December 30, 2008

The Great Purge of '08

Well, the wrapping paper is bagged. The tree is down. The ornaments are packed up. The lights are put away. All evidence of Christmas over here has disappeared.

Depressing? Sad?

Heavens no!

We had our three months of decor and holiday fun - from Halloween and pumpkins to Turkey and Thanksgiving and on into Christmas with the presents and shopping, etc. But now it's time to turn the calendar page to January and start looking at the New Year!

My personal favorite way to engage the coming year?


Yes, my friends - it's the most wonderful time of the year...time to purge the junk and trash and plain old clutter that has accumulated since the last purge. Actually, further back than that - because this time it was different.

This time, because the stars aligned and fate stepped in to help a sista' out - AB was ON BOARD and not just that, but every day since Sunday, we've been attacking our precious abode with new gusto and fervor. Why, you might ask? Because - if there is one thing that really gets to me, one thing that sticks in my craw, one thing that really bugs me to no end - it's CLUTTER. Yes folks, come on down and gawk at the freak show that is my OCD to clean. But I cannot apologize for it, I simply can't. There is something ridiculously lovely about a clutter free and clean home and I for one really enjoy living in that house.

All that being said, we have been going room to room (leaving no stone unturned, mind you) and really and truly giving the old boot to anything that 1. serves zero purpose for us any longer, 2. hasn't been used in over six months to a year, 3. has so much dust on it you can scarcely tell what it is anyway, 4. despite being a "keepsake" it really has no deep sentimental value that will make any sense beyond retirement years, 5. we have no idea why we even have it, 6. we know why we have it, but we have five others just like it.

This is a list that you too can take room to room in your home. You will be AMAZED at what you can part with under those guidelines. It was like a common sense trip through the house, wherein we found ourselves actually giddy over the ability to get rid of more and more crap (oops) stuff. We now have made our way through each and every room and have a large pile of "donate" items for a tax write off sitting in our garage, and an even larger pile of "trash" items - both of which we'll bid a fond farewell to on Friday morning. Meanwhile, the only "room" left to attack is the garage - and we will organize and clean that up, give a push up to the attic for all that remains saved from the garbage man, and give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

You know those candles you've been saving in that box under that sink for like ten years? Toss em. How about those oven mitts that you never even use and don't really like, but they're in the bottom of that drawer over there and you just ignore them? Trash. What about those bowls that haven't seen the outside of the cabinet for centuries? Donate. Seriously...this is the way to start your year. I'm just saying...

First of all - it made WAY more room everywhere for stuff we actually use and like. It made it possible to organize what remained and create breathing room for new things to be added over the next year. It also made it possible to let go of some of this stuff I've been saving/hoarding/cleaning around/and stepping over for our entire marriage. Seriously - this wasn't just a purge. This was an overhaul. I got so sick of pretend purging - where you really don't allow yourself to part with much at all. Lame. I really wanted to go in with fresh eyes and level with myself. If I really wasn't using it and hadn't for a year - it really needed to go. AB was right there with me - and we parted with a lot of extras that someone else will really be able to make use of.

We were actually excited to see all that stuff go out the door. Like a cleansing - a scrub down, if you will - of our living space. One that was cluttered but now is refreshing. I can't think of a better way to start the New Year.

Except maybe for this - I found these in my purge...just priceless - xo

Chrismtas ~ my darling Maternal Grandma circa early 1950's (get a load of that TV!)

Christmas - my sweet Mommy as a little girl circa mid 50' her!

and me...Chrismtas circa early 80's (told you I was a brunette)

Hope your New Year is merry and bright - and your 2009 is everything you've been waiting for... (wink to all my LID buddies)

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Tomorrow we will celebrate our first Christmas together as a family of three. For seven years, we waited and wanted children - and knew in our hearts that we could never give up. This Christmas our little man is here and he will help us to experience this wonderful holiday in a new way. Words simply cannot express or convey the depth of our love and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the gift of Quint.

