Dear 2012 {a year in Instagram}

Dear 2012
I learned a lot about myself this year.
A lot about my marriage.
A ton about motherhood.
And a little about how much I'm capable of.
I'm going to miss you, but I'm sure your sister,
2013 will not disappoint.
Dear January
Blanket forts, cupcakes, and this girl.
You were a breath of fresh air after a stressful holiday.
 Dear February,
This was my last Starbucks for a while, but little did I know,
my body would go through a transformation.
The diet of death wasn't so bad, since I'm healthier
now than I was a year ago.
I miss my Starbucks and chocolate.
I don't miss my broken body.
I'm glad that you didn't tell me that I'd be well enough to run a 5k in September.
I would have never believed you.

Dear March,
It was a fantastic month, it being my birthday month and all.
And the Hunger Games was in theaters and I got to enjoy it with my favorite people.
But you wouldn't let it slip that I had an epic mommy fail.
This is a picture of Caitlin.  I'm sure you remember.
Getting those last vacinnations the day she should be registering for kindergarten.
Because of course, mommy forgot.
Caitlin on the other hand still has forgotten or forgiven.


Dear April,
This picture explains it all.
Mac turned two, and she is everything and more.


Dear May,
Beautiful weather means beautiful moments like this.
Caitlin is curious, cautious, and captivating.
I still can't believe she is this big.

Dear June,
Weren't you just the bees knees?
So busy.
This gal turned 5.

Dear July,
You were just what we needed.
A quick family vaycay.
 Dear August,
Thank you for nights like these.
Watching Grizzlies baseball.
Getting the girls ready for Orange October.
They were super excited for baseball this year.
Thanks to your hot nights at the ball park.

Dear Septemeber,
You rocked my world.
Kindergarten started for both of us.
She has grown so much in such a short time.
I have always loved you September,
but now even more so.
Dear October,
Oh you know pumpkins and things.
We couldn't get enough of your pumpkins.
We were however surprised that your weather stayed so warm.
It's ok, we love sunny days at the pumpkin patch!

Dear November,
This was worth all the sick days,
all the stressful days,
all the rough days.

Dear December,
Every year your are anticipated.
We try to drag out your days.
Make them as long as possible.
This year we were so busy, so happy,
Thank you.

Dear 2013,
Are you ready for us?
Got a year in review to share?
Join me at Brooke's Place
Or also here with Jeannett here

Just a few hours left

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 With just a few hours left I feel like there are a few things I want to really remember about Christmas of 2012.  It's been years since I have enjoyed a Christmas this much.  That's not to say that it wasn't stressful, or sleepless, or painless.  It's to say that we lived every moment to the fullest.  I for one ventured way out of my comfort zone at times.  I was also finally at a place in my life where I asked for help, without feeling guilty.  I also said "no" a lot and stayed within my own limits of sanity. 
 Maybe it's because I'm at such a different place. 
I've learned so much about myself this past year. 
What I want.
What I'm capable of.
What truly makes me happy.
I will miss Christmas 2012 for many reasons.
Here are just a few.
Mac singing to Michale Bubble-lee.  Because that's her favorite Christmas CD, and if you play any other version of "Santa Claus is coming to Town" she will cry until you put on "Michael Bubble-lee".
Mac singing any carols at all.  She confuses Frosty and Rudolph.  Jingle Bells is half English half gibberish.  It's music to my ears.
My Tree.  I took so many pictures of it and posted them to Instagram.  I'm so sorry.  I also get my mother's obsession with Christmas trees.  I'll never make fun of her again!
Caitlin singing White Christmas.  But the Glee version.  Which of course makes me so happy.  We have watched Blaine and Kurt sing and skate more times than I can count.  First of all it's a fun song, but secondly, it's Blaine and Kurt.  Caitlin says Blaine is her favorite, she likes his hair.  Well, duh!
My elf.  Even if he got me into a little hot water.  I'm going to miss him when he goes home.
My out of town family.  It was so awesome to have them here on Christmas Eve.  Then yesterday, more out of towners came over and brought presents.  I'm so blessed with such an awesome group of people I can call family!!
I'm also thankful for many of our blessings this Christmas.
My parents and Grandparents who spoil our girls rotten!
My Brother in Law and Sister in Law who have proven time and again that they are the real Santas in our lives.  Can you say Coach Kindle Cover, Otter Box for our iPad, and 540 count sheets?  I can!
Team Tamale and all the joy our tamales brought.  There are 11 tamales left of 17 dozen.
The Hubbs and his week off from work!  We spent all this week enjoying family time and each others company.  We didn't fight or annoy each other.  The kids were sick and we handled it.  Such a great week to end the year!
Mostly I'm just thankful for this time together. 
The joy in my heart, and the promise of 2013.
Happy New Year one day early!!

