Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December Reads

December has been a nice, cozy time for curling up with good books. I've enjoyed a lot of really really great books which is an awesome way to end the year.

The Family Under the Bridge (Natalie Savage Carlson)- This delightful Parisian tale follows hobo Armand as he finds, befriends and becomes 'grandfather' to a little family of 4 (and their 'dog that should be white') that he finds camped under his bridge one winter. This was one of our family books this month and it was a lovely, sweet little book to curl up to. It has illustrations for the younger crowd that still needs/wants pictures in their books and short enough chapters that you can read just a bit at a time. The french words were fun to pronounce and we got a giggle out of that.

When Santa Fell to Earth (Cornelia Funke)- When Nikolas Goodfellow's unreliable reindeer Twinklestar bolts and leaves him stranded in a small town, he must repair his caravan and hit the road before the big bad Goblynch and his Council of Yuleland finds him.Cornelia Funke penned a charming, curious new take on the tradition of Christmas and Santa. I enjoyed this so much. It's great for early readers and kids that still love picture books because it has illustrations throughout. The story is sweet and a perfect little Christmas/Winter family read.

Emma and the Blue Genie (Cornelia Funke)- Another by Ms Funke, this one follows Emma on a magical adventure as she finds and frees a blue genie and sets off with him and her noodle tailed dog to Karim the Genie's homeland to save his magic. Alice and I read this one and it's a GREAT choice for kids that are just starting out with chapter books. We actually listened to the audio book and followed along with the actual book because it has lovely full color illustrations on nearly every page and it was really engaging and fun. I liked hearing Funke read it herself. She has a very pleasing voice and accent.

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)- With no notice the circus appears. Its doors only open from nightfall to dawn. Within the black and white adornments, 2 ancient illusionists have pitted their best students against each other. I feel like opinions with this book have been very divided. You love it or you hate it. I loved it. It is a slow burn kind of read. I started this about 2 months ago and it took me this long to finish it, mostly because I had a lot on my plate but also because it does start off rather slowly. But, it was enchanting to me. I was enthralled and by the middle of the book I had a hard time putting it down. The action winds down about 30ish pages from the end, though, and it got a little slow and boring for me after that. Overall very enjoyable though. I was excited that this was a NaNoWriMo book. That is really fascinating to me.

The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey)- I don't feel like I can properly give this book any sort of intro or description. I can't remember how I found this book, but I'm so glad I did. One of my favorite reads of the year. It was beautifully written, poignant, fast paced, heart wrenching and left me with an aching in my chest. I mean, Joss Whedon loved it so what would I expect other than awesomeness.

And that's it for 2015! I've loved this year for reading. I've discovered a lot about what I like and what I'm most interested in, which is mostly children's lit, and this year my kids and I have started reading chapter books together which has honestly been a dream come true. I'm excited for the next year of reading! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Resolutions- Looking Back

Yesterday I went over my crafting resolutions and how it went this year, today I am going over my other resolutions and goals for 2015 and looking back on how this year went.

My resolutions went like this-

Say YES more- I feel like this was a success. I have major anxiety issues and sometimes saying yes is so hard for me that it makes me ill but I did try a lot. I think we've had more experiences and adventures this year than any other.

Happiness Project- This one is half and half. I stuck to it for the first half of the year and then things went very downhill in my personal life and even though that was probably the most important time to try to stick with it, trying to force happiness when things are in chaos is just too much for this gal. I'd like to do this again one day. I think it's a lovely idea.

Read more- Boy did I. In my blog post I said I wanted to hit at least 25 books but I ended up setting my Goodreads goal to 50 books and I surpassed that by 9 books so far. I think I'll finish at least 2 more before the year is over. And this is with 3 months of hard reading slumps for me so I think that's pretty good! I also wanted to read at least 1 chapter book a month with my kiddo and we are sitting pretty at 18 books. Not too shabby!

Exercise- Again with a good start and then it fizzled out.

Budget- Not so much until the past month but now that we're starting I think it will be easy to keep going. I want to save save save.

This year was really hard, not gonna lie. There were some huge personal bumps in the road and it honestly doesn't look like 2016 is going to be the best heading into it right now. I'm thinking about my goals for the new year and I know these goals are going to be much more personal and related to my relationships with people and my physical and mental well being. I'll be back with an update about what I am going to focus on closer to the new year. I'm happy with my goals for this past year though and I feel like I did a pretty great job. Sometimes goals change or just aren't feasible in the life you're living at that moment and that's okay. You just gotta do you, boo. Go forth and be awesome.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Resolutions- How Did It Go?

