December 12, 2013
Giveaway: $300 to Minted.com
Minted.com has been our go-to for announcements and cards for years now. I love their wide array of designs and how easy they make it for me to select and order beautiful Christmas cards to send to friends and family. One of my favorite features on their site is the ability to upload a photo and then quickly scroll through all of their designs with our family’s photo as the example. It makes choosing a favorite so much easier! Minted.com also allows you to upload your address list and will pre-print the names on your envelopes for free!
Minted is generously giving away a THREE HUNDRED (US) DOLLAR gift certificate to one lucky Dear Baby reader - with that kind of money you can not only get your holiday cards but some beautiful art prints for your wall or custom party supplies for your next birthday bash!
I’ll draw a winner tomorrow afternoon. To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas memory (Can I just tell you how much I love reading your comments and learning more about the people who read my blog!) Tumblr readers must leave a comment through disqus to be counted.
A Little Day Dream Realized
Nearly four years ago, I posted a video on my little blog that someone had sent me of a father playing music for his daughter’s preschool class. I remember watching it with Brent and feeling so excited as we daydreamed about experiencing something similar with our own daughter one day. It was that same afternoon that my water broke and we met our sweet dove for the first time.
Brent takes the children to and from school every Tuesday and Thursday morning. At some point, earlier in the school year, he mentioned to Everly’s teachers that he was also a musician. A few weeks ago, he called me at work to tell me that they had asked him if he’d like to come play some Christmas music for the class. My mind immediately went back to that video we watched so long ago.
Tuesday was an insane day for me at work. I had back to back meetings all day long, with only one hour, at lunch, not committed. I ran out of my last morning meeting and drove the 20 minute drive to Everly’s school so that I could be there when Brent sang for her class.
Everly proudly introduced Brent to her classmates as “This is my daddy”. He sang Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells and Rudolph - stopping occasionally to ask the kids questions and talk about how Jesus’ birth brought joy to us all. He finished with a fast paced, dance a long song he wrote Everly when she was a baby.
I took the most darling video of them all dancing and singing along, but because I didn’t get permission from all the other parents in the class, I’ve decided not to post it.
I think I laughed through the entire concert, just overwhelmed with experiencing something we had daydreamed about the day Everly was born. Arlo’s teacher stuck her head in the door and said “We’re next!” so I suspect there are more preschool jam sessions in our future!
I missed lunch and barely made it back in time for my 1pm meeting, but I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. There are a thousand little experiences we hoped for and imagined when I was pregnant with each of our children - and when they become real - well, there’s just nothing like it.
A preschool concert, a proud little girl and a mama whose heart could nearly burst.
December 11, 2013
Me: “Everly, we get to go see Santa on Saturday night! What are you going to ask him to bring you?”
”I don’t want to tell you.”
Me: “Oh, well, ok. As long as you tell Santa, that’s all that matters.” (Knowing full well she’s told me a half a dozen times already what she wants for Christmas)
A few minutes go by and she leans over quietly and whispers…
"Know what I’m gonna ask Santa to bring me? Some reindeer poops!"
December 6, 2013
Sparkles the Lazy Elf
We introduced Sparkles last year and I was on the fence about bringing her out again this year. Everly was a little creeped out by the idea of an elf that moves around our house and frankly, I couldn’t really blame her… but when she asked me when I thought Sparkles would arrive this year, I knew we would be spending another holiday season with the Elf on the Shelf.
We’ve tweaked Sparkles’ story a lot: She goes to the North Pole to hang out, not to tell Santa whether they have been good or bad. Sparkles only stays in the living room and dining room. She never, ever under any circumstances will come in your room. I promise. You can touch her if you want, she likes to be snuggled sometimes.
Some questions we don’t have answers for yet:
"Why doesn’t she breath? Elves breath don’t they?"
"Why don’t her eyes ever move?"
"Does she have real legs under those tights?"
Last week I found Everly staring at the Elf on our mantle and she looked at me and said, “Somethings not right about that elf, mama” and I thought, “uh oh, she’s scared of it.” But then she said ” Her hat sticks straight up in the air and all the elves I’ve seen have floppy hats.”
We’re trying to embrace the Elf on the Shelf as just a fun, silly, new tradition and not take it too seriously.
