Twas Christmas morning, we actually slept late
Until 6am at least (there was no debate)
When three little ones ran in our room with cheer
WAKE UP WAKE UP - Christmas is here! 

We rubbed our eyes put a smile on our face
Then all five paused for a moment of grace
Thank you, dear Jesus, for a year filled with love
For kindness and health and the gifts from above

Emmy lead us all in a prayer 
and in my opinion, that was Christmas, right there
Sweet words in her precious little voice
Asking us all to reflect and in Him rejoice

But alas, that Jolly St. Nick
 Had a few more items in his bag full of tricks
Two shiny bikes painted just as a requested
And a Playstation 4 made the day extra festive

But he wasn't done with surprises there was a little more
Some scratch offs, a robot and beef jerky was in store
Then a phone call was made to Gigi and Pops

Breakfast was served, my favorite each year
Rolls and bacon make us all grin from ear to ear
Then the annual gift sorting began
All you type-As surely understand
We have order to our chaos, or so it would seem
We like to take our time to enjoy each and everything

Like fancy new socks that were chosen by Rad
And can only be FULLY appreciated by a super cool Dad 

While the presents were opened and everyone said thanks
I made sure to snap a few pictures of ME for the photo bank
These four humans are the only gifts I need
I can do without the wants, wears or read

As usual, my favorite part of the day
Were all the hugs given out along the way
A hug for a dress, a hug for a mask
A hug for that special gift that I was afraid to ask
A hug just because is the best hug of all
Better than a hug for a game or a doll

All the new stuff is awesome
That I won't deny
But the real joy is what matters 
And brings a tear to my eye

The moments in between that aren't posed or rehearsed
Are the moments I will always recall first

And the ones I don't capture behind some giant lens
Usually bring me the happiest grin

Each year we get older and much wiser, too
We stop and enjoy instead of having a "to do"
We hug and we laugh and if we're lucky enough
We recognize all the things that make up the "good stuff"

Like laughing with cousins and enjoying new toys
And filling the streets with a joyful noise
All the packages piled under that tree
Aren't the only gifts for you and for me

It's not the ribbons or sparkly bows
That make a difference, that much we know

It's time spent with family and our wonderful friends
That fill the day with joy from beginning to end

May your Christmas be merry and your New Year be bright
And may 2019 be filled with blessings you count each and every night!!


Seas and Greetings...

Merry Christmas!

We hope that 2018 has been as gracious to you as it has been to us. This year has been filled with all the busy-ness that life these days brings but we pray that you are finding time this season to slow down, soak it all in and rest in the knowledge that a savior was born to redeem us!  To save you the time in reading lots of details and me the time in trying to remember them all, I’m going to give you a “by the numbers” review of our year! Then you can go back to that “soaking it all in” part of this season!

24,398: the number of steps we took on our marathon day in Washington D.C. We toured the White House, visited the Renwick, ate at Ryan’s favorite restaurant (Georgia Brown’s), got a behind the scenes tour of the Capitol and ended the evening with the most glorious sunset stroll through the Monuments.

3,598: The number of miles Ryan drove on our TWO WEEK road trip to THIRTEEN states! We have set a goal of seeing all 50 states as a family by Landry’s 21st birthday. As of the end of this trip, we’ve knocked off 23 states!  Our pictures are from our new favorite beach – the Outerbanks! None of us wanted the trip to end (it’s probably no surprise that I cried as we pulled into CS because I just wasn’t ready for our vacation to be over!)
            **Shout out to the Gorries for being the best hosts ever for an entire WEEK of our journey!**

256: The number of times the kids have asked if we can go back to Disney for Christmas!

93: The age MaMaw would have celebrated on her next birthday. We celebrated her life this Thanksgiving and are so thankful for the years we got to spend with her!

40: The age Ryan turned in May! The kids spoiled him rotten and we celebrated with dear friends at his favorite old stomping grounds in College Station! I even surprised him with a weekend away with his best buddies!

24: The number of items I’ve checked off my “40 by 40” list. Since I have less than 100 days until I reach that milestone, I may be changing the name to “40 by the day before I turn 41!”

