Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, in review

Oh, 2012.  You were one for the record books, for real.  The traveling, the moving, the pregnancy, the completion of our little family.  New home, new state, new school, new friends, new, new, new.  It was busy, it was at times trying, it was one that I'll always look back on as the one where we put our faith in God and made big leaps and it all ended up perfectly right.

January.  We ring in 2012 in a villa at Pelican Hill, it's one of the best vacations ever.  I'm a tiny bit pregnant, we've known for just a few days.  My cover is blown in front of a few very good friends at the pool when I order a virgin bloody mary.  Back at home, Vivi starts escaping her crib.  We get some possibly scary news about the pregnancy, switch doctors, have our minds put at ease with more testing.

February.  I muster up the energy to take this Valentine photo, but never get around to turning it into an actual Valentine, so pukey do I feel.  Vivi turns two, we have Megan and Michael and Robbie and Jackie over to celebrate.  It's really farking cold.

March.  I'm still sicker than sick in the early part of the month, and even zofran doesn't help.  We do a lot lying around in my bed.  Nobody ever gets out of pajamas.  So much Dora, omg, so much Dora.  We survive.  I start to show.  We get a blizzard to end all blizzards.  

April.  Easter happens.  I turn 31.  Kids and I take a trip to OC.  We accidentally find out MG's a girl.  Kids share the news.

May.  Colorado becomes a sure thing.  It's unseasonably warm, we live in the yard.  House goes on the market.  House sells in a week.  We travel to Madison for a getaway, bid a bittersweet goodbye to one of our favorite cities.  We're at Hodag Park every day.  J flies a plane.

June.  J and I travel to Colorado, buy the first of ten houses we looked at.  Celebrate eight busy years of marriage (three states, four houses, 2.75 children, more pets than I can count).  I entertain children daily by handing over a water hose, plopping myself into a lawn chair and staring down at my expanding girth with despair.  My lovely Wisconsin friends throw me the sweetest of baby sprinkles.

July.  Still hot, I respond by doubling in size, FOR REAL.  We take part in the dealership 4th of July festivities.  They don't make a shirt big enough to fit my massive bump.  Kids play with the hose some more.  J's 32.  We decide to stay in WI until after baby time.  We begin moving stuff from our house to my parents' lake house in preparation for our temporary move.  I sweat a whole bunch.

August.  Too big a month for just one photo.  We bid a tearful front porch goodbye to our Wisconsin house, and close shortly after on our Colorado home purchase.  J and A travel to Colorado to supervise movers.  Vivi and I sit by the lake for days on end, I boss J around on furniture placement over the phone.  Vivi and I go to Mall of America, where I waddle along behind her stroller and we buy half of Baby Gap.  We do GTG in Walker, Minnesota with Anne & Kim and their families.  It's awesome, as per usual.  The kids and I sit by the lake every afternoon.  I cry about my cankles.  MG decides she doesn't want an August 31 birth date, and starts making her moves the week before.  I drive an hour down to Wausau to see my OB, drive back home to kiss my bigger babies and get my husband, then drive right back down to have our baby girl.  We meet MG that Monday evening in the midst of a triple digit heat wave in northern Wisconsin.  We feel totally unprepared for how much love we'd feel all over again.  She's the sweetest.  

September.  We bring MG home to the lake house, there's one person on hand for every square foot.  She meets grandparents, great grandpa, aunties, uncles, cousins, the whole shebang.  11 days into the month, my big littles fly to Colorado.  The next day, J and I and a 2 week old MG hit the road to follow.  We're Coloradans.  Bug turns four.  Bug starts preschool.

October.  We continue settling into the new home.  Bug struggles a bit to adjust to preschool life.  We do the Halloween train with Mommo.  Neighborhood Halloween party.

November.  Kind of a blur?  Preschool, naps, grocery shopping, work, repeat.  Our first Colorado snow is a lackluster effort.  Mabel protests, her brother mocks.  We trek out to San Juan National Forest on Thanksgiving weekend to cut a tree.  Anderson breaks his face falling off his bunk bed.

