Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

May 2010 be filled with lots of health, happiness and love!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And we're outta here,...

Some of our dearest friends, the Millers, relocated from Indiana to Iowa this year due to Rob's job. We haven't seen them in a really long time and miss them terribly. We're headed up to Iowa to spend some QT with them and ring in the New Year, as well as with some other old friends.

I'm not gonna lie, the never-ending snow and single digit temperatures up there scare us a bit. I guess we've lived in the Mid-South too long to remember what those were like. But we are thrilled to see them and looking forward to a few fun days together.

MapQuest says the drive is about 644 miles each way and it takes about 10 hours. MapQuest obviously has no kids who require constant potty stops. MapQuest obviously has no kids who get hungry. And thirsty. And tired of sitting. And whiny.
Yeah, MapQuest as far as I'm concerned, you are totally clueless!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It was oh so Merry & Bright!

As many of you know, Christmas is my most favorite time of year. I obsess over it for weeks and love EVERYTHING about it! And this Christmas was no exception. Other than the fact that my grandmother was hospitalized on Christmas Eve with pneumonia (thankfully, she's doing much better), our Christmas was absolutely perfect.

Christmas Eve:

I totally love this picture of Isabella admiring
our tree on Christmas Eve.
On Thursday afternoon we attended one of Hope's Christmas Eve services, which are always so beautifully done and inspirational, followed by dinner for the four of us at our house. We had invited my parents, but with my grandmother's sudden hospitalization everything changed at the last minute.
We enjoyed a fabulous dinner and lots of fun "Santa" conversations. We then went outside to sprinkle some reindeer food in the front lawn. Gotta make sure the reindeer stay strong and healthy for the long trip.
We made sure Santa's milk and cookies were out and ready,...
She totally gets it!
He totally doesn't.
It was SO hard for him to not eat those cookies.

and then opened our traditional Christmas Eve PJs and books boxes:
This is definitely one of my favorite traditions.

The kids went to bed and Scott and I got to sit and enjoy some much appreciated quiet time by the tree while waiting for the jolly old man in red to arrive.

Christmas Day:

Lucky for us our children are too young to think to wake up ridiculously early for the opening of presents. So one of our presents from them was sleeping in until 8:30am. Nice!

Isabella was ecstatic that Santa brought her everything she wanted and then some. But nothing beat the excitement of opening the very first present and finding this:
It's the Tinkerbell house she's been waiting for "her whole life", or since she first saw the commercials for it a few months ago.

She had almost as much fun helping Sam open his presents as she had opening her own.
Out of everything Sam received and opened, this was the highlight of the day for him:
Yep, that would be a box of Whoppers he found inside his stocking. A $.99 box of Whoppers. If only Santa would've known,...

After everything was opened downstairs we read a note from Santa encouraging us to go upstairs to the playroom for one last surprise. And so we did:
The kids were thrilled to see their brand new train table. Santa even took the time to incorporate some toys the kids' grandparents had gotten for them some time ago to make a wonderful little city. It is so cool and they have played with it incessantly.

Then my parents and my brother and his family came over and we all exchanged gifts.
Dad, we're gonna give this one more try! OK?
Some kids like to rock to games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band. I say keep them crazy and obnoxious games. In this house we rock our little hearts out to this Little Tikes guitar (courtesy of Aunt Liz).
I mean seriously, does it get any more rocker than this?Our wild little rocker going CRAZY!!!

So that's our Christmas in a nutshell. I am so very grateful for Christmas and Jesus and for family and love and laughter and joy and togetherness. Because at the end of the day,...... isn't this what it's really all about?

Hope yours was oh so merry and bright as well!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May your homes be filled with lots of laughter and happiness and the joy of knowing and celebrating the birth of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now you see them. Now you don't.

