Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Little Moments with the Babe

Christmas is fast approaching, it's in like 8 days!!!  I want to say that I am ready for it because I believe that I am.  We have presents for everyone on our list but one person and they are all in our house, I just need to finish up the wrapping (hopefully I can get to that tonight) and gift tags.  Stocking stuffers still have to be purchased though - always the last thing I get to which is weird because they are my favorite part of Christmas morning.

Life has been a little hectic lately and I don't feel like I have really had the chance to get into the season as much as I have in years past.  This makes me a little sad because I really want to make this season special for Ellie.  Granted I get to be with her everyday since I am a Nanny, but I get dog tired at the end of the day and sometimes I am not getting home until 7 or 8pm, which makes for incredibly long days.  I hope that at least I can teach Ellie a good work ethic!

Regardless, I get to be with Ellie each day!!  We headed out to Black Bear for some Froyo last week with one of my nanny families and she loved the vanilla!
she also found a tennis racket in their toy closet and loved smashing her face into it!

this is how she likes to spend her mornings now.  When did she become such a big girl to sit on the big chair??
Or sit on the couch at my other nanny family drinking her milk like a teenager!!

One of my favorite things though is that she has found out that the hot air comes out of the floor vents.  Whenever we turn on the heat she runs to this one in particular to touch with her hands and yesterday she decided to sit on it!! melt my heart because this is what I used to do in the winter growing up.


We have been working on our Advent calendar, though some of our activities have been skipped or combined.  We did try out hot chocolate and Ellie wanted NOTHING to do with it.  She spit it right out (getting it all over the front of her shirt) and making a face like I was trying to poison her - this shouldn't have been a surprise since she hated any of the Halloween candy I gave her this year also!!! maybe next year...


click here to see where I am linking up! 
 oh and also I updated some more of our Adoption Journey

♥ Ashley



Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekending

Have you entered my Giveaway yet? If not its a good one and I wish that I could enter it myself.

We had big plans for this weekend but they kinda went by the wayside since all three of us got sick.  We have runny noses, coughs, and I'm sure some aches and pains. I woke up with a migraine on Friday that festered until Saturday evening and then on Sunday afternoon I was tossing Ellie in the air and tweaked my lower back.  Talk about a healthy weekend! ha

Sickness aside though we still made the most of our weekend.

Saturday was my annual Ladies Christmas Tea!  The turn out wasn't as great as in year's past but I think its because I waited so long to send out the invites.  It worked out well though as I was a little under the weather.  Ellie was a great hostess (she fell asleep 30 minutes before the party started, despite my many attempts at an earlier nap) that after the shock of waking up to a bunch of people she didn't know, warmed right up and was a great little entertainer and sharer of her toys.
I quite liked the smaller group this year as I was really able to chat with each of my guests and make the connections that I so enjoy during this holiday season.  I didn't go all out this year and only made a few food items that I served. I loved the ease of using Trader Joes last year that I had to do it again!  I was able to take a few pictures right before everyone arrived - but no pictures with anyone! I am going to make sure to do it next year!

the food table minus the gingerbread
salami chips, cranberry rosemary spread, and german spice cookies
cheese platter (trader joe's for the win!)
butterhorns with pumpkin frosting, and Sue's Turkey Croissants

Sunday, I volunteered in our church nursery (Thomas and Ellie stayed home) and then did some running around.  We have now purchased presents for everyone on our list with the exception on one person! and almost all of the presents are wrapped.  I am working on making the gift tags this week and then we should be good to go.  I think this is the first time in the history of my life that we have been this far ahead of the game with present buying.  I just have to finish up my DIY on Ellie's easel (which is proving to be more difficult than I thought) and then figure out how to wrap it!
After running errands I came home and started playing with Ellie tossing her into the air (I am determined to turn her into a flyer for cheerleading!) and tweaked my back.  I put on a heat pack took some pain killers and tried to take it easy.  We had Sausage Kale and Lentil soup for dinner - YUM!!

So how was your weekend?

♥ Ashley



Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday 5 + a Giveaway!

If there is one thing that I love about blogging is the community it creates!
I have made so many great connections over the years - this year especially and I am forever grateful.

To show my gratitude to my wonderful readers I have teamed up with 4 of my favorite shops! These ladies are talented and have some of the best stuff!!  They have been so generous to help me bless FOUR lucky readers/winners this holiday season.  I have been very lucky this past year in winning several giveaways via blog and IG that I want to give y'all the opportunity to win too!!



