Kamri Blaire Thomas

Mitch and I are so blessed to be able share that our daughter, Kamri Blaire Thomas, was born on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 4:41pm. She is the most beautiful little girl with dark brown hair, dark eyes (so far!), and a tiny 6.5 ish pound body and everything we ever dreamed of. We could not love her more.

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Kamri was born via C-Section at Chester County Hospital and due to her critical condition, was rushed by helicopter to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) where she has been under intensive care ever since. We have been so blessed by the thousands of people who have added Kamri to their prayers, the prayer chains that have formed to support us, and the many, many encouraging words that have been shared. We could not do this without you and cannot express how thankful we are that so many people have committed to advocating for the life of our daughter. If you are looking for Kamri’s daily updates on her progress, you can find them all in one place by clicking HERE.

2016 Christmas Home Tour

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… we have been looking forward to this time of year ever since we moved into this house. Moving is always a mixed bag of emotions. There is excitement and anticipation, but also the feeling of being unsettled until the new house feels like home. We loved our last house and spent the better part of three years making it our own. When we moved, as much as we loved the new house and all of the potential it has, it took a long time for it to feel like the home we created in our first. We kept saying that by Christmas, it will feel like ours. Something about decorating for Christmas makes a space feel like your own… so we’ve been waiting for this season to come. And I have to say, our predictions were right. We have fallen in love all over again with this house this season; fallen in love with our new home.

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Can I take you on a mini-tour? We’ve done some decorating and in the spirit of Christmas being right around the corner, let me show you some of the festivities that have been going on in our neck of the woods!

When you first walk in the door (I’ll show you what’s been happening outside on the front porch some other time… that’s a story for another post), this is the scene that greets you. Remember that steal of a hall table from this post? It has single-handedly changed the look and feel of our foyer from stark and barren to cheery and welcoming. Plus, it’s the perfect spot for all the seasonal decor my little heart desires. :)

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This year, we broke out the semi-DIY white Christmas village (you can find that how-to here), added some live fir garland, a few sparkly ornaments, and a string of battery-operated Christmas lights and called it good. Oh, and that banner across the mirror? Just a few bucks at the Target dollar section… you need one of these. So cute and easy!

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Moving into the family room, this is where most of this year’s decorations are living.

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The mirror, I adorned with a pink, orange, and gold bunting, and a strand of faux greenery. Most of the pillows on the couch are ones that hang out there all the time… I like that the colors are a playful nod to the “pink theme” we’ve adopted for Christmas this year.

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There are a few new, seasonal ones too, though! See those stitched snowflake ones? They are from Target and I found them brand-new for super cheap at our local Goodwill. Our Goodwill consistently has tags-still-on-it Target overstock and it’s a real problem for my monthly spending budget. But on the flip side, a lot of times I’m able to score goodies like these cuties and not feel as much buyer’s guilt as I might if I fell in love and bought them at full price in Target… at least that’s how I justify it to myself. :)

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I love the delicate stitching and the simple snowflake pattern… it makes it so we can keep them out past Christmas!

Onto the tree, which has been given the “Eloise” treatment. Ever seen that movie with the adorable and spunky, blonde-haired six year old? This year, we channeled her energy to think PINK in honor of our newest family member. You can see a full tree run-down in this post.

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Moving right along, if we spin around and look toward the kitchen, you can see the newest addition to the holiday line up. I LOVE getting Christmas cards in the mail, but we’ve never done much in the way of displaying them. On a whim, I grabbed some scotch tape and stuck all of ours up on the basement door, surrounding the felted green wreath (made last year). This is our view, coming in from the garage… which is usually the entrance we use so it’s fun to have some Christmas cheer greeting us right from get go.

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Turns out, we love it! It is so fun to be able to enjoy the cards all season long, instead of opening them, reading them once, and then having them sit in a pile until they eventually get thrown out. This might be a new tradition because that door makes us smile every time we look at it.

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On the shelves behind the couch, I kept it simple and classic… some more of that garland (it came from Produce Junction… 25 feet for $5.50!), a few ceramic white houses (again, dollar bins at Target) with tea lights inside, two bronze hurricanes with white candles, and a glass bowl full of pine cones and sparkly Christmas ornaments.

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Oh, and that green candle is one of those that you’re supposed to burn all Christmas day, starting right when you wake up in the morning… we’ve never done it before, but it’ll be fun to add it to our Christmas day this year.

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Our kitchen table looks very similar to how it looked on Thanksgiving, mainly because I didn’t have the energy to start from scratch and when something can pull double duty, you LET IT.

