdrop on Amazon (we decided to do black because it’s more forgiving with shadows), and we got a few of the fun glasses on Amazon as well, and then the rest of the props came from the local Party City.

We had two Christmas parties at our house this year. One was a ornament exchange with a few close friends and neighbors, and the other was our family Christmas Eve gathering. For the family gathering, unfortunately, we didn’t get as much participation because it was just to chaotic with all the kids, but it really is a fun way to capture an event. It’s challenging to photograph adults at a party. I think kids are a bit easier because they can turn on the charm and goofy-ness.  A photo booth is just the thing that turns grown adults in to goof balls themselves. Well, and alcohol helps too, I suppose. I can’t tell you how many good belly laughs we got from these silly props and poses. It was a big party hit.


2015 Holiday Festivities

We had a great time celebrating the holidays. It’s no surprise that I am a big fan of Christmas. Anyone that knows me knows that I love the whole shebang. The music, the decorating, the lights, shopping, Christmas outings with the fam, cooking, visiting Santa, hosting parties, and all the holiday festivities that go along with it!

IMG_9155Lake Lanier Under the lights 5K
The first thing we did to get into the holiday spirit, was run/walk the Lake Lanier Under the lights 5k.  We did this last year, and it really is a fun event to do. Not only that, but I love the time I spend with Dan, running and being goofy out there together. You get to see lots of light displays during your run, and the jolly man himself. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s something that we enjoy and would like to continue doing every year!

 

Tree Lighting of Avalon

We enjoyed a tree lighting ceremony in Avalon. This was our first year attending the tree lighting ceremony there, and it was nice. It was super cold, and a bit crowded, but we ran into some friends, and it turned out to be a really fun evening.  This may end up being a tradition each year leading up to Christmas!

Parkway’s Children’s Program

Mason and Sienna took to the stage with their classes to sing Christmas songs for the holidays.  This was Sienna’s first time singing and she did great! She loves singing, and is always animated with her movements when putting on a performance, and Mason isn’t shy about singing either. It was super precious and we enjoyed every bit of it!

 

Cookies with the Clauses

It was kind of sad this year going to Cookies with the Clauses because I remember taking Parker as a toddler, when Mason was just a baby. My how the times have changed. Now Mason and Sienna are attending without big brother because he’s in Kindergarten. In a blink of an eye! Next year Mason will be in Kindergarten as well!

Sienna and Mason had a great time. We met a few friends there, but we were waiting in line for a while for Santa and Ms. Clause that we didn’t get to visit as long as we would’ve hoped to.

 

Getting the Perfect Christmas Tree

No Christmas would be the same without our annual visit to Kinsey Farms. We decided to go on a weekday this year because it’s always been super busy on the weekends. Although, this is a Christmas Tree farm, they’re not typical Christmas trees that they grow there. They’re leyland Cyprus, and other green trees, but Fraser firs are what people typically get, and they aren’t grown in this area. They’re mostly grown in the Appalachian regions of NC. They are trucked into Kinsey farms, but we still love the atmosphere of the farm, and it has certainly become a tradition of our family.
Even though Mason and Sienna managed to dump hot chocolate all over them, and they burned their marshmallows several times, we still managed to laugh about it all. I love our crazy family!


When we got home, we got busy decorating the new tree! We decided to do colored lights this year, which is the first time we’ve done this. I noticed that they don’t photograph as well as the white lights, but it was fun to use the for a change!

 

