Maybe I still have too many hormones post-pregnancy. Maybe I need more sleep. Or maybe I'm just getting a little sappy as I age (I just turned THIRTY, people! It doesn't seem possible). But when another box arrived on my porch yesterday and I opened it to find these christmas presents from my Nana and Grandpa, I suddenly felt warm-fuzzy. Can you believe all four of my grandparents are living (and, actually, one great-grandparent)? They're getting up in their years, but they are all still very "with it." And something about opening a box full of lovingly wrapped and labeled gifts for the girls brought me back a couple of decades. Don't you just love how "grandparent-y" my Nana's writing is? I was instantly aware how lucky I am to still have my grandparents. For the most part, I grew up living long distance from all of them. But there were two lucky years I enjoyed my Grandma and Grandpa Hernandez while living in California during grade school, and I spent my college years living down the street from Nana and Grandpa in Nashville during college and for a few years after. I have fond memories of doing laundry at Nana's house after classes, passing the time eating her banana pudding and chatting about everything under the sun with her at the kitchen table. Grandpa was usually busy fixing my car for the hundredth time. Or watching public television.
This year I bought or made token gifts for all of them. I'd been wanting to try one of the gazillion tutorials for tissue covers I've seen in blogland, and I was surprised at how simple the process was. I came up with this blue one for my Nana with the few scraps of time I could squeeze out of last night before A.'s midnight feeding:
I actually modified a couple of tutorials to come up with this Easy Peasy version, and if I have time I'll take pictures of the process next time. It really was crazy-simple. The fabric samples I bought on sale at JoAnns were the perfect quality, color, and weight for this little project.
Would write more but I have a strong, fiesty brunette strapped to me and I'd better quit before she gets dangerous.
Where's all the crafty stuff? And what's taking so long to post? I know. Everything has been neglected lately. This blog. My sewing (I so, so long to sew). My house. Ugh, the stuff is piling everywhere. But I keep reminding myself that this will pass. Not soon enough, and altogether too quickly at the same time. So I am just breathing it all in and taking everything one hour at a time. Which is so very not me. That's one gift children give you - they make you grow up, slow down, and in the process you become a better version of yourself.
Today is - well, just another day to take in but also a day to celebrate and cry about at the same time. Some of you have been here long enough to know - it's her birthday. In fact, life has been such a chaotic, monotonous litany of baby chores around here that I'd forgotten we were even into December, much less this close to our birthdays. Which is why I cried as soon as a friend called and left a message about a gift she wanted to give me tomorrow. Over the years, I have learned to celebrate my birthday without her. But I still wince a little bit at the pain of it. And as I look at my secondborn daughter today, I can't help but be sad for my parents today.
If it seems like I'm talking about Lora a lot these days its because whenever my life changes (and it's changed a lot this year), I am always painfully aware of all the places she isn't anymore. And at the same time, I find her everywhere. Especially now. E. is quickly becoming every bit the big sister I imagined she'd be. In fact, most days relishes the role - telling us to please be quiet because the baby is sleeping, hovering over friends who get too close to her infant carrier, and being the first to scamper for the pacifier when A. wakes up crying. The other day E. marveled over A.'s little fingers, and I had to smile. I vividly - vividly - remember doing this as a four year old. Why I thought to do this I still don't know, but I remember holding Lora's hand and looking at how tiny her fingers were and thinking to myself, "remember this" because I knew she would be bigger someday. Anyway, Lora isn't physically here. But moments like those bring her back to me for a few minutes. And I say a silent prayer for the greatest birthday gift I ever received.
Philippians 1:3 "I thank my God every time I remember you."
When I saw this little tree in Walmart's ad a few weeks ago, I rushed over and brought one home for our princesses. E. fell in love with it instantly and wants it plugged in every day.
I left the room after taking these pictures and came back to find E. and Daddy stringing lights all over the room. You could tell J. really got a kick out of making E.'s playroom twinkle for her.
