Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A New Season


I have to admit my anticipation of the holiday season has been a bit distorted this year.  Like I am seeing things from a new angle and can not quite process what that will mean for our celebration.

But, what's not to celebrate?  We have so much to be thankful for.

A week ago on Sunday we participated in a parent commitment service dedicating Gabe.  It  was a wonderful day with friends and family which really deserves its' own post - soon.

We kicked off our holidays with a wonderful Thanksgiving day.

This little turkey snoozed the day away, but since Thursday his tryptophan euphoria has taken a turn in the opposite direction.

We haven't seen much of this in the days since.

My hands haven't been as free for decorating, baking, crafting, and addressing piles of envelopes as I may typically think they should be.  Yet, I have dabbled a bit in my own handmade holiday projects.  (By the way- don't miss out on the Handmade for the Holiday giveaway blog hop which ends on Friday!)  Last night I put together this shadow box project I've had in mind to assemble since I saw it while blog surfing last December.

I was really excited about the colorful collection of jingle bells we discovered at the craft store and have been holidng on to the BELIEVE vinyl rub for awhile.

A week ago my Christmas spirit was lacking something fierce, but we're coming around.  After thankful days with our family, an amazingly generous and unexpected show of Christmas love from some friends, and the witness of twinkle in my kids' eyes as they set up the nativity ("the right way") I am looking forward to participating in the season, drowning out the unnecessary extras.  I want to see Christmas for what it is. To believe in the joy
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Bargain Hunter's Sidenote:  This week at Michaels all of their bells are 40% off.  Scrapbooking paper is also all 4/$1.00 - the sparkly silver I used to back the shadow box was included in the sale.  So, if you are intersted in putting something like this together, now is the time to pick up your supplies!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Handmade for the Holiday

This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you to all of you who supported West MI bloggers and West MI etsy shops during our Handmade for the Holidays giveaway!  The winner of the custom made magnet set from Bloem and Grow, as chosen by Random.org, is lucky comment #12.  Congrats Jon and Ash
 
Handmade for the Holidays Giveaway
 

I count it a priveledge to be part of the West Michigan Bloggers.  They are a great group of men and women who are an inspiration and have been working together to create quite a force.  It's fun!  When the brainstorming began for a Handmade Holiday I ws excited to be part of it.  We have teamed up with a load of great West Michigan Etsy store owners to present the Handmade for the Holidays gift giveaway blog hop.  Be sure to click around and check out all of the great creativity.
I am excited to be able to share with you a local shop I happen to frequent and have featured beforeBloem and Grow has expended her crafty business from exclusively selling blocks to a fun collection of hangables, wearables, organize-ables, and decorate-ables.
Kate's business focuses on custom orders, yet she has many in stock items, some of which are featured in her etsy shop .  However, to see samples of custom orders, as well as to make your own personalized orders you will want to check  Bloem and Grow on Facebook.
She has adorable graphic and photo scrabble tile pendants, bottle cap pendants, and charm necklaces.
As a list maker I imagine about a million uses for these large decorated clips.
Check out this super cute family on the personalized magnet set designed by Kate! The magnets work on the fridge or my personal favorite product - the magnet boards, which each have a unique look. 
Bloem and Grow even has a few gift items appropriate for men, such as tie tacks and desk frames.

GIVEAWAY
As part of the Handmade for the Holiday event, Bloem and Grow is offering a set of 5 magnets to one lucky winner.  Similar to these picture below.  Kate will work with you and your personal design/color preference to put together your gift.  You may choose either a paper print or photo magnet set.

There are LOTS of options for entering to win!

Visit one of Bloem and Grow's sites and browse around.  Tell us in a comment about something that catches your eye.
~Bloem and Grow official site

Like Bloem and Grow on facebook for one entry.

One entry for each of the other West Michigan blogs you visit and enter to win their Handmade for the Holidays giveaway.  In your comment mention either the etsy shop or the West Michigan blogger.

This giveaway will close on December 3rd at 10 PM EST.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Way of Thanksliving

Thanksgiving has never been on my top 10 holiday list. Pumpkin pie fanatics, hold the phone. I just never understood an entire day dedicated to the celebration of food.  I have been blessed, I know, with so very many things to be thankful for - everyday. But really, how do I make this day different?  How can I teach my children to focus on thankfulness and not just a satisfied belly?

