Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve

Today has been a much better today.  A better day than yesterday which was pretty much horrendous.

We got home from our 10 day Minnesota Christmas on Sunday evening.  Louise was just getting over   a fever bug, Ainsley was in the thick of it, poor Felix coughing up a storm too.  So Ian went to work yesterday and I had to do everything.  Take care of two terribly needy kids, feel like I was completely ignoring Louise, organize and clean after so long away.  On top of it all I was in major type A clean out mode so in addition to just the normal unpacking and organizing I suddenly decided that I needed to clean out all the kids books on the second floor and the art cabinet.  Huge bad idea.  I don't know what I was thinking.

My one outing was with Louise to Trader Joes right at dinner time.  It was so bad.  She was happy as a clam to push her little cart and meander. I was so annoyed with the crows, having to park about a half mile away and carry three bags while keeping Louise safe in the antsy parking lot.  But now we have food and are ready for a happy new years.

I like new years more as I get older.  It used to be just an excuse to stay up late and have extra fun with friends.  Now we never stay up late.  The girls put on fancy dresses and I shower.  We make something special for dinner and serve a little bubbly for us all.  This year I added a few more traditions.  Painting luminaries to welcome in the new year on this dark night, fun party hats for a bit of festivity and silliness.  This year I also found these printables.  I thought it'd be fun to catch the kids favorites and presences for the year.

Tomorrow is dip day.  A tradition in my family where you make a bunch of delicious appetizers and just eat all day.  On the menu tomorrow is Pioneer Woman's roasted corn dip and 8 layer mexican dip,  queso,  cocktail weinies in sauce (of course!) and bacon wrapped ones for Ian.  A new favorite I found last year are Pioneer woman's party crackers.  They are simply club crackers with a bit of brown sugar and bacon, baked low and slow until crisp.  SO GOOD.

We had to go out again this morning to get the rest of the ingredients.  I was very much dreading this trip with all three kids but it went so well.  Felix was a happy buy, the girls begged minimally and our small little Jewel had every single thing we needed with almost no crowds.

Now we're home and the girls are doing their new yoga DVD.  The lady's voice sounds like Roz from Monsters Inc, but other than that it's great.  Ainsley is really into it and can do it on her own just fine.  Louise is happy to do about half of the moves and just do her own thing the rest of the time.  Right now she's been in down dog for about 5 minutes with her santa undies high up in air.  It's hilarious.

I needed a reboot today.  I still felt a bit wound up and frazzled from all the holiday hubbub.  Today feels calm and good and some kind of balance feels possible.  I'm excited to celebrate with my family tonight and tomorrow.  It's been a wonderful year.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gifts to Make

In approximately 45 minutes I will be heading out early with my sleeping baby boy to celebrate Ainsley's birthday at her school.  I'm bringing some yummy chocolate drizzle star cookies and green smoothie drinks and dried apricots.  All requested by my big girl.  I'm also bringing Bruno the Baker, her favorite birthday book, and Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild, her favorite anytime book.  Birthdays are all about favorites aren't they?

Speaking of this birthday of my girl's, it's lit quite the fire under me.  After her party was over and cleaned up and we'd spent the weekend celebrating to the max I was left wanting.  Something felt unsettled.  Then I saw that beautiful doll that I've been wanting for her for ages, on sale, and somehow all the pieces are falling into place.

What was missing?  Was a bit of handmade.  A bit of homegrown love for her birthday and for this holiday in general.

It all started with that doll.  Then the wheels began to turn.  Why that doll needs her own quilt and a soft bed to lay in and of course a beautiful dress.  Any doll of Ainlsey's  must have a beautiful dress.

Of course the quilt is only half done and all the rest is still just dreams in my mind, but it lit the fire and sent me digging into my thick stash and my gears are simply humming.  I've been pulling some late nights and will keep it up as long as it takes.  I love this kind of making.  Inspired and so satisfying.  It's my art these days.  It is really a gift for me to get to make.  Bonus points that it's a gift to give too.

Triple Bonus?  These three, measuring and mixing and stirring all together.  Mmmmm family zucchini bread (and ginger crinkles and gingerbread and english toffee and peppermint bark...hey, it is Christmas time, right?).  
I swear it tastes better when we all make it together.

