Auld Lange Syne: 
Time gone by,
 for the sake of old times,
 or in our case for the sake of seasons past, 
we remember 2011 one last time,
 in pictures!
It's A Boy!

Love, Stronger With The Passing Of Time

Faithful Friendships

Our Baby Becoming A Little Boy

Preparing For Baby

Our Living-Life-Together Friends

This =

 Happy New Years!
See you in 2012!

Merry Day After Christmas To You!
We hope your celebration was lovely and we will certainly post about ours shortly, but first we wanted to share with you one of our guinea pig ideas for this year. Now that our oldest is fully aware of most aspects of the Christmas season we realized that parting with all things Christmas, especially the tree, could be a recipe for disaster. is our plan.

This lovely chalkboard hangs in our kitchen and Baby Love looks at it often. For the next four days we will read it aloud at breakfast and talk about the idea that all things Christmas will be leaving soon. Just like our good-bye rituals for the park, church, etc... we will say :
"Christmas will be leaving in __ days,
is there anything you want to do before it leaves?"
 And every night the number will change and hopefully
the impact will be less devastating for our sweet spirited son.

Any suggestions for how you help your kids transition?
In case you are thinking of making a book commemorating this holiday season, 
you can get a Gift Certificate for 40% off! Great deal.

Here is the code:


We love Mypublisher and have used them for the past 5 years. I think a blog post on our deep-rooted affinity for them will follow soon.... Merry Christmas!

"So how did the boys visit to the jolly old fat man go this afternoon?"
 I laughed out loud when I received my mom's text. For yes, we did take our boys to see the merriest of men during this holiday season, we took them to see


Being faith believers this decision is ensconced in the realm of controversy normally dominated by
breast feeding,
 sleep training,
 So how did we arrive at this decision you might ask? Compromise.

Abbey was raised never believing in Santa. No, her parents aren't mean and awful, and she isn't scarred for life. Her parents were just of the strict conservative nature and held a much more straight-forward approach with their children. So there was never a tooth fairy, or an Easter bunny and yes, she was home-schooled, in case you wondering. So there wasn't a fear of her ruining the magic for anyone else. Kevin on the other hand was heart-broken when he realized that not only was Santa not real but

"What about the Easter Bunny? And the TOOTH FAIRY?
What about the tooth fairy?!?!"

as his tears fell and he entered the world of unbelief in all things magical. You can imagine then how our conversations went when we first found out we were pregnant and realized this was a bridge we now needed to cross. Well three years later and after many conversations and contemplations, we have arrived at a solution and here is how it goes:

We will honor the

 Legend of St. Nicholas,
the man, and his legacy of generosity.

Their stockings will come from St. Nick, but nothing else. Gifts will come from the giver and that will be that. There won't be any temptation to escape a tough parenting scenario during the craziness of the season by saying that

 "Santa is watching..."

The gifts they receive will be from a place of generosity and not a reward for being good or in light of their poor behavior. As such they can still see the heart of Christ who loves us so that He gave us  the best gift of all even when we struggle to
"be good".
 The story of the Nativity will be front and center during this season, but beautiful poems like "The Night Before Christmas" won't be forgotten or forbidden. With a focus on St. Nicholas' generosity and an encouragement to remember that giving during this season is so important our hope is that our boys will be inspired to emulate that heart.

In general we hope to just not make a mountain out of a mole hill and to use the tools surrounding this season to point back to the meaning of Christmas. While we know this will not be a popular decision it is our compromise and I might add that we are rather pleased with our solution.*grin*

  So yes, our boys sat on the

peppermint scented knee

 of a man so magical you waited to see if he would touch the side of his nose and nod. And in awe Baby Love asked about him. With a warm heart we told the tale of a man whose generous heart left a legacy that continues today. And when we returned home he sat down with his nativity set and began once again ordering the shepherds into position and showing me the gifts the magi brought, in their generosity, to Christ.
His little heart full.

Please share with us how you approach the Santa issue, we would love to hear!
 And as always, this is just our perspective, what worked for us. We truly love hearing what other people do to solve these types of difficult dilemmas.

