4th Birthday Fail. But Still a Win.

Yesterday. Last picture as a 3-year-old!

Yesterday. Last picture as a 3-year-old!

Today my sweet baby Jonah is four years old. I CANNOT believe it. This past year has truly flown by. He’s made so much progress with his speech, and his personality is REALLY showing through. He’s a stubborn but sweet little booger. I’ve taken to calling him a “threenager” all year and I’m kinda bummed because “fournager” just doesn’t have that same ring to it.

This is the first year Jonah has really understood his birthday and what it’s all about, and so I had BIG plans for today…and then he woke up sick. (Good thing I stayed up til 12:30 making and frosting those gluten free cupcakes for him to take to school, right? Sigh.)

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This morning. Happy birthday?

So, today, I don’t know if our plans will work out or not. There will be cake, and there will be presents, but that may be all! We were planning to take him bowling tonight because he is obsessed with Wii bowling and he thought Sophie’s bowling party last month on her 8th birthday was the best day of his entire life. But now, we will just have to see.

Regardless of how high or low key the celebrating is, I’m just thankful I have my little sweetheart here to cuddle today. He was the blessing God gave us that we weren’t planning or expecting and he brings so much joy to our family. It’s a privilege to be his mama, to bake his cupcakes and wipe his snotty nose and give him cuddles when he’s not feeling well.

jonah newborn

My baby! One day old.

Happy birthday, Jonah Laton! I can’t wait to see what you do with FOUR!

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Christmas Treats from Foodie.com

Check out Christmas Baking List

by Emily at Foodie.com

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com
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I looooove to bake for friends and family, especially around the holidays (and yes, I do have a spreadsheet for that, thankyouverymuch). Foodie.com is the perfect place to find and store recipes I want to have on hand.

Check out my collection above. Some are recipes I’ve made before, like this recipe I use every year to make buckeyes. I’ve already used it twice this year, and it couldn’t be easier.

Want to know the secret to delicious, creamy buckeyes? Beat the butter and peanut butter together for a very long time before adding any powdered sugar. You’re welcome.

I made buckeyes and these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies yesterday – this recipe will stay on my go-to list for years to come!

And the Chocolate Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream? They’ll change your life. I haven’t made them yet this year, but I need to do that stat.

I also love Snickerdoodles – my grandma used to make them all the time, but I never do for one reason – I never have cream of tartar on hand. This recipe, however, doesn’t call for that ingredient, so I will have to whip some up!

I’m starting to wish I’d scheduled a vacation day just to bake! What about you – what are you making this year? Any recipes I should make sure to add to my list?

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Tales of a Reluctant Co-Sleeper

Co-sleeping fairy tale

Bobby and I have never co-slept with our kids. We have a few main reasons.

1) I am a terrible sleeper.

2) Bobby is a very heavy sleeper and I always feared he would smoosh an infant and not know it.

3) For the first 9 years of parenthood, we had a full-size bed. There was barely room for the both of us.

(We rectified this almost 2 years ago for our 13th anniversary. PRAISE THE LORD. King is king.)

Nevertheless, with both our boys, we have been forced into co-sleeping. Because…two parents too exhausted to throw little kids back into their own beds in the middle of the night. We eventually broke Joshua of it, but he was up in our full-size beds most nights from age 3.5-5. That was ROUGH. He loved to sleep ON my back and kick Bobby in the crotch. We’re lucky we were able to have Jonah after the abuse Bobby endured at the feet of his sleeping son. But finally. We broke free about 5 years ago. Sophie never tired to get in bed with us really (she might be my favorite) and Jonah never did either…until this fall, when he could finally get his bedroom door open.

Then it was game-on in the forced co-sleeping arena. Now Jonah sneaks into our bedroom most nights between 1 and 3 a.m. Since we have a king bed now, it’s not as bad as it was with Joshua. Although he still likes to sleep on my back or my HEAD, he pretty much leaves his dad alone. However, I am generally relegated to sleeping on about 1/16 of our giant bed as for some reason Jonah feels the need to push me as close to the edge of it as I can go without falling off.

