Christmas 2015 Top Ten

Stevenson Family 2015 Christmas Top Ten

10. Felt tree this year. Super easy. Super fun (kids have been playing with it every day). A fun pop of color in the family room. Not enough pine scent though. Or lights ...We may add the regular tree back next year;)

9. Staying up late with Camaron wrapping presents, eating Santa's cookies and drinking his eggnog while watching Christmas episodes of our favorite shows.

8. Using Amazon Prime Now the night before Christmas and having last minute packages arrive right on time. Awesome.

7. Driving anywhere with the kids at night was extra fun because of how excited they were seeing all of the Christmas lights. Sloane has become obsessed. She calls them "otts" and has to touch them whenever possible.

6. Fox falling in love with Christmas carols and singing them all day every day. And it hasn't stopped. 
"Ohhhhhh you better watch out..."

5. Cinnamon rolls from scratch as a new Christmas morning tradition. Maybe a New Year's Day tradition too? And every day??

4. I got Camaron a new record player for Christmas, so we got to listen to vinyl all morning:) *We found that Star Wars soundtrack at a thrift store while we were on our "babymoon" in Prescott.

3. Family parties and friend parties. I love getting to spend time with so many fun people around Christmas.

2. Every time Sloane said "wow!". The cutest! I think she said it over 20 times while they were opening presents:)

1. Making fun new memories with my little fam:) And this Christmas was probably the least stressful we've ever had! 

...Oh yeah, and Camaron completely surprised me with a new car! Seriously. We're back to being a two car family (after 4 years of sharing one). Camaron is so so great! Most thoughtful gift ever. And I was so caught off guard by it that my reaction was just shock and confusion -super lame. I wish I could have a do-over and just start screaming and jumping up and down instead (you know, a completely normal reaction). So, if you wanna hang out sometime, I can probably go! Yay!


Holiday Traditions // Gingerbread Houses & Santa

I loved having holiday traditions while I was growing up. Going to my grandparent's house every Christmas Eve, my mom making cinnamon rolls on Christmas, no one being allowed to leave their room Christmas morning until mom and dad said it was ok (the worst if you woke up really early). So, of course I've always wanted to create our own holiday traditions in our little family. The kids are still pretty small though, so we're still testing things out -I don't know if we really have any set traditions yet.

Camaron brought home a gingerbread house kit last week and the kids were ecstatic. Poor Fox practically was counting down the seconds until we could put it together (he had to wait a whole day). Once we got started, both Fox and Sloane wanted to help. I loved seeing them decide where each candy should go (that was mostly Fox. Sloane preferred pulling them off). And by some miracle, the house is still standing -not even missing any candy yet!

Later that day, we decided to pay Santa a little visit at Bass Pro Shop in Mesa. Neither of the kids was scared at all (I tried to prep them as well as I could, but I think they're just pros). Sloane was just mesmerized by Santa's beard. Fox was mesmerized by the idea of a toy sleigh (that was what he asked for -I have no idea where that idea came from, but no I apparently need to find a toy sleigh).

We're always reminding Fox about Santa coming soon, and he has been getting excited. I'm excited too! I love celebrating Christmas with our little family. I love picking out presents and planning ways to make fun memories with these kiddos. I think we might do the Scottsdale Christmas train again -it was so neat last year. What holiday traditions are your favorite? 


Surprise Birthday Trip // Prescott and Arcosanti

Have I ever told you how great Camaron is at surprises? Just look at any of my past birthday posts and you'll see what I mean. He's so good at the details. I absolutely love being surprised (not in the scary way though. So don't even think about jumping out and scaring me in the dark. I will not be held accountable for my actions and the injuries they may cause in those situations). For my birthday this year, the surprise came a little late, but it was so great.

On my actual birthday, Camaron had to work, and everything was just really crazy, so we didn't really do anything big or special. And I was really bummed. It was a pretty big milestone birthday and nothing memorable happened. We got some free food, but then Cam had to go and I stayed home with the kids the whole day. So I whined about it to Camaron a week or so ago. Yep, I couldn't let it go. So Camaron decided to plan something fun for us. A surprise trip. It wasn't a complete surprise because I knew the date we'd be leaving and had a pretty good idea that Prescott would be involved (because Camaron had a work thing there that day), but Cam planned it out in a way that still made it really fun and left me in the dark for most of what was going down. 

I woke up Friday to a vase of flowers on the table and a little note that said I would be needing to pack an overnight bag and to just take it easy until that afternoon, when someone would be coming over to watch the kids and then I would get my next set of instructions. I was so excited. Then I started overthinking and worrying about things (what always happens when I'm home alone for too long). I got really paranoid about who might be coming over. So instead of taking it easy, I cleaned the whole house and got everything ready for someone to stay the night and watch the kids.

