I have a confession to make. It is December 22 . . . 3 days til Christmas . . . and my Christmas tree has already come and gone. Literally.
I love live Christmas trees, and we've always had a live tree. This year wasn't any different. I was so excited for our first Christmas in our new house. I had big plans . . . until I counted the doors on my house and realized how many wreaths I needed (10 and that didn't include the windows!) . . . and then I didn't have enough garland for the stair rail and balcony . . . and I'm not quite sure what happened to all of my ornaments because I certainly didn't have enough to fill a tree (or maybe the tree just got bigger this year!) . . . and then we've had SIX parties during the past three weeks, four of which I was the hostess (I have no idea how my social calendar got so full!) . . . and I've just been so busy that I haven't had time to do anything, much less decorate a tree! That's right, folks. I NEVER decorated our tree! After we'd had it for nearly two weeks, I did string the lights. And I got so aggravated during the process that I vowed we'd have a pre-lit tree next year! As a matter of fact, when the tree went out the door yesterday (the thing was already dead as a door nail, and I was tired of sweeping up pine needles!), I didn't even bother to take the lights off of it!
We're leaving early in the morning to go to Georgia for Christmas. That would be another reason for my complacency regarding our tannenbaum this year. We aren't going to be here. I haven't done any of my usual baking either. I just love my parents' house at Christmas. It looks like it came right out of Southern Living magazine! And I know my mama has already done all of the baking, pralines and fudge included, so I'm all good!
I'm actually quite disappointed in myself. But I'm also already planning for next year! Less parties, more decorations and a fabulous Christmas tree! In the meantime, I can hardly wait to go to Georgia! I'm going to enjoy every minute of the 9-hour trip (I plan to catch up on my reading. I should finish at least two books, if not more. Better yet, I just might SLEEP!). And I'm going to enjoy every minute with my family and friends!
Now I did hang all 10 of those wreaths, thanks only to my sisters-in-law! But that's about as festive as we got around here save the occasional manger, stockings and candy cane candle. The exception would be Mason's and Hannah Kate's trees. Hannah Kate has a pink tree in her room! It's so very girlie. My sister-in-law even said it's prissy! I'm not thrilled with Mason's tree. I really wanted to do a hunting / fishing theme for his tree, but I didn't have time to find the ornaments. So we just used all of his special ornaments that have been collected over the past five years. His favorite in Spiderman. Here are a few pictures of the kids decorating their trees.
So have yall seen Billy the Exterminator? It's a real-life series on A&E. Billy and his family operate Vexcon, one of Lousiana's (you know they'd be from Louisiana!) busiest pest removal companies. They are either ingenious or just down right stupid in their techniques for pest removal. And, by the way, "pests" range anywhere from alligators and snakes to foxes and coons. Now I don't regularly watch this show. As far as I'm concerned, it ranks right up there with the rest of the "man shows" . . . you know, Ax Men, Swamp People, Swamp Loggers and the like. But my husband is a sucker for such entertainment.
Let me tell you . . . I don't need Billy. I have Seth!
The weeks before Thanksgiving were rather warm. One such day I noticed a lot of ladybugs had gathered on the back porch. I didn't think much about it, only that I'd never seen that many ladybugs before. Because it was another warm day, Mason and Hannah Kate spent the afternoon outside. They were also going in and out, in and out. I did notice a ladybug or two in the house, but I thought nothing of it. Until Seth got home . . .
The first thing he tells me is to not open the doors. I just chuckled because I already knew how much "opening of the doors" had already been done. Later that night, I began to notice more ladybugs inside the house. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them. It seemed like most of them were congregating in the family room . . . and the only way you'd really notice them was if you bothered to look 20-feet up high in the air at the ceiling. I don't know about you, but I don't make it a habit to do so. And I'm fairly certain I take little to no notice at the ceiling in other folks' houses. During the next several days, my husband would come home and spend at least an hour with my vacuum cleaner sucking up ladybugs from wherever he could find them. Of course, there was something else I would've rather him be doing with my vacuum cleaner . . . you know, like vacuum the floor! . . . but I wasn't going to complain. I don't have the kind of time on my hands to go around chasing ladybugs.
But the ladybugs in the family room, he couldn't get to. And it began to bother him. I mean, R E A L L Y bother him. I know there were lots up there . . . probably 100 or more if we were to count them. But, again, they weren't bothering me. I figured I'd be ready to sweep them up once they died and fell to the floor.
In the meantime, Seth sprayed all of our exterior doors (have I mentioned that there are NINE of them?!?) with wasp spray! So dead ladybugs began to litter our porches. That didn't bother me so much either. What I didn't know was that he also got a little too happy with some left-over silicon. When I went to hang my Christmas wreaths, I couldn't get one of the doors in Hannah Kate's room open. It's the door that always sticks a bit so I just pushed a little extra hard. Well, maybe a lot extra hard with all of my weight. When it still didn't budge, I went outside to see what the problem was, and that's when I saw it. Not only was the door siliconed shut, but it had been siliconed to the rubber seal around the door! And not only that, but I had near about ripped the rubber seal off the door with all of my pushing and shoving. Let's just say it's probably a very good thing that Seth wasn't in town that particular evening. I did tell him how I felt when he called that night though. Honestly, I was more concerned about not being able to open the door to hang my wreath than anything else! In case you're wondering, the door is fixed now, and my wreath was hung.
