A Look Back at 2014: Part 2

We’re taking on the second half of 2014 in this post. In case you missed it HERE is the link to my post from yesterday…

In effort to counteract such sadness and to welcome the hope and promise of the year ahead let’s look at some pictures. Cause pictures always make me feel better. And if you don’t already you really should follow me on Instagram @mrseyebrowz. Because I post there way more frequently than here. Also…pictures of Iz sleeping in all manner of weird spots and positions on a regular basis.

JULY – Tracey and me. First we saw The Wailers (yes, Bob Marley’s band) at this year’s Common Ground music festival and then we had the absolute pleasure of watching The Violent Femmes perform the entirety of their first album, first to back. This was an adolescent dream come true for us. We sang along with every single word of every single song. LOVE.
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When we go to Chicago for vacation, we know people. Like our buddies Kennedy and Chase who met us at the Shedd Aquarium for some fun times! Their faces in this picture. I die. IMG_6582
These four minis had an awesome time tearing up the Shedd. IMG_6599
Clearly, Isora was NOT impressed with the crying baby next to us OR the dolphin show. IMG_5433
The coolest thing EVER. We got to pet Stingrays. We loved this park of Shedd. IMG_5453
Such a fun day at the Lincoln Park Zoo with André and Merissa. They showed us a great time in Chicago. IMG_6632
AUGUST – Nothing like having a few friends over to remind us of how awesome our new backyard is. And by a few friends I mean a thousand mosquitoes. They made a meal out of poor Izzie’s face when she spent over two hours playing in the sand box. Clearly it didn’t even phase her. Look at that smile. IMG_6669
That one time when Isora passed out in the car and we brought her into Culver’s and she slept the whole time we ate.
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The Kitty Ear Krew. Merissa bought these Kitty ears for Cedella. And she has rarely taken them off since. Then it became a thing. We wear Kitty ears on Wednesdays. IMG_6841
This is totally MY type of situation. Nah mean?IMG_6857
Me and my girls. Relaxing up north in Tawas having the best ice cream ever. IMG_6858
Up North. On Lake Huron. Fire circle. Grandma Linda’s natural habitat. Love this picture. IMG_5735
At Dinosaur Gardens. Where we always act like complete idiots. I cry with laughter every time I see this. IMG_5819
I’m obsessed with this picture. And this is why I love Lake Huron. It’s wide open beach. Very few people. A whole lotta sand.
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This summer’s trip to Oscoda was just us girls. Memories. Made. IMG_5864
SEPTEMBER – First day of Junior Kindergarten to be precise. The look of pride on her face is just everything.
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Cedella and her absolute BFF Anna. Don’t they suddenly look so old?IMG_6024
Hanging out at the Michigan State Homecoming parade. Go Green!! Go White!! IMG_6065
This is what Izzie does while Ella is at school. Sleeps in weird places. It’s a glamorous life. IMG_7003
This may be my favorite photo of the year. This one Tuesday in September it was super hot and me and my besties Leslie and Nicole and all of our 6 girls piled into the cars and drove out to the beach at Holland State Park for the day. It was SO good. And not long after this picture, like days, me and Nicole found out we were pregnant. And almost a month after this picture Leslie found out she was pregnant. A little bittersweet but still so perfect. I love all of these girls so very much. IMG_7042
OCTOBER – For a birthday gift for me, Tracey and our bro Robbie (all born within 2 weeks of each other in Sept/Oct) I got us tickets to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak. We love this man. You know who loves him too? Cedella. She is obsessed with Cosmos and knows his name and was thrilled to join us for this lecture. She even stayed awake for nearly the whole thing. IMG_7164
The Sims Kids (minus 1). We geeked out on this so hard. It was fantastic to be with these two for the night.
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The Coolest Astrophysicist in the Universe. IMG_6072
Mom’s ‘Retirement’ Party. I say ‘retirement’ because she is still working 40 hrs/week. But they threw a lovely party for her at the library and we all came together to celebrate her kind of ‘retiring’.IMG_6179
HALLOWEEN – Padawan Ashoka Tano and Jedi Master Yoda. To say I love their geekiness is an understatement.
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Trick or Treating with Superman and Star Lord on the absolute coldest day of the year. IMG_6309
And the Great Pumpkin Walk with their besties Owl (Mia) and Wolf (Anna). IMG_6285
NOVEMBER – Was. Hard. So very hard. Nicole and Leslie and me. And our bumps. Two days before I lost Miles. This picture is one of my favorites and also the hardest one to look at. 
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We lost Miles the week before Thanksgiving. All of our Canadian cousins drove in to spend a long weekend over Thanksgiving. And though I was absolutely distraught and physically exhausted, family was truly the best medicine for my broken heart. Just look at Ella feeding her sister. They love each other so much. I’m clearly doing something right in that regard. IMG_6356
I just love the relationship these two have. Cedella and her Jiddo John. Always goofing around and playing together. He’s her best buddy.
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Despite how heartbroken in made me to meet these two new little boys in our family, it also brought so much love to my soul to hold them. This is Adam. Cedella is obsessed with him. Look at what a great big cousin she is.
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And with Mila and her new little brother Leo. Cedella also loved Leo. She just loves babies in general. I love these children so much my heart could burst. IMG_6394
DECEMBER – Though I was feeling only slightly human, we had to make Christmas the best ever for our girls. So out to the Christmas tree farm we went. This was our first attempt. There wasn’t a good tree in sight, but Isora had a great nap on my back. Doesn’t she look cozy back there? She woke up and looked around and said “This is the most beautiful place ever. Look at all the Christmas trees!!” Love this kid.

