Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve Partying

We are super glamorous people, so we spent New Year's Eve with Trey and Whitney, of course! We cooked, watched movies, and hung out. One of my favorite things to do with our friends is to just be together. Even if we're all doing completely separate things, it's just fun to be in the same room together.
Whitney and I had cute outfits on for about 10 minutes. (Just enough time to take this picture.) Then we changed into sweatpants and flannel shirts, and got to spend the rest of the night in comfortable clothes.
Chillin' like villains. We love us some Sapp men! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle masks, new headphones, and games on computers.
Welcome to Whitney's new obsession. Butters is a French Bulldog who joined their family about a week ago. I'm pretty sure Whitney would surgically attach she and the dog together if she could.
I swear, we spent time interacting! I just had to take this picture, because it made me smile!
Evelyn is absolutely in that stage where she gets into everything. She seems to have a special gift for finding the tiny buttons and breakable items in any room!
We had such a great time with our Wolf Pack! (don't ask) We love spending special time with them!

Dreaming And Dust (And Lots Of Paint!)

So, we want to sell our house. We're not sure of the exact timeline, and we're not exactly sure where we want to go (we have some dreams, but nothing concrete), but we're starting the process.
That means we're getting our house ready, speaking to our real estate agent, and dreaming of new places. We want to stay in Marietta, but it's always been our dream to be closer to our church. We make it work, but so much of our life revolves around ministries and activities that take place about 30 minutes from our home. Since I'm the one that does almost all of the driving with the girls, and I just happen to hate driving around everywhere, it's not a great combination.
Originally, our timeline to move was the next year or so, but recently, we've moved that timeline up (way up!) Ideally, we'd love to sell our house in the next few months. Wow! Just saying that out loud makes me feel a little panicked. We have reasons for moving the timeline up, but they're not public yet, so I'm pausing on that for now.
Before we can put our house on the market, we have some major fixing up to do. It's mostly all surface work, but it includes a lot of spackling, sanding, priming, and painting. When Steve's dad was here while we were in New York, he did a ton of work! The dining room is stripped and re-painted, and Mel's bathroom looks incredible - dad repainted everything from the ceiling to the cabinets. When my dad was here for Christmas, we worked on the half bathroom, our closet, and our Master bathroom. It was so great to have the extra help from our dads!
We're now working on Bella's bedroom, the playroom, and our Master bedroom. There is still a lot of work to do, but we have at least half of the list done! A few larger projects include our kitchen ceiling and re-carpeting all of the upstairs. And honestly, I am so sick of sanding walls and being covered in dust, and breathing in weird fumes. We're desperately trying to keep our eyes on the big picture, and I know it will all be worth it in the end! 

 Dad and I working on our closet...and pretty much how we're going to be spending the next few weeks of our lives.

Mimi And Papa Memories

Bella and Evelyn loved having Papa and Mimi here for Christmas! These are some of the "non-Christmas-y" fun we had going on!

Mimi was wrapping presents and tried to teach Bella how to sword fight with the empty cardboard rolls. As you can see, it didn't work in Mimi's favor! The girls had a blast "attacking" her with their cardboard swords!
We're a weird family. Luckily, we usually enjoy being weird together. On Monday night, we got a babysitter for the girls and all went to a great Italian restaurant called Ipps in downtown Woodstock. Dad and I got to enjoy being silly on our side of the table!

Bella helped Papa make his famous zebra cake! This was a delicious tradition in our house growing up, and we always believed Dad was the only one who knew how to make it right. (Turns out the recipe's actually on the side of the box. We were gullible children.)

Mimi and Bella, playing a new game on Mimi's phone. Phone and food are both great ways to bribe my children. I sense a parenting fail somewhere in there, but I'm choosing to ignore it.
The girls loved their extra one-on-one time with mom and dad, and we had just as much fun spending Christmas together at home!

Christmas Day

Most of my pictures from Christmas are on my mom's camera, so I'm still waiting for those to come in. Meanwhile, I think I've updated the other blog posts from the last week...

Christmas Eve

We've been attending Eastside for almost six years, and this is the first time we've gotten to be a part of the Christmas Eve services there. I was so excited! With all of the travel and family and projects going on throughout the end of November and all of December, I was not doing a good job of staying focused on the real meaning of Christmas. This service was just what I needed to pause and remember.

 It was a "family service", so we got to keep the girls with us. I think that was my favorite part! I had to take Evelyn out at the very end, but it was so special to have both girls with us while singing Christmas carols and sitting with our family and friends.
Evelyn and Daddy, holding hands in the backseat. Our "fancy family" pictures are on mom's computer, so this is all I have.

