Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Magic Backfire

We all know I am a bit crazy this time of year.  Ok, ESPECIALLY this time of year.  There is something about that whiff of pine mixed with gingerbread spices and the sight of twinkling lights and felted wool that just drives me crazy! in the best possible way.

So it should come as no surprise that after nearly 4 full years of careful grooming, my oldest has turned into a mini me/FANATIC at holiday time.  Ainsley hardly needed direction at all when we began our Christmas prep.  She knew right where the tree stand was, lugged it up to the living room for us and placed it carefully in the corner.  Needed no help hanging ornaments and digging through bins to find treasures.  After decorating their play table carefully she continued to find more and more "must haves" in the basement.  If it were up to Ainsley our entire house would be decked out in gaudy garlands and lit up mini houses. I love it.

::the girls' Christmas village::

And then it happened.  All this Christmas cheer and creativity backfired.  Big time.

This weekend there was lots going on in our house.  After putting up the tree on Friday our house was in a state of disarray, so that needed dealing with.  And then there's all that other stuff.  Making something for everyone for Christmas stuff, pregnant crash in the afternoon stuff,  Ian's new obsession with everything electronics and microscope stuff.  Thankfully the girls are rather self sufficient in the play department.  Ainsley happily worked on an art project of her own for most of Saturday morning and Louise was equally content with drawing her elephants on colored paper and reading books outloud.

Then that afternoon during clean up, I noticed that Ainsley had moved everything out of our decorative fireplace and carefully laid her art project on the brick floor.  Thinking nothing of it, I moved it up to a clip on our art wire and filled the space back in with the usual blocks and train tracks.

After naptime Ainsley bounded downstairs as usual, happily telling us about all her great dreams and how well she slept.  Then suddenly, "Look! Mommy!  Santa came and took my Christmas note!  It floated up to his sled and he took it and now he knows what I want for Christmas!!!!!! Yippeeee!!!"

Um, excuse me?  What Christmas letter?  What gift?  What do you want for Christmas?  I thought you just wanted two candy canes?!?! I've asked you 4 million times and you've only EVER said you just want 2 candy canes!!!???!!!

I of course masked my confusion with a big smile.  My girl was SO excited that of course I wasn't going to squelch her magic.  Throughout the day I casually got out of her the whole story.  That her "letter" had been a carefully drawn picture of Millie (from Team Umizoomi, a character on one of her favorite shirts that her cousin gave her last year).  That now Santa knew that she wanted a Millie doll for Christmas and she was going to get one!  Yippee skippee!!!

Now it's not the end of the world.  There are worse things for her to want than a peppy math measuring doll toy from a hyper active show.  But this is the problem with all my uber planning for Christmas.  There's no room for a $30 doll.  I already had her gift all planned.  But I really don't want to disappoint my girl.  She is SO sure that Santa knows what she wants now.  She even counted out her piggy bank money with Ian last night so she could purchase an Umizoomi app on our Ipad then proceeded to KISS Millie when she popped up on the screen.  "Oh Millie, I love you so much.  I can't wait to have you for Christmas."

Oh dang.

So, a Millie doll.  I've got to figure that one out.  I'm thinking I could make one that would suffice, but honestly I know I'm going to be so burned out from all the making that I'm worried I won't do a good enough job.  Break the budget?  Risk making a mediocre imposter toy?  Don't get one at all and disappoint my girl/challenge her belief in the magic of Christmas at the ripe age of 4?

I'm sure it's not such a big deal, but boy, I want to do the right thing here.  Help, please?!?!

18 weeks

Oh baby, almost halfway.  It feels like time is flying and standing still all at once.  I maintain that I'd be ready for this baby to come THIS INSTANT, but am glad for these last months as a family of four.

I had an appointment this morning and it was delightful.  I LOVE my new midwife and her incredibly low key "office".  The whole shebang took about 15 minutes, the longest part was just searching for the direct heartbeat (not just the blood pumping and pulse) because this little one is a mover!  All is well and the baby has a strong steady beat.  I amazingly only gained a couple more pounds over the past month even with all the indulgence over Thanksgiving.  I'll chalk it up to still being able to run occasionally and my awesome workout tapes.  I sure hope I can keep it up!