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And the following weekend we made it out to the Peacock Rd Tree Farm. SCORE! Here’s my crazy family getting ready to cut down our beautiful tree. 
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And this one night, after we had the tree all decorated, I was just sitting by myself watching a Christmas favorite when all of a sudden the tree dropped. Like TIMBER in five seconds flat. I didn’t even have enough time to react. And couldn’t get it back up by myself. Enter the Two Drunk Mikes. The figured it out, eventually. It was pretty hilarious to watch. BONUS POINTS if you know what movie I was watching.
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Christmas Cookies with Grandma Becky!! The girls loved every minute. IMG_6578
And finally, Crafts with Santa time at Grandma Linda’s library. The girls have been every single year since they’ve been alive. Except for Cedella puking all over herself on the drive down to Detroit, ruining her fancy dress, and the following stomach bug that all of us (even Grandma and TeTe) suffered, it was SO much fun!
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So other than our 7 Christmas celebrations (that’s a post for another day), this was our year. Looking back on it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Sure we had a lot of heartbreak when we lost Miles but buying a house and another year of watching these amazing girls grow was incredible.

And while I’m not interested in making any actual resolutions for the year, I will say this: 2015…the year for counting my blessings each and every day.

That’s our year. How was your year? Any highlights? Thanks for spending a little time at Babies & Bacon today.

My Cousin’s Big Fat Lebanese Wedding

October was a busy month. We had a ton of fun but it was crazy exhausting. Starting with my birthday on the 5th we had obligations every single Saturday night through the middle of November. ::yawn:: I’m tired again just thinking about it.

But beyond the birthdays and Halloween celebrations two very exciting things happened in our family. My dear cousin Kelsey got married to her college sweetheart Kyle. I love them both so very much. Kelsey is so warm and smart and thoughtful and Kyle is such a sweet and funny guy. Thanks to the football schedule Michael wasn’t able to go to the wedding with me so Tracey was my date. It was a blast just being with my sisters, mom, grandparents and cousins.

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I got to see this moment with Kelsey and her dad Kit (my Mom’s first cousin and a really great human being) just before she went down the aisle. It brought tears of joy and sadness to my eyes.

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I am so happy for her and Kyle that they get to spend the rest of their lives together. They’re going to have a blast doing so. I know we had a blast celebrating with them!

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And then the following weekend we packed up the car, all piled in and headed to the border for Michael’s cousin Kifah’s wedding in Canada.

After leaving late and stopping 1.1 million times we finally arrived to the rehearsal dinner. Hours late. We were so out of it I took no pictures.

But that night we stayed up late catching up with our cousins Fadi and Diana and my BIL André while the little ladies played with their cousin Mila. Knowing we had to wake up early and be dressed up fancy all day did not deter us from staying up late, drinking Crown Royal and solving the world’s problems. Well, except for D, she’s pregnant with their second baby, and she was the only one smart enough to get some rest.

