Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas

**Breakfast with Santa. Drummer looks nonplussed.**

**Who is this guy, mom?**

It's true that the holidays can be a little crazy. There is a lot of baking, wrapping, shopping, mailing, caroling, writing, and decorating to be done. And by the number of articles I see about reducing holiday stress, this is a pervasive issue.

I'm not immune to December getting crazy, though I think I reduce my stress by reducing expectations for myself. i.e., I am not the mom delivering plates of 10 varieties of homemade cookies (though I will decline to say how many of those received that I have eaten!)

**Cookies that I did not make, but have enjoyed tremendously. c/o my MIL.**

But any time I start to get stressed, I make myself think about the Christmas's of just a few short years ago.

**I had my eye on an a semi pricey advent calendar, but wanted to save money. I found this DIY on Oh Happy Day and am pleased as punch with the result. Hopefully next year I'll actually put things in them.**

I've always been a Christmas junkie and so the medical student/resident years were especially hard during the month of December. I wanted so much to bathe in the holiday spirit--to sit by the twinkle lights, go see the nutcracker, and drink hot chocolate at home by the tree. Working the hours I was, that just wasn't going to happen. I would dream of a Christmas Future where I would get to indulge all of my Christmas fantasies.

**Our mantle came with a plug right in the middle. Hooray for more twinkle lights!**

In order to quiet the longing for a month of Holiday Immersion, I'd bring my ipod shuffle to work. Clipped inside my coat where no one could see, I'd put one earbud in, tucked under my long hair. The Christmas carols played on a loop while I walked around the hospital; writing orders, checking on patients (I hit pause!), and answering pages. It helped--my own tiny connection to the holiday season.

**Hark! Drummer spies a train at a gorgeous exhibit we visit every year.**

Now that I'm living that Christmas Future, I feel like I'm duty bound to enjoy it doubly for all the years I couldn't. But I also remember with fondness my small efforts to make the holidays work within the season of life that I was. Because as much as I adore all the parties and gift exchanges, I know that's not what it's really about. For me, it's about the birth of our Savior, back in the meridian of time. And the magic of that was as present with me in my scrubs and clogs, in the four white walls of a hospital, as it is now in my cozy home with carols blasting.

**My connection to Christmas.**

My Christmas wish for you is the same whether you are having an ipod-shuffle-in-your-ear kind of Christmas or a month of Christmas Immersion: That at least some corner of it be Merry and Bright.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top 5 Friday

I'm not calling this Top 5 Friday because I intend to make this a recurring thing (though you never know!), but I do just so happen to have five things to share with you before the weekend. Hopefully when things slow down after Christmas, I'll have more time to actually sit and write. In the meantime:

1)This is a little video I put together that will help you see how much my little man lives up to his nickname. His nickname was serendipitous. Cause how could I have known a year ago just how much of his Dad's percussion gene he had inherited?

2)Green Shake Recipe.


We've become enamored of green shakes lately. They taste so delicious and it's one of the only way to get Tiny to eat lettuce of any sort. My fabulous sister gave me her recipe to try, and it's a hit with all members of the househould. I attribute this in large part to the fact that it tastes like a pina colada. Type 'green shake' into pinterest, and you'll get lots of ideas, but here's what we've been drinking:
2-3 handfuls of spinach
Some water or OJ as a liquid base
Frozen mango and pineapple
1 tsp Vanilla
1 T Coconut Oil

Blend and enjoy! I don't have a fancy blender, and it still blends the spinach completely. I think I'm partly drawn to green shakes this time of year because I'm looking for anything with immune boosting effects. Oh, cold and flu season!

3)My new favorite Christmas Album. I just discovered this today. Design Mom mentioned it and I went and checked it out. I listened once and SOLD! I knew Rockstar would love it as soon as I heard the pianist has been compared to Vince Gauraldi. The featured vocalist, Acacia, has a fantastic jazz voice.

My other new favorite Christmas Album. Rockstar bought this for me last week, and it's been in near constant rotation. When I first heard Zooey Deschanel's voice in 'Elf', I remember thinking, "Why isn't this girl making music?? I'd so buy her album." I googled it, and found out that at the time, she was popular on the Hollywood party circiut as a singer. I'm glad that she's made albums now that we can all enjoy.

4)This article is worth a read. A good friend and I were talking this morning about what parents can do to help kids grown into more respectful teenagers. She pointed me towards this article, and I thought it made so much sense. I really believe that the kind of love, generosity and respect we model in our marriage will be pivotal in our children's behavior. Just last week we had a family night lesson about being nice when other kids aren't(geared toward the preschool set). Afterwards, Tiny was playing with her toys while I recounted a story from the day to Rockstar, including a semi-sarcastic thing someone had said. Tiny pipes up, "Mommy! You can't talk to Daddy like that! We just had a lesson being nice, and you need to be nice!" We were cracking up as I explained that I was just relaying a story, but holy little pitchers! These little ones don't miss a trick. It was a good reminder to make a more concerted effort in the generosity department.

5)DIY Chandelier


I don't really consider myself a DIY'er, but I was helping out with the Halloween party for our church this year. The main planner came up to me while we were setting up and said, 'Hey, do you think you could build a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling with all these paper lanterns?' And because that is just precisely the kind of nebulous challenge that I love (the kind where I don't really know what I'm doing out the outset), I said yes. An hour and a half and a lot of fishing wire/masking tape/twinkle lights later, my friend Jen and I felt pretty pleased with our efforts. I'd give you a step by step on how we did that, but I'm not really sure!