:: 18 weeks::

I really need to get Ian to start taking my belly photos...this is getting ridiculous

So far I've done very little in preparation for this new little one, and I'll admit, it hasn't been easy holding off.  I am simply dying to knit a little oatmeal layette and bonnet and sew a few pairs of newborn sized quick change trousers, ooh and some kimonos, probably oodles of booties too.  I've been stocking up on light greys, chocolate browns and pale yellows so I can at least make a few things before our new little arrival when we won't know their gender yet (because I'm staying strong this time Ian, I'M STAYING STRONG!).  I'm already agonizing over a baby blanket pattern.  I may quilt one and knit one because I'm just that excited.  But alas, Christmas and Ainsley's birthday takes precedence right now and I know I'll be so thankful for all of the baby projects in those final winter months.

I'm still feeling good, trying to relish in this glorious second trimester as much as I can (I know what's coming!)  I'm still not "big" just a bit thick around the middle and it's been wonderful to still wear normal clothes, with the help of the belly band or elastic at times for those pants that just don't like to button anymore.  I did take advantage of one cyber Monday sale at Old Navy for a few maternity things I need.  Long sleeved shirts and a new pair of yoga pants.  I feel all set!

And as for the baby?  Well they're quite the active little one.  It's nearing ridiculous how much this child is kicking me already.  Anytime I eat anything, anytime I sit down, in the car, surely when I'm sleeping, I've even felt a few jabs while hauling the girls around.  I love it so much.  I will admit, thus far this baby feels much more like Ainsley in my belly than Louise (uh oh! :o), only time will tell who this little one turns out to be!  It's definitely my favorite thing about being pregnant.  Kick away little one!

I continue to just feel mostly so excited about this baby. I recall feeling so nervous with both the girls about giving birth and those final months.  Perhaps it's knowing that this is most likely our last child, or just how old and mature I've become in a mere 2 years (yeah right ;o) but I really just feel so eager for it all.  I think being able to plan for a birth that I am truly excited about is helping so much, such an incredible blessing.  I know this little one and I still have a ways to go before birth day, but I just can't help but continue to feel so optimistic.

So 18 weeks, almost halfway.  I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 or 7 sticks of butter, 2 pints of whipping cream a delicious meal makes

Ah Thanksgiving.  You found us again.  

I know for certain that this Thanksgiving was mellower, easier than all the rest.  For starters I went into it knowing it couldn't be full throttle, really, shouldn't be.  To me Thanksgiving is such a gift.  A delicious long weekend of food and family and fun and simply, nothing else.  

I know for certain how wonderfully effortless this holiday was because I hardly took any photos (ok, not nearly as many as I could have taken).  No snapshots of the bean and feather turkeys on the windows.  No before pictures of the delicious rosemary orange peel apple cider brined turkey.  Heck, no after photos either.  I'm learning.  Living in the moment, being present, being here.  That is what makes this every day, and surely the holi-days particularly marvelous.

We started our simple Thanksgiving prep with a bit of cooking, of course.  A batch of Grammy Sullivan's English Toffee to accompany all that coffee and post dinner nibbling to come.  Ainsley assured me it was a good batch.

Then Nana and Grandpa Dan arrived and we enjoyed the heck out of them.  We spent Wednesday playing and cooking.  (I've learned the key to a delicious low key feast is Preparation! I think I cooked more on Wednesday than Thursday, it was glorious).

Between all the playing and cooking there was a run for me and park romp for all the rest.  Ian snapped this shot of me reading our new library book (In Novemeber by Cynthia Rylant...simply delightful) to an eager Louise.  Louise's little friend Emmerson from school happened to be at the park too and wanted to join in, and even Ainsley joined in at the end.  It's so fun to have one of these precious moments on camera.

After Paula Deen baked French Toast and my mom's beef and barley soup the day before our bellies were primed.  I made traditional Sullivan family egg bake and caramel rolls for breakfast before the crew headed out for the parade downtown.  Ruth stayed to help me in the kitchen.  I already miss her efficiency in there.  Are you sure you don't want to live in our basement full time Ruth?

While stuffing and basting the turkey and mashing potatoes was thrilling, I hear the parade was pretty great too.

We spent the afternoon sipping coffee and playing boggle.  While losing handedly over and over again was rather fun, Louise joining in on the play was definitely the highlight for me.

Then around 3pm it was turkey time!  After watching way too many Thanksgiving specials on Food Network (ok, two) I was confident I could take on the carving all my own.  I'll admit it was rather fun.

Ainsley was a bit enthralled.