We also consider what great sacrifice it was for God to send his only Son, the Lamb of God - to be born and die so that we might live.

~ Father, thank you for blessing us with our son, Quint, who we love and cherish more than we ever thought possible. But even more than that, we thank you for the most precious gift of all - Your Son - who because of his great love for us took our place at Calvary. We cherish that gift above all others. ~

Merry Christmas to you and your families and may you truly feel blessed by the great gift that was and is and is to come; Jesus Christ...


December 23, 2008

We interrupt this scheduled Christmas blogging break to say...

  • never mind that he's holding a bungee cord.
  • never mind that he's barefoot in winter (what? I keep the heater cranked and he hates socks)
  • never mind he is freaking adorable (omg!) freaking adorable, freaking adorable
  • never mind that he should really be a Crest Model (and LOVES to brush those pearly whites too!)
  • never mind that his shirt seems a tad too short...hmm
Let's just focus on the incredible difference 7 months make, shall we?

Please to observe:

May ~ Six Months Old ~ Gotcha Day

Taken today ~ he looks like a 3 year old, despite only being 13 months. Jeesh.

Friends, I am watching him grow up before my very eyes...bittersweet has taken on whole new meaning for us.

Love that little boy!

December 22, 2008

And just like that...

I'm a brunette again...after almost fifteen years of coloring the blonde (cough, sputter...) err...I mean, um...gray hair to blonde...I've returned to my natural color - which is brown. I started going full on gray at 18 and never stood a chance. At 20, a friend suggested I try coloring it (bless her heart) and so I haven't seen this in...well, almost fifteen years. It's weird folks. Just weird. But I like it and I was tired of feeling washed out by my blonde-ish grayish hair.

BIG props to my long-time colorist, AB. Going on 9 years of free "coloring". Yes girls, AB. He cooks, is a great hubby, a great daddy, lifts heavy things, opens stubborn jars and bottles, is super handsome, and colors my hair. Freaking crazy lucky ova' here. Thanks baby, you're the greatest!

Meanwhile, we tried on the santa hat tonight and it wasn't as big of a hit for us, nor did we make it look as good as the puppies did...

Oh well!

Merry Christmas - back after the Holiday!!! Enjoy your families!!!

December 18, 2008

Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra

Lest any of you might think we have forgotten about fur babies since the 2-legged baby came home...

We haven't. They're spoiled. Still sleep on the bed. Still gettin' tons of lovin'. Still keepin' us warm at night and still making us laugh...

Merry Christmas from our fur babies to yours - xo

December 17, 2008

Looking Back...

Quint's growing up too fast. And you know what - this is really start to bum me out a little. I just came across these pictures that I had from a trip to CA in Sept. (only three months ago) and Quint has changed so much since these pictures were taken. I can't even believe it... One of my oldest and dearest friends, Renee (who is pictured also) took the pictures and not only do I love them - I just find them to be so bittersweet. In three months I've gone from having a baby to a toddler. Don't believe me? It's crazy...but I'll post a video in the next day or so to prove it. Sob! Do ya feel me on this, mothers?

December 15, 2008

Creepy Claus

Two things noteworthy in this picture:

1. This is the creepiest Creepy Claus I've ever seen close up. Friends - he didn't speak. He grunted toward my son. His legs are skinnier than toothpicks. That 70's hair has got to go. Even Santa Claus himself wouldn't sport that fro-licious mockery of the jolly man's hair. And I'm not sure if that ring is a staged item for the Mrs. Creepy Claus or if he's actually married in "real" life. Must be "Minimum Wage Santa" what with all the economy issues at large this year. But seriously - you could not have paid me enough jingle dollars to sit on that lap. It was all I could do to set my only child on his lap and walk away. I actually felt bad for Quint. Meanwhile,....