And one more moment.  When I posed the question of what to make for a tiny friend for a gift my not quite five year old's response? How about some of those beautiful quick change trousers mama?  You're really good at making those.  You know you're officially a sewer when your kid can name your favorite pattern for you.  I think you're right Ainsley.  Quick Change Trousers all around!!!

I hope you all are enjoying this time as much as I am.  Ah, when life is so full and busy to the brim with all good stuff, it is the BEST stuff.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Party Time

I  so distincly remember the panic I felt when I realized I was really in labor on Christmas Eve, five years ago.  My first thought was "are you kidding me?!".  After three weeks of bed rest, then 12 days of waiting every moment to have my baby, she decided to come on the eve of my favorite holiday ever.

I was so protective of her that first year.  So annoyed when strangers would console me for having my baby born on a holiday.  Inside I was so bummed.  I didn't want her to ever feel like her birthday was just another part of a bigger celebration for everyone else.  I wanted her to feel celebrated and special.  I don't know why I ever thought this would be an issue.

My girl is so loved.  She gets to spend her birthday every year with all the family that she loves so much.  She gets a little birthday tree with girly sparkly ornaments and a birthday brunch with all of her favorite foods.  I mean, who wouldn't want their party decorations to include a 6 foot tall decked out tree?!?

She is such a good kid, so well deserving of this fuss made over her.  Just today when I asked if she wanted to open the rest of our family presents this evening she replied "but mom, I already got my present from you!" caressing the $16.99 Costco party dress we gave her this morning.  I love that girl.

I also love that this year she wanted to have a party with her friends.  Last year we were dealing with some funky social anxiety, this year she's flying high.  She was nothing but excited to share a homemade party with her best friends, from all walks of her little full life.  Friends from her class last year and friends from her class this year, neighborhood friends and music class friends.

I love 5.  These kids were so great today. I'll admit I was a bit nervous when all but 2 people RSVPd yes to our little home party.  13 kids in our tiny house with a christmas tree and party decorations? GO!  But it was fantastic.  A bit chaotic and loud and very happy and fun.  Just as a party should be.

I'm learning as I get older to go with the flow a bit more, focus on what really matters, in this case?  fun fun fun.  We played lots of games, unwrapped lots of things, ate yummy food and just enjoyed being tucked into this little house on a very snowy day.  I'm almost teary eyed about it all.  It was so great.  I'm so thankful for my Ainsley girl and all that she's brought to our lives.  All of these sweet little friends and their awesome parents, they were here because of her.  It's really amazing, all of it.

And as for this five year old girl of mine?  She's astounding.  She's grown up so much over this past year that both Ian and I are apt to forget some of our more trying moments with here mere months ago.  She's articulate and thoughtful, an amazing problem solver and inventor.  She's so ambitious and quick and clever.  She is right on the verge of reading and can sound out most small words we give her, can sound out nearly any word to spell, even quite long ones.  She's taken to having me dictate whole letters to people on a white board, then grabbing her clip board and descending to her room to copy it all neatly down.  She is so excited for  a desk of her own someday soon. I'll be so happy to oblige her, she's quite the working girl.  She's a great eater and will try most anything with an open mind (though cream cheese and jam is still her favorite, and fruit and cucumbers, and most things sweet).  She loves her dolls and toys quite fiercely and takes such good care of them (until she forgets where she laid them down last ;o).  Her room is always a jungle of perfectly choreographed playing.  She always has a plan and her plan is THE PLAN.  I could watch her play all day.

This fifth birthday is so bitter sweet for me, as they all are I guess.  I feel like five is the entry year into being a big kid.  She'll be in kindergarten next year, in full day school.  That' simply crazy to me. I can't even fathom it.  So for now I'm not, focusing on her amazing preschool and our simple at home days that I love so much and know I will always hold so dear to my heart.

Ok, there I go.  I'm really sad about that all ending.  For five years it's been her and me, most every moment of every day, and while I know we'll get into the swing and groove of her being a big kid right now I so love her littleness.

At her conference this fall I talked with Ainsley's teachers about her reluctance to join activities and have playdates on her own away from home.  Her kind wise teachers nodded and smiled calmly.  You're doing the right thing.  No need to push it.  She's just where she needs to be.  Since that moment I've let it go.  Ainsley will let us know when she's ready to join actives and be away from us more.  Soon enough that's all she'll want.  It is so precious to me that right now she mostly wants us and for all their bickering Louise is her best friend.  I hear from their teachers that those two find each other numerous times throughout the school day and hug.  I never want this phase to end.

