The Guys Behind the Blog // December 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Welcome to December's Guys Behind the Blog link up!

As most of you might know, Betsy from Heavens to Betsy and Laura from According to Laura Jean hosted a series on their blogs called The Guys Behind the Blog. I used to link up as often as possible ever since I found out about the series - I think I only missed one month in the past year and a half since I found out about it. I recently went back to Betsy and Laura's blogs to find out what the questions were for August only to find out that they weren't hosting anymore - July was their last month. I was SO bummed! I truly loved interviewing Seth each month and seeing what questions they came up with. So, I decided to email Betsy and Laura and see if they would mind if I continued on their series. Thankfully they said they wouldn't mind and would be happy to see the series continue on. Crystal from Hall Around TexasEvelina from Fortunate HouseJamie from Cocktails and CarseatsJessica from Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom, and I are excited to continue the series on! 

For December, we decided to focus our questions on the theme of the holidays. Here are this month's questions and answers:

1 // How do you spend the holidays? Any favorite traditions that you had growing up that you like to share with your family now?

Spending time with my family. Eating dinner. Opening lots of gifts. Eating more. Opening more gifts. And eating more. And then eating dessert.

2 // Do you prefer to have a real tree or a fake tree?

Hmm... when it comes to buying the real tree, I prefer the fake one. But once it's up, I definitely prefer the real tree to the fake tree.

3 // How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa? Did someone ruin it for you or did you find out on your own? Do you play Santa for your kids?

Seth : I was 34. And it was you. Just now. Thanks.
Me : Ha. Ha. Ha. No really?
Seth : Looks at me.
Me : That's all you're saying?
Seth : Well I didn't write it down. I have no clue!
Me : Insert rolling eyes emoji...

4 // What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Home Alone.

5 // Office holiday party - take it or leave it?

If done right, take it! Most of the time, leave it.

Bonus Question:
6 // New Year's Eve... quiet evening at home or go out and party?

Quiet evening at home.


January's link up will be on the last Thursday of the month, January 26th, and the questions will be:

1 // Are you a New Year's resolution person? Why or why not?

2 // Do you like the colder months or do you prefer the warmer months? Why?

3 // Have you ever been skiing or snowboarding? If so, did you enjoy it?

4 // Where is your favorite winter vacation you've ever taken?

5 // If you were paid $100,000 to stay in a cabin in the mountains (in the winter) with no Internet or TV for a month, could you do it? How would you spend your time?

We hope to see you back here on January 26th to link up with us and share what your significant others have to say! (Also, feel free to grab that first graphic to add to your posts if you'd like!)


A HUGE thank you to Betsy and Laura for letting Crystal, Evelina, Jamie, Jessica, and I continue on their series. It's an honor to be able to continue on what they created.

You can find the original series on Betsy's blog here and Laura's blog here.

Thanks for playing along again, Seth!

[Five on Tuesday] Christmas Festivities.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How about a little random for your Tuesday? I have a bunch of Christmas festivities that I've been wanting to share, but just didn't have time for my random Friday post, so, here we are, on Tuesday, with a random five on Tuesday for ya.

Christmas Pajamas.

Some of my blog friends hosted a pajama party last week and while I don't have too many pictures of Mason in his Christmas pajamas, I did want to share these. I used MAJOR self control and only bought Mason three new pairs of Hanna Andersson pajamas this year. I know, I know, they are super expensive, but in my defense, they last FOREVER (he's still wearing his Valentine's Day ones to this day) and I happened to stop by on a major sale of 40% off, so I splurged... a little. Oops. Top picture are these, bottom picture are these, and not pictured are these (ninja gingerbread men!!!).

Christmas Tree Picking.

