This month has been wonderful. It is so neat to see her grow and change every day. I went back to work this month and Ava started day care. We are taking the whole day care thing one day at a time. We are very blessed to have such a happy healthy baby. For now, Ava only cries if she is hungry or has a wet diaper. When she's crying because she's hungry it's more like her screaming to the top of her lungs until she gets that bottle in her mouth and then her eyes roll to the back of her head while she makes the cutest little sounds because it tastes so good. This led to my parents buying her a Baby Brezza. Which by the way is the BEST invention ever and is completely worth having on your baby registry if you think you will need to use formula at some point.
We continue to pray that God will watch over our little one as she continues to grow and learn everyday.
4 month highlights
This birthday has been the best birthday ever. I know that sounds crazy considering that I am now 30! And no one ever really looks forward to getting older, let alone saying bye to the 20's. However, this was my first birthday as a Mom and I have to say there is no better present then this sweet angel right here. Words can't express the love and joy she and my husband bring me every day and the love I have for the both of them. It is just so amazing!
The day started out with my husband telling me happy birthday and kissing me goodbye before he went to work. He also let me open up my birthday present the night before! I loved that because I hate waiting to open up presents. I think he was afraid I was going to peak inside while he was at work...but who would do such a thing!
I spent the morning playing, snuggling, laughing and smiling with Ava. Around lunch time my twin brother, Uncle Andrew came over so we could spend our 30th birthday together.
This time last year he came into town and we ate at Buffalo Wild Wings. That was the day I told him I was pregnant. This year he picked up Buffalo Wild Wings and brought it to the house for us to eat.
My parents sent some birthday presents so we could open them up together.
We ate our favorite wings, opened our presents, played some Fruit Ninja (we still can't beat Joey's score), visited with each other and had a great 30th birthday!
When Joey got home from work we headed to the University Town Center Mall in Sarasota. We wanted to check out the Love Sac store. Joey and his roommate had one of these a long time ago and now we are going to get one for our house. They are amazing! We figured it could be something Ava and her friends could enjoy when she gets older.
Then we ate at a place called Rise Pies. It's a pizza place where you build your own personal pan pizza and they put it in this oven that cooks it in 2 minutes. It comes out as a thin, crispy, delicious tasting pizza.
After dinner we walked around the mall for a little bit. That is when I discovered the store Anthropologie. I have heard of it, but never got to go into one. Oh. My. Goodness! I loved that place! But Lord have mercy is it a bit pricey. You can find some treasures that aren't too expensive though. I ended up using some of my birthday money to buy a recipe book holder and this cool vintage looking coffee mug to remember my 30th birthday. I am a collector of coffee mugs (kind of addicted).
This 30th birthday was filled with lots of love, laughter, smiles, and birthday wishes from friends near and far. Thank you to everyone who made this day extra special! It was been the best birthday ever!
Well our first Christmas as a family of three (four including our fur baby) was filled with tons of love, smiles, new traditions, and great memories.
Christmas Eve morning we went to visit some of our good friends in Wesley Chapel. Then my husband surprised me with a trip to the new outlet malls. Thank goodness I threw on some makeup because I definitely didn't fix my hair! The trip was a lot of fun. The mall parking lot was packed but the way they designed the mall it really didn't seem that packed walking around. It was such a nice day. Santa bought Ava some new outfits from the Janie and Jack store and we treated ourselves to some of my favorite Auntie Anne pretzels. I don't know about you, but every time I go to the mall I need some of their pretzel nuggets and one cheese packet. When my husband walked out with TWO things of nuggets I was so excited because I really didn't want to share that day.
After the mall we went home and got ready for church in 15 minutes flat! That is a record folks and I have a feeling next year it won't be that easy. We arrived to church hoping we would get a seat in the back. Nope, the only seats available were right up front. This is a big church too so there is a long ways out if Ava decided to start screaming at the top of her lungs like she does when she is hungry. However, Ava was such a good baby. She didn't cry one time! I did drop her pacifier towards the end and couldn't find it. I was hoping and praying she wouldn't start crying. Luckily it was a candlelight service and that just happened to be the time I dropped the pacifier so Ava had all the lighted candles to look at. She loved them!