Anyway, we finally got some cold weather, and the ladybugs left . . . except the hundred or so in the family room. A couple of weeks ago, I had to run some errands. Seth got home before I did. And when I got home, this is what I saw:
Yes, you are correct. Your eyes are not deceiving you. But just in case you're wondering, that would be two PVC pipes connected to the shop vac.
Later that same evening . . . I promise I'm not making this up, yall! . . .
I was in the office working on a project. The kids were in bed, and Seth was in the family room watching TV. His routine is the same every night. He likes to leave the flood lights on the back of the house on so he can see the rodents approaching in our back yard. Several armadillos have met their demise lately, and we also have a skunk. Or had a skunk. He was a rather big one and brave at that. During the summer time, he'd always come up to the back porch at 1:00pm everyday. I took a picture of him through the window one day so I could show Seth.Anyway, we hadn't seen him lately. But Seth came in the office and asked me what I thought about him shooting a skunk. I immediately told him it was a BAD idea. I mean, the skunk wasn't bothering anyone. Besides, I was more concerned about the SMELL than anything else. But Seth assured me that he'd shoot him in the head and all would be fine. So do yall know what he did?!? He opened the window in the half bathroom and shot the skunk through the window! And then he went outside to "dispose" of the body. So do you want to guess what my house smelled like that night and the next day?!? It. Was. Horrible. And that, my friends, is an understatement.
To top it all off . . . Seth leaves the next day and called me the next night from his hotel room. And do you know what he asked me? He asked me if I'd been watching Billy the Exterminator. Well, of course not. I had no idea the show was even on. And then he proceeds to tell me that Billy had to go to someone's house on the show that night to catch a skunk! Again, I promise I'm not making this up. When I ask how he did it, Seth said he used grape jelly and a trap. I'm thinking about putting some grape jelly in Seth's stocking!
But, really, the funniest thing to me about this whole thing . . . is that just this time a year ago, I BOUGHT . . . PAID FOR . . . PURCHASED . . . WITH OUR MONEY . . . ladybugs on-line for a certain little someone's ladybug-themed birthday party!!!
Ever since Mason's birthday party in July, Hannah Kate has been talking about "what kind" of party she wanted to have. At first, it was Tinkerbell. She talked about Tinkerbell for nearly three months. I'm really not sure where that came from; we don't have any of the Tinkerbell movies, and she doesn't have any Tinkerbell toys or accessories. And then she decided she wanted a princess party. One day it was Snow White, the next day it was Belle, the next day Cinderella, so on and so forth. And then we were back to Tinkerbell again. I started thinking of how to come up with some sort of "fairy princess" party, and then I realized the perfect idea: a TEA PARTY! After all, Hannah Kate loves her some tea parties! I mean, we party hardy all day! When I asked her about this idea, she agreed. So I began planning a tea party . . . right up my alley and so much fun!
I must admit though . . . I've felt a bit guilty . . . the past two years, I've put a lot of thought and planning and preparation into Hannah Kate's birthday parties. But not so much for Mason! He always asks for a swimming party, and that's what he loves to do . . . and it's so easy! . . . besides, there's really nothing else to do in south Louisiana in July anyway! So I've got to come up with something really good for Mason's next birthday. Anyway . . .
My original idea was to have Hannah Kate wear a dress smocked with teapots, but I really waited until the last minute, and it was too late to have it in time for her party. So I decided to make her a pillowcase dress instead. I just love sewing for her anyway, and I found this fabulous teaparty-themed fabric . . . so I paired it with some polka dot fabric and, even though it's a bit "louder" than I usually do, I love it!Is this not the sweetest face you ever did see?!? I just cannot believe my doll baby is THREE!We transformed the dining room (which, by the way, is NOT orange . . . it's copper mountain!) into Hannah Kate's parlor. I love to hang things from the ceiling. So I made several tissue paper balls and hung them from the chandelier. I then took my Grandmother's silver tea set and hung it from the chandelier as well. I used a white pillowcase to make slip covers for all of the chairs and then tied a bow around the back of each chair with hot pink tulle. I made sugar cookies in the shape of teapots, put them on sucker sticks and then in a cellophane bag as goodies for all of the girls. These were placed in a round globe on the center of the table as the center piece. There was also a feather boa, crown, wand and ring at each seat.I had the most planning the menu for Hannah Kate's party! We had a dip of cream cheese covered in red pepper jelly (so easy and so absolutely YUMMY!), cupcake bites (I did enjoy making these, but the last time I made them, my mom and I did it together, and I really missed that this time!), scones with lemon curd (I wanted to make clotted cream, too, but I just ran out of time!), apple and marshmellow skewers with brown sugar cream cheese dip, bagel bites (because Hannah Kate loves pizza!) and cheese cubes.
