Christmas 2016 | How to throw a Gingerbread House party!

December 26, 2016
The moment we arrived at my sister Becky's house, I was all smiles! I was definitely feeling all the Christmas-y family feels, yo.

Having a Gingerbread House making party can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you've got about 20 children running around, but there were a few things I noticed that made this family construction work/run smoothly!

Buy pre-made
I'm all for the home-made stuff, but when you're expecting a lot of people over at your house, you probably have a lot of other things on your mind. So taking something big off of your plate, like baking a bunch of gingerbread isn't a bad idea!

Ask for help
The sets we had provided some candy, but not nearly enough for our sweet tooths... I mean, teeths... teeth? Ask everyone to bring a bag or two of candy to contribute!

Be observant
Pay attention to the people around you. Does anyone need a little extra help?

Soup is a great option for a large group of people and you can ask other people to bring things for the soup or another soup option as well!

Prepping your house + Toys/Games
Prep your house with areas for entertaining the kiddos who get bored of the house-building and also to get them out of the kitchen (maybe outside?) while the adults do some cleanup!

Use the buddy system!
When I wasn't making the gingerbread house (or taking pictures!) I was watching my kiddos and Andrew was stepping in to help and vice versa. I couldn't do these things and have nearly as much fun without my partner in crime, er, construction, in this case.

And don't forget the family picture!

The main thing to remember is to make sure you're as present as possible. Be prepared so that you can participate and make memories with your family/friends, too. I hope your Christmases were every bit as wonderful as you are! Thanks for reading today and I'll catch ya next time!!!


Barrett Christmas pictures + 10 Months

December 22, 2016
I know I haven't written much about Barrett this past year, which is such a shame because there are so many things I want to remember! For instance, even though it can hurt like the dickens sometimes, I don't ever want to forget the way he pinches my neck whenever I hold him!

And that smile that brings sunshine in my life no matter what the weather!

The way he goes straight for the outlet covers when I set him down. Yeah. He likes to pull them out and crawl everywhere with him. Smarty pants.
And speaking of crawling, the way he puts one hand on something (like books, but more recently presents) and slides it along the floor as he crawls.
How he has discovered that throwing toys is so much fun!
The way he laughs harder at Chelsea than just about anyone else.
The way he laughs when I tickle him under his chin. It's the sweetest sound my ears have ever heard!

And the way I'll be doing my own thing, then turn to look over at him and get the biggest grin ever in return, which is what spurred the impromptu Christmas tree shoot I did totally featuring him.

And that "ohhhh... I'm in trouble..." look! *insert laughing tears emoji here*

These nights when everyone else is asleep and it's just me and him are priceless. Even though he (and I) should be in our beds catching some Z's, I don't regret them.

I love  you little Bear Bear! You're such a good little baby and I would never want to go back to life without you. It has only gotten better since you arrived.

The other night, I sang you to sleep with the song "Silent Night" and was struck by this phrase:

"Round yon virgin, Mother and Child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild."

For a moment, I thought I understood how Mary must have felt holding the Savior in her arms, because, although we don't grow up perfect, we come to this earth perfect. How grateful I am for our Savior, the Light of the World.

Susan is a birth photographer/videographer serving Mesa, Arizona and surrounding cities including Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Considering a photographer for your birth? Contact Susan for EDD availability.

Mommy Style Monday | Christmas Traditions

December 19, 2016
I could go on for at least an hour on Christmas traditions and all the different ones that my family had and that I loved growing up, then maybe another hour on the traditions that I have in my own little family now. Traditions are a part of what make Christmas so special and fun for me because traditions typically involve people you've known and loved for many many years, and who have I known and loved for that long? My family, which is what Christmas is all about, right?

So! To spare you all an EXTREMELY long post, I'll just share my favorite part of Christmas, the stockings!