After church we went home and made a grilled pizza, watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, brainstormed ways to rearrange our living room, and snuggled with Ava. I read Ava the Christmas Story and put her to bed.
The next morning we opened our stockings and presents. This year we decided to not do any candy in our stockings and one little small gift instead. Ava received Gripe Water (which is amazing), Georgia had toys in her stocking, Joey gave me a gadget to massage your head and a question and answer journal for us to fill out every day. It's really cool. You answer one question a day. Some are silly and some are serious. Joey had a cool corn on the cob peeler in his stocking.
Then we went over to Joey's parents house for Christmas day. There we started a new tradition of watching the movie, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I was super excited to hear this was a new tradition. I love the book and read it to my class every year. After the movie we hung out and visited with family, played with Ava, exchanged gifts and got ready for the Christmas day meal.
Nanna caught up on her snuggles and loved on Ava all day long!
The men cooked the prime rib. It was so good! With the prime rib we had veggies, bread and dessert. Everything was delicious!
Ava received so many snuggles, hugs and kisses from her Nanna and Pop. The day was truly wonderful as we celebrated the birth of Jesus.
The next day we went to my parents house to continue celebrating the birth of Jesus. Everyone was home for Christmas so Ava received a ton of love from her Aunt and Uncles and her Nona and Papa. There were a bunch of snuggles, playing, kisses and hugs.
Ava loved playing with her Uncle Andrew (my brother), Uncle T.J. and Uncle Andrew (my brother in-law) and her Aunt Nicole.
She also loved Aunt Nicole's hair and all the snuggles she gave her.
My Dad smoked a 20 lb prime rib! I know that sounds crazy and like a lot of food, but he always wants to make sure all of his children have left overs to take home. We had appetizers, prime rib, casseroles, ravioli, and desserts. The food was delicious and so are the leftovers!
The kids watched the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
The ladies baked some cookies.
After lunch, we exchanged gifts and opened our stockings. Santa carried on the tradition of putting scratch offs in our stockings. Everyone scratched away and guess what???
JOEY AND I WON $18 TOGETHER ON OUR SCRATCH OFFS!!! Joey must be bringing me his luck! It felt good to shout out, "Oh I won! Oh I won again! Oh I won AGAIN!".
Ava's first Christmas was filled with endless love as we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We are truly blessed to be able to spend the Christmas season with our wonderful family and friends. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The First Annual Thompson Disney Adventure: How to experience Disney for just $20 for the whole family.
So this year was our First Annual Thompson Family Disney Adventure...well almost Disney. See, I had told Joey that I really wanted to see the lights and Christmas decorations at Disney but I didn't want to pay the price. It is just so expensive. So being the wonderful husband he is, he started researching alternatives and surprised me with this clever idea. He found this blog that mapped out a trip to Disney that would only cost us $20. What you do is pay $20 to park at the Disney parking lot. Then you hop on the monorail to the resorts. There, you can visit all of the resorts for free, meet and greet Mickey and Minnie and other Disney characters, see the castle lit up at night time, and have many amazing views of the firework show. All for just $20 for the whole family! We tried it out this year as a date night and had my parents watch Ava. I also talked Joey into wearing tacky Florida Christmas sweaters and pretending like it was our first trip to Disney. The sweaters were a huge hit! It was such a cool experience and worth every penny of that $20. Our journey looked a little like this...
We first started out at the Polynesian Resort. There we felt like we were on our honeymoon again back in Hawaii. They had a lot of beautiful tropical Christmas decor. When we walked in, Mickey and Minnie were having a meet and greet. This resort has a nice little beach area you can see the firework show from.
Our next stop was the Grand Floridian and boy was it Grand! They have your traditional Christmas decor along with a band, and a LIFE SIZE gingerbread house! This was my favorite stop and I will explain why in just a little bit...