10: The number of canvases Emersyn has brought home with her original artwork! She is our creative child and has loved her Tuesday afternoons with her bestie (Anna) at art!

5: The number of times each day that Landry asks if she can put on “GYNastics clothes”. This girl LOVES gymnastics and we love watching her do something she enjoys so much!

3.5: The number of flag football games Radley got to play this fall. After seven years of nothing but “f├╝tbol” he decided to try a new sport. Sadly, the October and November rain had different plans for his football career – he’s switching back to soccer in the spring! ;)

1: The number of new cousins that joined our crew! Keirstyn Guercio was born on April 20 and the #wee3kings have been smitten ever since! That brings the girl/boy ratio to 4:2!

Within each of these numbers is an infinite amount of blessings that we pray you also enjoy! Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years!

Ryan, Katy, Radley, Emersyn and Landry


Christmas Countdown 2018: 3, 2, 1...

Christmas Christmas time is near.... time for joy and time for cheer! ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT (technically, as I'm typing this, there's only a few hours until the big day arrives....)

Only 3 days until Christmas – it’s Mommy’s favorite night; grab some popcorn, put on pjs and under the tree we’ll sleep tonight!

This really is one of my absolute favorite nights of the season and honestly, I'm not sure how many more we have left. The kids are literally outgrowing the pallet on the floor all shoved together so I will cherish it as long as we can make it happen. 

And don't be fooled by these angelic faces... 

Radley's pjs were three sizes too small... but I still required coordinated pjs and big smiles in front of the tree while we try to master the self-timer as I say joy-filled things like, "can you just be normal?"... Seriously. Just. Sit. Still. And. Smile." and ... "We will sit here as long as it takes..."

This is me. Pretending to be a soft spoken mom-type that smiles all the time. 

But by 10pm when we've all fallen asleep next to a movie we have memorized, I look up and just cry.  Absolutely nothing sweeter!

Only 2 days until Christmas –  What’s something fun YOU want to do?? Kid’s choice!!

Y'all. This was THE MOST FUN. The kids have discovered "Minute to Win It" on Netflix so they organized a mini-competition between me and Gigi vs Ryan and Pops. Chaos ensued. Laughter was heard. Fun was had by all! You really just have to watch... 

Only 1 day until Christmas – Get dressed so we can get cooking! SANTA COMES TOMORROW! 

It's not Christmas until the meatballs are made... 

and it's a family tradition we are sure to keep alive for many years to come!

Merry Christmas everyone! 


Christmas Countdown 2018: 6, 5, 4...

It's funny how these activities hardly change each year but the kids still look forward to each and every one and I look forward to spending all this time with them. 

Only 6 days until Christmas – let’s eat popcorn for dinner and go see a movie!!!

This night is always one of my favorites because I love going to the movies and also popcorn for dinner is always a good idea. We were hoping Ryan could make it in time to join us but UPS is unpredictable so just the four of us got to enjoy a night out. We showered and bathed, threw on some pjs and headed to the theater!

I was a lot nervous about this whole "Mary Poppins Returns" things but it was so so so good and fun and charming and imaginative and colorful and happy and just so stinking great! 

Only 5 days until Christmas –  Let’s go see some lights!! 

We got bundled up and headed to a local park to walk around and enjoy their annual light display. The evening ended up being perfect for a little stroll and the chill that was in the air was easily kept at bay with all the ooey gooey warmth in my heart. 

These #wee3kings are just the ultimate gift each and every day and while I will never claim to be an easy going, go with the flow, all the time happy, Momma... I will never deny the blessings of time with them!

Only 4 days until Christmas – School is officially done, let’s go out to dinner for lots of fun!

Do you see a theme? As Christmas gets closer, I think of more and more excuses to not have to cook - ha! Ryan DID get to meet us for a quick dinner out at our favorite breakfast for dinner spot. The whole family ate for under $30 and we were home and in our pjs by 7:30pm! 

And just like that, there's only three days left... 


Christmas Countdown 2018: 9, 8, 7...

Our countdown continued with some of our favorite activities... 

