I found this blog bit I wrote back when we were pregnant with Baby Love. It is fun to hear my expectant voice come through and made me start the thought process of decorations and conversions to the room for this next kidlet. Enjoy it in all of it's rawness!

"We were just notified that the apartment we wanted is ours. Which means that we will now have an actual nursery, no more baby in the pantry! The room is actually a little larger than our current bedroom and has wonderful natural light. The theme, after much thought, will be world travel and Tintin. We have collected some beautiful vintage maps and atlas' over the years and we plan on framing them. There will be a dark brown accent wall to help the old world colors of the old maps stand out better. We have a nice dark blue rug and will work with dark blue, orange and all shades of brown in the room. These colors are also dominate in the comics, so it will be a nice tie in to a “theme” that can grow with him as he gets older.

Tintin is a vintage comic from the thirties that Kevin loved as a young boy. In addition the original language of the comics is in French, which will allow Abbey to dust that part of her brain off a bit and promote baby boys language development. In the comics Tintin is journalist/detective who travels the world fighting pirates, flying vintage planes and uncovering evil plots. We have been on the hunt for these vintage comics in English and have been able to procure a nice little lot to start his library of adventure stories. It is great that there is the flight element in many of the stories as it will be a fun topic for his Grandpa Haffner to tell him more about! We have included some images of Tintin for your viewing pleasure."

Those that know me well know that when I find something I love I tell everyone I know about it, and usually convince them to purchase one, or two, or three as well! I am a great sales person. Well I have a new little love: Indestructible books! Yes, you heard me. Is this possible? I think that it truly is and that the answer is inexpensive and accessible. Let me share with you our new find:
I was hesitant to say the least but had read some reviews in various parenting magazines. I read through the information on their website, considered the costs then had a thought. What if Amazon has them? I have had great success with their book selection and prices. And am a Mom member so I get free 2-day shipping (I will post more information on that next week, promise!). Well lo and behold they had them and they are currently a part of their 4 for 3 deal. Purchase 4 qualifying items (all of the books qualify) and you don't pay for the least expensive item. Since they are the same price I essentially got a free book and free 2-day shipping! In addition this price is lower than our local shops had them listed. So it was a win, win all around!

They arrived today and I am so incredibly pleased with each one. There aren't any words on the pages, just breathtaking art depicting a story. They are multi-cultural; Old McDonald is a farm in Bolivia and Humpty Dumpty fell off the great wall of China. And I truly think these little gems will outlast Baby Bean's most eager attempts at book destruction. In truth I might order a few more for gifts. So if you are having a baby, maybe you should take a peek and make a vote for the one you love. <wink> Happy Friday Friends!
Indestructibles: Humpty, Dumpty

Indestructibles: Old MacDonald
Wow, we have so much to be thankful for and will update you on some of those things shortly. Playing along with me today is my longtime friend Tanya. Pop on over and hear what she is thankful for! Recently Abbey has been moved to thankfulness by...

...friends who love to craft and create. They inspire me and remind me of the creativity I possess and encourage me to use that part of my mind. Their ability to show love and to truly care for someone through something that they have personalized is wonderful and a blessing. I am grateful to have so many of them in my life and am inspired to pay it forward on a daily basis. 

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. 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!
In the spirit of my current obsession with crafting, I have a new item to add to my crave list. I have never owned a full set of cookie cutters and think that this year is the year to make a change. The issue is always, where will we store them? How versatile are they? And are they cost effective and quality?

Currently I am eyeballing this one:
 Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
I love that it has a container, so it is easier to store. It is inexpensive, $15. Has cookie cutters for the entire alphabet and holidays throughout the year. And, the cookie cutters are PLASTIC! Which, when you think of the little hands that will love to dive deep into this bucket, that makes a difference. 

I have also been eyeballing this one:
Wilton 101 Pc Cookie Cutter Set

Very similar product, but the brand, Wilton, is very reliable. They are known in the world of cake-makers for the quality of their products. The downside, it comes in a box. Which seems like it could be less efficient for storage. It is less expensive, $12, so not by much. 

What do you think? Do any of you have personal experience with either of these products?

