Our Top 11 Moments of 2011


Inspired by our 2010 Christmas card, I decided to make a short and simple list of our most memorable moments of 2011 {in chronological order}....

1. Brody won the battle and gave up his Binky!

2. We traded the Durango for the Murano.  My brother, Josh, traded us the Durango for my {2 door} Honda Civic the day before we delivered Brody so that we would have a more practical car for our growing family.  When the Durango began progressively breaking down this past year, he traded us the Murano for the Durango.  I'm a blessed sister!
Our first and last days driving the Dodge Durango. Thank you, Josh!
3. Brody {with some help from JimPop} caught an Atlanta Braves baseball during batting practice.

4. Brody went on his first train ride and loved every minute of it.

5. We celebrated Brody's 2nd Birthday with a Mickey Mouse Choo-Choo Express party.

6. We took Brody to see his first movie in the theater. {Cars 2, of course}

7. Brody broke out of his crib and is now sleeping in a toddler bed.

8. Praise the Lord!...We survived potty training! { #1 and #2}

9. Jonathan and I left Brody with my parents while we escaped to the lake with some great friends.

10. We took Brody to the Magic Kingdom for the first time in October for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

11. I quit my part-time job and became a SAHM {thinking we were going to be living in South Africa for 6 months}...though we never got to go to South Africa, it remains one of the best decisions I have made to-date.  I get to pour more of myself into my little guy each day.  Plus, we are free to pack up and travel with Jonathan for business at a moment's notice.



And just because I can...I decided to throw in a little bonus moment from 2011 that I wasn't able to share with Jonathan and Brody....

My mom took me to New York City for my birthday! It was my first time in NYC and I can say that I now understand why everyone is so in love with that city.  I can hardly wait to go back.  I haven't blogged about that adventure just yet, but you can be sure it's coming in the weeks to follow. :)


I hope your 2011 was just as memorable, and I am looking forward to an even better 2012! 
Happy New Year!

Oh Snap!shots of the Week {12}

Happily Mother After
If this is your first time linking up you can check out the details about this party here.
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As I mentioned last week, we are continuing the same party through the next couple of weeks.  No awards will be given this week or the next due to the holidays.  Just link up another photo from this past week and enjoy all the photos around you. :)



This past week mostly consisted of shopping for gifts and decorating our home for Christmas, which required 2,598 trips up and down the attic stairs. {Or something like that...I lost count.}  Since we were gone for an entire month we didn't even have a Christmas tree until this past weekend!

My favorite photo this week was taken during our annual trip to Hunter's Christmas Tree Farm.  After we found our tree {which took awhile since they were all picked through by the time we arrived}, I had Jonathan and Brody pose beside it before we cut it down.  But, boys will be boys and the photo-op turned into rough housing...

And just for kicks I'm sharing my hubby's best photo of the week {with a few of my edits}...


So I want to know...do you have any Christmas tree-pickin' traditions?

~Can't wait to see your pictures this week!~

Too Smart for his own {Elf} Britches

So, our Elf on the Shelf was a little late this year.  He just showed up at our house this past weekend.  Of course, we just showed up at our house last week too {we have been out of town since before Thanksgiving}.

So I guess in all fairness, maybe he arrived the day after Thanksgiving, saw we weren't home, and traveled back to the North Pole until we arrived.
 
Who knows?!

{Last year} was the first year we met our crazy little elf, Alf.  Brody enjoyed waking up to look for Alf each morning, so I was excited to see that Alf finally arrived safely back this year.  I couldn't wait to once again see Brody's excitement each morning as we looked high and low to find Santa's silly little helper.

But, much to my surprise, Brody hasn't had quite the reaction I expected.

Take this morning for example...

As Brody stood at the top of the stairs, he looked down to see Alf perched upon our security system.  To which he replied, "Alf! There he is! There's Alf!"

What's wrong with that reaction?

Nothing is wrong with that reaction.  He was excited. That made me excited!  It's what came out of his mouth when I asked Brody how Alf got down there last night...

"You did it, Mommy."

"Um. What? No, I didn't do it."

"Daddy did it."

"Uh...no. Daddy didn't do it."

"Oh...Alf did it?"

"Yeah, Brody, Alf flew back to Santa last night while you were sleeping to tell him if you were naughty or nice yesterday.  Then he flew back here before you woke up."

I'm still not sure he bought it.  We keep reading him the story and reiterating it throughout the day, but I think he knows something is up.

I never realized how hard it would be make your child believe in the magic of Christmas.  Sheesh! I thought we would be dealing with this sorta thing when he turned 7 or 8 at the earliest.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think my two-year-old would be smart enough to recognize something is up with this whole Santa and his elves gig.

Oh boy...


Oh Snap!shots of the Week {11}

Happily Mother After
If this is your first time linking up you can check out the details about this party here.
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I hope you guys will forgive me for posting this party very late in the day.