Two nights ago, he didn’t come into our room until 3:55. And he was AWAKE. I was awakened by him plopping in between Bobby and I, sitting up, and LAUGHING. Then he said “Oh, hi guys!” and THEN he laid down and grabbed me and reached for Bobby and said “GROUP HUGS!” (He loves group hugs. We have a lot of family hugs, what can I say?) And our bed is so big, he never quite reached Bobby, and my darling husband slept right through the group hugs. Jonah made several attempts, saying, “GROOOOUP HUGS!” in a loud sing-songy voice while I muttered “No, no, no group hugs. Lay down. It’s time for sleepy. No group hugs.” He gave up on the group hugs  eventually but not on the Wayne’s World-type atmosphere he felt should be happening that moment. He was up for at least another 30 minutes, as was I…it was really fun getting him up for #%&* 7:30 preschool that morning! Pass. The. Coffee.

Another “benefit” of co-sleeping is that when you get up early to work before your kids wake up so that when they DO wake, you can PARENT instead of work…they wake up to your alarm and then you’re just screwed in a variety of ways. Welcome to my Friday. The one day that Jonah doesn’t have to get up for school, he was up at 6:00 am. Womp-womp. Talk about your all-time backfires.

So, why don’t we stop this, you ask? Well, two reasons:

1) Oh em gee, so tired in the middle of the night.

2) Jonah and Joshua share a room. We put him back in his bed, he screams and cries like the tiny monster he is, and Joshua is all wakey-ville. Also his wall adjoins Sophie’s room. So basically, if we let him sleep with us, I’m the only one awake (sometimes Bobby, but mostly me). If we put him back in his room, all 5 of us will be awake. And, all three kids get up for school at 6:30.

MOMS: Taking one for the team since the beginning of time.

So basically, I think we’re probably going to be reluctantly co-sleeping until Jonah grows out of it, which, for his brother, happened around age 5. Only ONE MORE YEAR. Maybe. <Yawn.> Do you co-sleep in your family, and is it by choice or um, “child-led”?

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New Features on DISH’s Hopper

Our family has been enjoying DISH for a while now, and I have to say that it’s the best television service we’ve ever had. There are SO MANY features on it, especially on the Hopper DVR, that we haven’t even used them all!

This week they’ve rolled out new software with three new features that I want to share with you.

First, Watch From the Beginning.

dish watch_from_beginning

This might be the best thing that’s happened to televisions since the remote control. The name pretty much says it all – you can watch a show from the beginning, even if you turned the tv on when the show was halfway over.

Game changer.

Secondly, Binge-Watching Made Easier.

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Now, I am not the binge watcher in our household, but there are a couple of them who live with me. Not naming any names, but they rhyme with Handy and Late. Hopper’s new feature will make their habits even easier, because now when they finish watching a DVR’d or on-demand episode, a pop up screen will show four subsequent episodes in the series that are available. “Just one more…”

Finally, Closed Captioning can now be turned on with the touch of a button.

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CC is generally hidden somewhere in the settings menu, making it a challenge to remember how to turn it off and on. Now, all we have to do is press the green button on our Hopper remote.

For more information on DISH and Hopper, visit them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

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Speaking of Things Jenny’s Obsessed With…

I’ve known Jenny for going on 36 years now, and during that time, I’ve seen her become obsessed with many things.

Many, many things.

Cabbage Patch Kids. Debbie Gibson. Happy Gilmore. Jones Soda. Healing Garden bath products.

You’ve seen it too, on this little blog of ours.

Coupons. CVS. Mary Kay. Lands’ End. Make up. Selfies.

Most recently, Serial.

The problem is that she’s so dang enthusiastic about these things that the obsession starts to rub off on people around her. And by people, I mean me.

When she started talking about essential oils, I should have tuned her out! I mean, you’d think I would be good at that by now.

But no, I listened to her.

jenny witch doctor

And I am the slightest bit intrigued. Actually, I am going to a class to learn about them tonight and I spent the better part of Sunday evening pinning all kinds of nonsense about them and how they’ll cure whatever ails ya.

There’s a sucker born every minute.

Before I go drop tons of cash on snake oil, as I like to refer to it, tell me – have any of you (besides Jenny) used them with success?

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I’m Cuckoo But It’s Not for Cocoa Puffs

Though I literally have zero free time these days, I have somehow made a wee bit of time for a new obsession. A podcast of all things.

I have never before listened to a podcast. But then my cousin Anna casually mentioned to me that she was addicted to Serial from This American Life. It’s a podcast where one story is told in a series of shorter weekly episodes. The subject: one of my fave things, a CRIME CASE! It’s the story of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, Maryland when they were both 17 in 1999. Serial is dedicated to figuring out whether or not he really did it.

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And it’s awesome. It’s R-I-V-E-T-I-N-G.

