Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm 5 years old, it's getting cold...

Taylor Swift's The Best Day has been a special part of my life as Lily's mom. Almost every single night of her life has ended with me singing this song to her. When she was tiny, and I was overwhelmed, unsure, and exhausted, this song gave me strength. I listened to the CD every single day for a full year after I would drop her off and drive to work. 

It starts "I'm 5 years old, it's getting cold..." I loved imagining Lily as a 5 year old, because that would mean we had survived. I was not completely sure I would survive her newborn-ness and infancy, so the idea of visiting a pumpkin patch with a Kindergartner was a beacon in my future. If we could just make it to 5 years old, we would be okay.  NUMEROUS times, I remember holding onto the hope that surely, by 5 years old, she would sleep? Sleep- lack thereof- has ruled my life as Lily's mommy. Even when she was 2 and 3 and not sleeping well, I would sing The Best Day to her and cling to the hope that by age 5 she would be sleeping. Unfortunately, there are still a few sleep issues, but overall, she is better sleeper at 5 than at any previous age! I will take it. 

Lily has been really excited for a while that she is now 5 years old and the "5 years old song" (as she calls it) actually describes her. Since the first stanza is about visiting a pumpkin patch, I have basically been dreaming of taking her to a pumpkin patch for 5 years. LUCKILY, Lily's class went on a field trip to one, and I got to just tag along!

It was fitting that Aunt Manda was there, because any part of a Best Day for Lily will always involve Aunt Manda. 

I'm 5 years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat (clearance jacket) on, 

I hear your voice and look up smiling at you, 

I run

and run.

Past the pumpkin patch 

And the tractor ride, look now- the sky is gold (grey).

I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home.

(Oh, that's right- it's supposed to be Mom, not Aunt Manda...)

The funniest part is that Lily ACTUALLY did look up and smile and start running toward us! I couldn't believe it, and I actually got a little teary eyed as I was taking her pictures running toward me, her wonderful mama. Literally, the song was even playing in my head. Except, then she literally ran right past me and straight up to Reese, screaming, "REEEEESSSIIEE!!!!" 

So, there's that. But, at least I got the pictures.

I didn't know if you knew, so I'm taking this chance to say, I had the best day with you today. 

Another day, we went to a free church festival right by our house and rode on a tractor ride while some random stranger watched.

I never knew so much of our song would change to include the baby sister, but I know Lily's days are so much better for having this baby girl to love!

Honestly, I am still overwhelmed, unsure, and exhausted as a mommy. But, I can honestly say that my best days of my life have been spent with these girls. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lily Craft Book

For the past 7 months I have had "Make Lily Craft Book" on my list of "things I really want to do if I get time." My mom gave me a free shutterfly book coupon, and I was sick of looking at it on my list. I finally started putting in on my calendar in ten minute appointments every night at 10pm. (Happiness Project advice) It took a long time, but it makes me SOO happy. I have taken pictures of Lily crafting and of SOME of her artwork over the years. I have probably only taken pictures of about half of her artwork, and I could only fit about half of that into the book. I didn't include anything she made at school, because I had to draw the line somewhere. She makes several things every day. Lily has never played with toys. I can't think of anything, besides her Daisy, Minnie, and Lucy dolls, that she has played with for more than a few minutes at a time. She just doesn't play with toys. But, the girl will craft. 

When she first started coloring around 18 months, I never imagined crafting would be her thing. Crafting is Lily's happy place. As I looked back through pictures of her crafting over the years and of her artwork, it was really special to be able to see how focused she was even when she was really young. She is so creative and generous. Almost of her crafts are for other people and are made with a great amount of thoughtfulness.

I am going to start making a book every year, I think. 

Here is a link to the Shutterfly book. I don't actually expect anyone to look at it, but I do like that it is here for documenting purposes. 

Create your own personalized photo books at

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More Books.

Some books I have read (mostly listened to) over the last few months or so:

I LOVED Bossypants (Tina Fey), so please read that one. It was hilarious. I also enjoyed Mindy Kaling's book. I adore Amy Poehler. If you don't watch Parks and Rec, please, please give it a chance. It is hilarious and endearing and clever and memorable. BUT, this was just not as good as I hoped. I wanted to love this book. was just okay. It was all over the place and it just sort of lacked a focus. I listened to it, and Amy read it herself, which was hilarious. But, sadly, it didn't really change my life. Eh. It was worth listening to (I recommend the audio over reading it), but  it isn't going to change your life.