Looking Forward {Coffee Date}

I've been slacking in the blogging department as of late.
I've been soaking up too much family time and Christmas.
It's been amazing to the heart and soul.
But I couldn't end 2012 without linking up with Alissa.
So grab a seat and something to drink, and lets have an end of year chat.
I'd tell you that I was so sad to stare Christmas in the eyes.  I didn't want the season to end.  I was afraid I hadn't done enough, crafted enough, baked enough, sang carols loud enough.  Yet on Christmas Day night, I was so content.  The hubbs drove our little family down Fresno's famous Christmas Tree Lane.  It was beautiful, it was rainy, and the kiddos were cranky, yet all I could think of was that this was such a perfect Christmas.  It had everything and everyone I wanted.  Cousins came from Salinas, my in laws came to my house on Christmas morning.  My brother in law and sister in law spoiled me and my family so rotten.  I'm so grateful for them.  They make our Christmas' shine, especially when we are having a hard time making ends meet.
I'd tell you that I was so surprised to wake up the day after Christmas with a lightness in my heart.  I wasn't sad that Christmas was over, in fact I was ready to tackle the new year.  So much in fact that I looked at the Toms I had gotten for Christmas and decided that they were too "December", meaning they weren't the right pair to start off the New Year.  I exchanged them for a gray corduroy pair with neon purple soles.  Which to me, oddly enough, scream new beginnings.
Sadly my girls woke up sick on Thursday, so yesterday and today have been kind of a wash.  Per the doctor they just have a cold and a virus that has to run it's course.  But they are pretty miserable.
I would tell you that the best Christmas present has been the Hubbs time off from work.  He's been off since last Friday.  While he does have to work a half day on New Year's Eve, it's been amazing having him home.  We've spent a lot of time together as a family, and in contrast to years past, we have been getting along.  The hubbs and I that is.  It's not that we fight always, but we have our moments.  It's been a great vaycay for both of us.  I'm decidedly smitten.
Finally, since I'm sure this coffee date hasn't been exactly what you expected.  With me totally manipulating the entire date and conversation I would end by telling you what I did today.  While I was at the home PC for a minute, I thought it would be a good time to purge all the "spam" comments my blog receives on a daily basis.  I hate the idea of word verification, so I just let the comment come and then delete them all.  Well in haste, as I was supposed to be at the PC to download a recipe, I deleted an entire weeks worth of comments.
Yes, and entire week.  Let me start by saying comments mean the world to me.  They not only make my day, but I love feedback.  L. O. V. E. it.  I'm a writer, I need to know people are reading my blog.  It's sick and twisted, and narcissistic.  Love me anyway.  But apart from that something funny happened.  I just left it.  Oh sure I tweeted it, and I Instagrammed it, but more as like an apology to you all if you left a comment.  I didn't cry.  I didn't stomp my feet.  I didn't feel like the world had ended.  Which is a huge step from where I was a year ago.  A year ago, I held every comment like a newborn baby.  A year ago, this blog had just about 100 followers.  What a difference a year makes right?  It must, because while I'm truly sorry to all those who take the time and leave wonderful comments, it didn't end me.  It didn't rock my blogging world like it would have a year ago.
And that is what is making all the difference as I look ahead to 2013.
There is something to be said about ending the year content
and beginning the new one hopeful,
don't you think?
Won't you join us for coffee?