I’m totally addicted. There are currently 10 episodes, a new one coming out every Thursday.  Even though when I started listening they were already 6 episodes in, I caught up really quickly, listening with my earphones in while I worked in coffee shops. When they took a break for Thanksgiving, I waited in agony for a new episode! As always, it was worth the wait, and as always, it leaves you wanting moooooore at the end.

I love it. So does everyone else, apparently. There are Reddit threads and people tweeting up a storm about it and basically…no one can get enough of SERIAL!

(This pic will only be funny if you are addicted to Serial. I think it’s hilarious!)

tweetsSerial

Are you listening in? Let’s TALK ABOUT IT in the comments!!! Not addicted to this Serial yet? Get on it…..go listen for free at Serialpodcast.org!

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Choosing to Be Unstoppable

I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for The Motherhood on behalf of the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

soveryunstoppable

Over the past couple of months I’ve told you about who and what inspires me to be an Unstoppable Mom. I’ve talked about awesome moms in my life and my strategies to make it through the holidays. But the truth is, I’m an Unstoppable Mom by choice. I do what I do because I LOVE my family, and every day I choose to do what needs to be done to make us work. That includes 7:30 preschool, my job, speech therapy, dinner, homework help, swim lessons, church, house church and hopefully time for extended family and friends.

And the truth is? I’m tired. See?

Jenny is tired

As I write this it’s 10:33 p.m. and I have miles to go before I sleep. These kinds of miles:

dirty dishes

And these kind:

messy table

The fun miles have been run. I ran them during my children’s waking hours. Those miles included hugs and kisses and silly games and hot chocolate and Advent time. Now it’s time to run the last couple, the couple you force yourself to do long after you felt like throwing in the towel. Those last couple miles can be grueling. But they are necessary to make the fun miles happen. So I do them.

(Please note: I don’t run in real life. 0.0, baby!)

I’m unstoppable because of those waking hours. The moments of life and love I have with my family are what make me unstoppable. And it’s really just as simple as that. Simple and simply wonderful. These people who leave me so worn out at the end of the day also make me indescribably HAPPY. I am such a lucky mom.

The Makers of Children’s MOTRIN have asked me to share my unstoppable stories with you the last few months, and now I’m going to ask you to share some time with me (and them!): Thursday, December 4, we’ll be tweeting all things #UnstoppableMoms at 1pm EST. Check out the invite for more details – we’ll be giving away FIVE $50 gift cards!

Oh, and hey – you can still share your unstoppable tips over on the Motrin Facebook page. Because one of the best ways we can help each other be unstoppable is to share what works for us! And what’s awesome about that? For every tip shared, they will make a $1 donation made to Safe Kids. Your tip might also win you $100 just for posting (all details on the Motrin Facebook page)!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES & D.C., 18 AND OLDER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Promotion ends 11:59p.m. ET 12/28/14.  Sponsor will donate $1 for each approved Submission made as part of the promotion, with a minimum donation of $30,000 and a maximum donation of $50,000.  For Official Rules, and complete details, visit www.unstoppablemoms.com. Sponsor: McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc.  To learn more about Safe Kids Worldwide visit safekids.org.

Thanks for joining this year on my #UnstoppableMoms journey! I look forward to seeing you at the Twitter party on Thursday!

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#SpreadsheetThanksgiving Social Media Recap!!!

Well you guys, #SpreadsheetThanksgiving was TOTALLY EPIC! In a good way. I think my favorite part about it was that I didn’t actually have to host it and I only cooked two things instead of 800 things. My second favorite thing about it was definitely the FOOD. It was awesome!!! Emily really outdid herself! My THIRD favorite thing about it was the company. I mean, our family is pretty great. NOT AS GREAT AS THE FOOD, so they ranked slightly lower, but still pretty great. Here is some photographic evidence of their greatness:

Emily’s daughter loves selfies. WHAT MORE COULD I ASK FOR?

My #selfie protégé! ?????????????????????? @momminitup #cousinsdoitbetter

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

 

Ummm, also. These children are supposed to be babies, not HALF GROWN UPS!

These children are supposed to be BABIES! ???? @momminitup @rapson2000

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

 

Jonah loves our Grandma. She is pretty darn lovable!

Jonah loved Grandma Burns!