:: a family photo with all the food,
butter basted turkey with apple herb stuffing, turkey dripping gravy and mashed potatoes, soul sweet potatoes and green beans, rolls and cranberry sauce.  Oh! and of course homemade pumpkin pie with vanilla whipped cream::

:: No. Words.::

And then of course it was crash time.  While us adults worked off all that tryptophan by sitting and playing a bit more boggle the girls danced around us princess style.  Louise in particular was taken with her role.

::Ainsley was quite happy to snuggle with daddy::

::Love this one of Sonya and Dan and the beloved Grinch, Ainsley's new best friend::

After an early bedtime for the girls and more games and bit of nibbling for the adults we called it a night.  We woke up to a calm contented house and relaxed morning before Ruth and Dan packed back up to head north.  We miss you guys already!  What a fantastic holiday.

And then, faced with a too quiet and surprisingly clean house we needed a Christmas tree.  Immediately.

::oh the delight of those little girls, pure magic::

::I kind of like it too::

::Vaagenes children #3,1, and 2, all in a row::

We're not diving head first into the Christmas season just yet, but edging in bit by bit.  This year I'm planning on leaving most of the decorations in their boxes, only pulling out a few choice items for the treasured spot on the girls' Christmas table (our coffee table turned preschooler playspace for the season).  Even the tree will take some time to complete.  We have plans for popcorn garlands just like in Little House Mama! and gingerbread ornaments but we get to eat some too, right?.  Paper chains and of course the much anticipated felted stocking advent.

This time of year is always so precious to me but especially so this year.  The last with my family of four, the first and only with my almost 4 year old and my sweet toddling Louise, oh, and that handsome boy too.  I'm savoring each drop of it all.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Merry Christmas Season! Joy and Love to you all.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Too Good

Last night after dinner the girls were playing doctor (as per usual of late).  It was time for their bath and Dr. Ainsley was reluctant to pause their play.  So I told her she could bring her stethoscope into the tub.  Oh boy, what a fun bath that was.

A:: Ok Louise, I need to check your intestines.  Oh good.  They're digesting well.  Ok, now I need to hear your heat.  Bump bump.  Oh good.  Now I need to listen to your lungs.  Oh, you're breathing, that's good too.  Ok Louise, now I really need to look at your nipples.

L:: Elbows? Hee ya go Aisee! (folds arms up to proudly display her chubby little elbows.)

A:: No Louise, NIPPLES! (presses both of her pointers on Louise's nipples)

L:: Oh! Hahaha! NEEPOLES! (presses both of her own pointers on her nipples)

A:: yes Louise, NIPPLES!  Ok, those look good too.

Later when I told Ian this adorable story he remarked "Man, people without kids sure miss out on a whole lot of hilarious stuff."  Well that's why I write about it silly boy.  Sometimes it's just too good not to share.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All in a Name

This morning was Ainsley's first parent teacher conference.  I will readily admit that from the moment we put her in preschool this was the one thing I was dreading.  There is something so bizarre and unnatural feeling about sending your beloved child off to the care of someone else, then hearing from them about your kid, things you may not know, things you may even be missing.  It was stressing me out, especially with the trying fall we've had.

Then?  the waters calmed and the last few weeks have been great.  Any dramatic worries or doubts I had disintegrated and I found myself even looking forward to speaking with her teachers.

So this morning as I walked into her cute classroom oddly devoid of chatter and children, I was calm, excited even.

We talked for 20 minutes about my girl, the youngest in her class.  How she's so in tune with her classmates feelings, always asking if they feel better if they were gone from school for a day or two.  How she loves story time and story telling.  Can retell an entire tale after one hearing and loves acting out stories.  How she knows all of her letters and sounds and can recognize all her friends' names on the job chart.  How she can repeat patterns with ease and LOVES to rhyme.  How she's the first one at the craft table every morning, so willing and eager to do anything the teachers ask.

And then?  I nodded in knowing agreement as the teacher talked about her anxiety around a change in schedule.  How she will watch intently when another child is told not to do something, then turn around and do it herself (though never initiates the negative behavior on her own).  How she will stop mid project when she is frustrated or if something isn't coming easily.  How my girl is turning into quite the perfectionist, a bit to her own detriment.

This was the part that I was so worried about.  Hearing the things that your child struggles with, can improve upon, is hard.  But this morning I didn't feel defeat or sadness, but satisfaction that I already knew all of these things about my girl.

