Tob Tabs

Monday, December 9, 2013

May Your Days be Merry & Bright

I've been super anxious to share some of the Christmas pictures I've been working on.  I mean "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear," as quoted by Buddy the Elf.  And I feel like singing loud for all to hear.  Though, I'm a bit tone deaf.  So you might want to cover your ears.  Fair warning.




Okay,  I'm a bit overly excited.  And a little silly.  And just down right quirky.  Possibly not making any sense.  But today my form of Christmas cheer are these photos.  And looking at them makes me smile from ear to ear.  And they make me think of the movie "Elf."  Not because they have anything to do with the movie, but because of how much love Buddy had for Christmas and how excited he was about any and all things Christmas.  Hence the Christmas pictures.  The ones I am soooo excited about.  The ones that make me want to sing loud for all to hear.  I love taking pictures and I think they turned out really good.  I'm obviously no professional, but just a mommy trying to save some cash this holiday season.  Now I just have to figure out which one I want to use for our Christmas card.  I'll share a few of my favorites with you, and keep my post short and sweet.  Enjoy.   

  









   

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fall Photos Featuring the McKeans


So I'm finally getting around to posting our fall family photos for this year.  And so you know, it's late here.  By late I mean eleven 'o clock.  At night.  That kind of late.  An hour past my bed time late.  Yes, I do go to bed at ten.  Well, I guess that's not really the whole truth.  I usually retire to our bed by ten.  But my night owlish ways tend to keep me up for another few hours.  I'm usually lost in thought, or milling around on my phone.  Sometimes writing or editing photos.  But rarely ever sleeping.  As tired as I get, I can never just turn my brain off.  I know they say no electronics before bed, and I'm sure they are right.  Who ever "they" are.  Experts or something.  But I guess I do it because I can't sleep, and it seems to be the only time I can get stuff done.  Stuff that I want to do.  And stuff that I don't really want to do.  Stuff like cleaning.  Our house is either spotless or a disaster.  There is NO in between.  Seriously.  I feel like when I go to sleep or leave the house, magical elves come out from hiding and destroy the place.  Those darn messy elves.  Because we all know that I don't EVER mess anything up.  Oh no.  Clearly it's not me.  And I'm sure my husband has nothing to do with it.  Guess the last one to blame is Kasen.  Yep, my 8 month old is the messy one.  And I'm totally kidding.  My husband and I are not the most organized, though I really strive to be.  It's an ongoing goal that never seems to be reached.  But I'm rambling now.  

  So I guess with no further ado, I'll present some of my favorite fall family pictures we had made.  I totally want to take some every year.  Not necessarily in the fall, but family pictures each year will be a must.  I know my husband will be so thrilled.  Super.  He doesn't particularly like photos as much as I do.  He actually kind of dis likes them.  Maybe in a few years he will just accept my obsessive picture taking habits.   A girl can dream right?  ; )          













Townsend Photography and Film took these.  And once again, they did such an outstanding job.  Plus, Kasen was super good during them.  He was our little baby model.  And that right there is a blessing, folks.  I was kind of worried that he would cry the whole time.  But my worries soon diminished as he worked the camera.  ; )  Well I guess my night time ramblings are over.    

-Cheers  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12 Dates of Christmas

Somehow I woke up and the holidays were upon us, as if my life decided to press the fast forward button.  I love Christmas though....So hello, my favorite time of the year.  Glad to see you.  

Holiday traditions are part of what makes this season so special.  They are memories held in our hearts and are something to look forward to each year.  As a new family, we aren't seasoned with traditions quite yet.  I know they will come with time, and some are stumbled upon by accident, but I'm anxious for what our little traditions will be.  

So as I was contemplating some new ones for this coming season, I decided that I wanted to implement date nights through out the hustle and bustle of the season.  Some quality time for me and that Mr. Husband of mine.  I love Christmas and date nights, so why not combine the two?  Some might even become traditions for us and/or Kasen when he gets older.  Plus, it beats our same 'ole go-to date night rut we get stuck in.  AKA Redbox & Sonic drinks.

Since I lean towards the cheesy side of things, I thought it would be cute to give Kyle 12 gifts for the 12 days of Christmas, one for each day.  But Kyle is not really into gifts (totally the opposite of me).  So what if I replaced the gifts with the Christmas date nights I wanted to do.  12 dates.  They could be a surprise for Kyle, and could be done anytime before Christmas.  "The 12 dates of Christmas."  Perfect.      (Now, as I was searching for some date ideas, I found that others' had the same idea of the 12 dates of Christmas.  So I am by no means claiming this was an original idea).  Guess I'm not as brilliant as I thought ; ) haha.  