::1::

first up is Tessa from Sweet T Shoppe.  I actually won a giveaway to receive a bunch of her headbands and clips for Ellie last Spring and they have been some of my go-to hair accessories for Ellie.  I just love them so much!!  Tessa's hair accessories are just the cutest and she has the best selection right now!!  One lucky reader will win A Headband of Choice!!! I am especially fond of this plaid one right now!

::2::


second I have Becky from Made in the Shade blog and she just opened up her fantastic ETSY shop this year!!  This girl, let me tell you is so kind and incredibly generous.  She has the cutest fur baby and an eye for style.  Becky is offering one lucky reader one of her fabulous feather ornaments, a set of three pom pom magnets, and 10% off anything else in her shop!!!  Talk about a generous gal.  I seriously about died when I first saw the feather ornament - bird things are my jam! SO CUTE!!!

::3::

third is Kristina from Alice & Ivory. I have been in love with her prints since I first saw them about a year ago on IG.  I have been faithfully following and liking just about every image she uploads.  I mean she is talented and has my dream decor style down pat.  Her stuff is whimsical and girly just the way I like it, since bringing home Ellie.  I really don't know how to choose my favorite item in her shop because seriously everything is amazeballs!!  But I had to narrow it down to one print for one lucky reader.  Since this is a Christmas giveaway and I am totally into everything whimsical and forresty this year I chose the "Oh Deer Christmas is Here" print.  I mean adorable right??

::4::

fourth I have the sweetest Jess from Sadie Sky Boutique. This girl is so inspirational and one of the nicest and most genuine girls I know!  Jess recently quit her day job to become a SAHM with an etsy shop on the side.  She also hosts a weekly linkup on her blog called "The Little Things" where she encourages us mom's to relish in the small stuff and remember those moments when our littles are being the epitome of themselves!!  She has the cutest daughter who just recently got a pet bunny and OH MY WORD their relationship is adorable!!! Jess is kind enough to offer this adorable Fair Isle Bow plus a surprise of her choice!  All of the items in her shop are so cute so you won't be disappointed!!

::5::

I just love this time of year and I'm so looking forward to continuing to create lasting memories with Ellie during the holiday season. Four years ago I started hosting a "Ladies Christmas Tea" every December and I just love it so much. I'm hosting again tomorrow and can't wait to celebrate with family and friends.  To see years past check here, here, and here!  It's changed each year as I figure out what parts of the party I really enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


♥ Ashley

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snow Fun!

Can you believe how incredibly close to Christmas we are?! 

A few weeks ago we got some snow. I was so excited to take Ellie out in it and see what she did. 

First we took her out while it was snowing and forgot to take pictures (blogger fail) but she loved it. She squealed with delight and tried catching the snowflakes in her mouth and hands - adorable. 

About an hour later we bundled her up and let her have at it. I loved seeing her cute little footprints in the snow!



I mean how adorable!!


In other really exciting news I have teamed up with some great shops for a fun last minute Christmas Giveaway!!! Be sure and check back here tomorrow for your chance to enter!!!

♥ Ashley

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Little Things - Christmas Traditions

One of the things that Thomas and I were really looking forward to when we had kids was creating family traditions!!

The great thing about holiday traditions is that each family celebrates them differently and when you become a new family you can blend them and create some new ones.

Thomas' family has a really fun Christmas Eve tradition that is totally different than mine growing up.  
For Thomas, his family got together and always had Prime Rib for dinner and then opened up all the presents under the tree.  These were the presents from the family - Santa delivered for Christmas morning!!  I used to not like Prime Rib but now it is something I look forward to every year and would totally be okay with it being in our Monthly dinner rotation!!!
My family Christmas Eve was going to my grandparents for Oyster Stew, Polish Sausage, Sauerkraut and Dark Rye Bread.  The only thing I enjoyed eating was the bread with butter.  Then we would head off to the late night Christmas Eve Service at our church - I loved the candlelight service!! And finally back home to open ONE present - usually pajamas or something similar and the rest of the presents from family and Santa were reserved for Christmas Morning.

We have blended our traditions so we open family presents on Christmas Eve, have Prime Rib, and then go to church.  Christmas morning we open our presents, stockings, and Santa gifts!!  I think its the perfect mesh.

Another tradition we started was having a tree in Ellie's room.  A number of years ago we were gifted a lighted silver tinsel tree and I just knew that it would be perfect in Ellie's room last year.   She loved it so much that I just had to put it in there again.  Though most of the ornaments on it last year were breakable they couldn't go on this year, since we allow Ellie alone time in her room.  We were on the hunt for some toddler friendly ornaments and Target for the win!! they aren't breakable and are soft and plush! I can't wait to continue to grow her collection over the years!!

2013

2014

what sorts of traditions do you have with your little one for the holidays?