Due to the holidays, this party will continue through the next two weeks. Please feel free to link up as many photos as you like over the next few weeks and enjoy looking at the new photos linked up periodically. :)



Last week, we had a tie between several pictures with the most "likes" {though mostly because there weren't many votes at all}.  So, instead of choosing the photo with the most "likes" I chose the photo that was viewed the most.  That's how I arrived at this darling picture...
Photography by Pioneer Photography

I fell in love with this one the moment I saw it. What's not to like about this picture? It looks like it belongs on a CD cover or a billboard perhaps. I love the lighting and colors..and of course the cute little all American blond on the tricycle!

This badge is for you, Pioneer Photography! 
Happily Mother After



My favorite from last week?  This simple but chic photo....
This inspires me to decorate my home much differently next year. Wouldn't a tree with presents underneath that all looked like this just make you gasp?!Photography by Life-n-Reflection
This badge is for you, Life-n-Reflection!
Happily Mother After


Lastly, I decided to feature Leovi from Abstract Photos.  Leovi is a "Faithful" to the Oh Snap! party.  {Thank you!} I love the colors in this one....

Photography by Leovi from Abstract Photos

Leovi, this badge is for you!
Happily Mother After
 




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My favorite snapshot was taken in New York this past weekend for my birthday. :)
But more on my first trip to NYC next week. All I will say for now is I heart NY!




All right Faithfuls and Newbies...Bring it!
Show me what you've got this week {and the next two}.


Reminder: This link party will be open through the next two weeks so you can link as many photos as you'd like during the holidays.  Also, please be sure to "like" the photos that stand out to you. :)


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12 Crafty Days of Christmas {Day 12}: Edible Holiday Scenes

Welcome to {Day 12} of the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas here at Happily Mother After!

Happily Mother After

If you missed any of the previous crafts, you can catch up with the rest of us 
by taking a look {over here}.

Today we're ending the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas on a sweet note.  {I guess you could call it a bitter sweet note since it's the last day of this series.}

Michelle from Sugar Swings! Serve Some  blogs about the tastier side of creativity.  I really never knew how many ways you can make food fun for kids until I came across her space in the blogosphere {check out her most recent creation, Gingerbread Super Heros}.  My mouth began to water and my mind started racing with all the possibilities...that's when I knew I had to ask her to be a guest here at HMA.


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.....hey there everyone...I'm michelle from SugarSwings! Serve Some and I'm really happy to be guest posting here with Lauren!....

...this is another super easy holiday goodie....edible holiday scenes!....i have 3 kiddos, a 7 year old and 4 year old twins, and these were a big hit and actually you can have your kiddos help with these too...

....you'll need these: 


(btw-i'm kinda addicted to all the different holiday themed marshmallows that kraft has been putting out for the holiday seasons!....and you'll need a bunch of your favorite sprinkle mixes and some icing (i had some left over royal icing which worked great as snow and to "glue"on the sprinkles....


....then just decorate any way you like.....i sprinkled them with some wilton shimmer dust in silver and pearl (but totally not needed).....and i made them for snacks for the kiddos and added their names but you could probably use them as edible place cards too for your holiday table (kiddo table or adult table!)....



...anyway, hope you like them and thanks to Lauren for inviting me over---fun!...happy holidays to all and have a great new year....can't wait to see more of the fun holiday crafts and treats from all over the world!.....

-michelle from sugarswings

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Thanks, Michelle, for sharing this idea with us!  I think this is a perfect activity for all of us moms with toddlers since it's easy enough to just hand over the materials and let your favorite little man or lady go at it {which, if you have a two-year-old, you know how much they love to do things all by themselves!}

Thank you to everyone who has "tuned in" to the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas. I've had so much fun and I hope you have too.  I'd love to see your version of any or all of the Christmas crafts you found here at HMA, so please share them. :)

Wishing you a very merry and crafty Christmas!

12 Crafty Days of Chrstmas {Day 11}: Snowman Pancakes

Welcome to {Day 11} of the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas here at Happily Mother After!

Happily Mother After

If you missed any of the previous crafts, you can catch up with the rest of us 
by taking a look {over here}.

Today's guest blogger loves to throw together chic and cute parties for her Littles, and that is what enticed me to her blog.  I love me a good kid's party!  That's why I recently created a Birthday Party Page where you can share your parties with all of us and find inspiration from the other parties linked up.  {Check it out here!}

You will find a few of Mariah's parties on HMA's Birthday Party Page but the others you can search for on Mariah's blog.  She recently put together a Gingerbread House Decorating Party and a North Pole Breakfast.  They were both just darling!  You should stop by her blog to check them out after you read what she has to share with us now...


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Hi, Happily Mother After fans!  I'm Mariah and you can find me at Giggles Galore where I share my passion for crafts, sewing and parties.   I am a busy mom to three sweet kids and at times our house can be a little chaotic, but there are always giggles galore. I believe in making the ordinary extraordinary and love celebrating the everyday moments.

