Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

I'm snuggled up next to Mason, half watching "Love Actually" while I type this.  It's probably my most favorite movie of all time, and watching it on Christmas Eve has become a favorite tradition as well.  And because of that, this post will be short & sweet.

Christmas Eve is magical when a child's in your family.  Charlie has been smiling all day and his energy was contagious.  We had a day of playing and relaxing and baking and movie watching and more playing.

After a supper of snacks, we let Charlie unwrap one present-- his Christmas book and jammies.  He insisted we read the book ("The Grinch Who Stole Christmas") before putting on the jammies.  We then jumped in the car and toodled around Grundy looking at lights.  C was excited to point out any house that contained lights and sometimes demanding that "Daddy! Back up! Back up!"  Eventually, his interest in the lights waned and he started a random game of "I'm thinking of something....." which I have to admit, he's pretty good at.

Before battling bedtime, we posed in front of our tree for what's become the annual Christmas Eve photo.  I love this little tradition.  I love this little holiday.  Merry Christmas everyone!

And of course, thinking of our sweet Maddy tonight so had to include these from last year.  Oh the things she put up with here in Spahnville. 

Monday, December 23, 2013


Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not much good when it comes to baking.  It's much too precise. Much too mathematical.  Much too 'concerned with the details' for my liking.  I've learned that 1/2 tsp in baking really needs to be 1/2 of a teaspoon.  Things could go really wrong if you only have a 1/4 teaspoon, and this I've learned the hard way.  I much prefer cooking-- where you can toss together ingredients as you go, adding spices along the way and substituting impromptu ingredients when you run short on something.  Usually, I leave the baking to Sister.

So when the holidays roll around, I turn to her for help.  It's fun baking with her.  Everything we make ends up looking the way it's supposed to look and she's organized enough to check her ingredient list before we begin.  Earlier in December, we headed her way for the (hopefully annual tradition of) Christmas cooking baking day.

All was merry.  (Except for the random whining over more cookies.  That got a little annoying.)

She's soooo organized!!  

First casualty of the day.  Whoops. 
He'd never seen something so amazing.

All was quiet upstairs.... but this is what we found.  

Every single time.  Note to Liz:  Add more flour!  
I got tired documenting the day with photos so we don't have any "after" shots.  But mostly everything turned out great.  The littles had so much fun with each other and having Sister only 90 minutes away is a definite plus.  What a merry weekend.

Oh, and the state trooper who pulled me over for going 73 in a 55 (dang Nevada speed trap!) on the way back was quite the merry holiday elf for just giving me a warning.  Cheers!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Resolution Fail. Life Success.

So with just under ten days left in the year, it dawned on me to revisit my list of resolutions from last January.  As I read though that (pretty amazing) list of resolutions, I was impressed with my enthusiasm and creativity for coming up with each item.  But then, I had the sinking realization that I had pretty much failed at most of them.  Here's how:

1.  Learn Something New.  I'd like to learn how to paint with watercolors-- more than what I learned in kindergarten.  Well, I didn't learn how to watercolor.  I honestly looked for a class and it never logistically worked.  I did learn a few things in my creative writing class though, so I'm going to count that for learning something new. 

2.  Continue something I made progress on.  Scrapbook-- I made a lot of progress on C's traditional scrapbook by working on it once a month.  Plus, it gave me a much needed creative outlet so I plan to continue this as well.  Nope.  I was the worst scrapbooker ever this year.  After I realized that "getting it all done" was causing me anxiety, I adopted the much more relaxed attitude of "Yes, a scrapbook of C's life would be nice.  But that's probably just not gonna happen.  Hopefully, he won't end up in therapy because of it."

3.  Create something new.  For the year 2013, I want to start a digital scrapbook of our daily life.  I'll leave the traditional scrapbooking to big trips or events.  Technically, I guess you could say I did do this because the key words are: "start a digital scrapbook". The problem, of course, is that I didn't keep up with it or finish it.  

4.  Organize something.  Videos.  Starting in 2013, I'd like to download our short videos once a month and burn them to a dvd.  Sounds simple enough.  Right?  Didn't even start.  Not even close.  Just thinking about our videos makes me nearly break out in hives.  

5.  Connect with Someone.  Send Birthday Cards. I'm terrible about sending b-day cards.  Horrible, actually.  I'd like to do better about sending cards to my immediate family members and nieces and nephews.  And ideally, they'll arrive on time.  I think I sent a card to my sister.  Her birthday is in January.  That's it. 

