Friday, December 30, 2011

12 in 11- The Photo Edition

As I scour the photos I have accumulated this year, I cannot believe all we have accomplished, all we have experienced.

 This year has truly been remarkable.

I realized a few things:

1. My photography skills leave much to be desired.

2. I have taken a ridiculous amount of pictures this year.

3. I rarely, if ever, am captured on film.

4. I really do have a pretty good looking family.

5. Wow, we did a lot!

Not soon before Maeve's first birthday, I had the quiet realization that the girls actually started playing together.
Their first tea party in our playroom, captured in January

On her first birthday, I had grand hopes of a cake smash of epic proportions with the hand made snowman cake. Instead, it turned into the emotional meltdown of epic proportions!
Poor Maevie baby, but it was a Happy first birthday!

We were reunited with Bryan's brother Casey this January as he visited from abroad, meeting our girls for the very first time. This visit also afforded us the opportunity to meet his lovely wife and son.
Most memorable, indeed!

Moira vs. the Potty
Someday she'll hate me for this photo
Thankfully, diapers went bye-bye around someone's third birthday!

My..I mean Moira's Somewhere Over the Rainbow celebration

Fresh Beat Band at Sesame Place
Front Row
Major parent points for Bry & I on this one!

Our first beach trip of the season
Maeve hated the beach

By the end of the summer, I had to fight to get them to come in.
My two little beach bunnies!

Where did the time go?
This September at the ripe old age of 3, Moira started preschool.

Halloween 2011
Reusing that Dorothy costume from her birthday, I had fun with tulle to transform Maeve into Glinda.
After a summer of anticipation, Moira finally was able to play Tot Soccer. With Bry as the coach, we braved the field early each Saturday morning. Looks like the start of something beautiful, my girls & sports!

Holiday hugs & Giggles

Linking up with My Front Porch Swing & Four Plus Angel's 12 in 12 photos or words

Thursday, December 29, 2011

12 in 11- The Written Edition

1.) This year in blog posts…choose a favorite post from each month of 2011 and share.

This year was filled with a lot of ups and few downs, but overall an amazing year.


This new year began with Maeve celebrating her first birthday with me doing my best Martha.  Overplanning. her Winter "One"derland party with tons of red, aqua, and white, became my obsession during the start of 2011. Besides the pin the nose on the snowman, activities were relatively laid back. Our guestlist was tiny, however having our relatives from Taiwan present made it that much more memorable.
Maeve and her cousin Blaise


During February, in the post entitled Bathroom Bully I lamented on my epic failure with potty training. I shared my fear that I would be changing Moira's diapers during Kindergarten.
Fun times, fun times!

No doubt, running away from the potty!

My grandmother's collection of blue glass inspired the post Blue Glass & Ivory Soap.

While Moira's birthday party took centerstage the beginning of the month, our long, long, long trip to Target best exemplified were I was in parenthood during April.

How many Mo?
This year, I really believe I have discovered my voice as a writer. In a prompt from the site formally known as the Red Dress Club now Write on Edge, I discussed my defintion of Pride here, cellulite and all for the world to embrace!
One of the few photos of me taken this year.
In one of my most favorite posts ever, I discussed grocery shopping and the car cart. In Stalker, I complained of those who misuse my secret weapon for successful grocery shopping trips and praised that regardless of their rather bulky size, they still are a necessity for me.
With the loss of my father in law, I took a moment to remember Buddy.

In a rut,  Days Like These had me writing of the nearly suffocating heat as we headed for yet another trip to my parents for refuge in the air conditioning. I had had about enough, when it was Moira who made me stop for a moment and take in the little things.
My Beach Baby enjoyed the heatwaves
With School Days, the momentous occasion of her first first day of school was shared. With smiles and a new red backpack with soccer ball, she was set. Everyday has been a blast since!
 I seriously contemplated giving up stay at home mom status for a job back in the classroom. With Back to Work? I debated my choice, and ultimately chose to put off the transition for the future.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I got a little creative and Thanksgiving Prose was the final outcome.

Maeve had a clear opinion on Mommy's blogging this year!
Finally, as the year came to a close, instead of sharing news of my pregnancy, I wrote of my loss in Not The Way I had Planned. .
As not to end on a sad note, I think A December to Remember, Ha! gave me a chance to be light and happy again.
See ya later 2011!
I realize technically I have chosen more then 12 posts for this year, however, I think with any missing, it would not have been a true representation of what 2011 had done for me. It was one helluva year!
Bring on 2012, I've got the champagne on ice already!

Linking up with Mama Kat & Natalie of Mommy of a Monster

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Gift

This year for Christmas, I was inspired to attempt some crafty gifts for those most dear. With the addition of a new ceramic store in our downtown and a Group On discount code, it was meant to be. Meeting up with our dear friends A & M and their Mama, D collectively we two mamas managed our foursome in a room filled with fragile breakables and bottles of paint. The were no causalities, however M, D's 20 month old son, did manage to taste some green paint.