♥ Ashley


Sadie Sky Boutique

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Happenings

The weekend is over already?!!!! 
Wow that went by fast! Only two more Saturday's and then it's Christmas!


On Friday I went over to a friends house for a Pinterest party. It was so much fun. I was a bad blogger and just had too much fun hanging out to take pictures. Our host is totally adorable and went all out Pinterest style with all the food!! It was so cute!

On Saturday we got to have a lazy day in the morning just hanging around the house and getting a few things done.  Oh and our Elf finally made an appearance!! She still has no name - waiting for Ellie to get a little bit bigger - maybe next year.  Our Elf is a good Elf.  She doesn't get into any mischief and seems to find a pretty 'safe' spot to hang out for the day.
In the afternoon I had family portraits scheduled and of course Ellie refused her nap until an hour before we had to leave!! (despite our many attempts).  Luckily though she was in good spirits when we got to the studio and totally hammed it up for the camera.  I love our proofs and while I don't have any to show you I can't wait to get them next week!  We just went through JCPenney because 1. they are local 2. they are relatively cheap ($3.99 a photo sheet and with signing up for their membership we have free sitting fee's for 2 years!) and 3. I didn't think we were going to get as lucky this year having Ellie stare at an empty camera!!  (though I am totally going to make sure we go out and do "real" photos next year!)
Ellie also got to do a Christmas craft! Super cute gingerbread house from Hoblob!

After our photos we made a stop at Target to pick up a few snack items.  While we were there I saw a $5 iPhone speaker in the Dollar Spot (can't seem to find it online).  I have been on the search for one and while the toilet paper tube works just fine, I think something a little more attractive would be better.  Have you seen it? Or tried it? I guess for $5 it might just be worth it to try it out.
Then after Ellie went to bed we got to watch "A White Christmas" which is our Engagementiversary tradition!  I can't believe it's been 8 years since Thomas proposed!!!

There have been a ton of commercials in our area lately about these two events that are combined at our local fairgrounds "A Victorian Country Christmas" and "Christmas at the Northpole"  We checked them out online and they sounded like it might be a fun thing to take Ellie to.  It was a total bust!  Basically the Victorian part was just a craft-fair with many of the same vendors you see at the county fairs but the vendors were dressed up in Victorian era clothes!! LAME.  Then we got to check out the Northpole which was supposed to be a "Santa's Workshop" and a chance to get pictures the "the best Santa in town".  I would say it was even more of a disappointment than the Victorian part.  While they had a few activities for the kids (like coloring a Santa picture and then writing a letter to Santa) it was just a glorified waiting area for Santa pictures.  I guess it was better than waiting in line but our Santa that we went to last week was WAY better and more competitively priced! If you live in the area - save yourself some money and just go to a mall.


♥ Ashley

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Five

Its Friday already??? We have had an incredibly fun week and I feel like this month is going by so quickly already!!  I had all sorts of plans on doing another Toddler Outfit Challenge for the 25 days of Christmas, while I have dressed Ellie up each day I haven't been very good about taking her daily photo.  I have captured a couple of them and I am just loving all the festiveness that is out there right now!  I am really drawn to wearing Red this season and I am sure you will see that in Ellie's clothes! 

This time of year is really so special (and difficult at the same time) for us and we try to focus on all our happy memories together.  Tomorrow (Dec 6th) is our 8 year Engagementiversary!!  (as well as the day we officially lost our first baby in 2010) We got engaged at my parents house, in the presence of all four of our parents.  My mom was crying (happy tears) our dad's were smiling, and his mom was happy too.  We were all meeting to go on our annual Christmas season outing to the 5th Ave to see "A White Christmas" when he got down on one knee and popped the question.  I was in shock and a little embarrassed to have my parents watching that I just kind of stood there.  My mom was crying and yelling at me and answered "YES YES YES YES YES" for me and then proceeded to hit me in the shoulder and ask me what my problem was! So, since my mom already committed me to the acceptance of his proposal, I answered "Yes, I will marry you" and then I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the night!!  So we have a tradition of watching "A White Christmas" on DVD every year on December 6th to commemorate this day!  We even watched it together in the hospital after my ectopic pregnancy surgery in 2010.  Additionally two weeks after our baby loss my mom was admitted to the hospital with a large brain tumor which turned out to be Stage IV Glioblastoma brain cancer, she fought for 15 months before going to be home with the Lord. 

okay, now lets get onto this week's FIVE!!!

ONE
First up, I think that some of these PJ separates are just TOO cute to save for just the bedroom. So Ellie is rocking them during the day as we are out and about!! 
I love the scarf and seriously how cute is this reindeer top?

and these bottoms are right up my reindeer alley!!  I think that with the vest they totally look like leggings!

