If Christmas Letters Told the Truth

Every year, we get a couple of pretty amazing Christmas letters updating us on the celestial achievements that a particular family has achieved over the past year.  Glowing highlights, culled from Facebook’s “These are the posts that make you look the least crazy” category.

But seriously – that’s not life.  So to help us all approach the holidays with a little more realism, here’s what our Christmas letter would say, if I made any effort at all to go to the post office, buy stamps, and Shutterfly some pictures where we all had our eyes open…

Our 2015 End-of-Year Wrap-Up:

Dear Friends and Family,

Another year has passed.  We made it – all of our kids are alive and we’re still married.  Our house is still standing, and our kids are dressed most days in weather-appropriate clothing.

Amelia started Kindergarten and is the sassiest, silliest, and smartest kid in the world.  She can also bring her mother to Olympic levels of stress-eating in a matter of minutes.

Henry started preschool, thank goodness.  Our house would NOT still be standing if he were home for the entire day.  Henry’s life revolves around “bad guys,” toilet humor, and making his sister’s life miserable.

They love each other so much that it makes their mom cry.

J is still working, which we’re super happy about because I don’t want to go back to being a lawyer ever in my entire life.  He likes his job, likes his coworkers, and is a great dad.  We also recently found out that he likes Coca-Cola flavored gummi candy, which was a major shock.

I’ve taken up quilting in yet another attempt to avoid doing laundry.  Jamberry doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s fun.  A lot more fun than laundry.

We didn’t win the lottery; we didn’t cure cancer; and most days our home looks like a hurricane went through.  But we’re all good.

Peace out.  See you in 2016.  Or not, because we can’t stand long car trips.

 

 

A Girl and Her Chocolate

This girl has ALL of my heart!

We go every year to Suzette’s Creperie for their Christmas Tea with my mom.  Amelia eats up all of the attention, not to mention the cookies and treats!

This year she basically fell in love at first site with the piano player, who went into a pretty rousing version of “Frosty the Snowman” as soon as this was plopped down in front of my little lady:

Amelia and Hot Chocolate- Yum

To say she enjoyed it would be a serious understatement…

 

Don’t we all just want to commit like that every now and then when we find something we like?  Just get your WHOLE FACE in a big pot of chocolate and go to town?  When does that kind of impulse-control kick in??

Story Time with Grandma

My mom has been here visiting for a few days and my kids have pretty much been in heaven!

Yeah…. I’mma need to live close to my Mom.

When we first got married, we lived out in Connecticut, a long ways away from my parents and my in-laws.  Once we had Amelia, I realized just how much I wanted to be closer to my family and back in the Midwest.  I really did like living in Connecticut; New Haven had some amazing restaurants and museums, the Long Island Sound was beautiful, and the proximity to Boston and NYC made it a great place for us to live as a young married couple.   But living in the city of New Haven with a newborn really wasn’t something we were excited about doing.

But mostly, if we’re being honest:  I’m a total homebody, momma-and-daddy’s girl, family-first kind of person.   Big time.  I missed my mom and dad.

Now that we’ve been back in the Midwest for a few years, I know we’ve made the right choice.  We get to see our family so much more than we ever would have if we were still out East.  And now, it’s just a tank of gas rather than airfare to see them!

Books and Bedtimes

So back to now: My mom came to visit for a few days.  She helped out at our little Montessori school at the holiday bazaar, took Amelia to a Christmas Tea, and spent a ton of time just lovin’ on my kiddos.  Getting to see this two nights in a row absolutely made my days!!

 

Amelia with Grandma.jpg

Amelia and my mom, reading the “Picture Atlas” from Usbourne Books.  So fun to hear Amelia’s questions about the world!
Henry and Grandma

Henry and my mom reading about pirates.  This book came with a little wind-up pirate ship that races along tracks that are IN THE BOOK.  FOR REALZ.  Want to get your kids more interested in reading?  Put a friggin’ moving pirate ship IN THE BOOK.

So yeah – these little moments make me even more certain that we did the right thing for our family to be a bit closer!

You can find these books – two of our faves! – right here! 

Picture Day! 

Amelia and Henry are in the same Primary classroom at the local Montessori school.   And today was picture day!
Amelia’s first picture day at her preschool a few years ago, I spent hours obsessing over the perfect outfit, what hair bow, tights, shoes, etc.   When we got the pictures back, they were super cute, but they just didn’t show off Amelia’s feisty and funky personality.   So now, we just let the kids pick what they want to wear.  And the pictures have been so much more fun to get!
I love these little turkeys!!   Here they are on the way to school – before paint, markers, applesauce, etc. entered the “picture.”

