Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello 2011

Dear Eisley,

This year was fabulous, but you probably won't remember the best moments as you're only 2. Please enjoy this video/slide-show of some of my favorite moments {set to a Flogging Molly song, oh my!}:

P.S. You are beautiful.
P.P.S. Next year you'll have to share the spotlight.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions

It's Christmas Eve, 2010.
Just about an hour ago I woke up, picked up my phone, and checked a couple new emails. One from my mom has me thinking about Christmas traditions, and how much they mean to me...

"Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is on." was all the email said.

I know exactly what that is,
of course. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been on the radio for decades, every Christmas Eve, broadcast live from Cambridge, England. And my family has tuned into it for almost as many Christmas Eves as it's been on.

Not like we sit around the radio with perked up ears, don't get me wrong, but it was always a part of my Christmas growing up. Always there, in the background.

Something about holidays solicits families to create and carry on traditions. And you know, I really like this about holidays. Many of my best memories in life come from the traditions we celebrate.

For the most part. There was one other Christmas Eve tradition that wasn't my favorite. Growing up, for whatever reason, my mother always made borscht for Christmas Eve dinner. Borscht is a Russian soup made from beets, and thus it's dark red like blood with a little purplish hue. I love you mom, and I'm sure your borscht was wonderful as far as borscht goes, my sister and dad never had any complaints. It does not appeal to my palate, I'm sorry to say. I am admittedly a picky eater. It's just that, to me, beets taste like dirt and minerals. So, yum, dirt soup. Every Christmas Eve. I typically went to bed on Christmas Eve with an empty stomach.

And we're not Russian. Just sayin'.

Other Christmastime traditions include listening to my parents amazing Christmas music collection for weeks each year. Justin recently called me a "music snob", and he's probably right. But I just can't tolerate that pop music Christmas crap they have on the radios. My parent's collection includes The Christmas Revels, Mediaeval Baebes, and, true to our Lutheran heritage, a little Garrison Keillor. Those are just a few of my favorite artists out of their vast collection of Christmas CDs. These days, it's not Christmastime unless I hear me a little bit o' the Revels. The best part is that this music isn't about gifts & Santa & getting things - the Revels sing songs from the old world. Songs about Christ and history. Can you see why I find it superior? Yes, Virginia, I am a snob.

When Bea & I were kids, as soon as the tree went up we'd start checking our little personal ornaments that opened when you squeezed them. A little elf was known to frequent our house and leave Hershey Kisses in our ornaments each day. This year, my mom picked up a few box ornaments for her grandchildren. Now the elf can come back for them.

When I moved out of my parent's home as an adult, I missed the cookie baking & decorating we'd do each year, so I proposed a baking party. This year was our (5th?) year of doing the annual "Women of the Clan Bake & Take", as my mom has dubbed it. My poor mother usually ends up hosting and thus is left with the mess, but it is a good time, nonetheless. These days, the grandchildren are involved, and that brings new joy to have little ones experiencing this tradition.

One year - after my parents got sick of waking up at 5am with overly excited children, opening gifts, and then making it to a church service a few hours later all dressed up - we decided to start attending the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. It was a much more peaceful & relaxed way to attend a church service for Christmas, and now to this day I still look forward to that service after dark. Tonight in church as we sing songs like "Silent Night" I will hold Eisley close and thank God for our baby savior born centuries ago and who still is a light in the world.

Then there's the big fat guy, too. St. Nicholas, who brings toys & candy for the children. Now that we have children of our own experiencing this, a few family differences have been brought up. In my family, Santa always left our gifts unwrapped, in a well placed pile under the tree; displayed so that when we ran out on Christmas morning it was joy overload - our eyes taking it all in at once. In my husband's family, he remembers Santa delivered wrapped gifts. {He also learned something new this year, "Stockings are from Santa???" That's what happens when you're the youngest of four kids.} While I can see the benefits to both, I don't think Santa is up to wrapping Eisley's gift this year, so we'll probably continue in the tradition of sensory overload.

Which leads me to deeper understanding of my mother. I was always a little frustrated with her when I was a kid, that she would insist that we wake her up before going to see what was left under the tree for us. As a kid, I didn't get it. As a mom, I totally do. As the matriarch of the family, you spend weeks baking, composing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping, cooking, decorating - etc. One thing that makes up for all the hard work is seeing your children's eyes light up on Christmas morning, seeing what Santa left for them. Kids, you owe your mom.

Finally, one tradition might have been started last year, when we made a little music video set to Bob Dylan's "Must Be Santa". Plans for shooting a quick video tomorrow at my parent's house is in the works... we'll see if it comes to fruition.

This is Eisley's first year of comprehending {at least a little bit} the joys of the Christmas season. And so for the first time in years, Christmas is as exciting to me as it was when I was a child. She doesn't understand the significance of the "baby Jesus" in her nativity set yet, but she can point him out when asked to. She doesn't know why suddenly this month she sees candy canes all over, but she knows they're tasty. She's not quite sure why we decided to put a big tree in the living room, but she has fun "rearranging" the ornaments.