Here is the Gingerbread house. Check out the ingredients they used to build it! Whoa!
See these Diet Cokes in our hands? Yea, they were FREE! Complimentary of the Grand Floridian.
Ok, so this is where it gets good. We got on the elevator at the Grand Floridian. Somehow we ended up on the 4th floor (which is key access only) with all these wonderful food platters complimentary of the Grand Floridian for the guests on the 4th floor. Technically we were "guests" of the 4th floor so we enjoyed some finger foods, appetizers, fresh juice, a fancy tea and coffee bar, a little sweet treat bar for the kids (which Joey LOVED), beer and wine, oh and soda. We didn't have any beer or wine but I definitely made sure to grab a FREE Diet Coke on my way out, which I was so proud of! As we were there we pretended like we were honeymooners and that we owned a family business. It was the Thompson something or other. We never figured out what our business was but we just knew we owned one.
Our third stop was the Contemporary. This hotel didn't have many holiday decorations but they did have a an awesome view of the castle and firework show, a Frozen Gingerbread Castle, and the Chipmunks were there too!
Outside they had this cool little place where you could set your camera at and take pictures with Mickey.
Our last stop was the Fort Wilderness Lodge. Here they had beautiful cabin like decorations. Mickey and Minnie were here too for a meet and greet.
After that we headed back to the Contemporary to end the night watching the firework show. They have a walkway outside on the fourth floor that we watched them from. It was a beautiful view with a nice cool breeze. A perfect way to end the night!
This is definitely something we will do again next year and bring Ava with us. It may even be a new family tradition. We had such an great adventure and I am sure next year will have its own adventures and new experiences. Yes, this could have been a very boring trip to some people but we had a blast because we had fun with it and made it and adventure!
Last year was my first time trying to make divinity. Joey used to get a batch every year for Christmas from his MeeMaw. She would send it to him on plate wrapped so tightly with saran wrap that you needed a knife to cut it open. His Meemaw has passed away and I wanted to be able to make him some divinity so he could have some every year. It was definitely a team effort. Joey helps me every time I make divinity. I think it is safe to say this has become a Thompson family tradition.
My first time making it last year was not as successful as I had hoped. Below are my Instagram posts from last year and our journey of making divinity.
After calling my Mom, Great Aunt Martha, and asking Joey 90 million questions about how he remembered the divinity I had a game plan for my second try. The second try was much closer to how he remembered it.
This picture was from this year. It is key to stay close to the divinity and watch it because one minute it will be too shiny and not ready yet and the next second it has become super dull and it's ready for the vanilla and pecans. The KEY here is PATIENCE! Some batches I wasn't patient enough and divinity wasn't ready yet.
When the divinity is nice and dull you stir in your vanilla and chopped pecans.
Once the divinity is complete spoon it out onto wax paper. Make sure to move quickly. Let it dry for several hours. And there you have it! After it has dried the texture should be as if it melts in your mouth. Divinity is NOT fudge like (at least not our divinity). The first batch I ever made was fudge like because I didn't wait long enough for it to mix together. So be patient!
I think one of the hardest parts but the most fun part was MeeMaw's recipe. It lacked ALOT of detail. At least for me it did. I didn't know what she meant by soft ball, and hard ball stages, or how to know when the divinity was actually "ready". After asking around and doing some research I figured it all out. At first I was irritated that the recipe lacked so much detail, but looking back I am glad it did. I called (not texted) my Mom and Great Aunt Martha, asked close family friends who have been cooking it for years and years, and together Joey and I figured it out. The struggle adds that much more meaning to the divinity. I was going to tweak the recipe and add some detail in it, but I have decided to leave it just how it is. Please don't let it discourage you. Try the recipe, call your family and friends to ask for help. It is all about trial and error. Feel free to email me if you need any guidance or have any questions.
If you need help you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join me in my journey as a wife, new mom and a baker as I learn to balance all of life's aprons.