Happy Weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Memory Keeper

**Oh, I loved Thanksgiving. What's not to love about low-key day with parades, treats, family and gratitude? I'm stuffed with the goodness of it all.**

As the year winds down, I start to feel nesting instincts. I spent last week organizing random corners of my house and purging our piles of paper and to-do lists. I know this is off season, but I can’t fight the urge to have all of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed so we can start the new year fresh and organized. I like to know that all of the memories from 2011 are taken care of, so I have nothing hanging over my head as we move forward. Sometimes it feels like an overwhelming job to figure out the best way to organize, store and keep track of all the photos, papers and memories we constantly create as a family. And undoubtedly I don’t do the best job in the world. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all the cute home videos I’ve shot of the kids on my iphone (ideas anyone…do you just burn them to a disc?). But there are a few things that I’ve figured out that help me feel like I’m storing our memories without overwhelming myself. Here are the ways I approach memory-keeping.

1)What/When/Where Binder:


My mom gets credit for this simple and effective idea, and boy do I think It’s genius. The gist of it is this: Each year gets its own three-ring binder. You print out a sheet that says, “What/When/Where _________ Family 2011” or what have you for the front cover. You can make it fancy if you’re so inclined, but I am not. Then you visit a website like printfree.com and you print a monthly calendar for each month. Put those in the binder with a few clear plastic holder sheets in between, and then you're ready to go. As the year goes on, jot down a one-liner on the calendar when something notable happens or when you do something as a family. I always note vacations, movies, dinners out, birthday parties, etc.,


What do I do when I get a mothers day card or thank you note that is particularly meaningful, and I want to keep? Three hole punch it and stick it in the binder.


A program for a recital? Same thing. Ticket stubs? Tape it to the back of the calendar. Random printed photos? A cute kid drawing? You get the idea. I absolutely love this. It allows me to keep a few sentimental things, but do so in a chronological way that makes more sense than just sticking it in a pile or a box. Plus, I love how flipping me through the calendars gives me a general sense for the year; what we did and who we hung out with. So easy, so useful.

2)Photo Books—

**My birthday was last month, and boy did this man spoil me rotten. For an entire week, the surprises kept coming (good surprises are my love language). He's a gift--the best one of all, for sure.**

I think most of us are probably doing something like this. I don’t do fancy digital scrapbooking, mainly because I have so many photos, I feel like they’d be 1000 pages long if I made room for anything decorative. I just can’t rest knowing that all my digital photos are languishing on my harddrive, but I don’t have time for complicated. I use simple layouts, a few captions, and lots and lots of pictures. I’ve let go of perfect. Each kid gets their own digital baby book for their first year of life, otherwise, there’s just a family book for each year. The first time I did one, I used Blurb. I was impressed with the pricing and the ability to print the picture directly onto the cover. Plus, I could use as many pages as I wanted to and the final product was nice. The one thing I HATED was the software. Everytime I dragged a picture into the book, the program had to ‘think’ for a million years. That first book took an eternity to make. Blurb has probably fixed this by now, but in the meantime, I tried My Publisher. My Publisher’s program is a dream to use. I drop a photo on the page, and BAM! No thinking. My second book took a fraction of the time that the first one did. Plus, they also now offer the photo printed right onto the book cover and unlimited pages. I think this is a great way to keep memories for busy mom’s who aren’t into scrapbooking. I can complete one in a day if I have several hours to focus.

3)Child Diaries:

**I'll save this picture for Drummer's future fiancee. In our house we have a saying: Real Men Wear Aprons.**

This is also something I adapted from my mom. She had books for each of us that she would write cute sayings in and record recent happenings. My book is pretty sparse because she didn’t think of this until I was in HS, but my little brother’s books are hilarious. I bought one of these nice notebooks from container store for each of the kids. When Tiny was a baby, I’d record all of her milestones and cute baby happenings. I write letters to her in that book, jot down some of her dramatics, etc., I could handle this even as a busy resident because it was just a quick note whenever I thought of it. Now I have one for Drummer as well. I keep them in my nightstand and try to update them on a regular basis. But I don’t let myself feel guilty about it when I slack for awhile, because I love even the few pages I have from my mom. I figure my kids will appreciate what I manage to get down, and won’t know what else they’re missing!

**Maybe I should note in her book how she was super excited about ordering this parfait until she realized they were using plain, sour yogurt to keep it french.**

A friend of mine also directed me to these calendars from Hallmark while I was pregnant with Drummer. It's a similar idea as the what/when/where calendars, but just for that baby's first year. I used one during Drummer's first year, and it worked out wonderfully. Quick, easy, not overwhelming. We're sensing a theme, no?

Those are the main three ways I keep track of our personal family history (aside from personal journal keeping, which I am TERRIBLE at). The minor ways?
*Blog books: I am in the process of printing my old blog via blog2print. I know a lot of you do blog books, but they always seemed to take me forever to re-format in Blurb, etc., Blog2print just does everything for you, and I think that’s hard to put a price on. My blog has never primarily been about keeping my family’s history, but I still like having a printed copy.
*Photo Calendars:I also do yearly photo calendars as Christmas gifts, and those are also sort of a fun visual record of the passage of time.

**Another visual reminder of the passage of time--drummer's first locks hitting the ground. You know where Tiny's first curls are? In my what/when/where binder!**

**So now I’m curious to hear from you. How do you keep track of your family’s memories?**

Happy Weekend! Our Holiday Schedule starts off with a bang tomorrow, and I just have this to say:

Bring it, Holidays. I'm so ready to make this month sparkle.