Bee Flew North

12/31/2013

OK, actually she was driven North. I mentioned before Christmas that Bee was given an unexpected family pass to spend the holidays in Wisconsin with her grandparents and extended family. We met her grandma, great-aunt and great-grandma for dinner at Chilis the Friday before Christmas to get to know them a bit more before the send off. They’re very sweet people and I know Bee is in good hands. DCS extended their permission until January 13, her next hearing date because her grandma was planning on coming back down for the hearing anyway. It’s kind of weird…we technically still have a foster placement, Bee is officially still our foster daughter, but she’s not here. Although we do miss her, it’s been a nice break, too. After Buzz left I realized the unnatural circumstances that often come with foster care where the number of children in a household sometimes decreases. An additional child is a big adjustment and then reducing back down to one child from two feels like such an easy break. We’ve been enjoying soaking up lots of time with our amazing 2.5 year old Alianna. She is such a joy and a delight. Also, we got to see Buzz again. He and his mom came to the Christmas service at our church.

Bee all packed and ready to go. Have you ever seen a foster child come with such nice luggage?!

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Two of her three Christmas presents from us. I opened them the night before she left.

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Send-off day.

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We soothed ourselves with ice cream after the send-off dinner.

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Ali showing off a gift from our neighbor, pocket babies.

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Christmas church service:

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Bring on the Christmas Cheer!

12/04/2013

I started listening to Christmas music back in early October thanks to Jason’s new album. (It’s seriously fantastic. You should buy it!) The Sunday before Thanksgiving we put up our new-to-us Christmas tree and the rest of our decorations. It was so much fun to have Alianna’s help this year. She’s old enough to leave the fragile decorations alone for the most part, too.

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My Granny’s Shiny Brite ornaments from the 1950s get a special spot up on the kitchen counter.

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The rest of my Shiny Brite and Trim Time collection of vintage ornaments go on the aluminum tree in the dining room.

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I made a stocking for Bee (on the left) similar to Alianna’s stocking, out of an old wool sweater. I still don’t know if she’ll be here for Christmas but I can take off the initial and reuse the stocking in the future if she’s not.

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The past few years we’ve only done the mid-century silver tree and vintage ornaments but Jason suggested a more traditional tree this year. I’m really loving this giant tree with it’s warm lights in the corner of our living room. The crackling fireplace makes it all just heavenly.

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Last Chance to Preorder Christmas Classics

09/25/2013

Jason’s Kickstarter campaign for his Christmas Classics album ends tomorrow just after midnight. Last chance to preorder a CD and help fund this project. Thanks for considering.

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Merry Christmas!

09/10/2013

I know, I know…It’s only September. I used to work at a Michael’s craft store and I was always amazed when the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of Christmas decorations would arrive the first week of October…three weeks before Halloween. It just felt wrong. But I have a very good reason for bringing up Christmas in September. For several years my husband Jason has been dreaming and planning on recording a Christmas album. If you’ve been a blog reader for a while you probably remember when he released a lullabies album in February 2012 called Acoustic Lullabies. He’s had the idea for a Christmas album well before that but put it on hold to create a CD of beautiful guitar music dedicated to our daughter Ali, and the sales of that album helped fund her private adoption. Well, he’s finally finished with the long-awaited Christmas album. I’m so excited about it! It’s really wonderful. I’ve seriously had to resist the urge to set up the Christmas tree because overhearing some of the recording process and then listening to the almost-finished product has really brought on the Christmas spirit at our house. In September. Jason’s not just any average guitar player—he’s been obsessed with the six-stringed instrument for 20 years. He is trained and seasoned in classical, jazz, rock, country, finger-style guitar and you’ll hear all those influences on this album. I’m a big fan.

So anyway… producing an album is an investment. There is an initial expense and then money is gradually recouped through sales. His lullabies album was successful and worth the risk but we despise debt. We decided to try something different this time. Jason set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial expense for mixing and duplication (recording is already complete) through pledges for pre-orders of the album. At the base level a $15 pledge results in Christmas Classics shipped to you when it releases in October. Higher pledges have various rewards like autographed or gift wrapped CDs and bulk discounts. If he doesn’t reach his goal (which covers the cost of mixing and a minimum initial order of 1000 CDs), he doesn’t get any money and the pledges are all voided. It’s an all or none situation. Would you consider pledging money to pre-order this CD? I guarantee you’ll love it. You’ll love it so much that you’ll want to give copies to your kids’ teachers and soccer coaches, your best friend, your hard-to-buy-for-music-loving brother, your chiropractor, your insurance agent, etc.

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On Jason’s Kickstarter page, you can also watch the silly video we made to promote the project, and hear one of the songs. It was late at night and we may have thought it was a little funnier than it actually is…but all is redeemed by Ali’s incredible sweetness at the end.

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Merry Christmas!

Thanks for your consideration.


Our 1st Christmas at Home

12/27/2012

Ready for Christmas picture overload? OK, here we go!

Our niece Eliza came over to play on Christmas Eve.

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In case it’s not obvious, these girls have a blast together.

