Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas, Pictures

Well, it's about time to close out the year on this here blog, and it occurred to me that I've been very short on pictures lately, so I plan to make up for that in his post. 
Without further ado, I present our Christmas season in pictures: 


This is the one I sent out in Christmas cards.  It's not perfect - William is kinda biting his lip but it's the best I could get of the two of them and still get my Christmas cards out (almost!) on time. Here are some outtakes from the same photo shoot (which was while we were at my folks' house, by the way). 

(PS - William still has THE best laugh). 

One of me and my kiddos, taken by my mom. 

And now we'll skip ahead to Christmas festivities back home in SC: 


 My boys, and me and my girl on Christmas Eve.  We went to 5 pm church them came home for a light dinner which we ate in the living room by the tree, and then opened presents that were sent in from our parents and other family not there with us. It was a fun evening.  The kids scored some great toys right off the bat, but were perhaps most enchanted by the tea set my mom sent me.  We've been having proper tea time all week since. 


Here's the tree on Christmas Eve, after Santa came.  Don and I spent a quiet cozy evening listening to music, staring at the tree, and talking over Christmases past.  And I tried (in vain?) to get the perfectly lit Christmas tree picture.  The ultimate photography challenge - nothing ever quite does it justice. 


And so on to Christmas morning.  This was by far the most fun Christmas yet, with TWO kids fully able to appreciate all the fun of the day.  They did a great job - slow and gracious in opening their gifts, and no one seemed too overwhelmed.  It was a nice, easy, fun day.  Santa was very generous, and by the end of the morning our living room floor was a happy mess of new toys. 

This might be one of my favorite William pictures ever, because he's got all his favorite things - flashlights, NEW blue boots to replace his worn out shark boots, and a tool box.

These citiblocs have turned out to be fantastic.  I bought them on a whim because I love me a good set of blocks, but they are even better than I was expecting and have already seen a lot of use. By everyone. 


And the day after Christmas the kids did some finger painting at their new easel.  I have wanted to get a children's easel for at least two Christmases, but never been quite okay with the $50-60 price.  Well, I actually went out shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and was glad I did because I got this guy on sale for $25.  And I swear the wood must be cedar because it smells SO good. 

And interestingly, this Christmas was not one of our most expensive. We focused on the kids and kept it really simple for all our other family (and vice versa).  I always feel like such a crafting loser come December, because I think of all the projects I got inspired about back in January, things that would make great handmade presents for relatives near and far.  Then around the time I have triumphantly finished Halloween costumes I realize there is no where near enough time to churn out decent Christmas gifts.  Drat.  Soo, once again I will try to do better next year, and already have some ideas in the works. 

It was great to see my family before Christmas.  We had not been back to CT since moving at Christmastime last year. 2012 had us playing host way more than we played guest, so it was terrific to be back home with my parents for a short while. Wish we could live closer to all those we love so much, but for now we are content with our sweet little family here and very much looking forward to all that 2013 might bring. Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Small Christmas Moments


Finding myself charmed by my children quite a bit lately.  Which pretty much makes up for things like taking them to the Commissary, where they are so "helpful" it is maddening.  The last week has necessarily been one of trying extra-hard to live in the moment and appreciate my little munchkins as much as possible, so to that end here's the quick hits list of some of my favorite moments of this week. 

Listened carefully to Amy singing "Jingle Bells" tonight and realized she sings it "Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-foot-horse-and-sleigh." 

William says "Merry Christmas" just the way Uncle Felix does. Have I mentioned that both kids LOVE Christmas in Connecticut, and we've watched it four times already?  YES! 

Lately no one wants to go to sleep at the appropriate time, but as we still have had a week full of the usual activities and places to be, bedtime is a must.  So they lie in bed telling each other knock-knock jokes until they fall asleep. 

Don has been home this week, and I've left William with him on a couple of mornings when I've had to take Amy to school, etc.  William calls this "man time" and is SO proud to be hanging out with Daddy, helping him around the house or on an errand, or going fishing.  He wears one of Don's hats and sticks his hands in his pockets and is very serious about the whole thing. 

Today Amy and I made Christmas cookies.  It was late in the afternoon and I kinda wanted to put it off a day, but she was all in so we went for it.  And I gotta say, I could not have done it without her.  Really.  I rolled, she cut, I re-rolled, she sprinkled, I baked, she cut some more.  We had a great production line going and this was the first year of Christmas cookie "help" that was really and truly helpful.  Really.  The sprinkles were at times a little heavy-handed, so I explained the nuances of shaking out a dash of sprinkles, versus upending the bottle and letting them pour out.  Then we were good. 

