November 29, 2010

Christmas 2010 Opt3

Vintage Snowflakes Holiday
Christmas cards and holiday thank you cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

I may complain and groan a lot over the Holidays; however, I'm not completely devoid of grace.

This year I am thankful.

I am thankful for:
  • A loving husband who puts up with a lot of crap and crankiness from me
  • A child who continues to amaze me whom I love with ever fiber of my soul
  • A big giant family who loves us all enough to fight for time with us during the holidays
  • A beautiful house that I have grown to love so much over the past 2 years. It is home. Finally. 
  • A small group of amazing and talented friends who I wish I could see more, but cherish the moments with
  • A job that affords me the extra cash to spoil our families during the holidays 
  • Food. Apparently I am so thankful for food that I gained 3 pounds this week 
This Thanksgiving, I chose to put away my scrooge hat and give thanks.

November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Girls' Weekend Edition

What a girls' weekend looks like:

Sisters In Law

Beer & Bar Bingo at small town bar = good times

Family

A lucky Bingo table. These ladies won a combined $244.

Dauber Fingers

Despite a scary drive home, it was a super fun time and I can't wait to do it again!

November 23, 2010

Ice, Injuries & Illness Oh My!

ICE
If there is anything that scares me more, it is driving in ice storms. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of driving about an hour and a half up north to spend time with The Moopies (the women from my husband's side of the family). We laughed, we shopped, we DRANK and had a fabulous time. That was, until I woke up on Sunday morning to learn that the Twin Cities was covered in ice. Immediately, my heart began to race. How am I going to get home? I have to go home! With a pounding heart, I began my fearful drive home. It was pretty frightening driving through the country roads- a LOT of water to slide into. When I made it to the highway, things were okay. I was even pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of drivers were incredibly cautious and respectful of each other. I never felt like anyone was driving way too fast for the conditions and not once did I get tailgated. When I reached the Twin Cities, the plethora of idiot drivers came out of the woodwork, but I very thankfully made it home safe and sound. Probably just a couple years shaved my life based on sheer fear.

INJURIES
If you have a toddler you understand. I'm not talking about HIS injuries. I'm talking about MY injuries caused by him! Most of the time it involves his giant noggin jacking me in the chin or an accidental head butt. Last night's injury was just bad timing. He was picking up a toy and swung around at the exact same time that I happened to lift and turn my head towards him. Cue hard, plastic toy making a direct connection with my nose. This morning I was greeted in the mirror by a swollen nose and a nice little black eye. The good news? He felt terrible about it and gave his mommy a huge hug and kiss to make it all better. For the most part, the treatment worked. At least for my heart.

ILLNESS
Today marks week #4 that I have been sick. It started with bronchitis and a sinus infection. For a brief moment in time I thought I was doing great, then the cough and nose stuff came back full force. My understanding is the bug that I have can last anywhere from 3-5 weeks. I hardly remember what healthy feels like and truthfully, I'm getting depressed and frustrated. I am so beaten down that I can't workout. The cough keeps me up at night so I'm exhausted. Every morning I wake up just hoping that I will be feeling better. No such luck. I'm doing all I can to rest and not get stressed out. The holidays are upon us and I am just going to take a deep breath and try to relax.

November 19, 2010

The Week In Rant: Mixed Bag of Emotions

Welcome to Friday!

This week has been an emotional week on a couple different levels.