*Right after finishing this piece a man I greatly respect blogged about the same topic you can read it here.
I love a good deal. It is an adrenaline rush and makes me feel like screaming

 "I Win!!!"

well at least most of the time it does. During the holidays I am constantly on the lookout for a way to save when purchasing Christmas Gifts. Often I find just what I have been looking for, but then there is that maddening shipping cost. Sometimes it almost doubles my cost and then I feel like muttering

 "I lost..."

over and over again. Not good. One thing I have noticed however is the similarity in all of those discount codes. The ones for Free Shipping, or 30% off. You know the ones right? In googling :

 <itemdesired> free shipping, or % off
 (which works many times by the way),

 I began to notice that the codes were all so similar. For my next on-line purchase I decided to try out my theory and was successful! Since then I always try some combination of the following:

30FORFAMILY (or 50)
I hope these help you in your quest for your very own "I Win!!!" moment, and if you have any to add I would love to have a few more for my emergency moments, so please share. Happy on-line deal hunting!
Cookie exchanges are good in theory but rarely successful in execution. Think about it, you come home with plates of cookies that need to be delivered ASAP or you put them in the freezer until the time comes to thaw and serve.

The first is hard for us, seeing how delivery of anything is made difficult because of the process of just getting to the car. Being that we live in the heart of the city we usually end up parking at least a block away, if we are lucky. And we live on a hill. So getting out to the car, with a stroller loaded to the gills with "necessary" items (yes I am working on this...) and then adding plates of cookies....Not. Going. To. Happen. 

The second option is again difficult because, well, here is my freezer. 
Yikes, I know. But it is small"ish" and I am currently cooking three separate menus (long story), most from scratch. All of which require having a lot of ingredients on hand. Again, great in theory, poor in execution options.

So what is a girl in the city, with two kiddos, and an active entertaining schedule to do? Well, I will share with you something that I thought everyone did and only recently discovered is more of a
I make cookie dough, then shape it into a roll and freeze the roll. A tip here is to make the log as long and tall as an ice cube tray, then it will fit in any freezer. When the time comes to bake the cookies I let the roll sit out for 10 maybe 15 minutes, slice the desired amount and cook like normal. As my friend would say
"Easy Peasy".

So in honor of my little secret I threw a "Now and Later" Cookie exchange to kick off the holidays. Everyone was asked to bring a few of their cookies already baked, and the rest already frozen in rolls. I served some savory delights, wine and cider to round out our tasting experience.
 To label the rolls I printed off a blank template for labeling canned goods, printed them onto mailing labels and used my circle punch to complete the look.
 Overall I would say it was a success and we all began our holiday season with four dozen different types of cookies just waiting for guests to pop on by. 

What are your favorite ideas or tips and tricks for entertaining during the holidays?
The Holidays are one of my favorite times of the year to craft, and craft I do. I thought I would share with you the name banner that I made for our sweet son right before he was born. It was very simple and inexpensive, and 6 months later I still love how it looks!

* To make this banner I used pages from a book purchased at Goodwill, the same one used here. I decided to do rectangles after comparing it with the triangle idea of a traditional banner and just not loving how it looked. I cut out 5 rectangles for each letter to use as backing and to give it a heavier appearance.

* Then I used a set of magnetic letters, like the ones found at the dollar store, to trace the letters onto extra pages from my project here. Any image with vivid colors, like those in a map, would work beautifully.

* I then used craft glue for the letters, gluing them to the top sheet of the stack of five.
* Using a standard hole punch I punched a hole in each corner, which made it stay flush with the wall better than having just a standard center punch.
* Using twine, one of my favorite things in the world, I laced it through the holes and it was done.

I had these lovely planes left over from a shower for Baby Love and decided to loop the banner through the tail of each one. Amazingly this banner is exceedingly lightweight and is held up with packing tape. Yes, tape. Tape that won't ruin walls. This would be great for a kid's room, or for a party. It is easy to control the look and gives a vintage feel to a space. Happy Crafting!

Winter Tomato Soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Thyme, to taste
1/2 tsp Sugar, to taste
1/2 tsp. Cumin
Pinch of salt, to taste
1/2 a can of water
3/4 tsp. Powdered Chicken Broth
1/3 cup of 1/3 less fat Cream Cheese, softened.
Optional, Pepper to taste
Optional Garnishes: Avocado, green onions, cilantro

Put first seven ingredients in a pan and heat up for 5 minutes.
Use either an emulsifier, one of my FAVORITE tools ever, or a blender, puree until smooth.
Return to stove top, if blending, add water and powder.
In a separate bowl add some soup to the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
Turn soup down to low.
Add cream cheese mixture stirring constantly.
Add additional seasoning if needed and garnish. Enjoy!

