Monday, December 24, 2012

merry christmas!

mmm. . .

i should be packing.

i'm almost packed.

STILL in sweats.  it's past noon.

(Christmas present to myself:  sweats for a week, Bob Goff's Love Does and Starbucks coffee all week)

sweet moments. . .

Francesca Battistelli's Marshmallow world is extremely annoying until you watch a toddler dance to it.  Then Marshmallow World becomes your favorite song of the year.

Cambria shrieking as she opened her trumpet: "This is the best christmas evvvvver!!!!!"

JD-- my boy-almost man-  trying to fix everything with the tools Daniel gave him. . .oh, time, stop. . . .

Daniel's first day not working in three months- TODAY! 

We are rocking this Christmas vacation.

our christmas picture with Gabe's name written in the sand seemed so right when we were in florida this summer.

by december. . .

{time heals is a true statement}

it seemed not so right.

Daniel, this is weird, I worried.

You all will be like oooh, there's Daniel and Hayley.  They never got over it.  They're still clinging.

Daniel said it was perfect and we were sending them.

(either he thought it was fine or he just didn't want to take another picture.)

I hesitated so much this year, and in the end, yes, we sent the photos.

Our little son's name is written on our hearts, his death, yes, forever changed us.

We will never be the same.

Yet there is so much healing and I thank YOU all who have walked this road with us. 

So merry Christmas from us. . . all of us. 

I never finished my advent.

I may.

I may not.

For now I'm sending you over to my beautiful sister's blog.

Here she writes about painful Christmases and how Jesus came and got involved in our messes.

As much as I am a glass half full kinda girl, I realize that Christmas is one of the most painful times of the year for many.

I love her and I love her writing. I'm terrible at reading blogs (I know, how hypocritical.  I blog, but don't read blogs) and just caught up on hers this morning.  Check out HER Christmas tree story! 

Anyway, so there's my little Christmas present to you; enjoy some farm-girl-chic Christmas.

and of course it wouldn't be Christmas without an awkward self portrait of us:  (Daniel is represented by his coat sleeve.)

I'm so humbled that each of you read, write, fb message, email, text, and tell me that you relate to what I  scribble type.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Merry Christmas you guys!!

See you next year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

before / after house pics

we're done!!!

so relieved.

I am so stinkin' exhausted.


I am just popping a couple pics up here and then I'll try to catch our advent stuff up (which we are still plugging away at- who invented that thing anyway??)

and a couple more favorite pics:

MMmmmmmm. . . I actually snuggled up with Cambria and read Babar and Father Christmas today. Ahhh. Blizzard swirling around us + coffee + work accomplished = Christmas vacay!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

day 12 - light string decor

Day 12 on the advent is decorate a room with a string of lights.

Actually Day 12 may have been sugar cookies but I keep swapping that card out and moving it to later in the month.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. . . .

Sugar cookies, the annual colossally disastrous mess.


They voted for decorating the wreath outside over taping the lights in a christmas tree shape on the hallway wall.  They must be growing up.

She's always moving into the camera frame- my happy little blur.  :)

I did a ton of painting today.

Mostly ceilings, which aren't exciting, but very necessary.

Lots of prep and it still doesn't look amazing. 

For example I took this room from this:

to THIS!  *sarcasm font*

And here's the bathroom this morning. . .

and tonight! *sigh. . .

More tomorrow. We're counting down the days now!  8 left!  I need an advent calendar for the house, I think. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

christmas puzzle

I tried and tried to talk the kids into a 300 piece puzzle, but they just wouldn't hear of it. 

Tonight we embarked on a 1000 piece glow in the dark snow scene. 

We set it up in our bedroom on top of my cedar chest with plans to keep the door closed, i.e. Eli-proofed.

Cambria said today after Eli broke the light bulb on a decorative candle, "Wow, I am glad that we have a baby, but they sure break a lot of things!"  Well said, my dear.

I'm excited.

We have our bedroom back.  Out of sheer determination, resolve, an allen wrench and just a bit of how did we get to be this weird I moved Eli's crib into our walk in closet yesterday.  Judging by the way he's slept and how he stands in the middle of his new digs saying "wow,"  I am pretty sure he is a fan of the move. 

I told my sister that the only good thing about moving him out at fourteen months is that I didn't have even a twinge of being worried or stressed.  I just felt dumb for waiting so long.