This is late, but there is a good reason and it is what we are thankful for...we are thankful for fire fighters who respond quickly. For a society that values animals as a part of the family. For neighbors who respond when they think there might be trouble. For helping hands that might not have been heard from for awhile. For faithful friendships that don't look at the clock, their wallet, or the magnitude of the task at hand, but do what needs to be done until the work is finished. For insurance that follows through in a timely and compassionate manner. For tiny miracles that caused pictures to be put in tubs or moved to a separate location mere weeks ago for no good reason at all. For abundant provision and outpouring of love from Him who provides and from those who call themselves His hands and feet. For all of the above and so much more we are incredibly thankful today. Without it this.....

...could have been and could be, so much worse. This is Abbey's parent's home that is no longer habitable. A home that a sweet dog/member of the family, was rescued miraculous from by faithful firefighters. It was the home Abbey grew up in, but thankfully wasn't inhabited at the time of the fire. All are safe, but deeply in need of continuation of that outpouring we mentioned above. We are thankful in advance for all that is to come and know that His provision is so abundant. 
Dear friends, I need your input here. So please, please let me know which way you lean on this topic. I promised hubby that I would listen to the census on this topic, so weigh in!

I am contemplating ordering a set of "Mommy Cards". For those of you who aren't aware of this trend they are basically how corporate women have decided to deal with the "making new friends" conundrum I talked about here. These business cards have your information, your child's name, contact information and then your choice of neighborhood information, places you go to play, or where they go to school and maybe even a picture of you and your child. I have seriously considered getting these from about the 5 month of my pregnancy with Baby R. Of course there was a lot of thoughts about it being overkill on the playground. Lately though I have been writing down my information on many scraps of paper and as such have rethought this possibility. Not to mention Kodak gives you the first 50 for free! This is the one I really love.
So friends, what do you think? Should we get a set? How would you respond if someone pulled these out of their wallet in an interaction? Cool or creepy?
Valentines Day A Few Years Ago
Happy Love Day Readers. In explaining today to my sweet son I heard a mini revelation leave my lips as I said: "Today is for showing those that you love how important they are to you." Isn't that so true? It isn't just for that one heartthrob in your life, or at least it doesn't need to be. I have always tried to do something special for my dear friends as well as my husband, even if it is just a simple, sweet card. So if you are feeling like this is Single Awareness Day, I challenge you to use this day as a chance to love on those who have loved on you this past year. I promise you will walk away feeling incredibly loved. It always makes me grateful, in a warm fuzzy way, when I get a chance to thank those who have loved on me.

I wanted to share with you a little tradition that my Valentine and I have had for the past few years. We usually go out a few days before Valentines Day for a nice meal and then on the day of we stay in and enjoy a meal of fresh crab legs with garlic butter. We set up our living room, cover the table with paper, light candles and then enjoy a movie and crab. It is simple and sweet, but more importantly it is ours. We started it out of necessity and it is now incredibly endearing to us both. It also allows us to celebrate each other for a few days, instead of just one evening. I am prepping for tonights meal and am so happy for this little tradition of ours. How do you celebrate Valentines Day? I would love to hear all about your traditions!

One of my favorite romantic Sonnets of all time is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43. While many know the first few lines, it is what follows that moves me every time. So I thought in closing I would leave it with you. Enjoy!

Sonnet 43
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. 
I love thee to the level of every day's 
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. 
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; 
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. 
I love with a passion put to use 
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. 
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath, 
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose, 
I shall but love thee better after death. "

In honor of Valentines Day this year I wanted to continue the love-fest and share with you a few details about our weekend of love.

To kick off the weekend I surprised the Mr. with some home-made sweet somethings. Inspired by my dear friend Jessica's craftiness I adapted her idea to fit my style and limitations. Crafts are complicated in a small space with an eager toddler. More so when trying to make it a surprise. My sewing machine isn't readily accessible so here is how I adapted the idea:

*Instead of hearts that were the same size I cut most of them much larger and then some smaller ones.
*I also cut out  the letters L-O-V-E and our son's little hand prints to personalize the decorations.
*Instead of ribbon or string I cut out strips from fabric that was leftover from my Halloween costume (pictures here).
* To add character I cut smaller sections of fabric then double-knotted it together. Love how the little knots look!
*I used Craft Glue, my best friend, instead of sewing the pieces together, and didn't double side them. This saved tons of time and allowed it to remain a secret as Mr. didn't have to snag the sewing machine for me.
* I did a variety of little banners all over and only one window with the strings hanging down. A good plan if there are little hands or pets in the home.