Meeting Santa in Avalon

We had planned to visit Santa at North point mall, but they are just too fancy. I mean, for realz, fancy!! In order not to have to wait in a line for a long time, I planned to do a reservation. Except this year in order to make a reservation at North Point Mall Dreamworks Santa, you had to pay ahead of time for the pictures too. Say whaaaat? Who does that? I mean… this year happens to be the first year that we don’t have a kid afraid of Santa, but if we did then we’d be up a creek with crappy photos. I’m just not a fan of paying for photos you’ve never seen. I think I’m pretty normal in that degree. It is a fancy set-up though. They allow you to design your sleigh, and you go on an interactive ride in your sleigh prior to meeting santa. We may try it next year, but Dreamworks needs to get a reality check before next year and not require the pre-pay for photos in order to reserve.
So, we went to Avalon instead, which turned out to be a great experience anyways. The only thing that was a bit of a let-down was the weather. It was literally 70 degrees! Not very Christmasy but we made the best of it. After a sweet visit with Santa, and a wonderful staff that allowed me to take MY OWN photos for free, Parker begged me to take him ice skating. It was so expensive that we could only take one child, and we told the others that they weren’t old enough and they’d have to wait until next year. Dan took them to the soft play area and Parker and I took to the ice. It was so slushy from the weather that Parker fell several times into the wet mess. However, in true Parker fashion, he laughed and laughed and didn’t mind one bit. Just like when he was learning to ride a bike. He never got upset or frustrated, he just laughed, got back up, and tried again! I need to remember this when I’m frustrated by the fact that he’s a goof ball and won’t be serious…I’m thankful that he also has the type of personality that doesn’t take himself too seriously and knows when to laugh it off, even if it’s the hundredth time falling in slushy ice and soaking your pants from the waist down!

Christmas Eve

We were overjoyed to be able to host Christmas Eve in our home this year. We typically go to Angie’s house, but we asked if we could host, and we were so thankful that she not only agreed, but was happy that we offered. I know we live a little further out, and we were excited that everyone was able to come up and spend such a special time in our home.  We had a table full of appetizers and desserts, and we enjoyed catching up with family, and we watched a short clip from the movie Nativity that talked about the birth of Christ, and the true reason why we celebrate the holiday. In years past, we have done everything from reading scripture, to singing Christmas Carols, to sharing prayers, and we decided to change it up, and put our stamp on the night. All the young kids are excited to open “stocking stuffers” from family members, of course too. Truthfully, I may be equally excited to see the joy and smiles on their faces!  Overall, it was a big success! We were exhausted, but everyone had a great time and the kids were tired by the end, but still excited for Santa to come and for Christmas morning.

Christmas Day

We enjoyed a relaxed morning at home Christmas Day.  The kids big gifts this year were a dollhouse for Sienna, remote BB8 for Parker and Mason got a Lego AT AT.  Aunt Angie hosted Christmas lunch at her house this year, which was really nice because typically the family Christmas Day lunch is held at the farm, which is too far for us to drive with the kids.  It was nice to visit more with family and get to see my grandparents that weren’t able to make it on Christmas Eve. We had a wonderful relaxing Christmas!

Year-end Catch-up!

I know, I know. I’ve been terrible about updating my blog. I apologize to you loyal readers and also to those of you who merely scroll through half heartedly wondering if I will post anything noteworthy.

I haven’t been blogging as much because my old laptop was running extremely slow and I was having issues importing pictures because my hard drive was overcrowded and the operating system was old and outdated. Dan and I decided it was time to upgrade, so I got a Macbook Pro as my Christmas present! I love the solid state hard drive, with a faster processor and a fresh new hard drive to start. This makes updating my blog, so much easier!

So, since my last post in September we had a few more life events that I feel are blog worthy.

Our Disney Vaca

This was Sienna’s first time and our first time as a family going. We went over Fall break, which made the crowds less busy. We loved it! Seeing the smiles on our kids faces are priceless.  While I took Sienna to do all things princess, including dining in Cinderella’s castle, Dan took the boys to Legoland for one day.  We stayed a few nights at the Embassy suites, and about four nights at the Art of Animation Resort (I highly recommend!). We spent time as a family at Magic Kingdom, and with Dan’s parents at Hollywood Studios. The boys were over the moon excited for all things Star Wars related at that park! We also tried pin trading for the first time, and that was really fun to look at and trade while we were waiting in line. Overall a great vacation and experience!



Coal Buddy

A new family member joined us in October. Coal! We wanted to get a puppy for a while but we were waiting for the right time.  Dan needed more convincing. We all finally agreed it was the right time.

We sold our townhouse, the kids are older now and could help out.  We didn’t want a big dog, but not a tiny yapper dog either.  We found the perfect fit with Coal. He’s small, but not tiny.  We went to the Forsyth County Animal shelter, and we met ten month old “Vincent” super sweet and gentle with the kids.  We all went over name options because we didn’t think Vincent suited him.  We came up with Coal because of the charcoal color of his fur, and Parker loved the name because it is the name of the black ninja on the show Ninjago. He doesn’t bark much, and he loves to play with the kids.  He’s been a great addition to the family! He did need some house training in the beginning which took about a month, but all in all, he has been a sweet pup, and we love having him around.




The Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

In October, We enjoyed a few pumpkin farms, one with Mason and Sienna’s school field trip to Uncle Shuck’s and we also enjoyed our annual family trip to Kinsey farms to pick out our pumpkins.  We enjoyed a pumpkin painting playdate in Wills Park, and of course, we all dressed up in costumes this year for Halloween.  I was the witch from “Room on the Broom” Parker and Mason’s favorite Halloween book, Dan was Sub Zero, Parker and Mason were ninjas from Ninjago, and Sienna was her favorite princess, Princess Sofia the First. We had a neighborhood gathering and the kids had a blast trick or treating!



Sienna Turns Three

When I really think about it, I start to get sad. My sweet girl  has turned three and is looking more like a big kid than ever. She wanted to have a Sofia the First birthday party, so we had a few of her friends over and she enjoyed games and celebrating!  We did bobbing for apples, making magic wands, making bracelets with pipe cleaner and beads, and dancing to Sofia music. Sienna had a great time celebrating!



Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving we had my brother come down from NC to visit, so that was really nice! The rest of the holiday was pretty typical. Lots of eating, cooking, visits with family at Aunt Angie’s house and just enjoying having the kids out of school and spending time together!



Ear Piercing and Ballet

Sienna got her ears pierced for the first time (she did great!) and she started ballet, which I feel like is pretty noteworthy! These are a few things that I have been waiting for, and now that she’s three, we thought she would be old enough for both. She has loved showing off her ear rings, and showing off her moves that she has learned in ballet. We have signed her up for lessons every Monday until May and she has loved taking the class with her best buddy Kenzie! Her Mom and I are friends and gym buddies, and the girls are the same age, and just love spending time together too!




 

I am hoping as the new year approaches that I can resolve to blog more. Not just about things we did or particularly noteworthy events and milestones (although those are great) but be able to use this blog as a sound board for internal struggles, ideas, encouragement, etc. and hopefully allow me to get back to writing more posts that inspire everyone to be the best they can be, but also allow me to be more grateful for where I am in my current journey.

 

Parker’s Ninja 6th Birthday Party

This weekend we celebrated Parker’s sixth birthday! Wohoo! He’s growing so fast, and I just love watching him year by year learn and grow. This year, he has really been into Ninjago, a lego ninja series that has lego sets, and a cartoon show, as well as books. So, we thought he would enjoy a ninja party at a local Karate center, and let a pro teach him and his buddies the ways of the ninja!

In addition to learning Karate moves, they learned about stranger danger, how to block moves, and Parker got to break a board, as well as cut his cake with a sword! As if that wasn’t enough, all the kids got to take a swing at Lord Garmadon Piñata, which they all loved!

We enjoyed every minute of celebrating Parker. He is SO worth celebrating. He brings us all so much joy. He has such a happy spirit, and positive attitude, and I am so thankful he’s apart of our family.


Chattanooga Day Trip

We made a last-minute decision to take a day trip up to Chattanooga’s Rock City. We have a season pass that will expire soon, so we decided to take advantage. The kids loved the trails, and we just enjoyed having fun at a new place to change up the scenery! The weather was beautiful, and the views from the mountain are always gorgeous! I am loving the new cooler weather, and I can’t wait for the leaves to change, and for fall to be here! We finished off our trip with a little visit to Cabela’s, an Outdoor store that has fun animals and a fish tank that the kids love. Overall a fun way to enjoy Labor Day weekend.

Grown-up Birthday Fun

We celebrated Dan and I’s Birthdays in August, and we had a nice time keeping it low-key with some family time as well as enjoying a date night sans kids {We love them…but sometimes its a must!}.

For my birthday, we enjoyed a dinner at Ichiban with the family and a few weeks prior Dan went with me paddle boarding for the first time with a few friends of ours. Everyone had a great time. Dan and the kids baked me a home made chocolate cake, which turned out delicious and Dan surprised me with a photo printer. I’ve been loving having hard copies of some of my favorite photos to frame, hang on the fridge, or give away as gifts. So nice!