Only 9 days until Christmas – Light 5 candles at church for people that need prayers

We don't have any pictures of this one, because not every single moment needs to be documented. But I do want to remember the family we lit a candle for. A mom and her two kids that we see every week in church - we arrived a little late on Sunday and the pews are more crowded this time of year so we couldn't find a pew that would fit all 5 of us. This momma noticed and moved back to free up space in her pew so we could sit down. I hope we always remember the simple kindness in that gesture and  instant difference it made in our day. May we all live our lives so that people light candles to bless us back. 

Only 8 days until Christmas – Game on! Let’s make breakfast for dinner and play our favorite games!

As excited as I was about brinner and board games, the night got even better when Ryan showed up at 5:45pm! Y'all - this is just crazy cakes. I mean, that's really not normal on any day but during holiday peak season?!? I was frightened. That was amazing on its own, but we also had the added bonus of Miss Elizabeth and Corey AND I made cream gravy so basically we had the best night ever!

Liz and Corey also brought Radley a belated birthday gift which was maybe the sweetest thing ever - Corey gifted him all of his old Pokemon cards and Radley was so excited! They immediately started using words that I didn't know the meaning of but I didn't really need to... I just needed to know that my kids are loved by lots of people and that's the gift to me. 

I also won the game, but that's not really important. 

Only 7 days until Christmas – Tomorrow is MaMaw's birthday! Let’s go buy a special ornament to honor her!

We headed to HobLob after the evenings crazy of art and gymnastics and I got a little worried that we weren't going to find anything. At this point they have already taken most of Christmas down and what's left is broken, chipped or an emoji which is not the looking we are going for. Emersyn spotted this frame ornament and asked if we could put a picture of MaMaw inside and I think it's just perfect. 

But as we were about to leave, I spotted this angel holding a red bird. MaMaw loved red birds and we love her so the two are a perfect fit, 

Happy Birthday, MaMaw...and Merry Christmas, too!


Christmas Countdown 2018: 12, 11, 10...

I sometimes get frustrated with past Katy... making all sorts of parenting decisions without thinking of the long-term repercussions. The energy I had as a first time parent in my 20s is vastly different now that I'm approaching the big 4- 0. I'm basically waving the white flag half the time around here. 

Except when it comes to Christmas. I can't help it. I love the pomp and circumstance. The ridiculous, over-the-top celebrating, the messy traditions... all of it. And while I may take a bit longer to come up with ideas, I'm so glad that all those years ago, we started a 12 day countdown to ring in the season. 

Only 12 days until Christmas… the big day is getting near! You’re hanging with the Baileys tonight, one of your favorite nights of the year! 

For the past few years, Krista has gifted ME with a "night off." She picks up my kiddos and they feed them, entertain them and deliver them back home precisely at bedtime. I usually spend my evening in the quiet house, wrapping gifts, eating my favorite foods and drinking one glass of wine. This year was no different and while my crew was making pizzas, I was savoring every last bite of my favorite pizza, with my favorite movie, doing my favorite thing - wrapping presents. We were all in heaven!

Only 11 days until Christmas – Spread holiday cheer and wrap some gifts! 

This is a repeat item every year - we gather all the supplies for teacher gifts, wrap them up, sign the labels and get them prepped for delivery. I thought the number would go down this year since Radley started 5th grade, but my kids are GIVERS so we wrapped up their favorite snack (popcorn and m&ms) for THIRTY-FOUR teachers. 

Tis the season indeed. 

Only 10 days until Christmas – Tonight is going to be special – we know you’ll love the plan! It includes singing carols with lots of our favorite friends! And just to make sure we all sound extra sweet, we’ll start with cups of coco for a warm and cozy treat!

I could NOT wait for this surprise!! Ryan headed to HEB SUPER early Saturday morning to load up on the essentials for the evening and the kids were so dang excited about a party! Emersyn has been asking if we can have a "Christmas party" and she was extra thrilled that her wish came true. 

I made homemade hot chocolate...
(6 gallons whole milk, 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 4 cups heavy whipping cream (separated), 2 tsp vanilla, .5 tsp. sea salt, 1 bag milk chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients in a crockpot EXCEPT for 2 cups of HWC, cook on high for 2 hours, stir, add 2 remaining cups of HWC and turn on low for 2 hours.)
... and Ryan cleared HEB out of sugar cookies and we were prepped and ready for the night!