6.  Connect with Someone.  Write letters.   I liked this task last year and think I can do better in 2013.  I especially want to write my grandmother more often as she'll be 90 this month and I'm sure the mail is always appreciated.  Yes, I wrote a letter or two.  Not nearly one a month, and not always to Grandma.  

7.  Train for something.  I loved doing the triathlons last year and would love to complete another one this year.  But I've kind of lost sight of 5k's and how much I enjoy participating in them. This year, I'd like to complete 3 5K races. (Red Flannel, Run Like a Mother, and Snow Shuffle)  Um, nope. 

8. Help someone in need. Volunteer.  For something.  I need to make this specific but I haven't really decided how or in what capacity.  Plus, volunteering at this moment in my life is also a logistical difficulty and so I'd like to volunteer or help in a place where Charlie can come with me.  (this makes it difficult--any ideas?) Aside from buying food to donate to the food bank, I feel like I missed the boat on this one too.  

9. Be healthy. Plan Meals/ Make freeze ahead meals.  YES!  Finally, one that I have done well!  We eat fairly healthy, with our dinner meals being the best.  The trick has been finding something that C will eat, which is not always the easiest. 

10. Be healthy.  Plan and prepare healthier versions of snacks for C.  More fruits and veggies, less fruit snacks and chips. Argh.  No.  He's still the king of Bugles, pretzels, and pudding.  

11. Enjoy spare time/ Connect with others. Plan new activities to enjoy with C.  This will require some preparation on my part, but if I get in gear, I should be able to make a list for each month.  Then we can do one "new" experience or craft each week.  Yes! and No.  I've been much better about carving out time for myself, and letting go of guilt over spending time with my friends.  I have not been as good about planning little experiences for C & me to do together.  Gosh, it makes me a little sad to realize that this was a goal almost an entire year ago and I've done nothing to get better at it. 

12.  Enjoy spare time/ Connect with others.  Rent 12 movies to watch with M.  Ugh.  Absolutely not.  We have good intentions and then we just watch House Hunters.  I insist that we are not lame, we are just mature.   

13.  Enjoy spare time.  Read 20 books.  I read 27 in 2012, but sometimes I felt like I "had" to be reading, just because I needed to reach my goal of 25.  I think 20 is a more reasonable goal, and better pace for me to finish comfortably.  YES!  I've met my goal of reading books, and I've definitely enjoyed my free time better.  I've done more crafting and am no longer scared of my sewing machine.  This is a pretty huge accomplishment for me. 

Of course, the day after I wrote this list, we learned of Maddy's terminal cancer-- that she might only live for 3 more months.  Four days later, we had to put her to sleep.  Thirteen days after that, we learned  of the first miscarriage-- at almost 14 weeks, just a day before we were going to announce the pregnancy.  Work was difficult, Charlie was adorable and sweet but at times, very challenging.  The weather was almost unbearable for me.  It never-stopped-snowing.  Then, the sun finally came out and we seemed to have weathered the storm as summer approached.  We were hopeful and optimistic and excited about another new baby on the way.  Then,  the unthinkable happened at the 10 week checkup and our lives were turned upside-down again.  Picking up the pieces was much harder that second time and some days seemed excruciating.  There were many times I felt that I would never find myself in a place of peace and acceptance.

So rather than focusing on any resolutions, I focused on myself.  I ate well.  I walked. I meditated.  I relaxed.  I had fun.  In many ways, I found myself again.  I remembered who I had been and who I was.  I thought and re-thought and over-thought things.  I started attending church regularly.  I found a community.  I found a niche.  I felt little tingles of light and the slightest sense of acceptance in the unknown.

At this exact moment, I'm one-thousand percent grateful for the life and family that I have.  We are happy and healthy and thriving in Spahnville.   I admit to missing 2012-- I still miss Maddy.  I miss the optimistic & excited feeling I had last Christmas, when Mason & I were the only two people who knew I was expecting.  2013 has been so different.  It's been a year of surprises-- and a year of letting go of plans.  It's been a year of learning to accept the present, even if it's different from what we were envisioning.   However, in many ways, the events of 2013 have been quite successful life lessons-- ones that I'm sure will repeat as the years pass.  So as we prepare for 2014, I'm resolving to keep a heart of gratitude for the gifts and people we do have in our lives, and accept things as they are, however difficult that may be.

