Friday, December 30, 2011

What A Year.. ILYMTC Wraps Up 2011!

I hate New Years Eve. There, I said it. Okay, wait. That sounds a bit harsh. I don't hate it, per say, but I am rather impartial to it's coming and going. I'm excited at the prospect of a new year and all of the exciting things it will bring for our family. The second year in our new home, the birth of our second baby, the celebration of Carter's second year of life and our 5th wedding anniversary. Oh and did I mention The Husband will turn the big Three-Oh?

I have no doubt that 2012 will be an incredible year, but before getting all excited for the new-ness of things, I thought it'd be fun to take a look back at how I Love You More Than Carrots and The M Family grew over the last year. Here we go! 

In January, Carter turned six months old and I decided to write about my new full-time job, becoming a stay at home mom. Which, after wearing that hat for a year, can we talk about the word "stay?" Because there is nothing "staying" about being a stay-at-home-mom. Just saying.

I also wrote about my Mission for Mom-Friends and am so incredibly thankful for the handful of awesome Mommies that make me feel like I'm really doing a great job at keeping my child out of the ER before his second birthday and also out of therapy later on in life. 

I also joined Twitter. Oh, Twitter

February rolled in and brought with it the first nice day day of the year. What did we do? Along with every other Mommy on the northern eastern seaboard, C and I ventured out for his very first trip to the zoo

Not only did I become "officially" a as I bought my own domain but I also became an "official mommy" whose expensive handbag became overrun with baby crap. I lovingly referred to my brand new Kooba as my mom bag

Lastly, I wrote all about how people's manners seem to fly right out the window once you have a baby. My biggest pet peeve? Not holding the door for a stroller. 

In March, I wrote about how I don't deserve nice things. The reason being, I lose them. A lot. You, sweet Loyals, got a kick out of the post I wrote about how I could never hack it as a 1950's housewife

I also discovered this month, what it feels like to be a Yardwork Widow. It's a tough job to have. But not nearly as time-consuming as making your own baby food. As much as I loved playing "Baby Chef," in retrospect, I think about how much time it actually took to steam, puree and freeze those countless batches of baby food. I must be crazy because I plan on doing it again for baby #2! 

Do you remember when The Husband made me go to traffic court for getting a speeding ticket? I almost forgot about that one, but quickly remember how my bench-mate tried to woo me for a meal! Speeding Ticket? More like Speed Dating!

In April, I was feeling particularly sage-like when I decided to share my thoughts on Debt, Travel and Wishful Thinking. I wrote all about our life as DINKs and how it drastically changed when we had Carter. Everyone tells you "life will change," but until you're there? You have no idea. So listen up, all you DINKs out there!

I also shared The Husband's strange obsession with cutting up our kitchen sponge into itty bitty pieces. Because god forbid, we use an entire sponge to clean our dishes. Once again, I believe this was one of your favorite posts, Loyals! I know the girls on Twitter rarely ever let me live this one down. 

C also turned 9 months old this month and started crawling and saying, "Mama!" What a month!

In May, I gave into the Planning Crazies and began diving head first into planning C's Circus-themed First Birthday. I started by making the infamous Balloon Wreath. I'm pretty sure I still lack feeling in a few fingertips due to all of the pin pricks!

I celebrated my very first Mother's Day (with an "outside baby") and a trip to the Inner Harbor. I also shared a few of my favorite tips and tricks for first-time Moms. 

June was a major milestone month, as C took his very first steps! I'll never forget watching him toddle down the foyer hallway like it was no big deal. 

C also ventured back to The Beach House this month for his second trip to Ocean City, Maryland. We had a blast spending the week splashing in the waves and eating all the sand his little belly could hold. C's favorite part? The splash pad at the local country club. I, however, was still amazed at the lack of decency had by many beach-goers.

C finally became the Newest Little Catholic  this month as he was baptized at our family church and I dusted off my rusty nursing skills as I ran to the aid of a major car accident.