After almost two years without seeing each other, my brother and his children came to visit this weekend. Due to the very long drive from and to Jacksonville, FL, they arrived very early Friday morning and left very early Sunday morning. And let me tell ya, it just wasn't enough time. I was left feeling like we hadn't had an opportunity to really sit and chat, or laugh about the good ol' days, or just sit and enjoy each others' company. It was busy and crazy and hectic and chaotic trying to do everything we wanted to do together in the little time we had.
But you know what, I wouldn't change it for anything. I got to squeeze Hector. I got to see and love on my nieces and nephews (some of whom met each other for the very first time). I got to see my children playing and giggling (and arguing) with their cousins. We got to eat yummy food, courtesy of some menu requests my brother made prior to his arrival. We got to go to Starry Nights (a bit overrated in my opinion, but oh well). We got to exchange Christmas gifts. We got to stay up late and wake up early to make the most out of the time we had together.
Although not the best quality photo, I so love it!
The bottom line is although it wasn't enough time (have I already mentioned that?), I got to see and hug my brother and his kids and tell them face to face how much I love them and how much I miss them. And I can't wait to see them again.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Singing Christmas Tree

I've been thinking about taking Isabella to see the Singing Christmas Tree production at Bellevue Baptist Church for some time now, but it seemed something else always came up.

My nephew asked me to take him recently and I told him to sweet talk Tata with the whole "I'm in my formative years... I'm impressionable... I want to learn more... I want to be a better Christian... Don't you want me to be pastor? talk, but apparently she didn't bite, although she did find it hysterical.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I got a call from my lovely sister-in-law Maria telling me that her boss had offered her 4 free tickets to last night's show. Since she had a church commitment she wasn't able to use them so she asked if maybe Isabella and I would go and take her kids. Well, needless to say I immediately said yes, although in reality I should have stayed home and cleaned and folded laundry and wrapped presents, but that's neither here nor there.

My niece and nephew had seen the show before, but this was Isabella's and my first time. We had fabulous seats right smack in the middle of the fifth row. It's a very nice show with beautiful music and you can definitely tell an enormous amount of work goes into it.

However, the kids did find it to be a bit long (it lasts about 2 1/2 hours). I can honestly say I was fine with the whole thing, except for the part when the senior pastor got up on stage and preached for about 30 minutes. Here's the deal, he's not a bad preacher by any means, but if I wanted to listen/watch him preach I would turn on the TV and watch his televised services or I would visit his church on Sundays. Again, let me say there is absolutely nothing wrong with his preaching, but if by him not doing so we could have gotten out of there 30 minutes earlier, that would have been just great.

So there you have it. I'm glad we went and saw it. Isabella enjoyed most of it, in between the whining and moaning fits she had about being tired/hungry/thirsty/tired and really really really wanting to leave. But I don't necessarily think it'll be something we go to again, at least not for a while. Next on the agenda: Starry Nights at Shelby Farms.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seriously Cute!

Is this not the cutest hat ever?
I bought it for Isabella at one of the craft shows my Mom and I participated in during the month of November. Yep, I pretty much spent a big chunk of my earnings on it, but I think it was totally worth it.
She looks adorable and she knows it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

So much to do. So little time.

OK, so where do I start? I think I can honestly say the Butlers are in full Christmas Spirit swing. The tree has been decorated, the Christmas cards ordered and mailed, most of the presents have been purchased (though not yet wrapped), and the activities are keeping us busy busy busy. I love Christmas!

Last week the kids attended their annual Christmas Cookie Decorating party. Our friend Laura hosts this event for all of our children every year and they have the best time. It's fun and it's messy and it's tasty and delicious. Seriously, what's not to love? Look at all these happy faces:
This year we decided to add an ornament exchange to the mix and they loved it! I'm not exactly sure what we'll do next year when all of our older children start Kindergarten and are in school full time, but that's something none of us are willing to talk about. We're all having some serious denial issues.

Also last week, Isabella and I were invited to see a performance of The Nutcraker Ballet at The Orpheum with our good friend, Hannah. Apparently having seen it once when he was young, Scott was more than happy to stay home with Sam. Our girl was SO excited to have a girls night with Mommy and Miss Hannah. And she was even more excited to get all dressed up in her very sparkly black velvet dress.
It was so beautiful ~ the dancing, the music, the costumes ~ and I was loving every second of it. Isabella on the other hand, announced that she was ready to go home within the first 10 minutes of the performance. WHAT?! Luckily, the story line picked up and she got quite interested.
At about 9:30pm Isabella asked if we could go home because she was so tired. So we did. As we were leaving the theater Isabella said: "Guys, I'm really sorry we couldn't stay. I really want to watch it, but I'm so tired that I really want to go home." She is seriously too darn cute! So although we didn't stay until the end, we did get to enjoy quite a bit of it. I'm sure this will be something we'll go to again in the future.