Part of the service included bringing the kids on stage to hear a story. Bella is in the red dress on the right. She was fantastic! We were sitting in the second row, so she kept turning around and waving to us. When Denise asked what the kids were going to give Jesus for Christmas, Bella raised her hand and said, "My toys. But just one. Not all of them." I think we're really getting through to her.

The extra awesomeness of being home for Christmas for the first time is that we got to enjoy all of our special moments with the Sapps! Here we all are after the service - Madeline was freezing and Charli was done with the entire process, but we captured our families on camera!

Whitney and I in our finery! We were both a little giddy to be together for Christmas this year!
Back at home and in our matching, Christmas PJ's. One of the traditions we've started as a family is to open a new game on Christmas Eve and play together! This year was Hungry, Hungry Hippos!
They loved it! Mostly because it's loud and crazy, and it was so much fun!
Papa and Mimi taking their turn
Ready for bed and excited about Santa!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meeting Santa

Tonight was our yearly visit with Santa at our local Chick-fil-A. We LOVE this CFA and they are always wonderful with kids! Bella does better with "new" experiences if we can tell her as much as possible of what is going to happen, so we walked her through the steps of meeting Santa. 

We told her that we would be eating dinner first, then Santa would come out and we would sit next to him, we had to smile for pictures, and then she could tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas.

Bella handled it like a rockstar! Steve and I made a huge deal about it when Santa walked out, and talked about how his reindeers were still up on the roof waiting for him. She got really excited and was in a great mood for our pictures! 

Evelyn was definitely not convinced! She's working on the same cough and cold that Bella already has, and she's been in a rough mood since we got home. As soon as I walked towards Santa, Evelyn started to lose it. Luckily, we were expecting this, so I just sat down next to Santa.

Our second "official" photo. Evelyn calmed down a lot once she realized I was going to hold her the entire time and Santa wouldn't touch her.

I love these pictures! Her facial expressions and little feet tucked up! They're just so precious! And I love the second one where it looks like she's so sure Santa's going to bring her exactly what she asked for!

We don't make a big deal about Santa, but we play along with the idea that he brings special presents for Christmas. Steve and I haven't figured out all the logistics of how Santa fits into our Christian Christmas, but for now, I love that he is part of the magic for her world! 

Breakfast At Bethlehem

Before we left for New York, Steve got to take Bella to our church's annual event for kids called Breakfast at Bethlehem. 

This was Bella's 2nd year, and she loves it! They have live animals, a nativity, and Pastor tells the Christmas story.

There are so many times when I'm the one that gets to do special things with the girls and at first-glance, they tend to prefer "Mommy", so I do everything I can to make sure the girls get one-on-one time with Daddy whenever possible!

We got a smile! They had such a great time together! Bella got to do a craft, and her friends David, Charli, and Molly were at the table with her! 

Bella got to feed the donkey and pet some chickens. When Joseph and Mary came out with Baby Jesus, Bella called out, "That's not Jesus! That's just a doll!"

I love that she and Steve got some special time together, and live animals are always a guarantee that she'll be happy!

Back To Real Life

This has been a whirlwind weekend! We flew into Atlanta and discovered our car wouldn't start. Once the courtesy car from the airport got us started again, we were able to finally get home and see the girls!!! We woke Bella up when we got home, so we could get hugs and kisses, but we let Evelyn sleep until the morning. 

It was so good to hug Bella and smell her hair and kiss her!!! I love the way my girls smell! On the downside of reality, Bella hasn't stopped talking since we got home! She probably talked the entire time we were gone, too, but Steve and I struggled not to bang our heads against the wall during our first 24 hours. 

Dad did a TON around the house! We have a list of house projects we're slowly working on, and dad knocked a big chunk out of those! It was incredible!

We spent the rest of the weekend wrapping up some of the smaller things on the list. I still have two suitcases to unpack, but at least Mel's bathroom is painted and done with a new mirror!

One of the things we had to finish was the mirror in our bathroom. Dad built a large, wooden frame, and Steve clamped it to the mirror itself to allow the hardcore glue to dry. 

We were cleaning up the kitchen last night when we heard a huge crash. Luckily, the girls were already in bed, because the entire mirror had pulled off the wall and shattered on the bathroom floor! 

It was insane! I've never had this kind of a mess! After vacuuming, sweep, washing, and sweeping some more, we finally got the bathroom floor clear of glass! 