*Note: If you can't get the cream cheese completely smooth, don't worry. Most of the little chunks will melt in the soup and the remaining ones will be delightful savory surprises.

Dirty Dishes: Bowl (1), Pan (1), Emulsifier (1) = LOW
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover Options: Add a grilled cheese sandwich, or make it into a sauce for noodles. Some meat and other items and you can pour it over noodles easily = GOOD
Sides: Grilled Cheese, or toasted bread rubbed with garlic and a little butter= OK
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In our go-go society digital invitations seem like a good fit. Personally I LOVE receiving snail mail, but sometimes there just isn't the time. Or in some cases it is more effective to use digital invites, depending on the demographic of your group. I have noticed a level of accountability with digital invites that isn't there with paper invitations. People know you can see when they have viewed the invitation and really, it is as simple as click a button and commit. This year I have found a new to me site called Punchbowl. As a loyal user of Evite I was hesitant to stray from the tried and true, but people. You have GOT to give this site a try. I don't think you will go back.

Punchbowl Love:
~ Easy to use
~ Clean and Clear Interface
~ Ease of linking with social media sites.
~ They have an envelope that sits behind the invitation, makes it feel less digital to me
~ The Love is in the details, changing the "stamp" on the front, the different fonts, etc...
~ The ability to add a variety of polls. Amazing.
~ The addition of automatic maps. You RSVP yes and it provides the guest with a map. Brilliant.
~ The level of personalization. Period.

Minor Drawbacks:
~ The "Plus" options that require payment for membership $19 a year. Slightly limits your options...
~ Long name. There is something so easy about saying you are sending an "evite". A punchbowl however, requires more explanation and isn't as easy when rolling off the tongue.
~ The required learning curve for everyone used to evite. However point two above makes this less concerning.

Let me know if you give it a try, I would love to hear your feedback as well!

*I am in NO way compensated for this review, although not opposed to it <wink>. Just trying to spread a little holiday love.

This Thankful Thursday I am so grateful for a few wonderful people in my life that were

{{ inherited. }}
They say that you can't pick your family, but you get to pick your friends. I have been fortunate enough to have family that have become friends. When I married Kevin I never knew that these lovely ladies would eventually so sweeten the deal that I would hit a point in my life where I can't imagine it without them. In

 and in
 they have welcomed me to their family and opened their hearts in such a way that I know I am a better person because of their influence. The lessons learned in a large family (Mother-In-Love is one of 15) have been passed on with care and I have learned so much about family from them.
 So thank you ladies for loving me as I am and welcoming me as family and friend.

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs.The Button is on the right hand side of the page, just click, copy and paste. Oh! And let people know where you found it! It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything, silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

It is that time of year again, time to battle with the printer. Whether you send a family newsletter, make your own cards, or simply use the demon electronic to print your labels, you know what I am talking about. No matter how skilled you are, how many battles you have won with scores of machines, they will still get you. For me it was custom printing inside the our handmade Christmas cards.

Having done this for years at work and home this seemed like an easy, nap-time appropriate event. Two days later I have remembered a little
----  secret ----
 that just saved my holiday spirit and might give yours a boost as well. For some reason my printer has a hard time with unusual sized paper and just defaults, over and over, and over. Now I am sure there is a "quick fix" for this, but trust me, this thing has it in for me. Anyways, while it resists my pleading when I use my own templates, it does however behave brilliantly when other templates are imported. So much like my two year old who hates cheddar but loves Gorgonzola, our printer likes imports. That said I have had FANTASTIC luck using the templates at Gartner Studios. Having used them after purchasing their products in the past this little nugget of information popped into my head right before IT was about to explode.

Over to their site, entered the paper size, selected a wedding invitation with RSVP cards in the same dimensions. Downloaded the template, replaced their blanks with my sentiments, hit print and VOILA! Amazing. Not to mention if you are wanting a basic template for labels, RSVP cards, etc.... it is all there. 