I haven't really thought about my yearly goals over the past few months but I'm taking a look back at them now to see what I accomplished. The great thing about 'goals' and 'resolutions' is that they change as you do. Some of the things I thought I wanted to accomplish turned out to be pretty unimportant to me and weren't things that were adding any joy to my life so I nixed 'em and that's cool. You should totally do that when things just aren't working out. Why waste time on something that isn't lighting your fire? So here they are, my 2015 goals and what happened with all of that.

Firstly, craft goals. I had 8 things I wanted to focus on/accomplish. Lets break it down.

Finally finally finally finish Oliver's blanket, which I started over a year ago.
Big fail. Womp womp. I have started 2 blankets for him and not finished either of them because I just wasn't into it. It will happen after Christmas. I just have to decide what I want to do for him.

Make Alice a blanket.
I did accomplish this and in the very beginning of the year too!

Crochet a baby blanket for all close friends and family members that get knocked up.
I have stuck to this, despite it being really hard sometimes, what with my ovaries not working.

Try a new craft! Maybe this rainbow loom craziness?
I totally did try the rainbow loom! We got one for the first born last Christmas and I'm the only one to have used it so far. It was fun but not something I'll pick up as a hobby, probably.

Document all crocheted/crafted things with photos. Keep those photos in a separate file on the computer. Try to blog at least once a month about WIPs.
I have MOSTLY accomplished this. I think there are a few things that I forgot to photograph before they were sent to people and I have slacked on blogging about it for a while now.

Use my sewing machine more often.
I don't think it was pulled out even once. That's okay! This was the year of crochet. And screwing around with an annoying sewing machine isn't my jam these days.

Designate myself a space for craft supplies, organize the hell out of it and make it pretty.
Sort of? I have my most used yarn organized and set out nicely and my most used craft stuff set up neatly. I'll call it a win.

Work on my Etsy shop. Get better at putting myself out there.
Well, I ended up putting my shop on hold sometime back in the summer because my anxiety was raging out of control and the idea of dealing with customer orders and such was too much. I think I'll open it again sometime in the next year but I'm working out what it will focus on and what I really get pleasure out of making so that I can put my energy into that and zone in on a niche for myself.

Those are the crafty resolutions and goals. I feel good about them. I don't have any for next year except keep making things that really make me happy and hopefully learn to knit socks. That's something I'd really love to accomplish. I think I'd also like some sort of daily project or a weekly/monthly kind of thing but we'll see!

I'll share my other resolutions later and go over them and maybe plan out some goals for 2016, who knows!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Master Gingerbread Decorators

This weekend we stayed cozy at home except for one short foray to a nearby park to see some Christmas lights. It was the first lights exhibit I've seen with a bunch of character lights, which was pretty neat. They had TMNT, some Disney stuff, Blues Clues, Winnie the Pooh and a bunch of others.

Saturday night was pretty fun because we had the town Christmas parade! The first born and husband walked with the float from his school, which was a really neat one decked out as Arendelle, while the girl child and I watched from the sidewalk. The kids managed to sneak in and get a photo with Anna and Elsa!

Sunday was another laid back day, thankfully, and we did some DIY gift making and then decorated our gingerbread trains. The kids had such a blast and within 5 minutes of this picture they had completely destroyed their trains and started eating them.  At least I got photographic evidence of their gingerbread mastery first.

Christmas is next week! Anyone else feeling both halla excited and also really sad it will be over soon? It goes by too fast.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday 5

This week has been hard and I am ready to bit it goodbye. Hello weekend! Please be kind to us.

 1. Plans.

Tonight we are going to see Santa! And visit the festival of lights a couple of towns over. I'm very excited for this. It's a beautiful lake where the lights are put up and we've never been in the 3 Christmases since we moved here. Tomorrow we are planning on decorating gingerbread trains and ninja cookies! And then we have the town holiday parade to look forward to tomorrow night, which my 2 boys will be participating in.

2. Elf on the Shelf.

We do our elf a little differently than most, I think. He isn't there to spy on our kids or watch that they are good or bad, he's just there for fun. They wake up and run around to find him and he has their advent stocking and candies for the day. I have never liked the idea of tricking kids into being good with lies about elves and Santa and that's just not how we roll. I prefer the magic of it.