This week is back to reality! We're going with the Sapps tonight to see Santa at Chick-fil-A, and we have a dinner party on Thursday! On Sunday, my parents will be here to start our Christmas celebrations! Whew! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Statue of Liberty

This side trip was the one attraction that Steve really cared about! It was a gorgeous, sunny day, but (this was my motto this week) it was sooo cold! I wanted to take full advantage of all of the amazing sites and sounds this week, but by today, the cold had me a little beat. 

We didn't want to leave with seeing the statue, though, so we braved the wind and set out.

On the ferry to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is.

From far away...

Finally there and coming off the ferry

The harbor view from the island

The New York skyline from Liberty Island

Doesn't the blue sky really make her stand out? I was so thankful that these last couple days have been sunny! It hasn't made it any warmer, but it's made the city even more beautiful!

Our close-up selfie

Getting a helping hand from a fellow tourist. 
We had tickets to go into the pedestal, but not the crown. Once we get there, though, the line was so long to even get into the pedestal that we realized we weren't going to have time to go up inside and still get back to the hotel to catch our ride to the airport.
So we put that on our bucket list for July! To reserve tickets ahead of time so that we can go up into the crown, and have a longer chance to take the ferry and walk around Ellis Island afterwards! Oh, and to get to stand on the outer decks of the ferry! 
This was our last official "site" to see, and I'm so thankful Steve got to come with me this time!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Grand Central Station And Dinner

Tonight was our last night in New York, and we had no idea where we were going to go for dinner!

We really wanted to see Grand Central Station, so we decided to head in that direction and find dinner along the way.

All bundled up and ready to go! (P.S. Don't you just love Instagram filters?)

Isn't it a beautiful building! The sculpted angel on the top is especially stunning! 

We loved the ceilings and holiday decorations! The ceilings have constellations on them just like the Fox Theatre in Atlanta!

There were hundreds of people! Throngs literally everywhere! It was a sight to see!

In front of the train schedule. We were not on our picture-taking A game tonight.

After the train station, we walked around for a little bit and found The Cinema Brassierre. (And by "walking around", I mean Steve dragged me over crosswalks and through side streets while I complained about how cold and hungry I was 13 degrees and windy, people!) We were curious as to why it was called The Cinema, but then we saw the manager trying to fix a projector that was mounted on the ceiling. By the time we were leaving, they were playing old, silent films on the wall. It would have been super cool to have them going throughout our entire meal!

It was a delicious French restaurant!

Our last date night in New York! And we got to sit by the window again!

We never got to go to the top of the Empire State Building during this trip, but walking home, we got to see this beautiful sight! 

Deep sigh...I just love this city...

Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Today was my first major "directions/schedule" snafu since getting here. I wanted to go to the Met today, so I woke up early with Steve, got breakfast with the guys and headed off towards the subway. 

It was so cold outside, and it was a really long subway ride, so I was incredibly thankful to finally get to the steps of the museum. I wanted to have as long as possible to walk around and still be able to meet Steve for lunch, so I got there just before 9:00. Are you ready for this? The museum didn't open until 10:00. Seriously! I had to kill an hour in a part of town that I knew nothing about in 13 degree weather! I was so frustrated at myself for not checking on times!
I ended up Googling the closest Starbucks, wandering around Park Avenue and Madison Avenue, and seeing some gorgeous townhomes on my quest to get warm!

Finally in line to go in the museum! And so cold, I was almost crying!

The front of the museum. I'm not an art or history buff, so I was more interested in just roaming around.

I never got to the VanGogh exhibit or a few other famous items, but here are some of my favorite things that I did get to see...

I thought Bella would love the snake issue going on in this painting. 

I really wanted to take a picture of the nobleman posing next to a horse's derrière, but there was a curator right next to it, and I chickened out.

This reminded me of the girls! You just have to switch their hair color!

I loved the sculpture garden! Light, airy, and filled with beautiful pieces!

In front of an Egyptian sphinx. After awhile, I got tired of taking the same "smiley" selfie in front of random art. 

A cell phone couldn't grasp the expanse of the rooms or the size of some of the pieces. It was beautiful!

For lunch, Steve got a recommendation for the Zeytuna Market. Some of the local guys said it was "just like any other lunch place", but it was very different from our usual lunch dates of Willy's and Chick-fil-A!

Walking down into the market. It was a great international market with all sorts of international cuisines!

Food and "flair"!

Lunch was sushi and miso soup, and I brought a chocolate chip brownie home for dessert!