At the end of our talk the teacher showed me Ainsley's binder, full of artwork and photos from the past few months.  She told me what a delight Ainsley is.  How much they love having her in the class. I grinned inside because I could see they meant it.  My little girl has found her first place outside of home and I am so pleased for her.

I rushed home, eager to share with Ian and let him get on his way to his big day.  Then it was just Ainsley and I for a good hour while Louise was at school.  I couldn't help but beam at my girl, and of course, with some goals fresh on my mind, prompted her to do some writing with me.  She was reluctant, then excitedly grabbed the box of wooden sticks and got to work.

One of Ainsley's biggest personal hurdles has been writing her name.  She can do it with me sitting next to her for reassurance.  She can do it up and down and all around, randomly writing the letters as they come to her, ALL over the page.  Whenever she gets to the "s" she shuts down.  That S is so tricky for her. I don't mind any of this.  But she does, so I did my best to help once again.

All I did was sit next to her, prompt her for which letter comes next.  She knew them all, just needed a little look of reassurance and an enthusiastic high five after each success.  At the end she beamed at her popsicle stick name.

Would you like to try to write your name now? I asked with a bit of hesitance, fully expecting the No! I can't do it! It's too hard! Response that I usually get.  But this time my girl smiled and nodded and I jumped for paper and marker.

This time I sat way back, watching casually but keeping my mouth closed.  She paused after the N, took an adorably deep breath and went at that S.  It's the most perfect S I've ever seen her make.  Then, a bit overly confident I think, she wizzed through that easy L and E and made far too many lines for the E.  She was ready to throw in the towel so I quickly jumped in and showed her how to make her whoops into a cute little lined heart.  Satisfied she moved on and quickly finished the rest.  This is the first time Ainsley's written her full name, left to right, letter by letter, without one speck of assistance.  That paper will be up on our wall for quite some time.

Eager for more Ainsley then wanted to paint her name.  Who am I to say no?  With mere minutes before we had to go get Louise I was weary, but she dove in and painted it twice before deciding she'd had enough and wanted to paint a portrait of penguin instead.  Now mixing the perfect penguin color is a story for another day.

Ah, what a great morning with my big girl.  I feel so thankful for this little triumph for us both.  For such positive words heard and such motivation found.  Now she sleeps and I wait for news of Ian's defense.  Is it 3:30 yet? PLEASE?!?!

P.S. I received Ainsley's school photos at her conference today.  I was told she had the biggest grin of them all.  I don't doubt that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stitch by Stitch, Row by Row

A few years back I was given the book Knitting for Peace as a gift.  I do believe it was the first knitting book that i'd ever owned and it transformed and evolved my making in so many ways.  Not only did it solidify a feeling that making for others is truly amazing, but one particular pattern and it's purpose and creation gripped me and never let go.

It was a prayer shawl.

The end product was simple enough.  A large rectangular piece made of medium gauge yarn and large needles for a flowing lacy effect.  Yet in the instructions, interwoven between purls and knits and line counting was the request for the maker to pray while knitting.

Pray while knitting?  But usually when I knit I'm watching a show, or listening to music, or entertaining my kids, or more likely, staring off into space.  Pray?  How interesting. How, remarkable.  How utterly inspired.

For while the purpose of making is surely to give something, to mark an occasion or festive time, it is, so much more than a store-bought gift, a reminder that you are loved, that you were thought of, that someone cares deeply about you.

And perhaps, while not always a prayer, there are surely thoughts of love and devotion that go into each handmade gift.  I can't help but picture a sweet cherubic face and find my flying fingers sending warm thoughts through the yarn as I knit a christmas pullover for a tiny cousin.  As I place and replace pattern pieces for Ainsley's birthday dress I am of course thinking "what would my girl like the most", "oh my, she's gotten so big", "I just love her so".  And just now this morning when my head was abuzz with anxiety over the bigness of tomorrow I melted butter and sugar in a pan and truly did pray for my boy.

I prayed for those mouths eating that toffee tomorrow to be kind, for the buttery shortbread to warm their souls to the magnificent man standing before them.  And as I cut and arranged it all neatly in a tin and clicked the top on I sealed a bit of my love and confidence in there too.  You got this boy.  We all know you do.

So perhaps that prayer shawl pattern wasn't really so revolutionary after all.  It really was a simple beacon, a reminder of all that goes into something made with two hands and lots of heart.