It took 2.5 years and a miscarriage before we miraculously conceived our son. It was the longest, saddest and most confusing 2.5 years of my life. Month after month after month of disappointments. Invasive fertility testing and drugs. We were at the point of giving up when that elusive 2nd line showed up on the test. It took a long time and many ultrasounds to be real. It took a long time before I was able to truly say, "I am having a baby!" I went through my infertile period alongside another couple my husband and I are close friends with. They were so gracious when we were pregnant, even though I know how much it hurt for them to be around us. I tried to hide my bump and avoid the subject, not wanting them to feel sad. I know how it felt to be around pregnant couples. I've been in that sad place watching co-workers and friends have babies and having no understanding why it couldn't happen for me. It's strange, I still get those twinges of jealousy now. Especially that we are trying for #2 and once again, experiencing month after month of BFN's. Yet, they wanted to know how it was going and asked questions. They tried for 6 years for their baby, and after a 3rd and final attempt at IVF they found out they would not be able to conceive at all. I was so thrilled to find out that they were going to move to adoption. I completely understand how difficult of a decision it is to adopt (not to mention expensive). We wrote them a letter of recommendation and waited, following their story with great anticipation. Just a couple days ago, they got their wish and they are going to be parents to a beautiful baby boy. I have cried several times this week over their amazing news. What a lucky little guy to have them as parents! There are no words to describe how happy and thrilled we are for them and hope we can help out in any way possible!

On the sad side, my mom was laid off from her job this week. She had been with her company for something crazy like 25 years and was just a few short years away from retirement. She definitely needed those few years for their retirement fund. I was so sad when I heard the news. I knew she was likely not going to try and find another job, I mean, at 60 is there any reason to try? She is such a humble, meek and wonderful lady. I know she wasn't beating down doors or climbing ladders, but I'm certain she worked her butt off. So gone are the days when working at a company for 25 years keeps your job safe and secure. Heck, gone are the days when people even STAY at a job for 25 years. Nobody has that kind of loyalty anymore and frankly, I find that kind of sad. I know she wasn't quite ready to retire just yet, but I hope this is just a sign that it is time for her to let go and do something fun. Something for herself. I only hope we can keep her spirits high over the holidays this year.

Okay. I think I've officially reached my crying quota for the week!

November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: School Picture Edition

We weren't sure how a 2 year old was actually going to do at school pictures. We can barely get him to sit still to eat dinner so sitting still for a portrait? hahahahaha

I don't know how they did it or what their secret to success is but Jack's school pictures turned out incredible. Such a little man. Such a ham.




November 16, 2010

Why I Love Josh Groban's Music

I'm not sure I am old enough (or oh no... maybe I am???) to call myself a Grobanite. I will confess that I am downright mesmerized by his music. I get a lot of eye rolls for this from my husband and many of my friends for this, but I'm not sure they entirely understand just why I love Josh Groban's music so much.

His music was featured pretty much throughout my entire wedding:
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring was my processional
The Prayer was sung during one of the blessings
Our first dance was When You Say You Love Me
My husband's mother/son dance was to You Raise Me Up

The song Remember When It Rained makes me cry every time I hear it because it makes me think of the baby I miscarried. His music is powerful. It moves and inspires me. It speaks to me.

I've been a classical singer since I was the wee age of 11, singing leads in Christmas Pageants and solos in choir. I started voice lessons as a freshman in high school and continued them through college. I also played piano and flute. My parents dropped a crapload of cash on my private lessons. I loved all of it. I love music. This is why I love Josh Groban. Classical singers are rarely successful, yet he has done amazing things in bringing this type of music into the mainstream. He is living the life that so many classical singers dream of. I am envious.

I recently sang in my brother's wedding and my husband, upon hearing me sing for the first time in our 8.5 years together, asked me why I don't make a living off my voice. The answer is rather sad. Late in my college career as I began exploring my musical job options, I realized that I would not be able to pay my student loans (not to mention move out of my parents' house) if I pursued a career in music. I only needed to complete a couple extra classes to complete my Marketing Communications degree, so with a heavy heart, I abandoned my music degree. Do I have regrets? Sometimes. I am lucky to be in a job where I still have a sense of a creative outlet and definitely much less competition. I do hope that I am able to share my musical talents in the future and sing for more weddings and possibly even find a choir to join. Here's a sample of the beautiful wedding I had the honor of singing and being in:



Josh's music helps me remember my roots and where I came from. When I think of my childhood, I think of music.