2. Speaking of my only child - my son - the light of my freaking good does he make Sir Creepy Claus look when he's smiling like that - in his cute little red and green? I mean, he didn't even hesitate. I sat him down and he just smiled up at me with an ignorance is bliss expression - and kept right on smiling until I went and snatched, er...gently removed him off of S.C.'s lap. Sorry "Santa" but you need my boy on that knee all day to help you out with the whole "creepy" factor. He's all you've got going for you between the twiggy legged striped stockings and the Travolta hair - you better keep him there so you don't scare the rest of the unsuspecting children away. And by the might want to put those pictures on clearance...because I'm telling you why...if Santa Claus is comin' to town in that getup, I'm taking the stockings down.

Ya feel me?

December 12, 2008

M3 Christmas Luncheon

Just sharing some pictures from our M3 Christmas Lunch yesterday- the one common chord that really stood out this year was that not one of these four children were present at our luncheon (or our homes) at last year's lunch. A very humbling reality, indeed.

What an amazing year we've had. I love you girls - couldn't have done this without you - each and every one...

The M3 Posse - minus FIVE M3 Kids...

I tried to explain to the little man that he has to work it with the ladies - but he was having none of it, and only wanted his main lady - MOM.

Ok, how about THREE other little ladies? Nope. Still only wants MOM. (I'm kinda likin' that...)

Ok little buddy - come to mama - that's my boy...

Silly girls - Erin and Kelley

Erin and her beautiful new baby girl - Meisey... aren't they freaking adorable?!?

Well, he's just the most charming and funny and wonderful little boy I've ever known.
I love him!

Isn't Miss Aubriana the prettiest little thing?
She's such a delightful little baby - such a sweetheart...

Robyn and Avery - chillin before the food arrived. They are two peas in a pod!
(my kinda peas...)

December 10, 2008

There's your husband...

Back in my single gal days, I had lots of girlfriends that I hung out with on a regular basis. I'm talking practically daily. We'd get together, have coffee or a meal, shop, chat, catch up on the last 24 hours of each others lives, cry, laugh, and more. But one of the games we giggled uncontrollably at without fail was "there's your husband". In the middle of some profound conversation about lip gloss and purses, one of us would silently scan the room and come up with the...shall we say, best ne'er do well chap we could find and then casually interrupt and say to the friend "there's your husband". We'd all look and burst into a fit of giggles. Sometimes, on a good day - you'd find some gorgeous man in the room and take pity on your friend. So you'd throw her a bone and say "there's your husband" to which she would reply "Gawd, I WISH!". Ah, the single life.

When I was 25 years old, I attended a school function with my Mom for my little sister - who was then, only in the 5th grade. As the audience filed in, my mom and I had already found our seats and were doing some of our best "girlfriend" chatter while we watched people take their seats ahead of us. (we're back row Sally's) I didn't know my mom knew this game, but suddenly she said "whoo...hottie 2:00" and something that resembled a comment of "there's your husband". My eyes scanned the room and when my eye-clock hit 2:00, I saw what she saw. And something flip flopped inside of me. I think I made a slight sigh and said something like "gawd...I wish..."

Turns out he was the new teacher on campus. For three months I pined silently over him. Not really, but just seeing him around the school when I would pick my sister up, etc. set my little heart aflutter. One day, I saw him coaching Volleyball and I thought..."why not me? It has to be someone?" I knew he was single - but didn't know if he had a girlfriend. One could dare to dream...

One month after that, I got up the nerve to call him and invite him out. Over coffee - I stared across a tiny Starbucks table at my 2:00. He was charming, dead freaking attractive, and marvelously funny. We laughed and connected and had some weird chemistry (yeah, chemistry...).

One year, four months, and 20 days later - I stood in white and he stood in a gorgeous tux and we promised to love each other forever. To take care of each other, laugh together, and cry together. And we didn't know it then, but to share in parenting our sweet little Quint and Keira.