But, really, if you like The Office and Modern Family, watch Parks and Rec. LOVE IT.

I would not run out and read this one- Most of it is geared toward business men. But, it did help me realize I need to reorganize my life, because I feel purposeless, chaotic, and overwhelmed. I did like this few bits of advice:
  • With a to-do list, write when and were I will do the task. I always transfer a 46 items from one week to the next, because I never actually accomplish much each day. So, either:
      • Do it immediately
      • Schedule it (if not for an immediate time, commit to doing it at a specific time on a specific day in the calendar. Actually WRITE it in the calendar of when you will do it)
      • Let it go. Maybe the task doesn't need to be done anyway if it has been carried around for weeks.
  • At the end of the day, ask: How did the day go? What successes and what challenges? What can I do differently tomorrow?
  • Stop multi-tasking. It's stressful and inefficient, like juggling balls in the air. 

I actually READ this one and didn't listen to it! 
It was a cute YA book- different and precious, odd...but I loved it. I really fell in love with the characters. It was an easy, quick read. It was refreshing to read a simple YA book that is appropriate for everyone without cussing and crazy suspense. Cute.

This was just not for me. I LOVED Unbroken, but I could not get into this book. I listened to it, and my kids are crazy and loud in the car, so this was probably part of why I just could not finish it. Not recommended.

One of my favorites! We chose it for a Book Club, so I re-read it. 
If you have not read it, please read it. It is life changing, and I think about parts of this book multiple times a day. I can't even try to list all of the parts that stand out to me.

Another gem that I recently re-read for Book Club. It's beautiful and memorable and hopeful and honest. READ THE GLASS CASTLE IF YOU HAVEN'T! Highly recommend.

My friend, Alyson, recommends the best books. I would never have read this one if I had just seen the cover and read the summary. It was fascinating, and now I am intrigued by the history of the Bible. It tells the story of Dinah and her father (Jacob) and her brothers (too many to remember- Joseph was one) and her grandparents (Isaac and Rebekah). It was different and interesting, and I liked the narrator's voice in the audio one. 

I enjoyed this one. It was serious and funny and sad all at once. It tells the story of a Russian immigrant who becomes a rich, successful ice cream company owner. My only problem with the book was that I couldn't' decide if it was supposed to be overall funny or overall serious. 

I recommend it, though. It was enjoyable and different. And, reading about the history of ice cream was interesting. 

This is LONG and I would never have been able to finish it if I actually read it.  But, once again... Audible to the rescue! 
I don't typically love Stephen King, because I don't like scary books. This one isn't scary at all, though. I really enjoyed it, but it IS LONG. You have to really like historical novels and lots and lots of details. But, this was a fantastic novel. 

I stole this from Stephen King's website:
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

I love Cheryl Strayed. Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things are two of my favorites. This one was depressing and sort of terrible. I don't recommend it.

Liane Moriarty is usually a pretty safe bet, and this was a good one. I listened to it, which helped, I think- the narrator is AUSTRALIAN!!!!!!!! It didn't change my life---her books are like a much deeper level of chick lit. I typically enjoy her books and this one was a favorite. 

This one has been on so many book recommendation lists and best selling lists, and a few weeks ago it was chosen as A National Book Award Finalist. It is set during WWII from many perspectives- a blind French girl, a genius, orphaned German boy, an old man, etc... I like the different  approach to WWII it takes- different characters and setting with no concentration camps or actual battles. I wanted to love it, but I just didn't. It was slow and jumped around too much for my tastes. I listened to it, and I think in this case it negatively affected how I felt about the book. I am so distracted when listening to the books (usually in the car) that I think I just got too confused about which character was talking each time. It is probably worth reading, but make sure you have time to focus. 


TOP TEN LIST: this was from FB but I want to include it here for documenting purposes. 

I was tagged in the Book Challenge by Clare Brimer and Rhonda Helms. So much pressure to just pick 10 books that have affected my life! I am choosing books that I read 3 years ago or longer, since they are proving their staying power. Also, my top 10 list is a rotating one that can change at any point (with the exception of my #1, which is firmly planted at the top).