We have a little Christmas tree in our bedroom that I decided to hang the dates' on.  I cut out 12 hearts, and put a number (1-12) on each one.  On the back I wrote a date idea, which is of course Christmas related.  I call it my "12 dates of Christmas" Tree.  So between now and Christmas, Kyle will pick a number, and we will go do what it says.  You can plan in advance or be as spontaneous as you want with what the dates are and when you go on the dates.        

  
1.  Buy & Wrap Christmas Presents-  What better way to get all your Christmas shopping done, than by making a date out of it.  Have fun picking out presents and when your finished turn on some Christmas music and wrap them.  

2. Candle lit Dinner-  Get dressed up to stay in.  Turn off all the lights except your Christmas tree.  Light some candles and enjoy a romantic dinner together.  You can also talk about Christmas traditions to implement for your family.    

3. Go see a Christmas Movie in Theaters-  Buy a bucket of popcorn and go see a Christmas movie together.  Some theaters even have promotional nights.  Where we live, there is a theatre that you can see movies on Tuesdays for $5 a ticket.     

4. Gingerbread House Competition-  We love a good competition at the McKean household.  So gather up some supplies and get creative.   

5. Ice Skating-  Head to an indoor or outdoor rink and skate the night away.   

6. Look at Christmas Lights- Get in your comfiest Christmas pajamas, grab a cup of hot coco, and hop in the car.  Drive around and look at beautiful Christmas lights.  Don't forget to turn on some holiday music.    

7. Christmas Breakfast Picnic-  Grab some blankets and warm apple cider.  Pick your favorite picnic spot and breakfast foods and enjoy.      

8. Christmas Movie Night-  Make a pallet on the floor, gather up your favorite snacks, and have a Christmas movie marathon.  

9. Ugly Christmas Sweaters-  Go to a thrift store and pick out ugly Christmas sweaters for each other.  Wear them to a Christmas party !!! 

10. Naughty or Nice?-  I found this idea here  ; ).  This is such a creative intimate date.    

11. Make Christmas Cookies-  Make, Bake, and Decorate Christmas Cookies.

12. Christmas Service Project-  Remember the reason for the season and do a service project together.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Kasen Kind of Miracle


November 28th, 2012 was a year ago today.  Stating the obvious, I know.  But on that day, a moment in time changed my life as I knew it.  It was the kind of moment that forever stays in your heart.  The kind where every detail stays in place.  No matter how much time passes.  But before I share with you what that moment held, I’ll need to rewind back to last October….

 I found out I was pregnant (5 weeks in fact) the very first day of October.  The year was 2012.  (Or I guess I should just simply say last year).   It was a happy, nervous, and unexpected kind of day.  But not as unexpected as what happened a mere 25 days later.  The day that I was certain I had just had a miscarriage.  I will try not to go into significant detail, but that day was devastating.  With only a handful of people that knew I was pregnant (and had merely just been told the news)  I felt a void.  Being pregnant was such an exciting secret that was just waiting to be shared (as soon as I was a little further along).  But now it was the best kept secret that would never get told.

And you know the worst part?  It was that I didn’t even know for sure if I had lost the baby.  Evidence was heavy, but real confirmation was not there.  How is that, you might ask?  Well to make a long and boring story short, we didn’t have health insurance quite yet.  Hubby and I were newly weds.  2 month newly weds at that.  We were going through the complicated process of trying to get on my husband's health insurance through his job, because apparently "getting married" is not a qualifying event.  (It wasn't open enrollment for another 6 months).  Previous to marriage we had both been on our parent’s insurances, and had been trying to get everything switched over for months.   So why didn’t I go to the doctor anyways?  Well, being poor was one reason.  And we consulted with a few nurses, that we trusted dearly, who confirmed with me that if I was indeed having a miscarriage, that there was nothing a doctor could do for me.  It was going to happen regardless.  And unless "such and such" was happening to me, it was probably a miscarriage.  They gave me instructions and things to look for that would warrant an emergency room visit as well.  Our insurance was supposed to kick in at the beginning of November anyways.  Which would have been around the 8 week mark in my pregnancy.  The mark that would finally allow my OBGYN to see me.  So I was planning on a doctors trip then, though the circumstances had changed.  

I'm simply positive that I have never ever felt sadness like that before.  Tons of questions ran through my head, stabbing my heart.  I wasn't even planning on getting pregnant for a few years.  So why did I get pregnant before I was ready, just to loose my baby?  A baby that I didn’t even get to know.  Didn’t know it’s name.  It’s gender.  If it looked like me.  My heart ached.  I sobbed myself to sleep that night.  And the next couple of weeks.  I felt numb.  Numb to everything.  Numb to all the happy people who posted on their facebook pages about their babies or pregnancies.  It wasn’t their fault.  I wasn't upset with them,  I tried to be happy.... But my little baby was gone.  It made me sick.    