In July, we celebrated Carter's First Birthday in a major way. I started the day off by sharing the letter I had written to him, my little One-Year-Old.

I also got my very first tattoo and shared the story behind I Love You More Than Carrots. This was also quite the month for Rebel AP as I also eagerly jumped on the feather hair extension bandwagon.

Let's see, June was a pretty busy month after all. Not only did I introduce you to Floor Corn but I also launched my very own business, little joys. photography, "Because Everyone Wants To Be A Photographer."

In August, I stumbled upon my high school e-boyfriend's engagement pictures. Sometimes there are no words, especially when Burberry polos and gay-boy flip-flops are involved.  Speaking of poorly dressed boys, I wrote a whole post about where I find C's super cute threads. Whoever said dressing a boy is no fun was clearly mistaken and hasn't gone shopping with me! 

I'll never forget the time I locked myself and C out of the house this month. Why? Because it resulted in my going door-to-door, hoping against hope that someone would be home and let me use their phone to call The Husband.

In September, I shared my secrets to 3-Day Dirty (but Fabulous!) Hair. I also wrote about the time I wanted kidney punch a stranger

C shared his killer dance moves and I shared how I might be just a little socially awkward when wining and dining with friends sans baby.

I also shared my very first Vlog. And? You still read. So that's good news. 

In October, The Husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and I shared a few pictures of us walking down memory lane. 

This was also the month we found out we were expecting Baby #2, shortly before I wrote this post about how Parenting and Hangovers Do Not Mix!

In November, I wrote about the days when I'm Not The Best Mother. How do I make up for those days? By taking C-Face on Mommy-Carter breakfast dates. The best ones are the ones where I forget to bring my wallet and have to call The Husband to come bail us out. 

I also got a little fired up this month when I wrote about SAHM's and Cleaning Ladies.

None of those posts are as funny, however, as the time I spent our grocery money on Christmas Carol Mickey

Although I will say, I'm fairly certain your favorite post this month was the one where I accidentally hit publish on our big secret... 

And finally, in December, I went on a long overdue date with The Husband and shared the Big News with you.  I threw a fabulous dinner party at 13 weeks pregnant and shared my Dad's hilarious two-cents on C in a longall

C celebrated his second Christmas and shared with us his many uses of his toy barbecue. I finally got my act together enough to share with you the beginning of "Bumpdates Part Deux."

Whew. What a year it has been Loyals. Thanks so much for following along with me and the rest of the M Family and my many {mis}adventures in parenting! I cannot wait to kick off 2012 with you!

Finally, A Bumpdate! {15 Weeks}

Forgive me, Loyals and Second Child, but for those first few weeks? Haphazard recaps and iPhone photos is all I got. I promise to get better at this. I promise to have my proverbial shit together by the time you arrive. Maybe next week? I'll even get a bit fancy and compare #2's belly bump with #1's! Okay, don't get your hopes up. 

{15 Weeks, Hoorah!}

Total Weight Gained/Loss? I have no idea. My next appointment is January 3rd and I'll step back on the scale then. The day I found out I was pregnant, I weighed 2lbs. more than I did on the day I found out I was pregnant with C. I cannot gain another 48lbs this pregnancy. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot.

Maternity Clothes: I've been in maternity jeans since 9 weeks. I skipped the bella band this time around and went right for the whole enchilada. In the beginning the full coverage bands were a bit loose but by 10 weeks? They fit like a glove. I've been living in my Mavi Skinny Leg maternity jeans. Best investment ever. 

Sleep? I can no longer tell the difference between pregnant-tired and chasing-around-after-a-toddler-all-the-live-long-day-tired. I figure I'll never have a decent night's sleep until this baby is what, 18? 30? 

Best Moment of the Week? Scheduling our gender ultrasound because I'm the most impatient person in the world.

Movement? I swore I started feeling #2 around 12 weeks. Which is pure crazy considering I didn't feel C until much closer to the 18-20 week mark.  But I definitely feel the little one in there- mostly when I'm sitting at the computer!