3. Our Advent Stockings.

This year I whipped up some tiny stockings and stitched a countdown to Christmas on each one (thanks to an idea from Whistle and Ivy) and each night they are left with Jake the Elf and filled with one chocolate for each kid. It has been a big hit and I think it will be our advent in future years as well.

4. Speaking of Christmas Countdown...

TWO WEEKS LEFT. That's it! We are finished with 95% of Christmas. We have each other to shop for, a few things to pick up for the kids, our own stockings and that's IT. I am doing my stocking shopping tonight and possibly also my Christmas gift shopping, we shall see. Only 2 more paydays to get all of this stuff! I have loved shopping and wrapping gifts and I'm going to miss that. It's my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Finding or making the perfect gift for someone and wrapping it up all cutely and waiting impatiently to put it under the tree.

5. Loss. 

Not to end on a sad note, but it didn't feel right to just ignore it... A friend of the family died this week in a motorcycle accident, along with my oldest niece. They were dating. She'd just had a baby with her ex earlier this year. I won't pretend that I was close with my niece, as she is my brother's step-daughter and my brother and I haven't talked since I was 12, but I knew her as a kid and I knew she loved her baby and I can't imagine being her mother and burying my daughter. Our friend that died was an amazing kid who spread so much positive energy into the world and it will be a darker place without him. Learning to navigate life after a tragic, sudden loss is really hard. It has been a sad week for us, especially right before the holidays. I've done a lot of praying and hoping that 2016 will be less stressful and sad. I'm about ready to kick 2015 out the door.

That's it for me this week. I'm really excited for some fun weekend plans and hoping that it will be the relaxing, sweet weekend we need so much. I hope you are having a peaceful holiday season.

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas!

Can you believe there's less than 3 weeks until the big day?! I want time to slow down just a little bit so we can enjoy it but I am also so eager to stuff stockings and put gifts under the tree. What a dilemma.

Over the weekend we took the kids to see our favorite holiday lights. They always pull off the prettiest, twinkliest display that makes you ooh and ahhh. It is nearly impossible to get good pictures because night time does not equal the best picture taking and also most of the lights are viewed through your moving car but I did snap a few. We got out and walked around the laser light show in the woods and drank cups of hot chocolate and went tube sliding on their giant slide and had a grand ole time.


Sunday, our elf Jake had a very special surprise. He set the table for a sweet North Pole breakfast!

More hot chocolate, some fruit, donuts, cinnamon rolls and mini muffins were consumed. We talked about all things Christmas, like our favorite holiday song, our favorite traditions, and what we hoped for this year. I think our little North Pole breakfast will become a new tradition after this year. 

I'm really looking forward to more holiday fun through the next few weeks. We have a parade to go to this weekend and the rest of our Christmas shopping and a gingerbread decorating party. It's the most wonderful time of the year. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Infertility Around the Holidays

A message from your friendly neighborhood infertile couple.

I know that you're curious. Maybe you heard we're trying to get pregnant or maybe you wonder why that one couple that has been married a few years doesn't have kids yet. Maybe you just have a big nose that likes to get up in everyone's bid-ness. We accept this about you and love you despite your protruding nose. But before you start spouting off the questions about children and pregnancy and future children, stop and think.

One in eight people will have trouble with fertility or sustaining a pregnancy. That's a pretty big whopping percentage. Chances are someone you know, even if you aren't aware of it, is going through infertility or has lost a pregnancy. The holidays are a time where we are all getting together, going to parties and gatherings, exchanging stories and events from the past year and catching up. I know you're curious. But lets be blunt here- it's not your business what's going on in someone's uterus or how someone's sex organs are working. If they want to volunteer information, they will. If they don't, it's not your job to ask them. Because the scenario could look a lot like this- you ask them when they are going to finally have a kid or why they aren't pregnant yet, usually in front of a group of people, they give you some half assed answer and then they find the next available opportunity to hide away somewhere and cry. I'm sure you don't want to be responsible for that.

The journey to having a baby is very personal and unfortunately can be very complicated. During the holidays, we all want to have fun and make new memories and we don't want those memories clouded over with sadness.

So all I'm saying is, think before you ask someone a question like when are you having kids. I know that we live in an age where everyone thinks everyone else is too easily butthurt or offended but I look at it this way. We aren't walking on egg shells trying to not offend someone or hurt their feelings, we are being gentle and loving and really thinking about our words before we use them. We're evolving to be more compassionate and sympathetic.

If there's something we want to share, we will in our own time. Thanks for considering this. Happy holidays.