The kids had SO.MUCH.FUN. singing carols and the best part was surprising total strangers with a little Christmas joy. They just couldn't believe that we were doing this "just because"... 

We ended at our house for treats and coco and enjoyed the company of friends while living out the joy of the season. 

The countdown continues tomorrow!


Rosin up that bow...

 Growing up in Robinson, there was no question whether or not I would be part of the band. Everyone was in band - it's what we did - so as Radley approached 5th grade, I was interested to see what he would pick for his elective. They have the choice between art/music/theater (one each semester) or orchestra. 

He picked orchestra and I was THRILLED. Some of my greatest childhood memories live in that band hall and while his journey doesn't ever have to resemble mine or Ryan's, I'm glad that he will have a year of experiencing the journey of learning music with a cohort of friends!

He had his first orchestra concert and we were all eager to watch him show off his new skills. 

I tried to be chill and not take too many pictures, but clearly... 

He also tried to ignore us and not smile our way, but clearly.... 

The concert lasted 15 minutes as they showed off their newfound skills and all of those kids were nothing but smiles as we made our way out of the auditorium to sing our praises. 

As usual, we showed up big for those 15 minutes - I hope all my kids recognize how lucky they are to be loved so much. 

Sidenote: Ryan was home super sick and had to miss the big performance. PTL for videos!

My favorite part of the evening happened as we were walking out to go to dinner; Radley spotted his principal and wanted to say hello...

Rad: Hi, Mr. Symank
Mr. S: Hi Radley, great job...
Rad: Thank you...
Mr. S: Were you nervous?
Rad: A little...
Mr. S: Good - that means you care. 

I just love that. "Good - it means you care." 

One more thing checked off that "kids refuse to quit growing up" bucket list. I look at him and can't get over how big he is which is ironic, because this kid has lived BIG since day one. Big love, big laugh, big emotions, big joy, big nerves.... and yet here I am just wishing he could stay little. 

But honestly, I am grateful for the big he brings to every moment of our lives. I'm grateful for what we get to share as he gets big... and I can't wait for all the BIG things he'll keep teaching me along the way. 


Framily traditions...

What started off as a way to add less to our to do list (and toy pile) has easily become a day that I look forward to most each year. We've gone from juggling car seats and diapers to managing six extremely eager bosses helpers. 

Each year we fill our buggies with the same essentials from the list of needs but our conversations grow in depth and meaning. The kids have filled backpacks stuffed with food that some of their friends take home on the weekends. While they don't know what it feels like to wonder about our next meal, there is a very real possibility that they know someone that does. 

We load up our car and head to the Brazos Center to make our donation to the annual Food For Families Food Drive. They obviously compete to see who can lift the heaviest bags and fill the cart the fastest. And I try to etch each and every second of these moments into memory.

I hope I never take these moments for granted. I hope that as they continue to grow older and time gets shorter and lives get busier that we still find the time to do what counts. I hope that the memory of this tradition matters more than the memories of what Santa leaves.

And I hope that when they have kids of their own, they continue the tradition of giving back and paying it forward. 


Something new...

I love traditions. I love the routine. The memories. The easiness. The sentimentality. The significance. I love the stories behind them that get told over and over again and the way they can change over the years. 

But there is also something to be said for trying something new especially when it's your kid's idea (and only major "bucket list" item of the season.)

Emersyn decided that she wanted to make Christmas cookies - REAL ones - not the break and bake kind. So I got my friend, Jenn, famous sugar cookie recipe, made some dough, set up the kitchen and let them go to work... 

I'm actually surprised with how well they turned out. The dough is DELICIOUS on it's own, but add in all that sweetness from a teeny impromptu neighborhood cookie decorating party and they were over the top, amazing!

"Everyone put your hand in there..."

#basic #stillloveit

I've come to discover that my favorite moments are the ones that I don't have pictures of... which just means I enjoyed the memory as it happened instead of after the fact. We let the kids pick the color of icing to make and then let them loose with decorating.  And y'all... I LOVE them... every single sugar overloaded cookie was just perfect!

So here's to loving the old while not being afraid to try something new!