December.  Holidays!  Festivities!  I go a little crazy with the merry-making, it's all a whole lot of fun.  The year draws to a close with us living a happy, if hectically so, little life.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Thanks for coming here, for supporting and cheering and offering up your advice and love.  I wish you all the very best in 2013!

*September and December photos courtesy of Heidi Chowen Photography.  Love, love, love.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

a loaded box

Somehow, between the crafting and the card addressing and the cookie baking and the shopping (and more shopping and more shopping) .... I fell behind on Christmas blogging.  Not that I think anyone noticed, but I noticed, and my blog book will notice when there's nada on Christmas 2012 to be read if I don't get it together and do a massive Christmas post.  So, my Christmas catch-up, before the year is through.  (Loaded box = a gift box my mom crams like five gifts into because the gift piles would otherwise be uneven.  One box = one gift!  We love a loaded box.)

Let's just start with this golden nugget, shall we?
all three looking, zero crying, nobody blinking.
a christmas miracle!
Now, back to the beginning.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, as is tradition, we decorated.  More lights, I exclaimed, all the livelong day, between cranking Pandora's Britney Spears Christmas Song station and chugging peppermind mochas.  J was a good sport about it all, though.  See?
j brings my christmas porch vision to real life.
feigns excitement.
chester wants attention.
With my parents, we did the Polar Express.  It was so. much. fun.  Damn near magical.
this is an awful picture, lighting-wise.
cute babies!
lovey wasn't allowed in the picture.
utter devastation.
fine have your freakin' lovey, i'll just crop it out!
oh, my.
precious, no?
ready to board!
bug, grandpa & mommo
a train omg it's a traiiiiiiiiiin!
The Christmas card display.  A work of art, if you ask me.  A stupid stick on the stupid wall, if you ask J.  Whatever, J.
this thing was massive by christmas.
a big, massive, display of awesomeness.
Then, the neighborhood Christmas party.  Somehow, despite being neighborhood residents a collective four months, my friend Emily and I ended up in charge of planning and hosting the neighborhood children's Christmas party.  Meaning, we went to a volunteer meeting after polishing a bottle of wine off at my house.  And woke up the next morning like "OMG SO WE DID WHAT, NOW?!?"  And then, we suckered our other friend Jamie into hosting the thing at her house, because her house is a Christmas wonderland and she's a really good sport.
faketwins, ready to party.
mabel needs to learn to stand so she can participate in front porch photos.
so fortunate to find good friends everywhere we go.
jamie, yours truly, emily
homeboy's wondering how much santa knows about his recent behavior.
just before she spiked a fever and went home in tears.
fah la la la la!
There was yet another party I volunteered to help with, and no wine to blame for this one.  The preschool Christmas party needed a helper, and I don't do "no" real well.  And it was so fun.  I mean, hello cuties?
yeah, i made that snowman/snowball game.
i just didn't sleep last month, like, ever.
I brought these asshole reindeer cookies along.  I don't care WHAT Pinterest tries to tell you, there's nothing simple and easy about prying apart Nutter Butters and spreading more peanut butter inside and dipping the whole thing (EVENLY) in chocolate and sticking a stick up the rear to make it a cookie pop, and that's all before you even decorate its' stupid reindeer face and attach some stupid pretzel antlers.
next year, i bring a freaking veggie tray.
Right about here is where I'd put some pictures of Anderson being all kinds of Christianly adorable as a donkey in the preschool Christmas play .... but he barfed.  Like, just as the in laws and I were about to load up in the car to meet J and my parents at the program, the preschool called and was all "RED ALERT!  WE'VE GOT BARF HERE!  COME GET YOUR BARFER!"  Womp, womp.

The week of Christmas, Mimi and Papaw came.  (AKA, the aforementioned in laws.)  Such a good time.  Can we talk about how cute they are, being good sports while we froze their Texan bones with a ranch tour by gator?  VERY good sports.  Cute sports, too.

