Thursday, October 28, 2010

Early bird gets -- great deals on Holiday cards!

I know, I know.  Halloween is still three days away.  How can I possibly be thinking about Christmas cards already?  Believe me -- with four little ones running around, I need to plan everything in advance, and getting a jumpstart on Christmas cards is just one of the ways I can manage the upcoming holidays.  I figure if I plan ahead now, I'll feel more relaxed when the season IS here and that will mean more enjoyable festivities for my entire family.  And you can't go wrong when there's a great deal with Shutterfly!

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Shutterfly.  I love their prints and the family sharing web site.  AND I LOVE their CHRISTMAS CARDS!  (Surprise surprise, right?!?)  Once again, Shutterfly has created an amazing assortment of Christmas cards to choose from.  It was so hard to pick my favorite, so I have a few I want to highlight for you.

Shutterfly has created an amazing card that allows you to have pictures on the front, along with pictures and captions inside the card.  What a great idea!  This will completely take the place of our Christmas letter!  I've "killed two birds with one stone", so to speak!  My favorite card is the Joy Sage Story (they also have this in a lovely sky color, Joy Sky Story, which I would normally go nuts for, but the sage will coordinate with our family picture better).
Isn't it lovely?  Our family picture will go on the outside, and then there is room inside for six pictures and short "updates" or "stories" -- one for each of us!  It's perfect!  Such a winner!  I also thought Most Wonderful Story was lovely, too.  To look around at all of Shutterfly's folded holiday cards, follow this link.

Sometimes it's perfect to have a flat stationery card for your Christmas card.  Since the folded stationery cards are more expensive, we probably won't be able to spend them to everyone.  So I have a back-up plan!  I must admit that there were again several that I had a hard time choosing from, but I kept coming back to this lovely card because it's simple, elegant, and breathtakingly beautiful.  It's called "O Holy Night", and that is what Christmas is all about -- that HOLY NIGHT so long ago.  This will be a card I am so proud to send.


Even with our family picture in color, I think this card will be stunning!  If you're looking for something a bit more colorful, a great choice would be Merry Bright Wishes -- great colors, and room for 5 pictures!
Take a peek at all of the gorgeous stationery cards here -

And of course, my stand-by for the past few years has been a 4x8 or 5x7 photo card.  Shutterfly has great choices again this year!  One of my favorites, again because it allows me to showcase individual photos of my entire family, is Picture Tree...

I also LOVE the Vintage Snowflakes card.  It is SO colorful and pretty.  AND there's room for 4 to 5 pictures on it.  MY KIND OF CARD!  Here it is...

Check out all of Shutterfly's great photo cards by following this link -

Guess what?  If you find something you like, you TOO can be an early bird with Christmas cards because Shutterfly is currently offering 20% of all holiday cards.  Check it out here.  

Don't forget to follow Shutterfly on Facebook or Twitter (50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly #SFLY) to keep tabs on all the greatest deals!

For writing this post, I was given 50 free Shutterfly Christmas cards.  What a blessing!  THANK YOU, Shutterfly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our first time...

We all have them...those grand ideas we had at age 16 when we pictured our future children.

16-year old dream: "My kids will ALWAYS be decked out in GAP clothes."  2010 Reality: Some days I am simply thankful that everyone has clean clothes on that fit them, and if they match?  Wow!  It's my lucky day!

16-year old dream: "My kids will NEVER act that way in public."  2010 Reality: Thank you, Lord, that only 10 people gave me the evil eye while I herded my four children through the grocery store, constantly saying "No, not today" or "I'll add it to your list" or "Keep your hands to yourself".  (To my kids' credit, I must admit that I often get complimented on how well behaved and patient they are in the store.  I'll share my tips to how this is possible in a later post.)

16 year old dream:  "We will have the most beautiful family pictures!  My kids will be so absolutely perfect that they will smile for each and every picture ever taken of them."  2010 Reality: Have you ever tried to photograph 4 kids, 2 of whom are 4 and under?  Be thankful you have only 1 crying!

This last scenario is the one I'd like to share today.  Several years ago, when Hunter was 1, Hudson was 2 and Samantha was 4, we had a horrific photography experience.  The boys both had croup, and we were trying to take a large group shot with my parents, brother and my sister's family (at that time, they had 2 boys).  I will scan this picture and share it with you soon, but it scarred us.  Terribly.   Last November, I convinced Matt that the kids (6, 4, 3 and 8 months) would do a great job taking their picture.  They did amazing!  It was a great picture of them!  Better than I could have expected.  But....keep in mind...Easton wasn't crawling.

This year, Amy, my amazing dear friend (and neighbor -- I'm incredibly blessed to spend a lot of time with her) offered to take pictures of our family.  It is our first picture as a family of six.  She got some great shots!  Here's a few pictures of my gorgeous family (I'm not biased or anything...)

And here's a few shots of my kiddos on their own...

Easton -- 18 mos.

Hunter -- 4 yrs.

Hudson -- 5 1/2 yrs.

Samantha -- 7 1/2 yrs.

I couldn't resist adding this one -- he's my cuddlebug, and I'm so glad Amy got this shot.  I will always treasure it.

And a few of Matt and I.... (which were extra special to me because it has been SO long since we've had our picture taken together).