Food Craving? In the very beginning it was sour candy like it was going out of style. Sour Patch Watermelons and Haribo Gummy Bears, to be exact! Then it quickly became mashed potatoes and Chipotle/Qdoba burritos. Which I could eat every single day. 

Food aversions: None this time around! With C I couldn't fathom the idea of eating chicken or red meat, but with this pregnancy? I'm game for anything and everything.

Morning sickness? I prefer to call it Functional Nausea. Okay, so I gag a little from time to time, but no real pukage. Just nausea. All day. Since the beginning. 

Gender? We find out on January 4th! 

Labor Signs? No thank you.

Belly Button? Pregnancy has ruined my outtie. That sucker will never, ever be the same. It's already borderling turkey thermometer status.

What I miss? Chardonnay. Margaritas. Beer.

What I'm looking forward to: Finding out if #2 is a boy or a girl! I have some pretty interesting feelings this go around- which says a lot since I had zero feelings with Carter. I'll be SO interested to see if I'm right! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Jammies And Christmas Morning {In Pictures}.

Can you tell that we have very few words this week?

Carter's expression upon seeing all of those presents beneath the tree on Christmas morning just kills me! He was clapping and yelling he was so excited. And he quickly became a blur of Toddler Frenzy as he went around the living room opening not only his presents but everyone else's! Oh, those curls... 

It certainly looks like cinematography/photography just might run in the family, no?

Hopefully I'll be back Friday with my very first {second} pregnancy Bumpdate! 
I mean, it's never too late to start, right? 
And 15 weeks seems like a great place to begin documenting 
this poor second child's existence...

Happy Thursday, Loyals! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eggnog Soaked French Toast Casserole

I always knew I wanted Christmas Morning Breakfast to be a really big deal in my house. You know, once The Husband and I started a family and painfully began melding our individual traditions into a smorgasbord of our own sweet M Family traditions. Thankfully, this was one tradition we could easily agree on! 

Among the many delicious dishes that flooded our table Christmas morning, I would venture to guess that the Eggnog Soaked French Toast Casserole was the family favorite all around. It's a really simple and sinfully delicious recipe that I adapted from Paula Deen's Baked French Toast Casserole.

Feeds 6 with leftovers. Don't forget you'll want to make this casserole the night before and refrigerate it overnight. 

What You'll Need:

- 3 loaves of Pepperidge Farm Swirl Bread. You can substitute French or Challah bread for this recipe although for Christmas morning, I chose to spice and sweeten things up a bit with the swirl breads. I went with 2 loaves of Raisin Cinnamon Swirl and 1 loaf of Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Swirl. 
- 9 large eggs
- 1 1/2c half and half
- 1/2c eggnog. You can substitute an additional 1/2c of eggnog for the 1/2c half and half mentioned above. I was afraid it would be overwhelmingly noggy but it wasn't! I will certainly add more eggnog next time!
- 1c whole milk
- 2 shakes vanilla
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar and additional brown sugar to crumble over the top of the casserole prior to cooking
- 3 shakes ground cinnamon
- 3 shakes ground nutmeg
- Dash of salt
- Maple syrup for serving
- Whipped cream for serving

What You'll Do!:

1. Generously butter your 9x13 casserole dish
2. Cut or tear your slices of bread into halves. Assemble and layer them in the casserole dish in 2-3 layers. I used a slightly larger casserole dish and ended up with 2 layers and then a small 3rd layer in the center. Be sure to overlap the slices.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except maple syrup, whipped cream and extra brown sugar and blend thoroughly. You do not need a hand mixer for this- I just used a large whisk. Do not over whisk.
4. Pour mixture over bread slices and be sure to evenly coat every slice. Spoon mixture between slices if you need you. use the back of a spoon to press down on the slices to ensure maximum delicious coverage. 
5. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. 