I bought Josh's new album Illuminations yesterday which is the perfect title for it. I love that it is a little bit different from his other work- a mix of folk and soul, beautiful orchestral sounds and my beloved foreign language pieces. I was truly entranced listening to it on my drive home yesterday- no tailgaters or people cutting me off could break the happy spell I was under.

If you have a deep appreciation and love for music, I promise his newest album will not disappoint!

Do you have an artist or type of music that moves and inspires you? 

November 15, 2010

Finding Time For Me

I'm just one of those people. The one that almost always puts herself last. The one that is more concerned about everyone else. The one whose best intentions don't always come across the right way. The one who feels feels guilty when it is time to make time for herself.

My first example of this comes with finding time to go to the gym. I don't go at night because I feel that I need to be spending the limited time I have available with my son. I haven't been going over lunch because I feel that I'll be missing something important at the office. I have found other ways to incorporate fitness- I have the EA Sports Active game for the Wii- it is actually much more challenging than one might think. We also have a treadmill at home as well as some hand weights. This is all great except for the fact that I bore of this stuff quickly, not to mention the sheer distractions that exist in my home. Going to the gym is the one and only way that I have ever been able to lose/maintain my weight, but I have a difficult finding and making the time for it.

My next example has to do with my plans for this weekend. The women from my husband's side of the family like to get together a couple times a year. Think "guy's weekend gone fishing" but for the girls- we even have a NAME for our group. We call ourselves The Moopies which was lovingly chosen from the name that Grandma (now 94 years old) called the name of her, um, girly parts when she was younger. We go and see shows, have overnights at someone's house and this weekend, we are heading up to the family cabin for bingo (yes, I just said bingo), wine and Italian food. Sounds great, right? My mommy guilt meter is off the charts. My first reaction was to say that I would be up early Saturday morning so I could spend Friday night with my husband and the kiddo. All of the other ladies, all moms to young kids as well, are planning to go up on Friday night. If they can do it, why can't I? Right? What is wrong with me?! I could leave work at 3:00 and be there by 4:30 (definitely before the sun goes down). I could claim my bed (or couch... or chair...). I could be relaxing with some awesome women and a glass of wine after an incredibly stressful couple of months.

So what is this pull that is yanking me back home? My son. I love him. I miss him when we are apart. I worry about him when I can't be there. I confess, my intentions are selfish. I am a mom.

Maybe I just need someone to kick me in the ass. Quick! Someone tell me to take advantage of the free pass my husband is giving me and take this time for me that I have found.

Do you find it hard to let go of your work and parenting commitments and find time for yourself?

November 12, 2010

The Week In Rant: Mom Edition

Welcome to Friday and to The Week In Rant!

1. Amazon.com's FAIL
2. Toddler Stomach Bugs
3. MN Weather

1. AMAZON.COM'S FAIL
I'm a couple days behind in commenting on this, but felt the need to give it some attention. I, like so many other moms, were horrified to see the Pedophile book on Amazon.com. I have a little boy. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING okay with instructions on how to be a pedophile. Seriously, the very thought of this book makes me sick to my stomach. I was even more shocked that Amazon.com was initially unwilling to pull the book. What do you care more about as a company? Freedom of expression or the MILLIONS of customers who find this completely offensive that you stand to lose. I was one of those. If you are willing to stand up for the rights of a sicko, then it really does speak volumes for what kind of a company you are choosing to be. This isn't just a political difference of opinion here, it is a book teaching something extremely illegal. There have been updates to this story, and you can find them here. I'm just happy the book is not being sold anymore and I really hope this guy hasn't hurt any kids.