Mo working hard on her mitten for Grammy with the bracelets

Maeve showing her non-painted tongue
Maeve went out of her way to select the perfect gift for Bry. Her painting skills are on par for those in the under two set, and her attention to detail leaves something to be desired, however I can think of nothing more perfect for her father's desk at work.

 When I think of it, there should be no surprise that Maeve chose Cookie Monster, especially after seeing her on Christmas day with her new favorite toy.

Linking up for the first time with Germaine of Kiddothings

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Letter

Wrapping paper pieces covered the floor, as the last of the boxes was opened. Maeve held the stuffed Cookie Monster securely under her arm, as she paraded around the living room, while Moira walked over to her father's embrace.
"Did you get everything you had hoped for." I asked. Her blues eye met mine, and without hesitation she began.,
"Santa didn't bring me the accordion or the drum kit. He didn't get me the *twister too."
*turntable, microphone, & headphones that a DJ would use
"Were you naughty?" Bryan asks.
She is adamant, "I was more nice then naughty this year. I promise!"

This year, at three and half years Moira "got" it. She understood the idea of naughty and nice, and after a few conversations, she respectfully created a wish list of only three items. The list would occasional change as friends and family would ask, but when sitting on the big man's lap, she asked for the drum kit, an accordion, and a twister set. From that day on, those were her three things. She understood that Santa would most likely only be able to get her one, but she understood. There were many children who wanted gifts and she did not need to be greedy.

And here it was, Christmas morning and under the tree there was no accordian. There was no twister, or drum kit.

She could not hide her disappointment.

I knew how to cheer her up.
"Remember last night when we got home from Mom mom's house late?" I asked.
"Yes". she nodded.
"Well, because it was so late you and Maevie didn't get a chance to put out cookies and milk for Santa".
Her gasp filled the room.
"Don't worry" I said, "Daddy took care of it. He put out a few cookies and milk, and a carrot I think? Why don't you go check it out."

She scurried across the room, to the dining room table. Maeve at her heels, unaware of the mood instead interested in chasing her sister.

"There's a letter! There's a letter!" she screamed. "Can you read it Daddy? Can you? Can you?"

Her mood had lifted, as a note from Santa found it's way into Bryan's hand.
In a loud voice he read,

At breakneck speed, she ascended the stairs, leaving the rest of us in her dust.
Up the stairway

Do you see the plaid pajamas through the rail?
Grabbing Maeve and placing her on my hip, we followed.
"Slow down!" I yelled. "Daddy needs to check it out before you go in!'
With camera in hand, he captured that moment.
The one she had been waiting for since she first asked.

Little Girl and her red drum kit

Of course, her sister had to have a turn as well.

As we returned to the kitchen an hour or so later, I casually asked Mo what she thought about Christmas this year.
"Mommy" she said, "This was the best Christmas ever!" as she threw her arms around my waist, hugging me tightly.

I agree Moira. I agree.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Day of the Year

"This is my most favorite day of the year" she boasted, descending the stairs a little bit lighter then usual.
It was December 23, or in our house the day we referred to as "Christmas Eve Eve", and every year my mother would talk of this day as her most favorite of the year. She would share the phrase in a sea of teenage eye rolls and smart ass remarks.

On and on, she would go.

"The excitement" she would say, "the anticipation all leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It would all be over too soon, but today, pure anticipation".

The last minute frenzy of wrapping and baking could not damper the spirit of she who was ready to celebrate. That combined with the excitement in a house filled with three children, made today the high point of the season in her eyes.

But as a kid, I didn't get it.

Why would she say today was her favorite?

The anticipation of a day?

Seriously, mom?

I remember thinking from my adolescent eyes it was all about Christmas Eve, with the overfilled mass at our Church and then meeting at my Mom mom's for dinner and presents. Oh yeah, the presents!,  The only day to upstage Christmas Eve, besides my birthday was the madness of Christmas morning. Even as an teen, we still woke rather early to unwrap presents from a Santa we had long since stopped believing in after getting our yearly photograph on the stairs. Gift cards! Clothes! Money!

Why December 23, mom?


Sometime in the space between college and adulthood, it dawned on me and I got it. Only to be strengthened more with the birth of my own children.

Today is the best day of the year for all those reasons my mom had listed and so much more.

I hear it as my children whisper of the arrival of Santa down the chimney with wide eyes and firm belief.

I taste it after nibbling on a few cookies as dozen upon dozen more rotate their way through the oven.

I smell it, with each step into our living room, the Christmas tree's scent overtaking the room.

I see it with every light which seems to shine a little brighter each day closer to Christmas.

And finally I feel it with each giggle filled embrace.

Those feelings: anticipation, excitement, and joy are reaching a fever pitch today,
December 23.

Now my most favorite day of the year too.

Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A December to Remember? Ha!