She doesn't know what all these details {the music, the church service, the baking of cookies} are quite about yet, but someday she will know these tradition's significance. That she experiences them, each year, with the people who love her most.

"What an enormous magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it." ~ Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


...Gabba Gabba!

Yes, we met the Gabba Gang! And sadly this is my only decent picture {why, why, why did I not take my real camera that night?} since it was part of the VIP party package we paid a "little" extra for. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? "Where the heck is my 7 month pregnant belly?" Violet is camera shy.
{For those of you who are not aware, Yo Gabba Gabba is "the cool" kids show. The one parents don't hate or get overly annoyed with - ahem, Elmo & Dora, I'm talking to you. It's hip, it's full of celebrity guests like Jack Black & bands like The Killers, and it's fresh material.}

The Pie & Daddy wearing DJ Lance Rock glasses.
Maybe it made my day more than it made Pie's? I think she was a little shocked and in awe of the experience. The show was a lot for a 2 year old pie to take in.
But it was a great show. A giant screen, all the characters, confetti guns, thousands of balloons {Pie's favorite} released from above, and bubble machines. It was the ultimate rave for a toddler.
The crowd went wild when the Gabba Gang appeared.
And there they were, the friends we've been watching on TV since Pie was 10 months old, now right in front of us.
Eisley sang along to the songs, danced like...well, like she was drunk, and partied harder than a frat boy.
And I mostly watched her the entire time. The joy on her face was more important to me.
Although she did take a couple breaks to rest from the excitement during the show.
Here's a shot of "There's a Party In My Tummy!", in which the Gabba Gang cleverly entices children to eat their vegetables because the carrots & beans cry and are sad when they're not "invited to the party in your tummy." Clever, clever... and a little bit of a guilt trip.
Having VIP tickets, after the show we were invited into the lounge to meet the Gabba Gang in person!

Here we are with the guest celebrity, Leslie Hall! You know, LESLIE! Of the gem sweater fame? I kid you not, I'm a fan of this lady. Above all other humor, I most enjoy and appreciate those who are not afraid to poke fun at themselves, and not afraid to be ridiculous. Leslie Hall is a lady, only my sister's age, who brings humor to the world by dressing in outrageous outfits, collecting dated gem sweaters, and sporting a frumpy hairstyle. I love her. {She said I smelled good, and seemed charmed when I told her I was a fan and wanted a picture.}
Anyway. Back to the point.
Pie met Plex (the "Magic Robot") first.
...and Muno ("He's tall & friendly")
THERE - that's the face that made it all worth it.
Lastly, we met DJ Lance Rock. He is really nice in person, called Pie a sweetheart and kissed her on the cheek after this photo. She fainted. Just kidding. {Sigh... my cell phone actually takes really good pictures. Just the lighting in there was horrible.}

Razzle Dazzle!

{That's what the Gabba Gang would say.}

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween 2010

We had a lovely Halloween this year. I am excited to share Eisley's {creative? weird?} costume with you.

This was her third Halloween. In 2008, for her first, newborn Halloween she was a pig.
Last year, Halloween 2009 she was Alice, of the Wonderland persuasion.

This year I decided to make her costume to represent her nickname: Piggy Pie.

She wore a pig hat & a pie that I made out of felt with my trusty sewing machine. Most people didn't "get" it, but we had fun telling those who asked. Plus it was fun to see her as something other than the trashy witch & cartoon characters all the other kids dress as. This was probably the last year I will get to decide for her...
I would also like to share this recipe for pumpkin seeds. We carved 4 pumpkins & ended up with 4 cups of seeds. They did not last long... {and tip: I tripled the seasoning sauce but left the amount of seeds the same, as many other reviewers advised. Yum!}
I love decorating for Halloween but feel like I didn't get enough of it done this year. We did put up lights, though!
And I still had the gall to label myself "Queen of Halloween". Via doormat, no less. Oh, the audacity!
In a completely half-hearted attempt to spread Halloween cheer while taking The Pie trick or treating, Justin & I sported... ears & a hat. Oh yes, Queen of Halloween, I am.
The Pie, on the other hand, really did exhibit Halloween cheer to the fullest extent by jumping into a pile of freshly raked leaves in full costume. {She always has to be the best at everything. It gets old, the little show-off.}
We went trick or treating around our neighborhood with The Cousins & Gramma Jan. With the Victorians & bungalows in our old Denver neighborhood, it really made for quite the picturesque trick or treat outing. {And I'll be honest here, I was totally loving having a chance to get to walk up to everyone's door and peek in their house without having the cops called on me for being a Peeping Tom. Just one more reason October 31st is one of the best days of the year...}
Strange lady who followed us the entire night, taking pictures:
Just kidding, Grandma, glad you came along :-)
As shown below, The Pie's cousin, Indy, is usually a blur of mysterious fairy dust. Sometimes you can get a clear view of her figure from the corner of your eye...
When the Piggy Pie had enough {candy in her bag, that is} we headed back to the house.
Where Pappa and Grandma were waiting {for the dinner, that is, that we had promised them for watching our house when the trick or treaters came soliciting candy. We made this, this, and drank Blue Moon's Pumpkin Ale. Yum.}
It was a lovely Halloween.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little Sister Duties