(Skip this portion if I've already talked about this... but...) for the past couple years, we've gone to my favorite regional park to get our tree. It is slightly more expensive but benefits a local boy scout troop so I don't mind. This year we had planned to do the same, but like last year, Seth tried to be the voice of reason and say we should go to Home Depot and get one there instead. We actually tried Home Depot last year and I hate how they were all closed and I couldn't see what it looked like open before I bought it so I vetoed that this year. We were on our way to the park when we drove by a Christmas tree lot and Seth suggested we go there. I hesitated but then thought "hey we could save a couple bucks" so we went. This kid followed us around the whole time (which irked me) and they had no small trees AND they were more expensive than where I wanted to go, so we left, and went to the park. Once we got to the regional park, THERE WERE NO TREES. What??? I was devastated! I thought maybe we were just too early (we went the day after Thanksgiving) so as we left, I googled it, and they no longer do the Christmas tree farm!!! What??? I was devastated again! So, reluctantly, we headed to Lowe's. I had low hopes for finding one I'd like, but lo and behold, we found one! And I love it! I guess Lowe's trees aren't so bad after all...

Advent Calendar.

I full on had plans to do the Elf on the Shelf for Mason this year. I even bought one on sale last year after Christmas! And then... things got hectic at the end of November and I never planned anything for the elf to do and I kind of dropped the ball. So, instead, I got this Thomas Minis Advent Calendar for him. I had to explain that he only got one per day and that didn't go over very well since he kept saying "two!" and I'd say "one!" "two!" "one!". I thought it was going well until day 2 when I put the calendar down, unintentionally in Mason's reach, when I turn my back and hear RIIIIIIIIIP. "Mason! No!". Yep, ripped the whole thing open. On day 2.

Better luck next year.

Christmas Train.

It's been a tradition of ours to go on the Christmas Train at our local regional park (the one where I used to get my Christmas tree). For the past couple years, we've gone with the Macke's and it's been SO FUN! This year was no different. We went on Friday the 9th and the boys had a blast hanging out at dinner and riding the train together. The pictures don't do it justice, but the way they light the place up with the lights is incredible. It's definitely a highlight of the Christmas season for us every year!

Christmas Present Wrapping.

This past weekend, I decided it was FINALLY time to start wrapping presents. I mean, there's less than a week until I need to deliver them, so might as well wrap them, right? And of course I had to update my Letterfolk board with one of my new favorite quotes that I saw on Instagram!

Mason insisted on helping wrap the presents which was more of a sh*t show than anything because he kept standing on the paper and ripping it and then pulling ALL of the tape out of the dispenser. Thankfully I was able to distract him for half the time and then told him he could add a bow to the packages when I was done. He INSISTED on TWO bows on each package, so as you can tell, our packages are EXTRA festive this year!

Ok, ok, so it's more like seven on Tuesday...

Gingerbread Houses.

In Mason's new speech class, they made gingerbread houses last Thursday. I donated frosting and graham crackers and they did the rest. Mason came home with this giant thing after class and I was so excited! I mean, look at that face! He was SO proud! 

Problem is... we were now on our way to school and work and I didn't know what to do with this wet, frosting covered gingerbread house. So I stuck it in a Target bag that I had in my car, with every intention of taking it out of the bag when we got home and displaying it, but then... in a spur of the moment decision, I decided we had no room to display it at home and tossed it in the dumpster when I got to work. (insert monkey covering eyes emoji here). I know, mom of the year, but at least he never asked about it when he got home from school so I never had to explain!

Toys for Tots.

The bank that we go to for work has a Toys for Tots toy drive every year for Christmas. Normally my boss buys the presents and donates them himself, but this year he put me in charge. "Do you like shopping?" My co-worker laughs. Heck, I laughed too, but of course I said yes! So he put me in charge of getting the presents to donate. So late last week, I picked Mason up early from school, we headed to Target, we picked all our favorite toys, and we donated them to the bank. I was actually pretty impressed with Mason because I asked him what presents we should get, he helped picked them, and he never once asked for one for himself. I know he doesn't understand what 'donate' means, but when I asked if he wanted to bring toys to kids who didn't have any, he did say yes, so for being four, that's a win in my book. I sent the pictures to my bosses and they said Mason and I could do the shopping every year, so I'm already excited for next year!

And that's that! I seriously cannot believe there are only FIVE more days until Christmas...

[$10 at Target] December.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I'm excited to be back again today co-hosting this link up with Becky and some other fabulous ladies!  If you posted today as well, don't forget to link up with us below and then hop around and check out how the rest of my co-hosts (and everyone else!) spent their $10!

