Friday, November 30, 2012

Our Advent calendar

Tomorrow we begin the "25 days of Christmas". Last week, Bebe and I prepared our Advent countdown. I had seen this idea in Parents Magazine and Bebe was eager to help me duplicate it.
Here was the process: We bought "treat cups" from the $1 spot at Target for 70% off. They were 30 cents for 10. They are the same width as normal drinking cups but only about 2" deep. We traced 25 circles onto green tissue paper and numbered each circle. Then came the tedious task of cutting out each circle. Once the circles were cut, I place a piece of paper with a pre-determined activity on the back of each circle. (So the circle was number-side down.) We then used a glue stick around the rims of the cups and placed them open-side down onto the tissue paper circles, therefore trapping the paper inside of the cup. Once they dried, we used Elmer's glue (although I'd recommend a glue gun, which we don't have) to glue them to a foam core board.

Here was the result:

Bebe has been asking daily when she can start "punching out" each day on the calendar. Tomorrow I can actually say, "TODAY you can!"

I'm hoping as Advent happens, I can post daily about what we're up to. I love this season!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy birthday, dear boy.

Today my beloved "Dois" turned dois (two). I just can not believe it. For the longest time after Bebe was born I wanted another child, I longed for another child. I knew our family wasn't complete.

My patience was rewarded in the form of this little boy. He has helped me to embrace motherhood in a way that I was unable to when Bebe was younger.

When Luca was born, D said to me, "If I had known #2 was going to be like this, we would've had #2 sooner." We had no idea how much adding another child would enrich our family.

Luca has brought us so much joy. He is your typical happy-go-lucky, energetic little boy. He is lovey and snuggly and cuddly but only on his own terms. His latest thing is to shout, "Owww!" when he doesn't want anyone near him. It's his way of saying. "Get away!"

I am such a lucky mama to have this boy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"I do."

As we walk down the aisle together
we will vow to be together 'til we die.
So in love are we two,
just can't wait to say, "I do," 
So in love,
in a world of our own.

I, Anne, take you, Andre, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Nine years ago, Thanksgiving Day fell on November 27th.
What better way to celebrate a day filled with thankfulness for all of God's blessings, then to celebrate by promising yourself to one of the greatest blessings of all in your life?

Nine years ago, D and I stood in front of a collection of family (mostly mine, some of his) and friends, and vowed to stay together all the days of our lives.

And we meant it.

We have seen good times, and we have seen bad times.
We have seen sickness, and we have seen health.

And may we have many, many, many more days of our lives.

It has not been an easy road, these last 9 years. 
We have faced several struggles that seemed insurmountable: and yet here we are.

It is our commitment that has kept us moving forward every. single. day. It is the reminder that we promised to spend our lives together "until death do us part" that helps us to keep working on our marriage, even when things seem bleak. 

And when all is said and done, we're blessed with a joy and a comfort in knowing we made the right choice: in knowing that with God's help, we can overcome any obstacles in our marriage.

--Mark 10:8

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I love Thanksgiving.

I love Christmas and the Christmas season--and I love Thanksgiving because it has always marked the "gateway" to the Christmas season!

Almost nine years ago, on Thanksgiving Day of 2003, D and I promised to love one another until death do we part. What better day to exchange those vows than on a day when we all take the time to reflect on and be thankful for all the blessings in our lives? Through all of our ups and downs, D has always been one of those things I am thankful for. :)

After being diagnosed with my numerous allergies, Thanksgiving meals with family and friends became very difficult to navigate. I didn't feel comfortable partaking in many elements of the meal when butter, eggs, etc. abounded in the various foods on the table.

In 2010, I made a decision: We'd do Thanksgiving at home. That year, I was VERY pregnant with Dois (he was born 4 days after Thanksgiving), so we did Thanksgiving at home just D, Bebe, and I (with a turkey breast instead of a full turkey). That year, I also started this tradition, which we have done every year since (including today!):

We make a "family cornucopia" of all that we are thankful for. I save them when the holiday is over, too. Today we have 3 to put up on the wall!

Last year I absolutely loved going all-out for Thanksgiving. My brother came from NY, and we also had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend join us. We had quite the feast! Perhaps the funniest thing of the entire night was how Dois (a few days shy of 1) enjoyed the turkey leg we offered him!

This year I've got the turkey roasting as I type. We have a full spread for the table again: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and onions, stuffing (the only thing I'll be making that I can't eat). I just LOVE cooking Thanksgiving. I've been excited for weeks!

No Thanksgiving post would be complete without a list of everything I'm thankful for, but that would take FOREVER. I'm so thankful for a husband I love, for two beautiful children, for my parents and brothers and all of our supported extended family. I'm thankful for employment, for the things we are able to afford, and for our health. And most of all, I am so thankful for the God who created me, who created us, who loves the world SO MUCH that he sent His Son.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today was an AWESOME day!

