merry little christmas

I’m still kind of basking in the glow of our lovely little Christmas.  It was the prefect combination of loud, family chaos and quiet moments for just the three of us.

Normally, we would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my parents’ house, but this year, because of some logistical circumstances, we hosted the Christmas Eve gathering at our house.

I took Evelyn to daycare for a few hours on Christmas Eve so that I could run some errands and take care of some prep for the party.  My siblings started to arrive around 3:00 and what followed was about 6 hours of food, laughter, spirits, sarcasm, jokes about bodily functions, paper-tearing, mess-making, fireside fun.  My brother brought a vat of English Christmas punch.  Oh my, I will be making that every year from now on. It was a lot of fun watching Evelyn and my nephews tear open their gifts.  Evelyn wasn’t really into the ripping and shredding.  She would tear at the package in a few places and then hand it to me and say “Mommy, help.”

On Christmas morning, it was just the three of us, and I have to say, I actually enjoyed the quiet time.  We had breakfast, opened our gifts and just took our time, relaxing by the fire and sipping coffee, enjoying an album of Michael’s baby pictures that his mom had sent us.

Christmas Morning (5)

Christmas Morning (15)

We definitely have started to lay out some new traditions for our family.  On Christmas Eve, after everyone went home, Evelyn was in bed, and the mess had been mostly cleaned up, we flopped down exhausted on the couch.  Michael pulled out his Bible and read aloud Luke 2:1-21.  For the past several years, he has told me that this was a tradition in his family, but we never did it ourselves until now.  I also decided to buy Evelyn an ornament and will continue to do so every year until she is on her own and has her own Christmas tree.  Then she will have a collection of ornaments all ready to go.  This year I got her this Mickey Mouse ornament.  Michael grew up in Florida and used to work and play at Disney, so it seemed like a good idea.

DSC_0709

I’m also really glad we stuck to the 3 gift rule.  Between aunts and uncles and grandparents, Evelyn got plenty of gifts and it wasn’t too overwhelming for her.  I saw so many pictures on facebook of trees with piles and piles of gifts underneath and it gave me anxiety just imagining trying to find a home for all those new toys.  We kept it simple and we are still going to have to do some cleaning out and rearranging of toys.

Christmas Morning (14)

On Christmas evening, we always go to my grandparents’ home, so we made the hour long trek like we usually do, packed some pajamas for Evelyn, and visited with my dad’s side of the family.  Evelyn fell asleep in the car just minutes before we arrived back home and I knew she would be no trouble going to bed when I put her in her crib and she said, “Turn off the lights, Mommy.”

Another Christmas come and gone.  This year was an excellent one.  How was your holiday?  Crazy or quiet?  Or maybe a little of both…

the best of summer 2013

I have a zillion photos saved on my laptop, phone, and on my camera’s SD card.  Yes, a zillion.  In this digital age, it’s possible to take a hundred photos and weed out only one that is frame-worthy.  Then there’s the question of what to do with all those other pictures.  Even if they aren’t the “best” photos, they might still be good.  As a first-time mom, it’s really hard to delete any picture of my kid.  But truly, I can’t save all of them and who (besides me) will want to look at them anyway?  I realized several months after Evelyn was born, and I had managed to accumulate 1,000 photos of her on my phone, that I needed an intervention of some kind.  Or I just needed to figure out what to do with all of them.  So, I’ve come up with my own little method for saving pictures.  For her first year, I reserved the right to take as many darn pictures as I want…and save as many as I want.  Since her first birthday, I’ve been trying to come up with a system that is manageable.  Here’s what’s been working so far.

Each time we have an outing, event or other photo opportunity, I take as many pictures as I please.  When I have some time to myself, I plug the SD card into my laptop and begin the pruning process.  I get rid of photos that are blurry, have bad composition, or duplicates (often created when I use the rapid-fire setting).