But I'm learning this is the way with children.  You are simultaneously completely in love with them just how they are this moment, mourning their growing and changing a bit, and so excited for who they are becoming and all that lies ahead.  Right now my girl is perfect, and she was perfect three months ago and I know that this next year will be perfect and wonderful in it's own new way.

I love you so much Ainsley girl.  You make every day so blessed and magnificent.  Happy Fifth Birthday!

Crunch Time

With the end of this weekend comes the real crunch.  Days and counting until we depart for Minnesota for Christmas.  Why does this time of year always fly so fast?  This morning I'm taking a moment to drink it all in.

I'm in a good place with to dos.  It helps that I scoured lots before Ainsley's party, the house isn't in dire shape.  Most of the gifts have been wrapped.  The last LAST purchases have been made, a few hours of sewing (and many tiny stitches) to go.

I'm hoping to use time well this week.  To elve with the girls while I can and motivate in the evenings for this final push.  It's always worth it to see the gleam in my girls eyes when they open something truly special.  I just keep their faces in mind when I'm bone tired and reaching.

Though there hasn't been too much of that this year.  I feel so much more mellow and settled into our holiday routine than ever before.  One of the great benefits of aging a bit I guess.  I learned last year that simple is better.  Less decorations, fewer commitments, more time to be spontaneous and free.  Every morning I ask they girls what they want to do with our afternoons and every day that have great ideas and most day we can accommodate it all.  There's been lots of baking, of course, and festive play dough playing (both spiced and chocolate dough have been made).  Lots of sitting next to the lit tree playing games and pulling out glitter and stamps and paint and glue and making.

 I love that we're in that glorious place now where plans are mostly OURS, not mine or theirs.  We're on board with each other and together is where we'd all most like to be (except right now, I'm thoroughly enjoying this quiet house and second cup of coffee.)

Today I'm looking forward to getting a few things done.  Unwinding that spiders web to start and finishing up a few gifts to be sent out this week.  Then a very special afternoon at the ballet with Auntie Sonya and the girls.  I'm excited to see a new production of the nutcracker.  I've heard this local one is good!  Then Wednesday I go to school to celebrate Ainsley's birthday with her class and Friday we'll spend all together packing and readying.  Then bright and early Saturday we'll ship out for our week of holiday fun.  Every year we leave MN vowing we'll just stay home the next year because truthfully it's a lot.  But every year this time comes around again and we just can't help ourselves.  Family is the place to be this time of year. We're so thankful we're close enough to see the ones we loves most.

Happy Weekend to you all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Favorite Gifts This Year

For some reason the type A side of me likes these gift lists.  So bear with me.

We gave Ainsley most of her birthday presents this evening after her birthday party.  We did this last year and really liked it.  It gives her a chance to spread the love out a bit and a little more time to savor it all.

Her favorites?

Rush Hour
We've played 3 rounds since she opened it at 6:30pm.  The recommended age is 8+ but she's doing great at it, needing very little help and LOVING all the thinking and planning it requires.  It's an amazing game.

Race to the Treasure
Ainsley got this from a friend this morning and we've played it twice so far.  It's a very intuitive cooperative game, fast paced and fun.  I think Louise could even play this with us.  I LOVE cooperative games.  Anything that cuts down on the you win you lose aspect is great by me.

Lands End Shirts and Carters Leggings

I don't have links to these because I bought these clothes a while back but I am so excited about the two new outfits I got for Ainsley.  Lands End makes really nice quality shirts that fit my long and lean girl so well.  ALL of Ainsley's pants are too short (again!) so I bought her a pair of 5/6 corduroys this fall that she wears all the time and her two new size 6 leggings from Carters fit perfectly with some room to grow.  Plus these two stores always have amazing deals (and this coming from a thrift shop addict, so you know it must be good!).