Add that to the morning sickness I was still having and ugh.  My morning sickness had been and still was terrible.  All day sick to my stomach.  Here I was, sick as ever, with nothing to show for it now.  I didn’t think that was fair.  I mean C’mon.  It was eaiser to deal with when I knew it was all for my sweet baby, but this was getting ridiculous.  It had been a month and still sick as ever and still no insurance.  They kept telling us they were getting it together, but day after day of calling them was not speeding up the process.  I had this dire urge to get to the doctor, and my patience was wearing thin.    

I knew they meant well.  My family that is.   They were only trying to protect me.  You see, a part of me still hung on to a fragment of hope, some kind of gut instinct that my baby was still alive.  That all the bleeding didn’t mean what everyone thought.  But they just patted me on the back and said, "bless your heart."

My hands shook as I called the doctor’s office.  How do I even explain what my appointment is for?  How do I tell them that I have no clue if I’m pregnant?  That I think I had a miscarriage?  That I was  13 weeks along and had no doctors appointment thus far.   Luckily, I finally had insurance.   

I know that God does things for a reason.  Reasons that in the moment make no sense, but looking back, all the dots connect.  The orignal doctor I wanted was booked up for weeks, and they could only get me in with a doctor that I wasn’t sure about.  But at this point I just needed to know.  And they informed me that it was urgent that I get in right away.  

The very next day was November 28th, 2012.  The day of truth.  I was so nauseated that day.  The nerves didn’t help, I’m sure.  I had taken a pregnancy test which still read positive.  So my theories were:  I’m still pregnant, Kyle got me pregnant again, or there was still pregnancy tissues or hormones left in my body.

"Well here goes nothing," I thought as I signed in and took a seat.  Something weird happened though.  More bleeding.  Right there.  In the waiting room.  You’ve got to be kidding?  What was happening to me?  This was the third episode I had had, and of course it would be in PUBLIC.  I tied a jacket around my waist and was thankful for being at the doctor's office in that moment.  Kyle accompanied me back, after my name was called to the second waiting room.  I told the nurse what happened and she rushed me to a room.  In the process I lost Kyle.  I tried to get ahold of him, but the doctor was there before I could.  He was God-sent.  I knew from the moment I met him, that he was who I needed.  He calmed me down and did the regular questions and exams.  Then he took me back for an ultrasound.  My heart sank, and I couldn’t breathe.  I almost felt like hyperventilating.  Here was the unknown about to hit me full force.  I wasn't quite sure if I was ready for the truth.  The cold probe slid all over stomach.  As he moved it around, all I saw was black and emptiness.  Biting my lip, I looked down.  I couldn’t bare the news.  My body felt heavier and heavier, as a big lump formed in the back of my throat.  My head felt like it would explode.  I closed my eyes, fighting back tears.  I had gotten my hopes up for nothing.   

“We have a baby,”  his soft voice proclaimed, waking me out of the fog I was in.   Looking up, tears sprang from my eyes.  Joyful tears of unbelief.  There my baby was.  My tiny little baby moving around in my belly.  Dancing on the monitor in front of me.  My little gummy bear.  That moment in time will forver be seared on my heart.  It left a scar.  A good kind of scar.  No, the BEST kind of scar.  Oh, my sweet baby.   

I sobbed tears of joy, and praised God.  But my tears of joy turned slightly sad because I realized that Kyle didn’t get to see this miracle.  He wasn’t there.  He didn't know.  Oh my gosh, he DIDN'T KNOW.   Luckily, my sweet doctor found him and brought him back to share the great news.  He was floored, yet happy as can be.  We just looked at each other in joyous unbelief, more in love than ever.  

I will never forgot how incredibly happy I felt on that day.  My baby was ALIVE.  He was well.  He was with me all along.  Through the very worst month of my life.  Maybe the hardest part was over.  Though, I didn't know what else this pregnancy had in store for me (HA).  At the moment I was care free, well actually I was terrified of the next part of the appointment. The shot and blood that was about to be drawn from me.  But I knew I could be strong.  My BABY needed me to be strong.  

November 28th, 2012.  The day I found out my baby was still with me.  My very own miracle.  An everyday kind of miracle it was but so very special to me.

My baby fought so hard those first few months, but the fight wasn't over yet.  Stay tuned for Kasen's birth story..... 