A few little extra details:
*To weight the bottoms of strings I put a little bow/knot at the base.
*I purchased a wonderful old book that had thick, red-tinted pages that would hold up well to eager little hands. $3.99 from Goodwill and I still have TONS of pages leftover for another time.
* The extra hearts were taped to the bathroom mirror, scattered on surfaces and other random places for a sweet touch.
* I switched out all of the pictures in our home with wedding pictures and put them everywhere!
In Front of The Window

In the Kitchen Above Our Table

Free Download Via

Lovely Little Details

Tiny Handprints

Overall I was really pleased with the outcome and the husband was surprised. A win! What are you up to this weekend friends? Any special crafts you worked on? Please share!

*Book: $3.99        Fabric: $2 (from Halloween)     *Glue: My own stock
This Thursday I am so incredibly thankful for a man who followed me across state lines multiple times, who truly pursued me and my heart with a fervor that is unmatched <sorry ladies!>. A man who has applied himself over and over again, learning new skills and conquering obstacles one by one. Our love has weathered the tests of more moves than years married, jobs lost and gained, dreams fading and changing to be replaced with dazzling glimmers of tomorrows that are greater than our greatest plans. Today our love is stronger than ever before and for that we are thankful. For me, I am thankful for this wonderful man.

Forever I Do, just the same today as so many years ago.

My son has a new-found love of movies and it drives me nuts. Growing up without television was one of the single best decisions my parents made, especially for my personality type. We had a TV, but only had access to movies for special occasions. So there it stood, a big black empty looking box that rarely roared to life, and that is how I liked it, empty looking. Now before I go on some awful rabbit trail about TV and toddlers I will steer myself back on track, transitions. His love of movies has led to a love of the cases and he reads them, rather than  a book. Being that they are (or rather were...) in a drawer that he had access to I decided to strap on my mommy boots and change this dynamic in our home. Given that this was a success (sorry if I spoiled the ending of the story for you) I wanted to share. So often there are many more steps backwards than forwards when dealing with a toddler that I LOVE a successful toddler-parenting story.

Knowing his little heart the way that I do, being sensitive and gradual was going to be the key to success in this transition. So one morning he woke up to "his" movies not being in the drawer. While a bit confused he searched and then moved on to something else. Step two was convincing him that something else being in that drawer was a good thing, and letting him think it was his idea. So the other night he was at the drawer and looking a bit perplexed at the progressing emptiness of it's contents when I suggested he fill it with his books. His SPECIAL books. He got so excited he ran from the room and came back as I hoped, with more books than would fit in that space. I suggested mommy move her movies to make room for his special books and he jumped on that idea. In 5 minutes the problem drawer went from a constant issue to a special "secret" space for his favorite books.

Now his movies are in zippered boxes under the couch, out of sight and hard to pull out and his favorite drawer is filled with mommies favorite-for-him things, beautiful, well-loved books.

This process reminded me of the importance of approaching my toddler as a little person with very real feelings and fears. To deal with him as sensitively as I would a dear friend in a state of her own transition. And to soften my heart to his so that we continue to grow together in communication and respect, rather than apart. To my fellow parents of toddlers I hope you are encouraged.

I was incredibly inspired this weekend. I "made a friend", which feels very elementary to state, but there isn't any other way to put it really, and it makes me chuckle to say it out loud. As we were talking we realized we had both had similar experiences and difficulties in meeting other moms. There is a delicate dance that is performed in mom-to-mom interactions. Often one side is more eager than the other, which can be intimidating. And this led me to think of the last time I had to really work to make friends, the dreaded junior high. 