Carters in general

I did a big order from here on black Friday for lots of the kids stocking stuffers.  In my opinion they have the best little kids underpants, socks, and accessories for really good prices.  With two little girls right in a row I like finding things

Rubens Barn Doll
This is Ainsley's big gift for her birthday (she'll be getting it on her actual birthday so she hasn't received it yet) and I anticipate it will be a big hit.  She is so very into that nurturing phase of play right now and her little light dolls just don't seem to be cutting it.  I noticed the size issue when she discarded her beloved Lambie and Jill for her larger stuffed toys.  These dolls are large (18") and soft and weighted to feel like a real baby.  They are pricey, but I found a great coupon and went for it.  I'm hoping this will be her DOLL, you know, the one she keeps forever, that she won't outgrow in a few months.  I'm so very excited to sew clothes and accessories with her this winter.

Make Your Own Board Game
I know I've mentioned bare books.com before, but if this site is new to you PLEASE visit it and ENJOY!  I always have a box of their books in our basement now, whether for last minutes gifts to give or for writing books or sketchbooks for the girls.  They are so inexpensive and amazing.  This last order I decided to try out their blank game boards and I am thrilled with Ainsley's  She's started making up her own games with pieces of other games and paper and thought that this would be such a fun activity for us this winter.  I'm excited to see what she comes up with!

Now Onto the Others....

Felix's Sweater Romper
I am absolutely in love with this cotton one piece.  I got it on a black Friday Sale and I have a feeling he'll be wearing it every other day all winter long.  It's adorable, so soft, and so warm for this cold wirer we're having.  Worth every penny (and Ian wishes it came in his size...me too).

Mr. Wuffles and Journey
These are the two picture books I bought for the girls recommend by NPR.  I got them in the mail last week and am so excited about them.  They are both wordless books which I LOVE for their ages, especially for Louise's age.  She so loves looking at pictures and making up her own stories, and they love when we "read" them, a bit different each time.  These two books are so different by each magnificent.  I'm thrilled!

There's more, but that' all for now I think.  I'll post more as I think of them.  I hope you all are enjoying these last days of preparing and joy.  We're full in Christmas mode here and I love it so much!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Few Thoughts

I'm having one of those shouldbedoingsomanythingsinsteadImparalyzedwithindecisivness mornings.  So I'll work through it on here a bit and get to it afterwards.

Louise was sad at drop off this morning. I'm pretty sure my fog has rubbed off on her.  I'm so glad for her teachers and friends.  I think they're better for her this morning than I am.

Felix has started babbling.  His first babbles?  MAMAMAMAMAMAMA.  :o)

I exploded last night at 11:30pm after listening to Felix cry for 45 minutes.  Poor sleep deprived Ian was the one holding it together for me.  Any rationality I've had about our sweet baby and his sleeping problems has left me.  I'm needing to find a new zen about the whole thing.  I'm searching hard for it today.

Ainsley's birthday party is two days away.  We are all so excited.  I LOVE having parties at home.  Even if it means way more prep and cleaning, I think it also means so much more fun.  We have crafts and games and fun planned to the T.  I can't wait.

We're getting a real winter here in Chicago and I'm loving it.  A solid 3-4 inches of snow on the ground.  Winter walks all bundled with my girls and hot cocoa or tea most every day.  Now if only there were more sledding hills in Oak Park.  We can't wait for our Minnesota Christmas for some good sledding!!!! And lots of other reasons too.

I'm officially done with Christmas shopping (not making!).  It's feeling so good to wrap it all up and tuck it away.  Somehow it always works out doesn't it?  I am so excited about so many different gifts this year.

I am current devouring The Goldfinch a novel by Dona Tartt.  IT IS SO GOOD!!!!!!

I am afraid I won't finish Ian's sweater vest in time for Christmas.  I'm banking on those driving hours to Minnesota to get lots done.  I was hoping to have time to make Felix a matching one.  Now I'm doubtful.

Ah, lots to do today.  I best get going.  I think what I REALLY need is a good run.  Perhaps some yoga with my girls later or crazy dancing for 20 minutes will do the trick?  I sure hope so.  Happy Thursday to you all!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wishful Thinking

Oh boy.  If I've ever needed a day off from being a mom, today would be the day.

There's nothing spectacular about today.  The girls have school, I had to take Felix in for a vaccine, we needed bread so we went to the bakery and got that, a number 5 candle too for Ainsley's birthday coming up so soon.