For this month's $10 at Target, I really had no clue what I was looking for. I thought at first that I would get some goodies in the dollar section since Target had been totally hitting it out of the park with their Christmas stuff, but then I changed my mind.

I got this wallet and these double layered gloves!

When I went to Disneyland a couple weeks ago with Erin and Desiree, Erin had a wallet super similar and I thought it was genius. She said she uses her small wallet from Target when she goes to Disneyland and only takes the necessities so her big wallet doesn't take up so much room in her purse. GENIUS! My wallet is giant and takes up so much real estate when I could be carrying jackets or extra snacks or something, so when I saw this at Target this month, I knew I needed to get it! It holds my Disneyland pass, my Driver's License, and a couple credit cards PERFECTLY.

These gloves are perfect for work! During the winter months, when we start work at 3:30am on Sunday, IT IS COLD. We are outside taking money from customers and I often wear lots of layers on my body, but my hands are freezing. I can't wear regular gloves because I can't accurately hold the money and give out tickets and give out change without worrying about giving too much change or the money slipping out of my hands.

These gloves are perfect because they are multi layer! You can wear the full glove and fingerless glove.... or just the full glove... or just the fingerless glove! I love the options and I love the the full glove still lets you use your phone. I hate that about regular gloves where I always have to take one off if I want to use my phone to text or to take a picture. I can't wait to have an opportunity to wear them. I'm thinking I better plan a trip to Disneyland so I can use both of my new things!

So, how'd I do on my budget?
Since I bought these along with some other items, I don't have a receipt to show, but here's the breakdown.

Wallet : $7.99
Gloves : $2.45 (originally $3.50 - cold weather items on sale 30% off)
Minus RED Card discount : ($0.52)
Tax (8%) : $0.79

Total : $10.71

Over again! Oops.

I kind of had a feeling it would be over a little this month but when I found these two items, I knew I had to have them so I was just happy I didn't go over by a dollar or more.

Becky at bybmg // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Elizabeth at Chasin' Mason // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest

Next month, we'll be sharing our hauls on Monday, January 16th. Mark your calendars, get your shopping on, and link up with us on the 16th and show us what you got!

Our Christmas Card 2016.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I'm super excited to share with you... our Christmas cards! This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Not only do I love making our Christmas cards, but I also LOVE receiving them. I just love seeing all of my friends and family's faces filling my mailbox with joy and happiness. I literally got probably five cards in the mail just yesterday alone and it made me so much happier than I think it should have. But hey, it's the little things, right?

I think that most people should have gotten our cards by now, so I am super excited to share with you all, our Christmas cards for 2016. We used TinyPrints this year and I could not be more thrilled with how they turned out.

All family photos by Freebird Photography

I chose a gold foil template for our card and love the way it turned out. It's not your "typical" holiday card in the fact that it has a thick black "painted" border, but I love how it really makes Mason pop. And the gold foil! Oh, the gold foil. Don't even get me started on how gorgeous it is.

This was the first year I've ever gotten envelope liners and I absolutely LOVE how it gives the whole package a little something extra. Now that I've gotten the liners, I don't think I could ever go back to plain envelopes again!

I also opted to get personalized address labels this year. I love how they coordinated with my cards, but I didn't love how dark they were once I put everything on my envelopes. This has nothing to do with the quality or anything that TinyPrints did, this was just my own personal preference on how dark they looked against the white envelope, the white address labels, and the white stamps. If I were to do it again, I would totally still choose to get Christmas-y personalized address labels, but I would choose a more "cheery"design.

Overall, I'm thrilled with how my cards turned out. I was proud to send such gorgeous cards to our friends and family. While I haven't previously used TinyPrints for any cards or invitations, their quality was amazing, and I'd definitely love to use them again in the future!

TinyPrints is currently offering up to 40% off EVERYTHING with code JOYTOYOU. But hurry! This offer ends tonight, December 15th! As always they are offering free shipping on order $49 or more with code FREESHIP49. To find out what other promotions are going on, click here. Wondering if you still have time to place an order and receive it by Christmas? Click here.

