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