That afternoon, my aunt and cousin showed up. They watched the kids while we were gone and it was such a blessing. I love having family close by. So I put my stuff in the car and discovered the next note. It was an address Prescott. I had thought Camaron would show up when the babysitters came by and we'd go off on our adventure together. But a road trip all by myself would be a fun adventure too. And Camaron had packed road trip snacks and drinks for me -as I said, he's so good at the details. And, shortly after I started my drive, he texted me a Spotify playlist he had created for me to listed to on the way. It was awesome!

The haunted hotel we stayed in last time we were in Prescott ^^. I don't think it's haunted during Christmas though:) Oh, and did you know Prescott is "Arizona's Christmas City"? 

When I got to Prescott, a lot of the streets were blocked off and there were people and cars everywhere. There was some kind of event going on and it was driving me nuts. I just wanted to see Camaron, but there was not a place to park anywhere! I had done a bad job of taking care of myself that day (I really wanted a nap, but I cleaned instead. And I forgot to eat because I was taking care of all the other stuff and was so excited for the trip). So I was kinda a wreck once I got to Camaron. Luckily, he had already gotten us a table at a really yummy restaurant right in the town square and was full of hugs. So I got over my bad attitude pretty quick. The event going on was Acker Night, which was basically a lot of local musicians performing all over downtown Prescott. It was really fun going into shops and hearing all of the different musicians. But I had not packed warm enough. I had even read that there was a possibility of snow that night, but I figured just my coat would be fine (I should have packed thermals, gloves, and a hat, too). I froze.

Oh, in the above picture, we're eating ice cream -because we're crazy -it was freezing! But also because we did the same thing last time we were there. I even got the same flavor (german chocolate cake).

I asked Camaron where we were staying and he told me he had found us a little cabin in the woods -because he knows I love camping, but it was way too cold to actually camp. As we were on our way there, Camaron was reading the directions and he mentioned something about Arcosanti. "Arcosanti? I think we studied about that in one of my art history classes. Is that where we're going?" Turns out it was! Camaron had never heard of it and didn't realize that was what he had booked (and I had hardly any memory of what it actually was), so that was a fun surprise for both of us. Arcosanti is basically a really neat artist community that has amazing architecture. That's the worst description ever, you should really look it up. It's really cool. Camaron had booked it on Airbnb and so we got to stay in a student's apartment. It had a loft where the bed was and it was very minimalist and had an amazing view (it's where I took the top picture from this post). We loved it.

The view from our window.

I spy a headless Camaron ^^

We totally got lost on our way there -because it's really in the middle of nowhere with hardly any lights. But it really is the coolest place and I really want to go there again. And the whole weekend was so much fun. I love getting to spend lots of one-on-one time with Camaron. When you're a parent, that's sometimes hard to come by. Thank you so much, Camaron! xoxo

p.s. yep, I'm blonde now.


DANCE DANCE // Disco Unicorn

Is there any better theme in the world than "disco unicorn"??? Rainbows, sparkles, glitter, horns... it's the best. Mandy threw the dance party of the year last week with this theme and it was so so much fun. It was girls only and everyone really got into the disco unicorn spirit. It was awesome.

When planning my outfit, I somehow got myself set on having gold sequins as a major part of it. I wasn't able to find anything that was quite right (I couldn't let my gold sequin-loving heart down), so I ended up just buying a piece of gold sequin material and sewing my shirt right before the party. I have no idea how that worked out (I'm the worst at getting things to work out last minute).  I brushed on a thick stripe of bright blue eyeshadow across my eyes (inspired by this). Then, I really wanted my hair in a pony-hawk. I did my best, but it definitely didn't last throughout the night. Note to self: need more bobby pins (always).

I love the cool effects we got in the photos. We're on fire!

Sodalicious was there with some of their best flavored sodas and cookies. It was my first time trying them (and I'm not even that big of a soda person), but now I'm hooked. Anyone wanna go grab a "your mom -extra dirty" this week?

Oh, there was also a photo booth. And Alyssa and I may have been big fans of it ha! There's been talk of another dance party coming in the spring. Can't wait!

*Dance photos taken by @seanhuntington

Christmas Lights at the Mesa Temple

Last night, we visited the Mesa LDS Temple Christmas lights. It was beautiful and so fun for the kids. My aunt and cousin randomly called and invited us to go while we were eating dinner. I love the Mesa temple lights, so I was down, of course. We finished eating, bundled everyone up (it wasn't even that cold, but you know how we do in AZ), and headed down Main Street to the temple grounds to meet up with everyone.