While listening to the heavy and wind-driven rain tonight, Amy suggested that it was raining exactly the way she was dumping out the sprinkles at first.  

There's more I'm sure, but that will do for now. Wishing you lots of lovely little moments throughout the week as well! 

Monday, December 17, 2012



I do hate when I'm away from this blog for awhile.  Too much builds up in my head; things I want to say, projects to share, and the more that builds up the more difficult it is to write about any of it. 

The kids and I went to Connecticut to visit my folks, pre-Christmas.  It was a lovely trip full of fun times and deep thoughts, all of which I want to write about.  But we flew home on what turned out to be the saddest of days.  And I've been thinking about that ever since, and in the moments of clarity that come when I'm showering or folding laundry or otherwise not sitting in front of the computer, I have composed several paragraphs in my head on the subject, exploring my own faith in new ways.  In good ways.  I'd like to share, but haven't yet managed to write it all down in a way that doesn't come out sounding cheap. 

SO, instead, I will leave this post with a story about my husband.  And please know that I write this with nothing but love and good humor, and, most importantly, his permission:  

We have a bit of a mildew problem in our master bath.  The faux-tile shower surround ends up looking kinda yucky very quickly, despite my otherwise excellent housekeeping skills.  Don and I were commenting on this the night I returned, and he mentioned that he tried to clean it off a bit while I was gone, and pointed to a wrinkly and damp towel hanging on the rack. "That's what I used this for." 


I am quiet for a minute as I process the fact that yes, my husband actually used a decorative finger-tip towel to "scrub" the mildew off the shower walls.  I laugh.  He laughs. It gets even funnier when I take him over to the linen closet from which he selected the above towel, and point out the nice basket which contains bleachy-spray, rubber gloves, and a brush, all of which work superbly for cleaning mildew.  I contrast that with the stack of tiny, seasonal, girly towels which he selected from. 

In his defense, he argued that he looked through the stack to find the one that seemed "the oldest". 

Is this a reflection on my decorating?  

It was terrific.  I asked him if I could tell this story to my bloggy friends and he graciously agreed.  

So there, instead of some profound thoughts on trees, home, travel, Christmas, life and death, or anything interesting like that you get an anecdote about my bathroom and a autumn towel. 

I'll try to get back to the other stuff soonish.  In the meantime, Let It Be Christmas

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blue (Chair)


See that house in the background?  That where some amazing friends and neighbors lived for the past year... right in our backyard.  They are now on their way to California.  Such is military life, having to say goodbye a little too often.  But such is military life, getting the chance to meet wonderful people and make friends all over the country.  It's a mixed blessing for sure. I'm feeling a little blue whenever I look at their empty house, but we have the happy distraction of a visit with my parents - starting tomorrow - yay!

Next. Remember the chair from Goodwill?  It is blue now! In a completely amazing stroke of luck I happened to find a quart of paint in EXACTLY the color I had in mind, at Lowes, on the reject paint rack. $3 for a quart of primer-paint (Valspar, if you were wondering) that would otherwise cost $14 to have mixed.  Which I was completely prepared to spend, because I knew what I wanted, but oh man, I can't believe my good fortune on this one. 

Now I just need to recover the seat, which should be pretty quick once I decide on the fabric.  I'm thinking of piecing a few together, and this is going to go up at my desk in the playroom/sewing room, and after Christmas I'm going to do some more sewing for that room to recover a lot of the mismatched items in there.   It's going to be great.  More soon! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012



In all honesty, this November hasn't really been my favorite of months. In a day-to-day sense everything has been very good, but some bigger things (election, friends about to move away, etc), have left me with a bit of ennui for the last few weeks. We've been busy, it seems, since Halloween, and Thanksgiving (and house guests) snuck up on me before I really had a good chance to sit down and count my blessings.  

But now that the week is over the pressure to feel grateful is gone, all it takes is a quick glance at a few days' worth of pictures to remember all the many, many things I am thankful for right now. 

Beginning with those four cute kiddos up there.  Our guests for the week was a family we have known for our whole time in the CG - we've celebrated the births of 3 of our 4 collective children together.  That they were willing and able to join us for TG was super special.  And I am doubly thankful that the illnesses of one of the children and one of the adults were not shared by all eight of us in the house.  Phew. 


I'm thankful that I came across Martha's recipe for grilled turkey, and that Don was excited to give it a try.  It  turned out great, and made for a much less stressful day of cooking, since the oven was free. 
(photo by Amy)


I'm thankful that our weather was so nice on Thursday, and that the kids played outside all afternoon.  When they finally came in at 3:30, William fell fast asleep in the middle of the living room floor. 