Have you ever had a day where at the end of it you look book and say, "Wow, today was AWESOME!"

Yeah, today was one of those.

And it was the little things that made it so awesome.

For starters, I wrote over 5000 words of my novel today. As if that wasn't awesome enough, I also hit 25,000 words!! Two pretty big accomplishments in one day.

Then, after work today, I was NOT looking forward to the long list of errands I had to run.

#1 on my list was dress shopping. After finding this dress for myself for this Saturday's upcoming wedding, I waffled on whether to buy something online without trying it on. When I went to order it, it turned out that my size wasn't even in stock, nor was one size bigger or smaller. I was really, really bummed. I kept holding out hope that it would return to stock, but that wasn't the case. So tonight, I headed out in search of a dress to wear instead of the dress I loved. I was planning to go to a few stores, but as I was leaving work, I heard on the radio there was major traffic in the direction I was heading to. There's a Burlington Coat Factory right around the corner from my work, and something inside of me said, "Hey, go ahead in there and see what they have."

So I did. I was browsing the racks of dresses and everything was too short, too flashy, too... not my style. As I was about to give up I said to myself, "I wanted something gray--is there really nothing gray here?" and as I walked by the end of the rack, I spotted it. A gray dress. Upon closer inspection, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was THE gray dress! The one I coveted from Sears! I had to search the racks to find a size I could wear, and then I went to try it on. As soon as I put it on, I gasped. It looked just as good on me as it did online! And the best part? It was ON CLEARANCE for $17! $17 for the cutest dress!

I walked out of there all excited about my new dress!

Then I was off to get a haircut. I was wishy-washy on the whole haircut thing, but in the end I decided I wanted one. It was a new lady and I was a bit nervous, especially as she kept calling me "baby." But she did an AMAZING job! I took about 2" off and I just love it!

My awesome night continued when I went to the store to get some items and everything I bought (unintentionally) was on sale! BONUS!

And then I went to Ross and got a wedding present that was an AMAZING deal.

Yeah, it was a good day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Avoidance edition

— 1 —
It's NOVEMBER! Do you know what that means? I shouldn't be blogging, because it's NaNoWriMo! 
But I'm blogging, because NaNoWriMo is going terribly. As of this posting I only have 13,000 words written. Going at this pace I will hit 50,000 by Christmas, not November 30th. I'm discouraged, but I'm not waving the white flag until December 1st.
I am avoiding writing my novel.

— 2 —
Mass chaos ensues next week. Mass chaos = Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law's arrival from Brazil, a wedding rehearsal, a wedding, D and I's 9th anniversary, and Dois' birthday all in a one-week span (the 22nd to the 29th). On the 1st I will sleep. A lot. (I hope.)
I am avoiding getting the house ready for this chaos.

— 3 —
We're starting a new tradition this year. As I blogged in my last post, I love Advent. I love Christmas. This year we are going to have an advent wreath at home. I am hoping that every night before dinner we can light it and say a prayer or reflect on it. 
 I am avoiding the truth that usually I have good intentions but don't follow through.

— 4 —
Dois is in such a fun stage right now. He's tantruming left and right as he struggles with transition and independence, but when he's not melting down, oh my gosh is he funny! Here's a little video of him from Sunday. This was 7:30am. He INSISTED on going out on our patio, despite the fact that it was in the 50s. And then once out there, he felt the need to dance.

I am avoiding the fact that two weeks from now this boy of mine will be TWO. 

— 5 —
D's sister and her husband have asked us to be their "godparents" (tradition in their culture--instead of a best man/maid of honor, they choose a married couple as their "godparents" to mentor them in marriage). She asked us last week. My friends who know me best know not to ask me to be in their weddings. I just DO NOT feel comfortable standing up in front of people.
I am avoiding the fact that the dress I found and planned to buy is out-of-stock, and I have not found a dress yet.

— 6 —
Bebe's Christmas list is a mile long. Dois has plenty of toys left-over from Bebe. 
I am avoiding Christmas shopping.

— 7 —
 This morning I heard a song that truly moved me. Bebe is in the choir at church and they are singing it at the annual Christmas concert. It's called "The Holy Family" by Danielle Rose. Check it out!

I am avoiding crying now, thanks to that beautiful song.

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Now head on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anticipating Advent.

Chaos is starting to set in--I thought we had another week between this week and Thanksgiving. NO! Thanksgiving is in 9 days! In 9 days my mother-in-law arrives. I'm excited, but WE'RE NOT READY! And once she gets here, a whirlwind begins... my sister-in-law's wedding, D and I's 9th anniversary, Dois' 2nd birthday.... Then follows the usual hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

I absolutely love Christmas. With families so far away from us, spending some Christmases away from home and some at home, I wanted to make some traditions for Bebe (and now Dois) that we could carry on no matter where we will be. Four years ago I struck gold:

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas!