I'm just spent.  Felix is not sleeping AGAIN.  I feel like a broken record, but it's hard when you don't get sleep.  It's like when you don't get enough food.  It's all I can think about.  I dream of sleep when everyone else is napping, but I can't sleep then because there's always too much to do.  I dream of sleep the minute I wake up and the minute I lay my head down.  But I never get it in increments of more than 3 hours these days.  I don't know what's going on.  It's eating away at my soul, and REALLY affecting my mood.

This morning I had absolutely nothing in my reserves.  At one point while trying to get all the kids seated for breakfast I SHOUTED at the TOP of my lungs (while both Louise and Felix were screaming at the tops of theirs) I DON'T WANT TO TO MY JOB TODAY!!!!! (over and over and over).

And I don't.  Today I want to be completely by myself.  I want to take a long hot shower and towel dry my hair, and slip on some clean clothes and crawl into my warm bed and sleep.  I want to sleep until I've had enough sleep and then I want to wake up on my own. Not because my baby needs me or because Louise is kicking the wall next to my face or because Ainsley is hissing at her sister.  Then I want to come downstairs to a quiet clean house.  Clean because I cleaned it up yesterday and no one dismantled it for once.  Then I want to turn on an old favorite movie.  Perhaps something seasonal like White Christmas or It's a Wonderful life. I want to knit something, just for fun, not for a gift or a timeline.  Perhaps keep working on that cap sleeved sweater for me that's been waiting since this time last year.  Then I want to cook something, because I do like cooking.  Something simple and delicious like risotto with a glass of wine on the side.  When the sun starts to dip I want to curl up by a fire (because in this fantasy we have a fireplace that works) and delve further into my current obsession The Goldfinch and just get lost in this wonderful story.  Then when my eyes feel heavy I'll head up to bed, again, for more uninterrupted glorious sleep.  Then I'll wake up, and THEN maybe I can be a good mom again.

Ah.  Perhaps just typing that out will be enough huh?  Or perhaps this five minutes of sitting, sipping on coffee, in a quiet warm house while my boy sleeps and my girls play at school, perhaps this will be enough, it has to be enough.  Because after this five minutes it's back to reality.  To a very messy house despite my best efforts, to a tribe that so needs me, to a very tired boy tonight who deserves my pep and optimism and smiles.
Families are such a tremendous blessing, but DANG, they are a whole lot of work.  Today I wish i had a break from it all, but I don't, so I'll take my five minutes and I'll breathe, and I'll remember how blessed I am, and I'll pray like mad that Felix sleeps tonight and life will go right along.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rolling Along

December just keeps rolling right along.
Each week seems to end with something big that keeps us focused and humming and merry.
This last week it was the girls cookie walk at school.  16 dozen decorated cookies later I thought I may not have one ounce of cheer left for the actual event on Saturday.  Couple that with solo parenting most of the weekend while Ian writes a grant at work and I was sure it was going to be rough.  But it wasn't, not at all.  We had a blast picking out cookies and seeing all the girls' teachers and friends and school.
The merriness just keeps on coming and it's been a great (if not extremely tiring) weekend.

Almost five years later I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of some things.  One being having my bigs girls' birthday the day before Christmas.  Somehow we always seem to find the time to prepare for her special day and Christmas too.  This year we're finding it in pockets of time.  Little bits here and there to discuss and craft and ready.  On Friday we got all the party bags ready.  Ainsley wrote the name of every one of her friends on their bags and then we all decorated with new stamps and markers.  Louise wrote her own name on her bag.  Ainsey carefully chose the gifts for each friend and they're waiting in the basement for her fun morning next weekend.  I may be just as excited as she is (no way I could be MORE excited).

Christmas is yet again catching me a bit off guard.  I felt so prepared about a month ago and now I feel like I'm treading water.  I'm not worried about the things that I still have to make, just the purchases.  It's dreadfully hard to get out with my little people these days that any outing needs a careful orchestration and preparedness that I rarely have the stamina for.  So I'm learning to use my weekends well, as much as I dislike being out with the crowds. It's worth it for quiet afternoons at home.

This weekend those afternoons, and mornings with daddy working have been filled with activity.  I pulled out Felix's newly felted stocking to needle felt and the girls were enthralled with my roving wool.  So I switched gears and went to work with them on projects of their own.  They are loving their new craft.  For those interested I simply use small squares of 100% wool felt, merino roving, a needle felting "sponge" and needles.  The girls choose their felt and roving and place the sponge below their project, then place the felt where they'd like it to go and poke away until the wool agitates enough to hold.  I of course help lots.  It's quite tricky to hold the wool in place and felt at the same time and those needles are sharp! but they get such satisfactions out of it and I am thrilled.