1. Harry Potter. 
As if there could ever be another #1 in my life. My husband knows that if something ever happens to me, his most important task is to get my our girls to read Harry Potter. The series will explain everything about life that I could ever hope to teach them. 

2. Of Mice and Men.
The simple but powerful friendship of George and Lennie makes me love this book more each time I read it. In high school, the first research paper I ever wrote was about this book, and I credit it to helping me understand a thesis-driven paper. I risked getting in a lot of trouble as a teacher when I would whisper to a student, "Go close the door," and we would spend 30 minutes a day reading this book, which most people would not deem appropriate for 7th and 8th grade. My middle school kids realized the power of this book, and every year, my room would be full of tears and understanding from 12 and 13 year olds who discovered that even the "old boring classics" could impact their lives.

3. James and the Giant Peach. 
Without Roald Dahl, I don't think there would have ever been a JK Rowling. I love every Roald Dahl book, but this is probably my favorite. I love his imagination, his silliness, his ability to create worlds and magic.

4. Room.
Sigh. I hate this book. But, it it has affected me so much that I think of it daily/weekly. A teenager is abducted and help captive in a shed- her kidnapper rapes her, and she raises her son in a tiny, one room shed. The book is told from his 5 year old perspective. Sigh. I hate this book. I made Melissa promise me that they escaped before I would agree to read it. The little boy is happy and doesn't know anything different. His mom has created a world for him- with physical activity and games and fun and characters and songs- in this 11x11 square foot space. This book is terrifying, depressing, and horrific for the mom, but for the son, it is hopeful, heartfelt, and adorable. It is a testament to moms everywhere, to the lengths they will go for their children. 

5. The Happiness Project.
I think of this book numerous times each day. It changed the way I organize, the way I think, and the way I react to situations.

6. Berenstain Bears.
These bears taught me so many life lessons- don't speak to strangers, go play outside, clean my room, don't eat too much junk food, be myself, etc... They further developed my love of reading as a kid, and I am so happy that Lily now loves them! 

7. Pride and Prejudice.
I read this as a freshman in high school, and I loved it from the start. Part of me felt so "smart" and old for reading and understanding a "real" book. But, mainly, I just loved that Mr. Darcy. He comes across as arrogant and hard to crack, especially at first, but he reveals his warm heart and his depth of feeling over time. He and Elizabeth seem like polar opposites, but they eventually realize they are meant for each other. She calls him by his LAST NAME for most of the novel. Yes, throw in a great sense of humor and some beer...and Darcy is my husband! Honestly, I knew by our second date that I had found my own Darcy. I sometimes wonder if I would have even given my husband a chance if I hadn't been secretly waiting for my own Mr. Darcy. I even found him a card last year on etsy that says, "Thank you for being my Mr. Darcy." #truestory

8. One and the Same, My Life as an Identical Twin.
Melissa Salvaggio Glover gave me this one year. The author- a twin- interviewed identical twins of al ages on their bond and their twin-ness. She interviews a set of twins who were Jewish teenagers during WWII. They were sent to concentration camps, watched their entire family dies, were experimented on by Nazi doctors, and barely survived the Death Marches. And, yet, over and over and over during their interviews they emphasized their luck and how blessed they were. "We had each other. The entire time, we head each other. We were so very lucky." We have been asked a million times what it is like to be an identical twin, and I think that sums it up the best. 

9. The Giver.
Having the opportunity to teach The Giver to hundreds of students is one of the highlights of my life. I love this book. I love the hope, the revelations about life, the sprit, the way it makes readers think. I have read it countless times and cried every single time- always out of happiness. " 'There could be love,' Jonas whispered."

10. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. 
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, I love you. This is a book about her life- her normal daily life. It is poignant, funny, charming, realistic, precise. I read this YEARS ago, and I still get a warm feeling every time I think of it. Melissa and I became obsessed with her, and on my first Mother's Day as a mom 6 years ago, Amy mailed me a signed popsicle stick! Melissa somehow found out about it and sent her my info. If right now you aren't extremely jealous of my popsicle stick, then you need to go read her books. She has several children's books (Spoon, Exclamation Mark, Chopsticks) published. She created "The Birthday Book" and "The Belly Book" that I ADORE and have for each of my kids. It all started with this fun, memorable, genuine book.