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Jason was so awesome and made my family’s traditional Christmas Eve Swedish meatballs while Ginger and I chased the little girls around the house and visited before the rest of the family got there.

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These two can empty a toy box in less than a minute.

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Who me?

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After the house got quiet, it was time for this mama to pack up the stockings.

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This one is for Lucy:

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For Jason (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)

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For Alianna. She’s an awesome gift receiver. Equally excited about the socks and the owl stickers.

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For me; yes I stuff a stocking for myself. (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)

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On Christmas morning I woke up around 9 but Jason and Ali slept until closer to 10. I made a little treat for Ali and I and she learned a new word: cocoa.

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Round 1: stockings and Ali’s presents from Mom and Dad.

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In addition to the stocking littles, Ali gets three gifts from us. (Side note: Jason and I gave each other a house for Christmas. And I recently got a new camera and he got a new computer; both for our work. Merry Christmas to each other!)

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Good morning! It’s Christmas!

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Something to play with: Mind of My Own by Frances England.

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Something to Read: The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

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Something to Wear: “seaspray” Converse low tops

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New car from Grandma and Grandpa

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Yogurt as a finger food?

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We got to FaceTime with my brother’s family in PA. My parents were there for Christmas. My sister’s family was driving there at the time so we didn’t get to see them.

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Eli got a tractor!

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Jason got some egg poachers in his stocking we he tried them out for our breakfast.

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After morning nap she had a bath and got all dressed up for the rest of Christmas day.

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Sometimes “Where’s Ali?” is the only way I can get her to turn towards the camera but this is the facial response I get.

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Round 2 of opening presents. She got some great stuff from her aunts and uncles (my siblings in PA).

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This Leap Frog Phonics toy seemed to be Ali’s favorite of the day.

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Hmm, I might be realizing where Ali gets her “Ooooh!” face from.

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Jason’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece spent the afternoon and evening with us. There were lots more presents, little girls running around playing with new toys, and a delicious dinner of ham, chicken, brussel sprouts, roasted beets, macaroni and cheese, rolls, berry delight, pumpkin pie…mmmm…I’m getting hungry again. I didn’t take many pictures during all that fun but after dinner I took these.

My handsome husband:

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Ali checking out one of her new shirts.

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The FP Little People airplane was a big hit.

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Daniel and Ginger

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Daniel, Ginger and Eliza

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Papa showing Ali how to use Nana’s Nook

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Tongue out in concentration? That’s new!

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Jason’s parents: Papa and Nana

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We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too!

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Merry Christmas!

12/25/2012

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Thanks for being readers and friends. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Merry Christmas Eve

12/24/2012

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve. We’re planning on our traditional Swedish meatballs and then I have a surprise gift tucked away with new PJs for all, a Christmas movie, popcorn and hot cocoa. I’m hoping to start a new Christmas eve tradition. Here are some photos from our last couple weeks of Christmas preparations.

I was excited to have this little elf to help me with cookie making this year.

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She loves pushing Dizzy all around the house.

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Ali helped me make the raspberry thumbprint cookies so she got to enjoy one of them fresh from the oven.

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And a peanut butter blossom, too, because what the heck. It’s Christmas. I decided she should get to eat way too many cookies like the rest of us.

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Sugar cookie cut-outs in the oven.

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Next year we’re going to get a traditional green tree for all of these fun and sentimental ornaments. This year to keep them safe I made a wall “tree” with command hooks and ribbon.

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We’ve been using the fireplace a lot so I was afraid to hang the stockings too close to the fire.

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This works!

 

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Our tree can’t support Christmas lights but it’s so sparkly when the sunlight shines on it that it glows!

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Ali woke up on Saturday morning, pointed to her head and said “hat.” She wore her Santa hat most of the day.

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I call this “scowl face.” I was trying really hard to get her to do it the other day so I could capture it in a photo but now she seems to think this is THE face to make for every photo. Haha!

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Merry Christmas Y’all!


Christmas Gift Ideas for a 17-month-old Girl

12/19/2012

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…or at least this one specific 17-month-old (in 2 days) little girl I know.

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We adopted a new tradition last year of giving three gifts: something to wear, something to play with and something to read. (Can you call something a tradition if you’ve only done it once before?) I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE Amazon.com. They sell just about everything and it’s easy to find items with free shipping. I did 40% of my Christmas shopping in less than an hour this year. The other 50% will be at Target and 10% random places. Rabbit trail… Here’s what I ordered our little punkin for this year.

Something to Read:

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, David Lee Csicsko

 

This book was recommended to me somewhere along the way. It’s a simple book but helpful to start talking about different skin colors whenever Ali starts to notice that we’re all a little different in skin color.

Something to Wear:

CONVERSE Kids’ All Star Ox Tod (Sea Spray 4.0 M)

My baby has small feet! She’s still between a size 3 and a size 4. We only have a couple of options that still fit in the size 3s and only a couple size 4s. These seem like they’ll be quite versatile in a neutral olive green. (The color I got is now sold out so no picture of it.)