Fox was a little tired -but not cranky tired, luckily. He just wasn't real enthusiastic or anything. But Sloane! Oh, Sloane loved it! The whole time, she kept exclaiming "Look!" and "Oh!" and "Wow!" She was amazed by all the colorful lights. And she loved gently touching as many as she could.

The Mesa LDS Temple lights are up until December 31st, everything is free, and there are live musical performances every night. Last night was a high school choir (they looked like high schoolers, anyway), and it was beautiful. Along with the lights, there is also a nativity set up and other displays depicting the story of Christ's birth. It was a great way to start off the Christmas season.


Thanksgiving 2015

For Thanksgiving this year, we all headed over to my Aunt and Uncle's house in Mesa for food, fun, and family. And there was so much food. And so much family. And yes, so much fun. My favorite part? Probably the pie. There were so many different kinds -but somehow no one brought pumpkin pie??

Fox and Sloane had a blast with my cousin's daughter, Abby. They were so cute together, just playing behind the couch for most of the evening. Sloane looks a little terrifying in the above photo -pretty sure she's just repeating words back to us (really loud). It's her new favorite thing:)

Me: Fox, how many babies are in Bethany's tummy? 
Fox: "TWO!" Yay for twins!
I have no babies in my tummy, but I'm pretty sure I ate enough for two or three. It's a skill.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. I love getting to spend time with our families -especially when there is also a ton of food around. Can't wait til we all get together again at Christmas!

Anyone else busting out the Christmas decorations this week?


Scary Angry Mama

I don't say this to brag, I just want to make it clear: I have really great kids (just look at that face-squishing hug above). They are so nice, thoughtful, fun, funny, friendly, and helpful. And so many other great things. Me on the other hand ...well, I try. I don't want to put myself down to sound like I'm fishing for compliments, but I am aware of some of my short-comings. And I am always working on becoming better. And Camaron: perfect. He's the best dad ever. Nothing more to say on that. But most of the time, it's just me home with the kids. Well, Camaron might actually be alone with them just as much, but I have the afternoons and evening usually. The time of day when we're all just tired. And worn out. And patience is just really hard to find sometimes. 

I guess what I'm getting at with all of this information is that last night was just bad.

It was the perfect storm of no naps for either kid, my schedule/routine just being off from not working that day, me also being tired, and just the normal stress of being a mom. Most of the afternoon was fine. We played, watched shows, ate, played with forts, cleaned up ...and then it was time for bed. 

Sloane went right down (she's a pro at her bedtime routine). Fox didn't. Something went wrong (maybe something I said, or the whole no nap thing?) and he just stopped functioning like a rational person altogether. He was all ready for bed, laying with his head on his pillow when the tantrum started. I couldn't help at all. He wanted to answer a question I had asked (The question was "what are some nice things you do for others?" in reference to the scripture we had read together), but whenever I said "ok, go ahead" he just said "I don't know." And whenever I tried to say or do anything else, he got upset and brought up that he wanted to answer the question. But again, "I don't know." And he wouldn't let me help him answer. So eventually, I told him I had to leave. "But I want to answer the question!!" I was in a pickle. And it was making me angry. This kid needed to go to sleep! Why wouldn't he just say something when I let him answer the question?! I wanted to go eat my dinner! Uggh!

I quickly became scary, angry mama. Patience: long gone. 

It wasn't pretty. I became rude and not helpful at all. I didn't yell, but my voice was scary. Basically, I would never want an adult to ever see me like this. And it made me even angrier that I was being this way with Fox. He didn't deserve that. But I had basically lost it and it was too late. 

I was finally able to leave with him not running after me, so I could cool down by myself. I don't know how, but I quickly became myself again. I calmed down and felt better. Fox had gotten quiet. I suspected he fell asleep. I thought of just leaving it at that, because he was asleep. I had met my goal. But why was that my goal? Shouldn't my goal at the end of the day be more than just enduring until the kids go to bed? So I went back in there*.

I laid down next to him and he turned toward me and smiled. How did he forget how mean I just was so quickly? I asked him what his favorite part of today was. He started jabbering about the feast they had earlier that day in preschool to celebrate Thanksgiving. Then we talked about our family's Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday. We discussed who would be there (Bowski isn't invited "because he knocks everybody down," according to Fox). We talked about the foods we would eat. We talked about daddy and Sloane. We giggled, hugged, gave back scratches, and said good night. It was wonderful.

I wish there was a switch in my brain that I could flip that would keep scary angry mama from appearing ever again. I really do. But at least I know that if/when she does, I am incredibly blessed to have kids who don't hold grudges. Who quickly move on and love with their whole hearts. Who hug and give good night kisses. I want to be more like them:)

*he still sleeps in our room. But not in our bed anymore. We put a mattress on the ground for him. Baby steps.

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