We also made it to the mall.  See photo 1: Mall Santa.  If you're still with me.  HELLO, ANYBODY?  On the way into the mall, we ran into a bell ringer who looked pretty gosh darned familiar.  Only my father in law, I tell you, would ask for an apron and spend some time outside ringing a bell (in a fancy battery operated hat he ran down to Hallmark to buy), just on a whim.
vivi has no idea why i'm taking her picture with the bell ringer.
not even kidding.
(oh, v.)
Inside, Mabel was pretty curious about this whole Santa setup.

Christmas Eve.  We went to the ranch.  Family, food, gifts, sledding, and a game of Monopoly where nobody ended up in tears.  I took zero pictures, pretty much.  Oh, except this one on my iPhone of me drinking wine in my fabulous moose mug.

Christmas morning.  It all happened too fast to set my camera properly and get good pictures, but hey, I was more concerned with enjoying the moment than properly playing the role of historian.  And enjoy it, I did.  So much joy.

Christmas afternoon brought a sleigh ride.  A new tradition, I hope, because it was so fun and scenic and oh-so-Colorado.

horse butt photo bomb.
Phew!  That about does it, I think.  And now, we're on to making things new as the new year looms.  A living room makeover we wrapped up today (paint drying as I type), a contractor coming this week to bust out our hall closet and create a more attractive entry, and new storage solutions to neaten up the house.  (Likesuchas the new crates I painted for V's room, because she's a sparkle hoarder whose sparkly things were EVVVVVERYWHERE.)

Tomorrow, 2012 in review.  Then hello to 2013!  Unbelievable.  It's been a wild year, 2012 has, and that's putting it lightly.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

4 months

My Mabel.  Four months old.

I usually strive for something heartfelt on these monthiversarys, but it's just not one of those days.  I wore one slipper around for most the morning before even NOTICING I was missing my left slipper.  You know.  One of those days.  One where this picture wouldn't even have happened if it weren't for two kids momentarily distracted by their respective Santa gifts (HOT WHEELS OMG HOT WHEELS and the FP Princess Castle I think every girl under 5 got for Christmas) and a baby who sits and smiles willingly even when she's due for a feeding because she's, you know, the best ever.  Suffice it to say, my dear Mabel Gray, you're as beloved now as you were last month, and the months before that, too.  You're a sweetheart baby if ever there was one.  And you sleep more than I do.  YOU ARE AWESOME.

I hope your Christmas was as beautiful as ours was.  It wasn't perfect, they never are - Anderson barfed all over his preschool classroom the day of his Christmas program and the manger was down a donkey, Vivi was glassy eyed and cranky by the next day, and mama fell ill and didn't get out of bed until nearly dinnertime the day after that.  Aaaand MG's teething.  But imperfections and all, it was a truly, ridiculously, beautiful Christmas.  My kids had all four grandparents on hand to love them silly, along with an uncle and an auntie and an assortment of other loved ones around to keep them very entertained.  It was oh so good, yall, from start to finish.  And also?  We were spoiled rotten.  ROTTEN, I tell you.

More on the festivities later.  For now, there's a baby yelping to be freed from the exersaucer and an episode of Mickey Mouse just begging to be replayed.

Friday, December 14, 2012


To think that, at 8:00 this morning, my problems had to do with things like a lack of coffee, loud kids, and a dog soaked by the wet falling snow.

To think that, as my innocent babies stood at our back door taking in the wonder of nature, the innocent babies of other mamas were, at that moment, witnessing unspeakable horror.  Twenty babies, never to come home.  Their lunchboxes won't litter the hallway after school, they won't drop globs of applesauce on the floor during dinner, won't get out of bed begging for just one more sip of water, one more kiss, one more hug.  They're gone.  Heartlessly, unfathomably, gone.

My heart breaks today for those who are lost, and those whose lives will never be the same.