Another fun "project" of late is preparing for the arrival of baby Jesus.  One night I constructed this hilarious manger out of popsicle sticks (it was actually quite fun) and put tiny balls of yarn and scissors in the girls' advent stocking for the morning.  They were puzzled. Then I explained.  Each time they went out of their way to do something kind of helpful they could cut a length of yarn to place in baby Jesus' bed.  Each day the pile will (hopefully!) grow and grow with yarn to make a soft warm place for the baby to lay.  I plan to sew a small swaddled doll to place in the manger on Christmas.  I hope it's a simple reminder of the real reason we celebrate this time of year.

So today I am tired.  I feel bad for Ian having to work so much over the weekend and the next few days.  But I am thankful for the snow we're getting today and for the fun in the week ahead preparing for Ainsey's birthday and then next week readying for Christmas in earnest.  It's coming up so fast and I'm getting rather excited for it all.

I hope you have all had a good weekend!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bad Dreams

I have not been sleeping well lately, and for the first time in over 7 months it's not because of my baby.  Ok, it's a bit the baby, he's still up once a night most nights, and a bit Louise and her persistent cough, but mostly it's stress, yucky adult stress.

I've been having nightmares too.  Hilariously transparent nightmares.  The first night we had to evacuate (too much homeland I think?) and I couldn't find my knitting to pack in my bag.  I was frantically looking for that yarn all night.  Then it was house hunting.  I dreamt we'd found our perfect house and when we went to look at it there were at least 30 other people there all making offers, just writing their bids out on a piece of paper.  Ian and I were so preoccupied in that dream that we left our children behind when we drove away, ensue double panic.

These dreams are obviously a symptom of how I've been feeling lately, totally frazzled and anxious and out of control.  I'm trying so hard to take life day by day, focus on Christmas coming up and Ainsley's 5th birthday.  It's hard though, knowing that the new year is most likely going to find our family dealing with a whole lot of changes, again.  I'm getting pretty tired of change, of the unknown.  While I so want to be a go with the flow person I'm not at all.  I need plans and expectations.  It's so hard for me to live in limbo and not be actively figuring out all that is to come, worse yet? admit that I can't figure it out and I just have to wait and see how it all plays out.  Sigh, it's been tough.

It helps to vent to Ian and my mom, to do what little I can to feel prepared, to immerse myself in my kids and this favorite season of ours.

We're going the stocking advent again this year and the girls love it.  I've already dropped the ball two mornings when I was too tired the night before and they had to wait until after school for their surprises.  The first day the girls got a new book, and their chocolate advent calendars from Trader Joes.  Then they got new paperback books from the dollar section, then new hair bows.  Today I'm thinking of putting in a craft idea, a cute christmas wreath craft I found online, or some fun coloring pages.  I'm trying to keep it fun but simple.  We've been baking so much lately I'm holding off on any cookie baking promises until the weekend.  The girls were so patient while we made the 16 dozen cookies for their school fundraiser.  They can't wait much longer to make their own cookies even if I am all cookied out!

And my Felix boy, ah, he always helps.  He is so snuggly and happy and I just love him to pieces.  He's starting to move around a bit, scooting on his bottom and up on all fours rocking and reaching.  He continues to eat more and more everyday.  I think I've made about 12 batches of baby food for him so far, way more than either of the girls ate.  He's even moved on to finger foods, grabbing puffs pincher style with ease.  Yesterday he ate more pirates booty than the girls at lunch!  I had to get some photos of him eating it.  He was so happy and pleased with himself.  Me too tiny guy, you are getting so big!

I feel the season just soaring by.  I'm hoping we get another snow soon and I REALLY hope it's snowy when we're in Minnesota for Christmas.  These girls are Minnesotans at heart and sure miss the snow in the winters.  Sledding and snow angels and snowmen are where it's at for them.

I hope you all are having a good week!

Festivities and Advent and All Kinds of Fun

This weekend was exactly what I needed.

I woke up on Saturday feeling totally refreshed, a bit odd after a long holiday week and an extra day of work thanks to Ian's extra day of work.  Still I took it, took full advantage for once.  I told Ian to get out of the house by himself, take advantage of my good mood!  please! So he did.  Us adults all need a little alone down time.  Most always it's him giving it to me.  I was happy to oblige him for once.