The next morning: 

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Sprinkle light brown sugar over the top of your casserole.
3. Bake for 40 minutes or until puffy and light golden brown.
4. Top with whipped cream, maple syrup and serve! 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Post-Christmas Funk But With Cute Pictures?

Just like that, the Christmas Crazy is over. The Holiday Hullabaloo has dissipated as quickly as the stores have begun lining their shelves with Valentine's Day merchandise. Say what? My thoughts exactly. After a quick dash to the local drugstore for some extra cold medicine yesterday, I quickly noticed the barrage of red, glitter, truffles and doilies lining the aisles. 

Well, that was fun.

If it weren't for the current status of my living room, I could believe that Christmas never even happened. It truly looks as if a Toys R Us and cardboard box company threw up all over the hardwood floor. 

Santa, as well as Santa Husband and Santa Gammy and Poppy were incredibly generous this year. More so than I ever imagined. And Carter had an absolute blast. It was a hoot to see him carefully tear open each gift, ripping the smallest shred of paper from the present at a time. Of course, The Husband and I immediately jumped in so that we wouldn't be opening gifts until next Thursday! 

My parents and brother returned home to New Jersey yesterday evening and their absence has left us all in a sort of funk. It was a laughter-filled long weekend with them and it's always a little bit painful when they leave! 

I hope you're all recovering from your Christmas comas! So, what was YOUR most favorite gift that Santa left you? 

Friday, December 23, 2011

And You Thought It Was Just A Barbecue....

Apparently, when compiling C's list for Santa Friends and Family this year, I was way off. When I thought he'd love to have his very own Little Tikes Grill Set, he clearly had other things on his mind. I just had to share these pictures because they literally make me laugh out loud every time I see them! 

Here are just a handful of uses for his brand new toy:

Use #472: Houdini's Box

Use #479: A Horsey

Use #501: A Space Shuttle

Use #511 and My Personal Favorite: A Jamaican Bobsled

Who knows, maybe one day, he'll be back to wearing his Hugh Heffner robe and cooking Mama a burger.. but until then, I can't wait to see what else he comes up with! 

Well, Loyals, this is it! 
The last time you'll hear from me and C 
until after Christmas! 
We wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases! 

The M Family

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"WTF... A "Longall...."

Yesterday, Crazy Toddler Wildebeest was refusing his nap. As punishment, I decided to dress him up in what will be his Christmas Day longall and have myself a little Carterito Fashion Show. Complete with toddler-man-sized Chuck Taylors. I mean, have you ever seen anything cuter? 

Here is one of the 37 pictures I took of him with my iPhone. In nearly 20 of those pictures he is a blur of Toddler Fury. In 10 of those pictures he's crying big, fat, crocodile tears because I put his Chucks on without socks. And in the remaining 7 pictures, he rocking an expression similarly noted in the picture above- The Befuddled Frowny Face. 

As if to say, "Am I really going to wear this?"And the answer, sweet Carter, is yes. Yes, you will. Until you think you're old enough to rock Justin Beiber pants and look like a complete and utter fool, you will wear what I say. 

So of course, I had to share the hilariousness with my Dad. So I sent him the following picture with only the tagline, "Modeling his sissy Christmas longall..." And here is my Dad's awesome response...

Now, if my amazing screen shot and picnik skills have failed you, his reply was, "WTF... a "Longall".... That should have been your first clue it wasn't going to turn out well." 

Spoken like a true New Jersey-ite. Because, it is the truth. Up until moving south of the Mason Dixon Line, I hadn't the foggiest idea what a longall was. Or a shortall. Or a bubble and god forbid, I had never heard of smocking before. Those are all foreign concepts to those of us who live within earshot of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. 

So, Dad? Thanks for the laugh. We needed that today. Hope it make you giggle, too, Loyals! Happy Wednesday! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sometimes, I Forget That I'm Pregnant. But I Do Entertain!