TWO
Second up, I am really enjoying my new job/career as a Nanny.  The best part is getting to be with Ellie all day and the bonuses are her getting to socialize and interact with other kiddos similar to her age and that she gets to play with all sorts of toys (and we don't have to junk up our house with all of them!!)
one of the houses has this awesome train table!  Ellie rarely gets the trains on the tracks but she has a blast nonetheless! and can we also please talk about these pigtails?  I posted a few weeks back a picture of her in "pigtails" but we needed three rubberbands to keep them in and they still fell out.  Her hair is now completely long enough to make it into two!! LOVE
and then the other house has the best floors!! oh how I dream of wood floors in my home!!  They have this super fun tricycle.  Ellie is loving this thing. She doesn't use the pedals but does skootch herself around using her feet.  Luckily she hasn't been daredevil enough to try and stand on this one like her little push car at home! 

THREE
Third up, I finally decided to rearrange a few things in the kitchen so that Ellie can have her own drawer and have access to it.  Before her dishes were in an upper cabinet and all her sippy's were on the counter.  I am loving the extra space on our counter (we haven't seen that in over 18 months!) and more importantly SHE LOVES being able to get into at least on drawer in the kitchen without getting in trouble.  This is pure novelty right now and is her new fave hangout! (I run a tight ship at our house and there are many things that are "Off Limits", we do have locks on all the cabinet doors, many things in the living room, no bathroom visits unattended, and she definitely is NOT ALLOWED to touch our tree!!)
She is so incredibly happy to get to play in here and I am so glad that I made a fun little space for her!

FOUR
Fourth up, we finally made it into the doctor for Ellie's 18 month check up.  I can't believe that the next time (fingers crossed) we see the doctor my little gingerbread will be 2 years old!!!  Girlfriend was a total champ in the waiting room, sitting like an angel on the chair next to me (and following my directions pretty well), she smiled and waved at the nurse when we got called back but then it all went downhill when she wanted Ellie to stand on the scale!!! Lu started having a meltdown, I guess somewhere along the line someone told Ellie that she should never disclose her weight and the nurse checking her weight was a clear violation of her rights! For the rest of the visit the nurse only got a sideways glance with the "hairy eyeball"!!  Of course Lu hammed it up for the doctor and he said that all is well.  I didn't get a print up of E's percentiles but her weight was in the 40th and her head in the 75th, I am assuming she is still around the 10th for her height - my little shortcake!

FIVE
Fifth and last, Thomas and I went on a date night on Wednesday.  We have only had two other date nights since bringing our babe home.  We went out to dinner at The Rock Bottom, walked around our favorite Hotel to look at all the decorated Christmas trees, and then to see "A Christmas Story" at The 5th Ave Theatre.  We saw this musical when it originally premiered 4 years ago and it was so good.  Super Cool fact: Thomas went to high school with the actress who played Ralphie's mom!!  We had such a great time talking and enjoying each other's company.  We talked a lot about possibly home schooling Ellie, something I am seriously interested in doing, about how much we love Ellie and plan on taking her on 98% of the vacations we plan to go on - we just want to share everything with her,  about the adoption process and how different it is going to be the second time around, and just about our life together! I truly see so much value in date nights and believe they are important but we just love our little family and we missed our little Ellie so much!



♥ Ashley

linking up:




 photo db7528c5-a5c8-4eb0-9519-22997b018248_zps7d56832d.jpg



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Man in Red

Holiday Traditions are something that I look at pretty fondly from my childhood.  When Thomas and I first got married, we started talking about what sorts of traditions we wanted to create as a family.  Santa pictures were at the top of our list!! Funnily enough we both grew up going to see Santa at Frederick & Nelson (RIP) and its so much fun looking back at all our old pictures - with the same Santa!

Lucky for us we have the BEST Santa near us!

So I mentioned the other day that we went to go visit Santa.  
Ellie had the time of her life last year meeting the "Man in Red" that I was really hoping that with her friendly demeanor and constant need to wave at everyone we would have a repeat of last year.  

The mall we go to for our Santa Pictures really has it down to a science.  You can go around to the front and get a good look at Santa but the whole line is behind him.  I think this is great because then kids in line can't see how upset the child is in front of them and then decide to get scared of the man. The line was relatively short (just about 10 groups in front of us) which gave Ellie ample time to sneak peeks at the big guy.  We took her around the front to take a look and wave and blow kisses.  She was a total ham, so much so that Santa got distracted by blowing her kisses and waving to her!!!