The girls and I rolled out cookies and baked while Felix slept.  In no time 8 dozen were cooling, ready to be decorated for their fun raiser at school.  Then Ian came home and Felix was still sleeping so I told him to go ahead and take the girls to get out Christmas tree?  Without you?  Are you serious? I was serious.  I'm just so big and grown up these days.  I can be reasonable and practical when I need to be! (sometimes).

So they went and picked out the most perfectly little dumpling of a tree and we spent the afternoon adorning it.  Ainsley and Louise had every ormanet hung in about 15 minutes.  We admired our work, brought the rest of the decorations up and set those up too.  Then we were ansty, so I took ainsley on a run up to the park.  We did 4 laps, aout a mile.  She started off SO fast and melted to the pavement about 3/4 of the way around the first lap.  I'm trying to teach her about pacing.  It's a very difficult concept for a 4 year old.  She stuck it out though and we jogged it in together.  Then the weather was so mild and nice we decided to hang our outdoor lights.  Louise joined us and we all had a blast checking bulbs and hanging strands on our fence and trees and bushes.

Then we came in and Ian made dinner.  Two boxes of macaroni and spicy sausages.  I love meals I don't have to cook.  Then the girls were tired and I was excited to turn those cuts photos I got from tree decorating into some official Christmas cards.  So I did that and had a glass of wine.  Ian and I watched two episodes of Big Bang.  We went to bed.  I woke up in the middle of the night panicked that I'd ordered the wrong size of card.  I think I did.  I think they're going to be huge.  Oh well.  Small stuff right?

Then Sunday?  Sunday we were all pretty tired.  But church and Indian buffet and Frozen with my cures cured any of that.  We LOVED Frozen.  I teared up twice.  It was the perfect movie to take my two sweet girls to and I'd recommend it to anyone.  It wasn't too sad or scary, just right, with a wonderful message of what true love is (hint/spoiler...it's NOT a prince's kiss!).  I loved it.

And now it's Monday and there's lots to do this week.  More cookies to bake and decorate, the last few gifts to buy, a fairy pirate party to plan, doctors appointments, and always three little people to love and entertain.  I hope this momentum keeps up!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I was up at 6 with my tiny guy.  HE's sleeping through the night which is glorious.  So of course now he's up at the crack of dawn instead of his usual 7:30am arousal.  I'll take it.  I love calm mornings with my baby.

This morning we made coffee and ogled each other for a bit.  Then I thought I'd check out some deals online, excited to find that a few items in my Magic Cabin cart had gone on sale for black friday, ooh carter's too.  Party gifts for Ainsley's birthday and stocking stuffers, done and done. Ahh.

Ian had to work today.  It makes this weekend feel much less holiday-y I will say.  It makes it a bit more interesting too that it's Black Friday meaning venturing out sounds like torture.  So inside it is.

This morning the girls and I made three batches of cookie dough.  They have a school fundraiser "cookie walk" next weekend and we need to bake 12 dozen decorated cookies to donate.  I think the first batch will be fun.  I'm preparing for the rest to feel like a whole lot of work.  This year we're sticking to the basics.  Decorated gingerbread, stained glass sugar cutouts and painted sugar cookies.  I hope we have enough stamina to make some more for ourselves a bit later in the season!

The kids are all resting and I just finished rearranging and cleaning the living room.  half in preparation for decorating this weekend and half just to scratch that fung shui itch I get about every 4 months.  It's nice to get a good deep clean and feel a bit more organized.  Especially right on the brink of so much holiday chaos.

I've been struggling a bit this fall with that whole "holiday cheer" feeling.  Usually I am SO into it, plans months in advance, excitement of a tiny child etc. etc.  This year I'm feeling a bit less gung ho.  I'm still pretty tired most days from all this child caring I do.  I just want it to be easy and to enjoy it all a bit more.

I am excited for Dec. 1.  Today we brought out some decorations to get organized.  Last year I segregated the child friendly ones so it should be a relatively easy set up.
I'm most excited for our stocking advent, Ainsley too.  She remembered getting to look in the stockings every morning to see what treat awaits them.  She's a girl after he mama's heart.  I've always been a stocking girl myself.  I'm glad I've stashed away some fun treats and goodies, and counting on fun holiday-ey plans and recipes to get us through the rest of the days.  For any bit of cheer I'm lacking my girls make up for it.  They are SO excited.