I sometimes look back on all the weird ways that we ended up together. The nerve it took to call him - he didn't know I was alive (by the by). The trip we took to LA where he says he officially fell in love with me while I held court with his some 50 relatives. The confrontation we had two months into our dating relationship where it was sink or swim. Lots of little pieces that could have gone differently. Lots of little ways the road could have shifted another direction and led us to other people.

I wish I could go back to that night my sweet mom pointed him out and said "there's your husband!"...

I could say "I know...isn't he spectacular?"

December 8, 2008

Just a little sumpin...

Hi y'all! (tee hee - I'm Paula Dean now!) Just checking in to say that this holiday season is whipping by! We finally got the tree up and the decor set up around the house. I'm so relieved! It's so much better to spend these cold days indoors when we have the fireplace going, the tree lights twinkling and the mulberry spice candle burning. We have XM radio on the Dish, so we just keep it set to "Holidays" and get to listen to all our Christmas favorites throughout the day. We are so cozy in here - I'm hesitant to leave! Meanwhile, that would heartily explain why my Christmas shopping is in poor shape. Not to mention the fact that my tree's underside is still bare. Oops!

I've started a little bit of crafting - painting ceramic ornaments is a small hobby of mine and I took sentimental joy in coming across and then putting them on the tree this year (i.e. the one I made for our kitty Meggie that we lost two years ago...), which made me think that I might still have some unpainted pieces around somewhere. Lo and behold, I found them right away and got the bug to start painting them again.

Meanwhile, all these yummy smells and twinkling lights have also put me in the mood to get back to some scrapbooking - especially starting a book for my little sweetie - Q-man. So, I'm starting up that engine too.

Meanwhile, I've got some gifts to wrap and goodies to bake. I've been in the kitchen quite a bit lately - which is very uncharacteristic of me. But I've made some killer spinach dip, a really melt in your mouth breakfast casserole and tonight I made a chicken noodle and cheese casserole that knocked our socks off! Warm, cheesy and gooey - that's my description. Getting AB's approval on my cooking is high praise in my book - being that he's amazing in the kitchen. I literally threw it together and it was a piece of cake!

Well, enough about me! What are you doing with the holidays? Any crafting going on out there? Special projects you do around the holidays? Do tell!

Here's some Quint-a-licious goodness for the road:

OMG! So darn cute - can you stand it?!?

My boy is drinking from a straw! What happened to my baby??

So cute - Daddy, boy, and puppy all taking a Saturday afternoon nap. I just love this...Quint loves his Daddy so much. NO where else he'd rather be...


December 4, 2008

Christmas Magic

I was driving through town a few days ago, and I had the Christmas music station cranked up. I took special note of the wreaths on street lamps, the Christmas lights on buildings, the decor from place to place; and it filled me with nostalgia.

How is it possible that seeing a Christmas wreath brings into instant recall all those mornings of unyielding bliss - eager anticipation of what lay beyond the wrapping paper, my mom's chocolate covered cherry balls, more food than you could shake a turkey leg at, friends, chaos, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on the record player (yes, record player) and Dad stuck in the corner futzing with the ginormous video camera on the tripod and shuffling the still camera around his neck. Fire in the fireplace - always. Mom fussing with our huge breakfast. My brothers and I salivating over every gift tag which bore our name in red letters. The stockings so full, they had to be taken off their hooks and laid down on the ground. A plate with crumbs signaling that our precious Santa had made his visit. Hugs and kisses from Grandma, Grandpa, then Aunt each one arrived to our house carrying even more gifts to stuff under our already busting at the seams tree base. Too much food, the smell of morning coffee, and finally...Grandpa dons the red Santa hat and finds his way to sit down by the tree and start calling out names; presents and wrapping paper begin flying around the room in rapid succession.

Later we're spent and completely captivated by our treasures. "Open this up for me, Dad!" "Grandma, can you help me put this together?" "Mom, I don't want to try it on now - later!!" Then falling unaware into a dreamy nap-time to the smell of turkey or ham. Mom changed it from year to year.