During the holidays, many of the commericals seem to pull at the heartstrings a bit, leaving the viewer with a smug little smile on their face. There are the commericals with talking M&M's meeting Santa, big horses pulling beer trucks, and of course, the Hershey kiss commerical where the candy ring like bells.
I find myself tolerating commericals this time of year, to the point I often do not fast forward when I have DVR'd a show.

There are exceptions however to this holiday rule:

The luxury car commerical.

Specifically I find the Lexus December to Remember promotion the greatest violator my holiday cheer.

Why would I allow such a commerical to get under my skin?

Because I'm a stay at home mom on a budget and that's never going to happen.

That's the short answer.
The long answer goes something like this.
Strap in, it's a long ride!

Once upon a time, I worked.

I was a teacher in a fairly suburban and upper middle class school district where I made a relatively decent salary. My paycheck combined with Bry's let us live a rather comfortable lifestyle for two under thirty somethings. Lots of dinners out, weekend overnights to the city with friends, and a rather carefree view on spending. For the holidays, I would spend frivolously on my loved ones without much thought of budget, with the biggest purchases reserved for Bryan.

No, I didn't get him a Lexus, or even a TAG Heuer watch which he desired. I did however have the ability to buy what I wanted using my own cash, thus leaving a relatively untraceable trail of shopping expenditures. 
The element of surprise was on my side on Christmas morning when he unwrapped gifts from a variety of stores and price points.  

As his personal Santa, I'd like to think I did fairly well, except of course for the year of the pocket watch.

We all make mistakes.

With the addition of Moira and subtraction of my salary, I had to readdress my holiday shopping style. No longer could I just shop. Words like budget and responsibility became part of our combined lexicon, and I looked for sales and other incentives to keep the prices down.

For other family and friends' gifts, I made these concessions easily.

However, for Bryan, it was harder.

No longer did I have "my own" money. There would be no extravagant spending, as I had no money set aside for extravagance.

How could I, with no job or paycheck?

Besides this, Bry balances our books.  This means with every expenditure, I must procure a receipt with exact totals. I do believe he would notice a few hundred bucks missing from the account, or frankly I cringe at the thought of him seeing how much I hypothetically spent on gifts for him.

So that's where my disdain for those Lexus commericals is rooted.

I can't frankly surprise my husband with a Lexus or pretty much anything with a relatively high price tag because he's the one with the money and the one that does the books.

I wish I could lavish my husband with the gifts I feel he deserves: the new extra large TV he's been drooling over, the awesome stand from Restoration Hardware, and that TAG Heuer watch he's longed for for years. But that's just not going to happen.

Instead, this Christmas, there will be gifts under the tree for Bry, however none will have the price tag even a sliver of which comparable to a Lexus. There will be something chosen by Mo and handmade from Maeve, and frankly that's about it.

I know he'll still be merry this Christmas with these gifts, however the thought of how much merrier he could be sporting that TAG makes me nostalgic for those past holidays, or at least that paycheck!

I should mention even if money was no object, I would never buy him a car, because frankly I don't see that as a feasible gift for anyone, even if it's a Lexus SUV.

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with the fabulous Shell over at Things I Can't Say.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Inside the Blogger's Studio

It's Monday, Listicle day! One of the fun days of my blogging week. Bridget over at Twinisms suggested this week's prompt. Taken directly from Inside the Actor's Studio, this week I suggest that upon reading the questions, James Lipton's voice should echo within your head.

1. What is your favorite word?

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?
intellect, confidence, humor, the ability to laugh at oneself, eye contact

4. What turns you off?
narcissism, extremism, if you weigh less then me

 5. What sound do you love?
true laughter coming from the pit of one's stomach

6. What sound do you hate?

7. What is your favorite curse word?
fuck- what other word can be used in every part of speech? For example: I don't give a fuckty fuck what the fucking fucker said.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
actor on Sesame Street- not a puppeteer, an actual human actor interacting with Big Bird, Cookie Monster, etc..

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Anything profiled on Dirty Jobs

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Yes he was wrong. We let him in. 

Join in:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Be Merry

Most  years, those weeks before Christmas I have spent time scouring various photo uploading sites for the perfect card. Analyzing my choices of photos, I would make a variety of mock ups and share them with Bry, who would decide which was best.

This year, didn't happen.

I made a few on Snapfish, shared them with Bry. Then shared them with my sis,G & sis in law,Coll, and chose the one Coll & I liked best. (Sorry G, you were just too indecisive!). While I did have a 40% off coupon with free shipping, deciding to order said cards on December 10 was probably not in my best interest to ensure the made it out before December 25. Instead, I paid for one hour printing at Walgreens.
In a nutshell, had our cards in hand in less then 24 hours.
While I can't figure out how to upload the entire card, I'll share a few of my favorite photos from our holiday shoot with the ever talented Ashley of Ashley Pierce Photography. It's amazing what she can do amongst the Christmas trees at a small,  local nursery. Throw in some mini chalkboards, and SUCCESS!

simply perfect

Hmmm, Do I spy a new header photo?