Soak It Up

"Life certainly has it's ups and downs and gets really messy.  It's all we can do to just hang on, cling to those around us, and keep on keeping on.  Hang in there."--me

I've texted these words to a few friends this month, who have struggled with some pretty big and complicating life issues.  The words are nothing really profound, but it's the best I can do to let them know that yes, life can really suck at times.  But you know what?  It's also pretty amazing at times, too. And regardless of whether or not you're in the midst of a sucky time or an amazing time, we must keep waking up in the morning, and putting one foot in front of the other.  And, no matter where we are on this journey of life, I personally believe, that it's always better when other people experience it with you.  If 2013 has taught me anything, it's to allow yourself to soak or wallow or marinate or what have you in whatever experience you're having at this exact moment.

In Spahnville, the recent moments have been more on the amazing side.  I'm soaking up little things that make me smile and make me appreciate where I am in life.  Things such as:

Our 2014 Christmas tree.  
Listening to Grandma Ruby's voice, reading "The Night Before Christmas".  
Bedtime stories in front of the Christmas tree.  And a little sip of wine, too.

Loving two little people more than I could imagine.  (Doesn't hurt that they're so dang cute)

Catching the last rays of sunshine.  Around 5:00 pm.
Hazy snowy wintery sunrises.  

Goofy coworkers

Downtown lights.  And smiles.

And if you're still a little "Grinchy", then go grab a cup of hot chocolate and watch this video.  It reminds me SO much of my elementary school and I'd be lying if I said that it's not probably my favorite part of working in an elementary school.  Enjoy!  (I know it's four minutes, but it's worth it!!)

Wouldn't it be nice if we only experienced amazing times?  If we could just soak and soak and soak some more in the good stuff this life has to offer?  The only problem is that I'm afraid the amazing wouldn't feel quite so amazing if we weren't ever privy to the sucky.  So for those of you who are in the midst of the not-so-great stuff, allow yourself to wake up in the morning, soak it up a little and remember that amazing moments are coming down the pipe.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

November Recap

Here we are, cruising through December and I'm struggling to figure out what exactly happened to the month of November.  Thankfully, I have a camera phone that helps me remember a bit.  Without that, I'm sure I'd only remember our daily routine and the Sunday night Amazing Race episodes.

November always marks our annual scrapbooking weekend.  This year was no different, except that it was a mini college reunion for four of my closest friends and me.  We-had-a-blast.

(If you're looking for a hilarious, gut-aching, laugh-out-loud, game... and you don't consider yourself to be particularly uptight or easily offended, you must play "Cards Against Humanity".  If you're an upstanding moral citizen who is easily offended by un-politically correct and inappropriate comments, then just stick to Euchre or Hearts or something.)

Simple Spahnville moments in November:

Brisk trips to the park, where my little construction worker built houses and moats and railroads, all for me. 
One dreary day after another but I'm hoping my little blue happy light keeps tricking my brain into producing the same feel-good chemicals that it does during our summer months. 
Even on the rough days at work,  I'm trying to live by the quote pictured above.
It reads:  "See the good all around you.  Even if you have to squint."
Homemade (gluten free!) waffles.   Smiley kid.  Smiley mom.
And there's always something magical about meeting Mrs. Claus, right?
These two were thrilled to meet the lady of the hour.  Well, the lady of the month actually. 

Our school allows sledding, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever if you're old enough to walk, and young enough to appreciate the white stuff. 

We wrapped up the month with Thanksgiving at Sister's house.  I get all mushy inside when I think about the love between these two little ones.  And if C remains an only child, he'll have an "almost-sibling" with this sweet lil' thing.  

Almost makes you want to burst into "So Happy Together", doesn't it? 
It's always monkey-see, monkey-do.  

Bear hugs? Forts? Kisses? Giggles? Probably all of the above. 

Sneaking away for a little alone time.... in Miss N's bed.  

And though my birthday isn't technically in November, it did fall on a weekend so it's getting included here.  C loves celebrating.  Doesn't really matter for what or for whom, .. he just loves all things party. My birthday was no different.

Mase surprised me with Red Velvet cake and new Smartwool!  My FAVES.  (It's the little things, people.)

No sooner had the last candle been blown out, than this sweet little hand started plucking them off-- and licking the frosting one by one.  True love is letting someone else lick the frosting that really belongs to you.  

Last year, as I blew out my candles, I envisioned "next year at this time".  Little did I know how much was going to change in 364 days.  If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that as much as I want to prepare and control and plan my future, none of us really has any idea how it's all going to look.  As I concentrated on my candles this year, I intentionally focused on that day, this moment, right now.  And in that moment, I couldn't have been happier.  

"If you take care of this moment, you take care of all time." ~Buddhist quote