2. TODDLER STOMACH BUGS
Is there really anything worse than having a sick child? Not only because it is exhausting, but because it breaks my heart to see him this way. My poor kiddo has had diarrhea for the past 3 days, yesterday being the worst of it. He was drinking a lot, but barely ate anything and his poor little bum... By the evening, he was screaming in agony with every diaper change because his rash was getting so bad. To top it all off, we experienced our first real volcano-like vomit. Exorcist style. I was in tears because he was in tears. He was so scared- he had no idea what was going on. Without a thought I pulled him into my arms, vomit covered and all and just hugged him, trying to calm his sobs. He must have felt a million times better after that because he launched right back into crazy, funny 2 year old mode. We played some football, he played with his toys... funny how a little barfing can make everything better. It amazes me how much becoming a mom has changed me. Before Jack was born, the very thought of stinky poop and projectile vomiting tested my gag reflex. I change diapers and hug my vomit covered child without a second thought now. Motherhood is amazing.

Of course... I somehow can't seem to get the smell of diarrhea and vomit out of my nose today...

3. MN Weather 
I love being a Minnesotan. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else in the world. Where else in the world is it close to 70 degrees in November on one day and getting text alerts for a winter storm warning the next. Man I love it here!

November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My brother's wedding has pretty much occupied my time for the past two months, so now that the day has officially come and gone, here are some of the memories of a beautiful, special day.

Several of the pictures below were taken by NorthWorks Photography, my husband's fast-growing photography company which he runs alongside his father. Their work is spectacular.


Photo Credit: NorthWorks Photography


Photo Credit: NorthWorks Photography
 


Photo Credit: NorthWorks Photography
Photo Credit: NorthWorks Photography

These photos are various snapshots from the ceremony and reception. A good time was had by all!


Family L-R Aunt Mary, My brother Mike, his wife Sarah, my sister Jen and me

Grandpa and Jack

Grandpa With the Boys

The Happy Couple

Sisters

On a Ladybug Hunt

Cheers to New Sisters!

My new sister

November 09, 2010

Bah Humbug I Say!

I confess. I hate the holidays.

Once upon a time, I think I loved them. When I was a kid, I lived for the holidays. Family, food, presents (not necessarily in that order). It was the best. I have brilliant memories of me and my anxious siblings trying to guess what is under the tree, opening up a new door for each day of Advent, lighting the candles every night on our Advent wreath, Christmas plays at school, midnight mass... it was wonderful. My parents never had much money to give us everything we dreamed of, and it was painfully obvious the year that I got a "fake" Cabbage Patch Doll and I was way too embarrassed to show it to any of my friends with all of their beautiful Cabbage Patch dolls complete with Xavier Roberts tattooed across their butts. I eventually got a Cabbage Patch with money that I had saved from my allowance. Now that I am all grown up, regardless that I didn't always get what I wanted, my parents created wonderful memories and traditions that are very painful for me to break. I feel like I am leaving something behind when I can't be there and it guts me every year.

So why do I hate the holidays? Ever since I met my now husband, I feel like we have been pulled in two very different directions. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband's family and it isn't that I don't want to spend time with them, but I'm not certain they had the same traditions growing up. At least, I never hear my husband talk about them. His parents worked in health care and more often than not had to work the holidays, plus lately his mom hasn't been decorating for the holidays and has been trying to give us her decorations. I can't wrap my head around why- I hope that I am decorating my house well into old age whether someone comes to visit me or not. Putting up the tree, the lights and the wreath are all things that I have been doing ever since I can remember. I can't imagine not doing it. Again, my memories and traditions for the holidays run very deep.

This year is no exception to the usual tug-of-holiday-war. My brother just got married and I want to spend time with him and his new wife. My sister-in-law just got engaged so I want to spend time with her fiance and get to know him. We try to find a middle but it is seemingly impossible and someone always ends up feeling hurt. We just can't win and it always overshadows all the happiness, joy and magic of the season. Don't get me started on shopping... it is probably the thing I have come to despise the most. Not sure where I would be now without Cyber Monday.

Therefore. I hate the holidays. I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want anyone to think we don't care or that we don't want to be there. We do.