I'm thankful that my children are growing up with gentle spirits.  Amy rescued this butterfly from the cats' clutches and nursed it back to health.  She spent the better part of an hour sitting in the front garden trying to make a nice "home" for the butterfly once it recovered. 


And I'm thankful for this lovely climate here in SC. It's been getting plenty cold, but the warm sunny afternoons are so nice. 


I'm thankful for beautiful places nearby, for kids who love to go fishing with their dad, and for getting to come along today. 

I'm thankful for how much Don has been home lately, and how much we are enjoying the routine of a "normal" family life, complete with regular, dependable, ordinary weekends together. 


And I'm thankful for so many little works in progress to keep my hands busy. 


These washcloths are really just knitting practice... not up to gifting standards, but nevertheless, I love having ideas in the hopper, tons of materials on hand, and making time to work a bit here and there on all of them. 

Yup, turns out there is quite a bit to be thankful for this year, as always. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Goodwill Goodness


Yesterday I had three big boxes of clothes and things to take to Goodwill, and after we dropped off our goodies we decided to take a spin through the store.  I'm glad we did, because we sure found some bargains.  Grabbed this set of four copper (-like) molds which are now parading across the top of my stove and making me smile.  William found a small orange "suitcase" which made him happy, but after we got home we discovered a whole spirograph set inside - fun! 

Then for $4.50 I picked up this chair 


which is ugly of course but really sturdy and made here in SC.  I can't wait to paint it and recover the seat and have a cute new desk chair up in the sewing/playroom. 

Lastly Miss Amy found perhaps the best deal of all - a beautiful porcelain doll for $3.93.  Her clothes were lovely and her face adorable.  We gave her a good bath and some comfy clothes while hers got washed.  Amy named her Lucy, the name of Emily's dolly in the Little Bear books. 


Might have to make Goodwill a more regular haunt... not that we need more stuff... but if a mere $12 satisfies the shopping urges for this shopper and her two sidekicks, then that's a pretty economical outing. 

And one more little thing, if you'll indulge me.  Today we stayed home.  It was cold and dreary and we had no where to be so we happily played trains and cleaned all day. I finally got to a very small project I've had in mind for awhile: 


Ditched the deteriorating cardboard boxes holding the 24-piece puzzles, taped each picture to a bag and in they go.  Much space saved, very happy. 

Next up: going to get paint for the chair... feeling very inspired!  

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Small Project


Thought I'd share a very small project I've been working on for some time now.  I started this little counted cross-stitch somewhere since the Coast Guard entered our lives, but before Amy did.  I think.  It's been awhile.  I completed the light house itself, but then it sat in a drawer for several years at least.  I picked it up again when my mom was here in September and since then I've been enjoying working on this during quiet afternoons spent with Amy, each of us at our own projects, while William naps.  I don't get to it every day, but just a little bit of work here and there has yielded some nice progress.  I think I can safely say I'm past the half-way point.  What do you think? 


I also have an even bigger design that I started in high school that is also more than halfway done, but goodness, it's been a long time since I've worked on it.  I think I'll get back to that one once this is done.  My mom jokes about the needlepoint cat that took her 30 years to finish... I'm hoping to beat that, but it is easy to see how fast time can go by on these sorts of projects.  Instant gratification and needlework do not go together, but there is something incredibly calming about simply placing all those little stitches in the right place, and I am in no rush to be done. 

Oh, I just googled the other kit I have in progress, and found it!  Here, take a look. I really want to finish that one, it is such a cute design.  Anybody else out there still do counted cross-stitch? 

Okay, that's all for now.  Don is in the garage organizing his tool box and having all the fun... I need a project.  Oh wait, seems I have a few...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


How did this one-day-old baby girl


suddenly become this beautiful girl, celebrating her 5th birthday yesterday? 

I remember her third birthday, thinking in particular that Three was such a big-girl age, and how grown up she was getting...


But now she looks pretty little there - and who is that baby on the rug?  Oh my! 


The time goes really fast... and yet also, five years seems like pretty much my whole life right now. That picture of Amy as a newborn?  Might as well have been a hundred years ago.  But I can remember it like yesterday.  That's the funny thing about time when you're a parent.  

Our Amy is a pretty amazing girl, with interests ranging from Legos to dinosaurs to baby dolls to Star Wars and quite a few things in between.  She is (mostly) kind and helpful to her little brother and (usually) great company to me.  She can't stop talking at home, yet her preschool teacher reports on how quiet she is in class.  She can read (a good deal) and write (not well) and draw (just about anything). I want to be just like her when I grow up. 