On Friday, Isabella was invited to and attended her first ever slumber party. GULP! My niece was having a slumber party for her 7th Birthday party and Isabella was over the moon excited about spending the night with a bunch of girls and staying up way too late and eating all kinds of junk and sleeping in her brand new Tinkerbell sleeping bag.

My mom and I attended the Hope Women's Christmas dinner that night, but decided to sneak by afterward and check out the action. All I can say is Holy Cow! I think they had a total of 11 girls, but I swear it sounded more like there were about 45. Here's a picture of some of the girls posing with the birthday girl.
God bless my brother and sister-in-law for their bravery in hosting such a terrifying event.

Add to our list of fun our annual visit to Alpine Village. This year we not only had Isabella's cousin, Christian Javier, join us, but she also had some very special surprise guests:
Yep, it's Hudson and his sister Addisyn. She was thrilled to find out that her "bestest friend EVER" would be joining us in Alpine Village. The kids had a blast visiting all the houses in the village and doing all the fun crafts. But their favorite event was without a doubt playing in the "snow", as you can see here:
Who says we don't have snow in Memphis?
And they were especially proud of themselves as they targeted and attacked poor Christian Javier:
That's him, crouching on the floor, loving every second of it.
So to finish out our fun and busy weekend, I decided to take Isabella and her cousins to see this:
OK, so I'm probably in the minority, but I can't say I loved it. The princess is beautiful, the music is wonderful, some of the characters are cute as can be and there are some pretty funny parts, but I had a really hard time with the voodoo stuff being so explicit. Luckily much of it went over the kids' heads, but Isabella did get scared by the shadows (spirits) a couple of times. All in all, it's definitely not my favorite Disney movie.

So there you have it. And to think that I sometimes wonder why I crash the way I do every single night.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beary Fun

We were invited to our friend Claire's birthday party at Build-A-Bear last Saturday. It was SO cute. Each child got to pick between two different bears, a cream bear or a brown bear. They then got to name their bear, stuff it, bathe it and dress it with an outfit of their choosing. The kids had an absolute blast.

The kids mesmerized with the stuffing process.

Isabella & the birthday girl showing me their bears.
Here they all are with their newly created friends:
How cute are they? Seriously! I love how each child picked an outfit that perfectly matched their personality.

After the birthday party we decided that being that we were already at the mall, we would take the kids to see Santa, tell him what they want for Christmas and have their pictures taken. Luckily there wasn't much of a line, so we didn't have to wait too long. The kids were anxiously awaiting their turn: Unfortunately, once our turn was up Sam decided there was absolutely NO way anyone would make him sit on that man's lap. I tried, oh how I tried. But he kicked and pushed and screamed. Now, you all know I'm a scrapbooker. So you can all imagine how imperative it is that I get a photo of Sam sitting on Santa's lap for his album. He doesn't have to be happy or smiling. He just needs to be somewhat close to Santa. Anyway, this is what we left with:
She has obviously outgrown her fear of good ol' Santa Claus. She climbed right up there, smiled for the photo, told him that she's been VERY good and gave him her list. This year's list consists of: Tinkerbell's house, Spin Art and a Make-Up kit. Well, I have it under good authority that Santa

Regarding Sam, well I still have time and I'm not losing hope that I'll be able to get my photo. We'll see,...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Showtime!

I've been meaning to write this post since last Monday night. As soon as we got home from Isabella's preschool Christmas Program, Jesus: The Light of the World, I've been itching to sit and type and upload pictures and upload video of her wonderful performance. You see, she had a few spoken lines and one of two singing solos in the show. She sang Happy Birthday, Jesus and let me just say she did it beautifully! Yeah, can you say proud parents?