I'm really trying to get over this horrific attitude about the holidays. Somehow, I want to be able to create memories and traditions for my son to remember in the years to come. I am hoping that some of his child magic will bring some joy back to the holiday season for me.

How about you? Do you dread or look forward to the holidays every year? 

November 08, 2010

A Weddingful Weekend

I have been away from the old PC for the past 4 days for a number of reasons- my illness is one of them (bronchitis and sinus infection that has swiftly blossomed into walking pneumonia) and my little brother's wedding.

I have been a bridesmaid only a couple of times. The first was for my sister who got married in her backyard with an internet minister. I am certainly not knocking her wedding by any means, but it wasn't really the "full" bridesmaid experience. I bought a nice summer sundress from JCPenney and wore flip flops. She didn't have a bachelorette party or even a shower. So a part of me thinks that it might not really count. The second time I was asked to be in a wedding for my best friend, I miraculously got pregnant and my little guy decided that showing up 3 weeks early was just fine. I went into labor the night before her rehearsal dinner. Needless to say, I have a ginormous maternity bridesmaids dress in my closet if anyone needs one. Never been worn.

I look at my brother's wedding as the first real time that I had the chance to be a bridesmaid. It is a helluva lot of work. Expensive too. But, there is nothing like being a part of something special. Something bigger than you. I also had the honor of singing in their wedding. I'm not sure why or how, but my voice made a major comeback. Just for that day and that hour, I had my voice. An hour later, it was gone. I believe God works in mysterious ways.

It really was a wonderful night. Despite my illness and the fact that Jack didn't make it down the aisle (as suspected) or the reception (what do you expect from a 2 year old?), I felt closer to my family than I have felt in years. We danced, we drank, we joked and laughed. My feet are wrecked and instead of getting better I have totally regressed but, it was worth celebrating and being part of such a special day for my little brother.

Me and my new sister, Sarah
My little munchkin and the tie that was longer than him.

November 04, 2010

Moms Don't Get Sick Days

If there is anything that has been a significant change since becoming a parent, it is that there are no sick days. There is no real rest. There is no lying around with a blanket with a hot cup of tea after getting home from work. For 3 more hours after I get home from my day job, I still have to be mom. I still have to make the kiddo some dinner. I still have to chase him around the house. I confess though, I didn't bother doing the dishes or pick up any of his toys.

I have been sick for the past couple of days. Knock down, throw down hacking my lungs out, fever, nose drainage that never seems to stop sick. With limited PTO left in my arsenal, I've been trudging through work. Thankfully, I can get away with never having to get up out of my chair on most days. The worst thing about working when you're sick is passing it on to everyone else. I'm sure I'll be getting the death stares from people soon enough when they come down with this thing.

Yesterday, my most awful day thus far of this horrific cold, I was prepping myself on my drive home for the chasing of my toddler and hoping to find the energy somewhere to deal with him. I'm not sure if deep down he understood that both his mommy and daddy didn't feel well, but he came up to me after my dinner of Lipton soup as I was slumped down in my recliner and asked to, "Watch Elmo on mommy's puter." I happily obliged. My cute little man snuggled up on my lap and sang along to his favorite tunes from The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. He even gave me several random hugs. At the end of the movie he said "I'm ready for jammies," WHA?? After jammies, we watch the last 10 minutes of Toy Story 3 and he said "I'm ready for bed." DOUBLE WHA?? My 2 year old maniac is rarely like this. He would much rather be climbing the walls and doing somersaults off the couch. So, somehow he knew. He new that his mommy and daddy needed a break.

We have a busy weekend ahead with my brother's wedding. I am now convincing myself that I am on the upswing and that I will have my voice back and ready to sing on Saturday. I am on my third cup of lemon honey tea and am not going to give up until this illness is gone.

Welcome to the cold and flu season folks! I would recommend keeping your distance from me for a few days...

November 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

After my brother's wedding this weekend, I can finally once again enjoy hair freedom.