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

 

Ok, but moving on. My FOURTH favorite thing about #SpreadsheetThanksgiving was going back later and reading Emily’s tweets from the days, and especially the night before. The night before #SpreadsheetThanksgiving was my husband’s birthday and I was all at his sister’s house celebrating with the Rapsons because YAY! BOBBY IS 37!!! So I was totally oblivious to Emily tweeting things like:

thanksgiving tweet 4

 

and posting pics like this:

 

And then andy had to plunge the kitchen sink. #SpreadsheetThanksgiving

A photo posted by Emily Berry (@momminitup) on

 

and then tweeting things like this:

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OhI’mNOTlaughingiSWEARi’mnotlaughing…

This one made me laugh a little though.

thanksgiving tweet 5

 

But only because I dropped a bottle of shampoo on my foot and it CUT MY TOE the same day. Sheesh. ANYWAY.

All joking aside, #SpreadsheetThanksgiving ROCKED! Emily totes rocked it, from the place settings

Fancy tables! #spreadsheetThanksgiving

A photo posted by Jenny Rapson (@jennyitup) on

to the gluten-free sweet potato casserole.

 

And of course, Gibbles the Turkey was delicious. She cooked him REAL GOOD.

 

Well, it’s out of the oven. #spreadsheetthanksgiving

A photo posted by Emily Berry (@momminitup) on

It was a super-wonderful day filled with laughing children, incredible overeating, funny Grandmas:

thanksgiving tweet 1

 

And of course…SPREADSHEETS!!!

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Great job, cousin!  You really earned some mad spreadsheet and culinary STREET CRED!

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#SpreadsheetThanksgiving

After a series of unlikely events and somewhat by default, I’m hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow for my grandmas, my sister and her family, Jenny and her family, Jenny’s brother and his family, and Jenny’s mom and dad. Add Kate, Sam and Andy and that’s 21 people.

I know what you’re thinking.

But I promise this does not involve spaghetti in a crock pot.

It does, however, involve spreadsheets. Lots of them.

I have a spreadsheet for the seating chart, one for the ingredients for each dish, one for my grocery list, and one that has pretty much everything else.

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I’ve also got a to-do list for today and tomorrow, and a timeline for tomorrow broken up into five minute increments.

Issues, I haz ‘em.

I have been researching the hell out of Thanksgiving for a month or so now… I’ve read the entire internet and quizzed UP and his wife about how to make stuffing, gravy and cranberry relish, but every time I see an alternate version of something I’m planning to make or a no-really-THIS-is-the-best-way-to-cook-a-turkey pin, I nearly veer off course.

Take, for example, Monday night when I read an article about how to spatchcock a turkey. It started to sound like a really good idea, so I turned to Jenny for advice.

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So, needless to say, this is going to be interesting. I’m tweeting and instgramming the experience using #SpreadsheetThanksgiving, so if you need a laugh or reassurance that someone is screwing up a meal more than you are, I hope you’ll follow along.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Your Happy Pre-Holidays Board Game Review

One of my favorite things about the approaching holiday craziness is…that my favorite game-makers from the Wonder Forge always ask me to review some of their new games. YAY! I love this because I love playing their board games with my kids. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that’s true, and you also know I love using games to help my kiddos who have or have had speech delays – Jonah is currently still in speech. This time around I picked two games with Jonah in mind and one for the big kids. First up – the Tickety Tock Chime Time game for Jonah.

Tickety-Toc-Chime-Time--pTRU1-18174760dt

 

This game is a lot of fun! The reason I chose it is because there are a variety of cards you draw as part of the game that have activities on them (for example: pretend to walk a tightrope) that you have to do. This is great for teaching Jonah to follow directions and since the activities are silly and fun, he enjoys them. As a matter of fact, he gets a little impatient to get to the cards, so I’ve modified the way we play a little bit, but I think most older three-year-olds will love it just the way it is. I highly recommend it, it’s really fun!

For Joshua, I picked out Marvel Avengers: Slide Strike! – but Sophie loves it too!

marvel-avengers-slide-strike-contents

 

This is really fun because it involves both strategy and surprise – not to mention Joshua’s favorite Marvel characters. Plus, every character combo that battles against each other yields a different outcome. So, the game is really different every time you play!

The last game I reviewed is super super fun – Dr. Seuss Charades!

dr-seuss-charades-contents

 

Jonah loves, loves, loves Dr. Seuss, and I’m always trying to get him to pretend, so this charades game is PERFECT! Plus it involves a little instruction-following too which is always good. Sophie really gets into this game too and we love to play it together – the whole family enjoys watching Jonah play this, he’s so cute because he’s having so much fun!

Well, that’s the low-down on three of the new games from the Wonder Forge this holiday season, but there are plenty more where that came from! Check out all their games at their website – they even have Frozen games if you’ve got a Frozen fan (like most of us!)

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