Woo hoo!
{He is also a fan of his little slippers.  So hilarious.  He loves to wear them and then show them to guests.}
Annnnnd. . . 
I knew this was going to happen. . .
I called it at the beginning of November. . .
Daniel was going to finish that house up and then it would be all mine to paint the week before Christmas. 
So glad that I love to paint.
I'm actually very very excited.
Tomorrow morning bright and early I will get to tackle as many rooms as I can finish.  :)
see y'all next year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

good old fashioned prank

We couldn't wait wait wait for today; day #10 on the advent calendar involved some reindeer antlers.

A couple weeks ago we saw a car driving around town with reindeer antlers on it and it cracked the kids up so much that we hatched the idea of pranking Daniel.

We snuck down to the FD tonight and attached the nose with very little effort.  The ears antlers turned out to be quite a problem.  They are supposed to snap on the windows.  Wouldn't you know it, I could not get those windows down.  I think they may have been frozen in the up position???  I ran the heat full blast, turned the window defrost on, actually got out and blew along the top.

I really didn't want to take too long since we were right in front of the security cameras;  I was confident I could explain myself but the surprise would definitely be ruined: "Dan, there's  three people climbing in and out of your truck, you may want to go check that out."

So anyway, we settled for the significantly second best spot for the antlers.

*shrieks and giggles*

Saturday, December 8, 2012

favorite christmas inspiration

I've had so much fun blogging our advent stuff.

Tonight is short and sweet:

we bought Christmas candy.

I'm linking to my top two favorite decor/inspiration blogs.  If they're new to you, YAY, you will have so much fun!


Quite possibly my very favorite blogger.  Meg is hilarious and I love her style.

sara's art* house

Love love love Sara's ideas and crafting.  She doesn't have a lot of Christmas stuff up this year but if you go to her archives for 2011 - oh my, talk about inspiration. :)  So fun.  I found Sara's blog because she went to college with Deeann.  .  . wow. . . I feel like I sorta know someone famous.  {sort of.}

And then. . . if you need refocusing. . . which I always do. . . be sure to see what Ann Voskamp has up. . . I haven't even had time to read anything on her site for the last couple months, but I follow her on FB and her quotes have been so good. 

I hope you find time tomorrow to worship Jesus. . . and to risk community with other believers.

Happy weekend. . .

Friday, December 7, 2012

(the $90 rainbow gumball garland for $6)

Now if I could just prop my laptop up in my chalkboard fireplace, I would be good to go! Seriously, this is great ambiance, and after the initial ad, it runs commercial free with beautiful piano music for an hour. The kids love it.

For advent today we made a tree for the birds:

It looks pretty forlorn but it was definitely fun to do and we put it outside on the birdfeeder.

 The kids and I decorated the tree today while Eli was napping.

The tree will provide some unique training opportunities for him.

He drools profusely while he stands and looks at it. 

You almost feel bad for saying "no, Eli, no, just look, don't touch."

Cambria did a "show" for us tonight with her nativity story felts.

 Eli got to "drive" while Daniel was picking up pizza. Ear to ear grin.

I choose a different decor/color theme each year for the Christmas season.  This year my inspirating was this page out of the Land of Nod catalog:

These gumball garlands are a bit out of my price range though:  I checked tonight and they are actually on sale for $25/11 feet.

We bought 2 $3 packages of pompoms at Walmart and strung them on thread today.

I am beyond thrilled with how it turned out.  Super super easy and exactly like the Land of Nod garland.  I estimate that we made $90 worth of garland for $6.  I'm happy with that.  {So is Daniel.}

Thursday, December 6, 2012

christmas trees and crusts of bread: when tradition creates tension

Our advent for today is getting our Christmas tree.

We have agreed that given the frenetic tension of our house deadlines, today is the only day we can do it.  We will do it between 11 and 1.  These are not optimal times, but we will make it work.

Daniel asks me, wisdom gained from newlywed years oozing, "What are your expectations for this event?"

I think for a moment and tell him that my expectations are always too high, but I will try to be realistic.  It would be nice to go get our tree together and get some hot chocolate on the way, and come home for enchiladas.  That's what we always do.  It's tradition.

In my mind, yes, I'm thinking snow and crowding in his truck and a long drive and being all relaxed and cozy, sure, of course I'm running the movie reel.

Ohhhh, how life is not like that.

Shouldn't I know this by now?

He didn't show up at the time we'd set.

I called and offered to pick him up.

He said "For what?"

sparks flew.

It doesn't matter. Overcome it! I tell myself. 

He says to pick him up at Menard's in an hour, he's coming, he's sorry, the drywallers were late, they pushed him behind, come pick him up in an hour.

I do.  He is working with his brother Mark.  Mark comes to me and tells me Daniel is busy.

I grind my teeth.

Do these kinds of things happen to you?