Well, apparently there are limitations to my technical abilities. I've been trying to upload just the portion of the program where she sings her solo, but have yet to figure this thing out. So please just bear with me and I promise it will be up for your viewing pleasure sooner rather than later. In the meantime, here are some pictures of our beautiful girl on the night of her performance:

Isabella & Sam at home before the program.
Isabella singing her Happy Birthday, Jesus solo.
Isabella & Ms. Annette, her music teacher, after the show.
My shy boy on our way to seeing Santa.
This is Isabella's third Christmas program (you can read about her previous Christmas programs here and here). They do such a nice job with the 2, 3 and 4 year old children who perform. Even though this is Isabella's last year at the preschool :( I will still get to blog about their Christmas program next year, but it will be Sam who will be up on that stage performing. Oh, Heaven help us!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December SNL Sneak Peek

I'm currently working on putting the finishing touches on my layouts for our December SNL class which is this coming Saturday. And being that Christmas is my favorite time of year, I can tell you that I am thrilled with all the festive layouts we'll be creating

Christmas will be here before you know it, so why not get your holiday layouts ready so you can enjoy quality time with your loved ones and make some wonderful memories? Remember, in SNL you leave the class with 8 completed and photo ready 12x12 page layouts.

Our main theme for the months is Christmas and those dreaded New Year's Resolutions. So I thought I'd share a sneak peek of what we'll be creating:
Join us:

Saturday Night Layouts (SNL)
Saturday, December 5th
4:00 - 8:00 pm

Bring your basic scrapbooking tools and we'll have fun making pages that will surely awaken your Christmas spirit. But don't delay, make sure you call Eclectica at 901-377-0730 to sign up and secure your spot.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lately I've been:

* Busy putting our Christmas tree up. I had to go through the unfortunate event of having to remove and re-strand some of the lights (which was an absolute nightmare, thank you very much!). When I was finally done my arms looked like I had gotten into a terrible scratching match with a cat ~ and the cat WON! But when it was all said and done it turned out beautiful. Amazing what a difference 300 additional lights can make.

I will forever remember the look on Sam's face when he first came downstairs and saw it finally decorated. It was priceless. It made the fact that I stayed up until close to 2:00am working on it totally worth it. Most of my Nativities are out on display, but I still have a little more sparkle to add before I officially call it a day on the Christmas decorating front.

* Hanging out with these amazing ladies:
Because of different pre-school schedules, Bible Study, dance lessons, etc, I'm not able to see them as often as I'd like. But now that Bible Study is over and school will soon be over, we've been able to do quite a bit of catching up,... and that's been so fun!

* Able to go see a few of the latest movies:
Oh yeah, baby! It's New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight saga! And it was AWESOME! So much better than Twilight (the first movie). And the good news is that they're not making me wait yet another year for Eclipse, the third movie and my favorite book in the series. Oh no, I'll get to enjoy that one in June of 2010. I like to think of it as Edward's birthday present to me.

Scott and I got to go see The Blind Side. It was such a wonderful movie. So very inspirational. Sandra Bullock was phenomenal. And I also loved the fact that it's based on a true story of a Memphis family.

On Sunday afternoon my dear friend Cora called me and invited me to hang out for a while, sans kids. Hmm, let me think about that,... YEAH! First we went to a local craft show and then went to a matinee showing of this:
All I can say is Oh. My. Goodness! In all honesty, Precious was a very difficult movie for me to sit through. The subject matter is extremely deep and disturbing and heart-breaking and it tugged at my heart (and stomach) in ways a movie hasn't done in a really long time. At one point I actually thought we might have to get up and leave, but we stuck with it and made it through. And we're really glad we did.

* Working on my paper strips for our cute Santa Advent Calendar, which will be displayed tomorrow. Yikes! Can you believe tomorrow is December already? I never did get the advent calendar I so loved from Pottery Barn, but that's OK. I found one I really like at Marshall's for a whole lot less. And at the end of the day well, they both do the same thing.

Some of our paper inserts/activities included in the calendar are:
~ Seeing Santa and giving him our list.
~ Going to Trinity Baptist Alpine Village (for the 5th year in a row).
~ Baking Christmas goodies.
~ Going to Starry Nights at Shelby Farms.
~ Watching a Christmas movie of their (read Isabella's) choice.
~ Reading the Christmas Story book before bed.
~ Make Gingerbread Houses.

Well, that's about it for now. Stay tuned for a sneak peek of the SNL class we'll be teaching this coming Saturday.