"Honor the victims of an unspeakable tragedy by loving, truly loving, the people around us. Be a light that hunts the darkness."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

so call me mabesy

I made up a little ditty to entertain Vivi this evening, and to tear myself away from a little game I was playing called "staring out the windows willing J's headlights to appear in the driveway."  It's not a very fun game, but I keep playing it.  LIKE EVERY DAY.  The ditty went like this: "hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I'm your sister, so call me Mabesy."

And Mabel was all:

And Vivi was all:

And I was all:
"I'm seriously starting to lose my mind."

And Anderson was all:
Locked in his room on his twenty hundreth time out of the day.

Oof.  It's been a week, yall.

That's all.

Except, one more thing:
i.  die.  i just totally die.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

wall letters. that are easy. and not lame.

Welcome to today's edition of "your friend Mandie is a manic crafter".  You guys.  I can.  Not.  STOP. Is it the season?  The new house nesting?  All this spare time I have on my hands (omgNOT)?  Some crazy hormonal shift?  Is someone slipping glitter into my coffee?  Whatever it is, the crafting is an obsession.  The other night at 6pm I put down my glue gun, steadied my shaking hands, and realized I'd had nothing but a venti peppermint mocha, a bucket of Diet Coke, some water, and two pieces of lefse all day long.  (If you don't know what lefse is, I'm so sad for you.)

Some super fun Christmassy things have been made lately.  I'll blog about those ASAP.  For today, let's talk about Vivi's letters!

Easiest project ever, to the point I almost feel silly blogging about it because the simplicity factor makes it kind of a "duh".  But however, a few years back, I didn't know Mod Podge from a bottle of Elmer's, so maybe a crafting newbie might appreciate the info?  Or not?  Should I shut up about my crafts now and return to poop talk/sleep obsessions/toddler tantrum talk only?  TELL ME.

Anyway.  Back to the crafts.  If you want to make letters like these, you just need a couple of things.
1) cardboard letters.  I got mine at Hobby Lobby.  JoAnn's has them, too.  If you pay more than $2 each you paid too much.
2) scrapbooking paper.  I bought a gigantic book of it, because it was pretty and because then I knew it coordinated and because it was 40% off and 40% off is PRACTICALLY FREE!  (Tricky tricky, Hobby Lobby.)
3) Mod Podge
4) paint brush to apply Mod Podge to cardboard letters
5) scissor
6) pencil
7) caffeine and kids who nap

Trace the letters onto paper, cut letters out, cut strips the width of the sides, and Mod Podge the shit out of the whole shebang.  The end.

Someone asked me (hiiiii, Marta Martha!) if it was hard to do the corners.  Nope.  If you slop enough Mod Podge on the cardboard letters, the paper gets soggy when you put it on there, and is really workable.  I put the side strips on first and cut the front pieces a tiiiiiiny bit bigger than need be so there's some excess to fold over.  Seriously.  It's so easy.  And cute, right?

Someday I'll post a more thorough overview of her room, when it's done.  It's almost done.  I still want a PBK wall mounted bookshelf like so, but alas, it will have to wait until after the holidays.  Holidays be all CHA-CHINGY and such.

I made a similar thing for A's room, except it's just one ginormous A.  (Ordered from a company that seems to no longer carry these - but I see JoAnn has something similar.)  His letter is a bit more meaningful - I used a map of A's birth state (Texas, if you've forgotten) to cover his letter.  I do say, I love how it turned out and it fit in with his transportation themed room quite nicely.

yes, three nightlights.
and if one is lost OMG END OF WORLD.

I'll post more pictures his room, too, when I figure out if I am okay with putting the bunk beds o'hazard back in (minus the ladder?  J says yes?) OR figure out a way to situate two twin beds in there OR convince J to disassemble one and move it to the basement until our son is no longer at an age where he'll catapult himself from the top bunk to the floor and break his damn face (so, age 30, ish?)