Runner's Up (because I can): Steve Jobs, The Help, The Hunger Games, The Babysitter's Club series.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


We are obviously obsessed with Kiwi Crate. I never imagined I would spend the money to do it, but I broke down and bought the whole year package, and it is only $16 a month. It is Lily's FAVORITE thing in the entire world (besides Reese). I enjoy doing it very much, and the residual effects of doing a Kiwi Crate with Lily make me feel like a good mom for days after we do it together. Kiwi Crate is like a direct defense for Mom guilt. They even have one called Koala Crate for younger kids! And new crates for older kids: Tinker Crate and Doodle Crate. The cleverness and attention to detail of these boxes blows me away every month. I seriously wish they would make an adult crate. 

Anyway, the reason I brought that up is because I love a subscription box. I especially love trying them when I get a $10 off promo code and I can just cancel after the first box. Kiwi Crate is really the only box I have found that is worth the money. I read about this cooking subscription box for kids called Kidstir, and I decided to try it (since I saved $10). It was cute. It was worth the $13 I paid for the first box, but once the monthly price is $23....that is too expensive to me. I am sort of desperate for Lily to not hate cooking, so I am trying to give her every possible chance to think it is fun. 

The first kidstir box was worth the $13, because it came with a super cute cookbook, 3 recipes, a grocery list, and 3 little goodies- a whisk, chocolate sauce, and a pot holder.

The kid stir recipes are cute, and the cookbook is a little bigger than a 5x7. It has little divider tabs for breakfast, snacks, lunch, etc... So, now I can just find random recipes online for Lily and we can add them to her cookbook.

Her favorite part was taking the shopping list to the grocery store and marking off items as we went. 

I hate cooking, and I especially hate cooking with Lily. But, she ALWAYS wants to do it. This was really fun, because we did it on a Sunday while Reese was napping, and I just let her lead the way. She made a mess (flour=ugh), but since the entire point of this was for us to spend time together and do something fun, I mostly just let the mess build up until we were finished. 

She was soooo happy. It was really awesome to just be able to pull this box out of the closet and surprise her with a fun activity for us to do together. I felt like an awesome mom for the rest of the day and had zero guilt when she watched TV later. 

We have made banana bread, apple crisp, and popovers. The best part is that they food is actually GOOD. Lily won't even try any of it, of course, but the rest of us have really loved it. And, is is mainly things already in the pantry- we just had to buy apples and bananas.

Honestly, if I enjoyed cooking, this might be worth the money each month. Lily did have a great time, and I am glad I got the first box because it gave me a great start (cookbook, little kid utensils, the idea in general) to actually doing more recipes for the sole purpose of doing an activity with Lily. It was worth $13 for that. I could see how some people would really love to share the joy of cooking with their kids, though. I think it is a great idea. My parenting joy is just more in the craft / festival / TV range. 

I ended up getting another promo so I tried the October box, too. Again, it IS really cute:

We can't do every single kid subscription box, and I would rather put the money toward Kiwi Crate. But, I may revisit this when Lily is older. 

It was SOO hard for me to find a kidstir promo code or kidstir coupon, but I finally found one on some random person's blog. You have to go through a link- it's the only way to save $10, which is about half off. If you want to try it, email me, and I will email you the link. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's a BOY!

It's a boy. 
We are having a son. The girls are getting a baby brother. Him. He. His. 

I cannot believe it. I keep pulling out the ultrasound pictures just to confirm that it is really a boy!

I was so preoccupied with planning Halloween (the next day) and dealing with my current two children that I was much less anxious about this ultrasound for the days and weeks before it. Of course I was excited and was desperate to know, but I was very preoccupied with Halloween and with the effort it takes to just keep Reese alive every day (this age is crazy).  I think my friends and family were more excited and anxious than I was! My phone was blowing up all morning with text and calls about the ultrasound. We felt so loved.