I grab some groceries.  I come back.

He isn't ready.

I wish he realized that it's no small feat to load the children and have them all excited to get our tree. 

I want to shout that my time has value too, that it's not fair to push me off, to make me wait.  The selfishness buzzes, blinds. 

He knows, I know he knows. He's trying, I know he's trying.  My heart wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, but still the frustration bubbles.

He is not out golfing.

He is working, hard, and I'm so thankful.

We end up buying our tree at Menard's.

For the sake of tradition, we buy hot chocolate from the gas station next door.

It's not idyllic.

Instead of traipsing through the forest, Eli runs down the aisles. 

Can you spot him?  The little bear, on the left, that's him.
So I get my camera out to take a picture of all of us getting the tree. 
battery exhausted
No picture.
I exhale.
My battery feels exhausted.
This morning we found out that we were the losing bidders on a house that we've been trying to buy for over two years. 
We signed papers finalizing the very last detail of Gabe's stone.
We applied  tried to apply for passports for our trip to South Africa. 
{"We only take applications until three o'clock.", says the unhelpful clerk.  "It's two-fifty-eight." I helpfully point out. We make an appointment to come back tomorrow at 10.}
Daniel watches his younger brother sign papers to join the Navy SEALs.
And in the midst of all this, in one day, . . . I just am wanting some calm, and the Christmas tree.
We load the tree into my van. 
He is going to leave.  He is going to work.  He is going to work all day long, into the night, and then go play floor hockey with his buddies and brother.
He forgot about the enchiladas.
Why do the stinkin' enchiladas matter so much?
They don't.
I feel tears push and stuff them away.
I shout to my heart, choose your words wisely!  I remember a quote I saw somewhere:
At any point, you have the power to say this  is not how the story is going to end.
I can nag.
I can send nasty texts.
I can justifiably play the "poor me" card.
I can beg for him to miss his gym night.
I can give him dark looks.
Or I can choose to end the story differently.
After all, it's just a tree.  We have it.  Who cares how it got transported?  The kids are thrilled.  It has tiny pine cones all over it.  They find this fascinating.
The enchiladas are better eaten happily at 6pm (kids + me) and at 9pm (Daniel and Mark) than together in stony awkward, hayley-won-that-round silence.
It's like those ridiculously enticing books from my childhood, the choose-your-own ending ones.  I could choose to make my husband's life miserable over the things that happened today.  We could argue endlessly about who was right and who was wrong.
Or I could put on my big-girl pants and just take a deep breath and say we're not going to end the story here.
It's just a tree.
It's just enchiladas.
The point to to create a happy home.
Tradition with an angry, bitter mama is empty, shallow, destructive. Who cares about keeping the tradition if you can't keep the peace?
What if the author of Proverbs was thinking of the holidays when he wrote:
better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife
(Proverbs 17:1)
I think my children and my man are going to be voting for the crusts of bread, every time.

9 years of Christmas pics

Mmmm. . . I love Christmas pictures.  I remember getting the mail as a child and carefully feeling along the edge hoping for a picture inside. 

Our online-driven society has made real photos you can hold in your hands a thing of the past.  The last time I printed photos was. . . um . . . last Christmas.  Yes.  That's bad.  Anyway, I stubbornly insist on sending real Christmas pictures every year maybe just because I enjoy receiving them so much. 

Today's advent activity for the kids was helping with Christmas cards. 

We have about 220 to do. 

We finished 8. 

I will be up all night. 

I started thinking about all the previous Christmas pictures. . . how life changes. . .

I just snapped pictures of pictures below.  You'll definitely be able to tell when we go digital.  (Seriously, the subtitle of my blog should be you aren't here for the photography.)

stars in our eyes. 
we had just discovered that jd was on the way.
if we look a little shell shocked. . . well, we were shocked.  wow.  obviously he turned out to be the best shock ever. :)

Mmm.  oh.  I guess this wasn't a Christmas picture.  Well anyway, I'm a sucker for dress blues and he's mine!  Wow, how lucky can a girl get?

Aww, it's 3 of us.  It was snowing and we begged our neighbor Jenny to take our picture.  Daniel bought me that coat as a gift, and I loved it.  I also loved the curtains in the window of our little love nest that we were quickly outgrowing.  That was such a happy year.  I remember working together, making Jacob wooden blocks for Christmas.  Oh the sweet joys of being young penniless parents.  :)

This is 2006.
The 'year of the boat' as we like to call it.
Grandpa wanted his boat kept in the family;  it was our turn that year. 
I bet he had lots of laughs looking down from Heaven at us and our friends and our boating escapades. 