I purchased an iPhone app that let's me try out different hairstyles. I am amazed how much difference a hairstyle can make to your overall look. Now, to decide what to do...

Current Me
Wispy Bob

Accentuated Concave Bob

Classic Bob

Another Bob

   
Razored Bob

Bangs- Shorter

Bangs-Keep Long

Or... could I be so risky???
Uber Short

Regardless of what I end up choosing to do, how freaking cool is the iPhone???!


November 02, 2010

I Voted

It's Election Day! I voted and I am wearing my sticker proudly today! 

After months of being bombarded with negative campaigning, sleazy tactics and countless calls to our home, we are finally here.

Some of my friends and colleagues shocked me today though by stating that they didn't want to vote for the following reasons:
1) I JUST DON'T CARE (WTF?)
2) Party politics have turned me off- I don't know who to believe
3) I don't have time

Voting is one of the most important things that make us American. It is a freedom that I take seriously. Especially as a woman, it is my civic duty. Regardless of the negative campaigns and the party politics (and yes, it drives me super crazy too), I do care. I care about how much I am being taxed. I care about my community and my son's future schools. I care about MN small businesses. I care about job creation. I CARE. How can you not care? I simply cannot fathom that statement! As far as not having time, that is total B.S. The law says that your employer has to give you the time (I guess if that is your excuse). This is what the law states:

In 2010, the Minnesota Legislature expanded employees' opportunity to be absent from work without penalty to vote.  Legislators removed the provision that had previously allowed such absences only in the morning of Election Day.
Every employee who is eligible to vote has the right to be absent without penalty or loss of salary or wages.  Under the new law, employees have the right to be absent from work “for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election.”
Employers or "other persons" may not either directly or indirectly refuse or otherwise interfere with an employee’s right to take the time to vote on Election Day.  Violations of the statute are guilty of a misdemeanor.

So... the excuse that there is no time doesn't really fly. 

As far as frustrating party politics, I'm with you. I, too, feel like the race for Governor is almost worth a huge eye roll. But, I did my due diligence. I did my research. I voted for the candidate whom I felt most closely aligned with my values and concerns.

I guess, if you can't see the importance of what it means to have a Vote in this great country, then you give up all your rights to complain. Whether you believe it or not, you have a voice. Whether you agree or not, you have a voice. Use it. Vote today.

November 01, 2010

Halloween Happiness

When I was a kid, I looked forward to Halloween every year. The costumes. The candy. Running from house to house with my friends. Seeking out the scary haunted houses in the neighborhood. Coming home to watch Michael Jackson's Thriller (now I'm showing my age) with our take dumped out all over the floor and eating so much sugar that my tummy hurt for days.

I longed to become a parent just so I could watch my child experience the same thing. I am so happy that our neighborhood is so quiet, safe and peaceful and the kids can run around trick-or-treating without being afraid. Jack's very first Halloween he was just a wee 7 weeks old and it made for some darling photos. Last year, he wasn't really sure what was going on but we took him out door to door, mostly to meet some of our neighbors. This year was very different. At age 2, Jack is very much aware, talkative and totally open to new adventures. I stayed home to man the trick-or-treaters while daddy took Jack out and about and apparently they had a blast. Jack didn't want to come back home and started telling daddy, "Let's go that way," as they cruised around in the wagon. Jack's excitement was contagious; and, it was one of those moments that make becoming a parent totally worth it.

I wanted to rant today about how rude some of the kids were that came to our door (and upon the discovery that our house was giving out FULL SIZE candy bars, a few kids made repeat appearances). However, I'd rather my memory of Halloween 2010 belong to my kiddo. It was more than just one big memory- from the candy to the costume, the smiles and the laughter... We're quite happy to cut it into many small useful pieces.

Mommy! I'm ready to go!
Mommy! Why haven't we left yet??
Bye Mommy! Off to go trick-or-treating!
Yay! My ride is here!
Happy Halloween and many more to come!

 
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