And so to wrap up, here are a few more quick pictures - Don and I, celebrating five years on this amazing parenthood journey together, the Star Wars cookies I've made for Amy's class, and a cute pic from a few months ago that I found on my phone tonight.  Amy is a Daddy's girl for sure. 

(Oh - by the way, I made the cake and frosting myself but had ordered this cool frosting-paper-image of Star Wars from a party supplier found on ebay - it worked out really well!) 


My computer battery is about to give out... rather than find a plug I think I shall sign off.  Happy 5th Birthday to my wonderful girl!! 

Friday, November 2, 2012



We all have had a cough for... well, kind of a long time here.  William got over his.  Don's came and went, then came back again.  I was in great shape until this week.  Amy's lingered... and she was coughing violently enough the other night for me to make her a doctor appointment.  

She was such a trooper - now that she is about to turn five I see her making a conscious effort to act like a big girl in as many situations as she can muster.  She considered having a meltdown about a visit to the clinic but quickly decided that she was old enough to be brave. Four different people listened to her chest, and with her oxygen readings a little too low, she was sent for a chest x-ray.  I thought that was a bit extreme, but the doc said he's seen a bunch of little kids with pneumonia lately and didn't want to take the chance. She cooperated nicely for the x-ray, loved seeing her insides on the computer screen, and happily, did not have pneumonia. The rest of our two-hour visit at the clinic included the breathing treatment pictured above (she loved that it made her voice sound like Darth Vader), a bonus quick exam for me and my cough, and a large brown bag of prescriptions for us both - inhalers and antibiotics and steroids, oh my! 

So that was fun. But no worries, we are all good.  Amy's been feeling totally fine all through this cough thing, and was still up for her usual Friday dance/gymnastics class, and lunch at Chick-fil-A afterwards. 

And I must not leave out William - he, too, was a huge trooper through a long morning. Best part of his day was the playground at Chick-fil-A.  When you are not quite two and a half, it is a pretty huge accomplishment to get ALL the way up into the car at the top of that playground.  I am really not a big fan of these small kid-infested play areas, but CFA's is pretty clean, and the kids do have some serious fun in there.    


Feeling grateful for good doctors, good meds, good teachers, good fun, and a good movie (Mary Poppins) shared with my little munchkins tonight to cap off a good day. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Thoughts

Happy Halloween!  I think I've covered the costume angle pretty thoroughly here, but I have just a few more thoughts, and frankly, I needed some material to go with my awesome pictures of an otter eating a pumpkin (which we saw here). 

I talked a bit about my Halloween philosophy two years ago, and I'm standing by that.  I don't go all-out on decorations.  I don't dress up.  But I am happy to indulge my kids' interest enthusiasm, and I love that Halloween is pretty much just a fun holiday, no strings attached.  And as we were puttering around today I thought back through Halloweens in the recent past and realized I have a good collection of memories of this particular date.  

In 2006 I hurried through Stop and Shop on my way home from work, hoping to get dinner fixings and a "welcome home" cake and get back to the pier in time to watch the Ida Lewis pull in. We had been in Rhode Island for about 3 months, since Don's graduation from boot camp, and he had been away for most of that.  I remember how exciting it was on that cool October evening to watch his ship round the bend and head for home. 

On Halloween in 2007 I was 3 days past my due date for Miss Amy Jean. I really didn't want a Halloween baby, so I was actually happy that she wasn't coming that particular day, anxious though I was.  I hopped up and down from the couch every time the doorbell rang and felt pretty darn good for 40+ weeks pregnant. 

Halloween 2008 - now living in Maryland, with an almost-walking, almost-one-year-old.  I made chili just like my mom always did on Halloween, and Amy loved it!  Amy wanted nothing to do with a costume, which was really fine with me. 2009 - all pretty much the same story, except I was expecting William. 

2010 was the famous Maid Marian year, when Amy very resolutely stuck to her costume wish to be the fox from Robin Hood.  William wore a costume, too, and we attended a Halloween party but did not trick-or-treat.  And then there was last year... 

2011 might be one of the most memorable Halloweens of all time.  I wrote a bit about it here. That day was one for the books, and it ended at my parents's house, all of us (minus Don), and no power.  This year of course, Sandy arranged for the same tree-limb-strewn and power-less Halloween for that part of Connecticut.  Talking with my folks this week as they update me on the status of things has sent me tripping down memory lane in a major way and wishing quite a bit that we could all be up there together for this, even without electricity.  

But here we are, and today was lovely.  Don was home (a Halloween first, since having kids) and Amy and William went trick-or-treating for the first time, and they looked adorable and did a great job. They both are growing up so fast... sigh. 

Okay, this post is going to degrade into sentimental nonsense - can't have that!  
Hope everyone had a great day!