But here’s the thing. Brent and I suck at moving the elf around. She’s been in our house for over a week now, and she’s moved three times (once mid day, while Everly watched). Everly gets up every morning and excitedly runs into the living room to find Sparkles and it is then, and only then, that we remember we were supposed to move her to a new location. (Arlo on the other hand, could care less about Sparkles. Unless she’s also a super hero or a stunt bike driver, he’s not impressed.)
We tell Everly that she must like our house so much she doesn’t really feel like going to visit Santa and her elfin friends at the North Pole. Last week I told Everly, after Sparkles stayed wedged in our fireplace screen for three days, that I was certain she must be stuck and that we should move her ourselves.
I put Sparkles on top of the mantle clock while Everly watched, “There” I said, “If Sparkles wants to go back to the North Pole, she won’t be stuck anymore.”
And then Sparkles sat on the clock for the next two days while I muttered, “crap!” under my breath each morning when I heard Everly announcing, yet again, that Sparkles hadn’t moved.
Sparkles is a lazy elf.
I see Elves all over my instagram and facebook feed that are doing fantastical and hilarious things in the homes of the children they visit. They are so mischievous and clever!
Sparkles is none of that. She sits in the tree. She sits on the clock. And there was that one time she wedged herself down in the fireplace screen. That was kind of mischievous, no?
We love the holidays. We had our house decked out two days after Thanksgiving. Our holiday cards are stuffed and almost in the mail. We are doing an “Acts of Kindness” advent calendar every day until Christmas and are all excited for our annual family Polar Express viewing this Saturday, but the elf….. yeah, I don’t know about that one.
Maybe we are just not Elf on the Shelf people. (Will admitting that publicly get me banned from Pinterest?) Arlo is indifferent, Everly is tired of her lack of movement and Brent and I have come to accept that we are just not very good elf movers.
Anyone else out there happen to own a card carrying member of the Order of Lazy Elves? Bah. Maybe next year we can trade her in for one of those singing, dancing Rudolph toys I had as a kid.
"Oh, daddy! Can I have some booty poofs?"
Everly, upon seeing a bag of Pirate’s Booty in the cabinet.
December 2, 2013
Family Photos 2013
Every fall, we take our annual family photographs. Getting our photos taken at the same time every year is a fun way to compare the growth of the children year over year and it gives me enough motivation to get Christmas cards ordered.
The past two years, the kids were like feral cats during our shoots and almost all of the photos are of Brent and I looking at the camera with strained smiles while Everly and Arlo attempted to twist their little bodies out of our grasp. This year I was determined to get our pictures taken as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Brent made a new dad friend at preschool and over coffee one day, Jakob offered to take our family pictures. We met him in a field that I drive by every day on my way home from work. Over the months I’ve watched as the untamed greenery turned brown and the small trees scattered about slowly turned orange and yellow. I knew it would be a perfect backdrop.
I put these outfits together the morning of our photo shoot and went for bold colors and patterns that would contrast nicely against the neutral, earthy background. Everly, of course, had her own opinions on her outfit, so she picked out the scarf, cardigan and shoes. (I think she did pretty good!) None of us match, but I think in a weird way, our outfits still compliment one another.
I’m not proud of it, but I have to admit that I bribed the kids with a few jelly beans to get them to sit still this year. 25 minutes and four jelly beans later, we had all the photos we needed to fill our frames and mail out to friends and family. It was the easiest, shortest, least stressful family photo shoot we’ve ever had.
I’m so happy with the way they turned out- especially of the children together. They are at the sweetest ages right now and I love how their personalities really shine through. I plan to dig up our family portraits from the last 5 years tonight and hope to share them. I’m in awe of how much we’ve changed in what feels like the blink of an eye.
November 29, 2013
THEIT Camera Bag Winner
Congrats to our lucky, randomly selected winner, Steffanie. She shared her thanksgiving plans: “I’ll start my morning with giving our cat and dog a shower (I know it sounds bad, but the kitty goes outside and is super smelly and he doesn’t mind too much). I just dropped my boyfriend off at the airport so he can spend Thanksgiving with his family in NJ, so I’ll be going to my mom’s. She and my grandma will do the cooking, and I’ll do my daughterly duties of getting on the roof to clean out the gutters and put up Christmas lights for her. Then I’ll get full off of appetizers and nibble at the standard Thanksgiving dinner after everyone says what they are thankful for.”