Apparently, I sorely underestimated the craziness of this time of year. I mean, I always knew this time of year could, or rather would, be a little extra crazy. I mean, there's the hustle and bustle of card-sending and gift-buying and gift-wrapping and gift-hiding and then there's some cooking and baking and event-attending and dinner-hostessing and the like. But I mean, I'm super-mom, right? I could totally handle all that. 


Throw being 13 weeks pregnant, nauseous and exhausted all the live-long day and Mama to a Crazy Wildebeest toddler in there along with the fact that I also run a small little business and you basically have a recipe for disaster. One that culminates in a giant case of The Sickies for both Crazy Toddler and Exhausted Mama. 

But? Hosting the 2nd Annual M Family Christmas Party? Was a raging success. I'm so glad I offered to host this year because you see, I'm always full of these grandiose plans that in my head involve Martha Stewart decor and Paula Deen cooking. 

In reality? It's more work than I'm truly cut out for. I vote that next year we host a Progressive Dinner. I can host a mean cocktail course

Have you forgotten that I'm pregnant? I have. On more than one occasion lately. And no, don't fret, dear Loyals, my forgetfulness did not allow for lines of coke, bottles of wine and listeria-soaked deli meats- I mean, I just forget sometimes. It slips my mind. 

If you were to ask me how pregnant I am? I would most likely answer, "Um, around 12 or 13 weeks-ish." If you were to ask me how pregnant I was during any given time during my pregnancy with Carter? I would basically spout off to you just precisely how pregnant I was down to the exact minute. 

Already, this child is cursed with "second baby" syndrome. 

Such is life, I suppose. Baby M Numero Dos, I promise to better record your existence. 

Oh, and Loyals? I'm pretty sure I'm 13 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I think... 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Does Little Tikes Make A Toddler Jaws Of Life? {And The Oreck Vacuum Cleaner Winner!}

If not, they really should. One more shoulder in that sucker and we would have been cutting C out of that barbecue play set... 

Never a dull moment, I swear! 

Thanks SO much to everyone who entered to win the Oreck Forever Series Gold Vacuum and Ultimate Hand Vac! I'm SO thankful that I used Rafflecopter for this giveaway as it made logging entries and choosing a winner a piece of cake!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh What Fun It Is To... Decorate!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been linking up with the fabulous Erin, Nina, Molly, Meredith and me and sharing their Christmas spirit. I've had such a blast reading everyone's posts and gathering new ideas to cook, bake, create and decorate! I'm already looking forward to next year's Christmas!

Today, I'm linking up with Erin, better known as Blue Eyed Bride, to share with you this year's M Family Christmas tree. 

Loyals, I'm slightly embarrassed.

Keep in mind that in previous years, ones in which we didn't have a toddler roaming the house, our tree was the focal point of the living room. Better known as "The JCrew Tree" by The Husband, our tree was often a carefully constructed masterpiece of elegantly matching ornaments, pearls, sparkling white twinkle lights and large classic bows. Sure, I'd manage to sneak in a few of the sentimental ornaments that we had collected over the years, but I made sure to hang them deep within the bowels of our very real, very pine needle-y Douglas Fir. 

If I had to give a name to my "typical" style of decorating, it would be "elegant and classic." I tend to stick with reds and golds and greenery and pearls. I like to carry the theme throughout the house, from the front porch to the entryway staircase to the mantle. Here's a picture of our front door- just to give you an idea of my "usual" sense of Christmas style. 

This year, I had grand plans to forego ornaments on the tree, mostly due in part to the Toddler that has overthrown our house. Sure, some of you might say "put a gate around the tree!" or "after a few days, he won't even notice that they are there!" and while I appreciate both of those sentiments, I will never be gating my tree off (there are enough giant plastic eyesores in our house..) and you clearly don't know The Toddler well enough because for those "few days," all you would hear from my mouth would be, "Stop! No! Don't touch! Don't throw! Breakable! Leave that alone!" And frankly? I just don't have the time or energy for that. Plus, I can't even have a glass of wine to help calm my mom-nerves!