I want to learn to see Thanksgiving like the pilgrims. When they planned their feast a year in advance they were in a critical situation. They didn't know where they would live. If they would survive. Where their provisions would come from. They were trusting that in just a year they would have bountiful blessings for which to give thanks.  The pilgrims looked forward with great expectation to the celebration. Reminds me of the verse we choose for Gavin when we found out we were expecting, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see."
That is how I want to live.  Ever grateful, in all situations  With everyday thanks giving.

Today begins another year of gratitude
in sickness. in health. for richer. for poorer.
come what may.
This will be a year of thanksliving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Little Bits

Lately, I've had a thing for buttons. Inspired by a friend I've been putting together button bouquets, button frames, and more. In fact, in the hospital I spent mindless time sorting my collection into little storage bins by shape, color, and shade.
Now all the buttons are tossed helter skelter into one large tub. We are crafting something new.
The kids and I are picking out our favorite combinations to put together our own Indian corn {more friendly inspiration}.
After an emotional fall eventful weekend's preparations had my mind whirling for days before, I'm finally ready to think about Thanksgiving. We dipped chocolate for Pilgrim treats and might just get out our Thanskgiving decorations even if just for a day.
I likely won't be organizing my colorful collection back into their perfect little boxes, but we're making a holiday out of all the little mis-matchy pieces.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Check Up

We are just home from Gabe's 2 month check up with our pediatrician.  Apparently, when we put our little guy on the growth charts it just so happens that he isn't so little after all.  Way to go there in the high 90th percentile for weight Mr. Cheeks!  Gabe's head measurements continue to climb, which is a concern.  He will see his neurosurgeon again tomorrow for a head ultrasound and follow up.  Until we have pictures to compare his growth to, and a consult with the expert, we will sit tight.

This appointment also brought Gabe's first immunizations.  If you're a mom, you know the drill.  Hold down their arms, look in their eyes, and hold your breath while the sympathy tears flow. Except this time was different.  Held my breath, waited for the first pokes, then a big smile.  He felt them.  He knew they poked him and he didn't like it.  And that's a good thing. Now we are cozy together on the couch recovering while the other babes rest and a storm rolls in.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Guy

We watch his reactions, 
 study his quirks,
ask questions we never knew we would have,
keep a close eye on the growth charts,
appreciate each movement,
 & celebrate each milestone.
{Gabe Evan 8 Weeks}

We would say we are lucky, but luck has nothing to do with anything.
We are blessed.
We are thankful.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Greetings

To say I am behind on things is a bit of an understatement.  Crazy enough, I don't really care.

Typically I have all of my Christmas cards printed and envelopes addressed by now.  My goal is to have them ready to put in the mail the week after Thanksgiving.  This year - not going to happen.  The envelopes were ready with addresses, but now I'm not so sure I will use them.  When Minted sent me samples of their quality Christmas cards with matching envelopes I thought I might scrap what I have and start over.

Minted is a leaded graphic design site that creates unique and modern designs and prints them on quality paper. Minted's holiday card selection features many unexpected details such as decorated card backs, slip-in envelope liners, wrap around pre-printed address labels, and more.  Minted also offers Minibook Cards, as well as Yearline Cards.  If you have several pictures you are anxious to use these would both be fun alternatives to the traditional Christmas letter.

Looking at the options I wonder what comes first for most families - choosing a card design or choosing the picture?  After picking a few favorites styles I am tempted to dress the kids for our photo shoot in something that compliments the bold, untraditional Christmas, colors used in many of Minted's designs.

The card that caught my eye first included  the phrase Peace, Love, and Hope.  I really like this style and think I would want to order it with rounded corners, a detail I believe makes the cards look more finished.

I also really like the tree graphic pictured below which includes many great words: health, happiness, goodwill, cheer, merriment, and more.  The option for two pictures is appealing.

There are so many other unique options.  Each of the cards appears worthy of being the "it" card for 2010 and becoming a family keepsake.

I know it is short notice, but perhaps today is the day for you to order your holiday cards.  If so, be sure to use the coupon code HOL20SHIP for $20 off + FREE shipping on all holiday cards.

Now, I am on a mission for a picture of my 4.  This should be fun...