For Dan’s Birthday, we enjoyed a date night and movie- the latest Mission Impossible. He got a new katana sword for his birthday gift that he had been wanting, so that naturally made him very happy. He also requested that I make a chocolate cake topped with his favorite icing that his Mom used to make for him as a kid. Well, I had some big shoes to fill, but I took on the challenge and found this recipe on pinterest and it turned out great! I made the home made chocolate cake they suggested to go with it.  The only thing bad about this cake is that the icing doesn’t last long, but other than that, it was a huge hit, and a new favorite of the family!

fluffy white icing

Fluffy White Icing-Marshmallow Frosting

yield: frosting for 2 nice-inch round cakes

1 cup of granulated white sugar (not powdered sugar)
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup of water, sugar, cream of tartar to a boil. Do not stir the sugar mixture as it will cause it to crystallize. Boil until you have thick clear bubbles ( should only take about 5 minutes and reads a temperature of 245 F). Be careful not to boil even 1 second longer. *(If a mistake happens and you do boil the sugar too long and end up with an amber colored sugar mixture, don’t throw it away. Add some heavy cream and you have an amazing caramel sauce. soon as it comes to a rapid bubble, because it will turn amber, and than you would have to quickly make a different recipe, and add heavy cream, which would be “caramel sauce”).
In a metal bowl, add all the egg whites, and beat the egg whites until starts to get a little thick and forms soft peaks. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Now slowly (take care and do not let this boiling hot sugar syrup burn you) add the sugar syrup only a little at a time and beat on high speed for 7 minutes.

On the last minute, beat in the vanilla extract. The frosting will be fluffy and light. My mom recommends adding a drop of food coloring if you want to be daring.
Enjoy this fun, old-fashioned frosting on whatever sort of cake you love. It is guaranteed to be requested over and over again.;)

 

Dan turned 41 and I turned 34! Time flies! We are embracing this new year to come and hoping for many more days for God to bless us with good health and time with family and friends.

Preschool is in Session

Mason and Sienna started preschool a few weeks ago.  This is Mason’s last year of preschool before big kid school next year! This is Sienna’s first year, and she has really enjoyed going to school, making new friends and getting lots of attention from her sweet teachers.  It’s been nice having a few hours to myself a few times a week for the first time in many years!  So far, I have been volunteering some at Parker’s school a few days a month and running a few Thursdays with a friend, so that has been great to be kid-free for.

We have enjoyed the preschool quite a bit, but the only challenge has been that it’s (I feel) not ideal for families that have multiple children attending.  They have staggered pick-up times, and that has been an adjustment having it be a 10-15 minute process each time I pick up both kids, but hopefully as everyone gets into the groove of school, it’ll get easier.  We love the teachers so far and the kids, above all, are happy and love telling me about their day.  We are thankful for that, and looking forward to a great school year for these two {Super-cute} Preschoolers!


My oldest started KINDERGARTEN!

This back to school season was a big one for us because Parker started Kindergarten! Parker was super excited to go, but I was a mess. A. MESS! It’s yet another reminder how fast he is growing and how our time is so precious while they’re young. He’s so ready, with him approaching six, he waited as long as possible with the cut-off date being August first (thank goodness!) he had to wait one more year before starting.

So, with me having more jitters that Parker did about him starting this new endeavor, we thought it would be fun to make bracelets together so that he could remember me while he was at school, and so that I would feel comforted when I started feeling sad about him taking such a step in going to big kid school!

Parker's First Day of School

It also helped that he has lots of friends that joined him on the bus, too. I don’t think I would’ve been so accepting of doing the bus if it wasn’t for the fact that there were so many people we knew riding. Also, I heard that it was strongly encouraged because of the super long carpool line during drop-off. It was still really hard for me realizing the fact that I had to just let go of control and trust the driver of the bus, and his teachers and know that God was watching over him through all of it. I wasn’t so sure about the bus on the first day because the windows were so tinted on the new bus models, that I couldn’t even see where Parker went, much less wave to him as they drove away. Not exactly what I had envisioned. I called the bus driver mid-day (I know… I was THAT Mom) but it really helped calm my fears to talk through some of the things that made me nervous (no bus numbers, not seeing my son in the first few rows like he promised, no adult “helper” on the bus to help get the kids seated, etc.).