When it was finally our turn, Ellie got a little bit shy, but after some tickling and secret telling she warmed right up and I think we got the best picture with Santa in the history of Santa pictures. She also told him "Ho, ho, ho"!! the cutest thing ever!!  #mombrag



Last year's iPhone photo:

this year's iPhone photo: The Best amiright?

I am so happy that we get to make these memories with Ellie and for the selflessness of her birthmom in giving us the most wonderful gift!  We love our Ellie!

So, how did your Santa pictures come out?

♥ Ashley


Sadie Sky Boutique



Our Pretty Little Girls

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weekending-post Thanksgiving

We had the best Thanksgiving this year. I though last year was pretty good since it was our first one with Ellie, but I was mistaken. It was so much more fun this year with Ellie being more interactive and really able to enjoy the meal!!!


I think she liked the mashed potatoes this year!



Ellie was such a little ham and was quite the entertainer for our get together!!  

I'm not much into the Black Friday shopping. I used to work in retail (jewelry) and had to be at work at 4:30 in the morning for the one customer who showed up a half hour after we opened. I think it put a bad taste in my mouth. People are just crazy. However, since I signed up for Ebates and there were some killer deals and cash back options I took advantage from the comfort of my home (actually my Inlaws home) and got a number of people crossed off my list!!  Ebates is the best. Basically you sign up and the shop through their site to the actual store site and get cash back on your purchase. What!???!?  You get paid to shop and it's free!!!
***if you haven't finished your shopping they are having some killer deals for Cyber Monday today!!! please use my referral code linked above to sign up and I can get a bonus!***

On Saturday we went in for Ellie's 18 month photos and she did GREAT. She loved the photographer (he was the best yet) and was full of smiles. Everyone loved her and I cannot wait to get the photos back!  
After her photo shoot we stopped by the mall to check out the Santa line - it was pretty short - so we saw the "Man in Red".  Ellie loved him last year and loved him even more this year!!


I mean how cute?  We seriously have the best Santa. He spends a ton of time with each kiddo and totally looks like the real deal. If you want to get him at his finest then show up on the weekends, that's when Mrs. Claus does his hair and makeup!!

The rest of the weekend we finished getting all of our Christmas decor out and up. 



Ellie loved helping, mainly by checking out the sturdiness of our storage bins. 


And I even got some of our presents wrapped!!!


I still need to make the tags but I'm pretty excited!

How was your weekend?

♥ Ashley

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY Christmas Advent

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!! I feel like we just had Halloween last week (but it also feels like it was a year ago...)

I just love this time of year and I am so grateful to have the best little girl to share this with.  It really is the little things that make life special!  So making the holiday's just that for Ellie is what I am most looking forward to!



I thought I would share a quick little DIY with you all today!  Its our Advent Calendar.  I saw something similar to it at Pottery Barn (similar) a few years ago, but was not going to pay that and figured it would be simple enough to recreate. 

Here is what you are going to need:
an over the door shoe organizer (similar here) 
number stencils (similar here)
paint (here choose whichever colors you like)
stencil/pouncer brush (here)
scrap paper

Directions:
first you are going to want a level surface to lay your shoe organizer on (preferably one you aren't worried about spilling paint on). Then with your scrap paper, place a piece in each shoe compartment. This will help with any bleed through.

second you are going to want to determine your color pattern (if using multiple colors) and squeeze out your paint onto a paper plate or other surface, pounce your brush in to coat and then begin stenciling.  What I found to work best was to do all the 1's and 2's in a single color first, then fill in with the remaining numbers in the same color.  Once all the white was done I moved onto the red and repeated the process.  I had to wait a while for drying when I got to the double digits since my stencil overlapped.  Once all your numbers are painted let dry overnight and then hang up!

third thing I did was come up with a list of activities for us to do on various days.  This year I finally made "permanent" ones that fit into envelopes that fit in each compartment.  I didn't number the envelopes so that we could switch up the days in the coming years.  This was the most time consuming part but still only took me about 45 minutes.  I used cardstock, colored pencils, and Pinterest to help me come up with text/fonts and decorations on each.  I am so looking forward to enjoying this with Ellie in the years to come!

Examples of Advent Activities:
go ice skating
visit Santa
watch a Christmas Movie
bake cookies
sit by the fire
do a Christmas craft
go on a sleigh ride
visit a tree farm
read a Christmas book
host a holiday party
go to a holiday play/musical
drive around to look at Christmas lights

And then what Advent Calendar is complete without some chocolate?  I like to wrap up a few small presents to put in various day pockets just to keep things fresh!


Do you do an advent calendar in your home? I would love to know how you do yours!!

♥ Ashley

Our Pretty Little Girls