So.. all that being said, I had grand plans to forego ornaments this year and experiment with deco mesh, something I hadn't heard of until this year. And well, experiment I did. 

I shall preface this by saying, I am not proud of this tree. In fact, every time I look at it, I laugh and cringe and kind of want to cry a little. It turned out nothing like the visions I had in my head and needless to say, it will be the last time I use deco mesh! 

Loyals, meet the M Family Dr. Suess Deco Mesh Disaster tree. It truly looks as if Deco Mesh vomited all over our beautiful 8ft. Douglas Fir. Oh well, there's always next year, right? Don't mind the non-matching tree skirt- the new burlap one that bears our family monogram is in the mail as we speak! And the presents? Well, we all know Santa doesn't bring those until Christmas morning! 

In order to redeem myself from sharing such a deciduous disaster, here are a few pictures of our mantle! After all, I couldn't just leave you with that ridiculous excuse for a Christmas tree! 

Well, there you have it, Loyals. My inner-Martha did nothing for me when it came to tackling deco mesh! Be sure to linkup your Christmas decorations posts with Erin over at Blue Eyed Bride! After all, I'm going to need some new ideas for next year! 

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh, What Fun It Is To.... Make Memories!

Hi there! Today I hope you'll link up with me and share how you and yours make memories during the holiday season! 

Growing up, my family was big on tradition. Our Christmases went a little something like this: 

Dress up in the itchy crinoline and tulle Christmas dress picked out by Mom. Attend an early Christmas Eve Mass with immediately family. Gather together with extended family at my Grandma's house for Christmas Eve family dinner. Watch the dreaded Yule Log or A Christmas Story on TV for what seemed like hours on end. Play a board game or two. Fall asleep in Nanny's bed with your two cousins because you couldn't possibly stay awake until after midnight to open your presents, a longstanding tradition in our family. Wake up after midnight to open presents and eat cookies. 

Load everyone up in the car and head home. Leave cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for the reindeer, on a personalized plate near the fireplace. Sleep. Or at least pretend to. Wake up bright and early and patiently wait for Dad to set up the tripod in the living room to video everyone opening their gifts. 

Check the fireplace for cookie crumbs and carrot stumps. Patiently wait for everyone to meander downstairs to open presents. Commandeer the present opening and whine because you notice your brother has more wrapped presents beneath the tree than you do. Remember this is due in part to the fact that you ask for expensive things for Christmas and your brother asks for legos. Spend hours opening presents while Christmas music plays in the background... Followed by a huge and deliciously yummy breakfast. 

And so on and so on. Year after year. I grew up loving these traditions. Especially the stay-in-your-jammies-all-day-and-play rule. The no "hustle and bustle of a scheduled Christmas Day"-ness. I knew this was something I would want to incorporate once I had a family of my own. 

Do you know how hard it is to blend family Christmas traditions once married and with a kid? It's ridiculously hard. And I'm stubborn. And I insist on getting my way. After years of splitting the holidays, newlywed readers, I'm sure you know all about how much fun this is, I couldn't wait for the day when Husband I were settled with a family of our own and could begin creating Christmas traditions of our own.

After all, isn't the general rule, "you travel where the little kids are," these days? It is in my book. 

I thought I'd take a minute today to share with you all just a few of the family traditions we've continued to carry on with the little family of our own and some news one that we're excited to incorporate over the coming years. 

1. The Annual Family Christmas Photo Card: This is an absolute must in our family. Growing up, a year wouldn't go by that my parents wouldn't send out an annual family Christmas picture. Most years it was of just me, my brother and the dog. Other years? We managed to sneak the elusive family photo on there. After all, isn't this why you have children and dogs? So that you can spend hours trying to capture The Perfect Family Photo for the Annual M Family Christmas Card? Here's a peek at our card this year. Many thanks to Minted for the amazing quality and customer service! 