A text from Sissa:

A few hours before the appointment, though, I did have a very acute awareness of "this is the last time I will ever not know what my family is." This is our last baby, so this ultrasound was extra special in its finality. There is nothing quite like the feeling of anticipation as you know you are hours away from learning the future of your family. I wanted the appointment to hurry and come, but I was also savoring the last little bit of anticipation and not knowing. People who wait to find out at delivery always say, "There are no surprises left in life anymore." But, no matter when you find out, it's special and magical and a moment to never forget. I personally prefer finding out when I am not in any pain, not bleeding profusely, and not starving. Also, I have no patience and am mega type A.

Look how clearly you can see his tiny toes. Toes that, I am sure, will get painted someday. #whenyouhavetwosisters

There was a bit of nervousness about whether Hughes would be able to get off of work, but he was there, stoic and calm as normal. I was there, frantic, anxious, and excited, as normal.

Two years ago, I was in this exact same room, waiting on the exact same ultrasound tech to read the crystal ball belly to me.  Moments before I found out Reesie was a girl, I went to pee in the cup in a bathroom. I allowed myself one final glance and belly rub and a hopeful whispered wish: "What if you ARE a girl?" This frantic confession was immediately followed by a gasp and a furtive look around to make sure nobody heard me admit that out loud. I WAS desperate for Reese to be a girl. I convinced myself that she was a boy and sort-of pretended I wanted a boy, but that is because- who gets to be so lucky to have TWO GIRLS?!?! Sisters?! Of all three of my babies (3!), I was the most desperate for Reese's ultrasound to answer my wish. 

So, with this visit, I went to pee in the cup, and I was starting to get really nervous. I almost wished Hughes wasn't there, because I know he was going to be disappointed when it was a girl. I know this for a fact, because he had told me multiple times and every single person who would listen how disappointed he would be if it were a girl. At least the man is honest. 

I stood in the same bathroom and allowed myself one final glance at my pregnant belly in the moments before I would know my family's forever future. And, without even realizing what I was saying, I heard a frantic whisper: "What if you ARE a boy?" Gasp, Guilt, etc... I scurried out to go find out that I was having my 3rd girl. I KNEW it would be a girl.

I was WRONG!!

Is it creepy to put this on the blog? He is a boy, so I know he will never look at this blog, so I am good. I am pretty sure Hughes doesn't even know I have a blog. I just typed and then erased, "how cute is his penis?" I am pretty sure I am not allowed to say things like that. 

We walked into the room, and I was sweating and shaking. All of the past days and hours of being basically unphased by the ultrasound caught up to me. I talk even faster when I am nervous, so there is no way the tech understood me. But, I said something like, "Wereallywanttoknowifyouseewhatgenderitis.Assoonasyouknow,tellus.Wearereallynervousaboutit.Well,myhusbanddoesntgetnervoussojustIamnervous." But probably a lot faster than the pace you read that. 

She started checking out some things, like the brain and heart. Yada, yada...get to the IMPORTANT part! Show me the genitals! I was getting increasingly nervous and within the 2 minute span had convinced myself that it was a girl and there was obviously something wrong with her, because WHY was this taking hours?? Except, it was really less than 3 minutes before she said, ", do you want to know?" And, she froze it on the picture above. The one with the cute penis. I realize how obvious it is in the picture, but in real life, when I was sweating and not breathing and unable to focus on anything, it was not that clear. So, I had to wait for her to announce, "It's a BOY!"
At which point, I immediately broke into hysterical, body-shaking, snotting, heaving sobs. I can't remember much of what happened next. I know I was repeating over and over, "It's a boy! I can't believe we have a boy. I am so happy. I never though we would have a boy. I can't believe it." I was vaguely aware of Hughes- my stoic, calm, rational husband- behind me, NOT being stoic or calm. He was practically jumping up and down, yelling things like, "Well, start taking your vitamins, because we need this one to be healthy." And, "Honey, you gotta stop lifting heavy things, because we don't want something to happen to this pregnancy." And, "We FINALLY did it!" "THAT'S how I do it!" I remember attempting to swat at him and explain to the tech that we actually do love our girls.

I am really proud that we kept our excitement so subtle and remained calm throughout the process.

Hughes had to go back to work, and I am lucky that so many of my friends and my friends'  wives work with him. They told me things like:
"I think Hughes may be floating on air." 
"I think he is honestly glowing." 
"Hughes is SO PROUD! He put the ultrasound pic in the window of the OR as I was walking out the door. That tiny penis almost hit me in the face!! And I love it!"
"You made an Asian boy! I can't stop thinking about him!!!"
"I have never see Hughes like this. He can't stop smiling. Beaming."