Facebook thinks I need rehab {for my Elf on the Shelf}

There have been a few times since I've started this blog that life is actually better than fiction.  That even if I tried, locked myself in a room, and free wrote for days, I wouldn't be able to come up with the stories that happen in my actual life.  Like the time this blog got hacked.  This story is one for the grand kids, so silly, even my elf is appalled.  This is the story of my little Elf on the Shelf, Buddy Fiddlesticks McChristmas pants.  Known to my girls as "Sammy the good elf", but known to my adult Facebook friends as "B".  And apparently known as Elf with a drug habit to the nice people at Facebook Inc.
Let's start at the beginning.
B is our elf that came to visit last year.  As I have stated before, we threw all the "elf" rules out the window.  B doesn't stay on his shelf, he comes to Starbucks and Target with us.  The girls love him to pieces, so much so that his felt is starting to fray.  Since Caitlin started school she has been told that all his magic is gone since we touch him.  To that I call BS on you little children of the naive world, by loving B, we make him more magical with every hug and every kiss.  That's why he doesn't report the fight over Twilight Sparkle or the spilled hot cocoa to Santa.  He's got our back.  Especially since my kids are deathly afraid of the Big Guy in the red suit.  If they are bad, I just threaten to take them to the mall to sit on the fat guys lap.  It works like a charm.
Just a few of B's antics from last year.
This looks pretty magical to me, don't you think?
Back to B.
This year we brought B back with some fun.  Yes, he was there to entertain the kiddos, but he was mostly there to entertain my friends on Facebook and Instagram.  He was a big hit last year.  I got tons of comments from friends on Facebook and in real life.  Plus, I had a blast sharing B's adventures.  So this year I let loose, and let B have the ride of his life.
An attempt at #fmsphotoaday which was an epic fail after day 17.
B was having fun doing other things.
Some of my favorites above include:  B's self portrait / Marshmallow snowmen /
And his ride to Kindergarten pickup.
A few more #fmsphotoaday attempts
 Plus my favorites:  B in bed with Merida, and then proof that he is a father / covered in lights / his new hat and scarf which may or may not be for a bottle of wine / his photo bomb / and book advent which we took very seriously.

More fun with lots of elves.  Can you tell I'm a little obsessed?
I made an elf ornament / my cat's not really a fan / B tp'd Caitlin's baby tree / We brought home Figgy (middle), Joe (bottom left) and Randal (bottom middle) / B also brought good tidings, like cookie mix, and graham cracker houses.
Here is where I get into trouble. 
My elf, like most people I love in my life, has multiple personalities.  Like I said, to me and lots of adults he's B, but to the kiddos, he's Sammy.  Sammy brings cookies and hangs from the light fixtures in the dining room.  B, likes beer, smokes and fast Barbies.  Here is an example of some questionable behavior.