Because I can't always take away the worry or the hurt.  I can't always make it better or fix it, or guarantee success.  But I can show love and care and do something special, and wrap the ones I love in something that reminds them that they are not alone, that they are cherished and kept close always.

Tomorrow when you open that simple box of treats Ian I hope you feel our love.  I hope you see your sweet Louise swiping a finger-full of decadent dough before I could catch her.  I hope you see Ainsley deviously eyeing the toffee, desperate for a snitch of her own.

I hope you feel surrounded by us all, because we are right there with you.  Good luck sweet boy!  We couldn't be prouder.

And for all you wonderful family and friends out there getting a little homemade love this  Christmas, know that I feel you all right now, and my heart is simply bursting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lots (and lots) of Bits

I'd love to be one of those people that can organize their thoughts in neat little packages, but oh goodness, I am not.  I flit about from this to that in my own mind so it would make sense that my writing is the same.  I've resisted posting the last few days because I'm weary of the EXPLOSION of thoughts and pictures that it will inevitably be.  But there's so much to share these days so I guess I'll just go for it.  I apologize in advance.

First up, Grammy was in town last week!  Oh boy did the girls have a blast.  She brought with her (grammy made!) reindeer nightgowns for the girls and all kinds of snuggles and energy.  She was staying with her parents up in Winnetka but came down twice just to play.  It was especially delightful to me as I had some sort of mild stomach horrific energy sucking bug that necessitated at least one 2-3 hour nap a day.  Grammy to the rescue!  The girls have been sleeping with photos of you ever since Grammy.  We can't wait to see you in Minnesota for Christmas!

she let the girls give her a full out make over, now that's love

Grammy snuggles, But NO Elephants! reading, and frozen berry snacking, 
my girls were in heaven

In other life news the girls were both a bit under the weather last week as well.  Louise had a little tummy bug and Ainsley had a skin reaction to the dry leaves outside.  Our solution? lots of indoor fun, extra snuggles and impromptu naps.  This wonderful cold weather (and first few flurries!) have been a delightful excuse to start our winter hunker down.  We're all a bit smitten.

painting lots of elephants

such a careful color mixer that one is, perhaps the third generation of colorists in the family? (mom?! :o)

Ainsley continues to think she's too big for naps, now I can pull out this photo as proof, that little body still needs some down time in a day

post nap daddy snuggles

frosted window[panes]

my three favorites

And I promise, just because I've fallen off the meal plan posts bandwagon does not mean cooking is not happening.  It's still tricky though.  This little one in my tummy is very abrupt and decisive with what they would and would not like to eat.  My solution this week was to cook lots this weekend.  Stock the fridge with my already made meals and pick and chose as the mood fits.  I had to laugh last night as I pulled my delicious smelling casserole out of the oven and the potatoes were no where NEAR cooked, at 6:30pm mind you.  So I went and grabbed some burgers and we'll eat the now cooked casserole tonight. (note to self, always ALWAYS par cook potatoes when putting them in a casserole...1.5 hours is way too long to wait for dinner)

Through this annoying cooking rut has surely come some good.  It's enabled me to focus on what's really important at meal time, truthfully one of my favorite times in our day, as hard and exhausting as it can be.  Ainsley prays while we all clasp and bow heads.  I light candles and their glow calms us all a bit.  We share stories and smiles and when the girls inevitably finish eons before us adults Ian and I get a rare moment alone while they play.  What we eat doesn't matter so much as all of this.

Sunday prep, Marzetti's Spaghetti Pie from Joy of Cooking (SO good!)

Pioneer Woman's Ham and Potato Casserole

even uncooked it looks delicious

In the crafting world things are finally looking up.  I'll openly admit that last week I was worried.  REAL worried.  I made the grave mistake of counting all of projects that I have to complete by the 25th of next month and lets just say I was being absurdly conservative when I said "over 20" on facebook.  It's A LOT.  On top of it all after two mere weeks of feeling mostly ok and normal I felt horrible last week and was truly worried that this was just going to be how I felt for the rest of this pregnancy.  I was so tired that one day I had to call Ian to come home from work and just slept for three hours at 4pm.  It wasn't pretty.  

But then whatever it was passed, I refocused and reminded myself that I do really ENJOY all of this making (and all that amazing fabric I just bought isn't going to sew itself), and I went for it.  I know I can't keep this pace for the next 6 weeks, but it gives me hope, and more importantly excitement.  This making stuff for people I love thing is catching, amazingly wonderfully catching.