My mother makes everyone in the family their own, hand-crocheted stocking, and they are absolutely priceless to me.

dress | shein

On Christmas morning, no one is allowed out of bed until 7:00 AM. We'd all set our clocks fast because we were sneaky like that, then we'd race up the stairs to see what was in our stockings! We always had one gift (like a little toy or DVD), chocolate gold coins, Swedish Fish, an orange, and a candy cane or some other little treat.

When I married into Andrew's family, we added to the stocking haul! His family had the tradition of IBC Root Beer and Nutella. They had a few other things, but those were the two that I liked best!

Then, last year, Andrew and I decided to start our own Family Stocking Tradition. In addition to all those yummy treats and the chocolate golden coins, we also include one real Silver Coin.

Joining families and traditions is one of the funnest parts of being married! And then, as your family grows and  you add children to the mix, Christmases somehow become even MORE fun than when you were a kid.

What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions? Comment below!

Here are a few other moms who shared theirs!

Madeline | CaseyLand
Cayli | Nightchayde
Chelsea | Naturally Chels

If you'd like to participate in the next Mommy Style Monday collaboration, click here.

Whatever your Christmas traditions, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and that this season has been one where you can say you've felt your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

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Tutorial | Circle shirt

December 8, 2016
A while back, I was walking through Joann's and every now and then, I find fabric that is so beautiful, I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to make something out of it!

This fabric is so soft and thick and warm and is perfect for the dry Utah weather we've been experiencing!

Alright, seamstress gals out there! Ready for a tutorial?!

You will need:
2.5-3 yards fabric (depends on the length of your sleeves)
Matching thread
Contrasting fabric for elbow patches
Model shirt (fits well at neck and arms)
Scissors, tape measure, etc.

Step 1: Pieces
Use a shirt that fits well at the neck and arms as a pattern, then, instead of following the model shirt's side seam, take it out to the side (like in the drawing). Measure from the arm-pit of the shirt to the length you want it, to determine how far to take the circle shirt out then curve down to the fold, making it the same length from your chest to the hem as it is from the armpit to the outside edge. And don't forget to add seam allowance!

Step 2: Sew
Pin the shirt pieces with right sides together at the shoulders and side seams. Sew.
*If you're doing the optional elbow patches, now's the time to sew them on! Just pin the patches to the sleeve pieces and zig zag stitch them on!
Pin the sleeve piece along the length of the sleeve with right sides together. Sew, and repeat with the other sleeve piece.
Turn the sleeves right sides out and pin it to the arm holes of the shirt with right sides together. Sew.

Step 3: Neckline/Collar
Measure around the neckline of the shirt and subtract 2-4 inches (depending on the stretch-ability of your fabric). Sew the two shorter ends of the collar, right sides together. Fold the collar in half with wrong sides together, hot-dog style, and iron flat. Line up the seam of the collar with the center of the back on the neckline. Pin the collar to the neckline, stretching to make it fit. Sew.

Step 4: Hem
Hem around the entire circle of your shirt (the shirt is probably more like an oval than a circle, but let's not be too technical!) and around the wrists and you're done!

I don't always try to look perfect for pictures! ;)

Good luck!

Grandma Wilson's 80th birthday!

December 5, 2016

Back in October, Andrew's wonderful Grandma, Margaret turned 80 years old! She is one spectacular lady! I don't know that I've ever met a woman quite like her. She works harder than just about anyone to keep her family united and involved in each other's lives and from the moment I walked into her door all those years ago with Andrew to meet his family and started calling her "Grandma," right off the bat, I've felt so accepted and loved by her.

To celebrate her birthday, we threw a surprise party and boy, was she surprised! We even got her to cry! But, I think that might have been more because she thought that everyone had forgotten it was her birthday. Next time, we'll try to surprise you without making you think we've forgotten, Grandma!

Andrew's sister Lauren even put together a book with letters from all of her posterity and in-laws. She loved it.

Happy birthday Grandma! Thank you for loving me, accepting me, listening to me, giving me advice, letting us live with you back before Chelsea was born, and continually involving us in your family. We love you SO MUCH!!!

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