Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas highlights

Christmas this year was a mixture of quiet contentment and unending activity.  Quite a combination.  We stayed in Massachusetts and celebrated Christmas with Charles' parents who live nearby.   Ironically, despite the fact that my family was far away, there were these wonderful bits of tradition that somehow made their presence known throughout Christmas.  First of all, my Gram from Florida sent some wonderful oranges (yes, special ones straight from Florida that could never be replicated in the grocery aisles of New England).  It was a little piece of sunshine.  Babci (my great grandmother) sent me home from my last trip to Delaware with peirogies.  Pierogies have been a staple for our Christmas eve dinner throughout my life.  It wouldn't feel the same without them.  Although Babci's cooking could never be replicated, pierogies made their appearance on our table Christmas eve.  A little piece of family tradition that means more than the pierogies themselves.  My parents and sister sent gifts and Kirstan and I had a wonderful chat on Christmas eve that temporarily cured my homesickness.  With some time to reflect on our day, I realized that despite the fact that my family was not physically present, they were well represented in everything we did thoughout the day.  I am proud of the traditions that we carry out and even prouder of how they have come to be real in our lives.
Here are our favorite moments:
Scout is still waiting for a Santa sighting...
 Julia dressed for Christmas eve service.  Don't let that cuteness fool you.  We let her go to the front of the church for the children's message.  Charles and I had her contained from each side (we were waiting for her in the side pews).  While attempting to adjust herself on each child's lap to hear the message, she just couldn't get comfortable so she ran down the center aisle to escape.  It was the longest children's message ever!  And Julia pulled out all of her tricks for it!
 Christmas morning. Taking it all in.
Once she figured out that these packages were for her, she decided that she wanted to place them throughout the living room.  Santa should have sent blocks this year.  She was perfectly content stacking and unstacking the presents.
And the wrapping paper.  Oh the joy!
 Favorite gift of the day?  Daddy found her a perfectly sized Grays field hockey stick. 
The start of something wonderful!
 We woke up openening gifts and ended the day opening gifts.  I realize that not every Christmas will be this slow and methodical, but it was nice to watch Julia unwrap each gift with great intent.
 Post Christmas pajama day.  Julia and daddy are watching some cartoons in her new fort/tent.  She grabs her blanket and is perfectly happy in her own little space. 
We will wait out the blizzard from here.
Merry Christmas! 
May you experience the joy of family and the peace of faith in each moment of the holiday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas (an 18 month old's perspective)

Here is just a quick glimpse of our lives over the past week as we continue to prepare for Christmas. Seeing all of this from Julia's perspective has been so much fun as she attempts to make sense of these traditions.  Each part is a wonderful opportunity to practice the presence of the moment as she learns (and I relearn) why we celebrate as we do.
Watching for Santa (and squirrels).  She's not quite sure which is more exciting. 
Scout votes for the squirrels.

Playing with her manger scene - we have to remind her to be careful from time to time, but for the most part she is enthralled by arranging and rearranging each piece. She likes to separate the animals and she is pretty perplexed by the fact that the manger is empty.  (Jesus is waiting for His arrival on the 25th).  Julia walks around with her hands up calling for Jesus. 

And Christmas tree shopping, which is always a daunting task in our household.  My goal in choosing a tree is to pick the perfectly imperfect tree.  The one that will look beautiful in our home, but will probably go unselected by those seeking perfection.  It's my Charlie Brown perspective that has been instilled in me since my own childhood.  This year I attempted to pass this on to Julia, but she was pretty content to run up and down the hill.  She was also pretty excited that she had a pine tree companion in the back seat with her for the ride home. 
Next year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joyful Joyful!

The month of November could probably be classified as the most "interesting" month that we have survived as a family.  We have so much to be grateful for and we have successfully accomplished several major feats including the official completion of our kitchen and dining room remodel and some other special projects. :)
Now that November is behind us, Christmas time is approaching with great speed (as always).  As of today, December 9th, we have yet to get a tree and our decorations remain packed neatly in their tupperware bins.  Our only reminder of Christmas is our wooden advent tree - a focal point in our dining room that helps us to slow down each day to prepare in this advent season.  It has kept me grounded.  The decorations don't matter yet, the preparation is the important part.  Today our advent challenge is JOY. We told Julia that we are joyful because we are anticipating Christ's birth (she is pretty excited about Jesus lately and has started folding her hands as we pray to Him).  Charles gave Julia a goofy demonstration of how we show joy and then asked Julia to show us how she shows joy.  She promptly broke out in a very excited clap for us.  It's these simple gifts that remind us of the true meaning of this season.  Sometimes life gives us reasons to stop.  Our recent circumstances have caused us to do this, which has been such a gift for our family.  We have had a "we will just do what we can" perspective, which has allowed us to rally as a family and invest in the important things this Christmas.  Other times, we must be ever mindful of our need to slow down and just enjoy the ride.  Being in the presence of a child is the ultimate excuse to do this! 
Here are a few of my simple JOYS over the past few weeks:
A new found love for the hide-n-seek - a great game when new cabinets go in.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with some great family and friends.
Enjoying our cozy comforts of home in our new kitchen.
 And enjoying some family time after the turkey trot.
Where do you find joy this Christmas? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fabric love