We woke up at the crack of dawn anyways (thank you tiny human alarm clocks) and got all dressed up for the wedding at noon.

Cedella had been trying to wear her black sequin party dress and matching black patent shoes for weeks before the wedding and I wouldn’t let her. (Of course now that the wedding is over she hasn’t attempted to wear either piece since). She looked so pretty and grown-up. My precocious darling three-nager.

And Isora in her pink fluffy ruffles and white bow. I die from the cutemess.

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Iz and Mila had a very similar style of dress on. It’s so cute to watch two little people navigate all those ruffles.

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Mila and her gorgeous mother Diana. Totally stunning. Beauties inside and out.

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Izzie and Izzat. I love this picture. The girls were all properly obsessed with their older cousin. And he was so sweet and attentive and caring towards them. He is such an incredible young man.

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Cedella and Aunt Jacqueline the Mother of the Groom. This woman has the biggest heart and the biggest smile. So much love for her.

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With her Teta Hilda. My darling and stylish MIL. The girls adore their silly and playful and fun loving Teta. And so do I.

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How beautiful is this picture? I need to frame this one asap. Cedella just loves her grandparents so much.

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And so does Isora. She fussed for Teta during the ceremony and wouldn’t stop until my MIL was holding her.

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The most excited flower girl EVER.

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The beautiful bride Fatene and her father.

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How to keep a three-nager occupied during a boring-old wedding ceremony? Fruit snacks and camera phones. Works every time.

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The four of us in our fancy gear. We fancy up rather well if I do say so myself.

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The Mansour Boys. A seriously good looking crew.

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After all the “I Do’s” we had the chance to grab a cup of Double Doubles from Tim Horton’s and go back to Fadi and D’s house for naps and a rest up for the big night. But soon it was time to put our gowns back on, drop the kids off at the hotel with the babysitter and head over to have some adult wedding fun.

We walked into the reception hall, shots were waiting for us, the bar was open, the room was bathed in purple light and the incredible hors d’oeuvre table was waiting. Time to party.

My Aunt Jihan, MIL Hilda and me, feeling as good as we look.

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My FIL John was in his element. Surrounded by his cousins, brothers, sons and all of the ladies in the family. I’ve never met a person beside myself who truly enjoys a wedding like my FIL.

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The happy parents….Aunt Jacqueline and Uncle Mansour.

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The happy couple. Kifah and Fatene. The were absolutely glowing.

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Fadi delivered a perfectly funny and heartwarming speech to his older brother. Well played Fadi.

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And Uncle Mansour, who recently had a health scare, delivered a speech in Arabic that had everyone in the room crying. I’ve never wished I understood the language more.

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The love of a mother for her son.

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And the second the DJ says GO! the dance party begins. Everyone rushes the floor for their chance to dance with the bride and family.

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My FIL John is a fierce debke dancer. He loves to lead this traditional Arabic dance as often and as wildly as possible.

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John dancing with Fatene for the first time.

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And Michael’s first dance with Fatene.

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My loves, my aunt Sabah and her daughter, my cousin Talia. These two ladies mean so much to me and my girls. Though I think Talia and Michael have some big bro/little sis issues. 😉

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There are no pictures of me dancing because we were so busy enjoying ourselves. We ate and drank and laughed and visited. And then we drank and ate and danced some more. It was SO much fun. At some point we had danced and walked so much I made Michael go get my flat shoes, and normally I hate doing that, but it was that necessary to keep going.

I had not met the lovely bride before the day of the wedding so while I was so excited for the two of them to be getting married I really wanted a chance to talk with her. Her sister gave a heart wrenching speech about how they are physically separated and how guilty she felt for not being there to help her sister plan and prepare for her big day. When that speech was over I really wanted to welcome Fatene to our family and let her know that despite the miles she has many sisters now…all of the Mansour women, to be there for her where her family cannot be. She really opened up and said some lovely and sad things. I know that we will be quick friends when we get the chance to spend more time together. And I can’t wait for all of us cousins to raise our children together.