This is not the picture we sent out that year, but I can't find the real one.  Here is where our sweet girl joined us.  I love her little bow!  I think JD is sucking on a piece of candy from the parade we had just attended.

I can't find the real 08 picture.  This will do.
Apparently I was still into tying green bows on Cambria's head.  :) This was taken at Gettysburg when we were on the East Coast for my friend Lisa's wedding.
Here's another one from that time frame, early 2009, in Oregon for Daniel's younger sister's wedding. 

Love love love the Pacific Ocean!
{this is just a random funny one I pulled from the folder of the Christmas 09)
My friend Rebecca started taking our pictures here.  Gabe is a little twinkle in my tummy here. . .
Sweet smiles unaware that our lives would be shattered in the next year with his birth, life and death.

Sweet little Gabe. . . he changed our lives forever.  Miss him

I will never, as long as I live, forget the darkness of that year.  Christmas was unbearable.  That year has forever changed how I view the holidays and brought an awareness that it's not always the happiest time of the year for everyone.

Still an empty chair.
Eli David.
Next up 2012! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

stockings from sweaters (how-to)

if you're one of those brilliantly gifted people who can just flash your needles together and turn out beautiful scarves and hats and socks, then disregard this bumbling tutorial.

And please don't laugh too hard at my lumpy toes.  I know yours would look nicer.

I can't knit. I can't crochet either. I wish I could do both just so that I could sit in the little downtown yarn shop we have and drink in all the glorious color. (and clack my fingers together to make some pretty stuff, too.)

So a long time ago, I made the kids stockings out of a sweater I had.

The knit was perfectly chunky and my very favorite shade of green. They were ridiculously easy to make and I kept my eyes peeled for the American Eagle green chunky knit sweater so I could make matching ones for the rest of the fam.

I found one at Loren's clothing swap party this summer and then I noticed another one in Cassie's profile picture the other day. The only problem was that the sweater was Cassie's friend, Linda, and I don't know Linda at all. But I jumped out on a limb and told Cassie if her friend ever wanted to get rid of her sweater, I'd happily buy.

Well, on Friday, Cassie showed up on my front porch with the sweater, further proof that living in a small town is the best thing ever. I'm convinced. (Thank you Linda for not being weirded out!)

Anyway, here are some super simple instructions.

You can easily make your own.

You can see here that I didn't even use a pattern, resulting in a short fat toe for the stocking on the left.  But that's okay, they really don't have to be perfect.

By the way, I'm thinking the left over sleeves could make some really cute leg warmers.  (Can't believe those are popular again. . . at least they are in calmer colors than the last time I wore them.)

So I just use the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine and sew along the outside edge of the sweater stocking.   I am a lazy seamstress anyway, but I see no reason not to use the existing seam in the sweater.  It makes for a preeettty quick project.

Then you turn them inside out and hang them up.  I usually thread a ribbon through, whatever the "color of the year" is.  Here I just used wooden thumbtacks.  That worked too.

*** advent today. . . Christmas library books.  I have to bring a crate into our library every three weeks.  I should probably start using a wheelbarrow.

Favorite Christmas Titles:

On Christmas Eve, Margaret Wise Brown

The Little Fir Tree, Margaret Wise Brown

Christmas in the Barn, Margaret Wise Brown

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Susan Wojciechowski

The Christmas Party, Adrienne Adams

Arthur's Christmas Cookies, Lillian Hoban

Peter Spier's Christmas, Peter Spier

The Doll's Christmas, Tasha Tudor

Erik and the Christmas Horse, Hans Peterson

And the last two. . . well, it is hard for me to say which I like more.  Oh my.  It's like choosing which child is your favorite.  You can't.  You just love them all. 

Which reminds me, JD asked me tonight as I sat on his  bed:  "Mom, which of us is your favorite child?"

I gave the standard reply that any thinking parent would give and then asked. . . "wait. . . who do YOU think is my favorite?"

He said that he thought it was Eli, right away, so then we had a nice chat about how Eli definitely demads the most of my time right now, but that doesn't mean I love him more. And if one was measuring time spent, Eli gets less time from me at 14 months than Jacob did at 14 months.  Hopefully that will give him something to mull over.  UGH, parenting. 

Anyway, the last two on my faves list:

The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas, Madeleine L'Engle

favorite because the story captures the essence of hopes and unrealistic expectations, the beauty of Christmas even when it doesn't turn out the way we had planned. Plus, in true Madeleine L'Engle style, it is fascinating, funny and sweet.

Christmas in Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren

Because Noisy Village is where my family lives.