Oh, so this post was titled Thanksgiving.  I guess I should write about that!  We had an awesome day.  I'm so bummed we only have ONE photo (of my Gram and her cranberry sauce).  I didn't cook or host this year which was so wonderful but it made thhe day so casual fun it hardly felt like an event.  I'll have to get the kids dressed up and take a post holiday photo this weekend.

We started our day in jammies with the parades on in the background.  Then I made pumpkin pie with the girls.  I believe we added almost twice the recommended amount of spices...I left the girls alone with the jars, whoops!  Then we made our contribution to our shared meal, green bean casserole, trader joes style.  I love their crispy onions and portabello mushroom soup.
Then we headed over to our friend's house for the meal.  The girls were SO excited to play with their friend Lily and it was lots of fun to hang out and eat and play with friends.  Lizz is an amazing cook and the food was so good.  It was the perfect meal.
After stuff in ourselves to the brim we headed back home to whip up some cream, grab our pie and drive up to Winnetka for our second celebration.  We went to my aunt and uncle's house and ended up getting to eat a bit more turkey and gravy before our pie and our drive home.  The girls had tons of fun with my cousins.  My 10th grade cousin Kiley has the most perfect amazing girl bedroom ever and the girls were enamored.  It was so much fun to see my Gram too, and her perfect cranberry sauce.  It was a great day.

Now I'm looking forward to the weekend.  To picking out a tree and decorating a bit, perhaps seeing that new Disney movie with the girls and getting the last of the shopping done.  Perhaps I'll even pull out the wrapping paper and get going on that a bit.

I love this time, I'm just trying to live it day by day and eek out every bit of joy from this season and my wonderful family.

Second Snow

Yesterday it snowed.  The flurries started just as I was heading out to pick up the girls from school.  It continued right on until the sun went down leaving a thick dusting everywhere.  We suited up and enjoyed it unil Felix's pink cheeks pulled us back indoors.  We gulped down cups of our homemade hot cocoa and lit candles.  It was a delightful afternoon.

This weekend I made an epic grocery run.  Two stores, 8 bags, way too much money.  Then I cooked and baked and now our freezer and fridge are full.  I'm finding it so hard to cook on weekday nights.  My little guy only wants to be held from 4:30pm until bedtime.  It's such a load off to know that we're covered for about two weeks.  Ah, peace.

Iny's Prune Cake
Beef Enchiladas
Marzetti's Spaghetti Pie (from Joy of Cooking)
Comfort Meatballs (served with mashed potatoes, one of the most delicious comforting meals ever)

I've been ordering lots of things for Christmas and Ainsley's birthday.  I'm feeling really quilty about it all, especially since we bought almost nothing last year for the holidays.  At the same time I'm letting it go, knowing that I'm not going nuts, and enjoying getting to pick out some fun things for my girls and my guys (and myself...hey! my feet HAVE grown a full half size!)

I am in LOVE with my new Report boots...I feel so, so...fancy :o)
The gifts I'm most excited about are of course for the kids.  My favorite gifts for the girls are their own yoga mats and 1 lb weights.  I'm so tired of them fighting over mine when we work out together.  I'm also SO excited about their new games.  We play games every afternoon and while I love Orchard, Shopping Cart, and Feed the Woozle, I'm definitely getting excited to switch it up a bit.  
It's always nice to get people things you know they are going to love!

It's almost been hard to shop for Ainsley this year because there is SO much that I want to get her.  I know her so well now and with her birthday and Christmas all wrapped up together I try my best to really think through the year and get her things that I know she'll need and want for the next long while.  

I've also been having tons of fun with Ainsley planning her fifth birthday party.  If you recall last year she wasn't interested in a friend party and it's been surprisingly fun to have her on board again this year.  Since we're just having a party at home I was hoping to go with the one friend per year rule, but then the list grew to about 12.  8 are coming so far and I must say I'm excited!  She wanted it to be all about fairies but seeing as there will be some boys in attendance we decided on fairies and pirates.  She's VERY excited.

Ah snow and festivities and yummy food.  This is so very much my favorite time of year.