Once I’ve chosen the photos I want to keep, I save them into a folder on my computer.  At this point, I have folders labeled by the season and year (for example, Summer 2013).  After they are saved, I highlight all of the new pictures and then rename them based on the date or event.  Renaming them in a batch will give all the files the same name, but with a number after it (for example, Memorial Day (5)) so that they will all stay together within the folder.

Now, all the photos are saved on my computer, but what if it crashes and I lose everything?  For that, I use flickr.  For $25 a year, I can have unlimited storage of my photos.  I suppose if the fit hits the shan and the internet no longer exists, well, my pictures will be gone.  But if that happens, I’m thinking we’ll all have much bigger problems to worry about.  So, I save them in sets labeled by the event or season, depending on how many pictures I have.  I’m still working on dumping all the pictures from my phone onto flickr.  It’s a tedious process, but once I have it done, it should be pretty easy to just dump them on a weekly basis.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still like to have some of my pictures printed out so that I can physically hold them in my hand.  So, each year, I will be creating a family yearbook of sorts with the highlights and best pictures from the past 12 months.  Last year I created one that was basically Evelyn’s first year.  I used one of the more popular online scrap-booking sites, but was very disappointed to find that after spending literally HOURS working on the book, it disappeared after I ordered a copy of it.  So, if I ever wanted to order another copy, for whatever reason, I would not be able to do so…and that really ticks me off.  So, this year, I will be looking for a different program to use.  I have downloaded a few to try and will play around with them to see which one I like the best.

So, that brings me to the reason for this post in the first place, to feature some of the best from this summer.  I can’t believe how quickly this summer has passed by!  We just completed our final camping trip of the season and Fall is in the air.  Time to say goodbye to Summer 2013…

Memorial Day – She loves marching bands!

Memorial Day (9)

Aww…there’s nothing quite so cute as daddies and daughters.

Memorial Day (25)

Can’t take credit for this one.  My friend Lisa, of Charlie the Cavalier, took this one of a brief moment when our cherubs (along with Sarah of The Clerical Error‘s little girl)  were not crying or stealing food from one another.  Why is the song “Ebony and Ivory” running through my head?

trio on piano

A trip to Knoebel’s

IMG_1942

Much to my chagrin, she LOVED this group of singers/performers at the park.  We watched the ENTIRE show.

IMG_1957

Strawberry picking…

June Strawberries (24)

June Strawberries (33)

Evelyn and her great-grandma

IMG_2105

4th of July, baby!

July 4th (1)

July 4 (2)

Evelyn loves to go for walks in our neighborhood, and she especially loves searching for gnomes in this neighbor’s landscaping.

IMG_2193

Fun on the lake…

Halfway Dam (9)

Halfway Dam (8)

Before you start talking smack, just know that I do realize how pasty white I am.  I’m ok with it.  This is my year-round color.  And when I’m old and gray, I’ll be less wrinkly than all you sun-worshippers.  😉

Halfway Dam (5)

County Fair

Clinton County Fair August (16)

Clinton County Fair August (18)

Camping with the family…

IMG_1995

IMG_2039

Camping July  (14)

DSC_0048

DSC_0056

DSC_0067

DSC_0073

DSC_0097

Camping July  (1)

Summer, we had a good run, but bring on the Fall!

open letter to a stay-at-home-dad

Memorial Day (25)

Dear Michael,

I know we didn’t plan for this, but life is messy and plans don’t always work out.  God knows, what we plan for ourselves is usually far less grand than what He has planned for us.  What do we know anyway?  Who knew that you’d be at home with our little girl…her constant, her steady, her rock.   As a brand-new, first-time, huge-ball-of-nerves mom, I was nervous to leave my sweet, new baby at home with you (and I admit, a little jealous too.) I kept reminding myself, He loves her just as much as I do. He won’t let anything happen to her.  I had my doubts about whether you would be able to handle it.  I pictured a poor, screaming baby and a frustrated, exhausted Daddy.  I imagined every worst-case scenario and every potential disaster, but those things never happened.  You took on this new role, this role you hadn’t planned for, and you owned it.  From feedings and cloth diapers to doctor visits and sing-alongs, you’ve handled it all, and without a single complaint.