Since November is the lovely month where we celebrate both thankfulness and indulgence, I thought I would share one of my loves that falls nicely into both of those categories: Fabric.
As I have moved from place to place over the years I have always had a small stash of fabric from my college days when we would make simple hair wraps.  There was never a real reason to keep it, but I felt extra crafty if I kept it. 
Every crafter should own fabric :)
 I slowly accumulated more cute fabric when I was pregnant to inspire me to make something for my child-to-be.  Well, I finally had to make sense of these purchases.  Honestly, I love making things, but I also love just seeing my bin of fabric.  As I have made small gifts this past year, each piece of fabric reminds me of the beautiful child who now wears it.  
I am incredibly intimidated by my sewing machine, though each project reaffirms that they often seem more difficult in a book than when I am actually doing it.  I look at projects like I look at recipes: if I've never heard of an ingredient, I move on.  If I don't know how do figure out a sewing technique, I usually choose to do something else.  Each piece reminds me of that and I am slowly expanding my horizons.  Here is my latest, VERY SIMPLE, elementary level, project.  It was inspired by a Saturday of digging through Julia's closet to put away her clothes and set out her current size (something that I feel like I do too often!)  In the midst of her newest clothes I found this sweatshirt.  I realized that she is currently at a great size where sweatshirts will now be very useful, but I was a bit disappointed that this sweatshirt promoted a college doesn't mean much to us (I will not name it so as not to offend any Big Ten college fans).  I decided to make it into a project...
Here is the result:
(I have a great model!)
For the hood I used long strips and folded them inch by ince and pinned them down then sewed to secure it.  It adds a bit of character.
A sweatshirt destined for the "never to be worn" pile is now one of my very favorites!  It helps that each time Julia wears it she insists on wearing her hood up as she marches through the house yelling "APPLE!"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wedding snapshots.

I have changed my perspective about weddings since I have gone through my own.  Before getting married, I took for granted the symbols of love, the preparation, the vows and wanted to fastforward straight to the party.  Now I get chills each time I watch a bride down the aisle - just knowing the anticipation that led to that moment.  I experience the deep love as the minister speaks of what this day is all about.  I squeeze my husband's hand a little bit harder at that moment as we reconfirm our own commitment.  I know that we're both thinking the same thing.  
I love when the couple seals it all with a kiss, but I especially love it when they are introduced for the very first time.  I think I can categorize it the same arena of my love for monogrammed things.  It pulls it all together.  It is their moment of entering into a new identity. 
So, my sister is now Kirstan M. Cazzola.  I am having a harder time with it than when I changed my own last name. 
Kirstan and Greg's wedding song was "This Year's Love", by David Gray, which was beyond fitting for the two of them. In one full year, they met, fell in love, and planned their wedding.  Wedding planning is a bumpy and blissful journey for any couple.  To watch them dance at their wedding and see what God has done in one year was truly a beautiful moment.  As a former bride and someone who knows my sister very well, I also knew that at that moment they could finally relax together and enjoy the rest of the ride. 

The following pictures are the top 10 moments leading to the wedding:
10. Awaiting the big trip
9. Bear bummed beach time
8. Pulling it all togther (with a glass of wine)
7. Meeting new family (from Canada none-the-less!)
6. Precious moments with Babci
5. The sheer fact that Julia was willing to cooperate...for the most part.
4 My sister finding great joy in getting a teddy bear from the spa...this is so her!
3 The flower details - beautifully done!
2 Some great moments with Julia
1. The dance.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sisterhood (and wedding details)

I only have one sister.  One great sister that I got to look up to, snuggle up to. copy, and annoy.  As we've grown I have learned how valuable this relationship is.  It is set apart from any other relationship I've ever encountered.  First of all, Kirstan didn't have a choice when I came along.  I was forced upon her (and I believe that it took her a long time to embrace this reality).  Second, she paved the way for me.  She did the difficult things so that it would be easier for me when it was my turn.  Despite my efforts to maintain my own identity throughtout my life, I always wanted to be just like my sister.  And my favorite part of sisterhood...the innate connection that doesn't need words.  Just being together is enough.  I get her. 
Going through the wedding planning process with Kirstan has been a challenge and a gift.  It's reinforced the fact that we are hundreds of miles away from one another.  I felt the perpetual guilt of being far away when things were stressful for her or she needed a simple opinion about color.  At the same time, it is pretty neat to see her so happy and be part of this process for her.  The wedding went off without a hitch (ok, maybe just a few..but despite the fact that they forgot the rings, they are still legally married). 
My favorite part of the whole thing were the personal touches that pulled it all together.  I was so honored to be part of it.  When you see your sister happy, nothing else matters.
Here is a small glimpse of some of the handmade details.
My first attempt at a ruffle butt onesie.  They are pretty addictive.  And they are pretty darn cute!
Proud to be a flower girl.  But not proud enough to stay clean for more than 2 minutes.

The "pretty" version to come when I upload more pictures...including Kate Morgner's beautiful flowers, the big event, and Julia's flower girl debut!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The good and the...good

Here is a snapshot of the last few days in our house:
 MESSY is the common theme and it all is magnified by...
the fact that our kitchen consists of just the bones of the house.
Julia doesn't hide her emotions about this chaos
(or she may just be mad because I put her hat on backwards).
So I'm sure that this piece of information could be psychoanalyzed, but I seem to thrive in chaos.  It causes you to focus your attention on the things that need it and it eliminates the time to worry about the rest.  So, despite the fact that every time I put 2 things away, Julia displaces 4 more and aside from the knowledge that our makeshift kitchen consists of our bathroom sink and a cutting board in our living room, there is so much goodness surrounding us.  
So, I will choose to look on the bright side.  Literally.
We just found this pendant light, which will be a great accent for our farmhouse feel.  The little touches are coming together!
 fall in New England is here - there is nothing better!  We discovered this great apple orchard just a few miles from our home.  The picture doesn't even describe the view!

Don't be fooled by Julia's face, she was thrilled by the experience.  She even picked her own apple from the tree and took a bite!
Next week we leave for Florida for my sister's wedding.  More to come on these upcoming festivities!