Something to Play With:

Frances England’s Mind Of My Own

Ali loves music and pushing buttons so turning on her CD player is one of her favorite things to do everyday. We’ve been enjoying this album a lot on Spotify the past couple of months but I wanted to get her the physical disc so she can play it in her room, the living room, the silver bullet, wherever.

I’m also planning starting a new tradition this year of a Christmas Eve family gift of hot cocoa, a Christmas movie, new PJs and popcorn. And I always end up buying a wad of small things for our stockings: socks, chapstick, underwear, toothbrushes, candy, stickers.

I’m not the least bit concerned about Ali not getting any new toys from us this year. For one, she just got a bunch of “new” toys when we unpacked all of our boxes from storage and for two, her extended family will inevitably shower her with way too many wonderful gifts. ;) With that in mind, here are some things I put on her Amazon wishlist.

At Ali’s 18-month Half Birthday, I’m planning a little celebration and to introduce her to a potty seat and the concept of potty training. She’s been very curious about the whole process lately. After reading lots of reviews, I decided on this seat:

Prince Lionheart weePOD Basix, Berry Blue

And this book:

Potty (Leslie Patricelli board books)

Because she’s so cute when we ask “What does a cow say?” and she answers, “Mmmmmm…” a bouncy, ride-on cow:

Trumpette Howdy Bouncy Rubber Cow, White

I had the awesome choking hazard FP Little People house, hospital and vacation travel set when I was growing up. (Shh…don’t tell the child-safe police that they’re sitting out at Grandma’s house!). Now they have these short and stubby Little People. I think Ali would like this house:

Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home

And the airplane, too. She’s good at hearing and spotting airplanes and we plan on taking her on her second plane trip next year. Plus, her daddy frequently travels by airplane for work so Ali’s very familiar with the airport.

Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers Airplane

Ali is pretty into anything with wheels lately. She has a little matchbox car from a cereal box that she LOVES! I’m a big fan of Green Toys (like her tea set) so I put this pink and purple dump truck on her list:

Green Toys Dump Truck, Pink

Ali has a couple of small chairs but not a child-size table. I think it would be great to have one in our playroom for coloring and Play-Doh and other activities. This IKEA one would be an option.

IKEA Children’s Kids Table & 2 Chairs Set Furniture

When Grandma asked her what she wants for Christmas this year, she said “Baby,” so I have a feel she might be getting something like this:

Little Mommy Scrub A Dub Dub Baby Doll – New 2012 Version

Ali’s plastic-coated catcher bibs have been getting really worn out. I think I’ll throw a few more up on her wish list in case any relatives still needs ideas. ;)

Bumkins 3 Pack Waterproof SuperBib, Girl G14

Bumkins 3 Pack Waterproof SuperBib


Bring Home the Bacon … for Christmas!

12/13/2012

It’s time to tell you about my favorite Christmas present from last year, in case you still need an idea for that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list. It’s not the gift that got the most use (that would be our Keurig) but it’s the one that has saved us hundreds of greasy paper towels and time cleaning a grease splattered stove, oven or microwave…which is pretty awesome. Gifted to me by my beloved.

Meet Piggy Wiggy the bacon tray.

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Microwave bacon trays are not hard to come by but I was searching high and low for one that had a lid. Without a lid the grease still splatters all over the microwave (or requires lots of paper towels), so what is the point? Then I found Joie Piggy Wiggy. Not only does it have a lid, it has a pink vented lid with a pig-face handle. It’s perfect. The grid on the tray allows the grease to drain off the bacon and everything is contained. No more throwing away 5 greasy paper towels just to cook a few strips of bacon. The grease can easy be dumped into a jar and the two parts scrub clean pretty easily. Did I mention it’s less than $10 with free shipping on Amazon? What are you waiting for … git one!


It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas…

12/12/2012

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On the eve of moving day, Jason and I went to a fundraiser dinner and a friend snapped this picture of us in front of the ginorous Christmas tree in the lobby. I would just slap it onto a Christmas card template and send it out to our friends and family this year but it’s missing a certain little cutie pie. I’m going to attempt to get a picture of the 3 of us and whip something up in time to send out. I’m also hoping to have time to do some Christmas shopping before I run out of shipping time. Yikes! So much to do this time of the year and we kind of have our hands full with unpacking and all… I did put up a few Christmas decorations as I was unpacking boxes.

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I bought 3 more boxes of vintage ornaments this summer to add to my collection. (Sidenote: I still have a couple of 11×17 Wishing You a Shiny Brite Christmas posters for sale at my etsy shop, as well as some digital download prints.)

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The silver wreath Jason and I made many years ago made it’s way onto our new front door.

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A year or two before she passed away, my Granny gave me two boxes of her vintage Shiny Brite ornaments. They’re half broken and the glitter is a bit corroated but I treasure them. That’s why they’re on this tree stand on the counter, away from toddler hands.

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Speaking of toddler hands, yeah, this is going to be interesting… I’ve already said, “No, Ali, we don’t touch the Christmas tree!” about 500x. Which just makes her want to touch it more, I’m sure. “Ball,” she says as she pokes at the ornaments. No picture of her with the tree yet for obvious reasons.

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