Monday, November 28, 2011

The Holiday Spirit

I'm really getting into the holiday spirit now.  That means I'm listening to Christmas music, enjoying the lights and decor, and starting to get a lot of my shopping done, which means looking for good bargains.  Of course, if you think about bargains this time of year, everyone thinks about Black Friday.  Now, I love finding a bargain.  I mean, I really love finding a bargain.  But I do not love going shopping when the stores are crowded, let alone when they are jam packed with crazy people fighting over the last "Tickle Me Elmo" or whatever the latest must-have item is for Christmas.  Yes, I know "Tickle Me Elmo" was the big thing in about 1996.  No, I do not have the slightest idea what hot toys are selling out in stores this year.  I don't watch much TV and I don't shop on Black Friday, so I'm clueless about this stuff.  And you did read that right.  As much as I love a good deal, I do not go shopping on Black Friday.  Ever.  I especially don't go shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving.   What?! The idea of the crowds and insanity makes me feel a little ill.  I don't even like going grocery shopping on a weekend or after 4 pm.  Grocery shopping at 9 am on a Tuesday when the stores are nearly deserted is one of the secret perks of being a stay-at-home mom.  But I digress.  Back to the bargain shopping...

I am happy to report that I managed to get three fabulous deals in the past week in spite of my Black Friday boycott.  Deal #1 was before Thanksgiving at Kohl's.  You may remember that I wrote about my distress over being unable to find a decent maternity blazer to wear to testify in court (you can read about it here if you're so inclined).  I essentially was not able to find one and settled for a black cardigan.  I have worn that cardigan to court twice, and felt like a frump both times.  Then I got subpoenaed again.  I finally decided that I need to just buy a non-maternity black blazer in my regular size that I can wear unbuttoned for now and then continue to wear when I'm not pregnant anymore.  That way I don't feel bad about spending money on a maternity item I'll rarely wear, and I'll add a staple to my wardrobe that I should really already have.  I mean, how can I not have a black blazer?  I checked Kohl's last week when Lass and I were running errands after dropping Miss off at school.  I found a blazer there.  And even though it was before Thanksgiving, it was on sale.  I got a great blazer for about $35!!  Okay, so this wasn't a holiday gift find, but saving money still gets me in the spirit.

Deal #2 was for this beautiful necklace.  This was a Black Friday online sale in this awesome Etsy shop.  I am kind of addicted to these necklaces, and I got a super deal on this one.  Plus, I don't have to pay shipping because the mama who makes them lives nearby and her son goes to preschool with Miss.  Score!  Oh yeah, I guess this wasn't a holiday gift find either, but really the sale was too good to pass up.

Deal #3 and the best one yet was a find for Miss.  I got her a pair of Land's End snow boots that were regularly priced at about $50.  They are on sale for $25 right now. Plus I got a special "Cyber Monday" additional discount code and free shipping.  I paid about $18 for them!!  Woohoo!

Another thing that has really gotten me into the spirit of the season is buying gifts for some local children for Christmas.  Last year we packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse.  That is a great cause, but this year I wanted to give to a more local cause.  I looked online for some local charities and found out our police station has a program where they match you up with a child, give you the age, gender, sizes, needs, and wishes of him or her.  I requested two children and we got a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, both girls.  It was so fun to shop for them with my girls!  I think Miss is starting to understand the concept of giving to someone less fortunate than us, and she had fun picking out the toys, books, clothes, and other miscellaneous items for these little girls.  She kept asking what the little girls' names were that we were shopping for (which of course I didn't know).  We got school outfits, jammies, underwear, snow pants and boots, books, a baby doll and stroller, a shopping cart and toy food, and a case of art supplies, along with a few other things. Today we packed them up and took them to the police station to drop them off.  Miss even carried one of the big bags full of gifts all by herself.  She was so proud and kept declining my offers to help her.  She even got a "Junior Officer" badge sticker from the officer at the station.  It was such a fun experience.

And finally, to wrap up this post, here are a few photos of my girls getting into the spirit watching football with their Daddy.  This photo was taken on Saturday at the beginning of the Michigan vs. Ohio State game.  And yes, my hubby was rooting for Michigan on that day. 