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween With the McKeans

I know Halloween is done, over, and packed up for the year.  I mean [hello]  October 2013 is practically old news.  Four day old news in fact.  But let's just hope the saying, "better late than never," will apply to what I'm about to share in this post.  In my opinion, the photo below just speaks for itself.  If that doesn't compel you to read on, than I'm not sure what will.  (Though, it's probably posts relevant to the upcoming season).      

 This year was Kasen's first Halloween, and I've been planning his outfit for months upon months.  Is that weird?  I'm thinking it's just a mom thing.  And those who are the really organized type.  I used to never plan far in advance for much of anything.  Now, pretty much everything down to what time I go to the bathroom is planned.  (I'm only kidding).  Though, our lives have a bit more structure vs. spontaneity these days.  But back to the costume planning I started in June.  Yeah, June.  I couldn't help it, I was just sooo excited.  My husband and I decided that Kasen would be a minion since they are small and adorable, which was only fitting.  The runner up costume was a lobster and close behind was a baby Clark Kent.  I'm glad we went with a minion though.  

Now before I show more pictures of Kasen on Halloween, I have a few more Fall happenings at the McKean household to unfold.  I've talked a little bit about how important date nights are, and how me and my hubby slack on them unintentionally.  We dominated this month though, and the best was a scary movie date night.  This date was spooktacular. (sometimes I just HAVE to be cheesy, okay).  

We dropped our munckin off at his grandparents and then stopped by Sonic and got some Route 44 Root Beers.  Then, we got a redbox.  My husband picked "Mama" which I had been dead set on NEVER seeing.  Does anyone remember the movie trailers?  Ugh.  They were creepy. You know, the kind of movie trailers you don't want to be alone watching, even if it's daylight.  So when it happens to air, you turn the channel as quickly as you can.  Yeah, that kind of creepy.    

I almost made him go back and pick out another one, but he really wanted to see it, so I compromised.  I was in too good of a mood anyways.  Probably because of the cute holiday food I was making.  Just so you know, I looove all the ideas on pinterest.  I usually pin more than I make, so I love a good excuse to actually make what I find.  Our snacks for the night were as follows:  Mummy dogs, popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin spice Rice Krispy treats, and s'mores brownies.  
I'm not very good at writting out instructions for recipes, so I will provide one full recipe.  (The easiest of course). And I'll give you a few details on the rest.      

Mummy Dogs  
1 package of canned crescent rolls
1 package of pre-cooked hot dogs
(optional) 1 package of pre-cooked Lil Smokies sausage links
(optional) Mustard or Ketchup

These turned out super cute, and they are pretty simple to make.  Instructions probably are not even necessary, but just in case, here it is:
First, you will need to pre-heat your oven to what ever the can of crescent rolls instructs.  Then, you will open the can of crescent rolls and roll the dough out flat on a cooking sheet. You will then slice the dough in skinny strips.  I used a pizza cutter, but I'm sure you could use a knife or something to that nature. 

 Next, you will get your hot dogs and/or lil smokies and you will wrap them with the strips of dough.  You will want to use a few on each of the hot dogs, but you will want to leave some gaps to make it look like a mummy.  You can see the picture below for an example.

After you finish that, you will put them in the oven on a baking sheet (you can use the one you used to roll the dough on if you so choose).  You will bake them for the amount of time it specifies on the crescent roll can.  

Once they are done, you will let them cool.  Then, you can use ketchup or mustard to make small eyes on the mummy dogs.  Just squeeze two dots for eyes on each one, and you've now made the cutest Halloween or scary movie snack.       



For the s'more brownies, I just made my favorite brownie recipie which just happens to by my granny's family recipie.  I made a graham cracker crust for the bottom and added some chocolate chips and pumpkin spice marshmallows on top and let them broil for a few minutes after the brownies were finished baking.  

As established earlier, Kasen was a minion for Halloween.  And I'd have to say he was the cutest minion around town.  Some might even say he was the cutest minion to ever be a minion.  Am I right, or am I right?  Since he was too young to actually trick-or-treat, we took him to his great grandparents.  They always have truck loads of tricker-treaters each year.  We all handed out candy and showed off his adorable outfit.  I love seeing other people's creative ideas for their kids.  It made me excited for when Kasen is old enough to trick-or-treat.  Possibly next year?  Is that too early?  Speaking of, I'm not trying to be offensive, but I think it's quite tacky (not to mention ridiculous) when someone takes their baby (a 3 month old to be exact) tricker-treating.  This baby and mom were flying solo, and I wonder who that candy was for?  I mean, come on.  Pretty sure your three month old doesn't eat candy.  But what do I know?