That was such a nice memory for me just kidding. I almost don't want to finish the post.

But what happened to that?

I guess I grew up. And I figured out that it took hard work and hard earned money to pull off that stint every year. My Dad worked three jobs to make those two paragraphs above a reality for us every year. My Grandpa worked the same and didn't retire until his 70's.

Suddenly, I'm finally realizing as an adult that it took a lot of energy, a lot of talent, time and love for my parents to host such extravagant Christmas magic for the four of us kids. The Christmas Eve's that my mom hustled us into bed and spent hours wrapping presents, and my Dad assembling a miscellaneous cornucopia of toys, bikes, and Barbie Dream Houses. The untold hours that my Mom and Grandma spent in the kitchen slaving over holiday treats and Christmas Feasts. My back hurts just thinking about it. The countless emotional and physical (not to mention financial) expense that went into those moments - to make them everything that they were - so that today I could recount it with such warmth in my heart for the memory.

I'm not saying Christmas is about money. I'm truly not. But I am saying that it's hard to take a holiday that has such huge standards in my heart - holds some of my fondest memories of my childhood and family time - and wrap it up into a whole new package for my own children. I'm afraid I can't even come close.

I know what you're probably thinking: make it your own. I know - but I can't. I'm so fond of those memories. I just want them back. I want to take Quint and plop him down right in the middle of them, so that he can see, smell, taste, hear...everything that I did as a child. To feel that magic.

How do I make it magical for him in this today?

Ask my mom (if you could) - it was magical. Even to her, all these years later...all that hard work she and my Dad did...they will still tell you it was a magical time for our family.

I think the lesson for me, is that by putting so much into whatever it is that makes this holiday special for you - you're keeping that magic going. Even if it changes shape, or takes on new meaning. If it's reading Christ's birth story to your kids. Attending a Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Baking like mad and delivering them to all your family and friends. Making crafts, caroling, shopping, serving food at a shelter, having friends over, seeing The Nutcracker - or all of the above. You're hard work pays off, because you're passing the magic on to your kids and giving them what you had - in a sense. They won't see all the work that goes into it until they're adults, like me - and driving down the street and hear a Christmas song their mom used to hum while making their favorite dessert or smell Christmas tree pine and recall their Dad getting the tree to just the right angle in the living room. I guess the important thing is that it will be magic in their eyes, and that magic will linger on into their future.

Just like it has for me.

Just like it will for Quint...starting now...

December 1, 2008

Uh sorry...where was I?

Oh yes! Sick...that's right. And guess what I'm going to be for you today? You got it....

A broken record. (ah ha ha...laughter from the cheap seats) We're all still sick. No, seriously. I've got several issues nagging my body, that I won't bore you with. Quint is still hacking, coughing, and well...rather drippy from the nose. He's also managed to sprout 4 teeth bringing our total count to eight. This combo is not one I recommend and it has made for quite a cranky little man. Add to that Mom and Dad being sick too - and bam! Happy Holidays, Grinch! Hmph.

Sorry it can't be a little more rosey - I have so many pictures of the last couple of weeks and I know I've been radio silent, so to speak. I actually have a lot to say, so I'll paraphrase (i.e. go into a long diatribe for each thought in my little head) what I've had on my mind lately.

First, my son needs to stop growing up. Wait... No...I want him to grow up. No...I don't. See, even when I'm typing theoretical blather, I still can't make up my mind. The bottom line is that he changes weekly. Daily. He is changing so rapidly this past six months since he's been home that it's making our parental heads spin. It's a blow to the heart in some ways, because you can see how this rapid growing up can really get away from you and the next thing you know you have a married son with his own kids. I'm just day teething, the next day paying a mortgage and coaching his wife through Lamaze. This is how fast it is going. I know why people say "I miss having a baby" now. Because they're lunatics who have forgotten all the work that goes into infants, but nevertheless, they're right. Tick tock, my friends...tick tock.