2. Matching Brand New Jammies Opened on Christmas Eve: Growing up, my brother and I always got brand new Jammies explicitly for Christmas. Thankfully, they were never matchy-matchy but I know I always looked forward to that new pair of pajamas. It meant we were one step closer to Santa's visit and present-city! Don't fret, Loyals, there will be brand new jammies to be had by all the M family this year. Although, they won't be so matchy-matchy (thank you, Husband) they will be coordinating. 

3. Cookies and Milk for Santa, Carrots for the Reindeer: This little tradition goes without saying, does it not? Here's a picture of the plate I recently ordered from The Stationary Studio. Clearly it had to be personalized and I can't wait to set it out with year's treats for Santa! 

4. M Family Annual Cookie Swap: This little tradition was actually started by my MIL last year. Each of her sons and their significant others is responsible for whipping up four dozen of their favorite holiday cookies to be swapped with each other at our annual "M Family Christmas" dinner. Last year, I painstaking made four dozen ridiculously festive cake pops. This year, because we're hosting the actual dinner itself, I'm not feeling nearly as ambitious and have grand plans to make these delicious-looking desserts. Thank you, Pinterest. 

5. Pre-Christmas frolicking and driving through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights: This tradition is to be completed while wearing jammies and drinking appropriately adult-spiked hot cocoa, if not pregnant at the time. Shucks. Growing up, we used to pile in the family mini-van and drive a ways to a friendly over-the-top neighborhood that used to go all out each year for Christmas. There was no charge or fee involved, just a neighborhood full of awesome people who set out each year to one-up their neighbor in an exterior illumination attempt to be The Next Clark Griswold. For us? Our tiny little slice of suburbia will do as we plan to bundle up and cruise through the local 'hood checking out everyone's decorations. 

6. Elf on The Shelf: I will admit, I was slightly disappointed this year when I realized that C is still too young to grasp the awesomeness that is the Elf on the Shelf. He may even be too young next year to appreciate the idea behind it but I don't think I will be able to keep myself from welcoming him into our family. Just cruise through Pinterest or this awesome Mama's blog and you'll find some incredible ideas and activities to stage your Elf with each night! I just can't wait until this becomes a tradition in our home! 

7. The Advent Calendar: Growing up, the typical Advent Calendar in our home was the "enjoy a piece of chocolate each day" as you counted down to Christmas and celebrated the days in Advent leading up to Christ's birth. Don't get me wrong, I was a MAJOR fan of this kind of calendar, but I look forward to starting a slightly different tradition in our family. Many thanks to Pinterest, there are so many incredible ideas out there and I'm hoping to incorporate a handmade calendar in our family's future that encourages providing one act of service to a stranger, family, friend or loved one each day leading up to Christmas. 

8. The Stay-in-your-jammies-and-play-all-day Christmas: This last tradition is big in my book. Huge, actually. I know I touched upon it briefly earlier, but it means the world to me to not feel so "rushed" on Christmas day, like we have some sort of agenda to stick to. Now is probably a great time to mention that now that we have Carter (and another baby on the way!), my parents and brother travel down to Maryland every year to spend the Christmas holiday with us. They know and appreciate how important it is to me to have Carter wake up in his own bed, in his own home Christmas morning. I want our Christmas day to be lazy, full of family and great food and presents and fun. I want to be able to reflect and look back each year and think about all the time we spent together that day, in our house, making memories for years to come! Call me crazy, but I just can't shake this idea! 

This year, our Christmas Day will begin with lot's of presents, lot's of Christmas music, lot's of family and one of the biggest and most delicious breakfasts I've ever made. I am so looking forward to Christmas this year and as a Mom to a toddler, I cannot wait to watch Carter light up as the day unfolds. It's just amazing to be able to sit back and watch Christmas through your child's eyes. 

So, Loyals.. what are some of YOUR family traditions? What are some memories you look forward to making every year? Be sure to get those posts together and link them up below! You can grab the button by clicking on it and saving it to your computer then uploading it into a blog post! 

Thanks so much for sharing and I cannot wait to read through each of your holiday traditions!

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