After saying that, the picture below make me laugh.  My grandpa gave me and my husband a big bag of left-over candy, and I decided to snap a picture of Kasen in the pile of it.  

Don't worry he didn't eat any of the candy....Though, I can't say the same for his dad or me.




We had a good night.  And a great end to October.  If you are wondering, I went as myself for Halloween.  I mean if you don't have a costume, than it's okay to go as yourself... as long as you're a princess that is.  Oh, I think I'm funnier than I really am.  You can see more of what we've done this Fall here.  And stay tuned for more Fall related fun.  Until next time.  


Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all

My oh my.  Fall just might be my favorite.  I love everything about it.  I love the crisp autumn breeze scattering colorful leaves that have flittered and floated to the ground.  The glow of a warm bonfire melting marshmallows for s'mores.  Football games, delicious chili, and cozy oversized hoodies.  The sweet woodsy smell of burning leaves as soon as you go outdoors.    Bright orange pumpkins decorating porches all around.  Scarfs, leggings, and boots.  Candy corn, Halloween Captain Crunch that turns your milk green, and Pumpkin bread.  Well pumpkin everything.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin spice coffee.  Scary movies, carmel apples, and daylight savings.  I mean who doesn't love an extra hour of sleep?  Throw in Halloween and Thanksgiving and ahhhh what a lovely time of the year.  It's almost the most wonderful.  But Christmas time will always have the number one spot in my heart.  

Last Fall I was sick and pregnant.  And the entire month of November I thought I had had a miscarriage.  So I didn't get too giddy about the Holidays...(and that's a different story for another day), but with that said, this year I am trying to squeeze lots of Fall related fun into my days.  : )  I've been a little over the top, but Holidays make me happy.  And happy me is better than pouty me ; ).  I'm sure my husband would vouch for that.  

I've gotten to do a lot of the things on my "Fall Bucket List" so far. You might have read in an earlier post about our trip to the Texas state fair .  The fair is a must do each fall, no excuses.  I've also baked some fall goodies, and I FINALLY got around to decorating.  Though, I didn't do as much decorating as I would have liked, I had a good reason.  Well two good reasons.  Behind not having a whole lot of extra money, my husband made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  I could either get fall decorations that would come down in a month, or I could get some more Christmas decorations that I could put up early.  But I couldn't have both.  I have been known in times past to talk my family into putting up Christmas decor the first of November. ; )  Like I said above, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  It is magical and my love for Christmas couldn't pass up that offer.  Sorry Fall, maybe next time.  


So the little bit of decorating I did was a center piece for my kitchen table.  I bought a bag of tiny pumpkins and painted a few of them.  Add some ribbon and rhinestones, and ta-da.  Easy smeasy.  I also made the "It's Fall Yall" sign or serving tray (whatever you want to call it).  The girls in my life group had a project night, and we made many variations of serving trays'.  I really like how mine turned out, and it was really simple.  (Simple speaks directly to my crafting language).  All you need is a picture frame and handles.  I decided to paint on the glass with chalk board paint, but you could also put scrapbook paper in the glass instead.  So many variations with all ending up being fab-uuuu-lous!  I also attempted my very first fall wreath, y'all.  It didn't really turn out how I planned, but after a few hours of working on the darn thing, I just gave up and hung it up.  It's not a complete disaster.... Right?  Or can I hear the neighbors laughing now?      



I know burlap has been an ever going trend now, but I still love it.  What I love even more, though, is coffee.  And wouldn't you know that my love of coffee warranted the need for my very own coffee bar?  I saw the idea on pinterest, and have been jonesing to have one for a while.  It's perfect really.  It frees up the lack of counter space we already didn't have, and it helps cover up those awful off-white apartment walls.  Plus, it is good for year round use.  But it was the perfect addition to our residence for the start of Fall.  Oh, nothing is better on a chilly morning than a steaming mug of pumpkin spice coffee made directly from your coffee bar.   
                                


I've got a handful of things to finish on my Fall to-do's.  I just have to prioritize.  Which I might not be so good at.  ; )  But so far, so good.  And just an FYI, if you already haven't figured it out, the whole "adult" thing is fun at times.  Like getting to decorate how you want, and making cookies because you want them, (though you definitely don't need them).  However, the bill's and budgeting, I could do without.

Now, to my favorite part of Fall so far.  PICTURES.  These pictures are my absolute favorite.  This is Kasen's first Fall, first Halloween, first everything.  And by golly I have to take photos to remember it.  They were too cute to pass up.  You're welcome, Kasen.  






I mean, that pumpkin booty is the cutest little thing I have EVER seen.  I can't stand it.  Goodness.  Well y'all, until next time.  Cheers !!
 
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