So far, Parker has loved school and has made lots of friends. That part usually comes easy for him! Maybe a little too easy, actually. There is a neighbor friend that is in his class that he didn’t know well, but they quickly became good buddies. The two of them had to be separated for excessive talking and goofing off in class. It doesn’t surprise me a bit because Parker may be the goofiest out of all the kids and he doesn’t miss an opportunity to make someone laugh or be silly! It’s almost to his detriment. While I love his enthusiasm and positivity, he lacks the self control at this age to harness it and only use during appropriate times like recess, PE or lunch. He’s working on it though, and I am confident that his positive attitude will serve him well as he grows and matures. So, the first few weeks we got a few frowny faces on his behavior chart, but we have since worked through these issues, and I am super proud of his recent efforts of self control and focus in the classroom!

I’m coming to terms with the fact that my boy is growing up. He’s going to be six in a few weeks, and he’s becoming more responsible and his sweet personality shining through. He’s a great helper in the kitchen and he’s doing great learning how to keep up with his chores and duties around the home. I honestly couldn’t be more proud of who my sweet boy, my first born baby is becoming!

 

 

Summertime… Livin’ it Up and Lovin’ it! {{PART 2}}

This is a continuation of my last post of Summer activities, and what we’ve been up to this summer.  A lot of our planned get togethers were a lot of fun, but we also really treasured our unplanned days being at home, going to the gym, taking walks in our neighborhood and down our little road, dance parties in the playroom to new VBS music, endlessly building lego ships, houses, and make believe creations, dress-up, and Sienna’s favorite thing- having tea parties!

How was your Summer? Sad it’s almost over or ready for cool weather and pumpkins?

{Swimming)

{Girls Night}

{Bowling Playdate}

 

 

{dress-up, walks down the little road by our home}

 

 

{INK Children’s Museum Playdate}

 

{Last Pool Playdate of the season}

 

 

{StandUp Paddleboarding Couples Date}

Summertime… Livin’ it Up and Lovin’ it! {{PART 1}}

It has been my intent to update for some time now, but with all the new things going on in the Christiansen home, (Starting School, Selling our townhouse, consignment sale preparation, etc) I haven’t been able to carve time out of my schedule.

Well, Sienna is in school two days a week (a school post coming up soon!) and that has allowed me to catch a breath and have a little bit of free time! Wohoo! It only took six years! This has allowed me to finally do some blogging. So, prepare for a 2-3 post update over the next few days!

So, this summer, we enjoyed some great times with our friends! We kicked it off with an ice cream social, that you see in the post below. For those who know me well, it’s no secret that Summer is my absolute favorite season! I know most people love spring and autumn, but there is just something about the warmth of the sun, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine in the air, beach and sand, unscheduled free time, and of course, my birthday is in the summer! So, in order to live our summer to it’s fullest, without over booking ourselves and allowing us to enjoy being lazy and schedule-free, I booked weekly summer playdates with friends in order to have some fun time with local moms, and let the kids enjoy time with their friends. We really had a great time with it!

The kids also attended Birthday parties, cook-0uts, and I was even a mean Mommy and made them do school work. I know, I know…It’s summertime, but they wanted to have iPad time too, and I felt like a good compromise was to make them work on some worksheets instead of napping and earn their iPad time. Most of the time it worked well! They even got stickers that allowed them to earn special gifts for doing good work.  All practice for what was to come in their new school year!  Here’s an unfiltered iphoneography glimpse into our Summer activities:

{Sims Lake Park}

{Dan and the boys visit Hershey Park with the Daymans}

{Sienna and Mommy enjoy a Mother-Daughter Weekend}

{Summer Cookout at the Leiby’s}

IMG_6208

{Earning iPad time and stickers for special summer gifts}

{Fun with Farmer Sue at The Art Barn}

 

 

{Sophia’s Fourth Birthday}

{Crafting bracelets at the Library}

{Playdoh and puzzle Fun}


{Sarah and Gene’s Bridal Shower}

 

 

{Playdate with Horstmeyer and Hunt Boys}

{Gary Pirkle Park}

{Catch Air Playdate}

{July 4th with Family and Friends}

 

 

{Central Park}

{Chuck-e Cheese Playdate}

{Copper Creek Bunco Night}

{Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A}

{Cumming Aquatic Center Playdate}

{VBS and snow cone fundraising for missions}