The last one got me lost of questions from Facebook and real life friends.  Even friends of friends wondering how my children felt about a drug addicted elf.  Wow, I may feed my kiddos a steady diet of Starbucks iced black tea and Oreos, but do you think I'm that kind of a momma?  Seriously, do you think I'd do this to my kiddos?  So in an effort to stay on the up and up, as some may say, I posted this picture to Facebook as an explaination:
This is classic Sammy vs. B.  Sammy on the left bringing good tidings.  B on the right enjoying some "prescription drugs" which happen to be Tylenol, and 3 year expired vitamins.  Exciting stuff like B12 and Folate.  Super exciting right.  Also as a side note, all the "Naughty B" pictures happen when the kids are in bed, and it's just me and the hubbs laughing hysterically.  I promise, no children were psychologically or emotional harmed this holiday season.
Now this is where you can take my Elf on the Shelf party or leave it.  There was a prompt for photoaday that was "green".  For the life of me I couldn't figure out what to do for green.  Trees were obvious.  So I thought maybe a cookie or candy, then I remember one of my favorite holiday songs:
It would be a lie to say that it wasn't well received on Facebook and Instagram.  It is one of those, you either get it or you don't.  In case you don't click here.  I have to say it will stay a favorite of mine for years to come.  I'm also thinking that B may have to use this for his Christmas card next year.
So by now, I think I've set the stage for what's next.  I had been planning B's next escapade for a year.  I was a little gun shy last year, but since lots of my friends on Facebook enjoyed the "pills" picture so much, I thought, let's go big.  So with lots of help from the Hubbs (holding B in place) and the Brother in Law (lighting), I got this for all the masses on my very public Facebook page:
 To me, this was funny.  I laughed at this for about a good hour.  Then kept looking at the picture again, just to giggle.  It was all in good fun.  You can't have a winter themed, holiday loving, elf on the shelf without having him have a little "snow".  Many of my friends on Facbook and Instagram thought it was funny.  I'm not talking hundreds of likes, I'm talking about a good conversation starter.  If you know me in real life you know I keep it light and humorous.  That nothing is off limits in comedy, and that I do have questionable morals when it comes to movies, music and pop culture.  Sorry, it's who I am.  I'm almost 35, I don't see that changing much.
Also as previously stated, my girls see none of this.  NONE.  They don't even read my blog, or have a Facebook page.  They are five and two.  They think Sammy is just a fun toy to add to the Barbie dream house pool.  Nothing more, nothing less. 
So that was my last picture of B Fiddlesticks, because the next night I got this email:
That's right friends.  Facebook thinks I have a drug problem.  Me, who can't even drink alcohol, who hasn't had bread in 10 years, who hasn't had caffeine since February, who doesn't even like to take Tylenol.  I posted this picture to Instagram and most comments were shock.  They thought that maybe this was a hoax.  I assure you it's not.  Someone, friend, foe, or otherwise, reported B and me to Facebook, for our struggles with addiction.  Look, I'm not making fun of addiction.  I know that addiction is a very real thing.  Trust me, I deal with it indirectly in my own life.  But to assume that my Elf on the Shelf is indeed in the process of snorting some actual coke?  Ridiculous.  For the record it's cake flour, since I was out of powdered sugar.  Cake.  Flour.  The end.
First of all if it was the real shiz, why the hell would I waste it on my elf?  Second, if I had a spare kilo or two hanging around, I would hope I'd not make it so obvious.  Third, don't you think my house would be spic and span if I was hopped up on narcotics??
So thank you Facebook for ruining my fun, and making me feel bad about some adult shenanigans.  I understand your concern and will alert you every time I see a half naked young girl posting pictures of herself in her bathroom.  She obviously needs help finding clothes to wear, and maybe some parents.  Also I will take extra caution and alert you to all the illiterate Facebookers who don't know the difference between there, their, and they're.  They are obviously in need of a dictionary, hooked on phonics, or just an education in general.  Be sure to send them an email about that.
It's too bad B doesn't have fingers.  I'd love to post a picture on Facebook of that. 
It's not all bad though.  The email has left me inspired.  If Facebook thinks B needs rehab, then maybe it's time to put him through some 12 steps.
All chronicled on Instagram and Facebook of course.
Got Elf?
You can link him up here with Lil Blue Boo

The Hangover {Christmas 2012}

I really wasn't ready for Christmas.
I was having way to much fun.
I just wanted to soak and savor every last bit of Christmas.
So I did.
That's why I haven't posted in 5 days.
It felt a little strange, but the truth is I didn't even think about it until yesterday.
I'm even getting a late start today, because we were having some family time.
My hangover recap isn't complete, I have more stories to share.
For now, this will have to do.
I apologize in advance for the picture overload.
It was the last day of school.  I swore the angels were singing!
Caitlin brought home a gift for me and the hubbs.
I almost cried, I've been waiting for this moment!
It was a new ornament for the tree.
I'm in love.
We also hosted 6 of Caitlin's kinder friends for a party.
Mr. Snowman was the main event.
That is a potato chip hat, the work of a 5 year old genius, sadly not my 5 year old genius.