 I cannot remember a single time in my entire life where I have been that surprised and thrilled so quickly. "It's a boy." It was one of my favorite and most special moments of my life. I loved finding out that my girls were girls, of course. But, this is our last baby, and when I heard "It's a BOY," it was the first moment when I knew my family's forever future. I wanted Lily to be a girl (to make sure I had one), I was desperate for Reese to be a girl (to give Lily her baby sister), and deep down in my heart I really wanted the chance to have a son this time. So, with the confirmation that we had a son, I was truly overcome by the happiness of knowing that my life is really, truly perfect. This is exactly what I wanted- 2 girls and a boy. My entire life is a dream come true. (Disclaimer- my kids drive me crazy and I constantly have to pee and I wish my hair didn't take so long to dry, BUT,'s a really wonderful life).

 One of my favorite text threads. I hope my friends don't mind that I am putting our conversations on the blog, but it was such a part of my day. My phone was going crazy during the entire ultrasound with texts from them. Love it. Hughes works with Meredith, so I couldn't tell them until he got back, because he wanted to tell work that he was having a son.

It was just a really special day with so many texts and phone calls and genuine excitement for us. 

His perfect leg. Just a heads up, little guy, but your daddy might pressure you just a bit (a lot) to like sports. We will love you and adore you and be proud of you no matter what, but if you could possibly arrange some things to be good at basketball or football, that would work out really well for us. 

These girls. I cannot even wait to watch them become big sisters to a brother! Okay, well, the truth is, even though I can barely breathe already because of this baby pushing on my lungs, I am CAN definitely wait. I get a little completely terrified occasionally constantly when I try to imagine fitting a newborn into my life. I saw the pump in the attic the other day and honestly felt nauseous. But, I love him. I have smiled so much in the last week that my face hurts. I am really happy about him.

When we told Lily we were going to have a baby, she was ELATED and jumped up and down and loved it immediately. She told me, "I think it's a bruvver." She was 100 perfect sure Reese was a girl, and she called this one right, too! I think it is her big sister touch. 

I would also like to point out a line in one of my favorite songs. I sing "The Best Day" (Taylor Swift) to Lily every night, and there is a line that says, "God smiles on my little brother..." This song has predicted so much of my life already, so it is only fitting that Taylor knew all along. (Don't diss Taylor- I love her).

One of my friends said the look on Reese's face in the bottom is like "What?! I am going to be a middle child?!"

Mom gave him a little ball and mitt Sissa and my wonderful friends here have already spoiled me with blue! We are loved, he* is loved, and life is good!

*he!!!!!!!! Squeal!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We love Halloween. I think we may have a problem with how seriously we take this holiday around here. 

The Reese's Cup!!!
Mom helped me brainstorm, but ultimately I had a realization that Reese would never actually WEAR whatever I made. So, I made this in less than 5 minutes. I simply cut out the sides of a box from Sam's, tied orange string through to make a sandwich board type thing. I hot glued Reese's wrappers to orange pipe cleaners and twisted those around a headband I stole from Lily's room. I had bought Reese a pair of Gymboree Thanksgiving pajamas on sale for $9 a few weeks ago, so I got those out. It was perfect, since she wore it for less than 2 minutes. 
She was really adorable, but, as I expected, completely refused to cooperate.

Not happy with us. 

My mom tried to distract her with videos of Max (watching Max videos is her number one favorite pastime), but we were unsuccessful.

So, she became a duck, instead. Everyone was much happier...and BONUS- the same pajamas worked underneath. Double bonus- this was Lily's when she was little. 

Lily opted for the very creative choice of Elsa. I am sure you have never heard of her, and I KNOW you didn't see 80% of little girls dressed as Elsa this Halloween.
Thankfully, one of my friends took this during their school parade, because I was apparently in the wrong place. 

My parents came up the night before Halloween, so they could go to Lily's class party and the party at our house. The girls loved having Noni and Bop with us in the morning. 