Disclaimer : this post was sponsored by Tiny Prints. I received these cards in exchange for a review. The love of their cards and all opinions are 100% my own.

Ornament Exchange Reveal and a Holiday Home Tour.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I'm not sure that a "holiday home tour" was really the right title for this post seeing as how I'm really only showing you one room (or actually, two! with Mason's), but regardless, I'm going with it.

First, I want to start by showing off the amazing ornament that Stefanie from Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too got me. I don't know how she did it, but it is perfect! We exchanged a few emails, but other than that, we were each on our own in determining what to get each other. (To see what I got her, click here.) My main question for her was if she had any sort of theme for her tree. I know some people like to keep in a, say, "red and silver" theme or only like specific types of ornaments, so I wanted to know if there was any sort of "rules" I should stay within or if I could have full reign and choose whatever I wanted. She said she had no specific theme, so I went to town!

As for me, I'm the same. I have no specific theme, just tons of ornaments that I like. My main "theme", if you want to call it that, is getting ornaments to remember vacations we've gone on and places we're been. In 2010, I started collecting those snowman year ornaments from Hallmark and while they're not my absolute favorite, 6 years later, I continue to get them because I have to finish out the collection (OCD much?). I actually have MY baby's first Christmas ornaments that my Dad passed on to me on our tree as well as a couple other family ornaments from our tree growing up. I have an ornament from when Seth and I got engaged, from when we got married, from the Christmas we were pregnant with Mason, and from when Mason was born. I have a tiny little footprint ornament from when Mason was born and a Santa handprint that serves as our tree topper. There's a hot air balloon ornament from our trip to New Mexico, there's countless Mickey ornaments from all our trips to Disneyland, a Hawaiian guy from our honeymoon, a cable car from our trip to San Francisco, Angels ornaments, a leg lamp, a Steelers football player, and so many more. There was also an ornament from my college until I dropped it and broke it this year. OH and there is one of my very favorites, a macaroni angel, that I made when I was in 2nd grade maybe? (Blogger fail... I totally should have taken pictures of all these for you! Sorry!).

In my opinion, we can never have enough ornaments and I absolutely LOVE re-living all the special occasions and memories when we put up the ornaments each year. This year Mason REALLY wanted to help hang all the ornaments. He didn't quite "get" that he needed to put them further back on the branches so we had a couple casualties, but that didn't stop him, or I, from having the best time. I swear I've never seen him light up so bright and be so proud to do anything in his life.

But enough about our old ornaments, let me show you the new ornament that we added this year!

Isn't it perfect?! I don't know how she found it or where she found it, but it's perfect. The puzzle pieces not only represent our journey through autism, but they represent how we each fit perfectly with each other and together make the perfect family with so much love. The ornament is pure perfection. THANK YOU SO MUCH Stefanie!

And now... on to a little holiday home tour! We'll start first in our living room/family room area.

The gallery wall got a little update for Christmas.

We can't forget our favorite Christmas movies.

I love the addition of Christmas lights around our windows. It's probably my very favorite decoration we put up - even though it is so simple.

I got this LetterFolk board this year and am OBSESSED. Don't be surprised if you see it on repeat on Instagram in the coming weeks. I just can't stop myself from changing the sayings up every couple of days! (#youvebeenwarned)

I swear our tree is not that crooked in real life??!!
And we've got our menorah up as well!

This gorgeous addition is new this year and I could not love it more.
My mother in law creates THE most gorgeous garlands at her house and I've always been insanely jealous of them, so this year she helped create this one for us on our stairs. I'm in love!

And of course, a holiday wouldn't be complete without window clings!

And now for the upstairs...

The little tree is back in Mason's room and he could not be happier! He helped me set it up this year and we put out all the holiday books around it.

And there you have it! The holiday home tour is complete. We don't have much room to go all out, but I love the little touches that we are able to do. As crowded and cluttered as it can feel having all the extra decorations out, Christmas is my VERY favorite time of the year and I love how homey and warm all the decorations make our house feel!

Did you participate in the ornament exchange? Link up with us below!