We woke up to "Sammy", aka B. Fiddlesticks, and his faux gingerbread houses.
Caitlin had been begging for a gingerbread house, and I forgot to pick one up at Costco.
That's right, pick one up, as in buy.
Ain't nobody got time for homemade.
So Sammy "constructed" these and left them out.
Caitlin was a little upset they weren't the "real" deal.
That is until we got out the candies and frosting and all was forgotten.
Check out the frosting face on that kid.
Also Mac would rather eat than decorate.
Dance Recital Day.
Our first recital, and our first attempt at curling baby girls hair.
Seriously, it took over an hour with a curling iron.
I know what you are going to say, sponge rollers.
Look, I can't even get this kid to sleep on a braid, let alone what I would estimate to be 100 sponge rollers.
Anyway, it didn't matter.
It was also our first time using mascara and blush.
I was having a toddlers and tiaras moment.
That's my little diva, who ended up being the Belle of the ball,
with 13 reserved seats for her guests.
Monday, aka, Christmas Eve
Mom and I went for our mani/pedis and red cups, a tradition we started last year.
It's the best gift we have ever given each other.
Then it was home to bake Mama Linda's favorite chocolate cakes.
I made two, and the house finally smelled like Christmas.
Then because I ran out of time, we axed the cut out cookies for Santa
and made some no bakes.
Chocolate covered oreos and graham crackers covered in
left over chocolate frosting and sprinkles.
Santa had no complaints, and the girls were able to help with both.
I'm convinced that's what Christmas is all about.
Making memories with your kids, regardless of how much flour is used at the time.
We can break out our cookie mix (in the bag of course) later this week,
or next and make 2013 cookies.
If I tell them it's a thing it will be a thing right?
I also enjoyed watching Mac play under the tree. 
I asked her what she was doing, and she said she was playing in her workshop.
This leads me to believe that the tree needs to stay up all year!
Some of my favorite things from Christmas Eve:
Mac's new monkey slippers from Grandma.
My new heart necklace from the girls.
Caitlin picked it out at Target, and it's the bees knees in my book.
Caitlin and Ruthie, her American Girl doll, courtesy of Grandma Linda and Grandpa Jr.
It's all she really wanted, plus the fancy red Christmas dress.
Mac and her new Bityy Baby.
Which she really, really, wanted and asked for by name, "bitty baby, black one".
Who were we to tell her no?
Were we really going to tell her she couldn't have it?
Of course not, and she has been loving on it ever since.
She has even asked for "bows" for Bitty Baby's hair.
Love her.
More Favorites from Christmas Eve:
Mac watching A Christmas Story at 11.  She had a very late nap,
which turned into a sleepless baby.
Santa was on standby. 
It cracks me up, because it's the part where the dogs get the turkey. 
She laughed out loud!
My girls and my Grandpa, their "Papa", what a blessing to be loved by that man.

Tuesday, Christmas Day, Favorites
Reindeer Waffles, decided on last minute by me. 
I told you I was trying to soak up every last bit of Christmas!
And of course Cinnamon Rolls on a Stick, thanks to Kimberly at A Night Owl Blog
Very, very, easy, and according to the kids, delicious.
I would never lie to you and tell you it was perfect.
Mac didn't want to take a Christmas picture.
We took it anyway.
I did spend a lot of time watching Chritmas Story as it was on a 24 hour loop.
I always get sad at 8 o'clock Christmas night when it's all over.
I took way too many pictures of my tree this year and shared them on Instagram.
Sorry IG friends.
And I wouldn't be me if I didn't tell you about our trip to Christmas Tree Lane.
It's a 2 mile stretch of mansion like homes here in Fresno.
It's gorgeous and everyone lights up there house big time.
Like moving Santas, Disney characters, and mangers galore.
So it was a must this year, in my effort to enjoy the season.
Of course we waited until Christmas night at 6:30.
Half way there Mac fell asleep.
Then it started to rain, but no big because we were in the car.
Half way down the 2 mile stretch, Caitlin started melting down.
She was uncomfortable in her seat.
She couldn't see.
She was thirsty.
She was tired.
So, with half a block left, we turned down a side street for home.
When we got home, both girls were asleep.
The Hubbs and I exhausted.
And it was the perfect end to a very merry Christmas.
Just 2 more days to enter my December giveaway.
Click here!

Good Tidings we Bring {December Sponsors Giveaway}

It's the last giveaway I'm doing for the year.  I've been procrastinating because I'm trying to soak in every last bit of Christmas before it's over.  I've been surrounding myself with holiday cheer, and now I'm finally organized enough to share some... Here are my lovely December Featured Sponsors, and they would love for you to check them out.  Don't forget they bring gifts!