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I did swap out the leaves and houses that used to be the centerpiece for three cake stands stacked on top of each other, topped with some holiday goodies. These are just things I had in our Christmas decorations box… 3D snowflakes and a collection of sparkly fruit (you can see how I made and used them in this post). Oh, and a few ornaments to fill each of the bowls. :)

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There is not much going on in the kitchen, but I do love this little accordion sign (Target dollar bin) that sings of holiday cheer… it makes me smile. :)

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In the reading room, we got a little tree-crazy… Mitch’s parents recently bought a new tree and gifted us with their previous fake one. How fun to have two trees! This one was set up later in the season and didn’t get as much attention as our family room tree, but it will be fun to see where this guy ends up in future years. I could see it sparkling away in the dining room or maybe someday if we finish the basement, we could add some Christmas spirit down there… the possibilities! For now, it’s cozy-ing up our front room with a few lights and red and green ornaments.

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Our bathroom is the last room that got hit with the Christmas cheer wand. A few faux festive blooms on the counter and a votive candle that can hang out well into the winter season…

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The shelves got some love too!

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Remember those glass containers from Southern Glen back in the fall? A bit of Buffalo snow and some mini bottle brush trees make a perfect wintry terrarium…

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The other, I filled with a slew of mini, colorful ornaments (remember them from the mishap in last week’s ornament project?) and it is the perfect thing to make it feel festive in there!

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Ok, it’s time to bring this Christmas tour to a close… but not before one last stop. For a mini-Christmas update in our room, we popped our tiny Christmas tree on the bench under the window and it casts the perfect glow in the room when all of the other lights are turned off. It also happens to be a dreamy place to rock a certain newborn back to sleep after late-night feedings… at least, that’s the story we’ve crafted in our minds. :)

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And there you have it! Our 2016 Christmas Home Tour! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and that you get plenty of time to enjoy good company, good food, lots of laughs, and the joy of the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Our PINK-IFIED Christmas Tree!

The countdown is on! Only a few more days until Christmas and I hope that you are feeling more excitement than stress, more peace than pressure, and more joy than sorrow. Christmas is not an easy time for everyone, something I think we often gloss over. I am praying that the celebration of the birth of Christ fills you with deep contentment this season, no matter what context or situation you find yourself in. I am having to cash in on that prayer, myself, these days as we wait (sometimes patiently and sometimes not) for the arrival of our daughter. Waiting is hard! So, to take my mind off things, shall we take a spin around this year’s Christmas tree?

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I am so excited for the years of trees adorned with mismatched, homemade, colorful ornaments that tell the story of our lives, of our family. Mitch and I have already collected a few- we try and get one from every place we visit or vacation- and someday, we’ll have enough to fill an entire tree and then some, I’m sure. For now, we’re having a good ‘ole time picking a “theme” of sorts and going all out. This year’s? PINK-IFIED!

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In honor of little miss T, I thought it would be fun to have a pink Christmas and deck out the tree with all things pink, gold, silver, and shiny. You know me- I’m not a huge pink person, but I have to admit that it was a lot of fun to have an excuse to try something new, something I normally wouldn’t have gone for. Admittedly, it might be my favorite Christmas tree we’ve had yet. But who am I kidding? I say that every year. :)

We are in the camp of those who set their tree up on the early side. Every Thanksgiving weekend, we  head out to the local tree farm to chop one down and bring it home. Not to rush through Thanksgiving (I LOVE Thanksgiving and am not one of those people who listens to Christmas music before it comes… cough, Mitch), but we have found that with as much effort as it takes to get and decorate the tree and as fast as the Christmas season tends to fly by, it’s so nice to be able to enjoy the decorations for as long as possible. So we air on the side of an early set-up every year and it has worked for us so far.

2016-christmas-treeThis year, we had a beautiful day for tree cutting- not too cold, but brisk enough that it didn’t feel wrong to be Christmas tree hunting. I love this local place… they always have Christmas music playing, a fire going, free hot chocolate and beer, and a tractor ride up and down the hillside if you’re not up for the walk (which was tempting this year, I have to admit)… what more could you ask for?

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Here’s our 2016 pick! It’s just crazy to think that next year, we’ll be snapping this photo with an almost-one-year-old in tow…

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Back home, we set it up in the family room… all it took was shifting some furniture to make enough room in front of the window. We don’t really have many options for a tree location in that particular room with the way it is currently set up, but we’re really happy with the end result. It’s so nice to have it partially in front of the window because you can see it glowing from outside. Plus, keeping it in the family room means we can enjoy it from the kitchen as well!

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For decorations this year, we did a mix of using what we had and buying a few new bits to play up the pink theme. My favorite addition is the paper chain that I made out of scrap book paper. This paper has gotten its fair share of mileage in our house this year… it’s the same paper my mom used to craft an adorable onesie garland for our baby shower and it’s what I used to line the drawers of the dresser in the nursery. I love the gold and pink combination and looping link after link together to create one long chain to wrap around the tree ended up being the perfect foundation for the rest of the decorations.