Just a small idea of how much we love Halloween: During the first week of Kindergarten, when Lily brought home the "class party" sign up sheet, I checked the Halloween party in Sharpie, circled it, and pointed to it on the paper. Then, Lily asked her teacher every day for 2 weeks (it was still August at this point), "did my mom get the Halloween party?" I didn't know she was asking her teacher so often until her wonderful, perfect teacher finally told me the next time I saw her. Lily obviously thinks "hosting the class Halloween party" is in high demand, and she was THRILLED that we "won." We have been planning the party for weeks.

These cookies were cute but gross.


Lily, living the dream. She lives for the moments when she gets to be in charge. 

Little sister at the party with us!

Selfie with Pops!

These ghosts in the graveyard (Nutter Butters in pudding cups) were so cute. I even had orange glitter spoons for the kids. But, they were a lot of trouble, and the kids just thought they were okay. Next year, I am just buying the Sam's cupcakes. Kids don't even know about Pinterest (okay, so Lily does love to scroll through Pinterest on my phone and find crafts to make....but most kids probably don't do this), and they would have been just as happy with an Oreo.

They made a Spider Web.

And, we did this really fun Science experiment. It's easy- make your mom save all of her water bottles, put half a cup of vinegar in the bottle, put 1 tbsp baking soda in the balloon (I made ours look like ghosts), seal the balloon over the water bottle lid, lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the vinegar. It bubbles and blows up the balloon. 

We did other things, too- I read a book, we had a bean bag game, Bop made balloon animals, etc... 

It was so much fun, and I am so lucky that I have the opportunity to do things like this with Lily. I am so grateful my parents were there to help with Reese, since she basically requires one person on "Reese duty" at all times. 

I also really wish I would put this sort of effort into cooking dinner, but it is never, ever going to happen.

My husband= amazing dad to girls. 
He said parents and kid kept saying, "Look! There's Olaf!" while trick or treating. Haha. 

He carved this for them. Lily usually gets one with her name on it, but she seemed appalled at the idea that Reese would not be with her on the pumpkin. 

Second Annual Hughes Halloween Party!!!!!
This makes me so happy! Hughes and I used to talk about how one day we would host an annual Halloween party- this is basically our dreams coming true!

My friend Sarah (Kristy Thomas) doesn't have kids, so she usually ended up with one of ours. 

My parents even came up for the festivities!!! And, they let Lily draw on their faces with paint. 

Hughes creates a hayride for the kids (and adults) to ride through our neighborhood while we trick or treat. As I watch him load up the trailer and spend days preparing, I know I picked the right guy. 

The duck and me for the 6 or so minutes we lasted before we gave up and walked home. It was spitting rain and FREEZING. 

Our neighborhood is awesome. Everyone goes all out and passes out treat bags and full size candy bars.

The Babysitter's Club: Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn. 
We decided on this months ago, and it was so much fun. It was pretty much the best Halloween costume, ever, because I was wearying leggings and was really comfortable. Please notice Stacey's scrunch socks! Dawn made a Recycle / Kid-Kit bag! I put candy inside a book...remember how Claudia used to hide junk food in her books?

Alyson's husband, Mike. This was my favorite costume of the night. 

Random shot.

Hanging out.

My dad made balloon animals for all of the kids. He is so talented, and I love watching the kids get so excited about a balloon animal. 

Hot chocolate. 

Really fun glasses I got last year at Target. OH! And wine charms. 

Monkey in a banana tree.

Lily won 96 monster fingers at a Y party. They have really been a surprise hit.

Lily wrapped jars in medical tape.

Another Bop creation- witch on a broom.

A cute little duck.

She really loved this outfit, and I am so happy I spent so little time on her Reese's Cup. A few years ago, I would have had so many expectations of Halloween being perfect and of getting the perfect picture. I love the perspective that comes with having kids get older. I knew Reese would barely tolerate the costume, so my night wasn't ruined- it was barely phased, honestly-when those expectations came true. Plus, she really made a cute duck.

A lot of work and energy and trips and budgeting and trips to Target go into planning Halloween parties. I was a pretty mean person to be around for that week. Look how tired we both look as we are making the monster cookies. #reallife
Next year, I am getting pretzel bags and cupcakes from Sam's and showing the kids a DVD at her  class party. 

The next morning, everyone ate candy for breakfast! Reese kept yelling, "sucker! chocklit! candy!"

Lily has already started planning for next year. I am excited...but, tired.

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