Be careful on that roof, girl! (And enjoy your new THEIT Lula camera bag.)
November 27, 2013
Introducing “The Lula” a THEIT Bag Collaboration
I am so excited about this post! I am not very good at waiting patiently, but in this situation, it was worth the wait. Remember this fun collaboration we did with THEIT to design their next camera bag? Well, Jen’s design is currently in production and will be available mid-January. ”The Lula” comes in both a beautiful coral (Keep an eye out for a post on Jen’s blog today to see it) and this chestnut color that I styled below. It has lots of beautiful gold hardware and you would never know that inside it is a roomy camera bag.
One of my favorite features is that all of the padded interior dividers are attached with velcro, so you can move them around or take them out to suit your needs. I plan to remove one or two of the dividers so that my Lula bag is a handbag/camera bag hybrid.
THEIT is currently taking pre-orders for the bag now and they are offering a couple of specials. For black friday, all THEIT bags (including The Lula) will be 25% off the whole entire black Friday weekend. Starting November 28(TH) -Cybermonday. Code: BLACKFRIDAYLOVE25
I’m also thrilled to give one of these limited edition beauties away on the blog today! To enter, leave a comment below (Tumblr followers, a disqus comment is required to be counted) and tell me about your thanksgiving plans. I’ll announce a winner on Friday.
November 25, 2013
Hey Sis, Gimme A Little Smooch.
November 20, 2013
Letters To Everly
When you were about 6 months old, you started sleeping through the night. Most mornings, around 4am, you would wake, ready for your bottle and a diaper change and your father or I would stumble sleepily into your nursery and bring you into bed with us.
This went on for another 18 months until we transitioned you to your own big girl bed. At that point, early every morning, you would slide out of the bed yourself and make your way to our bedroom. I have been lifting you in a sleepy daze over my body and into the space between your father and I for almost two years now.
Your feet in my ribs, arms flopped over my face, and slow heavenly breaths in my ear have been a constant part of my sleep for your entire life. I kept telling myself, at some point, we were going to have to teach you to stay in your own bed all night long. She’s almost four, I’d think to myself, isn’t she getting too old for this?
You used to be a dream to put to sleep at night. We’d turn on your sound machine, rock you for a little while and lay you down in your bed to sleep with ease. You used to happily go to sleep with your door closed and all of the lights off.
But when we weaned you from your pacifier, all of that changed. You weren’t sure how to self soothe anymore and our bedtime routine suddenly turned into hour long sessions of closet lights on and doors wide open and rubbing your back and carefully sneaking out when you were soundly sleeping.
Over the months we slowly inched away. First sitting at the end of your bed while you fell asleep. Then at the door of your room. Then in a chair, just out of view in the hallway.
"Mommy?" you’d call from the darkness.
"Still here," I’d say back.
Eventually we started getting out of the chair when you were still awake. “Just stay for five minutes” you’d tell us. And then… a few weeks ago you announced you didn’t need us to do that anymore. After books and bedtime prayers and a couple snuggles, we were free to go about our night.
No more keeping guard, however briefly, outside your door. Every night since, you’ve reminded me, “Big girls don’t need their mommies to sit in the chair. ” And I’ve agreed with you and kissed you goodnight and walked out of your door to finish the dishes or to read a book or catch up on a favorite tv show.
All those months we’ve spent creeping farther and farther away and when you were finally ready for us to go, it stung more than I expected.
It’s made me realize something else. I am in no rush at all to convince you to stop your early morning visits to our bed. One day, you are going to decide you are ready to sleep straight through till morning. You are going to tell me again the rules of being a big girl now. You are going to assert that independence that we are so proudly watching grow in you.
And I’m going to ache for the mornings that I wake up nearly falling off the edge of the bed because you’re tiny body has managed to take up the rest. I’m going to wish desperately for the joy of watching your eyes, so sweetly, blink open every new day.
Sometimes we push you slowly into finding your own independence and sometimes we wait and let it come on its own. It’s a delicate dance, this whole business of you growing up. It is happening all around us, all the time. You may be a big girl when you close your eyes at night, but I’m thankful you get to be my baby just a little longer when you open them every morning.