Are you Ready for Fall?

Last weekend we went apple picking with our kids… And by apple picking, I mean paying an extreme amount of money for a tractor ride and about 10 apples.  In my next life I’m coming back as the owner of an apple orchard; those guys have a good thing going!

Hello AutumnAre you Ready for Fall?

I’m still holding out a little bit for a few more weeks of summer, but I’m excited to see the fall through my kiddos’ eyes again!  I LOVE all of the pumpkin carving, apple picking, jumping into the leaves – especially with my little munchkins:)

Next time we go apple picking, we’ll go back to a tried-and-true spot that we really like.  One of our favorite places to go is Garden Patch Farms in Homer – it’s a smaller spot than some of the orchards around our place, much less of a circus, and FABULOUS produce.  Not just apples, they also have the best Concord grapes, tons of vegetables, and a really great storefront.  Definitely worth the trip in the Chicago area!

Are you in the Chicago suburbs?  What’s your favorite spot to go for fall fun??

Rambling thoughts on Charleston

I’ve had a pretty heavy heart over the last week after hearing about the horrific and hate-filled shooting in Charleston.  The people of Charleston and the city itself have brought nothing but love, laughter, and joy to my family for nearly 30 years.  I’m truly heartsick for the city where I married the love of my life, bond with my family every summer, take in the southern hospitality, and visit with the amazing people that call Charleston home.

Rainbow Row in CHS

Charleston has always been an extremely happy place for me and my family.  We went to the beach just outside of the city for the first time when I was in second grade, just weeks before Hurricane Hugo absolutely wreaked havoc on the Lowcountry and the city of Charleston.  We went back for one week most summers, and I seriously considered going to the College of Charleston when I graduated high school (eons ago).  My parents kept going even when my brother and I couldn’t because of school or jobs.  But then, it just became “our thing.”  No matter what, my brother, my sis-in-law, and I would get there for a week of pure bliss: sun, surf, sand, and my doting parents.

My senior year of college, I met Jeff, who for some reason really clicked with not just me, but my entire family.  He even made it through a week in Charleston with my entire family about 6 months after we met.  (My dad made him sleep on an over-turned inflatable boat that had an air leak.  Just a little test “dad test”… I think…).  A few years later, we were married downtown right across from the old City Market.  These days, we still go, but most of my time is spent watching my own kids play in the sand with my nephews, soak up the sight of my parents indulging my babies, and just spend the week loving everything about the Charleston area.

Rainbow Row NailsSo – I’d always planned on wearing the “Rainbow Row” jams that I designed, but after the horrific attack last week, it’s less about just a fun manicure in honor of vacation and a lot more about wearing something that reminds me that the city is beautiful, its people resilient, and despite the hate-filled moments of last week, an amazing place for me to continue watching my little family make memories.  No amount of hate and violence can destroy that.

June – Or, Begin the Crazy!!

Today is my kiddo’s last FULL day of school for the year.  After today, I’ll have a full-fledged Kindergartner on my hands.  I am absolutely amazed.  It really does seem like it’s flown by.  Everyone tells you that when you’re pregnant, and most of the time you can keep yourself from rolling your eyes.  But it’s so true.  Even thinking that about Henry starting preschool in the Fall makes me wonder where in the world my babies went!

So June = Let the Good Times Roll

Amelia will be home from school for the summer – the first time in two years!  (We had her in a summer program most mornings the last two summers.)  So far, we’re raising ladybugs, planning tea parties and fairy-garden-planting parties, trips to the pool, frog-catching, fishing, four different camping expeditions, and three campfires – don’t forget the marshmallows.  And that’s *just* what Amelia and Henry have planned for us during their Team Toddler Huddle.

mc2j6Kids Camping

So for today, I’m enjoying some quiet time to start my June! 

As I said, today is Amelia’s last full day.  Which is giving me some time to catch up and plan ahead!

What are YOUR plans for the summer?  Any good tips for super active, fun-loving, hilarious and slightly prone-to-maiming-each other kiddos?

Create Your Own Sunshine!

create your own sunshine

Another gray-ish day in Chicagoland – so I’ll be trying to create my own sunshine today!  My parents are here for the weekend, my kiddos are exuberant about it (read: “manic”), and we’re finally passed the “KILL ALL OF THE THINGS” portion of our Whole30.  Things are looking up!

PS – the Whole30 = No joke.  We’ve been pretty strict and we’re feeling good with a ton of energy.  I did have a total fail moment involving a FRESH DONUT, but I think the universe understands.  I think fresh donuts are an exception to just about anything, right?

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend filled with fun!  Have a good idea or plan for gray days?  Let us know!!