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Disclosure: Last holiday I had the opportunity to order from Minted and was very pleased with the stationary they sent.  They have offered me a gift certificate for this year's order which I have yet to redeem.  However, I have reviewed a large sample selection of their cards from the 2010 collection.  My opinions in this post are based on my reaction to the samples.  As you have probably noticed I am not exclusive to one source for printing and have experimented with several different online companies for my photo card printing needs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Bigger Question

He asks at least 40 times a day.
In what might just be the sweetest, most stab through my heart, make me melt, oh. how. I. wish. I could help you see what I see, wee little boy voice. 
We look for the right words to explain each of our statements, our rationale, the necessity for our guidance, and the reasons behind our correction. 

Often his question has an answer too big for him to understand.  Part of a bigger picture than he is ready to accept. 
At just 2 years old I expected his key word to be "No" like his sister or perhaps "What" like big brother.  Instead, this one, typically reserved for inquisitive 3 year olds - or so I thought. Quite likely used more than ever before, even in my own vocabulary. 

"But, WHY Daddy?"
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trust


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Monday, November 8, 2010

...and The Baby: Bawling.

The Cake{s}: Cake pops without the sticks
 The Decorations: Soccer Balls, Baseballs, Tennis Balls, Basketballs
 The Menu: Meatballs, Melon Balls, Cheese Balls
The Birthday Boy: Super Sleepy & Still Sick. Perfectly happy with a small treasure. Quite uninterested in opening any more gifts. "No Candles.  No Cake. No Ice Cream."

The Big Sister: "When are you all going to leave?  We're STINKIN' tired!"
The Big Brother: "I'm not blaming anyone, but I've got to get to bed now."

The Momma:  Quite certain this will be one of the most talked about and treasured birthdays- not because of the three flavors of cake balls, the rolled ice cream, the attempts at themed decorations- but because of the comical irony of  life imitating birthday party imitating life. 

It's a ball!
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Great Reads from Michelle

I met Michelle during the final semester of my MA education.  We toiled through thesis writing together while also finding encouragement in having kindred spirits.  Michelle is seriously the friend that seems to have lived a parallel life - although I question her undergrad college choice;).  I often wonder how it is that we didn't meet until grad school.  She has two polite and adorable little boys and has very recently added a precious princess to the mix!  She, like me, still finds time for a good book once in awhile.  Here is a Michelle's sampling of some great recent reads.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top 10 Things To Do When the Kids Are Gone

When I was teaching second grade, Jenn and I would joke that she was my list making soul sister.  She is seriously the most organized person that I know.  I often envy her efficiency.  Outside of our professional relationship Jenn has been a faithful friend and a prayer warrior.  Jenn's blog Ponytails, Wooded Trails, and Camouflage highlights her family life.  What you will love is that each of Jenn's posts is built around a digitally scrapped page from her family album.  She has a great eye for design and many of her pages feature fun details that she has digitally created without using kit elements.

10. Stay up late
9. Sleep in
8. Run errands in a fraction of the time it takes to do them with kids
7. Enjoy a nice dinner out with my husband (no babysitter needed)
6. Read a book without any interruptions
5. Attend a photography class
4. Get my photos organized for an upcoming scrapbooking day
3. Go to the beach alone
2. Enjoy the silence at home
1. Anticipate the day they return

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Precious Than Gold

The moment we met him we realized he was born to bring smiles.

                {2years 2day}

Both in picture and in person, others often notice the twinkle in Gibson's expression.  "Wow, I bet you have to keep your eye on him."

Of course we like to keep our eyes on him, but Gibson's glimmer is not about trouble.  It's about looking. 
For fun. 
For a new way to entertain others.
For a hug. 
For the perfect polite response. 
For a good joke. 
For a friend.
For the pot at the end of the rainbow.
For another smile.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Have You Ever Thought?

Amanda shares about her life with two toddlers on All About the Kapengas.   She has quite recently started a special blog called Treasured Memories where she shares creative suggestions for making and treasuring moments with our children.  She has a whole book worth of great ideas up her sleeves - seriously!  Today Amanda is sharing her list of 5 things moms think, but don't say out loud.

5 Things Every Mom Thinks, but No One Shares:

5. How much does the circus pay, and is my child eligible?
4. My baby is by far the cutest thing to ever come into this world!
3. I should have paid more attention in Biology, then maybe I would understand how my child turned out to be half monster.
2. I could scream louder then them and want to.
1. What happened to me?!?

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