My renewed-holiday-spirit wish for you is that your cards, letters, cookie packages are created with your holiday spirit intact. Hohoho!!!
Food and Toddlers seem to be a revolving issue for many people, enough so that most parenting books address it and mothers lament it at playgroups. We have been encountering this in our home lately as it is an easy area for a jealous toddler to assert themselves. In a moment of desperation Abbey sat thinking through everything she had read or heard and remembered a book she came across almost a year ago. 
First Meals Revised: Fast, healthy, and fun foods to tempt infants and toddlers 
Having already purchased and loved Annabel Karmel's Baby Purees Book, this one had been on our "want" list. Lo' and behold a sweet friend gifted it to us shortly after the arrival of Baby D. She had no idea we had our eye on this title, which made the gift even more special. We have just cracked its pages and love what we have read so far. Our favorite little idea that we just had to share with you is the notion, ever popular but forgotten, of sandwiches cut into clever shapes. We pulled out our Christmas cookie cutters and set to making lunch a more festive affair. Our discovery? Baby Love is as much a visual eater as his mom. It has been amazing to see the change in his eating habits since using these:

To make his plate look like this:

While it does take a few more minutes up front, the time it saves on the back end and the peace it brings to meal time more than makes up for the little extra effort. 
Love hearing things like that, they sure do wonders for a weary mother's spirit. And while the beaming from behind tired eyes is usually the key to this type of sentiment, there are a few tips and tricks I have picked up that make me feel better about facing the day. So I thought I would share some of them in a mini series! Today, baby wearing, a quintessential hippie"ish trend that is here to stay.

This is a great chance to show off other parts of your body while your stomach is still shrinking. No one can see if your stomach is flat or not, so take the opportunity to show off your arms or lovely legs. 

In order to not be overwhelmed by the awkwardness of it all, wear a fitted shirt. A tank top, or fitted tee are great ideas. This gives you shape from the back too and is slimming. Too much bulk from your base layer adds pounds, promise.

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. This is a great chance to wear fun earrings, over sized bracelets or fabulous rings. 

We took the plunge this time around and Abbey is a Moby wearing mommy in heels who really does love how Mommyhood looks on her.

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies;
but let the thankful heart
sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!"
~Henry Ward Beecher

"Thanks is what multiples the joy and makes any life larger"

"Life changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through ht one very specific nail at a time."
~ Ann Voskamp "One Thousand Gifts"

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Ann Voskamp said in her beautiful book  One Thousand Gifts that "Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle." This is a beautiful image when put into context of the season we are in, for Thanksgiving really will precede the season celebrating the miraculous. We have so much to be grateful for and regardless of your views on the origins of this holiday, it is a gift to be able to take a whole day out of the year just to give thanks. Our hope for you is that you are able to do that this year. Give thanks for anything and anyone. Once you get started you might have a hard time stopping!

We are thankful for:
Feet to pitter patter early in the morning
Lungs to squeal in delight and cry out for comfort
Doors that make our small space cozy and private
Family that love like friends
Friends that say "I love you" and love like family
Quiet evening moments after it is finished and before it starts all over again
Books becoming traditions
A couch that is beginning to feel small
Shared passions
Peers becoming friends
Co-workers flexibility for family
Job contracts signed
Teachers that calm our children on Sundays
Hand holding
Graciousness of neighbors
Community in the city
In-Loves that drop everything to watch our boys
New friendships that feel old, trusted and secure
The sparkle of discovery and excitement in play
Long walks
Brothers learning to share and love
Walking in faith
Problem solving with like-minded kindred spirits
Laughing so hard, all night long with those that get you
Recipes made up on the spot and executed flawlessly

I have contemplated publishing many of the back posts that were partially written, or needed just "one more photo". And while the discussion isn't completely closed at the moment the decision has been made to pick up here and post in the present. 
The absence from blogging has been drawn out longer than necessary because of the countless excuse posts I have written in my head. As a child I was known to be able to sell "ice cubes to Eskimos" if you have heard that saying. It means that I am a good sales person, but in that vein an expert at explaining anything away or into existence, depending on the situation. A trait that was supposed to set me on the path of a lawyer in training and one that now I work hard to expunge from every crevice of my being.
With that confession being made, we have missed blogging and look forward to returning!

Here is a peek at what we have been up to in our absence:
Sweet days of summer coming to a close
New treats and experiences in this town we call home

Brotherly love blossoming
Planned a 2nd Birthday for our little Sir...

And executed a party...

Family Time

Fellowship with those we are privileged to call Friend

Milestones for our littest

Baking. Lots of baking

Less of this...

...and more of this

and an abundance of