At around midnight we went back to retrieve the girls from the babysitter in the hotel room. And this is what we found. Three sleeping angels.

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The next day we went visiting at Jacqueline and Mansour’s. And there was food from the second we walked in to the second we left. Meat pies and zataar and labneh and tons of sweets and wedding cake. But more importantly we had more time to spend with our lovely family. And these little cousins got more time to play.

Cedella has such a deep affection for Izzat. They spent so much time together while he visited and she misses him now that he’s returned to Arizona. Thank god for Skype, right?

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Cedella (age 3.5) Mila (age 2) and Isora (age 1.5). They are the perfect age to grow up as the best of friends. God I wish we lived in the same country!!

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Their faces and their love for each other is priceless.

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Being goofy with their Jiddo as usual.

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Isora never met a calendar or photo album she didn’t love.

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Though it was truly a whirlwind weekend we had such a great time. The hospitality of Fadi and Diana and the entire family knows no bounds. It’s so amazing to have cousins that you love but that you get along with so well and enjoy as friends. Our visits are too few and far between. Can’t wait to see them at Thanksgiving!!

Wordless Wednesday: End of Summer Blues

This summer has gone by so fast and was so full I want need kindly request a do-over. Or at least one month extension of summer weather and activities with no football season to occupy all my husband’s time.

And no, it’s not a Fantasy Football thing. It’s a liquor store near a college campus thing. No way around it. College kids + football = party. Which is good business for us 😉

I know all this and yet I still find myself wishing we had done a few more things this summer. Gone to the Splash Pad a couple more times. Taken a family camping trip. Actually gone to Sesame Place like we wanted to in May.

But when I just uploaded all the pictures off my camera from this summer…I realized we had done quite a bit.

Let’s recap, shall we?

First off we headed out to Cape Cod to visit with our awesome friends and got to dip our toes in the ocean and eat fresh seafood and send lots of quality time catching up with dear friends.

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We had a Memorial Day BBQ that was freezing and rainy. So it turned into a dress-up party.

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We went to the zoo. Again, freezing and rainy. But we took a picture at our favorite spot outside the polar bears again.

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The girls hung out at the Splash Pad with their besties. I could die from this cuteness.

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Then we took an all-family weekend up to the cottage. And loved every second. And yes, Isora’s not in the picture. She’s so advanced she took this shot ::wink wink::

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Then we stayed at the cottage for an all Sims girls week. And got to do a small hike amongst other less strenuous activities. I mean, something had to balance out all that thrifting/antiquing/shopping/eating.

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And we played on the beach as much as possible. Which was a lot.

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And we found out that not everyone in our family enjoys a warm gooey hot-off-the-fire marshmallow treat. For shame.

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We also played widely inappropriate card games and drank whiskey until the wee hours. And laughed till we cried.

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We watched baseball and fireworks on the 4th with our favorite friends.

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Isora taught herself to climb up to the highest slides with ease.

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We had after-dinner dance parties. And Cedella taught her Daddy to dance like a princess.

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We made crafts at Grandma’s library every week and even made it into the local newspaper.

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Cedella fell in love with an adorable therapy dog named Blue at the Reading with Rover program at the library. But those legs. Stop growing little girl. Just. Stop.

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We finally confirmed that the Johnson family resemblance is a strong one when my Mom reunited with her cousin she hadn’t seen in 30ish years. Mom, Kit and Abbe and my Grandma Rose.

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Then they danced their little booties off at the Deirmimas annual reunion.

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Cedella found her inner Bob the Builder at the Chicago Children’s Museum. The look of concentration on her face is just priceless.

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And Isora found absolute zen in the form of every swing she’s ever touched.

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And I found my joy at a little place called H&M.

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We ate cake. With our hands. A lot.

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And we swam. In the fancy toddler pool at the country club. At swim class. In the pool at our Aunt Sabah’s house.

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And in the tiny pool on our deck. Almost every day.

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And we made Za’taar in our pajamas.

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We had one of the most memorable and fun and exhausting and gorgeous summers ever. And I’m incredibly sad to see it go.

But now it’s time for preschool and sweaters and scarves and football and chili on Sundays and all those birthdays coming up.

Can’t wait to share the latest with you…I officially have a preschooler.