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Ornaments-wise, we used all of the white, gold, and silver ones we already had and then I went on a pink ornament hunt and came up with a few fun options. Some fuchsia “icicles” add some depth to all of the other light colors. Those mauve sparkly ones caught my eye in Michael’s and I love the way they glitter among the Christmas lights.

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Finally, on a trip to Goodwill, I stumbled upon two packs of mini paper lantern string lights on sale for $2.50 each… one in a classical sphere shape and another in a star shape. The nice thing about our Goodwill is that they get a lot of overstock from Target, so often you can find things there that are still on shelves for full price at Target! I figured I could pop the paper lanterns off the string of lights, add a wire hook. and use them as ornaments and when we’re finished, I’ll just reattach them and we’ll have the original string lights back!

2016-christmas-tree-007For the base, we continued the faux sheep skin tradition (ours came from Ikea if you’re looking)… the fact that it looks like a soft blanket of snow gets me every time. And to top things off, the nativity set! This one is actually a combination of probably three sets… over the years, I just kept my eyes open in thrift stores for like-pieces until we had each of the characters. Nothing technically came together, but we managed to accumulate ones that look similar enough to pass as a single set. I think it was a couple of years until I could track down a “matching” Baby Jesus, but we’ve since got it all sorted out. :)

Now let’s talk presents… this year I went a little nuts with the pink theme. Hey, why go through all the trouble to decorate the tree one way, only to throw a blue snowflake package underneath and mess the whole thing up? 😉 If you’re going to work a theme, I say go big or go home. So pink and gold presents it is this year! All I did was grab a few rolls of wrapping paper (Hobby Lobby often has them for half off) in coordinating colors… don’t worry, I limited myself to only getting a couple and making sure they were ones I’d use again in the future. There has to be some self-control to all of this, after all. Throw in a few bags and ribbons we already had on hand and we’re all set to go!

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Mitch was a good sport, following suit and wrapping my gifts with the same stuff. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make him switch out a red and green bag for a pink one, though. Hah! I’m married to a saint. I love, love, love how it all turned out! The brown paper, playing so nicely with the white and gold spotted, which sets the stage for the pops of light and hot pink here and there. Who knew? Maybe I’m a pink fan after all!

During the daytime the tree is certainly pretty, but nothing can compare to the glowing, show-stopping version that takes over our family room at night.

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THIS is what I’ve been waiting for since the day we moved into this house… the feeling that it is finally our home. This scene brings me so much joy and rest… in fact, there have been more than one case where I have come out here in the wee hours of the morning when I can’t stand the tossing and turning anymore and don’t want to wake Mitch. I have loved turning on the tree, lying on the couch, and just enjoying the peaceful glow. It’s been my happy place this season and I am thankful for the small wonders that seem to make all of the difference in the world, especially when you need them the most.

Dear Baby Girl,

This has been quite the road you and I have been on together.

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40 weeks! I remember the morning I found out you were you… that was one of the most magical mornings. A mixture of disbelief, gratitude, and joy. God gave you to me? I get to be your Mommy?

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Since then, it has been an adventure. I’ve learned more about myself, your Daddy, and God’s love in the last nine months than I could have ever predicted. I’ve learned about unconditional love. I’ve learned that there is freedom in being dependent on others. I’ve learned that I can love someone that I’ve never met before.

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I love you, Baby Girl.

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I want to show you someone… someone that means the world to me. My best friend. This is your Daddy.

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He loves you more than I can explain with words. He has loved you from the minute I told him all about you.

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Your Dad is kind and patient. He loves Jesus and loves you and I… who he calls “his girls”.

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Your Dad likes to play sports and the guitar; both of which he is hoping you love too. He goes out of his way to check in on people. He teaches me so many things without realizing it and I can’t wait to see all of the things he’ll teach you. Your Dad has been practicing all the things that daddies need to know how to do because he wants to be ready for you. He is going to be the best Daddy in the whole world. I can’t wait for you to meet him.

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To say we are excited for you to get here is a bit of an understatement. We’ve spent so many days and nights talking about what it’s going to be like when you are born. Are you going to cry right away? Will you have lots of hair or no hair at all? What color eyes will you have? Will you love to sing and dance? What will your laugh sound like?

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There are also some fears… Can we do this? Will you like us? I know that it won’t always be easy. We’ll make a lot of mistakes. There are going to be things we say that we shouldn’t have said and things we do that we could have done differently. I think that’s part of being human. I can promise you this, though… we’re going to try our best.

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We’re going to love you as big as we can. You are our little girl and God gave you to us… something we will never take for granted.