And here are a few of the pictures you can expect to see on our Christmas card...our first picture as a family of SIX!

I think the pictures turned out pretty well, considering we have little ones who are in stages where they don't like to (a) smile, (b) sit still, (c) both!

I hope you enjoyed these!  I have SO enjoyed sharing them with you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkins for my punkins

With the kids on Fall Break for three days this week and an abundance of FABULOUSLY BEAUTIFUL WEATHER (let me just say that this fall is knocking the socks off of last fall, when we'd had 5.5 inches of snow already!), we thought it was the perfect time to hit the pumpkin patch!  (See the kids' shirts in the picture below?  They are SHORT-SLEEVED!  I think this is the first time they haven't donned at least jackets on our annual pumpkin patch trip!)

Our favorite pumpkin patch, the Big Red Barn & Pumpkin Farm, is no longer operating (big BIG sad faces on our part), so we tried a new one this year.  We headed to Pooley's Pumpkin Patch.   They had all sorts of fun things that were just perfect for my kids.  Our first stop....the baby chickens.

They were the CUTEST little things I've seen in such a long time.  And the kids ALL thought so, too.

Grandma is showing Samantha how to safely catch the baby chicks.

Easton LOVED the baby chicks...he was talking up a storm to them!

Samantha was so proud of herself for catching and holding the baby chicks.

Hudson worked so hard to catch one of these little guys, and when he finally did, he decided it wasn't as fun as he thought it would be (what with the flapping wings and squeaking and all), so he shut his eyes and dropped the chick.

I LOVE this picture of Samantha!  She was very good at catching baby chicks, and so proud to hold them.  She couldn't wait to go back and see them at the end of the day.

Easton also loved the chicks.  I have a video of him "clucking".  He thought it was pretty cute and wanted to touch it SO badly, until he actually DID touch it, and then the whole wing flapping and squeaking issue got to him, too...but he still stood there and watched them and "talked" to them.  So sweet!
After our stop at the chicken coop, it was time to hit the ... TRACTORS!  Of course!  We couldn't go to the pumpkin patch and not see tractors.

I cannot figure out why Hunter did not take a picture on the tractors....I think it's because he was so FASCINATED by the corn maze BEHIND the tractors (which maybe wasn't such a good thing because we got, um, SEPARATED from Hunter in the Corn Maze)....
I love this picture because you can see, without even looking at their faces, the sheer excitement these boys have for CORN!  They are thrilled to be "among" the cornstalks -- must be why their daddy calls them the "Children of the Corn".

Easton was a trooper -- he was having a BLAST running through the corn maze!

This is Hunter JUST before he got a little too far ahead of us and ended up at the exit of the maze long before the rest of us...being the smart boy that he is, he thought he'd head back to the last place he saw us...the start of the maze.  Fortunately, this maze was a short one and I could easily find him by the cries.  Poor guy!

I think they might be future "Amazing Race" competitors!  They are very good at finding their way through the cornfields!

Poor Easton fell down...

...a lot.  But he kept right on plugging!

I just thought this was a cool picture.  :)

After the corn maze, we had to stop at the pedal tractor track....

Poor buddy -- he was getting tired by this time.
After a quick race (or seven), it was time to catch the Hayrack Ride.

Easton was very happy to be outside and was telling Grandma all about the cows and chickens.

I know he looks mad, but he was just telling me a story about the BIG pumpkin he was going to get...more about that in a minute.

I just love that face.  Those blue eyes, those sweet little baby lips.  I'm cherishing every second with my last baby.

There's my gorgeous girl!  She eyed a pumpkin on the hayrack ride and hiked 1/4 mile back up the hill to get it.  Can we say determined?
Now my mom is such a trooper and always joins me on our annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  (This is a huge blessing, and something all of the kids and I look forward to...and I think maybe she does, too!)  Mom and I learned a big lesson this year, though.  I had told the kids that they could only get a pumpkin they could carry by themselves.  This was a GREAT idea until....
...Hudson found a pumpkin that HE could lift and carry back to the Hayrack Ride.  Let me just tell you folks, this thing weighed in at over 22 L-Bs.  Check it out!

So lesson learned...NEXT YEAR, the kids can choose any pumpkin that they can carry by the stem with ONE HAND and the stem can't break off of it.  (I'm sure they'll find a way around it next year, too, but hopefully we won't walk out with pumpkins that weigh as much as my kids!)  Here's a few other pictures of my punkins picking pumpkins (and Samantha is not in these because, as said before, she hiked 1/4 mile back up the field to get hers).

Isn't this a cool pumpkin?  Hunter found it and Grandma thought it was so cool with it's green stripes that he gave it to her to take home.
When it was all said and done, we needed a wagon to carry all of our pumpkins to get weighed and hauled back to the van.  Luckily, I have muscle-man Hudson to help me with all of my heavy-lifting (as noted by the 22-lb pumpkin earlier).

We couldn't have asked for a greater day...we had a blast, and it was topped off by yummy treats from Grandma (treats we don't normally get to enjoy at the pumpkin patch... snow cones and pink lemonade!)

Can you believe that I have MORE pictures of the pumpkin patch?  If you want to see here.

Happy FALL, y'all!