The Pie says she can't wait any longer for a playmate, but V-Pie isn't due for another 16 weeks. Luckily, Bella has agreed to "chip in" and take on some of the little sister duties until then.
As you can see, The Pie has gladly accepted her offer.
Because sometimes dolls just aren't enough.

{Yes, that is Bella and she is neither a rat nor a Chihuahua,
she is a purebred Italian Greyhound, fyi.}

Monday, October 18, 2010

{Notes on The Violet}

When I found out I was pregnant I already knew what my child's name would be. It just so happened that I'm having a little girl {yay!} and so she will be named Violet.

Violet Brown was my great-grandmother, my mother's father's mother. I have no picture of her unfortunately, but I so like the idea of using family names. {Eisley shares her great-grandmother's middle name, and if I had a boy, he would be named after a family surname - Paxton.}
As it turns out, and I didn't know this when I picked the name - I swear, Violet is due in February which just so happens to have the violet as a birth flower! What's more - the birth stone for February is the amethyst - a violet colored gem. I had no idea, but I'm so glad it suits. Now she just better not be born early in January because that will ruin everything... ;-)
And when you see antique postcards with Valentine's Day themes - a February holiday, no less - they quite often feature violets on them. Which is perfect. I'm happy to call my little V-Pie "A Token of Love"... hehe...
Just as Violet is an old fashioned name, they were very popular on postcards back in the day, and I might just have to figure out a way to incorporate one of these in her birth announcement. Again, it suits, because everyone knows how much I love old things.
But right now Violet is still a squirmy thing in my stomach, I only have seen fuzzy black & white images of her. She has kicked me a few times, Eisley has kicked her a few times...

She is as long as an ear of corn, and I just hit 24 weeks, which means if she was born now she'd have a 50% chance of surviving. It's neat to hit that "point of viability" but, still, February baby! February!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Creative & Amazing Photographer

On Tuesday we went with Great Grandma Sander & the three cousins from Justin's side of the family to get portraits for GG Sander's Christmas cards.

We were fortunate to have that sort of creative, artistic photographer for our session. He directed the kids so wonderfully, and as you can see {below} we got some really amazing photographs. I want to give you a recap of how professional and creative he was in directing his subjects - I only hope I can recreate the magic of the session just a little bit. Here are some of the brilliant directions he gave as he was working his magic:

"Okay, Eisley, give me your best vampire look for this shot -
YES! Show me those fangs! Work the fangs!"

"Noah, you're drunk at the bar and a beautiful woman just sat down next to you, show me drunk lust - YES! Perfect!"
"Eisley, I just informed you your puppy is dead - you're shocked and in disbelief, give me shocked!"
"Okay for this group shot, I want to capture the essence of family. Eisley, you just passed gas and you think it's funny. Grandma and Moriah, act repulsed, but Noah, I want to see you pointing the finger at the offender. YES! GOOD!"
"Turn around, Eisley, and scowl at Noah for pointing you out.... Noah you're uncomfortable now, show me uncomfortable! Moriah, you're worried!"
"Eisley, give me disgusted! You're grossed out, you're gagging! Work it! YES! BEAUTIFUL!"
"Noah and Moriah, give me sleepy... but, Eisley, show me delighted - what's over there? - show me how great it is, yes! Make us wonder, intrigue us! What's over there and why do your cousins not care? YES! WONDERFUL!"
"Moriah, I want to see sophisticated, thoughtful, good! But Noah and Eisley - you're unsure about what's going on to your left. Yes! Amused yet awkward! That's great! BRILLIANT!"

"Eisley look poignantly upwards, yes, you're thinking about God and life and deep thoughts. More deep thoughts, show me more! You're pondering the meaning of life! Moriah! Box your little brother's ears - YES! WORK IT!"
"Eisley, you're sucking on a lemon! Show me how sour it is! More sour! More sour, it's unbearable."
"Let's get Grandma back in here, Grandma, I want you to watch adoringly as your grandson picks his nose... Eisley, I want to see the 'my puppy just died' face again! PERFECT! Moriah, you're in control of the situation, you're calm amid the chaos - YES! BRILLIANT!"
As you can see, it was intense, artistic and insightful! We just went in for a Christmas card shot, but what we got was just pure art!

Okay I've had my fun... but really, we did get some good ones...