Paula from Hopeful Future
Hi! I'm Paula from Hopeful Future!
First of all I want to thank Megan SO MUCH for this opportunity to share!!!
I'm a young wife and mama of 2 sweet babies. Our home is small and oftentimes chaotic since we have 2 kids 2 & under, but it is a joy filled home and we love living and growing together! I blog about all the things I'm learning as a young mom and wife!
My current favorite Christmas song has to be Jingle Bells, I know that's not very unique, but my 2 year old has taken quite a liking to the song and is always trying to sing it. It's adorable, and I'm loving the fact that he is able to get excited about Christmas this year. Making memories with my babies is so priceless to me, and so Jingle Bells has a special place in my heart this year.
I think my favorite Christmas movie(s) would have to be the Santa Clause ones. Silly, but fun.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours! <3

My name is Laura and I'm a house mouse!  That's why I blog over at Mice In The Kitchen.  I am blessed to say I have been married to my best friend for 15 years and we have four children.  On some days I would say wonderful children but on other days I am more realistic....but none the less they are mine and I love each of them!  In my little corner of the Internet I talk about life, food, reviews and love giveaways.  I dare get crafty here and there and will share the laughs along the way and sometimes my crafts are actually will find that burn cream is a staple for any craft I do involving a glue gun.  I would love for you to come by and check out my blog!!

My Favorite Christmas song
Okay...that's actually a hard one.  So I have narrowed it down to 2 but really any classic Christmas song has me in the Christmas mood.  BUT... Christmas Cannon and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree would be my 2. 

My Favorite Christmas Movie:
Maybe not so much a movie but I every year love to watch Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown Christmas with the  Christmas tree on and fire going it sets the mood for the holidays for me. I will protest if they ever try and take them off TV!!

This picture always makes me's last year when we were in town with my mom and woke up Christmas morning.  It's so cute to see the kids running down the hall, were I did when I was a kid, Christmas morning. 

Kristen from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

WTF is a lifestyle blog mostly about our adventures in Germany with new DIY and recipes every week!

My favorite Christmas song: Bing Crosby-Pennies from Heaven. 

Which is from my favorite Christmas movie: Elf!

My favorite Christmas picture was taken last year when Hubby and I spent
Christmas day at Disney World.
Even though it was 80 degrees out, they made it 'snow' and it was amazing!

Annie from Annie One Can Cook

I'm a full-time student with big dreams of working in television or film. I currently work at two television stations, both in front of and behind the camera and absolutely love it.
In addition to work and school, I'm marrying the man of my dreams in January!
My hobbies include cooking, going for long walks, reading, scrap booking, and writing.

I love Christmas and begin jamming out to Christmas CDs in my car around the beginning of September. My favorite Christmas song is 'Oh Holy Night' and my favorite Christmas movie is 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.'

Hey loves! I'm Kristine and I {over}share our lives over here. Stop on by and introduce yourself, I'd love to check out your casa as well! Love that Megan gave me some prompts, because lately this Momma has been all over the place and I'll gladly take all the help she can get {wink}. 

Fav Christmas song is Away in a Manager. Goosebumps. Every.Single.Time. This year having our M&M girls sing, or in Mia's case hum along to it is truly one of the highlights to our Christmas season.

Fav Christmas movie is Elf #ofcourse

"First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating,
then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can,
and then we'll snuggle." #boom #bestdayever

Laura from Our Reflection


Favorite Christmas Song: I Pray on Christmas
Favorite Christmas Movie: Charlie Brown Christmas

Myranda from Pretty Living PDX.
I am the momma to 3 beautiful little ladies and the wife to 1 amazing man, and I blog about our everyday adventures. I consider myself quite the comedian and my lifelong dream is to one day appear on SNL.

It is almost Christmas, are you ready? I sure am...NOT! I still have gifts to buy and everything to wrap, stockings to stuff, dinner to buy, just about everything, but it will get done before 12/25 at least. Today is about Christmas favorites, my favorite song is All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey, my favorite Christmas movie is the Charlie Brown Christmas. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and come say hi over at Pretty Living PDX 

Since all these bloggers are in the Christmas Spirit,
they are sharing it today!

You know what to do next!
Have a great day and enjoy the last 4 days before Christmas!
That's right FOUR!

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