I am excited to be here today sharing a fun way to celebrate with your kids this holiday season.  These snowman pancakes will transform an ordinary breakfast into an fun and memorable tradition.

My kids love eating pancakes on Saturday morning and I am always looking for fun ways to enjoy our time together in the morning when we aren't rushing around.  What better way then to create an interactive breakfast with something they love.  I started with my super yummy vanilla pancake recipe and then made snowman shapes on the griddle.





Fill a muffin tin or muffin cups with goodies the kids can use to decorate their snowman.  Our muffin tin had red hots, marshmallows, gumdrops, chocolate chips and  a fruit roll up.


Let the kids get creative and decorate their snowman.
  

 

It is a treat to have all these sweets for breakfast (we have made them with healthier options like blueberries, strawberries and bananas before) and it is funny to watch them and see how much they can pile on!
 

After everyone has enjoyed making their snowman pancakes we snuggle up on the couch and watch Frosty the Snowman in our pjs.  I love creating memories and enjoying the little moments like a simple breakfast with my family!

-Mariah

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Thank you so much for sharing this simple but adorable idea with all of us today, Mariah!  I just love that this is an easy tradition to keep throughout the years.  I have a special place in my heart for traditions!

What about you guys? What are your Christmas traditions? Do any of them involve pancakes? :)

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the last day of the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas series. 

Also, don't forget to check out the Birthday Party Page for inspiration and to link up some of your parties for all of us to drool over!  

12 Crafty Days of Christmas {Day 10}: Pillow Case

Welcome to {Day 10} of the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas here at Happily Mother After!

Happily Mother After

If you missed any of the previous crafts, you can catch up with the rest of us 
by taking a look {over here}.

Wow! I can't believe we are already at {Day 10} of this "12 Crafty Days" series!  I hope you guys have been enjoying all the wonderful crafts that our guest bloggers have been so graciously sharing, and I hope that you have become inspired to create some of these for your own family.

Today we have another special guest blogger, Jennifer from Sunny Vanilla.  Jen and I have one thing {among others} in common that makes me smile from ear to ear.  We married our high school sweethearts {both are baldies now. Ha!}.  

But besides our love for high school boys our HS sweethearts, we both have a love for all things creative {as I'm sure is true of you if you are keeping up with this series}.  But Jen is way ahead of me on the creative outlets scoreboard.  She loves photography, design, interior decorating, crafting, cooking, writing, and sewing.  

She's here now to share with us something sew cute...


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Hi there!  My name is Jen and I blog over at Sunny Vanilla.
 http://sunnyvanilla.blogspot.com/

I am a wife, a mom, and a lover of all things crafty. I started sewing as a teenager, but really didn't do much with it until I decided to leave the working world to stay at home with my daughter. Since then I've been addicted!


I'm happy to be here with you all today to share a fun and easy little tutorial.  

Last month, a group of crafty and talented gals got together to sew several Christmas themed pillowcases for the cancer unit at a local children's hospital.  We had such a great time!  It was truly a feel-good project and to top it off, the pillowcases turned out wonderful.  So nice, in fact, I decided to make a couple for our home.



There are lots of great tutorials online for pillowcases you can find here, here, and here.  There are also lots of Christmas prints on sale now at your local fabric store, so it's a good time to try out this project.


Materials:
3/4 yd. Christmas print for main body
1/3 yd. Christmas print for trim
thread
scissors

First take your 3/4 yd. of fabric and fold it in two.  Cut a rectangle that's 20.5 x 26 in.   Set aside.



Now take your trim fabric, fold it in two and cut it 20.5 x 11 in.  Unfold the fabric and refold it lengthwise {like a hotdog}. You will have one long piece of 41 in. x 5.5 in.




Now unfold the main body portion of the pillowcase and align the raw edge with the raw edges from your long piece of trim.  Here's what it should look like:




Sew a 1/2 in. seam.  When you sew your raw edges, you can use a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.  




Open seam and press with an iron.




Now take your fabric and place the right sides together.  Sew a 1/2 in. seam on your two open sides.




Flip your pillowcase right side out and now you have a beautiful Christmas themed pillowcase.




I'd love to "meet" all of you!  You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog.

Thanks for hanging out with me today!  I hope you have fun with this project!!!

-Jen

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Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing this cute little pillow case tutorial with us.  It seems so easy if you know what you are doing with a Singer.  Sewing is definitely something I have the desire to learn but have yet to take the time to actually figure out. Ahh...One day though.

Besides making pillow cases, Jen has been designing other adorable Christmas thingies such as this Whimsical Christmas Tree Garland from old sweaters.  I'm telling you, this girl is crafty.  Go check her out. 

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Be sure to check back tomorrow for {Day 11} of the 12 Crafty Days of Christmas series.  

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