I love this time of year!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

It's tradition in our family to put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving if at all possible.  Yesterday, we got it done.  The girls took great naps, which allowed me to get the tree up and put all my breakable ornaments on the top half.  I left the bottom bare so the girls could help me with the non-breakable ornaments after waking from their naps.  They were really excited when they saw the tree!

They dug in to the box of ornaments and random other decorations like it was a treasure chest.  Notice that old box.  It's probably at least as old as I am.  It's what we kept many of these same ornaments in when I was a kid.  I just kept them in the same box when I inherited them from my mom.

Miss found and loved these little elves.  There are two of them that sit back to back in a boot.  Again, these guys are almost as old (if not as old) as I am.  They were one of my favorites when I was little too.  One of them has a problems with his head falling off from time to time, but I love them and could never part with them.

These ornaments were made by my mom back in the 70s I think.  Styrofoam balls (and a few other shapes) with beads and sequins pinned into them.  Miss loved this bell, which she called a "Christmas tree."  It makes me happy that my girls are putting some of my childhood memories on our tree each year.

Lass mostly just dug through the box and checked everything out.

But Miss was very into helping me by handing me all the ornaments, telling me where to put them, and even putting a few on herself.

It was so fun to decorate our tree with my girls.  I love holiday traditions like these.  We listened to Johnny Mathis Christmas music.  The girls shook their booties to "Jingle Bell Rock" and bobbed and swayed beautifully to the less bop-worthy songs, like "Give Me Your Love For Christmas" and "White Christmas."  Our tree is full of the perfect balance of old and new.  The garland and many of the ornaments, as noted above, are the same ones that we put on our tree when I was a little girl.  We have some ornaments made by my great-grandmother.  Plenty of the ornaments are ones I have collected over the years, both vintage and new.  And of course, each of the girls has her own little collection of her own ornaments that will grow each year.

I love our tree.  Some might think it too cluttered.  Some might prefer a more coordinated look.  I think this tree is perfect.  It speaks of family and history and love and, of course, tradition.  To me, that seems the whole purpose of a Christmas tree.  Most of all, I love the process of putting it together as a family.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving seems to kind of get a raw deal these days.  Right after Halloween, the Christmas craziness kicks in to full gear in stores, in ads, and so on.  Thanksgiving seems to have been relegated to the position of being nothing more than a signal that it's time for Black Friday sales to begin.  

Well, I protest.  Thanksgiving may not be as magical and glitzy as Christmas, but it's a pretty darn cool holiday.  It's about history, tradition, family, and of course, being thankful for what we have.  And I am oh so thankful.

How in the world could I be anything but thankful every day?  I have a wonderful husband who is an awesome father to our girls. I have two beautiful and healthy daughters.  I am more than halfway through a third healthy pregnancy.  I am so fortunate to have been able to conceive and carry two healthy children and to have a third baby girl on the way.  Even though this is my third pregnancy, I still marvel at the wonders of growing a little person in my belly.  Every time she kicks or wiggles, I can't help but put my hand on my stomach and smile.  It never gets old.  Never.  And I am so thankful.  

I'm thankful that my girls have each other and love each other so much.

I'm thankful that my husband works hard every day, and has worked hard for a very long time, so that we are in a position where I am able to stay home with our girls.  It's the best job in the world and I am so lucky to do it full time.

I'm thankful for so much more.  But today, after spending the day with my husband and our girls, eating food that someone else cooked, watching football, and just enjoying each other, I am so full of gratitude for this.  For my family.  For our home.  For my soul mate.  For these beautiful little souls and their baby sister.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daddy Plays With Dolls

Have I mentioned how awesome my husband is?  I love watching him play with our girls.

He is good at playing baby dolls.

He's better at it than I am. He gets into character, Big Baby, Little Baby, Ariel, or whichever baby or babies he is "assigned," and gets Miss laughing like crazy.

One of the first things she says to him when he gets home from work is, "Daddy, do you want one of my baby dolls?"  To which he always replies, "Sure!"

They play and play.  Funny little baby doll games that only the two of them "get."

What an amazing Daddy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Self Portrait

My girls love to draw and color.  I am so happy with this new table I have for them.  It has a paper roll and is just the right height for both of them.

Miss always asks me to draw "smiley faces" and pictures of each of the members of our family.  I am not an artist.  And it's kind of funny to try to draw myself, but she likes it, so I do it.  Over and over.  Here's my latest "self portrait."  Lass decided to color me yellow.