Another thought on my mind is that the older I get (can you see where I'm going with this?) the more I realize (ya with me?) that all those "older and wiser" people who give you life advice (now you're on to me...) are pretty much right. No, they are right. And the older I get, I realize that I could have saved tons and tons of time and personal pain had I listened to even a fraction of what they had said. Now that I'm a mother, even the smallest pieces of advice seem to come flooding back to me and ring true. The circle of life advice is that we never listen, and then we try to pass it along to those who never listen and so on. We all have to make our own way and find out for ourselves, I guess. Sucks.

Still reading all your blogs, but still officially the world's worst commenter. Nuff said. Gulp. I have no excuses. Truly.

Remember all those many moons (cough...a couple months) ago when I said that I was freaking out because I had to let go of so much stuff when Quint came home? All blah blah whining about how my life was upside down and I couldn't see straight or find time to comb my hair, shower, eat, etc? Right, that's all still true. Point is, someone said "it'll get easier" and they were right. (See a couple paragraphs up about advice from those who have walked it) It has gotten easier, and I could devote a whole post to the "easier" portion, and maybe I will at some point - but for now let's just say that each month brings new challenges and new sighs of relief. He learns how to push new buttons but he tires of old buttons. (thank you thank you thank you God!) He has become more independent in certain things, while more needy in others. He's starting to walk more and more, he eats more and more of what we eat, and he's gained enough understanding of certain things that he knows basic right from wrong. Does he ever. If I have to say "no touch" one more time...gah! Suffice to say, it's getting easier to breath, and even though the house still looks a little tornado-ish, we survive. Somethin's gotta give, my friends. The house is it.

Some of you will recall that I went to part-time work (from home) back in October and that's been a big help to my relationship with Quint. Things were tough there for a bit, but we're more engaged now with each other during the waking hours. He's got his Mommy and he's pretty happy about that. Undivided attention, turns out, is HIGH on the priority list of a one year old. Go figure! (snort)

We spent Thanksgiving out of town visiting relatives - it went relatively well, and I think Quint really loved getting to spend time with his cousins. He was soooo worn out when we got home and I think we all breathed a sigh of "it's good to be home" relief when we got back - for the simple fact that traveling with a baby is not the easiest thing to do. And it's not fun when said baby is sick the entire time. Bummer! (and you're driving...for long a small car...did I mention he was sick?...and teething?...)

Finally, and I think most importantly, it has not escaped my mind that soon, very soon, we will find our China LID at the top of the list for referral. We received a notice from our agency asking that we renew our 171-H yet again - third times a charm? Yes, this will be our third time to go through this paperwork, and somehow - it doesn't seem to matter that you know what to expect - it's still really difficult. Meanwhile, I keep thinking these heavy thoughts like "how will this change the dynamics of our little family of three" (shhh, don't be a hater...I'm just being honest) "what will having a girl be like", (weird considering that's all I thought we would have when we started this) "how will I cope with having two little ones at home all day" (big shout out to my girl "V" who's keeping it real over there at Tadpoles and Tutus with virtual twins!) and "how are we going to come up with all this money in time for referral". Now please...I beg you - understand that the cost we paid for the adoption process in Ethiopia was provided on queue by God's divine grace, and my husband is the biggest advocate for the "don't panic, God will provide" route. I'm the nervous nellie who frets and wonders how, how, how... So, if you pray, could you pray that God will provide this next portion of adoption fees and travel costs needed to go get our girl? We are standing on faith that the money will be there just as it always has been...right on time.

I think that catches you up - I'm sitting here when I should be in bed (lame!) and I'm feeling so lousy at the moment, I've actually caught myself looking longingly towards my bedroom and the flannel sheets and my warm down comforter. So I can hear you saying "go! what are you doing posting? we'll be here when you get back! go to bed!"

I'm going...I'm it's nice to have friends who tell you to get back in bed...thanks for that.

Back soon...k?