Hannah Kate's favorite was definitely the cupcake bites! There is a cake ball in the center of each one. The recipe makes over 80 cake balls so I actually froze half of them because I didn't need that many for the party. I'm going to make red and green cupcake bites later this week.
And I just have to tell yall this . . . Seth's birthday was last Monday. His favorite is carrot cake so I always make him one for his birthday. Making cakes is not my favorite (I really don't like having to use exact measurements! and my cakes always have a hump in the middle) so this year I decided to make carrot cake cupcakes instead. When Mason got home from school, he couldn't wait to eat a cupcake. I told him he had to wait until after supper. They were covered with that delicious cream cheese icing (homemade!) and pecans. Anyway, he ate his supper and then he got a cupcake. He took the first bite. I already knew what was going to happen . . . let's just say the look on his face was one of confusion. He was chewing. Slowly. And then he started scoping out the inside of the cupcake. The specks of carrot were very obvious. He took another bite. Now the look on his face was one of disappointment. At the third bite, the look on his face was that of . . . disgust. It was all we could do to hide our laughter. Seth asked him if he liked the cupcake. Mason looked at me with those big blue eyes and said, "Mom, you make the wrong cupcakes." Let's just say that Seth finished that one . . . Four of Hannah Kate's friends came to her tea party.And here's the princess herself . . .Hannah Kate loved opening her gifts! And Abbie was such a sweet helper while I took pictures.We can always count on Aunt Ashley to keep the LSU Tiger purple and gold alive and kicking!
Look at this face . . . can you guess what Hannah Kate was so excited about?!?It's a fuzzy pink jacket that she absolutely adores! I've never seen a child so excited about a jacket!Spiderman also made an appearance at the party . . .The pink purse is monogrammed with an H. And those are fairy ballerina sheets Hannah Kate is holding. Thank you, Uncle Troy, Aunt April, Avery and Beau!Pop and Mimi gave her the Tea Party game. This is an awesome game if you have a little girl at your house, too.PawPaw and MawMaw gave Hannah Kate a dress-up trunk. They found it while they were "antique-ing" in Tennessee. It was in much disrepair though so PawPaw had to do a little work on it and then MawMaw painted it. I knew the trunk was coming . . . Hannah Kate has accumulated quite a collection of dress up clothes during the past year that seem to be EVERYWHERE . . . but I didn't know the trunk was also going to be filled to the brim . . .
Seth and I got her a big girl bicycle . . . pink and princess, of course! I had no idea how much she would love it . . . she was outside that evening at 9:00 riding it (we had just come home with our Christmas tree, and we were trying to get it in the stand).
The cake was very simple . . . but I found these precious tea party themed candles!Happy birthday, Hannah Kate . . . happy birthday to you!And, at the end of the day, here we are. Boy, Mommy sure is showing her wear and tear! I should've had this picture taken at the beginning of the day instead!Hannah Kate's birthday continued a couple of days later . . . the rest of her present from Pop and Mimi arrived! These aren't the greatest pictures . . . she was sitting on the couch when she opened it, and she immediately started playing with it . . .It's the most precious porcelein tea set!
"I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and pouring out the tea," said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. "And asking Diana if she takes sugar, I know she doesn't but of course I'll ask her just as if I didn't know." ~Anne of Green Gables
Hannah Kate, you are three years old today! Oh, how the years go by . . .
When you were born, you had the poutiest lips! And you didn't hardly open your eyes for a week. I remember thinking you were going to be such a good sleeper. You were not! I've loved you so very much ever since the day I first laid eyes on you . . . but even before then, too. You stole parts of my heart that you Daddy and Mason didn't already have. Those days in the hospital with you were very precious to me. And the days to come, even more so!You started walking when you were 10 months old, and you were a spunky monkey. Still are! You grew to love baby dolls and high heels and dress up clothes. After you turned one, we left Mississippi and lived with PawPaw and MawMaw for awhile. You shared a room with Mason for nearly a year and a half. You love your big brother. You also love your cousin Abbie. She came over and played with you a lot during those days.I have loved loved LOVED you as a two-year-old! And I have enjoyed our time together while Mason has been at school. Sometimes I wish I could keep you just as you are right now. I love reading books to you and being served at your tea parties and dressing your baby dolls and fixing your hair. I love the way you sit on my vanity when I'm drying my hair and brush your hair until I'm finished. I love watching you make faces at yourself in the mirror. You like to stick your tongue out at yourself! I love how you always ask for lipstick. You are so smart! You know your ABCs, you can count to almost 20 and you even know some rhyming words. I love to hear you sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Your favorite color is pink. You love to watch Olivia. She reminds me a lot of you actually. But most of all, I love your hugs and your kisses. And I love it when you tell me, "I love you."And now you are three. I don't quite know what to say . . . except that I'm looking forward to every minute of it! I love you!