Then Miss thought it needed a little something. She said she needed to add "something to the cheeks."

Then she felt the picture I drew of her Daddy needed to same treatment.

That, and a hair bow.

We've had lots of fun in the past few days with crayons, stamps, and dot markers.

Lass is really getting into coloring more and more.

The trick is in keeping the crayons out of her mouth.

My works of art.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Just a few photos from our lazy day at home.

It's my bedtime.  Goodnight.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Love a Treasure Hunt

My husband hunts deer.  He is a bowhunter, which means he spends a lot of time sitting up in a tree watching deer.  He loves observing deer and the other animals he sees while sitting in a tree for hours and hours (this year he saw a bobcat twice).  Eventually, he does kill a deer.   This year he killed two.  Our freezer is fully stocked with venison to last for the next year.  This is great, because venison is much healthier to eat than beef. It's leaner and you never have to worry about hormones or antibiotics or anything else weird and gross like that.  Some people prefer to get their meat at the grocery store, where they never have to think about how it got there.  I prefer venison.  I know where it came from, have a good general idea of what it ate, and know how and by whom (my husband and brother in law) it was butchered and processed and packaged.  

All this is leading up to the point that we got home last night after spending a week and a half at the Farm while my husband hunted.  And also to give the warning that there are photos near the end of this post of some dead deer.  The photos also have my handsome husband and adorable older daughter in them, but if you don't like photos of dead deer, you may not want to read this entire post.  I'll give a warning right before those photos come up, so you can feel safe reading through the first part of this lovely post if you like.  

Since we were at the Farm, Miss and Lass got to see their cousins and spend time doing fun things like going on treasure hunts.  We went on an especially fun one yesterday.  Because the water is so low, we went to the beach, where there was lots of room to walk around and find treasures.

Miss got to see the work of some beavers.

 And my husband found the coolest and biggest caterpillar I have ever seen.

The kids also found a partial skeleton of what was probably a raccoon.

It's so fun to just go outside and turn a walk around the beach or the woods into an adventure.  Anything Miss picked up, from a hickory nut, to a shell, to a pine cone could be called "treasure" and she was all into it.  Treasure hunts are one of my favorite things about being at the Farm.

The girls had lots of other fun times playing with their cousins over the past weekend too.  Dress up was a favorite.

Prior to this weekend when all the aunts and uncles and cousins came down, we were just all hanging out together with my mother and father in law.  As I mentioned, my husband spend a lot of time in a tree, but we had lots of fun with him when he came in.  We indulged in some special treats, like ice cream, since we were on vacation.

My girls like ice cream.

And we spent a lot of time just playing.  Miss had fun with this guitar one afternoon.  She has really been into singing lately, often making up her own songs.  The other day she started strumming the guitar and singing a song that went something like, "Mommy and Lass and Daddy and Miiiiissss. You're so cuuuute and so adoooorable."

I would tell her what a beautiful song it was and how wonderful her singing is, and then she would stand up and strike a proud pose next to the guitar, come over to me and tell me, "I love you Mommy," and then do it all again.  I don't know how many times she repeated this, but it was a lot and I loved it.  It was cuuute.  And adoooorable.

Okay, here's your WARNING: Dead deer photos follow.

My husband shot a buck and a doe.  Miss was quite fascinated with them and asked lots of questions.  She was very interested in the fact that "Daddy deer" are called bucks and have antlers and "Mommy deer" are called does and "have ears."

Lass lost interest much more quickly, but of course had fun being outside anyway.

I'm proud of my husband.  He's an ethical hunter and doesn't kill more than what we will eat.  He practices shooting his bow a great deal beforehand so he will make a clean shot when the time comes.  He spends hours and hours observing the deer and learning about them, and passes this information on to his family members, including his nephews who also enjoy hunting.  He spent a morning hunting with one nephew and helping him shoot a deer himself.  And even though it's a little rough to be away from home with my girls for almost two weeks, I feel fortunate that we are able to go with him when he hunts.  And it is completely worth it to know that he had such a great week outside doing something he really enjoys.  He is an amazing father and husband, and he deserves that.

Of course, it's fabulous to be home. And you'd better believe I'm going to milk my "sacrifices" of the past week and a half to get myself a nice massage :)