(E. keeps her dollhouse about as tidy as I keep our house.)
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. We've decorated the mantle and set up the tree. I've brought out all my Christmas cds and bought a little fabric to make E. and A. a stocking (cross your fingers that this project actually gets done). James and I have even set our DVR to record as many classic Christmas movies as we could find so we could have family movie nights (you should have seen J.'s eyes light up when he realized Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was on tonight - like we struck classic christmas gold). And we got out this neat interactive nativity story my mom bought us last year: What God Wants for Christmas. It's J. and E.'s new nightly ritual for this month.
And this is why I fall in love with James every day. Reading stories, stringing lights, recording movies...they may seem like simple things to you. But I don't take for granted how very there J. is for our kids. He's everything I wanted in a father for my kids. I really couldn't have asked for more. It's hard to explain; he doesn't just fulfill his Daddy duties - he enjoys them, looks forward to them. I love that any moment J. isn't at work is a possible Daddy moment for E. (and now A., too). This is a typical evening: we hear the garage door and E.'s eyes perk up. James walks in, E. goes running with arms wide open. They do hugs and kisses. E. helps him take his shoes to the closet. J. retires to the livingroom to become a human jungle gym for E. Evyn will do a few dressing room changes and come out in a dress, asking Daddy to dance. We'll eat dinner (J. will rock the baby with one arm while trying to shovel food in his mouth with the other). J. will take diaper duty, then get E. dressed for bed and read a few stories and sing a song - usually, Rocky Top but this month he's teaching her the Twelve Days of Christmas. After he puts her to bed, he might rest on the couch for a few moments before helping me rock/feed/diaper Ashlyn. This may all seem typical for some of you. But as the daughter of a mom who often had to be both Mommy and Daddy, I truly appreciate how special it is to have a partner in parenting. To me, he's just. amazing.
Well. This started out as a pink tree post, and meandered into a father's day post. Sorry about the rabbit trail. But I'm making good on my promise to myself to remember how very blessed I am, and to take time to enjoy and appreciate this season in our lives.
That's what the pediatrician said when he unbundled Baby A. for her weigh-in and saw one of these on her tush:
A. was lucky to get several handmade birth-day gifts, including these flannel diapers from my aunt and cousin, and a monogrammed swaddle sheet from my mom. Aren't they adorable? I decided to go for it and try cloth diapers this time around. Besides being easier on my budget, an environmental-engineer friend of mine successfully swayed me with bits of info about the chemical byproducts of disposable diapers. "It's just not good to have soggy chemicals sitting on their tushes for two or more years, you know?" Made sense to me. Not to say that those of us who have used or continue to use disposable diapers are somehow terrible mommies, especially since there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of conclusive evidence for or against either choice, but I thought I'd at least give cloth a chance. Kind of like my experiment with making E.'s baby food. It was much easier than I thought it would be and when we had to temporarily use jar food, I was surprised at how incovenient the shopping and lugging and storing and taste-testing that seemed to be comparatively. I suspect cloth diapering is the same way: a little inconvenient to figure out at first, then easy-peasy going forward. We'll see and I'll let you know. By the way, don't you think these are cute enough to sell?
Anyway, these handmade flannel ditties were so adorable that they inspired the "snuggle flannel" binge I went on at Joann's Fabrics on Black Friday (courtesy my mom, the enabler). Yes, I said that right. My barely unpregnant self braved several hours among a sea of fabric-frenzied women on Black Friday of all days. But at $1 a yard for flannel and all those coupons, I just couldn't resist. The day was fairly civil; and I kept my Christmas Claws in check, for the most part.
Now I have to find a place for the seventeen pounds of snuggle flannel I brought home and a sliver of space on my crowded bookshelf for this book my mom also bought (yes, I realize I'm a little behind on the craft-book bandwagon, you crafty former-textile-designer-turned-SAHM-bloggers who get advanced copies of this stuff):