I am seeing it on other blogs, but I didn't know much about blogs then. I came up with this all on my own. What I did was created a giant calendar on poster board. Some days had activities already filled in (for example, if we were attending a party or a Christmas concert). Then I had a bag full of papers with activities on them in a bag. Bebe would pick one on any day when it was blank, and we would do that activity. At the end of the day I would write the date on the slip of paper, take a pic of it, and Photoshop it on to a pic of what we did that day.

Here was our first ever 24 days of Christmas activity, back in 2008:

I try to find a balance between fun Christmas (the Santa-and-Reindeer side of it) activities, charitable activities, and the religious aspect of Christmas.

This year I'm taking a SLIGHTLY different approach. With 2 kids to juggle last year, I struggled to keep up. Bebe would choose, "Bake Christmas cookies" and I would come home that night and realize that we didn't have the ingredients to do so. What a bummer. Knowing things will be a bit chaotic with my mother-in-law staying with us, I decided my best approach would be to pre-plan every single day of the 24 days, and have the activities be a surprise to Bebe and Dois.

I can't wait. I really, really love Christmas. I just love this time of the year.

This year I am also hoping to institute a new tradition at home: having an Advent wreath to light during dinner every day.

How do you celebrate Advent? How do you prepare for Christmas in your home?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes--It's NOVEMBER?!

— 1 —
It's NOVEMBER! Do you know what that means? I shouldn't be blogging, because it's NaNoWriMo! 
 I was dead-set on participating this year, but with the way I've been feeling lately, I wasn't sure if I had the stamina to give it a go. Buuuut.... I'm giving it a go! Wish me luck!

— 2 —
I found out on Sunday that my mom has breast cancer. I wasn't expecting it, at all. I talk to my mom nightly. I didn't see this coming. On Tuesday she had a lumpectomy and they removed all of the tumor, so now we wait for the pathology reports. This experience once again dredged up all of my deep regret about living so far from home/my parents/DH's family and not allowing our children to see them as often as I would like. So I've been in kind of a funk. I hope we have many more years to come.

— 3 —
Dois is starting a new daycare in January. Yes, we finally decided it was time for us to move on from his current place. While there's no doubt that he is loved and well-cared-for there, the expense is just too much for us to continue (especially because elsewhere, the cost goes down at age 2). We were determined to not sacrifice quality for a cheaper price, though. It turns out that the child care on the campus where D worked has an opening, and although 5 years ago we visited it with Bebe and weren't thrilled, this time around we LOVED it! So Dois will start there on January 2nd. A new year, a new daycare, and more money saved. Woo-hoo!

— 4 —
My mother-in-law is coming! My sister-in-law is getting married this month, and I just found out that my mother-in-law is coming for sure! She is planning to come for a month, and we are trying to convince her to stay through Christmas. Fingers crossed! She came to visit us for a month when Dois was 5 months old and the kids (especially Bebe) just loved having her around. It will be such a wonderful thing for her to come back again. (Remind me of this when I'm complaining about how she cleans up things before I'm done with them or when she's putting my silverware away in the wrong place.)

— 5 —
Holiday clothing disasters continue. In my last Quick Takes I posted about our Christmas clothing disasters. I was excited at the end of my post because I decided to go ahead and order something I thought was going to work perfectly. WRONG! (See people, THIS is why I start planning early!) I received our Gymboree order, and while this dress works perfectly for Bebe, the shirt, tie, and sweater vest I ordered for Dois DID NOT. An 18-24m top was tight on his belly (hard to button) and a 2T was HUGE on him. So, back to the drawing board I went. I went on eBay and found a sweater vest that would coordinate with the green in Bebe's dress and ordered it. Well, it showed up on Monday and it's a 3T, not a 2T. ARGH! Tuesday found me searching high and low for another option, and thankfully I walked into Crazy 8 (after almost passing it by!) and found a shirt to match Bebe's dress. Of course, now I'm struggling to find the OTHER pieces I need (gray pants in a 2T that can fit a cloth diaper butt, and a black sweater vest that DOES NOT cost $50!). Little by little. SO GLAD I started early.

— 6 —
Would you ever buy a dress sight-unseen? Buying clothes for the kids for the holidays made me realize that I really want to get myself a new dress to wear for the wedding/holidays. I browsed a couple sites and found this dress from Sears. I love love love it, but no stores around me carry it! Would you buy a dress that you couldn't try on first? I could return it if it didn't fit, but I would be out shipping.

— 7 —
I sound materialistic, don't I? I swear, I'm not. But I am a perfectionist. And I want things to look JUST RIGHT for the wedding and holidays. Hence my insanity. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading! Now head on over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!