High school you develop a "thing". You play sports, are in advanced classes, or maybe theater was your thing. Maybe it was a combination. All of these "things" come with a pre-made group that hopefully accept you. College, you have roommates, classmates, forced interactions, etc...But for me junior high time was the last time I really had to sit down and think, "What makes me cool? " 

So here I am again, "making friends" and truly having a blast. This woman asked me if living in the city made this process easier and I had to answer honestly that it wasn't. I have met many enjoyable nannies, but the mom's aren't very friendly. So it makes me wonder, how do you make new mommy friends? What is intimidating about someone like myself approaching you at the park? Share with me! Shed some light on this situation and please pass on your tips~
We are incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to raise brothers. We were incredibly blessed at the "Baby Reveal Party" and it is safe to say this is a new tradition that I can't WAIT to be a part of when my sweetest girlfriends start their own families. We will post pictures and some of the creative details soon. For now we will leave you with a picture of the happy couple, who truly thought opposite going into the ultrasound. 
These are the colors we wore to the appointment!
"A grand adventure is about to begin" ~ Winnie the Pooh
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This Thursday we are so very thankful for the ability to find out the gender of our baby! It boggles our minds to think that not very long ago this wasn't an option. For those that know us patience is a virtue that Abbey struggles to emulate. So the notion of waiting to discover what our little blessing is, well let's just say she is itching to know! Some of our dear friends are throwing us a small affair to announce the big news (sneak peek here) and we will be sure to share the details with you shortly. We can't wait! What are you thankful for today?
Boy or Girl?

I hesitated about sharing these here, but think the accountability will do us good and might put this in a separate tab at the top, crossing them off, or commenting, as we go. My dear friend of almost a decade and half wrote a great piece on the difference between goals and resolutions here and it has stuck with me all month. So here we go, 2011 you are going to be great!

All Year Goals
* Document my own recipes, gather and sort
* Start writing actual chapters in my book...it is still a secret :)
* Meal plan consistently and creatively
* Plan and budget monthly group dates

February (5 month Prego)
Increase my running to 5 miles
Plan and throw Kate's Birthday
Inventory baby items
Return borrowed items
Get Rowan into swimming lessons
Finish Rowan's Birth Story
Trip to Olympia
Read: Shepherding A Child's Heart by T. Tripp
* Find out what we are having! (Feb. 3rd)

March (6 month Prego)
Maintain 5 mile runs, increase stairs
Family Christmas gifts made
List of other homemade items decided on
Plan and throw Shannon's Birthday
Trim/fix/gather baby items
Trip to CA to visit family
Read: The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears
* Find out where Kevin's rotations are!

April (7 month Prego)
Run a 5k (or end of March)
Rowan's 2nd Birthday done and in boxes ready to go
Birthing class review
Design baby announcements
Finalize Birth plan, distribute
Co-host baby shower for Megan
Baby Moon?
Read: Grace Based Parenting by T. Kimmel

May (8 month Prego)
Tour hospital
Meals planned
Call list, etc... updated
Baby announcements addressed
Take pregnancy pictures
Plan and throw Jessica's birthday
Read: The Key To Your Child's Heart by G. Smalley or Playful Parenting by D. Westman
* Kevin is done with classes! Rotation schedule begins.

June (9 month Prego)
Celebrate Caitlin's birthday early!
Wash and put newborn clothes away
Finish putting away newborn essentials
Walk, walk, walk, walk....
Have hospital bag packed
Car seat installed
Bring this sweet baby home
Read: Really? Not sure that will happen!
* Baby arrives!

Rest, concerts outside, enjoy the sunshine
Write birth story

Celebrate our 8th Anniversary
Go on a date, alone
Throw Rowan's 2nd Birthday Party!
Start jogging

Take family photos
Plan Kevin's birthday
Read: Re-read Babywise and Babywise II by Ezzo and Bucknam

Pick Pumpkins
Halloween costumes
Finalize Thanksgiving plans
Plan Steph's birthday party
Read: Something creative and inspiring

Write Holiday Letter/ design card
Outline Advent Book Plan

Cut tree and decorate
Plan cookie party
Read: Advent book...
*Baby is 6 months!
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