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I hope one day you grow up to learn how much you are loved. Not just by Mommy and Daddy, but by Jesus too. God loves you so much that He gave His son for you, so that you can be with Him forever. When we understand that, we learn how to love others. I hope your heart for those around you is so big that you can’t help but radiate it. I can’t wait to see what you do with this big world. I can’t wait to see who you become.

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In so many ways, this adventure has already started, but in so many others I feel like it is just beginning. Soon you’ll be here and we get to meet in person. What a beautiful day that will be!

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I love you, Baby Girl.

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Love, Mommy

 

A Bash For Baby T (& a Video!)

We are on PINS AND NEEDLES, people. This little girl could come at any moment and the suspense is killer! We have worked really hard to tie up as many loose ends as we possibly can before she gets here, both at work and home. Our house is clean, counters are cleared, dishes done, laundry all caught up (those last three things don’t sound like major accomplishments, but they feel HUGE), and toilets scrubbed… thank you, Mitch. :) Her room is almost complete (just some artwork and maybe a shelf or two to add), all her clothes washed and organized, the pack ‘n play is set up with fresh sheets next to our bed, and our bags almost 100% packed… the only things left to add are the bits and pieces we are still using for everyday life. The house is decorated for Christmas, our tree is totally finished, and the gifts are wrapped underneath. We even had one last date night last night, ate a hearty breakfast of French Toast this morning, and did the budget. We are READY, so any day now would work just fine, little Miss T!

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Now, we relax and enjoy our last moments as a family of two… which, when I think about that, I get a little emotional so let’s not dwell. :) In honor of the big wait, I figured it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to a weekend back in September that we got to celebrate Baby Girl with an all-out Baby Bash. With our families, friends, and the amount of people we’ve met along the way in each of our jobs, we’ve accumulated quite the crew that loves and has so beautifully anticipated our little girl right alongside us. Our idea of a good time was to throw a big party and invite EVERYONE.

On September 17, 2016, we partied the day away with an open-house, no-gifts-necessary, tons of food, music, and games par-tay to celebrate Baby T. Oh, and there was a waterslide. The whole day was a blast and we felt so loved and cared for by each person who made the trip to come and party with us.

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In terms of the party itself, our families knocked it out of the park to help us get our still-new-to-us house in shape to accommodate all of those people. Picture endless of hours of intense yardwork, house updates, and cleaning to get everything ready in time. Here’s the crew that made it all happen!

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Let’s just say, there was A LOT of poison ivy to contend with and more than one giant bush and tree that needed removing. It was a massive endeavor to host it out of our home, but ended up being a great way for all of our friends and family to visit the new house, which they’d previously only heard about or seen snippets of on the blog.

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The theme was pink, mint, and gold and our moms did a fabulous job of making everything look and feel so special.

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Check out this fun sign my mom whipped up… it’s still hanging in our dining room. :) Welcome Baby T!

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For food, we worked together to provide a selection of main courses (chili, meatball subs, hot dogs, chicken salad) and invited guests to bring their favorite side or dessert to share. What a spread we ended up with! The food was housed inside, in the dining room so we could better control temperature and bugs around the food, as opposed to having it outside. For drinks, we kept it simple- lemonade, iced tea, water, and sodas… with cute paper straws and cups!

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The backyard was transformed from a space we hardly ever spent any time in (so much overgrowth! so many mosquitoes!) to a an oasis of pink and gold, strung lights, and yard games. Because we worked so hard to remove all of the overgrown plants, we nipped our mosquito problem in the bud and found that it was quite comfortable to be out there with those changes made! Streamers were hung all around the fence, lanterns and fans adorned the tent and fence posts, and we even splurged on some big-bulbed bistro lights, which we hung in the trees.

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And the games- so many lawn games, there was something for everyone! Plus, a few shower-themed activities like “decorate the diaper”, which will give us something to take our minds off 2:00am diaper changes when they start…

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For our thrill seekers, we rigged up a GIANT waterslide going down the front yard hill (which is pretty steep) for those daring enough to give it a shot. It was pretty hilarious to watch people careen down the hill and crash into the hay bales at the bottom. Even the littles got in on the action!

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When it started to get darker out, the lights came on and the fire pit got lit for s’mores. That was my favorite part… those lights just made it feel so magical.

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It was so much fun to spend time with everyone who came… at one point, I looked around and just took it all in. There’s something very humbling about being cared for by people and we felt very thankful to be able to share that day with so many of the people who have cared for us in and through each different season of our lives.

One of our Youth Group girls had asked beforehand if she could bring her camera and put together a video of the whole thing (you can find her on Instagram here). Um, YES please and thank you! How special it is to have a time capsule of sorts to remember the day by… here’s the video she put together. We love it! Thanks, Laura!

Okay, Baby T… see how many people are ready for you to get here? What do you say… shall we make it happen? We’re ready when you are. :)