First up, a dress for Louise.  Unbeknownst to Ainsley she will have the exact same one, just a bit wider and longer (hence me trying Louise's dress on her, clever, yes? :o).  Oh how I love still being able to pull the wool over her eyes just a bit.  And can I just say that I would eagerly don a replica of this dress in my own size?  I do believe it's the cutest thing I've ever made.

a few new techniques on this one, double stitched elastic casing, 
lends for a bit of a ruffle just at the edge, LOVE.

also a double stitch wide hemline, I'll be able to let this skirt out a good 2" if need be, 
brilliance I tell you

And to keep motivation going?  A little something for myself.

I don't foresee me having to purchase many if any maternity clothes this pregnancy.  I got so large with Louise that I'm banking on starting off a good 10 pounds behind with this one, as well as all those clothes I've accumulated from my two previous pregnancies to keep me well covered.

Still, there is something about this growing, enlarging time that is tricky.  I'm not a vain lady, nor a fussy one when it comes to my looks, but it's hard all the same to watch your body grow so at times.  My perfect solution this time around?  Why, make something I love that should fit me right through the end.

  I introduce you to my new favorite outfit.

photo courtesy of Ainsley

This is the raglan sleeve top from Modern Sewing, lengthened to the tunic size.  I made it with the most beautiful luscious flannel I've ever encountered, In the Clearing by Anna Maria Horner.  I've been salivating over this fabric since last winter and decided that growing our new little one was the perfect excuse to indulge myself. I'm so glad I did.

Tied at the waist (while I still have one left!) it fits me just perfectly, with lots of room to spare for the growing months ahead.  The beautiful double gathered neckline stretches easily and I can see this as the perfect I need to be comfy but don't want to look frumpy maternity and nursing top.  I may have to make one or two more with fabric from my stash.  It was so easy to make and so fun to wear. 
Ok, now back to all the holiday magic.

With my most recent project finally off the needles (so much I can't share on here!) I knew I had to motivate to get a new thing going right away.  I'd wanted to make these elf hats last year but had no time to do it.  This year I ordered the book from the library early, found the perfect yarn in my stash and am already two hats in.  I won't say who these are for, but i'm making (hopefully) seven, so, if you know our family, you may be able to guess who will be enjoying these very soon.

More Last Minute Knitted Gifts

I'm sorry, I had WAY too much fun trying to photograph myself in this hat

Big sigh.  So it's getting done.  One thing at a time.  One stitch, one row, one pattern, one cut, one seam, one pulled out seam, one seam.  In the end it's all so worth it, really it already is.  I feel so much joy and excitement building.  I'll keep you posted!

And last but not least, my boy.  My ALMOST PhD boy.  In his words, if the defense goes well on Thursday the committee signs some papers and unless he passes out or goes insane during his open defense in Decemeber he's got it.  He's DONE!

I have never seen my boy so stressed out or tired.  Yesterday I caught him roaming around the house with crazy wide eyes, rubbing his scratchy beard, aimless and anxious.  I calmly suggested a bike ride at the club today and a sauna, to get those jitters out a bit.  Then I looked in his wise blue grey eyes and just felt so proud.  Perhaps it's wrong, but when you've worked so hard and you are such an amazing good person, I think a little pride is ok. We are so proud Ian.  Our little PhD.

The upside to all of the stress of the past months is all the celebrating we've been able to do.  A banquet for Ian and I, breakfast out with the girls after a successful big talk.  This weekend we look forward to dinner downtown with dear friends and I have a little something up my sleeve for a combo Christmas graduation gift for my deserving guy.  And on top of it all?  Ian's still amazing.  Taking the girls on their outings, being sympathetic to me and my growing self.  I'm pretty ridiculously impressed.

All fancy for St Albert's Day

celebratory breakfast at Flat Top

daddy daughter park date

downtown aquarium date with Louise

a little solo Ainsley time

So there it is.  All those crazy lots of bits.  You're pretty much caught up.  We're focused on Thursday.  Ainsley's parent teacher conference in the morning, Ian's defense in the afternoon, hopefully a whole lot of family celebrating on Friday and throughout the weekend before all the festivities of Thanksgiving next week.

We are feeling it all right now.  Blessed and stressed, full and good.  Thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes.  Our little family is so incredibly lucky.