January 2012 (15)

I know the past 16 months haven’t been easy for you, even if you’ve made them look that way.  I know that you’ve been frustrated and stir-crazy at times.  And even though you might not have noticed it through the monotony of the day to day, this experienced has changed you.  It has been such a joy to watch the two of you grow together.  Every milestone, every triumph has been yours as much as it’s been hers.

May 2012 (12)

You probably have no idea but, you’ve taught me so much about being a mom.  You’ve taught me how to let go.  You’ve helped me cast away many of my new-mom anxieties. You might not do things the  way I would do them, but you do them like only you could.  The way you read her stories with silly voices, fling her up on your shoulders when she’s getting antsy, and sing her through her daily routines.  You are so very patient with her and she adores you. It’s said that God knows the desires of our hearts and even though I sometimes wish that I could be at home with our girl, He knows how very much I’ve always wanted my babies to have a Daddy like you.  I am so very grateful for everything you do and for the way you’ve shaped Evelyn into the amazing little girl that she is.  Thank you.

With all my love and much gratitude,

Happy Father’s Day!

Love,

Me ❤

yes, i’m one of THOSE moms

Yesterday, we had our first real snow of the year.  Ok, well maybe I wouldn’t classify it as a real snow.  It was only an inch or two of accumulation and it didn’t stick around, but it was beautiful while it lasted.  I have been super photo-lazy these days, so I didn’t get any good photos of it, but Michael takes pictures of the baby during the day and sends them to me at work.  Some days they make me jealous, but these made me smile (though they did make me want to go home, crawl into my pajamas, and curl up with Evie by the window).

Mainly I love getting pictures at work because I like to brag up my hubby and all the cool things he does with Evelyn.  Yesterday, he brought the snow inside so Evie could play…

…and eat.

And while I was driving to work this morning (I have a lot of time to think in the car) I started thinking about how I love to brag up my hubby and baby, but I also feel self-conscious about doing so.  And then it made me sad to think about how women tend to judge each other and assume that a little proud story-telling means that we’re trying to one-up each other.  A story about something terrible happening will elicit sympathy and commiseration, but a story about the amazing thing your baby did last night (gave me an unprompted kiss!) makes you one of THOSE moms.

You know what?  My kid is awesome.

She started signing around 8 months and now she speaks about 10-15 words and says new ones every day.

She’s pooped on the potty twice.

She drinks from a regular cup.

She tries to put on her own socks.

She’ll request to be read a book over and over…and she’ll sit quietly and listen to it.

She’s slept through the night since she’s been 2 1/2 months old.

My husband rocks too.

He does all the laundry and dishes and has dinner ready for me when I get home from work.

He’s incredibly patient with Evelyn and provides great learning experiences for her.

He rubs my feet.

He puts up with my crap and keeps me sane.

But, you know what else?

When Evelyn gets startled or upset, she holds her breath until she passes out…sometimes several times a day.

She’s not walking yet.

She screams at me when I try to change her diaper.

Michael likes to bring up controversial political and religious topics at family gatherings.

His idea of clean is vastly different from my own.

He doesn’t hear about 75% of what I say.

He yells and swears like a sailor during football games and he’s near worthless on Sundays.

My daughter, my husband, and my life are not perfect, but I try really hard to focus on the awesome things about my life.  And I want to hear about what’s awesome in your life too.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to talk about those things that trouble us.  Everyone needs sympathy and commiseration from time to time.  But why does it seem like people always come together over shared negativity rather than cheering one another on?  I’ll admit that I sometimes get caught up in life’s little irritations and I’ve been known to have a pity-party from time to time, but I also love sharing a good brag about my family, and if that makes me one of THOSE moms, I’m ok with that.